The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson -
Swanston Edition Vol. 17 (of 25), by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Title: The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson - Swanston Edition Vol. 17 (of 25)

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Other: Andrew Lang

Release Date: January 18, 2010 [EBook #31012]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. they appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage.






Of this SWANSTON EDITION in Twenty-five
Volumes of the Works of ROBERT LOUIS
STEVENSON Two Thousand and Sixty Copies
have been printed, of which only Two Thousand
Copies are for sale.

This is No. ............










I. The Elements of Discord: Native 5
II. The Elements of Discord: Foreign 15
III. The Sorrows of Laupepa (1883 to September 1887) 27
IV. Brandeis (September 1887 to August 1888) 53
V. The Battle of Matautu (September 1888) 70
VI. Last Exploits of Becker (September—November 1888) 83
VII. The Samoan Camps (November 1888) 103
VIII. Affairs of Laulii and Fangalii (November—December 1888) 112
IX. Furor Consularis” (December 1888 to March 1889) 128
X. The Hurricane (March 1889) 142
XI. Laupepa and Mataafa (1889-1892) 156


The Beach of Falesá:
I. A South Sea Bridal 193
II. The Ban 206
III. The Missionary 228
IV. Devil-Work 240
V. Night in the Bush 258
The Bottle Imp 275
The Isle of Voices 311









An affair which might be deemed worthy of a note of a few lines in any general history has been here expanded to the size of a volume or large pamphlet. The smallness of the scale, and the singularity of the manners and events and many of the characters, considered, it is hoped that, in spite of its outlandish subject, the sketch may find readers. It has been a task of difficulty. Speed was essential, or it might come too late to be of any service to a distracted country. Truth, in the midst of conflicting rumours and in the dearth of printed material, was often hard to ascertain, and since most of those engaged were of my personal acquaintance, it was often more than delicate to express. I must certainly have erred often and much; it is not for want of trouble taken nor of an impartial temper. And if my plain speaking shall cost me any of the friends that I still count, I shall be sorry, but I need not be ashamed.

In one particular the spelling of Samoan words has been altered; and the characteristic nasal n of the language written throughout ng instead of g. Thus I put Pango-Pango, instead of Pago-Pago; the sound being that of soft ng in English, as in singer, not as in finger.

R. L. S.











The story I have to tell is still going on as I write; the characters are alive and active; it is a piece of contemporary history in the most exact sense. And yet, for all its actuality and the part played in it by mails and telegraphs and iron war-ships, the ideas and the manners of the native actors date back before the Roman Empire. They are Christians, church-goers, singers of hymns at family worship, hardy cricketers; their books are printed in London by Spottiswoode, Trübner, or the Tract Society; but in most other points they are the contemporaries of our tattooed ancestors who drove their chariots on the wrong side of the Roman wall. We have passed the feudal system; they are not yet clear of the patriarchal. We are in the thick of the age of finance; they are in a period of communism. And this makes them hard to understand.

To us, with our feudal ideas, Samoa has the first appearance of a land of despotism. An elaborate courtliness marks the race alone among Polynesians; terms of ceremony fly thick as oaths on board a ship; commoners my-lord each other when they meet—and urchins as they play marbles. And for the real noble a whole private dialect is set apart. The common names for an axe, for blood, for bamboo, a bamboo knife, a pig, food, entrails, and an oven are taboo in his presence, as the common names for 6 a bug and for many offices and members of the body are taboo in the drawing-rooms of English ladies. Special words are set apart for his leg, his face, his hair, his belly, his eyelids, his son, his daughter, his wife, his wife’s pregnancy, his wife’s adultery, adultery with his wife, his dwelling, his spear, his comb, his sleep, his dreams, his anger, the mutual anger of several chiefs, his food, his pleasure in eating, the food and eating of his pigeons, his ulcers, his cough, his sickness, his recovery, his death, his being carried on a bier, the exhumation of his bones, and his skull after death. To address these demigods is quite a branch of knowledge, and he who goes to visit a high chief does well to make sure of the competence of his interpreter. To complete the picture, the same word signifies the watching of a virgin and the warding of a chief; and the same word means to cherish a chief and to fondle a favourite child.

Men like us, full of memories of feudalism, hear of a man so addressed, so flattered, and we leap at once to the conclusion that he is hereditary and absolute. Hereditary he is; born of a great family, he must always be a man of mark; but yet his office is elective and (in a weak sense) is held on good behaviour. Compare the case of a Highland chief: born one of the great ones of his clan, he was sometimes appointed its chief officer and conventional father; was loved, and respected, and served, and fed, and died for implicitly, if he gave loyalty a chance; and yet if he sufficiently outraged clan sentiment, was liable to deposition. As to authority, the parallel is not so close. Doubtless the Samoan chief, if he be popular, wields a great influence; but it is limited. Important matters are debated in a fono, or native parliament, with its feasting and parade, its endless speeches and polite genealogical allusions. Debated, I say—not decided; for even a small minority will often strike a clan or a province impotent. In the midst of these ineffective councils the chief sits usually silent: a kind of a gagged audience for village 7 orators. And the deliverance of the fono seems (for the moment) to be final. The absolute chiefs of Tahiti and Hawaii were addressed as plain John and Thomas; the chiefs of Samoa are surfeited with lip-honour, but the seat and extent of their actual authority is hard to find.

It is so in the members of the state, and worse in the belly. The idea of a sovereign pervades the air; the name we have; the thing we are not so sure of. And the process of election to the chief power is a mystery. Certain provinces have in their gift certain high titles, or names, as they are called. These can only be attributed to the descendants of particular lines. Once granted, each name conveys at once the principality (whatever that be worth) of the province which bestows it, and counts as one suffrage towards the general sovereignty of Samoa. To be indubitable king, they say, or some of them say,—I find few in perfect harmony,—a man should resume five of these names in his own person. But the case is purely hypothetical; local jealousy forbids its occurrence. There are rival provinces, far more concerned in the prosecution of their rivalry than in the choice of a right man for king. If one of these shall have bestowed its name on competitor A, it will be the signal and the sufficient reason for the other to bestow its name on competitor B or C. The majority of Savaii and that of Aana are thus in perennial opposition. Nor is this all. In 1881, Laupepa, the present king, held the three names of Malietoa, Natoaitele, and Tamasoalii; Tamasese held that of Tuiaana; and Mataafa that of Tuiatua. Laupepa had thus a majority of suffrages; he held perhaps as high a proportion as can be hoped in these distracted islands; and he counted among the number the preponderant name of Malietoa. Here, if ever, was an election. Here, if a king were at all possible, was the king. And yet the natives were not satisfied. Laupepa was crowned, March 19th; and next month, the provinces of Aana and Atua met in joint parliament, and elected their own two princes, 8 Tamasese and Mataafa, to an alternate monarchy, Tamasese taking the first trick of two years. War was imminent, when the consuls interfered, and any war were preferable to the terms of the peace which they procured. By the Lackawanna treaty, Laupepa was confirmed king, and Tamasese set by his side in the nondescript office of vice-king. The compromise was not, I am told, without precedent; but it lacked all appearance of success. To the constitution of Samoa, which was already all wheels and no horses, the consuls had added a fifth wheel. In addition to the old conundrum, “Who is the king?” they had supplied a new one, “What is the vice-king?”

Two royal lines; some cloudy idea of alternation between the two; an electorate in which the vote of each province is immediately effectual, as regards itself, so that every candidate who attains one name becomes a perpetual and dangerous competitor for the other four: such are a few of the more trenchant absurdities. Many argue that the whole idea of sovereignty is modern and imported; but it seems impossible that anything so foolish should have been suddenly devised, and the constitution bears on its front the marks of dotage.

But the king, once elected and nominated, what does he become? It may be said he remains precisely as he was. Election to one of the five names is significant; it brings not only dignity but power, and the holder is secure, from that moment, of a certain following in war. But I cannot find that the further step of election to the kingship implies anything worth mention. The successful candidate is now the Tupu o Samoa—much good may it do him! He can so sign himself on proclamations, which it does not follow that any one will heed. He can summon parliaments; it does not follow they will assemble. If he be too flagrantly disobeyed, he can go to war. But so he could before, when he was only the chief of certain provinces. His own provinces will support him, the provinces of his rivals will take the field 9 upon the other part; just as before. In so far as he is the holder of any of the five names, in short, he is a man to be reckoned with; in so far as he is king of Samoa, I cannot find but what the president of a college debating society is a far more formidable officer. And unfortunately, although the credit side of the account proves thus imaginary, the debit side is actual and heavy. For he is now set up to be the mark of consuls; he will be badgered to raise taxes, to make roads, to punish crime, to quell rebellion: and how he is to do it is not asked.

If I am in the least right in my presentation of this obscure matter, no one need be surprised to hear that the land is full of war and rumours of war. Scarce a year goes by but what some province is in arms, or sits sulky and menacing, holding parliaments, disregarding the king’s proclamations and planting food in the bush, the first step of military preparation. The religious sentiment of the people is indeed for peace at any price; no pastor can bear arms; and even the layman who does so is denied the sacraments. In the last war the college of Mālua, where the picked youth are prepared for the ministry, lost but a single student; the rest, in the bosom of a bleeding country, and deaf to the voices of vanity and honour, peacefully pursued their studies. But if the church looks askance on war, the warrior in no extremity of need or passion forgets his consideration for the church. The houses and gardens of her ministers stand safe in the midst of armies; a way is reserved for themselves along the beach, where they may be seen in their white kilts and jackets openly passing the lines, while not a hundred yards behind the skirmishers will be exchanging the useless volleys of barbaric warfare. Women are also respected; they are not fired upon; and they are suffered to pass between the hostile camps, exchanging gossip, spreading rumour, and divulging to either army the secret councils of the other. This is plainly no savage war; it has all the punctilio of the barbarian, and all his parade; feasts 10 precede battles, fine dresses and songs decorate and enliven the field; and the young soldier comes to camp burning (on the one hand) to distinguish himself by acts of valour, and (on the other) to display his acquaintance with field etiquette. Thus after Mataafa became involved in hostilities against the Germans, and had another code to observe beside his own, he was always asking his white advisers if “things were done correctly.” Let us try to be as wise as Mataafa, and to conceive that etiquette and morals differ in one country and another. We shall be the less surprised to find Samoan war defaced with some unpalatable customs. The childish destruction of fruit-trees in an enemy’s country cripples the resources of Samoa; and the habit of head-hunting not only revolts foreigners, but has begun to exercise the minds of the natives themselves. Soon after the German heads were taken, Mr. Carne, Wesleyan missionary, had occasion to visit Mataafa’s camp, and spoke of the practice with abhorrence. “Misi Kāne,” said one chief, “we have just been puzzling ourselves to guess where that custom came from. But, Misi, is it not so that when David killed Goliath, he cut off his head and carried it before the king?”

With the civil life of the inhabitants we have far less to do; and yet even here a word of preparation is inevitable. They are easy, merry, and pleasure-loving; the gayest, though by far from either the most capable or the most beautiful of Polynesians. Fine dress is a passion, and makes a Samoan festival a thing of beauty. Song is almost ceaseless. The boatman sings at the oar, the family at evening worship, the girls at night in the guest-house, sometimes the workman at his toil. No occasion is too small for the poets and musicians; a death, a visit, the day’s news, the day’s pleasantry, will be set to rhyme and harmony. Even half-grown girls, the occasion arising, fashion words and train choruses of children for its celebration. Song, as with all Pacific islanders, goes hand in hand with the dance, and both shade into the drama. Some of the performances 11 are indecent and ugly, some only dull; others are pretty, funny, and attractive. Games are popular. Cricket-matches, where a hundred played upon a side, endured at times for weeks, and ate up the country like the presence of an army. Fishing, the daily bath, flirtation; courtship, which is gone upon by proxy; conversation, which is largely political; and the delights of public oratory, fill in the long hours.

But the special delight of the Samoan is the malanga. When people form a party and go from village to village, junketing and gossiping, they are said to go on a malanga. Their songs have announced their approach ere they arrive; the guest-house is prepared for their reception; the virgins of the village attend to prepare the kava bowl and entertain them with the dance; time flies in the enjoyment of every pleasure which an islander conceives; and when the malanga sets forth, the same welcome and the same joys expect them beyond the next cape, where the nearest village nestles in its grove of palms. To the visitors it is all golden; for the hosts, it has another side. In one or two words of the language the fact peeps slyly out. The same word (afemoeina) expresses “a long call” and “to come as a calamity”; the same word (lesolosolou) signifies “to have no intermission of pain” and “to have no cessation, as in the arrival of visitors”; and soua, used of epidemics, bears the sense of being overcome as with “fire, flood, or visitors.” But the gem of the dictionary is the verb alovao, which illustrates its pages like a humorous woodcut. It is used in the sense of “to avoid visitors,” but it means literally “hide in the wood.” So, by the sure hand of popular speech, we have the picture of the house deserted, the malanga disappointed, and the host that should have been quaking in the bush.

We are thus brought to the beginning of a series of traits of manners, highly curious in themselves, and essential to an understanding of the war. In Samoa authority sits on the one hand entranced; on the other, property 12 stands bound in the midst of chartered marauders. What property exists is vested in the family, not in the individual; and of the loose communism in which a family dwells, the dictionary may yet again help us to some idea. I find a string of verbs with the following senses: to deal leniently with, as in helping oneself from a family plantation; to give away without consulting other members of the family; to go to strangers for help instead of to relatives; to take from relatives without permission; to steal from relatives; to have plantations robbed by relatives. The ideal of conduct in the family, and some of its depravations, appear here very plainly. The man who (in a native word of praise) is mata-ainga, a race-regarder, has his hand always open to his kindred; the man who is not (in a native term of contempt) noa, knows always where to turn in any pinch of want or extremity of laziness. Beggary within the family—and by the less self-respecting, without it—has thus grown into a custom and a scourge, and the dictionary teems with evidence of its abuse. Special words signify the begging of food, of uncooked food, of fish, of pigs, of pigs for travellers, of pigs for stock, of taro, of taro-tops, of taro-tops for planting, of tools, of flyhooks, of implements for netting pigeons, and of mats. It is true the beggar was supposed in time to make a return, somewhat as by the Roman contract of mutuum. But the obligation was only moral; it could not be, or was not, enforced; as a matter of fact, it was disregarded. The language had recently to borrow from the Tahitians a word for debt; while by a significant excidence, it possessed a native expression for the failure to pay—“to omit to make a return for property begged.” Conceive now the position of the householder besieged by harpies, and all defence denied him by the laws of honour. The sacramental gesture of refusal, his last and single resource, was supposed to signify “my house is destitute.” Until that point was reached, in other words, the conduct prescribed for a Samoan was to give and to continue giving. But it does 13 not appear he was at all expected to give with a good grace. The dictionary is well stocked with expressions standing ready, like missiles, to be discharged upon the locusts—“troop of shamefaced ones,” “you draw in your head like a tern,” “you make your voice small like a whistle-pipe,” “you beg like one delirious”; and the verb pongitai, “to look cross,” is equipped with the pregnant rider, “as at the sight of beggars.”

This insolence of beggars and the weakness of proprietors can only be illustrated by examples. We have a girl in our service to whom we had given some finery, that she might wait at table, and (at her own request) some warm clothing against the cold mornings of the bush. She went on a visit to her family, and returned in an old tablecloth, her whole wardrobe having been divided out among relatives in the course of twenty-four hours. A pastor in the province of Atua, being a handy, busy man, bought a boat for a hundred dollars, fifty of which he paid down. Presently after, relatives came to him upon a visit and took a fancy to his new possession. “We have long been wanting a boat,” said they. “Give us this one.” So, when the visit was done, they departed in the boat. The pastor, meanwhile, travelled into Savaii the best way he could, sold a parcel of land, and begged mats among his other relatives, to pay the remainder of the price of the boat which was no longer his. You might think this was enough; but some months later, the harpies, having broken a thwart, brought back the boat to be repaired and repainted by the original owner.

Such customs, it might be argued, being double-edged, will ultimately right themselves. But it is otherwise in practice. Such folk as the pastor’s harpy relatives will generally have a boat, and will never have paid for it; such men as the pastor may have sometimes paid for a boat, but they will never have one. It is there as it is with us at home: the measure of the abuse of either system is the blackness of the individual heart. The same man, 14 who would drive his poor relatives from his own door in England, would besiege in Samoa the doors of the rich; and the essence of the dishonesty in either case is to pursue one’s own advantage and to be indifferent to the losses of one’s neighbour. But the particular drawback of the Polynesian system is to depress and stagger industry. To work more is there only to be more pillaged; to save is impossible. The family has then made a good day of it when all are filled and nothing remains over for the crew of free-booters; and the injustice of the system begins to be recognised even in Samoa. One native is said to have amassed a certain fortune; two clever lads have individually expressed to us their discontent with a system which taxes industry to pamper idleness; and I hear that in one village of Savaii a law has been passed forbidding gifts under the penalty of a sharp fine.

Under this economic regimen, the unpopularity of taxes, which strike all at the same time, which expose the industrious to a perfect siege of mendicancy, and the lazy to be actually condemned to a day’s labour, may be imagined without words. It is more important to note the concurrent relaxation of all sense of property. From applying for help to kinsmen who are scarce permitted to refuse, it is but a step to taking from them (in the dictionary phrase) “without permission”; from that to theft at large is but a hair’s-breadth.




The huge majority of Samoans, like other God-fearing folk in other countries, are perfectly content with their own manners. And upon one condition, it is plain they might enjoy themselves far beyond the average of man. Seated in islands very rich in food, the idleness of the many idle would scarce matter; and the provinces might continue to bestow their names among rival pretenders, and fall into war and enjoy that a while, and drop into peace and enjoy that, in a manner highly to be envied. But the condition—that they should be let alone—is now no longer possible. More than a hundred years ago, and following closely on the heels of Cook, an irregular invasion of adventurers began to swarm about the isles of the Pacific. The seven sleepers of Polynesia stand, still but half aroused, in the midst of the century of competition. And the island races, comparable to a shopful of crockery launched upon the stream of time, now fall to make their desperate voyage among pots of brass and adamant.

Apia, the port and mart, is the seat of the political sickness of Samoa. At the foot of a peaked, woody mountain, the coast makes a deep indent, roughly semicircular. In front the barrier reef is broken by the fresh water of the streams; if the swell be from the north, it enters almost without diminution; and the war-ships roll dizzily at their moorings, and along the fringing coral which follows the configuration of the beach, the surf breaks with a continuous uproar. In wild weather, as the world knows, 16 the roads are untenable. Along the whole shore, which is everywhere green and level and overlooked by inland mountain-tops, the town lies drawn out in strings and clusters. The western horn is Mulinuu, the eastern, Matautu; and from one to the other of these extremes, I ask the reader to walk. He will find more of the history of Samoa spread before his eyes in that excursion, than has yet been collected in the blue-books or the white-books of the world. Mulinuu (where the walk is to begin) is a flat, wind-swept promontory, planted with palms, backed against a swamp of mangroves, and occupied by a rather miserable village. The reader is informed that this is the proper residence of the Samoan kings; he will be the more surprised to observe a board set up, and to read that this historic village is the property of the German firm. But these boards, which are among the commonest features of the landscape, may be rather taken to imply that the claim has been disputed. A little farther east he skirts the stores, offices, and barracks of the firm itself. Thence he will pass through Matafele, the one really town-like portion of this long string of villages, by German bars and stores and the German consulate; and reach the Catholic mission and cathedral standing by the mouth of a small river. The bridge which crosses here (bridge of Mulivai) is a frontier; behind is Matafele; beyond, Apia proper; behind, Germans are supreme; beyond, with but few exceptions, all is Anglo-Saxon. Here the reader will go forward past the stores of Mr. Moors (American) and Messrs. MacArthur (English); past the English mission, the office of the English newspaper, the English church, and the old American consulate, till he reaches the mouth of a larger river, the Vaisingano. Beyond, in Matautu, his way takes him in the shade of many trees and by scattered dwellings, and presently brings him beside a great range of offices, the place and the monument of a German who fought the German firm during his life. His house (now he is dead) remains pointed like a discharged cannon at the citadel of 17 his old enemies. Fitly enough, it is at present leased and occupied by Englishmen. A little farther, and the reader gains the eastern flanking angle of the bay, where stands the pilot-house and signal-post, and whence he can see, on the line of the main coast of the island, the British and the new American consulates.

The course of his walk will have been enlivened by a considerable to and fro of pleasure and business. He will have encountered many varieties of whites,—sailors, merchants, clerks, priests, Protestant missionaries in their pith helmets, and the nondescript hangers-on of any island beach. And the sailors are sometimes in considerable force; but not the residents. He will think at times there are more signboards than men to own them. It may chance it is a full day in the harbour; he will then have seen all manner of ships, from men-of-war and deep-sea packets to the labour vessels of the German firm and the cockboat island schooner; and if he be of an arithmetical turn, he may calculate that there are more whites afloat in Apia bay than whites ashore in the whole Archipelago. On the other hand, he will have encountered all ranks of natives, chiefs and pastors in their scrupulous white clothes; perhaps the king himself, attended by guards in uniform; smiling policemen with their pewter stars; girls, women, crowds of cheerful children. And he will have asked himself with some surprise where these reside. Here and there, in the back yards of European establishments, he may have had a glimpse of a native house elbowed in a corner; but since he left Mulinuu, none on the beach where islanders prefer to live, scarce one on the line of street. The handful of whites have everything; the natives walk in a foreign town. A year ago, on a knoll behind a bar-room, he might have observed a native house guarded by sentries and flown over by the standard of Samoa. He would then have been told it was the seat of government, driven (as I have to relate) over the Mulivai and from beyond the 18 German town into the Anglo-Saxon. To-day, he will learn it has been carted back again to its old quarters. And he will think it significant that the king of the islands should be thus shuttled to and fro in his chief city at the nod of aliens. And then he will observe a feature more significant still: a house with some concourse of affairs, policemen and idlers hanging by, a man at a bank-counter overhauling manifests, perhaps a trial proceeding in the front verandah, or perhaps the council breaking up in knots after a stormy sitting. And he will remember that he is in the Eleele Sa, the “Forbidden Soil,” or Neutral Territory of the treaties; that the magistrate whom he has just seen trying native criminals is no officer of the native king’s; and that this, the only port and place of business in the kingdom, collects and administers its own revenue for its own behoof by the hands of white councillors and under the supervision of white consuls. Let him go further afield. He will find the roads almost everywhere to cease or to be made impassable by native pig-fences, bridges to be quite unknown, and houses of the whites to become at once a rare exception. Set aside the German plantations, and the frontier is sharp. At the boundary of the Eleele Sa, Europe ends, Samoa begins. Here, then, is a singular state of affairs: all the money, luxury, and business of the kingdom centred in one place; that place excepted from the native government and administered by whites for whites; and the whites themselves holding it not in common but in hostile camps, so that it lies between them like a bone between two dogs, each growling, each clutching his own end.

Should Apia ever choose a coat of arms, I have a motto ready: “Enter Rumour painted full of tongues.” The majority of the natives do extremely little; the majority of the whites are merchants with some four mails in the month, shopkeepers with some ten or twenty customers a day, and gossip is the common resource of all. The town hums to the day’s news, and the bars are crowded 19 with amateur politicians. Some are office-seekers, and earwig king and consul, and compass the fall of officials, with an eye to salary. Some are humorists, delighted with the pleasure of faction for itself. “I never saw so good a place as this Apia,” said one of these; “you can be in a new conspiracy every day!” Many, on the other hand, are sincerely concerned for the future of the country. The quarters are so close and the scale is so small, that perhaps not any one can be trusted always to preserve his temper. Every one tells everything he knows; that is our country sickness. Nearly every one has been betrayed at times, and told a trifle more; the way our sickness takes the predisposed. And the news flies, and the tongues wag, and fists are shaken. Pot boil and caldron bubble!

Within the memory of man, the white people of Apia lay in the worst squalor of degradation. They are now unspeakably improved, both men and women. To-day they must be called a more than fairly respectable population, and a much more than fairly intelligent. The whole would probably not fill the ranks of even an English half-battalion, yet there are a surprising number above the average in sense, knowledge, and manners. The trouble (for Samoa) is that they are all here after a livelihood. Some are sharp practitioners, some are famous (justly or not) for foul play in business. Tales fly. One merchant warns you against his neighbour; the neighbour on the first occasion is found to return the compliment: each with a good circumstantial story to the proof. There is so much copra in the islands, and no more; a man’s share of it is his share of bread; and commerce, like politics, is here narrowed to a focus, shows its ugly side, and becomes as personal as fisticuffs. Close at their elbows, in all this contention, stands the native looking on. Like a child, his true analogue, he observes, apprehends, misapprehends, and is usually silent. As in a child, a considerable intemperance of speech is accompanied by some power of 20 secrecy. News he publishes; his thoughts have often to be dug for. He looks on at the rude career of the dollar-hunt, and wonders. He sees these men rolling in a luxury beyond the ambition of native kings; he hears them accused by each other of the meanest trickery; he knows some of them to be guilty; and what is he to think? He is strongly conscious of his own position as the common milk-cow; and what is he to do? “Surely these white men on the beach are not great chiefs?” is a common question, perhaps asked with some design of flattering the person questioned. And one, stung by the last incident into an unusual flow of English, remarked to me: “I begin to be weary of white men on the beach.”

But the true centre of trouble, the head of the boil of which Samoa languishes, is the German firm. From the conditions of business, a great island house must ever be an inheritance of care; and it chances that the greatest still afoot has its chief seat in Apia bay, and has sunk the main part of its capital in the island of Upolu. When its founder, John Cæsar Godeffroy, went bankrupt over Russian paper and Westphalian iron, his most considerable asset was found to be the South Sea business. This passed (I understand) through the hands of Baring Brothers in London, and is now run by a company rejoicing in the Gargantuan name of the Deutsche Handels und Plantagen Gesellschaft für Süd-See Inseln zu Hamburg. This piece of literature is (in practice) shortened to the D.H. and P.G., the Old Firm, the German Firm, the Firm, and (among humorists) the Long Handle Firm. Even from the deck of an approaching ship, the island is seen to bear its signature—zones of cultivation showing in a more vivid tint of green on the dark vest of forest. The total area in use is near ten thousand acres. Hedges of fragrant lime enclose, broad avenues intersect them. You shall walk for hours in parks of palm-tree alleys, regular, like soldiers on parade; in the recesses of the hills you may stumble on a mill-house, toiling and trembling there, fathoms deep in superincumbent 21 forest. On the carpet of clean sward, troops of horses and herds of handsome cattle may be seen to browse; and to one accustomed to the rough luxuriance of the tropics, the appearance is of fairyland. The managers, many of them German sea-captains, are enthusiastic in their new employment. Experiment is continually afoot: coffee and cacao, both of excellent quality, are among the more recent outputs; and from one plantation quantities of pineapples are sent at a particular season to the Sydney markets. A hundred and fifty thousand pounds of English money, perhaps two hundred thousand, lie sunk in these magnificent estates. In estimating the expense of maintenance quite a fleet of ships must be remembered, and a strong staff of captains, supercargoes, overseers, and clerks. These last mess together at a liberal board; the wages are high, and the staff is inspired with a strong and pleasing sentiment of loyalty to their employers.

Seven or eight hundred imported men and women toil for the company on contracts of three or of five years, and at a hypothetical wage of a few dollars in the month. I am now on a burning question: the labour traffic; and I shall ask permission in this place only to touch it with the tongs. Suffice it to say that in Queensland, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Hawaii it has been either suppressed or placed under close public supervision. In Samoa, where it still flourishes, there is no regulation of which the public receives any evidence; and the dirty linen of the firm, if there be any dirty, and if it be ever washed at all, is washed in private. This is unfortunate, if Germans would believe it. But they have no idea of publicity, keep their business to themselves, rather affect to “move in a mysterious way,” and are naturally incensed by criticisms, which they consider hypocritical, from men who would import “labour” for themselves, if they could afford it, and would probably maltreat them if they dared. It is said the whip is very busy on some of the plantations; it is said that punitive extra-labour, by which the thrall’s 22 term of service is extended, has grown to be an abuse; and it is complained that, even where that term is out, much irregularity occurs in the repatriation of the discharged. To all this I can say nothing, good or bad. A certain number of the thralls, many of them wild negritos from the west, have taken to the bush, harbour there in a state partly bestial, or creep into the back quarters of the town to do a day’s stealthy labour under the nose of their proprietors. Twelve were arrested one morning in my own boys’ kitchen. Farther in the bush, huts, small patches of cultivation, and smoking ovens, have been found by hunters. There are still three runaways in the woods of Tutuila, whither they escaped upon a raft. And the Samoans regard these dark-skinned rangers with extreme alarm; the fourth refugee in Tutuila was shot down (as I was told in that island) while carrying off the virgin of a village; and tales of cannibalism run round the country, and the natives shudder about the evening fire. For the Samoans are not cannibals, do not seem to remember when they were, and regard the practice with a disfavour equal to our own.

The firm is Gulliver among the Lilliputs; and it must not be forgotten, that while the small, independent traders are fighting for their own hand, and inflamed with the usual jealousy against corporations, the Germans are inspired with a sense of the greatness of their affairs and interests. The thought of the money sunk, the sight of these costly and beautiful plantations, menaced yearly by the returning forest, and the responsibility of administering with one hand so many conjunct fortunes, might well nerve the manager of such a company for desperate and questionable deeds. Upon this scale, commercial sharpness has an air of patriotism; and I can imagine the man, so far from higgling over the scourge for a few Solomon islanders, prepared to oppress rival firms, overthrow inconvenient monarchs, and let loose the dogs of war. Whatever he may decide, he will not want for backing. Every clerk 23 will be eager to be up and strike a blow; and most Germans in the group, whatever they may babble of the firm over the walnuts and the wine, will rally round the national concern at the approach of difficulty. They are so few—I am ashamed to give their number, it were to challenge contradiction—they are so few, and the amount of national capital buried at their feet is so vast, that we must not wonder if they seem oppressed with greatness and the sense of empire. Other whites take part in our brabbles, while temper holds out, with a certain schoolboy entertainment. In the Germans alone, no trace of humour is to be observed, and their solemnity is accompanied by a touchiness often beyond belief. Patriotism flies in arms about a hen; and if you comment upon the colour of a Dutch umbrella, you have cast a stone against the German Emperor. I give one instance, typical although extreme. One who had returned from Tutuila on the mail cutter complained of the vermin with which she is infested. He was suddenly and sharply brought to a stand. The ship of which he spoke, he was reminded, was a German ship.

John Cæsar Godeffroy himself had never visited the islands; his sons and nephews came, indeed, but scarcely to reap laurels; and the mainspring and headpiece of this great concern, until death took him, was a certain remarkable man of the name of Theodor Weber. He was of an artful and commanding character; in the smallest thing or the greatest, without fear or scruple; equally able to affect, equally ready to adopt, the most engaging politeness or the most imperious airs of domination. It was he who did most damage to rival traders; it was he who most harried the Samoans; and yet I never met any one, white or native, who did not respect his memory. All felt it was a gallant battle, and the man a great fighter; and now when he is dead, and the war seems to have gone against him, many can scarce remember, without a kind of regret, how much devotion and audacity 24 have been spent in vain. His name still lives in the songs of Samoa. One, that I have heard, tells of Misi Ueba and a biscuit-box—the suggesting incident being long since forgotten. Another sings plaintively how all things, land and food and property, pass progressively, as by a law of nature, into the hands of Misi Ueba, and soon nothing will be left for Samoans. This is an epitaph the man would have enjoyed.

At one period of his career, Weber combined the offices of director of the firm and consul for the City of Hamburg. No question but he then drove very hard. Germans admit that the combination was unfortunate; and it was a German who procured its overthrow. Captain Zembsch superseded him with an imperial appointment, one still remembered in Samoa as “the gentleman who acted justly.” There was no house to be found, and the new consul must take up his quarters at first under the same roof with Weber. On several questions, in which the firm was vitally interested, Zembsch embraced the contrary opinion. Riding one day with an Englishman in Vailele plantation, he was startled by a burst of screaming, leaped from the saddle, ran round a house, and found an overseer beating one of the thralls. He punished the overseer, and, being a kindly and perhaps not a very diplomatic man, talked high of what he felt and what he might consider it his duty to forbid or to enforce. The firm began to look askance at such a consul; and worse was behind. A number of deeds being brought to the consulate for registration, Zembsch detected certain transfers of land in which the date, the boundaries, the measure, and the consideration were all blank. He refused them with an indignation which he does not seem to have been able to keep to himself; and, whether or not by his fault, some of these unfortunate documents became public. It was plain that the relations between the two flanks of the German invasion, the diplomatic and the commercial, were strained to bursting. But Weber was a man ill to 25 conquer. Zembsch was recalled; and from that time forth, whether through influence at home, or by the solicitations of Weber on the spot, the German consulate has shown itself very apt to play the game of the German firm. That game, we may say, was twofold,—the first part even praiseworthy, the second at least natural. On the one part, they desired an efficient native administration, to open up the country and punish crime; they wished, on the other, to extend their own provinces and to curtail the dealings of their rivals. In the first, they had the jealous and diffident sympathy of all whites; in the second, they had all whites banded together against them for their lives and livelihoods. It was thus a game of Beggar my Neighbour between a large merchant and some small ones. Had it so remained, it would still have been a cut-throat quarrel. But when the consulate appeared to be concerned, when the war-ships of the German Empire were thought to fetch and carry for the firm, the rage of the independent traders broke beyond restraint. And, largely from the national touchiness and the intemperate speech of German clerks, this scramble among dollar-hunters assumed the appearance of an inter-racial war.

The firm, with the indomitable Weber at its head and the consulate at its back—there has been the chief enemy at Samoa. No English reader can fail to be reminded of John Company; and if the Germans appear to have been not so successful, we can only wonder that our own blunders and brutalities were less severely punished. Even on the field of Samoa, though German faults and aggressions make up the burthen of my story, they have been nowise alone. Three nations were engaged in this infinitesimal affray, and not one appears with credit. They figure but as the three ruffians of the elder playwrights. The United States have the cleanest hands, and even theirs are not immaculate. It was an ambiguous business when a private American adventurer was landed 26 with his pieces of artillery from an American war-ship, and became prime minister to the king. It is true (even if he were ever really supported) that he was soon dropped and had soon sold himself for money to the German firm. I will leave it to the reader whether this trait dignifies or not the wretched story. And the end of it spattered the credit alike of England and the States, when this man (the premier of a friendly sovereign) was kidnapped and deported, on the requisition of an American consul, by the captain of an English war-ship. I shall have to tell, as I proceed, of villages shelled on very trifling grounds by Germans; the like has been done of late years, though in a better quarrel, by ourselves of England. I shall have to tell how the Germans landed and shed blood at Fangalii; it was only in 1876 that we British had our own misconceived little massacre at Mulinuu. I shall have to tell how the Germans bludgeoned Malietoa with a sudden call for money; it was something of the suddenest that Sir Arthur Gordon himself, smarting under a sensible public affront, made and enforced a somewhat similar demand.




You ride in a German plantation and see no bush, no soul stirring; only acres of empty sward, miles of cocoa-nut alley: a desert of food. In the eyes of the Samoan the place has the attraction of a park for the holiday schoolboy, of a granary for mice. We must add the yet more lively allurement of a haunted house, for over these empty and silent miles there broods the fear of the negrito cannibal. For the Samoan besides, there is something barbaric, unhandsome, and absurd in the idea of thus growing food only to send it from the land and sell it. A man at home who should turn all Yorkshire into one wheatfield, and annually burn his harvest on the altar of Mumbo-Jumbo, might impress ourselves not much otherwise. And the firm which does these things is quite extraneous, a wen that might be excised to-morrow without loss but to itself; few natives drawing from it so much as day’s wages; and the rest beholding in it only the occupier of their acres. The nearest villages have suffered most; they see over the hedge the lands of their ancestors waving with useless cocoa-palms; and the sales were often questionable, and must still more often appear so to regretful natives, spinning and improving yarns about the evening lamp. At the worst, then, to help oneself from the plantation will seem to a Samoan very like orchard-breaking to the British schoolboy; at the best, it will be thought a gallant Robin-Hoodish readjustment of a public wrong. 28

And there is more behind. Not only is theft from the plantations regarded rather as a lark and peccadillo, the idea of theft in itself is not very clearly present to these communists; and as to the punishment of crime in general, a great gulf of opinion divides the natives from ourselves. Indigenous punishments were short and sharp. Death, deportation by the primitive method of setting the criminal to sea in a canoe, fines, and in Samoa itself the penalty of publicly biting a hot, ill-smelling root, comparable to a rough forfeit in a children’s game—these are approved. The offender is killed, or punished and forgiven. We, on the other hand, harbour malice for a period of years: continuous shame attaches to the criminal; even when he is doing his best—even when he is submitting to the worst form of torture, regular work—he is to stand aside from life and from his family in dreadful isolation. These ideas most Polynesians have accepted in appearance, as they accept other ideas of the whites; in practice, they reduce it to a farce. I have heard the French resident in the Marquesas in talk with the French gaoler of Tai-o-hae: “Eh bien, où sont vos prisonnières?—Je crois, mon commandant, qu’elles sont allées quelque part faire une visite.” And the ladies would be welcome. This is to take the most savage of Polynesians; take some of the most civilised. In Honolulu, convicts labour on the highways in piebald clothing, gruesome and ridiculous; and it is a common sight to see the family of such an one troop out, about the dinner hour, wreathed with flowers and in their holiday best, to picnic with their kinsman on the public wayside. The application of these outlandish penalties, in fact, transfers the sympathy to the offender. Remember, besides, that the clan system, and that imperfect idea of justice which is its worst feature, are still lively in Samoa; that it is held the duty of a judge to favour kinsmen, of a king to protect his vassals; and the difficulty of getting a plantation thief first caught, then convicted, and last of all punished, will appear. 29

During the early ’eighties, the Germans looked upon this system with growing irritation. They might see their convict thrust in gaol by the front door; they could never tell how soon he was enfranchised by the back; and they need not be the least surprised if they met him, a few days after, enjoying the delights of a malanga. It was a banded conspiracy, from the king and the vice-king downward, to evade the law and deprive the Germans of their profits. In 1883, accordingly, the consul, Dr. Stuebel, extorted a convention on the subject, in terms of which Samoans convicted of offences against German subjects were to be confined in a private gaol belonging to the German firm. To Dr. Stuebel it seemed simple enough: the offenders were to be effectually punished, the sufferers partially indemnified. To the Samoans, the thing appeared no less simple, but quite different: “Malietoa was selling Samoans to Misi Ueba.” What else could be expected? Here was a private corporation engaged in making money; to it was delegated, upon a question of profit and loss, one of the functions of the Samoan crown; and those who make anomalies must look for comments. Public feeling ran unanimous and high. Prisoners who escaped from the private gaol were not recaptured or not returned, and Malietoa hastened to build a new prison of his own, whither he conveyed, or pretended to convey, the fugitives. In October 1885 a trenchant state paper issued from the German consulate. Twenty prisoners, the consul wrote, had now been at large for eight months from Weber’s prison. It was pretended they had since then completed their term of punishment elsewhere. Dr. Stuebel did not seek to conceal his incredulity; but he took ground beyond; he declared the point irrelevant. The law was to be enforced. The men were condemned to a certain period in Weber’s prison; they had run away; they must now be brought back and (whatever had become of them in the interval) work out the sentence. Doubtless Dr. Stuebel’s demands were substantially just; but 30 doubtless also they bore from the outside a great appearance of harshness; and when the king submitted, the murmurs of the people increased.

But Weber was not yet content. The law had to be enforced; property, or at least the property of the firm, must be respected. And during an absence of the consul’s, he seems to have drawn up with his own hand, and certainly first showed to the king, in his own house, a new convention. Weber here and Weber there. As an able man, he was perhaps in the right to prepare and propose conventions. As the head of a trading company, he seems far out of his part to be communicating state papers to a sovereign. The administration of justice was the colour, and I am willing to believe the purpose, of the new paper; but its effect was to depose the existing government. A council of two Germans and two Samoans were to be invested with the right to make laws and impose taxes as might be “desirable for the common interest of the Samoan government and the German residents.” The provisions of this council the king and vice-king were to sign blindfold. And by a last hardship, the Germans, who received all the benefit, reserved a right to recede from the agreement on six months’ notice; the Samoans, who suffered all the loss, were bound by it in perpetuity. I can never believe that my friend Dr. Stuebel had a hand in drafting these proposals; I am only surprised he should have been a party to enforcing them, perhaps the chief error in these islands of a man who has made few. And they were enforced with a rigour that seems injudicious. The Samoans (according to their own account) were denied a copy of the document; they were certainly rated and threatened; their deliberation was treated as contumacy; two German war-ships lay in port, and it was hinted that these would shortly intervene.

Succeed in frightening a child, and he takes refuge in duplicity. “Malietoa,” one of the chiefs had written, “we know well we are in bondage to the great governments.” 31 It was now thought one tyrant might be better than three, and any one preferable to Germany. On the 5th November 1885, accordingly, Laupepa, Tamasese, and forty-eight high chiefs met in secret, and the supremacy of Samoa was secretly offered to Great Britain for the second time in history. Laupepa and Tamasese still figured as king and vice-king in the eyes of Dr. Stuebel; in their own, they had secretly abdicated, were become private persons, and might do what they pleased without binding or dishonouring their country. On the morrow, accordingly, they did public humiliation in the dust before the consulate, and five days later signed the convention. The last was done, it is claimed, upon an impulse. The humiliation, which it appeared to the Samoans so great a thing to offer, to the practical mind of Dr. Stuebel seemed a trifle to receive; and the pressure was continued and increased. Laupepa and Tamasese were both heavy, well-meaning, inconclusive men. Laupepa, educated for the ministry, still bears some marks of it in character and appearance; Tamasese was in private of an amorous and sentimental turn, but no one would have guessed it from his solemn and dull countenance. Impossible to conceive two less dashing champions for a threatened race; and there is no doubt they were reduced to the extremity of muddlement and childish fear. It was drawing towards night on the 10th, when this luckless pair and a chief of the name of Tuiatafu, set out for the German consulate, still minded to temporise. As they went, they discussed their case with agitation. They could see the lights of the German war-ships as they walked—an eloquent reminder. And it was then that Tamasese proposed to sign the convention. “It will give us peace for the day,” said Laupepa, “and afterwards Great Britain must decide.”—“Better fight Germany than that!” cried Tuiatafu, speaking words of wisdom, and departed in anger. But the two others proceeded on their fatal errand; signed the convention, writing themselves king and vice-king, 32 as they now believed themselves to be no longer; and with childish perfidy took part in a scene of “reconciliation” at the German consulate.

Malietoa supposed himself betrayed by Tamasese. Consul Churchward states with precision that the document was sold by a scribe for thirty-six dollars. Twelve days later at least, November 22nd, the text of the address to Great Britain came into the hands of Dr. Stuebel. The Germans may have been wrong before; they were now in the right to be angry. They had been publicly, solemnly, and elaborately fooled; the treaty and the reconciliation were both fraudulent, with the broad, farcical fraudulency of children and barbarians. This history is much from the outside; it is the digested report of eye-witnesses; it can be rarely corrected from state papers; and as to what consuls felt and thought, or what instructions they acted under, I must still be silent or proceed by guess. It is my guess that Stuebel now decided Malietoa Laupepa to be a man impossible to trust and unworthy to be dealt with. And it is certain that the business of his deposition was put in hand at once. The position of Weber, with his knowledge of things native, his prestige, and his enterprising intellect, must have always made him influential with the consul: at this juncture he was indispensable. Here was the deed to be done; here the man of action. “Mr. Weber rested not,” says Laupepa. It was “like the old days of his own consulate,” writes Churchward. His messengers filled the isle; his house was thronged with chiefs and orators; he sat close over his loom, delightedly weaving the future. There was one thing requisite to the intrigue,—a native pretender; and the very man, you would have said, stood waiting: Mataafa, titular of Atua, descended from both the royal lines, late joint king with Tamasese, fobbed off with nothing in the time of the Lackawanna treaty, probably mortified by the circumstance, a chief with a strong following, and in character and capacity high above the native average. Yet when Weber’s spiriting 33 was done, and the curtain rose on the set scene of the coronation, Mataafa was absent, and Tamasese stood in his place. Malietoa was to be deposed for a piece of solemn and offensive trickery, and the man selected to replace him was his sole partner and accomplice in the act. For so strange a choice, good ground must have existed; but it remains conjectural: some supposing Mataafa scratched as too independent; others that Tamasese had indeed betrayed Laupepa, and his new advancement was the price of his treachery.

So these two chiefs began to change places like the scales of a balance, one down, the other up. Tamasese raised his flag (Jan. 28th, 1886) in Leulumoenga, chief place of his own province of Aana, usurped the style of king, and began to collect and arm a force. Weber, by the admission of Stuebel, was in the market supplying him with weapons; so were the Americans; so, but for our salutary British law, would have been the British; for wherever there is a sound of battle, there will the traders be gathered together selling arms. A little longer, and we find Tamasese visited and addressed as king and majesty by a German commodore. Meanwhile, for the unhappy Malietoa, the road led downward. He was refused a bodyguard. He was turned out of Mulinuu, the seat of his royalty, on a land claim of Weber’s, fled across the Mulivai, and “had the coolness” (German expression) to hoist his flag in Apia. He was asked “in the most polite manner,” says the same account—“in the most delicate manner in the world,” a reader of Marryat might be tempted to amend the phrase,—to strike his flag in his own capital; and on his “refusal to accede to this request,” Dr. Stuebel appeared himself with ten men and an officer from the cruiser Albatross; a sailor climbed into the tree and brought down the flag of Samoa, which was carefully folded, and sent, “in the most polite manner,” to its owner. The consuls of England and the States were there (the excellent gentlemen!) to 34 protest. Last, and yet more explicit, the German commodore who visited the be-titled Tamasese, addressed the king—we may surely say the late king—as “the High Chief Malietoa.”

Had he no party, then? At that time, it is probable, he might have called some five-sevenths of Samoa to his standard. And yet he sat there, helpless monarch, like a fowl trussed for roasting. The blame lies with himself, because he was a helpless creature; it lies also with England and the States. Their agents on the spot preached peace (where there was no peace, and no pretence of it) with eloquence and iteration. Secretary Bayard seems to have felt a call to join personally in the solemn farce, and was at the expense of a telegram in which he assured the sinking monarch it was “for the higher interests of Samoa” he should do nothing. There was no man better at doing that; the advice came straight home, and was devoutly followed. And to be just to the great Powers, something was done in Europe; a conference was called, it was agreed to send commissioners to Samoa, and the decks had to be hastily cleared against their visit. Dr. Stuebel had attached the municipality of Apia and hoisted the German war-flag over Mulinuu; the American consul (in a sudden access of good service) had flown the stars and stripes over Samoan colours; on either side these steps were solemnly retracted. The Germans expressly disowned Tamasese; and the islands fell into a period of suspense, of some twelve months’ duration, during which the seat of the history was transferred to other countries and escapes my purview. Here on the spot, I select three incidents: the arrival on the scene of a new actor, the visit of the Hawaiian embassy, and the riot on the Emperor’s birthday. The rest shall be silence; only it must be borne in view that Tamasese all the while continued to strengthen himself in Leulumoenga, and Laupepa sat inactive listening to the song of consuls. 35

Captain Brandeis. The new actor was Brandeis, a Bavarian captain of artillery, of a romantic and adventurous character. He had served with credit in war; but soon wearied of garrison life, resigned his battery, came to the States, found employment as a civil engineer, visited Cuba, took a sub-contract on the Panama canal, caught the fever, and came (for the sake of the sea voyage) to Australia. He had that natural love for the tropics which lies so often latent in persons of a northern birth; difficulty and danger attracted him; and when he was picked out for secret duty, to be the hand of Germany in Samoa, there is no doubt but he accepted the post with exhilaration. It is doubtful if a better choice could have been made. He had courage, integrity, ideas of his own, and loved the employment, the people, and the place. Yet there was a fly in the ointment. The double error of unnecessary stealth and of the immixture of a trading company in political affairs, has vitiated, and in the end defeated, much German policy. And Brandeis was introduced to the islands as a clerk, and sent down to Leulumoenga (where he was soon drilling the troops and fortifying the position of the rebel king) as an agent of the German firm. What this mystification cost in the end I shall tell in another place; and even in the beginning, it deceived no one. Brandeis is a man of notable personal appearance; he looks the part allotted him; and the military clerk was soon the centre of observation and rumour. Malietoa wrote and complained of his presence to Becker, who had succeeded Dr. Stuebel in the consulate. Becker replied, “I have nothing to do with the gentleman Brandeis. Be it well known that the gentleman Brandeis has no appointment in a military character, but resides peaceably assisting the government of Leulumoenga in their work, for Brandeis is a quiet, sensible gentleman.” And then he promised to send the vice-consul to “get information of the captain’s doings”: surely supererogation of deceit. 36

The Hawaiian Embassy. The prime minister of the Hawaiian kingdom was, at this period, an adventurer of the name of Gibson. He claimed, on the strength of a romantic story, to be the heir of a great English house. He had played a part in a revolt in Java, had languished in Dutch fetters, and had risen to be a trusted agent of Brigham Young, the Utah president. It was in this character of a Mormon emissary that he first came to the islands of Hawaii, where he collected a large sum of money for the Church of the Latter Day Saints. At a given moment, he dropped his saintship and appeared as a Christian and the owner of a part of the island of Lanai. The steps of the transformation are obscure; they seem, at least, to have been ill-received at Salt Lake; and there is evidence to the effect that he was followed to the islands by Mormon assassins. His first attempt on politics was made under the auspices of what is called the missionary party, and the canvass conducted largely (it is said with tears) on the platform at prayer-meetings. It resulted in defeat. Without any decency of delay he changed his colours, abjured the errors of reform, and, with the support of the Catholics, rose to the chief power. In a very brief interval he had thus run through the gamut of religions in the South Seas. It does not appear that he was any more particular in politics, but he was careful to consult the character and prejudices of the late king, Kalakaua. That amiable, far from unaccomplished, but too convivial sovereign, had a continued use for money: Gibson was observant to keep him well supplied. Kalakaua (one of the most theoretical of men) was filled with visionary schemes for the protection and development of the Polynesian race: Gibson fell in step with him; it is even thought he may have shared in his illusions. The king and minister at least conceived between them a scheme of island confederation—the most obvious fault of which was that it came too late—and armed and fitted out the cruiser Kaimiloa, nest-egg of the future navy of Hawaii. Samoa, 37 the most important group still independent, and one immediately threatened with aggression, was chosen for the scene of action. The Hon. John E. Bush, a half-caste Hawaiian, sailed (December 1887) for Apia as minister-plenipotentiary, accompanied by a secretary of legation, Henry F. Poor; and as soon as she was ready for sea, the war-ship followed in support. The expedition was futile in its course, almost tragic in result. The Kaimiloa was from the first a scene of disaster and dilapidation: the stores were sold; the crew revolted; for a great part of a night she was in the hands of mutineers, and the secretary lay bound upon the deck. The mission, installing itself at first with extravagance in Matautu, was helped at last out of the island by the advances of a private citizen. And they returned from dreams of Polynesian independence to find their own city in the hands of a clique of white shopkeepers, and the great Gibson once again in gaol. Yet the farce had not been quite without effect. It had encouraged the natives for the moment, and it seems to have ruffled permanently the temper of the Germans. So might a fly irritate Cæsar.

The arrival of a mission from Hawaii would scarce affect the composure of the courts of Europe. But in the eyes of Polynesians the little kingdom occupies a place apart. It is there alone that men of their race enjoy most of the advantages and all the pomp of independence; news of Hawaii and descriptions of Honolulu are grateful topics in all parts of the South Seas; and there is no better introduction than a photograph in which the bearer shall be represented in company with Kalakaua. Laupepa was, besides, sunk to the point at which an unfortunate begins to clutch at straws, and he received the mission with delight. Letters were exchanged between him and Kalakaua; a deed of confederation was signed, 17th February 1887, and the signature celebrated in the new house of the Hawaiian embassy with some original ceremonies. Malietoa Laupepa came, attended by his 38 ministry, several hundred chiefs, two guards, and six policemen. Always decent, he withdrew at an early hour; by those that remained, all decency appears to have been forgotten; high chiefs were seen to dance; and day found the house carpeted with slumbering grandees, who must be roused, doctored with coffee, and sent home. As a first chapter in the history of Polynesian Confederation, it was hardly cheering, and Laupepa remarked to one of the embassy, with equal dignity and sense: “If you have come here to teach my people to drink, I wish you had stayed away.”

The Germans looked on from the first with natural irritation that a power of the powerlessness of Hawaii should thus profit by its undeniable footing in the family of nations, and send embassies, and make believe to have a navy, and bark and snap at the heels of the great German Empire. But Becker could not prevent the hunted Laupepa from taking refuge in any hole that offered, and he could afford to smile at the fantastic orgie in the embassy. It was another matter when the Hawaiians approached the intractable Mataafa, sitting still in his Atua government like Achilles in his tent, helping neither side, and (as the Germans suspected) keeping the eggs warm for himself. When the Kaimiloa steamed out of Apia on this visit, the German war-ship Adler followed at her heels; and Mataafa was no sooner set down with the embassy than he was summoned and ordered on board by two German officers. The step is one of those triumphs of temper which can only be admired. Mataafa is entertaining the plenipotentiary of a sovereign power in treaty with his own king, and the captain of a German corvette orders him to quit his guests.

But there was worse to come. I gather that Tamasese was at the time in the sulks. He had doubtless been promised prompt aid and a prompt success; he had seen himself surreptitiously helped, privately ordered about, and publicly disowned; and he was still the king of nothing 39 more than his own province, and already the second in command of Captain Brandeis. With the adhesion of some part of his native cabinet, and behind the back of his white minister, he found means to communicate with the Hawaiians. A passage on the Kaimiloa, a pension, and a home in Honolulu were the bribes proposed; and he seems to have been tempted. A day was set for a secret interview. Poor, the Hawaiian secretary, and J. D. Strong, an American painter attached to the embassy in the surprising quality of “Government Artist,” landed with a Samoan boat’s-crew in Aana; and while the secretary hid himself, according to agreement, in the outlying home of an English settler, the artist (ostensibly bent on photography) entered the headquarters of the rebel king. It was a great day in Leulumoenga; three hundred recruits had come in, a feast was cooking; and the photographer, in view of the native love of being photographed, was made entirely welcome. But beneath the friendly surface all were on the alert. The secret had leaked out: Weber beheld his plans threatened in the root; Brandeis trembled for the possession of his slave and sovereign; and the German vice-consul, Mr. Sonnenschein, had been sent or summoned to the scene of danger.

It was after dark, prayers had been said and the hymns sung through all the village, and Strong and the German sat together on the mats in the house of Tamasese, when the events began. Strong speaks German freely, a fact which he had not disclosed, and he was scarce more amused than embarrassed to be able to follow all the evening the dissension and the changing counsels of his neighbours. First the king himself was missing, and there was a false alarm that he had escaped and was already closeted with Poor. Next came certain intelligence that some of the ministry had run the blockade, and were on their way to the house of the English settler. Thereupon, in spite of some protests from Tamasese, who tried to defend the independence of his cabinet, Brandeis gathered a posse 40 of warriors, marched out of the village, brought back the fugitives, and clapped them in the corrugated iron shanty which served as gaol. Along with these he seems to have seized Billy Coe, interpreter to the Hawaiians; and Poor, seeing his conspiracy public, burst with his boat’s-crew into the town, made his way to the house of the native prime minister, and demanded Coe’s release. Brandeis hastened to the spot, with Strong at his heels; and the two principals being both incensed, and Strong seriously alarmed for his friend’s safety, there began among them a scene of great intemperance. At one point, when Strong suddenly disclosed his acquaintance with German, it attained a high style of comedy; at another, when a pistol was most foolishly drawn, it bordered on drama; and it may be said to have ended in a mixed genus, when Poor was finally packed into the corrugated iron gaol along with the forfeited ministers. Meanwhile the captain of his boat, Siteoni, of whom I shall have to tell again, had cleverly withdrawn the boat’s-crew at an early stage of the quarrel. Among the population beyond Tamasese’s marches, he collected a body of armed men, returned before dawn to Leulumoenga, demolished the corrugated iron gaol, and liberated the Hawaiian secretary and the rump of the rebel cabinet. No opposition was shown; and doubtless the rescue was connived at by Brandeis, who had gained his point. Poor had the face to complain the next day to Becker; but to compete with Becker in effrontery was labour lost. “You have been repeatedly warned, Mr. Poor, not to expose yourself among these savages,” said he.

Not long after, the presence of the Kaimiloa was made a casus belli by the Germans; and the rough-and-tumble embassy withdrew, on borrowed money, to find their own government in hot water to the neck.


The Emperor’s Birthday. It is possible, and it is alleged, that the Germans entered into the conference with hope. 41 But it is certain they were resolved to remain prepared for either fate. And I take the liberty of believing that Laupepa was not forgiven his duplicity; that, during this interval, he stood marked like a tree for felling; and that his conduct was daily scrutinised for further pretexts of offence. On the evening of the Emperor’s birthday, March 22nd, 1887, certain Germans were congregated in a public bar. The season and the place considered, it is scarce cynical to assume they had been drinking; nor, so much being granted, can it be thought exorbitant to suppose them possibly in fault for the squabble that took place. A squabble, I say; but I am willing to call it a riot. And this was the new fault of Laupepa; this it is that was described by a German commodore as “the trampling upon by Malietoa of the German Emperor.” I pass the rhetoric by to examine the point of liability. Four natives were brought to trial for this horrid fact: not before a native judge, but before the German magistrate of the tripartite municipality of Apia. One was acquitted, one condemned for theft, and two for assault. On appeal, not to Malietoa, but to the three consuls, the case was by a majority of two to one returned to the magistrate and (as far as I can learn) was then allowed to drop. Consul Becker himself laid the chief blame on one of the policemen of the municipality, a half-white of the name of Scanlon. Him he sought to have discharged, but was again baffled by his brother consuls. Where, in all this, are we to find a corner of responsibility for the king of Samoa? Scanlon, the alleged author of the outrage, was a half-white; as Becker was to learn to his cost, he claimed to be an American subject; and he was not even in the king’s employment. Apia, the scene of the outrage, was outside the king’s jurisdiction by treaty; by the choice of Germany, he was not so much as allowed to fly his flag there. And the denial of justice (if justice were denied) rested with the consuls of Britain and the States.

But when a dog is to be beaten, any stick will serve. 42 In the meanwhile, on the proposition of Mr. Bayard, the Washington conference on Samoan affairs was adjourned till autumn, so that “the ministers of Germany and Great Britain might submit the protocols to their respective Governments.” “You propose that the conference is to adjourn and not to be broken up?” asked Sir Lionel West. “To adjourn for the reasons stated,” replied Bayard. This was on July 26th; and, twenty-nine days later, by Wednesday the 24th of August, Germany had practically seized Samoa. For this flagrant breach of faith one excuse is openly alleged; another whispered. It is openly alleged that Bayard had shown himself impracticable; it is whispered that the Hawaiian embassy was an expression of American intrigue, and that the Germans only did as they were done by. The sufficiency of these excuses may be left to the discretion of the reader. But, however excused, the breach of faith was public and express; it must have been deliberately predetermined; and it was resented in the States as a deliberate insult.

By the middle of August 1887 there were five sail of German war-ships in Apia bay: the Bismarck, of 3000 tons displacement; the Carola, the Sophie, and the Olga, all considerable ships; and the beautiful Adler, which lies there to this day, kanted on her beam, dismantled, scarlet with rust, the day showing through her ribs. They waited inactive, as a burglar waits till the patrol goes by. And on the 23rd, when the mail had left for Sydney, when the eyes of the world were withdrawn, and Samoa plunged again for a period of weeks into her original island-obscurity, Becker opened his guns. The policy was too cunning to seem dignified; it gave to conduct which would otherwise have seemed bold and even brutally straightforward, the appearance of a timid ambuscade; and helped to shake men’s reliance on the word of Germany. On the day named, an ultimatum reached Malietoa at Afenga, whither he had retired months before to avoid friction. A fine of one thousand dollars and an ifo, or public humiliation, 43 were demanded for the affair of the Emperor’s birthday. Twelve thousand dollars were to be “paid quickly” for thefts from German plantations in the course of the last four years. “It is my opinion that there is nothing just or correct in Samoa while you are at the head of the government,” concluded Becker. “I shall be at Afenga in the morning of to-morrow, Wednesday, at 11 A.M.” The blow fell on Laupepa (in his own expression) “out of the bush”; the dilatory fellow had seen things hang over so long, he had perhaps begun to suppose they might hang over for ever; and here was ruin at the door. He rode at once to Apia, and summoned his chiefs. The council lasted all night long. Many voices were for defiance. But Laupepa had grown inured to a policy of procrastination; and the answer ultimately drawn only begged for delay till Saturday, the 27th. So soon as it was signed, the king took horse and fled in the early morning to Afenga; the council hastily dispersed; and only three chiefs, Selu, Seumanu, and Le Māmea, remained by the government building, tremulously expectant of the result.

By seven the letter was received. By 7.30 Becker arrived in person, inquired for Laupepa, was evasively answered, and declared war on the spot. Before eight, the Germans (seven hundred men and six guns) came ashore and seized and hoisted German colours on the government building. The three chiefs had made good haste to escape; but a considerable booty was made of government papers, fire-arms, and some seventeen thousand cartridges. Then followed a scene which long rankled in the minds of the white inhabitants, when the German marines raided the town in search of Malietoa, burst into private houses, and were accused (I am willing to believe on slender grounds) of violence to private persons.

On the morrow, the 25th, one of the German war-ships, which had been despatched to Leulumoenga over night re-entered the bay, flying the Tamasese colours at the fore. The new king was given a royal salute of twenty-one guns, 44 marched through the town by the commodore and a German guard of honour, and established on Mulinuu with two or three hundred warriors. Becker announced his recognition to the other consuls. These replied by proclaiming Malietoa, and in the usual mealy-mouthed manner advised Samoans to do nothing. On the 27th martial law was declared; and on the 1st September the German squadron dispersed about the group, bearing along with them the proclamations of the new king. Tamasese was now a great man, to have five iron war-ships for his post-runners. But the moment was critical. The revolution had to be explained, the chiefs persuaded to assemble at a fono summoned for the 15th; and the ships carried not only a store of printed documents, but a squad of Tamasese orators upon their round.

Such was the German coup d’état. They had declared war with a squadron of five ships upon a single man; that man, late king of the group, was in hiding on the mountains; and their own nominee, backed by German guns and bayonets, sat in his stead in Mulinuu.

One of the first acts of Malietoa, on fleeing to the bush, was to send for Mataafa twice: “I am alone in the bush; if you do not come quickly you will find me bound.” It is to be understood the men were near kinsmen, and had (if they had nothing else) a common jealousy. At the urgent cry, Mataafa set forth from Falefá, and came to Mulinuu to Tamasese. “What is this that you and the German commodore have decided on doing?” he inquired. “I am going to obey the German consul,” replied Tamasese, “whose wish it is that I should be the king and that all Samoa should assemble here.” “Do not pursue in wrath against Malietoa,” said Mataafa; “but try to bring about a compromise, and form a united government.” “Very well,” said Tamasese, “leave it to me, and I will try.” From Mulinuu, Mataafa went on board the Bismarck, and was graciously received. “Probably,” said the commodore, “we shall bring about a reconciliation of all Samoa 45 through you”; and then asked his visitor if he bore any affection to Malietoa. “Yes,” said Mataafa. “And to Tamasese?” “To him also; and if you desire the weal of Samoa, you will allow either him or me to bring about a reconciliation.” “If it were my will,” said the commodore, “I would do as you say. But I have no will in the matter. I have instructions from the Kaiser, and I cannot go back again from what I have been sent to do.” “I thought you would be commended,” said Mataafa, “if you brought about the weal of Samoa.” “I will tell you,” said the commodore. “All shall go quietly. But there is one thing that must be done: Malietoa must be deposed. I will do nothing to him beyond; he will only be kept on board for a couple of months and be well treated, just as we Germans did to the French chief [Napoleon III.] some time ago, whom we kept a while and cared for well.” Becker was no less explicit: war, he told Sewall, should not cease till the Germans had custody of Malietoa and Tamasese should be recognised.

Meantime, in the Malietoa provinces, a profound impression was received. People trooped to their fugitive sovereign in the bush. Many natives in Apia brought their treasures, and stored them in the houses of white friends. The Tamasese orators were sometimes ill received. Over in Savaii, they found the village of Satupaitea deserted, save for a few lads at cricket. These they harangued, and were rewarded with ironical applause; and the proclamation, as soon as they had departed, was torn down. For this offence the village was ultimately burned by German sailors, in a very decent and orderly style, on the 3rd September. This was the dinner-bell of the fono on the 15th. The threat conveyed in the terms of the summons—“If any government district does not quickly obey this direction, I will make war on that government district”—was thus commented on and reinforced. And the meeting was in consequence well attended by chiefs of all parties. They found themselves unarmed among 46 the armed warriors of Tamasese and the marines of the German squadron, and under the guns of five strong ships. Brandeis rose; it was his first open appearance, the German firm signing its revolutionary work. His words were few and uncompromising: “Great are my thanks that the chiefs and heads of families of the whole of Samoa are assembled here this day. It is strictly forbidden that any discussion should take place as to whether it is good or not that Tamasese is king of Samoa, whether at this fono or at any future fono. I place for your signature the following: ‘We inform all the people of Samoa of what follows: (1) The government of Samoa has been assumed by King Tuiaana Tamasese. (2) By order of the king, it was directed that a fono should take place to-day, composed of the chiefs and heads of families, and we have obeyed the summons. We have signed our names under this, 15th September 1887.’” Needs must under all these guns; and the paper was signed, but not without open sullenness. The bearing of Mataafa in particular was long remembered against him by the Germans. “Do you not see the king?” said the commodore reprovingly. “His father was no king,” was the bold answer. A bolder still has been printed, but this is Mataafa’s own recollection of the passage. On the next day, the chiefs were all ordered back to shake hands with Tamasese. Again they obeyed; but again their attitude was menacing, and some, it is said, audibly murmured as they gave their hands.

It is time to follow the poor Sheet of Paper (literal meaning of Laupepa), who was now to be blown so broadly over the face of earth. As soon as news reached him of the declaration of war, he fled from Afenga to Tanungamanono, a hamlet in the bush, about a mile and a half behind Apia, where he lurked some days. On the 24th, Selu, his secretary, despatched to the American consul an anxious appeal, his majesty’s “cry and prayer” in behalf of “this weak people.” By August 30th, the Germans had word of his lurking-place, surrounded the hamlet under 47 cloud of night, and in the early morning burst with a force of sailors on the houses. The people fled on all sides, and were fired upon. One boy was shot in the hand, the first blood of the war. But the king was nowhere to be found; he had wandered farther, over the woody mountains, the backbone of the land, towards Siumu and Safata. Here, in a safe place, he built himself a town in the forest, where he received a continual stream of visitors and messengers. Day after day the German blue-jackets were employed in the hopeless enterprise of beating the forests for the fugitive; day after day they were suffered to pass unhurt under the guns of ambushed Samoans; day after day they returned, exhausted and disappointed, to Apia. Seumanu Tafa, high chief of Apia, was known to be in the forest with the king; his wife, Fatuila, was seized, imprisoned in the German hospital, and when it was thought her spirit was sufficiently reduced, brought up for cross-examination. The wise lady confined herself in answer to a single word. “Is your husband near Apia?” “Yes.” “Is he far from Apia?” “Yes.” “Is he with the king?” “Yes.” “Are he and the king in different places?” “Yes.” Whereupon the witness was discharged. About the 10th of September, Laupepa was secretly in Apia at the American consulate with two companions. The German pickets were close set and visited by a strong patrol; and on his return, his party was observed and hailed and fired on by a sentry. They ran away on all fours in the dark, and so doing plumped upon another sentry, whom Laupepa grappled and flung in a ditch; for the Sheet of Paper, although infirm of character, is, like most Samoans, of an able body. The second sentry (like the first) fired after his assailants at random in the dark; and the two shots awoke the curiosity of Apia. On the afternoon of the 16th, the day of the hand-shakings, Suatele, a high chief, despatched two boys across the island with a letter. They were most of the night upon the road; it was near three in the morning before the sentries in the camp of Malietoa 48 beheld their lantern drawing near out of the wood; but the king was at once awakened. The news was decisive and the letter peremptory; if Malietoa did not give himself up before ten on the morrow, he was told that great sorrows must befall his country. I have not been able to draw Laupepa as a hero; but he is a man of certain virtues, which the Germans had now given him an occasion to display. Without hesitation he sacrificed himself, penned his touching farewell to Samoa, and making more expedition than the messengers, passed early behind Apia to the banks of the Vaisingano. As he passed, he detached a messenger to Mataafa at the Catholic mission. Mataafa followed by the same road, and the pair met at the river-side and went and sat together in a house. All present were in tears. “Do not let us weep,” said the talking man, Lauati. “We have no cause for shame. We do not yield to Tamasese, but to the invincible strangers.” The departing king bequeathed the care of his country to Mataafa; and when the latter sought to console him with the commodore’s promises, he shook his head, and declared his assurance that he was going to a life of exile, and perhaps to death. About two o’clock the meeting broke up; Mataafa returned to the Catholic mission by the back of the town; and Malietoa proceeded by the beach road to the German naval hospital, where he was received (as he owns, with perfect civility) by Brandeis. About three, Becker brought him forth again. As they went to the wharf, the people wept and clung to their departing monarch. A boat carried him on board the Bismarck, and he vanished from his countrymen. Yet it was long rumoured that he still lay in the harbour; and so late as October 7th, a boy, who had been paddling round the Carola, professed to have seen and spoken with him. Here again the needless mystery affected by the Germans bitterly disserved them. The uncertainty which thus hung over Laupepa’s fate, kept his name continually in men’s mouths. The words of his farewell rang in their ears: “To all Samoa: On 49 account of my great love to my country and my great affection to all Samoa, this is the reason that I deliver up my body to the German government. That government may do as they wish to me. The reason of this is, because I do not desire that the blood of Samoa shall be spilt for me again. But I do not know what is my offence which has caused their anger to me and to my country.” And then, apostrophising the different provinces: “Tuamasanga, farewell! Manono and family, farewell! So, also, Salafai, Tutuila, Aana, and Atua, farewell! If we do not again see one another in this world, pray that we may be again together above.” So the sheep departed with the halo of a saint, and men thought of him as of some King Arthur snatched into Avilion.

On board the Bismarck, the commodore shook hands with him, told him he was to be “taken away from all the chiefs with whom he had been accustomed,” and had him taken to the wardroom under guard. The next day he was sent to sea in the Adler. There went with him his brother Moli, one Meisake, and one Alualu, half-caste German, to interpret. He was respectfully used; he dined in the stern with the officers, but the boys dined “near where the fire was.” They came to a “newly-formed place” in Australia, where the Albatross was lying, and a British ship, which he knew to be a man-of-war “because the officers were nicely dressed and wore epaulettes.” Here he was transhipped, “in a boat with a screen,” which he supposed was to conceal him from the British ship; and on board the Albatross was sent below and told he must stay there till they had sailed. Later, however, he was allowed to come on deck, where he found they had rigged a screen (perhaps an awning) under which he walked, looking at “the newly-formed settlement,” and admiring a big house “where he was sure the governor lived.” From Australia, they sailed some time, and reached an anchorage where a consul-general came on board, and where Laupepa was only allowed on deck at 50 night. He could then see the lights of a town with wharves; he supposes Cape Town. Off the Cameroons they anchored or lay-to, far at sea, and sent a boat ashore to see (he supposes) that there was no British man-of-war. It was the next morning before the boat returned, when the Albatross stood in and came to anchor near another German ship. Here Alualu came to him on deck and told him this was the place. “That is an astonishing thing,” said he. “I thought I was to go to Germany, I do not know what this means; I do not know what will be the end of it; my heart is troubled.” Whereupon Alualu burst into tears. A little after, Laupepa was called below to the captain and the governor. The last addressed him: “This is my own place, a good place, a warm place. My house is not yet finished, but when it is, you shall live in one of my rooms until I can make a house for you.” Then he was taken ashore and brought to a tall, iron house. “This house is regulated,” said the governor; “there is no fire allowed to burn in it.” In one part of this house, weapons of the government were hung up; there was a passage, and on the other side of the passage, fifty criminals were chained together, two and two, by the ankles. The windows were out of reach; and there was only one door, which was opened at six in the morning and shut again at six at night. All day he had his liberty, went to the Baptist Mission, and walked about viewing the negroes, who were “like the sand on the seashore” for number. At six they were called into the house and shut in for the night without beds or lights. “Although they gave me no light,” said he, with a smile, “I could see I was in a prison.” Good food was given him: biscuits, “tea made with warm water,” beef, etc.; all excellent. Once, in their walks, they spied a breadfruit tree bearing in the garden of an English merchant, ran back to the prison to get a shilling, and came and offered to purchase. “I am not going to sell breadfruit to you people,” said the merchant; “come and take what you like.” Here 51 Malietoa interrupted himself to say it was the only tree bearing in the Cameroons. “The governor had none, or he would have given it to me.” On the passage from the Cameroons to Germany, he had great delight to see the cliffs of England. He saw “the rocks shining in the sun, and three hours later was surprised to find them sunk in the heavens.” He saw also wharves and immense buildings; perhaps Dover and its castle. In Hamburg, after breakfast, Mr. Weber, who had now finally “ceased from troubling” Samoa, came on board, and carried him ashore “suitably” in a steam launch to “a large house of the government,” where he stayed till noon. At noon Weber told him he was going to “the place where ships are anchored that go to Samoa,” and led him to “a very magnificent house, with carriages inside and a wonderful roof of glass”; to wit, the railway station. They were benighted on the train, and then went in “something with a house, drawn by horses, which had windows and many decks”; plainly an omnibus. Here (at Bremen or Bremerhaven, I believe) they stayed some while in “a house of five hundred rooms”; then were got on board the Nürnberg (as they understood) for Samoa, anchored in England on a Sunday, were joined en route by the famous Dr. Knappe, passed through “a narrow passage where they went very slow and which was just like a river,” and beheld with exhilarated curiosity that Red Sea of which they had learned so much in their Bibles. At last, “at the hour when the fires burn red,” they came to a place where was a German man-of-war. Laupepa was called, with one of the boys, on deck, when he found a German officer awaiting him, and a steam launch alongside, and was told he must now leave his brother and go elsewhere. “I cannot go like this,” he cried. “You must let me see my brother and the other old men”—a term of courtesy. Knappe, who seems always to have been good-natured, revised his orders, and consented not only to an interview, but to allow Moli to continue to 52 accompany the king. So these two were carried to the man-of-war, and sailed many a day, still supposing themselves bound for Samoa; and lo! she came to a country the like of which they had never dreamed of, and cast anchor in the great lagoon of Jaluit; and upon that narrow land the exiles were set on shore. This was the part of his captivity on which he looked back with the most bitterness. It was the last, for one thing, and he was worn down with the long suspense, and terror, and deception. He could not bear the brackish water; and though “the Germans were still good to him, and gave him beef and biscuit and tea,” he suffered from the lack of vegetable food.

Such is the narrative of this simple exile. I have not sought to correct it by extraneous testimony. It is not so much the facts that are historical, as the man’s attitude. No one could hear this tale as he originally told it in my hearing—I think none can read it as here condensed and unadorned—without admiring the fairness and simplicity of the Samoan; and wondering at the want of heart—or want of humour—in so many successive civilised Germans, that they should have continued to surround this infant with the secrecy of state.




September ’87 to August ’88

So Tamasese was on the throne, and Brandeis behind it; and I have now to deal with their brief and luckless reign. That it was the reign of Brandeis needs not to be argued: the policy is throughout that of an able, over-hasty white, with eyes and ideas. But it should be borne in mind that he had a double task, and must first lead his sovereign, before he could begin to drive their common subjects. Meanwhile, he himself was exposed (if all tales be true) to much dictation and interference, and to some “cumbrous aid,” from the consulate and the firm. And to one of these aids, the suppression of the municipality, I am inclined to attribute his ultimate failure.

The white enemies of the new regimen were of two classes. In the first stood Moors and the employés of MacArthur, the two chief rivals of the firm, who saw with jealousy a clerk (or a so-called clerk) of their competitors advanced to the chief power. The second class, that of the officials, numbered at first exactly one. Wilson, the English acting consul, is understood to have held strict orders to help Germany. Commander Leary, of the Adams, the American captain, when he arrived, on the 16th October, and for some time after, seemed devoted to the German interest, and spent his days with a German officer, Captain Von Widersheim, who was deservedly beloved by all who knew him. There remains the American consul-general, Harold Marsh Sewall, a young man of 54 high spirit and a generous disposition. He had obeyed the orders of his government with a grudge; and looked back on his past action with regret almost to be called repentance. From the moment of the declaration of war against Laupepa, we find him standing forth in bold, consistent, and sometimes rather captious opposition, stirring up his government at home with clear and forcible despatches, and on the spot grasping at every opportunity to thrust a stick into the German wheels. For some while, he and Moors fought their difficult battle in conjunction; in the course of which, first one, and then the other, paid a visit home to reason with the authorities at Washington; and during the consul’s absence, there was found an American clerk in Apia, William Blacklock, to perform the duties of the office with remarkable ability and courage. The three names just brought together, Sewall, Moors, and Blacklock, make the head and front of the opposition; if Tamasese fell, if Brandeis was driven forth, if the treaty of Berlin was signed, theirs is the blame or the credit.

To understand the feelings of self-reproach and bitterness with which Sewall took the field, the reader must see Laupepa’s letter of farewell to the consuls of England and America. It is singular that this far from brilliant or dignified monarch, writing in the forest, in heaviness of spirit and under pressure for time, should have left behind him not only one, but two remarkable and most effective documents. The farewell to his people was touching; the farewell to the consuls, for a man of the character of Sewall, must have cut like a whip. “When the chief Tamasese and others first moved the present troubles,” he wrote, “it was my wish to punish them and put an end to the rebellion; but I yielded to the advice of the British and American consuls. Assistance and protection was repeatedly promised to me and my government, if I abstained from bringing war upon my country. Relying upon these promises, I did not put down the rebellion. Now I find that war has been made upon me 55 by the Emperor of Germany, and Tamasese has been proclaimed king of Samoa. I desire to remind you of the promises so frequently made by your government, and trust that you will so far redeem them as to cause the lives and liberties of my chiefs and people to be respected.”

Sewall’s immediate adversary was, of course, Becker. I have formed an opinion of this gentleman, largely from his printed despatches, which I am at a loss to put in words. Astute, ingenious, capable, at moments almost witty with a kind of glacial wit in action, he displayed in the course of this affair every description of capacity but that which is alone useful and which springs from a knowledge of men’s natures. It chanced that one of Sewall’s early moves played into his hands, and he was swift to seize and to improve the advantage. The neutral territory and the tripartite municipality of Apia were eyesores to the German consulate and Brandeis. By landing Tamasese’s two or three hundred warriors at Mulinuu, as Becker himself owns, they had infringed the treaties, and Sewall entered protest twice. There were two ways of escaping this dilemma: one was to withdraw the warriors; the other, by some hocus-pocus, to abrogate the neutrality. And the second had subsidiary advantages: it would restore the taxes of the richest district in the islands to the Samoan king; and it would enable them to substitute over the royal seat the flag of Germany for the new flag of Tamasese. It is true (and it was the subject of much remark) that these two could hardly be distinguished by the naked eye; but their effects were different. To seat the puppet king on German land and under German colours, so that any rebellion was constructive war on Germany, was a trick apparently invented by Becker, and which we shall find was repeated and persevered in till the end.

Otto Martin was at this time magistrate in the municipality. The post was held in turn by the three nationalities; Martin had served far beyond his term, and should have been succeeded months before by an American. 56 To make the change it was necessary to hold a meeting of the municipal board, consisting of the three consuls, each backed by an assessor. And for some time these meetings had been evaded or refused by the German consul. As long as it was agreed to continue Martin, Becker had attended regularly; as soon as Sewall indicated a wish for his removal, Becker tacitly suspended the municipality by refusing to appear. This policy was now the more necessary; for if the whole existence of the municipality were a check on the freedom of the new government, it was plainly less so when the power to enforce and punish lay in German hands. For some while back the Malietoa flag had been flown on the municipal building: Becker denies this; I am sorry; my information obliges me to suppose he is in error. Sewall, with post-mortem loyalty to the past, insisted that this flag should be continued. And Becker immediately made his point. He declared, justly enough, that the proposal was hostile, and argued that it was impossible he should attend a meeting under a flag with which his sovereign was at war. Upon one occasion of urgency, he was invited to meet the two other consuls at the British consulate; even this he refused; and for four months the municipality slumbered, Martin still in office. In the month of October, in consequence, the British and American ratepayers announced they would refuse to pay. Becker doubtless rubbed his hands. On Saturday, the 10th, the chief Tamaseu, a Malietoa man of substance and good character, was arrested on a charge of theft believed to be vexatious, and cast by Martin into the municipal prison. He sent to Moors, who was his tenant and owed him money at the time, for bail. Moors applied to Sewall, ranking consul. After some search, Martin was found and refused to consider bail before the Monday morning. Whereupon Sewall demanded the keys from the gaoler, accepted Moors’s verbal recognisances, and set Tamaseu free.

Things were now at a deadlock; and Becker astonished 57 every one by agreeing to a meeting on the 14th. It seems he knew what to expect. Writing on the 13th at least, he prophesies that the meeting will be held in vain, that the municipality must lapse, and the government of Tamasese step in. On the 14th, Sewall left his consulate in time, and walked some part of the way to the place of meeting in company with Wilson, the English pro-consul. But he had forgotten a paper, and in an evil hour returned for it alone. Wilson arrived without him, and Becker broke up the meeting for want of a quorum. There was some unedifying disputation as to whether he had waited ten or twenty minutes, whether he had been officially or unofficially informed by Wilson that Sewall was on the way, whether the statement had been made to himself or to Weber1 in answer to a question, and whether he had heard Wilson’s answer or only Weber’s question: all otiose; if he heard the question, he was bound to have waited for the answer; if he heard it not, he should have put it himself; and it was the manifest truth that he rejoiced in his occasion. “Sir,” he wrote to Sewall, “I have the honour to inform you that, to my regret, I am obliged to consider the municipal government to be provisionally in abeyance since you have withdrawn your consent to the continuation of Mr. Martin in his position as magistrate, and since you have refused to take part in the meeting of the municipal board agreed to for the purpose of electing a magistrate. The government of the town and district of the municipality rests, as long as the municipality is in abeyance, with the Samoan government. The Samoan government has taken over the administration, and has applied to the commander of the imperial German squadron for assistance in the preservation of good order.” This letter was not delivered until 4 P.M. By three, sailors had been landed. Already German colours flew over Tamasese’s headquarters at Mulinuu, and German guards had occupied the hospital, the German consulate, and the municipal 58 gaol and courthouse, where they stood to arms under the flag of Tamasese. The same day Sewall wrote to protest. Receiving no reply, he issued on the morrow a proclamation bidding all Americans look to himself alone. On the 26th, he wrote again to Becker, and on the 27th received this genial reply: “Sir, your high favour of the 26th of this month, I give myself the honour of acknowledging. At the same time I acknowledge the receipt of your high favour of the 14th October in reply to my communication of the same date, which contained the information of the suspension of the arrangements for the municipal government.” There the correspondence ceased. And on the 18th January came the last step of this irritating intrigue when Tamasese appointed a judge—and the judge proved to be Martin.

Thus was the adventure of the Castle Municipal achieved by Sir Becker the chivalrous. The taxes of Apia, the gaol, the police, all passed into the hands of Tamasese-Brandeis; a German was secured upon the bench; and the German flag might wave over her puppet unquestioned. But there is a law of human nature which diplomatists should be taught at school, and it seems they are not; that men can tolerate bare injustice, but not the combination of injustice and subterfuge. Hence the chequered career of the thimble-rigger. Had the municipality been seized by open force, there might have been complaint, it would not have aroused the same lasting grudge.

This grudge was an ill gift to bring to Brandeis, who had trouble enough in front of him without. He was an alien, he was supported by the guns of alien war-ships, and he had come to do an alien’s work, highly needful for Samoa, but essentially unpopular with all Samoans. The law to be enforced, causes of dispute between white and brown to be eliminated, taxes to be raised, a central power created, the country opened up, the native race taught industry: all these were detestable to the natives, and to all of these he must set his hand. The more I learn of 59 his brief term of rule, the more I learn to admire him, and to wish we had his like.

In the face of bitter native opposition, he got some roads accomplished. He set up beacons. The taxes he enforced with necessary vigour. By the 6th of January, Aua and Fangatonga, districts in Tutuila, having made a difficulty, Brandeis is down at the island in a schooner, with the Adler at his heels, seizes the chief Maunga, fines the recalcitrant districts in three hundred dollars for expenses, and orders all to be in by April 20th, which if it is not, “not one thing will be done,” he proclaimed, “but war declared against you, and the principal chiefs taken to a distant island.” He forbade mortgages of copra, a frequent source of trickery and quarrel; and to clear off those already contracted, passed a severe but salutary law. Each individual or family was first to pay off its own obligation; that settled, the free man was to pay for the indebted village, the free village for the indebted province, and one island for another. Samoa, he declared, should be free of debt within a year. Had he given it three years, and gone more gently, I believe it might have been accomplished. To make it the more possible, he sought to interdict the natives from buying cotton stuffs and to oblige them to dress (at least for the time) in their own tapa. He laid the beginnings of a royal territorial army. The first draft was in his hands drilling. But it was not so much on drill that he depended; it was his hope to kindle in these men an esprit de corps, which should weaken the old local jealousies and bonds, and found a central or national party in the islands. Looking far before, and with a wisdom beyond that of many merchants, he had condemned the single dependence placed on copra for the national livelihood. His recruits, even as they drilled, were taught to plant cacao. Each, his term of active service finished, should return to his own land and plant and cultivate a stipulated area. Thus, as the young men continued to pass through the army, habits of discipline and industry, 60 a central sentiment, the principles of the new culture, and actual gardens of cacao, should be concurrently spread over the face of the islands.

Tamasese received, including his household expenses, 1960 dollars a year; Brandeis, 2400. All such disproportions are regrettable, but this is not extreme: we have seen horses of a different colour since then. And the Tamaseseites, with true Samoan ostentation, offered to increase the salary of their white premier: an offer he had the wisdom and good feeling to refuse. A European chief of police received twelve hundred. There were eight head judges, one to each province, and appeal lay from the district judge to the provincial, thence to Mulinuu. From all salaries (I gather) a small monthly guarantee was withheld. The army was to cost from three to four thousand, Apia (many whites refusing to pay taxes since the suppression of the municipality) might cost three thousand more: Sir Becker’s high feat of arms coming expensive (it will be noticed) even in money. The whole outlay was estimated at twenty-seven thousand; and the revenue forty thousand: a sum Samoa is well able to pay.

Such were the arrangements and some of the ideas of this strong, ardent, and sanguine man. Of criticisms upon his conduct, beyond the general consent that he was rather harsh and in too great a hurry, few are articulate. The native paper of complaints was particularly childish. Out of twenty-three counts, the first two refer to the private character of Brandeis and Tamasese. Three complain that Samoan officials were kept in the dark as to the finances; one, of the tapa law; one, of the direct appointment of chiefs by Tamasese-Brandeis, the sort of mistake into which Europeans in the South Seas fall so readily; one, of the enforced labour of chiefs; one, of the taxes; and one, of the roads. This I may give in full from the very lame translation in the American white book. “The roads that were made were called the Government Roads; they were six fathoms wide. Their making 61 caused much damage to Samoa’s lands and what was planted on it. The Samoans cried on account of their lands, which were taken high-handedly and abused. They again cried on account of the loss of what they had planted, which was now thrown away in a high-handed way, without any regard being shown or question asked of the owner of the land, or any compensation offered for the damage done. This was different with foreigners’ land; in their case permission was first asked to make the roads; the foreigners were paid for any destruction made.” The sting of this count was, I fancy, in the last clause. No less than six articles complain of the administration of the law; and I believe that was never satisfactory. Brandeis told me himself he was never yet satisfied with any native judge. And men say (and it seems to fit in well with his hasty and eager character) that he would legislate by word of mouth; sometimes forget what he had said; and, on the same question arising in another province, decide it perhaps otherwise. I gather, on the whole, our artillery captain was not great in law. Two articles refer to a matter I must deal with more at length, and rather from the point of view of the white residents.

The common charge against Brandeis was that of favouring the German firm. Coming as he did, this was inevitable. Weber had bought Steinberger with hard cash; that was matter of history. The present government he did not even require to buy, having founded it by his intrigues, and introduced the premier to Samoa through the doors of his own office. And the effect of the initial blunder was kept alive by the chatter of the clerks in bar-rooms, boasting themselves of the new government and prophesying annihilation to all rivals. The time of raising a tax is the harvest of the merchants; it is the time when copra will be made, and must be sold; and the intention of the German firm, first in the time of Steinberger, and again in April and May, 1888, with Brandeis, was to seize and handle the whole operation. Their 62 chief rivals were the Messrs. MacArthur; and it seems beyond question that provincial governors more than once issued orders forbidding Samoans to take money from “the New Zealand firm.” These, when they were brought to his notice, Brandeis disowned, and he is entitled to be heard. No man can live long in Samoa and not have his honesty impugned. But the accusations against Brandeis’s veracity are both few and obscure. I believe he was as straight as his sword. The governors doubtless issued these orders, but there were plenty besides Brandeis to suggest them. Every wandering clerk from the firm’s office, every plantation manager, would be dinning the same story in the native ear. And here again the initial blunder hung about the neck of Brandeis, a ton’s weight. The natives, as well as the whites, had seen their premier masquerading on a stool in the office; in the eyes of the natives, as well as in those of the whites, he must always have retained the mark of servitude from that ill-judged passage; and they would be inclined to look behind and above him, to the great house of Misi Ueba. The government was like a vista of puppets. People did not trouble with Tamasese, if they got speech with Brandeis; in the same way, they might not always trouble to ask Brandeis, if they had a hint direct from Misi Ueba. In only one case, though it seems to have had many developments, do I find the premier personally committed. The MacArthurs claimed the copra of Fasitotai on a district mortgage of three hundred dollars. The German firm accepted a mortgage of the whole province of Aana, claimed the copra of Fasitotai as that of a part of Aana, and were supported by the government. Here Brandeis was false to his own principle, that personal and village debts should come before provincial. But the case occurred before the promulgation of the law, and was, as a matter of fact, the cause of it; so the most we can say is that he changed his mind, and changed it for the better. If the history of his government be considered—how it originated 63 in an intrigue between the firm and the consulate, and was (for the firm’s sake alone) supported by the consulate with foreign bayonets—the existence of the least doubt on the man’s action must seem marvellous. We should have looked to find him playing openly and wholly into their hands; that he did not, implies great independence and much secret friction; and I believe (if the truth were known) the firm would be found to have been disgusted with the stubbornness of its intended tool, and Brandeis often impatient of the demands of his creators.

But I may seem to exaggerate the degree of white opposition. And it is true that before fate overtook the Brandeis government, it appeared to enjoy the fruits of victory in Apia; and one dissident, the unconquerable Moors, stood out alone to refuse his taxes. But the victory was in appearance only; the opposition was latent; it found vent in talk, and thus reacted on the natives; upon the least excuse, it was ready to flame forth again. And this is the more singular because some were far from out of sympathy with the native policy pursued. When I met Captain Brandeis, he was amazed at my attitude. “Whom did you find in Apia to tell you so much good of me?” he asked. I named one of my informants. “He?” he cried. “If he thought all that, why did he not help me?” I told him as well as I was able. The man was a merchant. He beheld in the government of Brandeis a government created by and for the firm who were his rivals. If Brandeis were minded to deal fairly, where was the probability that he would be allowed? If Brandeis insisted and were strong enough to prevail, what guarantee that, as soon as the government were fairly accepted, Brandeis might not be removed? Here was the attitude of the hour; and I am glad to find it clearly set forth in a despatch of Sewall’s, June 18th, 1888, when he commends the law against mortgages, and goes on: “Whether the author of this law will carry out the good intentions which he professes—whether he will be allowed to do so, if he desires, 64 against the opposition of those who placed him in power and protect him in the possession of it—may well be doubted.” Brandeis had come to Apia in the firm’s livery. Even while he promised neutrality in commerce, the clerks were prating a different story in the bar-rooms; and the late high feat of the knight-errant, Becker, had killed all confidence in Germans at the root. By these three impolicies, the German adventure in Samoa was defeated.

I imply that the handful of whites were the true obstacle, not the thousands of malcontent Samoans; for had the whites frankly accepted Brandeis, the path of Germany was clear, and the end of their policy, however troublesome might be its course, was obvious. But this is not to say that the natives were content. In a sense, indeed, their opposition was continuous. There will always be opposition in Samoa when taxes are imposed; and the deportation of Malietoa stuck in men’s throats. Tuiatua Mataafa refused to act under the new government from the beginning, and Tamasese usurped his place and title. As early as February, I find him signing himself “Tuiaana Tuiatua Tamasese,” the first step on a dangerous path. Asi, like Mataafa, disclaimed his chiefship and declared himself a private person; but he was more rudely dealt with. German sailors surrounded his house in the night, burst in, and dragged the women out of the mosquito nets—an offence against Samoan manners. No Asi was to be found; but at last they were shown his fishing-lights on the reef, rowed out, took him as he was, and carried him on board a man-of-war, where he was detained some while between-decks. At last, January 16th, after a farewell interview over the ship’s side with his wife, he was discharged into a ketch, and along with two other chiefs, Maunga and Tuiletu-funga, deported to the Marshalls. The blow struck fear upon all sides. Le Māmea (a very able chief) was secretly among the malcontents. His family and followers murmured at his weakness; but he continued, throughout 65 the duration of the government, to serve Brandeis with trembling. A circus coming to Apia, he seized at the pretext for escape, and asked leave to accept an engagement in the company. “I will not allow you to make a monkey of yourself,” said Brandeis; and the phrase had a success throughout the islands, pungent expressions being so much admired by the natives that they cannot refrain from repeating them, even when they have been levelled at themselves. The assumption of the Atua name spread discontent in that province; many chiefs from thence were convicted of disaffection, and condemned to labour with their hands upon the roads—a great shock to the Samoan sense of the becoming, which was rendered the more sensible by the death of one of the number at his task. Mataafa was involved in the same trouble. His disaffected speech at a meeting of Atua chiefs was betrayed by the girls that made the kava, and the man of the future was called to Apia on safe-conduct, but, after an interview, suffered to return to his lair. The peculiarly tender treatment of Mataafa must be explained by his relationship to Tamasese. Laupepa was of Malietoa blood. The hereditary retainers of the Tupua would see him exiled even with some complacency. But Mataafa was Tupua himself; and Tupua men would probably have murmured, and would perhaps have mutinied, had he been harshly dealt with.

The native opposition, I say, was in a sense continuous. And it kept continuously growing. The sphere of Brandeis was limited to Mulinuu and the north central quarters of Upolu—practically what is shown upon the map opposite. There the taxes were expanded; in the out-districts, men paid their money and saw no return. Here the eye and hand of the dictator were ready to correct the scales of justice; in the out-districts, all things lay at the mercy of the native magistrates, and their oppressions increased with the course of time and the experience of impunity. In the spring of the year, a very intelligent observer had occasion 66 to visit many places in the island of Savaii. “Our lives are not worth living,” was the burthen of the popular complaint. “We are groaning under the oppression of these men. We would rather die than continue to endure it.” On his return to Apia, he made haste to communicate his impressions to Brandeis. Brandeis replied in an epigram: “Where there has been anarchy in a country, there must be oppression for a time.” But unfortunately the terms of the epigram may be reversed; and personal supervision would have been more in season than wit. The same observer who conveyed to him this warning thinks that, if Brandeis had himself visited the districts and inquired into complaints, the blow might yet have been averted and the government saved. At last, upon a certain unconstitutional act of Tamasese, the discontent took life and fire. The act was of his own conception; the dull dog was ambitious. Brandeis declares he would not be dissuaded; perhaps his adviser did not seriously try, perhaps did not dream that in that welter of contradictions, the Samoan constitution, any one point would be considered sacred. I have told how Tamasese assumed the title of Tuiatua. In August 1888 a year after his installation, he took a more formidable step and assumed that of Malietoa. This name, as I have said, is of peculiar honour; it had been given to, it had never been taken from, the exiled Laupepa; those in whose grant it lay, stood punctilious upon their rights; and Tamasese, as the representative of their natural opponents, the Tupua line, was the last who should have had it. And there was yet more, though I almost despair to make it thinkable by Europeans. Certain old mats are handed down, and set huge store by; they may be compared to coats of arms or heirlooms among ourselves; and to the horror of more than one-half of Samoa, Tamasese, the head of the Tupua, began collecting Malietoa mats. It was felt that the cup was full, and men began to prepare secretly for rebellion. The history of the month of August is unknown to whites; it passed altogether in the covert 67 of the woods or in the stealthy councils of Samoans. One ominous sign was to be noted; arms and ammunition began to be purchased or inquired about; and the more wary traders ordered fresh consignments of material of war. But the rest was silence; the government slept in security; and Brandeis was summoned at last from a public dinner, to find rebellion organised, the woods behind Apia full of insurgents, and a plan prepared, and in the very article of execution, to surprise and seize Mulinuu. The timely discovery averted all; and the leaders hastily withdrew towards the south side of the island, leaving in the bush a rear-guard under a young man of the name of Saifaleupolu. According to some accounts, it scarce numbered forty; the leader was no great chief, but a handsome, industrious lad who seems to have been much beloved. And upon this obstacle Brandeis fell. It is the man’s fault to be too impatient of results; his public intention to free Samoa of all debt within the year, depicts him; and instead of continuing to temporise and let his enemies weary and disperse, he judged it politic to strike a blow. He struck it, with what seemed to be success, and the sound of it roused Samoa to rebellion.

About two in the morning of August 31st, Apia was wakened by men marching. Day came, and Brandeis and his war-party were already long disappeared in the woods. All morning belated Tamaseseites were still to be seen running with their guns. All morning shots were listened for in vain; but over the top of the forest, far up the mountain, smoke was for some time observed to hang. About ten a dead man was carried in, lashed under a pole like a dead pig, his rosary (for he was a Catholic) hanging nearly to the ground. Next came a young fellow wounded, sitting in a rope swung from a pole; two fellows bearing him, two running behind for a relief. At last about eleven, three or four heavy volleys and a great shouting were heard from the bush town Tanungamanono; the affair was over, the victorious force, on the march back, was there 68 celebrating its victory by the way. Presently after, it marched through Apia, five or six hundred strong, in tolerable order and strutting with the ludicrous assumption of the triumphant islander. Women who had been buying bread ran and gave them loaves. At the tail end came Brandeis himself, smoking a cigar, deadly pale, and with perhaps an increase of his usual nervous manner. One spoke to him by the way. He expressed his sorrow the action had been forced on him. “Poor people, it’s all the worse for them!” he said. “It’ll have to be done another way now.” And it was supposed by his hearer that he referred to intervention from the German war-ships. He meant, he said, to put a stop to head-hunting; his men had taken two that day, he added, but he had not suffered them to bring them in, and they had been left in Tanungamanono. Thither my informant rode, was attracted by the sound of wailing, and saw in a house the two heads washed and combed, and the sister of one of the dead lamenting in the island fashion and kissing the cold face. Soon after, a small grave was dug, the heads were buried in a beef box, and the pastor read the service. The body of Saifaleupolu himself was recovered unmutilated, brought down from the forest, and buried behind Apia.

The same afternoon, the men of Vaimaunga were ordered to report in Mulinuu, where Tamasese’s flag was half-masted for the death of a chief in the skirmish. Vaimaunga is that district of Taumasanga which includes the bay and the foothills behind Apia; and both province and district are strong Malietoa. Not one man, it is said, obeyed the summons. Night came, and the town lay in unusual silence; no one abroad; the blinds down around the native houses, the men within sleeping on their arms; the old women keeping watch in pairs. And in the course of the two following days all Vaimaunga was gone into the bush, the very gaoler setting free his prisoners and joining them in their escape. Hear the words of the chiefs in the 23rd article of their complaint: 69 “Some of the chiefs fled to the bush from fear of being reported, fear of German men-of-war, constantly being accused, etc., and Brandeis commanded that they were to be shot on sight. This act was carried out by Brandeis on the 31st day of August, 1888. After this we evaded these laws; we could not stand them; our patience was worn out with the constant wickedness of Tamasese and Brandeis. We were tired out and could stand no longer the acts of these two men.”

So through an ill-timed skirmish, two severed heads, and a dead body, the rule of Brandeis came to a sudden end. We shall see him a while longer fighting for existence in a losing battle; but his government—take it for all in all, the most promising that has ever been in these unlucky islands—was from that hour a piece of history.

1 Brother and successor of Theodor.




September 1888

The revolution had all the character of a popular movement. Many of the high chiefs were detained in Mulinuu; the commons trooped to the bush under inferior leaders. A camp was chosen near Faleula, threatening Mulinuu, well placed for the arrival of recruits and close to a German plantation from which the force could be subsisted. Manono came, all Tuamasanga, much of Savaii, and part of Aana, Tamasese’s own government and titular seat. Both sides were arming. It was a brave day for the trader, though not so brave as some that followed, when a single cartridge is said to have been sold for twelve cents currency—between nine and ten cents gold. Yet even among the traders a strong party feeling reigned, and it was the common practice to ask a purchaser upon which side he meant to fight.

On September 5th, Brandeis published a letter: “To the chiefs of Tuamasanga, Manono, and Faasaleleanga in the Bush: Chiefs, by authority of his majesty Tamasese, the king of Samoa, I make known to you all that the German man-of-war is about to go together with a Samoan fleet for the purpose of burning Manono. After this island is all burnt, ’tis good if the people return to Manono and live quiet. To the people of Faasaleleanga I say, return to your houses and stop there. The same to those belonging to Tuamasanga. If you obey this instruction, then you will all be forgiven; if you do not obey, then all your villages 71 will be burnt like Manono. These instructions are made in truth in the sight of God in the Heaven.” The same morning, accordingly, the Adler steamed out of the bay with a force of Tamasese warriors and some native boats in tow, the Samoan fleet in question. Manono was shelled; the Tamasese warriors, under the conduct of a Manono traitor, who paid before many days the forfeit of his blood, landed and did some damage, but were driven away by the sight of a force returning from the mainland; no one was hurt, for the women and children, who alone remained on the island, found a refuge in the bush; and the Adler and her acolytes returned the same evening. The letter had been energetic; the performance fell below the programme. The demonstration annoyed and yet re-assured the insurgents, and it fully disclosed to the Germans a new enemy.

Captain von Widersheim had been relieved. His successor, Captain Fritze, was an officer of a different stamp. I have nothing to say of him but good; he seems to have obeyed the consul’s requisitions with secret distaste; his despatches were of admirable candour; but his habits were retired, he spoke little English, and was far indeed from inheriting von Widersheim’s close relations with Commander Leary. It is believed by Germans that the American officer resented what he took to be neglect. I mention this, not because I believe it to depict Commander Leary, but because it is typical of a prevailing infirmity among Germans in Samoa. Touchy themselves, they read all history in the light of personal affronts and tiffs; and I find this weakness indicated by the big thumb of Bismarck, when he places “sensitiveness to small disrespects—Empfindlichkeit ueber Mangel an Respect,” among the causes of the wild career of Knappe. Whatever the cause, at least, the natives had no sooner taken arms than Leary appeared with violence upon that side. As early as the 3rd, he had sent an obscure but menacing despatch to Brandeis. On the 6th, he fell on Fritze in the matter of the Manono bombardment. “The revolutionists,” 72 he wrote, “had an armed force in the field within a few miles of this harbour, when the vessels under your command transported the Tamasese troops to a neighbouring island with the avowed intention of making war on the isolated homes of the women and children of the enemy. Being the only other representative of a naval power now present in this harbour, for the sake of humanity I hereby respectfully and solemnly protest in the name of the United States of America and of the civilised world in general against the use of a national war-vessel for such services as were yesterday rendered by the German corvette Adler.” Fritze’s reply, to the effect that he is under the orders of the consul and has no right of choice, reads even humble; perhaps he was not himself vain of the exploit, perhaps not prepared to see it thus described in words. From that moment Leary was in the front of the row. His name is diagnostic, but it was not required; on every step of his subsequent action in Samoa Irishman is writ large; over all his doings a malign spirit of humour presided. No malice was too small for him, if it were only funny. When night signals were made from Mulinuu, he would sit on his own poop and confound them with gratuitous rockets. He was at the pains to write a letter and address it to “the High Chief Tamasese”—a device as old at least as the wars of Robert Bruce—in order to bother the officials of the German post-office, in whose hands he persisted in leaving it, although the address was death to them and the distribution of letters in Samoa formed no part of their profession. His great masterwork of pleasantry, the Scanlon affair, must be narrated in its place. And he was no less bold than comical. The Adams was not supposed to be a match for the Adler; there was no glory to be gained in beating her; and yet I have heard naval officers maintain she might have proved a dangerous antagonist in narrow waters and at short range. Doubtless Leary thought so. He was continually daring Fritze to come on; and already, in a despatch of the 9th, I find Becker 73 complaining of his language in the hearing of German officials, and how he had declared that, on the Adler again interfering, he would interfere himself, “if he went to the bottom for it—und wenn sein Schiff dabei zu Grunde ginge.” Here is the style of opposition which has the merit of being frank, not that of being agreeable. Becker was annoying, Leary infuriating; there is no doubt that the tempers in the German consulate were highly ulcerated; and if war between the two countries did not follow, we must set down the praise to the forbearance of the German navy. This is not the last time that I shall have to salute the merits of that service.

The defeat and death of Saifaleupolu and the burning of Manono had thus passed off without the least advantage to Tamasese. But he still held the significant position of Mulinuu, and Brandeis was strenuous to make it good. The whole peninsula was surrounded with a breastwork; across the isthmus it was six feet high and strengthened with a ditch; and the beach was staked against landing. Weber’s land claim—the same that now broods over the village in the form of a signboard—then appeared in a more military guise; the German flag was hoisted, and German sailors manned the breastwork at the isthmus—“to protect German property” and its trifling parenthesis, the king of Samoa. Much vigilance reigned and, in the island fashion, much wild firing. And in spite of all, desertion was for a long time daily. The detained high chiefs would go to the beach on the pretext of a natural occasion, plunge in the sea, and swimming across a broad, shallow bay of the lagoon, join the rebels on the Faleula side. Whole bodies of warriors, sometimes hundreds strong, departed with their arms and ammunition. On the 7th of September, for instance, the day after Leary’s letter, Too and Mataia left with their contingents, and the whole Aana people returned home in a body to hold a parliament. Ten days later, it is true, a part of them returned to their duty; but another part branched off by the way and carried 74 their services, and Tamasese’s dear-bought guns, to Faleula.

On the 8th there was a defection of a different kind, but yet sensible. The High Chief Seumanu had been still detained in Mulinuu under anxious observation. His people murmured at his absence, threatened to “take away his name,” and had already attempted a rescue. The adventure was now taken in hand by his wife Faatulia, a woman of much sense and spirit and a strong partisan; and by her contrivance, Seumanu gave his guardians the slip and rejoined his clan at Faleula. This process of winnowing was of course counterbalanced by another of recruitment. But the harshness of European and military rule had made Brandeis detested and Tamasese unpopular with many; and the force on Mulinuu is thought to have done little more than hold its own. Mataafa sympathisers set it down at about two or three thousand. I have no estimate from the other side; but Becker admits they were not strong enough to keep the field in the open.

The political significance of Mulinuu was great, but in a military sense the position had defects. If it was difficult to carry, it was easy to blockade: and to be hemmed in on that narrow finger of land were an inglorious posture for the monarch of Samoa. The peninsula, besides, was scant of food and destitute of water. Pressed by these considerations, Brandeis extended his lines till he had occupied the whole foreshore of Apia bay and the opposite point, Matautu. His men were thus drawn out along some three nautical miles of irregular beach, everywhere with their backs to the sea, and without means of communication or mutual support except by water. The extension led to fresh sorrows. The Tamasese men quartered themselves in the houses of the absent men of the Vaimaunga. Disputes arose with English and Americans. Leary interposed in a loud voice of menace. It was said the firm profited by the confusion to buttress up imperfect land claims; 75 I am sure the other whites would not be far behind the firm. Properties were fenced in, fences and houses were torn down, scuffles ensued. The German example at Mulinuu was followed with laughable unanimity; wherever an Englishman or an American conceived himself to have a claim, he set up the emblem of his country; and the beach twinkled with the flags of nations.

All this, it will be observed, was going forward in that neutral territory, sanctified by treaty against the presence of armed Samoans. The insurgents themselves looked on in wonder: on the 4th, trembling to transgress against the great Powers, they had written for a delimitation of the Eleele Sa; and Becker, in conversation with the British consul, replied that he recognised none. So long as Tamasese held the ground, this was expedient. But suppose Tamasese worsted, it might prove awkward for the stores, mills, and offices of a great German firm, thus bared of shelter by the act of their own consul.

On the morning of the 9th September, just ten days after the death of Saifaleupolu, Mataafa, under the name of Malietoa To’oa Mataafa, was crowned king at Faleula. On the 11th he wrote to the British and American consuls: “Gentlemen, I write this letter to you two very humbly and entreatingly, on account of this difficulty that has come before me. I desire to know from you two gentlemen the truth where the boundaries of the neutral territory are. You will observe that I am now at Vaimoso [a step nearer the enemy], and I have stopped here until I knew what you say regarding the neutral territory. I wish to know where I can go, and where the forbidden ground is, for I do not wish to go on any neutral territory, or on any foreigner’s property. I do not want to offend any of the great Powers. Another thing I would like. Would it be possible for you three consuls to make Tamasese remove from German property? for I am in awe of going on German land.” He must have received a reply embodying Becker’s renunciation of the principle, at once; for he 76 broke camp the same day, and marched eastward through the bush behind Apia.

Brandeis, expecting attack, sought to improve his indefensible position. He reformed his centre by the simple expedient of suppressing it. Apia was evacuated. The two flanks, Mulinuu and Matautu, were still held and fortified, Mulinuu (as I have said) to the isthmus, Matautu on a line from the bayside to the little river Fuisá. The centre was represented by the trajectory of a boat across the bay from one flank to another, and was held (we may say) by the German war-ship. Mataafa decided (I am assured) to make a feint on Matautu, induce Brandeis to deplete Mulinuu in support, and then fall upon and carry that. And there is no doubt in my mind that such a plan was bruited abroad, for nothing but a belief in it could explain the behaviour of Brandeis on the 12th. That it was seriously entertained by Mataafa I stoutly disbelieve; the German flag and sailors forbidding the enterprise in Mulinuu. So that we may call this false intelligence the beginning and the end of Mataafa’s strategy.

The whites who sympathised with the revolt were uneasy and impatient. They will still tell you, though the dates are there to show them wrong, that Mataafa, even after his coronation, delayed extremely: a proof of how long two days may seem to last when men anticipate events. On the evening of the 11th, while the new king was already on the march, one of these walked into Matautu. The moon was bright. By the way he observed the native houses dark and silent; the men had been about a fortnight in the bush, but now the women and children were gone also; at which he wondered. On the sea-beach, in the camp of the Tamaseses, the solitude was near as great; he saw three or four men smoking before the British consulate, perhaps a dozen in all; the rest were behind in the bush upon their line of forts. About the midst he sat down, and here a woman drew near to him. The moon 77 shone in her face, and he knew her for a householder near by, and a partisan of Mataafa’s. She looked about her as she came, and asked him, trembling, what he did in the camp of Tamasese. He was there after news, he told her. She took him by the hand. “You must not stay here, you will get killed,” she said. “The bush is full of our people, the others are watching them, fighting may begin at any moment, and we are both here too long.” So they set off together; and she told him by the way that she had came to the hostile camp with a present of bananas, so that the Tamasese men might spare her house. By the Vaisingano they met an old man, a woman, and a child; and these also she warned and turned back. Such is the strange part played by women among the scenes of Samoan warfare, such were the liberties then permitted to the whites, that these two could pass the lines, talk together in Tamasese’s camp on the eve of an engagement, and pass forth again bearing intelligence, like privileged spies. And before a few hours the white man was in direct communication with the opposing general. The next morning he was accosted “about breakfast-time” by two natives who stood leaning against the pickets of a public-house, where the Siumu road strikes in at right angles to the main street of Apia. They told him battle was imminent, and begged him to pass a little way inland and speak with Mataafa. The road is at this point broad and fairly good, running between thick groves of cocoa-palm and breadfruit. A few hundred yards along this the white man passed a picket of four armed warriors, with red handkerchiefs and their faces blackened in the form of a full beard, the Mataafa rallying signs for the day; a little farther on, some fifty; farther still, a hundred; and at last a quarter of a mile of them sitting by the wayside armed and blacked. Near by, in the verandah of a house on a knoll, he found Mataafa seated in white clothes, a Winchester across his knees. His men, he said, were still arriving from behind, and there was a turning movement in operation beyond the 78 Fuisá, so that the Tamaseses should be assailed at the same moment from the south and east. And this is another indication that the attack on Matautu was the true attack; had any design on Mulinuu been in the wind, not even a Samoan general would have detached these troops upon the other side. While they still spoke, five Tamasese women were brought in with their hands bound; they had been stealing “our” bananas.

All morning the town was strangely deserted, the very children gone. A sense of expectation reigned, and sympathy for the attack was expressed publicly. Some men with unblacked faces came to Moors’s store for biscuit. A native woman, who was there marketing, inquired after the news, and, hearing that the battle was now near at hand, “Give them two more tins,” said she; “and don’t put them down to my husband—he would growl; put them down to me.” Between twelve and one, two white men walked toward Matautu, finding as they went no sign of war until they had passed the Vaisingano and come to the corner of a by-path leading to the bush. Here were four blackened warriors on guard,—the extreme left wing of the Mataafa force, where it touched the waters of the bay. Thence the line (which the white men followed) stretched inland among bush and marsh, facing the forts of the Tamaseses. The warriors lay as yet inactive behind trees; but all the young boys and harlots of Apia toiled in the front upon a trench, digging with knives and cocoa-shells; and a continuous stream of children brought them water. The young sappers worked crouching; from the outside only an occasional head, or a hand emptying a shell of earth, was visible; and their enemies looked on inert from the line of the opposing forts. The lists were not yet prepared, the tournament was not yet open; and the attacking force was suffered to throw up works under the silent guns of the defence. But there is an end even to the delay of islanders. As the white men stood and looked, the Tamasese line thundered into a volley; it was answered; the crowd of 79 silent workers broke forth in laughter and cheers; and the battle had begun.

Thenceforward, all day and most of the next night, volley followed volley; and pounds of lead and pounds sterling of money continued to be blown into the air without cessation and almost without result. Colonel de Coetlogon, an old soldier, described the noise as deafening. The harbour was all struck with shots; a man was knocked over on the German war-ship; half Apia was under fire; and a house was pierced beyond the Mulivai. All along the two lines of breastwork, the entrenched enemies exchanged this hail of balls; and away on the east of the battle the fusillade was maintained, with equal spirit, across the narrow barrier of the Fuisá. The whole rear of the Tamaseses was enfiladed by this flank fire; and I have seen a house there, by the river brink, that was riddled with bullets like a piece of worm-eaten wreck-wood. At this point of the field befell a trait of Samoan warfare worth recording. Taiese (brother to Siteoni already mentioned) shot a Tamasese man. He saw him fall, and, inflamed with the lust of glory, passed the river single-handed in that storm of missiles to secure the head. On the farther bank, as was but natural, he fell himself; he who had gone to take a trophy remained to afford one; and the Mataafas, who had looked on exulting in the prospect of a triumph, saw themselves exposed instead to a disgrace. Then rose one Vingi, passed the deadly water, swung the body of Taiese on his back, and returned unscathed to his own side, the head saved, the corpse filled with useless bullets.

At this rate of practice, the ammunition soon began to run low, and from an early hour of the afternoon, the Malietoa stores were visited by customers in search of more. An elderly man came leaping and cheering, his gun in one hand, a basket of three heads in the other. A fellow came shot through the forearm. “It doesn’t hurt now,” he said, as he bought his cartridges; “but it will 80 hurt to-morrow, and I want to fight while I can.” A third followed, a mere boy, with the end of his nose shot off: “Have you any painkiller? give it me quick, so that I can get back to fight.” On either side, there was the same delight in sound and smoke and schoolboy cheering, the same unsophisticated ardour of battle; and the misdirected skirmish proceeded with a din, and was illustrated with traits of bravery that would have fitted a Waterloo or a Sedan.

I have said how little I regard the alleged plan of battle. At least it was now all gone to water. The whole forces of Mataafa had leaked out, man by man, village by village, on the so-called false attack. They were all pounding for their lives on the front and the left flank of Matautu. About half-past three they enveloped the right flank also. The defenders were driven back along the beach road as far as the pilot station at the turn of the land. From this also they were dislodged, stubbornly fighting. One, it is told, retreated to his middle in the lagoon; stood there, loading and firing, till he fell; and his body was found on the morrow pierced with four mortal wounds. The Tamasese force was now enveloped on three sides; it was besides almost cut off from the sea; and across its whole rear and only way of retreat a fire of hostile bullets crossed from east and west, in the midst of which men were surprised to observe the birds continuing to sing, and a cow grazed all afternoon unhurt. Doubtless here was the defence in a poor way; but then the attack was in irons. For the Mataafas about the pilot house could scarcely advance beyond without coming under the fire of their own men from the other side of the Fuisá; and there was not enough organisation, perhaps not enough authority, to divert or to arrest that fire.

The progress of the fight along the beach road was visible from Mulinuu, and Brandeis despatched ten boats of reinforcements. They crossed the harbour, paused for a while beside the Adler—it is supposed for ammunition—and 81 drew near the Matautu shore. The Mataafa men lay close among the shore-side bushes, expecting their arrival; when a silly lad, in mere lightness of heart, fired a shot in the air. My native friend, Mrs. Mary Hamilton, ran out of her house and gave the culprit a good shaking: an episode in the midst of battle as incongruous as the grazing cow. But his sillier comrades followed his example; a harmless volley warned the boats what they might expect; and they drew back and passed outside the reef for the passage of the Fuisá. Here they came under the fire of the right wing of the Mataafas on the river-bank. The beach, raked east and west, appeared to them no place to land on. And they hung off in the deep water of the lagoon inside the barrier reef, feebly fusillading the pilot house.

Between four and five, the Fabeata regiment (or folk of that village) on the Mataafa left, which had been under arms all day, fell to be withdrawn for rest and food; the Siumu regiment, which should have relieved it, was not ready or not notified in time; and the Tamaseses, gallantly profiting by the mismanagement, recovered the most of the ground in their proper right. It was not for long. They lost it again, yard by yard and from house to house, till the pilot station was once more in the hands of the Mataafas. This is the last definite incident in the battle. The vicissitudes along the line of the entrenchments remain concealed from us under the cover of the forest. Some part of the Tamasese position there appears to have been carried, but what part, or at what hour, or whether the advantage was maintained, I have never learned. Night and rain, but not silence, closed upon the field. The trenches were deep in mud; but the younger folk wrecked the houses in the neighbourhood, carried the roofs to the front, and lay under them, men and women together, through a long night of furious squalls and furious and useless volleys. Meanwhile the older folk trailed back into Apia in the rain; they talked as they went of who had fallen and what heads had been taken upon either side—they seemed to know by 82 name the losses upon both; and drenched with wet and broken with excitement and fatigue, they crawled into the verandahs of the town to eat and sleep. The morrow broke grey and drizzly, but as so often happens in the islands, cleared up into a glorious day. During the night, the majority of the defenders had taken advantage of the rain and darkness and stolen from their forts unobserved. The rallying sign of the Tamaseses had been a white handkerchief. With the dawn, the de Coetlogons from the English consulate beheld the ground strewn with these badges discarded; and close by the house, a belated turncoat was still changing white for red. Matautu was lost; Tamasese was confined to Mulinuu; and by nine o’clock two Mataafa villages paraded the streets of Apia, taking possession. The cost of this respectable success in ammunition must have been enormous; in life it was but small. Some compute forty killed on either side, others forty on both, three or four being women and one a white man, master of a schooner from Fiji. Nor was the number even of the wounded at all proportionate to the surprising din and fury of the affair while it lasted.




September—November 1888

Brandeis had held all day by Mulinuu, expecting the reported real attack. He woke on the 13th to find himself cut off on that unwatered promontory, and the Mataafa villagers parading Apia. The same day Fritze received a letter from Mataafa summoning him to withdraw his party from the isthmus; and Fritze, as if in answer, drew in his ship into the small harbour close to Mulinuu, and trained his port battery to assist in the defence. From a step so decisive, it might be thought the German plans were unaffected by the disastrous issue of the battle. I conceive nothing would be further from the truth. Here was Tamasese penned on Mulinuu with his troops; Apia, from which alone these could be subsisted, in the hands of the enemy; a battle imminent, in which the German vessel must apparently take part with men and battery, and the buildings of the German firm were apparently destined to be the first target of fire. Unless Becker re-established that which he had so lately and so artfully thrown down—the neutral territory—the firm would have to suffer. If he re-established it, Tamasese must retire from Mulinuu. If Becker saved his goose, he lost his cabbage. Nothing so well depicts the man’s effrontery as that he should have conceived the design of saving both,—of re-establishing only so much of the neutral territory as should hamper Mataafa, and leaving in abeyance all that could incommode Tamasese. By drawing the boundary where he now proposed, across 84 the isthmus, he protected the firm, drove back the Mataafas out of almost all that they had conquered, and, so far from disturbing Tamasese, actually fortified him in his old position.

The real story of the negotiations that followed we shall perhaps never learn. But so much is plain: that while Becker was thus outwardly straining decency in the interest of Tamasese, he was privately intriguing, or pretending to intrigue, with Mataafa. In his despatch of the 11th, he had given an extended criticism of that chieftain, whom he depicts as very dark and artful; and while admitting that his assumption of the name of Malietoa might raise him up followers, predicted that he could not make an orderly government or support himself long in sole power “without very energetic foreign help.” Of what help was the consul thinking? There was no helper in the field but Germany. On the 15th he had an interview with the victor; told him that Tamasese’s was the only government recognised by Germany, and that he must continue to recognise it till he received “other instructions from his government, whom he was now advising of the late events”; refused, accordingly, to withdraw the guard from the isthmus; and desired Mataafa, “until the arrival of these fresh instructions,” to refrain from an attack on Mulinuu. One thing of two: either this language is extremely perfidious, or Becker was preparing to change sides. The same detachment appears in his despatch of October 7th. He computes the losses of the German firm with an easy cheerfulness. If Tamasese get up again (gelingt die Wiederherstellung der Regierung Tamasese’s), Tamasese will have to pay. If not, then Mataafa. This is not the language of a partisan. The tone of indifference, the easy implication that the case of Tamasese was already desperate, the hopes held secretly forth to Mataafa and secretly reported to his government at home, trenchantly contrast with his external conduct. At this very time he was feeding Tamasese; he had German sailors mounting 85 guard on Tamasese’s battlements; the German war-ship lay close in, whether to help or to destroy. If he meant to drop the cause of Tamasese, he had him in a corner, helpless, and could stifle him without a sob. If he meant to rat, it was to be with every condition of safety and every circumstance of infamy.

Was it conceivable, then, that he meant it? Speaking with a gentleman who was in the confidence of Dr. Knappe: “Was it not a pity,” I asked, “that Knappe did not stick to Becker’s policy of supporting Mataafa?” “You are quite wrong there; that was not Knappe’s doing,” was the reply. “Becker had changed his mind before Knappe came.” Why, then, had he changed it? This excellent, if ignominious, idea once entertained, why was it let drop? It is to be remembered there was another German in the field, Brandeis, who had a respect, or rather, perhaps, an affection, for Tamasese, and who thought his own honour and that of his country engaged in the support of that government which they had provoked and founded. Becker described the captain to Laupepa as “a quiet, sensible gentleman.” If any word came to his ears of the intended manœuvre, Brandeis would certainly show himself very sensible of the affront; but Becker might have been tempted to withdraw his former epithet of quiet. Some such passage, some such threatened change of front at the consulate, opposed with outcry, would explain what seems otherwise inexplicable, the bitter, indignant, almost hostile tone of a subsequent letter from Brandeis to Knappe—“Brandeis’s inflammatory letter,” Bismarck calls it—the proximate cause of the German landing and reverse at Fangalii.

But whether the advances of Becker were sincere or not—whether he meditated treachery against the old king or was practising treachery upon the new, and the choice is between one or other—no doubt but he contrived to gain his points with Mataafa, prevailing on him to change his camp for the better protection of the German 86 plantations, and persuading him (long before he could persuade his brother consuls) to accept that miraculous new neutral territory of his, with a piece cut out for the immediate needs of Tamasese.

During the rest of September, Tamasese continued to decline. On the 19th one village and half of another deserted him; on the 22nd two more. On the 21st the Mataafas burned his town of Leulumoenga, his own splendid house flaming with the rest; and there are few things of which a native thinks more, or has more reason to think well, than of a fine Samoan house. Tamasese women and children were marched up the same day from Atua, and handed over with their sleeping-mats to Mulinuu: a most unwelcome addition to a party already suffering from want. By the 20th, they were being watered from the Adler. On the 24th the Manono fleet of sixteen large boats, fortified and rendered unmanageable with tons of firewood, passed to windward to intercept supplies from Atua. By the 27th the hungry garrison flocked in great numbers to draw rations at the German firm. On the 28th the same business was repeated with a different issue. Mataafas crowded to look on; words were exchanged, blows followed; sticks, stones, and bottles were caught up; the detested Brandeis, at great risk, threw himself between the lines and expostulated with the Mataafas—his only personal appearance in the wars, if this could be called war. The same afternoon, the Tamasese boats got in with provisions, having passed to seaward of the lumbering Manono fleet; and from that day on, whether from a high degree of enterprise on the one side or a great lack of capacity on the other, supplies were maintained from the sea with regularity. Thus the spectacle of battle, or at least of riot, at the doors of the German firm was not repeated. But the memory must have hung heavy on the hearts, not of the Germans only, but of all Apia. The Samoans are a gentle race, gentler than any in Europe; we are often enough reminded of the circumstance, not always by their 87 friends. But a mob is a mob, and a drunken mob is a drunken mob, and a drunken mob with weapons in its hands is a drunken mob with weapons in its hands, all the world over: elementary propositions, which some of us upon these islands might do worse than get by rote, but which must have been evident enough to Becker. And I am amazed by the man’s constancy, that, even while blows were going at the door of that German firm which he was in Samoa to protect, he should have stuck to his demands. Ten days before, Blacklock had offered to recognise the old territory, including Mulinuu, and Becker had refused, and still in the midst of these “alarums and excursions,” he continued to refuse it.

On October 2nd, anchored in Apia bay H.B.M.S. Calliope, Captain Kane, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Fairfax, and the gunboat Lizard, Lieutenant-Commander Pelly. It was rumoured the admiral had come to recognise the government of Tamasese, I believe in error. And at least the day for that was quite gone by; and he arrived not to salute the king’s accession, but to arbitrate on his remains. A conference of the consuls and commanders met on board the Calliope, October 4th, Fritze alone being absent, although twice invited: the affair touched politics, his consul was to be there; and even if he came to the meeting (so he explained to Fairfax) he would have no voice in its deliberations. The parties were plainly marked out: Blacklock and Leary maintaining their offer of the old neutral territory, and probably willing to expand or to contract it to any conceivable extent, so long as Mulinuu was still included; Knappe offered (if the others liked) to include “the whole eastern end of the island,” but quite fixed upon the one point that Mulinuu should be left out; the English willing to meet either view, and singly desirous that Apia should be neutralised. The conclusion was foregone. Becker held a trump card in the consent of Mataafa; Blacklock and Leary stood alone, spoke with an ill grace, and could not long hold out. Becker had his 88 way; and the neutral boundary was chosen just where he desired: across the isthmus, the firm within, Mulinuu without. He did not long enjoy the fruits of victory.

On the 7th, three days after the meeting, one of the Scanlons (well-known and intelligent half-castes) came to Blacklock with a complaint. The Scanlon house stood on the hither side of the Tamasese breastwork, just inside the newly accepted territory, and within easy range of the firm. Armed men, to the number of a hundred, had issued from Mulinuu, had “taken charge” of the house, had pointed a gun at Scanlon’s head, and had twice “threatened to kill” his pigs. I hear elsewhere of some effects (Gegenstände) removed. At the best a very pale atrocity, though we shall find the word employed. Germans declare besides that Scanlon was no American subject; they declare the point had been decided by court-martial in 1875; that Blacklock had the decision in the consular archives; and that this was his reason for handing the affair to Leary. It is not necessary to suppose so. It is plain he thought little of the business; thought indeed nothing of it; except in so far as armed men had entered the neutral territory from Mulinuu; and it was on this ground alone, and the implied breach of Becker’s engagement at the conference, that he invited Leary’s attention to the tale. The impish ingenuity of the commander perceived in it huge possibilities of mischief. He took up the Scanlon outrage, the atrocity of the threatened pigs; and with that poor instrument—I am sure, to his own wonder—drove Tamasese out of Mulinuu. It was “an intrigue,” Becker complains. To be sure it was; but who was Becker to be complaining of intrigue?

On the 7th Leary laid before Fritze the following conundrum “As the natives of Mulinuu appear to be under the protection of the Imperial German naval guard belonging to the vessel under your command, I have the honour to request you to inform me whether or not they are under 89 such protection? Amicable relations,” pursued the humorist, “amicable relations exist between the government of the United States and His Imperial German Majesty’s government, but we do not recognise Tamasese’s government, and I am desirous of locating the responsibility for violations of American rights.” Becker and Fritze lost no time in explanation or denial, but went straight to the root of the matter and sought to buy off Scanlon. Becker declares that every reparation was offered. Scanlon takes a pride to recapitulate the leases and the situations he refused, and the long interviews in which he was tempted and plied with drink by Becker or Beckmann of the firm. No doubt, in short, that he was offered reparation in reason and out of reason, and, being thoroughly primed, refused it all. Meantime some answer must be made to Leary; and Fritze repeated on the 8th his oft-repeated assurances that he was not authorised to deal with politics. The same day Leary retorted: “The question is not one of diplomacy nor of politics. It is strictly one of military jurisdiction and responsibility. Under the shadow of the German fort at Mulinuu,” continued the hyperbolical commander, “atrocities have been committed.... And I again have the honour respectfully to request to be informed whether or not the armed natives at Mulinuu are under the protection of the Imperial German naval guard belonging to the vessel under your command.” To this no answer was vouchsafed till the 11th, and then in the old terms; and meanwhile, on the 10th, Leary got into his gaiters—the sure sign, as was both said and sung aboard his vessel, of some desperate or some amusing service—and was set ashore at the Scanlons’ house. Of this he took possession at the head of an old woman and a mop, and was seen from the Tamasese breastwork directing operations and plainly preparing to install himself there in a military posture. So much he meant to be understood; so much he meant to carry out, and an armed party from the 90 Adams was to have garrisoned on the morrow the scene of the atrocity. But there is no doubt he managed to convey more. No doubt he was a master in the art of loose speaking, and could always manage to be overheard when he wanted; and by this, or some other equally unofficial means, he spread the rumour that on the morrow he was to bombard.

The proposed post, from its position, and from Leary’s well-established character as an artist in mischief, must have been regarded by the Germans with uneasiness. In the bombardment we can scarce suppose them to have believed. But Tamasese must have both believed and trembled. The prestige of the European Powers was still unbroken. No native would then have dreamed of defying these colossal ships, worked by mysterious powers, and laden with outlandish instruments of death. None would have dreamed of resisting those strange but quite unrealised Great Powers, understood (with difficulty) to be larger than Tonga and Samoa put together, and known to be prolific of prints, knives, hard biscuit, picture-books, and other luxuries, as well as of overbearing men and inconsistent orders. Laupepa had fallen in ill-blood with one of them; his only idea of defence had been to throw himself in the arms of another; his name, his rank, and his great following had not been able to preserve him; and he had vanished from the eyes of men—as the Samoan thinks of it, beyond the sky. Asi, Maunga, Tuiletu-funga, had followed him in that new path of doom. We have seen how carefully Mataafa still walked, how he dared not set foot on the neutral territory till assured it was no longer sacred, how he withdrew from it again as soon as its sacredness had been restored, and at the bare word of a consul (however gilded with ambiguous promises) paused in his course of victory and left his rival unassailed in Mulinuu. And now it was the rival’s turn. Hitherto happy in the continued support of one of the white Powers, he now found himself—or 91 thought himself—threatened with war by no less than two others.

Tamasese boats as they passed Matautu were in the habit of firing on the shore, as like as not without particular aim, and more in high spirits than hostility. One of these shots pierced the house of a British subject near the consulate; the consul reported to Admiral Fairfax; and, on the morning of the 10th, the admiral despatched Captain Kane of the Calliope to Mulinuu. Brandeis met the messenger with voluble excuses and engagements for the future. He was told his explanations were satisfactory so far as they went, but that the admiral’s message was to Tamasese, the de facto king. Brandeis, not very well assured of his puppet’s courage, attempted in vain to excuse him from appearing. No de facto king, no message, he was told: produce your de facto king. And Tamasese had at last to be produced. To him Kane delivered his errand: that the Lizard was to remain for the protection of British subjects; that a signalman was to be stationed at the consulate; that, on any further firing from boats, the signalman was to notify the Lizard and she to fire one gun, on which all boats must lower sail and come alongside for examination and the detection of the guilty; and that, “in the event of the boats not obeying the gun, the admiral would not be responsible for the consequences.” It was listened to by Brandeis and Tamasese “with the greatest attention.” Brandeis, when it was done, desired his thanks to the admiral for the moderate terms of his message, and, as Kane went to his boat, repeated the expression of his gratitude as though he meant it, declaring his own hands would be thus strengthened for the maintenance of discipline. But I have yet to learn of any gratitude on the part of Tamasese. Consider the case of the poor owlish man hearing for the first time our diplomatic commonplaces. The admiral would not be answerable for the consequences. Think of it! A devil of a position for a de facto king. And here, the same afternoon, was Leary in the Scanlon house, 92 mopping it out for unknown designs by the hands of an old woman, and proffering strange threats of bloodshed. Scanlon and his pigs, the admiral and his gun, Leary and his bombardment,—what a kettle of fish!

I dwell on the effect on Tamasese. Whatever the faults of Becker, he was not timid; he had already braved so much for Mulinuu that I cannot but think he might have continued to hold up his head even after the outrage of the pigs, and that the weakness now shown originated with the king. Late in the night, Blacklock was wakened to receive a despatch addressed to Leary. “You have asked that I and my government go away from Mulinuu, because you pretend a man who lives near Mulinuu and who is under your protection, has been threatened by my soldiers. As your Excellency has forbidden the man to accept any satisfaction, and as I do not wish to make war against the United States, I shall remove my government from Mulinuu to another place.” It was signed by Tamasese, but I think more heads than his had wagged over the direct and able letter. On the morning of the 11th, accordingly, Mulinuu the much defended lay desert. Tamasese and Brandeis had slipped to sea in a schooner; their troops had followed them in boats; the German sailors and their war-flag had returned on board the Adler; and only the German merchant flag blew there for Weber’s land-claim. Mulinuu, for which Becker had intrigued so long and so often, for which he had overthrown the municipality, for which he had abrogated and refused and invented successive schemes of neutral territory, was now no more to the Germans than a very unattractive, barren peninsula and a very much disputed land-claim of Mr. Weber’s. It will scarcely be believed that the tale of the Scanlon outrages was not yet finished. Leary had gained his point, but Scanlon had lost his compensation. And it was months later, and this time in the shape of a threat of bombardment in black and white, that Tamasese heard the last of the absurd affair. Scanlon had both his fun and his money, 93 and Leary’s practical joke was brought to an artistic end.

Becker sought and missed an instant revenge. Mataafa, a devout Catholic, was in the habit of walking every morning to mass from his camp at Vaiala beyond Matautu to the mission at the Mulivai. He was sometimes escorted by as many as six guards in uniform, who displayed their proficiency in drill by perpetually shifting arms as they marched. Himself, meanwhile, paced in front, bareheaded and barefoot, a staff in his hand, in the customary chief’s dress of white kilt, shirt, and jacket, and with a conspicuous rosary about his neck. Tall but not heavy, with eager eyes and a marked appearance of courage and capacity, Mataafa makes an admirable figure in the eyes of Europeans; to those of his countrymen, he may seem not always to preserve that quiescence of manner which is thought becoming in the great. On the morning of October 16th he reached the mission before day with two attendants, heard mass, had coffee with the fathers, and left again in safety. The smallness of his following we may suppose to have been reported. He was scarce gone, at least, before Becker had armed men at the mission gate and came in person seeking him.

The failure of this attempt doubtless still further exasperated the consul, and he began to deal as in an enemy’s country. He had marines from the Adler to stand sentry over the consulate and parade the streets by threes and fours. The bridge of the Vaisingano, which cuts in half the English and American quarters, he closed by proclamation and advertised for tenders to demolish it. On the 17th Leary and Pelly landed carpenters and repaired it in his teeth. Leary, besides, had marines under arms, ready to land them if it should be necessary to protect the work. But Becker looked on without interference, perhaps glad enough to have the bridge repaired; for even Becker may not always have offended intentionally. Such was now the distracted posture of the little town: all government 94 extinct, the German consul patrolling it with armed men and issuing proclamations like a ruler, the two other Powers defying his commands, and at least one of them prepared to use force in the defiance. Close on its skirts sat the warriors of Mataafa, perhaps four thousand strong, highly incensed against the Germans, having all to gain in the seizure of the town and firm, and, like an army in a fairy tale, restrained by the air-drawn boundary of the neutral ground.

I have had occasion to refer to the strange appearance in these islands of an American adventurer with a battery of cannon. The adventurer was long since gone, but his guns remained, and one of them was now to make fresh history. It had been cast overboard by Brandeis on the outer reef in the course of this retreat; and word of it coming to the ears of the Mataafas, they thought it natural that they should serve themselves the heirs of Tamasese. On the 23rd a Manono boat of the kind called taumualua dropped down the coast from Mataafa’s camp, called in broad day at the German quarter of the town for guides, and proceeded to the reef. Here, diving with a rope, they got the gun aboard; and the night being then come, returned by the same route in the shallow water along shore, singing a boat-song. It will be seen with what childlike reliance they had accepted the neutrality of Apia bay; they came for the gun without concealment, laboriously dived for it in broad day under the eyes of the town and shipping, and returned with it, singing as they went. On Grevsmühl’s wharf, a light showed them a crowd of German blue-jackets clustered, and a hail was heard. “Stop the singing so that we may hear what is said,” said one of the chiefs in the taumualua. The song ceased; the hail was heard again, “Au mai le fana—bring the gun”; and the natives report themselves to have replied in the affirmative, and declare that they had begun to back the boat. It is perhaps not needful to believe them. A volley at least was fired from the wharf, at about 95 fifty yards’ range and with a very ill direction, one bullet whistling over Pelly’s head on board the Lizard. The natives jumped overboard; and swimming under the lee of the taumualua (where they escaped a second volley) dragged her towards the east. As soon as they were out of range and past the Mulivai, the German border, they got on board and (again singing—though perhaps a different song) continued their return along the English and American shore. Off Matautu they were hailed from the seaward by one of the Adler’s boats, which had been suddenly despatched on the sound of the firing or had stood ready all evening to secure the gun. The hail was in German; the Samoans knew not what it meant, but took the precaution to jump overboard and swim for land. Two volleys and some dropping shot were poured upon them in the water; but they dived, scattered, and came to land unhurt in different quarters of Matautu. The volleys, fired inshore, raked the highway, a British house was again pierced by numerous bullets, and these sudden sounds of war scattered consternation through the town.

Two British subjects, Hetherington-Carruthers, a solicitor, and Maben, a land-surveyor—the first being in particular a man well versed in the native mind and language—hastened at once to their consul; assured him the Mataafas would be roused to fury by this onslaught in the neutral zone, that the German quarter would be certainly attacked, and the rest of the town and white inhabitants exposed to a peril very difficult of estimation; and prevailed upon him to intrust them with a mission to the king. By the time they reached headquarters, the warriors were already taking post round Matafele, and the agitation of Mataafa himself was betrayed in the fact that he spoke with the deputation standing and gun in hand: a breach of high-chief dignity perhaps unparalleled. The usual result, however, followed: the whites persuaded the Samoan; and the attack was countermanded, to the benefit of all concerned, and not least of 96 Mataafa. To the benefit of all, I say; for I do not think the Germans were that evening in a posture to resist; the liquor-cellars of the firm must have fallen into the power of the insurgents; and I will repeat my formula that a mob is a mob, a drunken mob is a drunken mob, and a drunken mob with weapons in its hands is a drunken mob with weapons in its hands, all the world over.

In the opinion of some, then, the town had narrowly escaped destruction, or at least the miseries of a drunken sack. To the knowledge of all, the air of the neutral territory had once more whistled with bullets. And it was clear the incident must have diplomatic consequences. Leary and Pelly both protested to Fritze. Leary announced he should report the affair to his government “as a gross violation of the principles of international law, and as a breach of the neutrality.” “I positively decline the protest,” replied Fritze, “and cannot fail to express my astonishment at the tone of your last letter.” This was trenchant. It may be said, however, that Leary was already out of court; that, after the night signals and the Scanlon incident, and so many other acts of practical if humorous hostility, his position as a neutral was no better than a doubtful jest. The case with Pelly was entirely different; and with Pelly, Fritze was less well inspired. In his first note, he was on the old guard; announced that he had acted on the requisition of his consul, who was alone responsible on “the legal side”; and declined accordingly to discuss “whether the lives of British subjects were in danger, and to what extent armed intervention was necessary.” Pelly replied judiciously that he had nothing to do with political matters, being only responsible for the safety of Her Majesty’s ships under his command and for the lives and property of British subjects; that he had considered his protest a purely naval one; and as the matter stood could only report the case to the admiral on the station. “I have the honour,” replied Fritze, “to refuse to entertain the protest concerning the safety of Her 97 Britannic Majesty’s ship Lizard as being a naval matter. The safety of Her Majesty’s ship Lizard was never in the least endangered. This was guaranteed by the disciplined fire of a few shots under the direction of two officers.” This offensive note, in view of Fritze’s careful and honest bearing among so many other complications, may be attributed to some misunderstanding. His small knowledge of English perhaps failed him. But I cannot pass it by without remarking how far too much it is the custom of German officials to fall into this style. It may be witty, I am sure it is not wise. It may be sometimes necessary to offend for a definite object, it can never be diplomatic to offend gratuitously.

Becker was more explicit, although scarce less curt. And his defence may be divided into two statements: first, that the taumualua was proceeding to land with a hostile purpose on Mulinuu; second, that the shots complained of were fired by the Samoans. The second may be dismissed with a laugh. Human nature has laws. And no men hitherto discovered, on being suddenly challenged from the sea, would have turned their backs upon the challenger and poured volleys on the friendly shore. The first is not extremely credible, but merits examination. The story of the recovered gun seems straightforward; it is supported by much testimony, the diving operations on the reef seem to have been watched from shore with curiosity; it is hard to suppose that it does not roughly represent the fact. And yet if any part of it be true, the whole of Becker’s explanation falls to the ground. A boat which had skirted the whole eastern coast of Mulinuu, and was already opposite a wharf in Matafele, and still going west, might have been guilty on a thousand points—there was one on which she was necessarily innocent; she was necessarily innocent of proceeding on Mulinuu. Or suppose the diving operations, and the native testimony, and Pelly’s chart of the boat’s course, and the boat itself, to be all stages of some epidemic hallucination or steps in a 98 conspiracy—suppose even a second taumualua to have entered Apia bay after nightfall, and to have been fired upon from Grevsmühl’s wharf in the full career of hostilities against Mulinuu—suppose all this, and Becker is not helped. At the time of the first fire, the boat was off Grevsmühl’s wharf. At the time of the second (and that is the one complained of) she was off Carruthers’s wharf in Matautu. Was she still proceeding on Mulinuu? I trow not. The danger to German property was no longer imminent, the shots had been fired upon a very trifling provocation, the spirit implied was that of designed disregard to the neutrality. Such was the impression here on the spot; such in plain terms the statement of Count Hatzfeldt to Lord Salisbury at home: that the neutrality of Apia was only “to prevent the natives from fighting,” not the Germans; and that whatever Becker might have promised at the conference, he could not “restrict German war-vessels in their freedom of action.”

There was nothing to surprise in this discovery; and had events been guided at the same time with a steady and discreet hand, it might have passed with less observation. But the policy of Becker was felt to be not only reckless, it was felt to be absurd also. Sudden nocturnal onfalls upon native boats could lead, it was felt, to no good end whether of peace or war; they could but exasperate; they might prove, in a moment, and when least expected, ruinous. To those who knew how nearly it had come to fighting, and who considered the probable result, the future looked ominous. And fear was mingled with annoyance in the minds of the Anglo-Saxon colony. On the 24th, a public meeting appealed to the British and American consuls. At half-past seven in the evening guards were landed at the consulates. On the morrow they were each fortified with sand-bags; and the subjects informed by proclamation that these asylums stood open to them on any alarm, and at any hour of the day or night. The social bond in Apia was dissolved. The consuls, like barons 99 of old, dwelt each in his armed citadel. The rank and file of the white nationalities dared each other, and sometimes fell to on the street like rival clansmen. And the little town, not by any fault of the inhabitants, rather by the act of Becker, had fallen back in civilisation about a thousand years.

There falls one more incident to be narrated, and then I can close with this ungracious chapter. I have mentioned the name of the new English consul. It is already familiar to English readers; for the gentleman who was fated to undergo some strange experiences in Apia was the same de Coetlogon who covered Hicks’s flank at the time of the disaster in the desert, and bade farewell to Gordon in Khartoum before the investment. The colonel was abrupt and testy; Mrs. de Coetlogon was too exclusive for society like that of Apia; but whatever their superficial disabilities, it is strange they should have left, in such an odour of unpopularity, a place where they set so shining an example of the sterling virtues. The colonel was perhaps no diplomatist; he was certainly no lawyer; but he discharged the duties of his office with the constancy and courage of an old soldier, and these were found sufficient. He and his wife had no ambition to be the leaders of society; the consulate was in their time no house of feasting; but they made of it that house of mourning to which the preacher tells us it is better we should go. At an early date after the battle of Matautu, it was opened as a hospital for the wounded. The English and Americans subscribed what was required for its support. Pelly of the Lizard strained every nerve to help, and set up tents on the lawn to be a shelter for the patients. The doctors of the English and American ships, and in particular Dr. Oakley of the Lizard, showed themselves indefatigable. But it was on the de Coetlogons that the distress fell. For nearly half a year, their lawn, their verandah, sometimes their rooms, were cumbered with the sick and dying, their ears were filled with the complaints of suffering humanity, their 100 time was too short for the multiplicity of pitiful duties. In Mrs. de Coetlogon, and her helper, Miss Taylor, the merit of this endurance was perhaps to be looked for; in a man of the colonel’s temper, himself painfully suffering, it was viewed with more surprise, if with no more admiration. Doubtless all had their reward in a sense of duty done; doubtless, also, as the days passed, in the spectacle of many traits of gratitude and patience, and in the success that waited on their efforts. Out of a hundred cases treated, only five died. They were all well-behaved, though full of childish wiles. One old gentleman, a high chief, was seized with alarming symptoms of belly-ache whenever Mrs. de Coetlogon went her rounds at night: he was after brandy. Others were insatiable for morphine or opium. A chief woman had her foot amputated under chloroform. “Let me see my foot! Why does it not hurt?” she cried. “It hurt so badly before I went to sleep.” Siteoni, whose name has been already mentioned, had his shoulder-blade excised, lay the longest of any, perhaps behaved the worst, and was on all these grounds the favourite. At times he was furiously irritable, and would rail upon his family and rise in bed until he swooned with pain. Once on the balcony he was thought to be dying, his family keeping round his mat, his father exhorting him to be prepared, when Mrs. de Coetlogon brought him round again with brandy and smelling-salts. After discharge, he returned upon a visit of gratitude; and it was observed, that instead of coming straight to the door, he went and stood long under his umbrella on that spot of ground where his mat had been stretched and he had endured pain so many months. Similar visits were the rule, I believe without exception; and the grateful patients loaded Mrs. de Coetlogon with gifts which (had that been possible in Polynesia) she would willingly have declined, for they were often of value to the givers.

The tissue of my story is one of rapacity, intrigue, and 101 the triumphs of temper; the hospital at the consulate stands out almost alone as an episode of human beauty, and I dwell on it with satisfaction. But it was not regarded at the time with universal favour; and even to-day its institution is thought by many to have been impolitic. It was opened, it stood open, for the wounded of either party. As a matter of fact it was never used but by the Mataafas, and the Tamaseses were cared for exclusively by German doctors. In the progressive decivilisation of the town, these duties of humanity became thus a ground of quarrel. When the Mataafa hurt were first brought together after the battle of Matautu, and some more or less amateur surgeons were dressing wounds on a green by the wayside, one from the German consulate went by in the road. “Why don’t you let the dogs die?” he asked. “Go to hell,” was the rejoinder. Such were the amenities of Apia. But Becker reserved for himself the extreme expression of this spirit. On November 7th hostilities began again between the Samoan armies, and an inconclusive skirmish sent a fresh crop of wounded to the de Coetlogons. Next door to the consulate, some native houses and a chapel (now ruinous) stood on a green. Chapel and houses were certainly Samoan, but the ground was under a land-claim of the German firm; and de Coetlogon wrote to Becker requesting permission (in case it should prove necessary) to use these structures for his wounded. Before an answer came, the hospital was startled by the appearance of a case of gangrene, and the patient was hastily removed into the chapel. A rebel laid on German ground—here was an atrocity! The day before his own relief, November 11th, Becker ordered the man’s instant removal. By his aggressive carriage and singular mixture of violence and cunning, he had already largely brought about the fall of Brandeis, and forced into an attitude of hostility the whole non-German population of the islands. Now, in his last hour of office, by this wanton buffet to his English colleague, he prepared a 102 continuance of evil days for his successor. If the object of diplomacy be the organisation of failure in the midst of hate, he was a great diplomatist. And amongst a certain party on the beach he is still named as the ideal consul.




November 1888

When Brandeis and Tamasese fled by night from Mulinuu, they carried their wandering government some six miles to windward, to a position above Lotoanuu. For some three miles to the eastward of Apia, the shores of Upolu are low and the ground rises with a gentle acclivity, much of which waves with German plantations. A barrier reef encloses a lagoon passable for boats: and the traveller skims there, on smooth, many-tinted shallows, between the wall of the breakers on the one hand, and on the other a succession of palm-tree capes and cheerful beach-side villages. Beyond the great plantation of Vailele, the character of the coast is changed. The barrier reef abruptly ceases, the surf beats direct upon the shore; and the mountains and untenanted forest of the interior descend sheer into the sea. The first mountain promontory is Letongo. The bay beyond is called Laulii, and became the headquarters of Mataafa. And on the next projection, on steep, intricate ground, veiled in forest and cut up by gorges and defiles, Tamasese fortified his lines. This greenwood citadel, which proved impregnable by Samoan arms, may be regarded as his front; the sea covered his right; and his rear extended along the coast as far as Saluafata, and thus commanded and drew upon a rich country, including the plain of Falefá.

He was left in peace from 11th October till November 6th. But his adversary is not wholly to be blamed for 104 this delay, which depended upon island etiquette. His Savaii contingent had not yet come in, and to have moved again without waiting for them would have been surely to offend, perhaps to lose them. With the month of November they began to arrive: on the 2nd twenty boats, on the 3rd twenty-nine, on the 5th seventeen. On the 6th the position Mataafa had so long occupied on the skirts of Apia was deserted; all that day and night his force kept streaming eastward to Laulii; and on the 7th the siege of Lotoanuu was opened with a brisk skirmish.

Each side built forts, facing across the gorge of a brook. An endless fusillade and shouting maintained the spirit of the warriors; and at night, even if the firing slackened, the pickets continued to exchange from either side volleys of songs and pungent pleasantries. Nearer hostilities were rendered difficult by the nature of the ground, where men must thread dense bush and clamber on the face of precipices. Apia was near enough; a man, if he had a dollar or two, could walk in before a battle and array himself in silk or velvet. Casualties were not common; there was nothing to cast gloom upon the camps, and no more danger than was required to give a spice to the perpetual firing. For the young warriors it was a period of admirable enjoyment. But the anxiety of Mataafa must have been great and growing. His force was now considerable. It was scarce likely he should ever have more. That he should be long able to supply them with ammunition seemed incredible; at the rates then or soon after current, hundreds of pounds sterling might be easily blown into the air by the skirmishers in the course of a few days. And in the meanwhile, on the mountain opposite, his outnumbered adversary held his ground unshaken.

By this time the partisanship of the whites was unconcealed. Americans supplied Mataafa with ammunition; English and Americans openly subscribed together and sent boat-loads of provisions to his camp. One such boat started from Apia on a day of rain; it was pulled by six 105 oars, three being paid by Moors, three by the MacArthurs; Moors himself and a clerk of the MacArthurs’ were in charge; and the load included not only beef and biscuit, but three or four thousand rounds of ammunition. They came ashore in Laulii, and carried the gift to Mataafa. While they were yet in his house a bullet passed overhead; and out of his door they could see the Tamasese pickets on the opposite hill. Thence they made their way to the left flank of the Mataafa position next the sea. A Tamasese barricade was visible across the stream. It rained, but the warriors crowded in their shanties, squatted in the mud, and maintained an excited conversation. Balls flew; either faction, both happy as lords, spotting for the other in chance shots, and missing. One point is characteristic of that war; experts in native feeling doubt if it will characterise the next. The two white visitors passed without and between the lines to a rocky point upon the beach. The person of Moors was well known; the purpose of their coming to Laulii must have been already bruited abroad; yet they were not fired upon. From the point they spied a crow’s nest, or hanging fortification, higher up; and, judging it was a good position for a general view, obtained a guide. He led them up a steep side of the mountain, where they must climb by roots and tufts of grass; and coming to an open hill-top with some scattered trees, bade them wait, let him draw the fire, and then be swift to follow. Perhaps a dozen balls whistled about him ere he had crossed the dangerous passage and dropped on the farther side into the crow’s-nest; the white men, briskly following, escaped unhurt. The crow’s-nest was built like a bartizan on the precipitous front of the position. Across the ravine, perhaps at five hundred yards, heads were to be seen popping up and down in a fort of Tamesese’s. On both sides the same enthusiasm without council, the same senseless vigilance, reigned. Some took aim; some blazed before them at a venture. Now—when a head showed on the 106 other side—one would take a crack at it, remarking that it would never do to “miss a chance.” Now they would all fire a volley and bob down; a return volley rang across the ravine, and was punctually answered: harmless as lawn-tennis. The whites expostulated in vain. The warriors, drunken with noise, made answer by a fresh general discharge and bade their visitors run while it was time. Upon their return to headquarters, men were covering the front with sheets of coral limestone, two balls having passed through the house in the interval. Mataafa sat within, over his kava bowl, unmoved. The picture is of a piece throughout: excellent courage, super-excellent folly, a war of school-children; expensive guns and cartridges used like squibs or catherine-wheels on Guy Fawkes’s Day.

On the 20th Mataafa changed his attack. Tamasese’s front was seemingly impregnable. Something must be tried upon his rear. There was his bread-basket; a small success in that direction would immediately curtail his resources; and it might be possible with energy to roll up his line along the beach and take the citadel in reverse. The scheme was carried out as might be expected from these childish soldiers. Mataafa, always uneasy about Apia, clung with a portion of his force to Laulii; and thus, had the foe been enterprising, exposed himself to disaster. The expedition fell successfully enough on Saluafata and drove out the Tamaseses with a loss of four heads; but so far from improving the advantage, yielded immediately to the weakness of the Samoan warrior, and ranged farther east through unarmed populations, bursting with shouts and blackened faces into villages terrified or admiring, making spoil of pigs, burning houses, and destroying gardens. The Tamasese had at first evacuated several beach towns in succession, and were still in retreat on Lotoanuu; finding themselves unpursued, they reoccupied them one after another, and re-established their lines to the very borders of Saluafata. Night fell; Mataafa had taken Saluafata, 107 Tamasese had lost it; and that was all. But the day came near to have a different and very singular issue. The village was not long in the hands of the Mataafas, when a schooner, flying German colours, put into the bay and was immediately surrounded by their boats. It chanced that Brandeis was on board. Word of it had gone abroad, and the boats as they approached demanded him with threats. The late premier, alone, entirely unarmed, and a prey to natural and painful feelings, concealed himself below. The captain of the schooner remained on deck, pointed to the German colours, and defied approaching boats. Again the prestige of a great Power triumphed; the Samoans fell back before the bunting; the schooner worked out of the bay; Brandeis escaped. He himself apprehended the worst if he fell into Samoan hands; it is my diffident impression that his life would have been safe.

On the 22nd, a new German war-ship, the Eber, of tragic memory, came to Apia from the Gilberts, where she had been disarming turbulent islands. The rest of that day and all night she loaded stores from the firm, and on the morrow reached Saluafata bay. Thanks to the misconduct of the Mataafas, the most of the foreshore was still in the hands of the Tamaseses; and they were thus able to receive from the Eber both the stores and weapons. The weapons had been sold long since to Tarawa, Apaiang, and Pleasant Island; places unheard of by the general reader, where obscure inhabitants paid for these instruments of death in money or in labour, misused them as it was known they would be misused, and had been disarmed by force. The Eber had brought back the guns to a German counter, whence many must have been originally sold; and was here engaged, like a shopboy, in their distribution to fresh purchasers. Such is the vicious circle of the traffic in weapons of war. Another aid of a more metaphysical nature was ministered by the Eber to Tamasese, in the shape of uncountable German flags. The full history of this epidemic of bunting falls to be told in the next chapter. 108 But the fact has to be chronicled here, for I believe it was to these flags that we owe the visit of the Adams, and my next and best authentic glance into a native camp. The Adams arrived in Saluafata on the 26th. On the morrow Leary and Moors landed at the village. It was still occupied by Mataafas, mostly from Manono and Savaii, few in number, high in spirit. The Tamasese pickets were meanwhile within musket range; there was maintained a steady sputtering of shots; and yet a party of Tamasese women were here on a visit to the women of Manono, with whom they sat talking and smoking, under the fire of their own relatives. It was reported that Leary took part in a council of war, and promised to join with his broadside in the next attack. It is certain he did nothing of the sort: equally certain that, in Tamasese circles, he was firmly credited with having done so. And this heightens the extraordinary character of what I have now to tell. Prudence and delicacy alike ought to have forbid the camp of Tamasese to the feet of either Leary or Moors. Moors was the original—there was a time when he had been the only—opponent of the puppet king. Leary had driven him from the seat of government; it was but a week or two since he had threatened to bombard him in his present refuge. Both were in close and daily council with his adversary, and it was no secret that Moors was supplying the latter with food. They were partisans; it lacked but a hair that they should be called belligerents; it were idle to try to deny they were the most dangerous of spies. And yet these two now sailed across the bay and landed inside the Tamasese lines at Salelesi. On the very beach they had another glimpse of the artlessness of Samoan war. Hitherto the Tamasese fleet, being hardy and unencumbered, had made a fool of the huge floating forts upon the other side; and here they were toiling, not to produce another boat on their own pattern in which they had always enjoyed the advantage, but to make a new one the type of their enemies’, of which they 109 had now proved the uselessness for months. It came on to rain as the Americans landed; and though none offered to oppose their coming ashore, none invited them to take shelter. They were nowise abashed, entered a house unbidden, and were made welcome with obvious reserve. The rain clearing off, they set forth westward, deeper into the heart of the enemies’ position. Three or four young men ran some way before them, doubtless to give warning; and Leary, with his indomitable taste for mischief, kept inquiring as he went after “the high chief” Tamasese. The line of the beach was one continuous breastwork; some thirty odd iron cannon of all sizes and patterns stood mounted in embrasures; plenty grape and canister lay ready; and at every hundred yards or so the German flag was flying. The numbers of the guns and flags I give as I received them, though they test my faith. At the house of Brandeis—a little, weatherboard house, crammed at the time with natives, men, women, and squalling children—Leary and Moors again asked for “the high chief,” and were again assured that he was farther on. A little beyond, the road ran in one place somewhat inland, the two Americans had gone down to the line of the beach to continue their inspection of the breastwork, when Brandeis himself, in his shirt-sleeves and accompanied by several German officers, passed them by the line of the road. The two parties saluted in silence. Beyond Eva Point there was an observable change for the worse in the reception of the Americans; some whom they met began to mutter at Moors; and the adventurers, with tardy but commendable prudence, desisted from their search after the high chief, and began to retrace their steps. On the return, Suatele and some chiefs were drinking kava in a “big house,” and called them in to join—their only invitation. But the night was closing, the rain had begun again: they stayed but for civility, and returned on board the Adams, wet and hungry, and I believe delighted with their expedition. It was perhaps the last as it was certainly one of the most extreme 110 examples of that divinity which once hedged the white in Samoa. The feeling was already different in the camp of Mataafa, where the safety of a German loiterer had been a matter of extreme concern. Ten days later, three commissioners, an Englishman, an American, and a German, approached a post of Mataafas, were challenged by an old man with a gun, and mentioned in answer what they were. “Ifea Siamani? Which is the German?” cried the old gentleman, dancing, and with his finger on the trigger; and the commissioners stood somewhile in a very anxious posture, till they were released by the opportune arrival of a chief. It was November the 27th when Leary and Moors completed their absurd excursion; in about three weeks an event was to befall which changed at once, and probably for ever, the relations of the natives and the whites.

By the 28th Tamasese had collected seventeen hundred men in the trenches before Saluafata, thinking to attack next day. But the Mataafas evacuated the place in the night. At half-past five on the morning of the 29th a signal-gun was fired in the trenches at Laulii, and the Tamasese citadel was assaulted and defended with a fury new among Samoans. When the battle ended on the following day, one or more outworks remained in the possession of Mataafa. Another had been taken and lost as many as four times. Carried originally by a mixed force from Savaii and Tuamasanga, the victors, instead of completing fresh defences or pursuing their advantage, fell to eat and smoke and celebrate their victory with impromptu songs. In this humour a rally of the Tamaseses smote them, drove them out pell-mell, and tumbled them into the ravine, where many broke their heads and legs. Again the work was taken, again lost. Ammunition failed the belligerents; and they fought hand to hand in the contested fort with axes, clubs, and clubbed rifles. The sustained ardour of the engagement surprised even those who were engaged; and the butcher’s bill was counted extraordinary by Samoans. On December 1st the women of either side 111 collected the headless bodies of the dead, each easily identified by the name tattooed on his forearm. Mataafa is thought to have lost sixty killed; and the de Coetlogons’ hospital received three women and forty men. The casualties on the Tamasese side cannot be accepted, but they were presumably much less.




November—December 1888

For Becker I have not been able to conceal my distaste, for he seems to me both false and foolish. But of his successor, the unfortunately famous Dr. Knappe, we may think as of a good enough fellow driven distraught. Fond of Samoa and the Samoans, he thought to bring peace and enjoy popularity among the islanders; of a genial, amiable, and sanguine temper, he made no doubt but he could repair the breach with the English consul. Hope told a flattering tale. He awoke to find himself exchanging defiances with de Coetlogon, beaten in the field by Mataafa, surrounded on the spot by general exasperation, and disowned from home by his own government. The history of his administration leaves on the mind of the student a sentiment of pity scarcely mingled.

On Blacklock he did not call, and, in view of Leary’s attitude, may be excused. But the English consul was in a different category. England, weary of the name of Samoa, and desirous only to see peace established, was prepared to wink hard during the process and to welcome the result of any German settlement. It was an unpardonable fault in Becker to have kicked and buffeted his ready-made allies into a state of jealousy, anger, and suspicion. Knappe set himself at once to efface these impressions, and the English officials rejoiced for the moment in the change. Between Knappe and de Coetlogon there seems to have been mutual sympathy; and, in considering the steps by which 113 they were led at last into an attitude of mutual defiance, it must be remembered that both the men were sick,—Knappe from time to time prostrated with that formidable complaint, New Guinea fever, and de Coetlogon throughout his whole stay in the islands continually ailing.

Tamasese was still to be recognised, and, if possible, supported: such was the German policy. Two days after his arrival, accordingly, Knappe addressed to Mataafa a threatening despatch. The German plantation was suffering from the proximity of his “war-party.” He must withdraw from Laulii at once, and, whithersoever he went, he must approach no German property nor so much as any village where there was a German trader. By five o’clock on the morrow, if he were not gone, Knappe would turn upon him “the attention of the man-of-war” and inflict a fine. The same evening, November 14th, Knappe went on board the Adler, which began to get up steam.

Three months before, such direct intervention on the part of Germany would have passed almost without protest; but the hour was now gone by. Becker’s conduct, equally timid and rash, equally inconclusive and offensive, had forced the other nations into a strong feeling of common interest with Mataafa. Even had the German demands been moderate, de Coetlogon could not have forgotten the night of the taumualua, nor how Mataafa had relinquished, at his request, the attack upon the German quarter. Blacklock, with his driver of a captain at his elbow, was not likely to lag behind. And Mataafa having communicated Knappe’s letter, the example of the Germans was on all hands exactly followed; the consuls hastened on board their respective war-ships, and these began to get up steam. About midnight, in a pouring rain, Pelly communicated to Fritze his intention to follow him and protect British interests; and Knappe replied that he would come on board the Lizard and see de Coetlogon personally. It was deep in the small hours, and de Coetlogon had been 114 long asleep, when he was wakened to receive his colleague; but he started up with an old soldier’s readiness. The conference was long. De Coetlogon protested, as he did afterwards in writing, against Knappe’s claim: the Samoans were in a state of war; they had territorial rights; it was monstrous to prevent them from entering one of their own villages because a German trader kept the store; and in case property suffered, a claim for compensation was the proper remedy. Knappe argued that this was a question between Germans and Samoans, in which de Coetlogon had nothing to see; and that he must protect German property according to his instructions. To which de Coetlogon replied that he was himself in the same attitude to the property of the British; that he understood Knappe to be intending hostilities against Laulii; that Laulii was mortgaged to the MacArthurs; that its crops were accordingly British property; and that, while he was ever willing to recognise the territorial rights of the Samoans, he must prevent that property from being molested “by any other nation.” “But if a German man-of-war does it?” asked Knappe.—“We shall prevent it to the best of our ability,” replied the colonel. It is to the credit of both men that this trying interview should have been conducted and concluded without heat; but Knappe must have returned to the Adler with darker anticipations.

At sunrise on the morning of the 15th, the three ships, each loaded with its consul, put to sea. It is hard to exaggerate the peril of the forenoon that followed, as they lay off Laulii. Nobody desired a collision, save perhaps the reckless Leary; but peace and war trembled in the balance; and when the Adler, at one period, lowered her gun ports, war appeared to preponderate. It proved, however, to be a last—and therefore surely an unwise—extremity. Knappe contented himself with visiting the rival kings, and the three ships returned to Apia before noon. Beyond a doubt, coming after Knappe’s decisive letter of the day 115 before, this impotent conclusion shook the credit of Germany among the natives of both sides; the Tamaseses fearing they were deserted, the Mataafas (with secret delight) hoping they were feared. And it gave an impetus to that ridiculous business which might have earned for the whole episode the name of the war of flags. British and American flags had been planted the night before, and were seen that morning flying over what they claimed about Laulii. British and American passengers, on the way up and down, pointed out from the decks of the war-ships, with generous vagueness, the boundaries of problematical estates. Ten days later, the beach of Saluafata bay fluttered (as I have told in the last chapter) with the flag of Germany. The Americans riposted with a claim to Tamasese’s camp, some small part of which (says Knappe) did really belong to “an American nigger.” The disease spread, the flags were multiplied, the operations of war became an egg-dance among miniature neutral territories; and though all men took a hand in these proceedings, all men in turn were struck with their absurdity. Mullan, Leary’s successor, warned Knappe, in an emphatic despatch, not to squander and discredit the solemnity of that emblem which was all he had to be a defence to his own consulate. And Knappe himself, in his despatch of March 21st, 1889, castigates the practice with much sense. But this was after the tragi-comic culmination had been reached, and the burnt rags of one of these too-frequently mendacious signals gone on a progress to Washington, like Cæsar’s body, arousing indignation where it came. To such results are nations conducted by the patent artifices of a Becker.

The discussion of the morning, the silent menace and defiance of the voyage to Laulii, might have set the best-natured by the ears. But Knappe and de Coetlogon took their difference in excellent part. On the morrow, November 16th, they sat down together with Blacklock in conference. The English consul introduced his colleagues, who shook hands. If Knappe were dead-weighted with 116 the inheritance of Becker, Blacklock was handicapped by reminiscences of Leary; it is the more to the credit of this inexperienced man that he should have maintained in the future so excellent an attitude of firmness and moderation, and that when the crash came, Knappe and de Coetlogon, not Knappe and Blacklock, were found to be the protagonists of the drama. The conference was futile. The English and American consuls admitted but one cure of the evils of the time: that the farce of the Tamasese monarchy should cease. It was one which the German refused to consider. And the agents separated without reaching any result, save that diplomatic relations had been restored between the States and Germany, and that all three were convinced of their fundamental differences.

Knappe and de Coetlogon were still friends; they had disputed and differed and come within a finger’s breadth of war, and they were still friends. But an event was at hand which was to separate them for ever. On December 4th came the Royalist, Captain Hand, to relieve the Lizard. Pelly of course had to take his canvas from the consulate hospital; but he had in charge certain awnings belonging to the Royalist, and with these they made shift to cover the wounded, at that time (after the fight at Laulii) more than usually numerous. A lieutenant came to the consulate, and delivered (as I have received it) the following message: “Captain Hand’s compliments, and he says you must get rid of these niggers at once, and he will help you to do it.” Doubtless the reply was no more civil than the message. The promised “help,” at least, followed promptly. A boat’s crew landed and the awnings were stripped from the wounded, Hand himself standing on the colonel’s verandah to direct operations. It were fruitless to discuss this passage from the humanitarian point of view, or from that of formal courtesy. The mind of the new captain was plainly not directed to these objects. But it is understood that he considered the existence of a hospital a source of irritation to Germans and a fault in policy. His 117 own rude act proved in the result far more impolitic. The hospital had now been open some two months, and de Coetlogon was still on friendly terms with Knappe, and he and his wife were engaged to dine with him that day. By the morrow that was practically ended. For the rape of the awnings had two results: one, which was the fault of de Coetlogon, not at all of Hand, who could not have foreseen it; the other which it was his duty to have seen and prevented. The first was this: the de Coetlogons found themselves left with their wounded exposed to the inclemencies of the season; they must all be transported into the house and verandah; in the distress and pressure of this task, the dinner engagement was too long forgotten; and a note of excuse did not reach the German consulate before the table was set, and Knappe dressed to receive his visitors. The second consequence was inevitable. Captain Hand was scarce landed ere it became public (was “sofort bekannt,” writes Knappe) that he and the consul were in opposition. All that had been gained by the demonstration at Laulii was thus immediately cast away; de Coetlogon’s prestige was lessened; and it must be said plainly that Hand did less than nothing to restore it. Twice indeed he interfered, both times with success; and once, when his own person had been endangered, with vehemence; but during all the strange doings I have to narrate, he remained in close intimacy with the German consulate, and on one occasion may be said to have acted as its marshal. After the worst is over, after Bismarck has told Knappe that “the protests of his English colleague were grounded,” that his own conduct “has not been good,” and that in any dispute which may arise he “will find himself in the wrong,” Knappe can still plead in his defence that Captain Hand “has always maintained friendly intercourse with the German authorities.” Singular epitaph for an English sailor. In this complicity on the part of Hand we may find the reason—and I had almost said, the excuse—of much that was excessive in the bearing of the unfortunate Knappe. 118

On the 11th December, Mataafa received twenty-eight thousand cartridges, brought into the country in salt-beef kegs by the British ship Richmond. This not only sharpened the animosity between whites; following so closely on the German fizzle at Laulii, it raised a convulsion in the camp of Tamasese. On the 13th Brandeis addressed to Knappe his famous and fatal letter. I may not describe it as a letter of burning words, but it is plainly dictated by a burning heart. Tamasese and his chiefs, he announces, are now sick of the business, and ready to make peace with Mataafa. They began the war relying upon German help; they now see and say that “e faaalo Siamani i Peritania ma America, that Germany is subservient to England and the States.” It is grimly given to be understood that the despatch is an ultimatum, and a last chance is being offered for the recreant ally to fulfil her pledge. To make it more plain, the document goes on with a kind of bilious irony: “The two German war-ships now in Samoa are here for the protection of German property alone; and when the Olga shall have arrived” [she arrived on the morrow] “the German war-ships will continue to do against the insurgents precisely as little as they have done heretofore.” Plant flags, in fact.

Here was Knappe’s opportunity, could he have stooped to seize it. I find it difficult to blame him that he could not. Far from being so inglorious as the treachery once contemplated by Becker, the acceptance of this ultimatum would have been still in the nature of a disgrace. Brandeis’s letter, written by a German, was hard to swallow. It would have been hard to accept that solution which Knappe had so recently and so peremptorily refused to his brother consuls. And he was tempted, on the other hand, by recent changes. There was no Pelly to support de Coetlogon, who might now be disregarded. Mullan, Leary’s successor, even if he were not precisely a Hand, was at least no Leary; and even if Mullan should show fight, Knappe had now three ships and could defy 119 or sink him without danger. Many small circumstances moved him in the same direction. The looting of German plantations continued; the whole force of Mataafa was to a large extent subsisted from the crops of Vailele; and armed men were to be seen openly plundering bananas, bread-fruit, and cocoa-nuts under the walls of the plantation building. On the night of the 13th the consulate stable had been broken into and a horse removed. On the 16th there was a riot in Apia between half-castes and sailors from the new ship Olga, each side claiming that the other was the worse of drink, both (for a wager) justly. The multiplication of flags and little neutral territories had, besides, begun to irritate the Samoans. The protests of German settlers had been received uncivilly. On the 16th the Mataafas had again sought to land in Saluafata bay, with the manifest intention to attack the Tamaseses, or (in other words) “to trespass on German lands, covered, as your Excellency knows, with flags.” I quote from his requisition to Fritze, December 17th. Upon all these considerations, he goes on, it is necessary to bring the fighting to an end. Both parties are to be disarmed and returned to their villages—Mataafa first. And in case of any attempt upon Apia, the roads thither are to be held by a strong landing-party. Mataafa was to be disarmed first, perhaps rightly enough in his character of the last insurgent. Then was to have come the turn of Tamasese; but it does not appear the disarming would have had the same import or have been gone about in the same way. Germany was bound to Tamasese. No honest man would dream of blaming Knappe because he sought to redeem his country’s word. The path he chose was doubtless that of honour, so far as honour was still left. But it proved to be the road to ruin.

Fritze, ranking German officer, is understood to have opposed the measure. His attitude earned him at the time unpopularity among his country-people on the spot, and should now redound to his credit. It is to be hoped 120 he extended his opposition to some of the details. If it were possible to disarm Mataafa at all, it must be done rather by prestige than force. A party of blue-jackets landed in Samoan bush, and expected to hold against Samoans a multiplicity of forest paths, had their work cut out for them. And it was plain they should be landed in the light of day, with a discouraging openness, and even with parade. To sneak ashore by night was to increase the danger of resistance and to minimise the authority of the attack. The thing was a bluff, and it is impossible to bluff with stealth. Yet this was what was tried. A landing-party was to leave the Olga in Apia bay at two in the morning; the landing was to be at four on two parts of the foreshore of Vailele. At eight they were to be joined by a second landing-party from the Eber. By nine the Olgas were to be on the crest of Letongo Mountain, and the Ebers to be moving round the promontory by the seaward paths, “with measures of precaution,” disarming all whom they encountered. There was to be no firing unless fired upon. At the appointed hour (or perhaps later) on the morning of the 19th, this unpromising business was put in hand, and there moved off from the Olga two boats with some fifty blue-jackets between them, and a praam or punt containing ninety,—the boats and the whole expedition under the command of Captain-Lieutenant Jaeckel, the praam under Lieutenant Spengler. The men had each forty rounds, one day’s provisions, and their flasks filled.

In the meanwhile, Mataafa sympathisers about Apia were on the alert. Knappe had informed the consuls that the ships were to put to sea next day for the protection of German property; but the Tamaseses had been less discreet. “To-morrow at the hour of seven,” they had cried to their adversaries, “you will know of a difficulty, and our guns shall be made good in broken bones.” An accident had pointed expectation towards Apia. The wife of Le Māmea washed for the German 121 ships—a perquisite, I suppose, for her husband’s unwilling fidelity. She sent a man with linen on board the Adler, where he was surprised to see Le Māmea in person, and to be himself ordered instantly on shore. The news spread. If Māmea were brought down from Lotoanuu, others might have come at the same time. Tamasese himself and half his army might perhaps lie concealed on board the German ships. And a watch was accordingly set and warriors collected along the line of the shore. One detachment lay in some rifle-pits by the mouth of the Fuisá. They were commanded by Seumanu; and with his party, probably as the most contiguous to Apia, was the war-correspondent, John Klein. Of English birth, but naturalised American, this gentleman had been for some time representing the New York World in a very effective manner, always in the front, living in the field with the Samoans, and in all vicissitudes of weather, toiling to and fro with his despatches. His wisdom was perhaps not equal to his energy. He made himself conspicuous, going about armed to the teeth in a boat under the stars and stripes; and on one occasion, when he supposed himself fired upon by the Tamaseses, had the petulance to empty his revolver in the direction of their camp. By the light of the moon, which was then nearly down, this party observed the Olga’s two boats and the praam, which they described as “almost sinking with men,” the boats keeping well out towards the reef, the praam at the moment apparently heading for the shore. An extreme agitation seems to have reigned in the rifle-pits. What were the new-comers? What was their errand? Were they Germans or Tamaseses? Had they a mind to attack? The praam was hailed in Samoan and did not answer. It was proposed to fire upon her ere she drew near. And at last, whether on his own suggestion or that of Seumanu, Klein hailed her in English, and in terms of unnecessary melodrama. “Do not try to land here,” he cried. “If you do, your blood will be upon 122 your head.” Spengler, who had never the least intention to touch at the Fuisá, put up the head of the praam to her true course and continued to move up the lagoon with an offing of some seventy or eighty yards. Along all the irregularities and obstructions of the beach, across the mouth of the Vaivasa, and through the startled village of Matafangatele, Seumanu, Klein, and seven or eight others raced to keep up, spreading the alarm and rousing reinforcements as they went. Presently a man on horseback made his appearance on the opposite beach of Fangalii. Klein and the natives distinctly saw him signal with a lantern; which is the more strange, as the horseman (Captain Hufnagel, plantation manager of Vailele) had never a lantern to signal with. The praam kept in. Many men in white were seen to stand up, step overboard, and wade to shore. At the same time the eye of panic descried a breastwork of “foreign stone” (brick) upon the beach. Samoans are prepared to-day to swear to its existence, I believe conscientiously, although no such thing was ever made or ever intended in that place. The hour is doubtful. “It was the hour when the streak of dawn is seen, the hour known in the warfare of heathen times as the hour of the night attack,” says the Mataafa official account. A native whom I met on the field declared it was at cock-crow. Captain Hufnagel, on the other hand, is sure it was long before the day. It was dark at least, and the moon down. Darkness made the Samoans bold; uncertainty as to the composition and purpose of the landing-party made them desperate. Fire was opened on the Germans, one of whom was here killed. The Germans returned it, and effected a lodgment on the beach; and the skirmish died again to silence. It was at this time, if not earlier, that Klein returned to Apia.

Here, then, were Spengler and the ninety men of the praam, landed on the beach in no very enviable posture, the woods in front filled with unnumbered enemies, but for the time successful. Meanwhile, Jaeckel and the boats 123 had gone outside the reef, and were to land on the other side of the Vailele promontory, at Sunga, by the buildings of the plantation. It was Hufnagel’s part to go and meet them. His way led straight into the woods and through the midst of the Samoans, who had but now ceased firing. He went in the saddle and at a foot’s pace, feeling speed and concealment to be equally helpless, and that if he were to fall at all, he had best fall with dignity. Not a shot was fired at him; no effort made to arrest him on his errand. As he went, he spoke and even jested with the Samoans, and they answered in good part. One fellow was leaping, yelling, and tossing his axe in the air, after the way of an excited islander. “Faimalosi! go it!” said Hufnagel, and the fellow laughed and redoubled his exertions. As soon as the boats entered the lagoon, fire was again opened from the woods. The fifty blue-jackets jumped overboard, hove down the boats to be a shield, and dragged them towards the landing-place. In this way, their rations, and (what was more unfortunate) some of their miserable provision of forty rounds got wetted; but the men came to shore and garrisoned the plantation house without a casualty. Meanwhile the sound of the firing from Sunga immediately renewed the hostilities at Fangalii. The civilians on shore decided that Spengler must be at once guided to the house, and Haideln, the surveyor, accepted the dangerous errand. Like Hufnagel, he was suffered to pass without question through the midst of these platonic enemies. He found Spengler some way inland on a knoll, disastrously engaged, the woods around him filled with Samoans, who were continuously reinforced. In three successive charges, cheering as they ran, the blue-jackets burst through their scattered opponents, and made good their junction with Jaeckel. Four men only remained upon the field, the other wounded being helped by their comrades or dragging themselves painfully along.

The force was now concentrated in the house and its immediate patch of garden. Their rear, to the seaward, 124 was unmolested; but on three sides they were beleaguered. On the left, the Samoans occupied and fired from some of the plantation offices. In front, a long rising crest of land in the horse-pasture commanded the house, and was lined with the assailants. And on the right, the hedge of the same paddock afforded them a dangerous cover. It was in this place that a Samoan sharpshooter was knocked over by Jaeckel with his own hand. The fire was maintained by the Samoans in the usual wasteful style. The roof was made a sieve; the balls passed clean through the house; Lieutenant Sieger, as he lay, already dying, on Hufnagel’s bed, was despatched with a fresh wound. The Samoans showed themselves extremely enterprising: pushed their lines forward, ventured beyond cover, and continually threatened to envelop the garden. Thrice, at least, it was necessary to repel them by a sally. The men were brought into the house from the rear, the front doors were thrown suddenly open, and the gallant blue-jackets issued cheering: necessary, successful, but extremely costly sorties. Neither could these be pushed far. The foes were undaunted; so soon as the sailors advanced at all deep in the horse-pasture, the Samoans began to close in upon both flanks; and the sally had to be recalled. To add to the dangers of the German situation, ammunition began to run low; and the cartridge-boxes of the wounded and the dead had been already brought into use before, at about eight o’clock, the Eber steamed into the bay. Her commander, Wallis, threw some shells into Letongo, one of which killed five men about their cooking-pot. The Samoans began immediately to withdraw; their movements were hastened by a sortie, and the remains of the landing-party brought on board. This was an unfortunate movement; it gave an irremediable air of defeat to what might have been else claimed for a moderate success. The blue-jackets numbered a hundred and forty all told; they were engaged separately and fought under the worst conditions, in the 125 dark and among woods; their position in the house was scarce tenable; they lost in killed and wounded fifty-six,—forty per cent.; and their spirit to the end was above question. Whether we think of the poor sailor lads, always so pleasantly behaved in times of peace, or whether we call to mind the behaviour of the two civilians, Haideln and Hufnagel, we can only regret that brave men should stand to be exposed upon so poor a quarrel, or lives cast away upon an enterprise so hopeless.

News of the affair reached Apia early, and Moors, always curious of these spectacles of war, was immediately in the saddle. Near Matafangatele he met a Manono chief, whom he asked if there were any German dead. “I think there are about thirty of them knocked over,” said he. “Have you taken their heads?” asked Moors. “Yes,” said the chief. “Some foolish people did it, but I have stopped them. We ought not to cut off their heads when they do not cut off ours.” He was asked what had been done with the heads. “Two have gone to Mataafa,” he replied, “and one is buried right under where your horse is standing, in a basket wrapped in tapa.” This was afterwards dug up, and I am told on native authority that, besides the three heads, two ears were taken. Moors next asked the Manono man how he came to be going away. “The man-of-war is throwing shells,” said he. “When they stopped firing out of the house, we stopped firing also; so it was as well to scatter when the shells began. We could have killed all the white men. I wish they had been Tamaseses.” This is an ex parte statement, and I give it for such; but the course of the affair, and in particular the adventures of Haideln and Hufnagel, testify to a surprising lack of animosity against the Germans. About the same time or but a little earlier than this conversation, the same spirit was being displayed. Hufnagel, with a party of labour, had gone out to bring in the German dead, when he was surprised to be suddenly fired on from the wood. The boys he had with him were not negritos, but 126 Polynesians from the Gilbert Islands; and he suddenly remembered that these might be easily mistaken for a detachment of Tamaseses. Bidding his boys conceal themselves in a thicket, this brave man walked into the open. So soon as he was recognised, the firing ceased, and the labourers followed him in safety. This is chivalrous war; but there was a side to it less chivalrous. As Moors drew nearer to Vailele, he began to meet Samoans with hats, guns, and even shirts, taken from the German sailors. With one of these who had a hat and a gun he stopped and spoke. The hat was handed up for him to look at; it had the late owner’s name on the inside. “Where is he?” asked Moors. “He is dead; I cut his head off.” “You shot him?” “No, somebody else shot him in the hip. When I came, he put up his hands, and cried: ‘Don’t kill me; I am a Malietoa man.’ I did not believe him, and I cut his head off.” “Have you any ammunition to fit that gun?” “I do not know.” “What has become of the cartridge-belt?” “Another fellow grabbed that and the cartridges, and he won’t give them to me.” A dreadful and silly picture of barbaric war. The words of the German sailor must be regarded as imaginary: how was the poor lad to speak native, or the Samoan to understand German? When Moors came as far as Sunga, the Eber was yet in the bay, the smoke of battle still lingered among the trees, which were themselves marked with a thousand bullet-wounds. But the affair was over, the combatants, German and Samoan, were all gone, and only a couple of negrito labour boys lurked on the scene. The village of Letongo beyond was equally silent; part of it was wrecked by the shells of the Eber, and still smoked; the inhabitants had fled. On the beach were the native boats, perhaps five thousand dollars’ worth, deserted by the Mataafas and overlooked by the Germans, in their common hurry to escape. Still Moors held eastward by the sea-paths. It was his hope to get a view from the other side of the promontory, towards Laulii. In the way he found a house hidden in the 127 wood and among rocks, where an aged and sick woman was being tended by her elderly daughter. Last lingerers in that deserted piece of coast, they seemed indifferent to the events which had thus left them solitary, and, as the daughter said, did not know where Mataafa was, nor where Tamasese.

It is the official Samoan pretension that the Germans fired first at Fangalii. In view of all German and some native testimony, the text of Fritze’s orders, and the probabilities of the case, no honest mind will believe it for a moment. Certainly the Samoans fired first. As certainly they were betrayed into the engagement in the agitation of the moment, and it was not till afterwards that they understood what they had done. Then, indeed, all Samoa drew a breath of wonder and delight. The invincible had fallen; the men of the vaunted war-ships had been met in the field by the braves of Mataafa: a superstition was no more. Conceive this people steadily as schoolboys; and conceive the elation in any school if the head boy should suddenly arise and drive the rector from the schoolhouse. I have received one instance of the feeling instantly aroused. There lay at the time in the consular hospital an old chief who was a pet of the colonel’s. News reached him of the glorious event; he was sick, he thought himself sinking, sent for the colonel, and gave him his gun. “Don’t let the Germans get it,” said the old gentleman, and having received a promise, was at peace.




December 1888 to March 1889

Knappe, in the Adler, with a flag of truce at the fore, was entering Laulii Bay when the Eber brought him the news of the night’s reverse. His heart was doubtless wrung for his young countrymen who had been butchered and mutilated in the dark woods, or now lay suffering, and some of them dying, on the ship. And he must have been startled as he recognised his own position. He had gone too far; he had stumbled into war, and, what was worse, into defeat; he had thrown away German lives for less than nothing, and now saw himself condemned either to accept defeat, or to kick and pummel his failure into something like success; either to accept defeat, or take frenzy for a counsellor. Yesterday, in cold blood, he had judged it necessary to have the woods to the westward guarded lest the evacuation of Laulii should prove only the peril of Apia. To-day, in the irritation and alarm of failure, he forgot or despised his previous reasoning, and, though his detachment was beat back to the ships, proceeded with the remainder of his maimed design. The only change he made was to haul down the flag of truce. He had now no wish to meet with Mataafa. Words were out of season, shells must speak.

At this moment an incident befell him which must have been trying to his self-command. The new American ship Nipsic entered Laulii Bay; her commander, Mullan, boarded the Adler to protest, succeeded in wresting 129 from Knappe a period of delay in order that the women might be spared, and sent a lieutenant to Mataafa with a warning. The camp was already excited by the news and the trophies of Fangalii. Already Tamasese and Lotoanuu seemed secondary objectives to the Germans and Apia. Mullan’s message put an end to hesitation. Laulii was evacuated. The troops streamed westward by the mountain side, and took up the same day a strong position about Tanungamanono and Mangiangi, some two miles behind Apia, which they threatened with the one hand, while with the other they continued to draw their supplies from the devoted plantations of the German firm. Laulii, when it was shelled, was empty. The British flags were, of course, fired upon; and I hear that one of them was struck down, but I think every one must be privately of the mind that it was fired upon and fell, in a place where it had little business to be shown.

Such was the military epilogue to the ill-judged adventure of Fangalii; it was difficult for failure to be more complete. But the other consequences were of a darker colour and brought the whites immediately face to face in a spirit of ill-favoured animosity. Knappe was mourning the defeat and death of his country-folk, he was standing aghast over the ruin of his own career, when Mullan boarded him. The successor of Leary served himself, in that bitter moment, heir to Leary’s part. And in Mullan, Knappe saw more even than the successor of Leary,—he saw in him the representative of Klein. Klein had hailed the praam from the rifle-pits; he had there uttered ill-chosen words, unhappily prophetic; it is even likely that he was present at the time of the first fire. To accuse him of the design and conduct of the whole attack was but a step forward; his own vapouring served to corroborate the accusation; and it was not long before the German consulate was in possession of sworn native testimony in support. The worth of native testimony is small, the worth of white testimony not overwhelming; and I am in the painful 130 position of not being able to subscribe either to Klein’s own account of the affair or to that of his accusers. Klein was extremely flurried; his interest as a reporter must have tempted him at first to make the most of his share in the exploit, the immediate peril in which he soon found himself to stand must have at least suggested to him the idea of minimising it; one way and another, he is not a good witness. As for the natives, they were no doubt cross-examined in that hall of terror, the German consulate, where they might be trusted to lie like schoolboys, or (if the reader prefer it) like Samoans. By outside white testimony, it remains established for me that Klein returned to Apia either before or immediately after the first shots. That he ever sought or was ever allowed a share in the command may be denied peremptorily; but it is more than likely that he expressed himself in an excited manner and with a highly inflammatory effect upon his hearers. He was, at least, severely punished. The Germans, enraged by his provocative behaviour and what they thought to be his German birth, demanded him to be tried before court-martial; he had to skulk inside the sentries of the American consulate, to be smuggled on board a war-ship, and to be carried almost by stealth out of the island; and what with the agitations of his mind, and the results of a marsh fever contracted in the lines of Mataafa, reached Honolulu a very proper object of commiseration. Nor was Klein the only accused: de Coetlogon was himself involved. As the boats passed Matautu, Knappe declares a signal was made from the British consulate. Perhaps we should rather read “from its neighbourhood”; since, in the general warding of the coast, the point of Matautu could scarce have been neglected. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the Samoans, in the anxiety of that night of watching and fighting, crowded to the friendly consul for advice. Late in the night, the wounded Siteoni, lying on the colonel’s verandah, one corner of which had been blinded down that 131 he might sleep, heard the coming and going of bare feet and the voices of eager consultation. And long after, a man who had been discharged from the colonel’s employment took upon himself to swear an affidavit as to the nature of the advice then given, and to carry the document to the German consul. It was an act of private revenge; it fell long out of date in the good days of Dr. Stuebel, and had no result but to discredit the gentleman who volunteered it. Colonel de Coetlogon had his faults, but they did not touch his honour; his bare word would always outweigh a waggon-load of such denunciations; and he declares his behaviour on that night to have been blameless. The question was besides inquired into on the spot by Sir John Thurston, and the colonel honourably acquitted. But during the weeks that were now to follow, Knappe believed the contrary; he believed not only that Moors and others had supplied ammunition and Klein commanded in the field, but that de Coetlogon had made the signal of attack; that though his blue-jackets had bled and fallen against the arms of Samoans, these were supplied, inspired, and marshalled by Americans and English.

The legend was the more easily believed because it embraced and was founded upon so much truth. Germans lay dead, the German wounded groaned in their cots; and the cartridges by which they fell had been sold by an American and brought into the country in a British bottom. Had the transaction been entirely mercenary, it would already have been hard to swallow; but it was notoriously not so. British and Americans were notoriously the partisans of Mataafa. They rejoiced in the result of Fangalii, and so far from seeking to conceal their rejoicing, paraded and displayed it. Calumny ran high. Before the dead were buried, while the wounded yet lay in pain and fever, cowardly accusations of cowardice were levelled at the German blue-jackets. It was said they had broken and run before their enemies, and that they had huddled helpless like sheep in the plantation house. Small wonder if they 132 had; small wonder had they been utterly destroyed. But the fact was heroically otherwise; and these dastard calumnies cut to the blood. They are not forgotten; perhaps they will never be forgiven.

In the meanwhile, events were pressing towards a still more trenchant opposition. On the 20th, the three consuls met and parted without agreement, Knappe announcing that he had lost men and must take the matter in his own hands to avenge their death. On the 21st the Olga came before Matafangatele, ordered the delivery of all arms within the hour, and at the end of that period, none being brought, shelled and burned the village. The shells fell for the most part innocuous; an eyewitness saw children at play beside the flaming houses; not a soul was injured; and the one noteworthy event was the mutilation of Captain Hamilton’s American flag. In one sense an incident too small to be chronicled, in another this was of historic interest and import. These rags of tattered bunting occasioned the display of a new sentiment in the United States; and the republic of the West, hitherto so apathetic and unwieldy, but already stung by German nonchalance, leaped to its feet for the first time at the news of this fresh insult. As though to make the inefficiency of the war-ships more apparent, three shells were thrown inland at Mangiangi; they flew high over the Mataafa camp, where the natives could “hear them singing” as they flew, and fell behind in the deep romantic valley of the Vaisingano. Mataafa had been already summoned on board the Adler; his life promised if he came, declared “in danger” if he came not; and he had declined in silence the unattractive invitation. These fresh hostile acts showed him that the worst had come. He was in strength, his force posted along the whole front of the mountain behind Apia, Matautu occupied, the Siumu road lined up to the houses of the town with warriors passionate for war. The occasion was unique, and there is no doubt that he designed to seize it. The same day of this bombardment, he sent word bidding all 133 English and Americans wear a black band upon their arm, so that his men should recognise and spare them. The hint was taken, and the band worn for a continuance of days. To have refused would have been insane; but to consent was unhappily to feed the resentment of the Germans by a fresh sign of intelligence with their enemies, and to widen the breach between the races by a fresh and a scarce pardonable mark of their division. The same day again the Germans repeated one of their earlier offences by firing on a boat within the harbour. Times were changed; they were now at war and in peril, the rigour of military advantage might well be seized by them and pardoned by others; but it so chanced that the bullets flew about the ears of Captain Hand, and that commander is said to have been insatiable of apologies. The affair, besides, had a deplorable effect on the inhabitants. A black band (they saw) might protect them from the Mataafas, not from undiscriminating shots. Panic ensued. The war-ships were open to receive the fugitives, and the gentlemen who had made merry over Fangalii were seen to thrust each other from the wharves in their eagerness to flee Apia. I willingly drop the curtain on the shameful picture.

Meanwhile, on the German side of the bay, a more manly spirit was exhibited in circumstances of alarming weakness. The plantation managers and overseers had all retreated to Matafele, only one (I understand) remaining at his post. The whole German colony was thus collected in one spot, and could count and wonder at its scanty numbers. Knappe declares (to my surprise) that the war-ships could not spare him more than fifty men a day. The great extension of the German quarter, he goes on, did not “allow a full occupation of the outer line”; hence they had shrunk into the western end by the firm buildings, and the inhabitants were warned to fall back on this position, in the case of an alert. So that he who had set forth, a day or so before, to disarm the Mataafas in the open field, now found his resources scarce adequate to garrison the buildings 134 of the firm. But Knappe seemed unteachable by fate. It is probable he thought he had

“Already waded in so deep,

Returning were as tedious as go o’er”;

it is certain that he continued, on the scene of his defeat and in the midst of his weakness, to bluster and menace like a conqueror. Active war, which he lacked the means of attempting, was continually threatened. On the 22nd he sought the aid of his brother consuls to maintain the neutral territory against Mataafa; and at the same time, as though meditating instant deeds of prowess, refused to be bound by it himself. This singular proposition was of course refused: Blacklock remarking that he had no fear of the natives, if these were let alone; de Coetlogon refusing in the circumstances to recognise any neutral territory at all. In vain Knappe amended and baited his proposal with the offer of forty-eight or ninety-six hours’ notice, according as his objective should be near or within the boundary of the Eleele Sa. It was rejected; and he learned that he must accept war with all its consequences—and not that which he desired—war with the immunities of peace.

This monstrous exigence illustrates the man’s frame of mind. It has been still further illuminated in the German white-book by printing alongside of his despatches those of the unimpassioned Fritze. On January 8th the consulate was destroyed by fire. Knappe says it was the work of incendiaries, “without doubt”; Fritze admits that “everything seems to show” it was an accident. “Tamasese’s people fit to bear arms,” writes Knappe, “are certainly for the moment equal to Mataafa’s,” though restrained from battle by the lack of ammunition. “As for Tamasese,” says Fritze of the same date, “he is now but a phantom—dient er nur als Gespenst. His party, for practical purposes, is no longer large. They pretend ammunition to be lacking, but what they lack most is good-will. Captain Brandeis, whose influence is now small, declares they can no longer 135 sustain a serious engagement, and is himself in the intention of leaving Samoa by the Lübeck of the 5th February.” And Knappe, in the same despatch, confutes himself and confirms the testimony of his naval colleague, by the admission that “the re-establishment of Tamasese’s government is, under present circumstances, not to be thought of.” Plainly, then, he was not so much seeking to deceive others, as he was himself possessed; and we must regard the whole series of his acts and despatches as the agitations of a fever.

The British steamer Richmond returned to Apia, January 15th. On the last voyage she had brought the ammunition already so frequently referred to; as a matter of fact, she was again bringing contraband of war. It is necessary to be explicit upon this, which served as spark to so great a flame of scandal. Knappe was justified in interfering; he would have been worthy of all condemnation if he had neglected, in his posture of semi-investment, a precaution so elementary; and the manner in which he set about attempting it was conciliatory and almost timid. He applied to Captain Hand, and begged him to accept himself the duty of “controlling” the discharge of the Richmond’s cargo. Hand was unable to move without his consul; and at night an armed boat from the Germans boarded, searched, and kept possession of, the suspected ship. The next day, as by an after-thought, war and martial law were proclaimed for the Samoan Islands, the introduction of contraband of war forbidden, and ships and boats declared liable to search. “All support of the rebels will be punished by martial law,” continued the proclamation, “no matter to what nationality the person [Thäter] may belong.”

Hand, it has been seen, declined to act in the matter of the Richmond without the concurrence of his consul; but I have found no evidence that either Hand or Knappe communicated with de Coetlogon, with whom they were both at daggers drawn. First the seizure and next the proclamation seem to have burst on the English consul 136 from a clear sky; and he wrote on the same day, throwing doubt on Knappe’s authority to declare war. Knappe replied on the 20th that the Imperial German Government had been at war as a matter of fact since December 19th, and that it was only for the convenience of the subjects of other states that he had been empowered to make a formal declaration. “From that moment,” he added, “martial law prevails in Samoa.” De Coetlogon instantly retorted, declining martial law for British subjects, and announcing a proclamation in that sense. Instantly, again, came that astonishing document, Knappe’s rejoinder, without pause, without reflection—the pens screeching on the paper, the messengers (you would think) running from consulate to consulate: “I have had the honour to receive your Excellency’s [Hochwohlgeboren] agreeable communication of to-day. Since, on the ground of received instructions, martial law has been declared in Samoa, British subjects as well as others fall under its application. I warn you therefore to abstain from such a proclamation as you announce in your letter. It will be such a piece of business as shall make yourself answerable under martial law. Besides, your proclamation will be disregarded.” De Coetlogon of course issued his proclamation at once, Knappe retorted with another, and night closed on the first stage of this insane collision. I hear the German consul was on this day prostrated with fever; charity at least must suppose him hardly answerable for his language.

Early on the 21st, Mr. Mansfield Gallien, a passing traveller, was seized in his berth on board the Richmond, and carried, half-dressed, on board a German war-ship. His offence was, in the circumstances and after the proclamation, substantial. He had gone the day before, in the spirit of a tourist to Mataafa’s camp, had spoken with the king, and had even recommended him an appeal to Sir George Grey. Fritze, I gather, had been long uneasy; this arrest on board a British ship filled the measure. 137 Doubtless, as he had written long before, the consul alone was responsible “on the legal side”; but the captain began to ask himself, “What next?”—telegraphed direct home for instructions, “Is arrest of foreigners on foreign vessels legal?”—and was ready, at a word from Captain Hand, to discharge his dangerous prisoner. The word in question (so the story goes) was not without a kind of wit. “I wish you would set that man ashore,” Hand is reported to have said, indicating Gallien; “I wish you would set that man ashore, to save me the trouble.” The same day de Coetlogon published a proclamation requesting captains to submit to search for contraband of war.

On the 22nd the Samoa Times and South Sea Advertiser was suppressed by order of Fritze. I have hitherto refrained from mentioning the single paper of our islands, that I might deal with it once for all. It is of course a tiny sheet; but I have often had occasion to wonder at the ability of its articles, and almost always at the decency of its tone. Officials may at times be a little roughly, and at times a little captiously, criticised; private persons are habitually respected; and there are many papers in England, and still more in the States, even of leading organs in chief cities, that might envy, and would do well to imitate, the courtesy and discretion of the Samoa Times. Yet the editor, Cusack, is only an amateur in journalism, and a carpenter by trade. His chief fault is one perhaps inevitable in so small a place—that he seems a little in the leading of a clique; but his interest in the public weal is genuine and generous. One man’s meat is another man’s poison: Anglo-Saxons and Germans have been differently brought up. To our galled experience the paper appears moderate; to their untried sensations it seems violent. We think a public man fair game; we think it a part of his duty, and I am told he finds it a part of his reward, to be continually canvassed by the press. For the Germans, on the other hand, an official wears a certain sacredness; when he is called over the coals, they are shocked, and (if 138 the official be a German) feel that Germany itself has been insulted. The Samoa Times had been long a mountain of offence. Brandeis had imported from the colonies another printer of the name of Jones, to deprive Cusack of the government printing. German sailors had come ashore one day, wild with offended patriotism, to punish the editor with stripes, and the result was delightfully amusing. The champions asked for the English printer. They were shown the wrong man, and the blows intended for Cusack had hailed on the shoulders of his rival Jones. On the 12th, Cusack had reprinted an article from a San Francisco paper; the Germans had complained; and de Coetlogon, in a moment of weakness, had fined the editor twenty pounds. The judgment was afterwards reversed in Fiji; but even at the time it had not satisfied the Germans. And so now, on the third day of martial law, the paper was suppressed. Here we have another of these international obscurities. To Fritze the step seemed natural and obvious; for Anglo-Saxons it was a hand laid upon the altar; and the month was scarce out before the voice of Senator Frye announced to his colleagues that free speech had been suppressed in Samoa.

Perhaps we must seek some similar explanation for Fritze’s short-lived code, published and withdrawn the next day, the 23rd. Fritze himself was in no humour for extremities. He was much in the position of a lieutenant who should perceive his captain urging the ship upon the rocks. It is plain he had lost all confidence in his commanding officer “upon the legal side”; and we find him writing home with anxious candour. He had understood that martial law implied military possession; he was in military possession of nothing but his ship, and shrewdly suspected that his martial jurisdiction should be confined within the same limits. “As a matter of fact,” he writes, “we do not occupy the territory, and cannot give foreigners the necessary protection, because Mataafa and his people can at any moment forcibly interrupt me in my jurisdiction.” 139 Yet in the eyes of Anglo-Saxons the severity of his code appeared burlesque. I give but three of its provisions. The crime of inciting German troops “by any means, as, for instance, informing them of proclamations by the enemy,” was punishable with death; that of “publishing or secretly distributing anything, whether printed or written, bearing on the war,” with prison or deportation; and that of calling or attending a public meeting, unless permitted, with the same. Such were the tender mercies of Knappe, lurking in the western end of the German quarter, where Mataafa could “at any moment” interrupt his jurisdiction.

On the 22nd (day of the suppression of the Times) de Coetlogon wrote to inquire if hostilities were intended against Great Britain, which Knappe on the same day denied. On the 23rd de Coetlogon sent a complaint of hostile acts, such as the armed and forcible entry of the Richmond before the declaration and arrest of Gallien. In his reply, dated the 24th, Knappe took occasion to repeat, although now with more self-command, his former threat against de Coetlogon. “I am still of the opinion,” he writes, “that even foreign consuls are liable to the application of martial law, if they are guilty of offences against the belligerent state.” The same day (24th) de Coetlogon complained that Fletcher, manager for Messrs. MacArthur, had been summoned by Fritze. In answer, Knappe had “the honour to inform your Excellency that since the declaration of the state of war, British subjects are liable to martial law, and Mr. Fletcher will be arrested if he does not appear.” Here, then, was the gauntlet thrown down, and de Coetlogon was burning to accept it. Fletcher’s offence was this. Upon the 22nd a steamer had come in from Wellington, specially chartered to bring German despatches to Apia. The rumour came along with her from New Zealand that in these despatches Knappe would find himself rebuked, and Fletcher was accused of having “interested himself in the spreading of this rumour.” His 140 arrest was actually ordered, when Hand succeeded in persuading him to surrender. At the German court, the case was dismissed “wegen Nichtigkeit”; and the acute stage of these distempers may be said to have ended. Blessed are the peacemakers. Hand had perhaps averted a collision. What is more certain, he had offered to the world a perfectly original reading of the part of British seaman.

Hand may have averted a collision, I say; but I am tempted to believe otherwise. I am tempted to believe the threat to arrest Fletcher was the last mutter of the declining tempest and a mere sop to Knappe’s self-respect. I am tempted to believe the rumour in question was substantially correct, and the steamer from Wellington had really brought the German consul grounds for hesitation, if not orders to retreat. I believe the unhappy man to have awakened from a dream, and to have read ominous writing on the wall. An enthusiastic popularity surrounded him among the Germans. It was natural. Consul and colony had passed through an hour of serious peril, and the consul had set the example of undaunted courage. He was entertained at dinner. Fritze, who was known to have secretly opposed him, was scorned and avoided. But the clerks of the German firm were one thing, Prince Bismarck was another; and on a cold review of these events, it is not improbable that Knappe may have envied the position of his naval colleague. It is certain, at least, that he set himself to shuffle and capitulate; and when the blow fell, he was able to reply that the martial law business had in the meanwhile come right; that the English and American consular courts stood open for ordinary cases; and that in different conversations with Captain Hand, “who has always maintained friendly intercourse with the German authorities,” it had been repeatedly explained that only the supply of weapons and ammunition, or similar aid and support, was to come under German martial law. Was it weapons or ammunition that Fletcher had supplied? 141 But it is unfair to criticise these wrigglings of an unfortunate in a false position.

In a despatch of the 23rd, which has not been printed, Knappe had told his story: how he had declared war, subjected foreigners to martial law, and been received with a counter-proclamation by the English consul; and how (in an interview with Mataafa chiefs at the plantation house of Motuotua, of which I cannot find the date) he had demanded the cession of arms and of ringleaders for punishment, and proposed to assume the government of the islands. On February 12th he received Bismarck’s answer: “You had no right to take foreigners from the jurisdiction of their consuls. The protest of your English colleague is grounded. In disputes which may arise from this cause you will find yourself in the wrong. The demand formulated by you, as to the assumption of the government of Samoa by Germany, lay outside of your instructions and of our design. Take it immediately back. If your telegram is here rightly understood, I cannot call your conduct good.” It must be a hard heart that does not sympathise with Knappe in the hour when he received this document. Yet it may be said that his troubles were still in the beginning. Men had contended against him, and he had not prevailed; he was now to be at war with the elements, and find his name identified with an immense disaster.

One more date, however, must be given first. It was on February 27th that Fritze formally announced martial law to be suspended, and himself to have relinquished the control of the police.




March 1889

The so-called harbour of Apia is formed in part by a recess of the coast-line at Matautu, in part by the slim peninsula of Mulinuu, and in part by the fresh waters of the Mulivai and Vaisingano. The barrier reef—that singular breakwater that makes so much of the circuit of Pacific islands—is carried far to sea at Matautu and Mulinuu; inside of these two horns it runs sharply landward, and between them it is burst or dissolved by the fresh water. The shape of the enclosed anchorage may be compared to a high-shouldered jar or bottle with a funnel mouth. Its sides are almost everywhere of coral; for the reef not only bounds it to seaward and forms the neck and mouth, but skirting about the beach, it forms the bottom also. As in the bottle of commerce, the bottom is re-entrant, and the shore-reef runs prominently forth into the basin and makes a dangerous cape opposite the fairway of the entrance. Danger is, therefore, on all hands. The entrance gapes three cables wide at the narrowest, and the formidable surf of the Pacific thunders both outside and in. There are days when speech is difficult in the chambers of shore-side houses; days when no boat can land, and when men are broken by stroke of sea against the wharves. As I write these words, three miles in the mountains, and with the land-breeze still blowing from the island summit, the sound of that vexed harbour hums in my ears. Such a creek in my native coast of Scotland would scarce be 143 dignified with the mark of an anchor in the chart; but in the favoured climate of Samoa, and with the mechanical regularity of the winds in the Pacific, it forms, for ten or eleven months out of the twelve, a safe if hardly a commodious port. The ill-found island traders ride there with their insufficient moorings the year through, and discharge, and are loaded, without apprehension. Of danger, when it comes, the glass gives timely warning; and that any modern war-ship, furnished with the power of steam, should have been lost in Apia, belongs not so much to nautical as to political history.

The weather throughout all that winter (the turbulent summer of the islands) was unusually fine, and the circumstance had been commented on as providential, when so many Samoans were lying on their weapons in the bush. By February it began to break in occasional gales. On February 10th a German brigantine was driven ashore. On the 14th the same misfortune befell an American brigantine and a schooner. On both these days, and again on the 7th March, the men-of-war must steam to their anchors. And it was in this last month, the most dangerous of the twelve, that man’s animosities crowded that indentation of the reef with costly, populous, and vulnerable ships.

I have shown, perhaps already at too great a length, how violently passion ran upon the spot; how high this series of blunders and mishaps had heated the resentment of the Germans against all other nationalities and of all other nationalities against the Germans. But there was one country beyond the borders of Samoa where the question had aroused a scarce less angry sentiment. The breach of the Washington Congress, the evidence of Sewall before a sub-committee on foreign relations, the proposal to try Klein before a military court, and the rags of Captain Hamilton’s flag, had combined to stir the people of the States to an unwonted fervour. Germany was for the time the abhorred of nations. Germans in 144 America publicly disowned the country of their birth. In Honolulu, so near the scene of action, German and American young men fell to blows in the street. In the same city, from no traceable source, and upon no possible authority, there arose a rumour of tragic news to arrive by the next occasion, that the Nipsic had opened fire on the Adler, and the Adler had sunk her on the first reply. Punctually on the day appointed, the news came; and the two nations, instead of being plunged into war, could only mingle tears over the loss of heroes.

By the second week in March three American ships were in Apia bay,—the Nipsic, the Vandalia, and the Trenton, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Kimberley; three German,—the Adler, the Eber, and the Olga; and one British,—the Calliope, Captain Kane. Six merchantmen, ranging from twenty-five up to five hundred tons, and a number of small craft, further encumbered the anchorage. Its capacity is estimated by Captain Kane at four large ships; and the latest arrivals, the Vandalia and Trenton, were in consequence excluded, and lay without in the passage. Of the seven war-ships, the seaworthiness of two was questionable: the Trenton’s, from an original defect in her construction, often reported, never remedied—her hawse-pipes leading in on the berth-deck; the Eber’s, from an injury to her screw in the blow of February 14th. In this overcrowding of ships in an open entry of the reef, even the eye of the landsman could spy danger; and Captain-Lieutenant Wallis of the Eber openly blamed and lamented, not many hours before the catastrophe, their helpless posture. Temper once more triumphed. The army of Mataafa still hung imminent behind the town; the German quarter was still daily garrisoned with fifty sailors from the squadron; what was yet more influential, Germany and the States, at least in Apia bay, were on the brink of war, viewed each other with looks of hatred, and scarce observed the letter of civility. On the day of the admiral’s arrival, Knappe failed to call on him, and on the 145 morrow called on him while he was on shore. The slight was remarked and resented, and the two squadrons clung more obstinately to their dangerous station.

On the 15th the barometer fell to 29.11 in. by 2 p.m. This was the moment when every sail in port should have escaped. Kimberley, who flew the only broad pennant, should certainly have led the way: he clung, instead, to his moorings, and the Germans doggedly followed his example: semi-belligerents, daring each other and the violence of heaven. Kane, less immediately involved, was led in error by the report of residents and a fallacious rise in the glass; he stayed with the others, a misjudgment that was like to cost him dear. All were moored, as is the custom in Apia, with two anchors practically east and west, clear hawse to the north, and a kedge astern. Topmasts were struck, and the ships made snug. The night closed black, with sheets of rain. By midnight it blew a gale; and by the morning watch, a tempest. Through what remained of darkness, the captains impatiently expected day, doubtful if they were dragging, steaming gingerly to their moorings, and afraid to steam too much.

Day came about six, and presented to those on shore a seizing and terrific spectacle. In the pressure of the squalls the bay was obscured as if by midnight, but between them a great part of it was clearly if darkly visible amid driving mist and rain. The wind blew into the harbour mouth. Naval authorities describe it as of hurricane force. It had, however, few or none of the effects on shore suggested by that ominous word, and was successfully withstood by trees and buildings. The agitation of the sea, on the other hand, surpassed experience and description. Seas that might have awakened surprise and terror in the midst of the Atlantic ranged bodily and (it seemed to observers) almost without diminution into the belly of that flask-shaped harbour; and the war-ships were alternately 146 buried from view in the trough, or seen standing on end against the breast of billows.

The Trenton at daylight still maintained her position in the neck of the bottle. But five of the remaining ships tossed, already close to the bottom, in a perilous and helpless crowd; threatening ruin to each other as they tossed; threatened with a common and imminent destruction on the reefs. Three had been already in collision: the Olga was injured in the quarter, the Adler had lost her bowsprit; the Nipsic had lost her smoke-stack, and was making steam with difficulty, maintaining her fire with barrels of pork, and the smoke and sparks pouring along the level of the deck. For the seventh war-ship the day had come too late; the Eber had finished her last cruise; she was to be seen no more save by the eyes of divers. A coral reef is not only an instrument of destruction, but a place of sepulture; the submarine cliff is profoundly undercut, and presents the mouth of a huge antre in which the bodies of men and the hulls of ships are alike hurled down and buried. The Eber had dragged anchors with the rest; her injured screw disabled her from steaming vigorously up; and a little before day she had struck the front of the coral, come off, struck again, and gone down stern foremost, oversetting as she went, into the gaping hollow of the reef. Of her whole complement of nearly eighty, four souls were cast alive on the beach; and the bodies of the remainder were, by the voluminous outpouring of the flooded streams, scoured at last from the harbour, and strewed naked on the seaboard of the island.

Five ships were immediately menaced with the same destruction. The Eber vanished—the four poor survivors on shore—read a dreadful commentary on their danger; which was swelled out of all proportion by the violence of their own movements as they leaped and fell among the billows. By seven the Nipsic was so fortunate as to avoid the reef and beach upon a space of sand; where she was immediately deserted by her crew, with the 147 assistance of Samoans, not without loss of life. By about eight it was the turn of the Adler. She was close down upon the reef; doomed herself, it might yet be possible to save a portion of her crew; and for this end Captain Fritze placed his reliance on the very hugeness of the seas that threatened him. The moment was watched for with the anxiety of despair, but the coolness of disciplined courage. As she rose on the fatal wave, her moorings were simultaneously slipped; she broached to in rising; and the sea heaved her bodily upward and cast her down with a concussion on the summit of the reef, where she lay on her beam-ends, her back broken, buried in breaching seas, but safe. Conceive a table: the Eber in the darkness had been smashed against the rim and flung below; the Adler, cast free in the nick of opportunity, had been thrown upon the top. Many were injured in the concussion; many tossed into the water; twenty perished. The survivors crept again on board their ship, as it now lay, and as it still remains, keel to the waves, a monument of the sea’s potency. In still weather, under a cloudless sky, in those seasons when that ill-named ocean, the Pacific, suffers its vexed shores to rest, she lies high and dry, the spray scarce touching her—the hugest structure of man’s hands within a circuit of a thousand miles—tossed up there like a schoolboy’s cap upon a shelf; broken like an egg; a thing to dream of.

The unfriendly consuls of Germany and Britain were both that morning in Matautu, and both displayed their nobler qualities. De Coetlogon, the grim old soldier, collected his family and kneeled with them in an agony of prayer for those exposed. Knappe, more fortunate in that he was called to a more active service, must, upon the striking of the Adler, pass to his own consulate. From this he was divided by the Vaisingano, now a raging torrent, impetuously charioting the trunks of trees. A kelpie might have dreaded to attempt the passage; we may conceive this brave but unfortunate and now ruined man to have found a natural joy in the exposure of his life; and 148 twice that day, coming and going, he braved the fury of the river. It was possible, in spite of the darkness of the hurricane and the continual breaching of the seas, to remark human movements on the Adler; and by the help of Samoans, always nobly forward in the work, whether for friend or enemy, Knappe sought long to get a line conveyed from shore, and was for long defeated. The shore guard of fifty men stood to their arms the while upon the beach, useless themselves, and a great deterrent of Samoan usefulness. It was perhaps impossible that this mistake should be avoided. What more natural, to the mind of a European, than that the Mataafas should fall upon the Germans in this hour of their disadvantage? But they had no other thought than to assist; and those who now rallied beside Knappe braved (as they supposed) in doing so a double danger, from the fury of the sea and the weapons of their enemies. About nine, a quarter-master swam ashore, and reported all the officers and some sixty men alive but in pitiable case; some with broken limbs, others insensible from the drenching of the breakers. Later in the forenoon, certain valorous Samoans succeeded in reaching the wreck and returning with a line; but it was speedily broken; and all subsequent attempts proved unavailing, the strongest adventurers being cast back again by the bursting seas. Thenceforth, all through that day and night, the deafened survivors must continue to endure their martyrdom and one officer died, it was supposed from agony of mind, in his inverted cabin.

Three ships still hung on the next margin of destruction, steaming desperately to their moorings, dashed helplessly together. The Calliope was the nearest in; she had the Vandalia close on her port side and a little ahead, the Olga close a-starboard, the reef under her heel; and steaming and veering on her cables, the unhappy ship fenced with her three dangers. About a quarter to nine she carried away the Vandalia’s quarter gallery with her jib-boom; a moment later, the Olga had near rammed her 149 from the other side. By nine the Vandalia dropped down on her too fast to be avoided, and clapped her stern under the bowsprit of the English ship, the fastenings of which were burst asunder as she rose. To avoid cutting her down, it was necessary for the Calliope to stop and even to reverse her engines; and her rudder was at the moment—or it seemed so to the eyes of those on board—within ten feet of the reef. “Between the Vandalia and the reef” (writes Kane, in his excellent report) “it was destruction.” To repeat Fritze’s manœuvre with the Adler was impossible; the Calliope was too heavy. The one possibility of escape was to go out. If the engines should stand, if they should have power to drive the ship against wind and sea, if she should answer the helm, if the wheel, rudder, and gear should hold out, and if they were favoured with a clear blink of weather in which to see and avoid the outer reef—there, and there only, were safety. Upon this catalogue of “ifs” Kane staked his all. He signalled to the engineer for every pound of steam—and at that moment (I am told) much of the machinery was already red-hot. The ship was sheered well to starboard of the Vandalia, the last remaining cable slipped. For a time—and there was no onlooker so cold-blooded as to offer a guess at its duration—the Calliope lay stationary; then gradually drew ahead. The highest speed claimed for her that day is of one sea-mile an hour. The question of times and seasons, throughout all this roaring business, is obscured by a dozen contradictions; I have but chosen what appeared to be the most consistent; but if I am to pay any attention to the time named by Admiral Kimberley, the Calliope, in this first stage of her escape, must have taken more than two hours to cover less than four cables. As she thus crept seaward, she buried bow and stern alternately under the billows.

In the fairway of the entrance the flagship Trenton still held on. Her rudder was broken, her wheel carried away; within she was flooded with water from the peccant 150 hawse-pipes; she had just made the signal “fires extinguished,” and lay helpless, awaiting the inevitable end. Between this melancholy hulk and the external reef Kane must find a path. Steering within fifty yards of the reef (for which she was actually headed) and her foreyard passing on the other hand over the Trenton’s quarter as she rolled, the Calliope sheered between the rival dangers, came to the wind triumphantly, and was once more pointed for the sea and safety. Not often in naval history was there a moment of more sickening peril, and it was dignified by one of those incidents that reconcile the chronicler with his otherwise abhorrent task. From the doomed flagship the Americans hailed the success of the English with a cheer. It was led by the old admiral in person, rang out over the storm with holiday vigour, and was answered by the Calliopes with an emotion easily conceived. This ship of their kinsfolk was almost the last external object seen from the Calliope for hours; immediately after, the mists closed about her till the morrow. She was safe at sea again—una de multis—with a damaged foreyard, and a loss of all the ornamental work about her bow and stern, three anchors, one kedge-anchor, fourteen lengths of chain, four boats, the jib-boom, bobstay, and bands and fastenings of the bowsprit.

Shortly after Kane had slipped his cable, Captain Schoonmaker, despairing of the Vandalia, succeeded in passing astern of the Olga, in the hope to beach his ship beside the Nipsic. At a quarter to eleven her stern took the reef, her hand swung to starboard, and she began to fill and settle. Many lives of brave men were sacrificed in the attempt to get a line ashore; the captain, exhausted by his exertions, was swept from deck by a sea; and the rail being soon awash, the survivors took refuge in the tops.

Out of thirteen that had lain there the day before, there were now but two ships afloat in Apia harbour, and one of these was doomed to be the bane of the other. About 3 p.m. the Trenton parted one cable, and shortly after 151 a second. It was sought to keep her head to wind with storm-sails and by the ingenious expedient of filling the rigging with seamen; but in the fury of the gale, and in that sea, perturbed alike by the gigantic billows and the volleying discharges of the rivers, the rudderless ship drove down stern foremost into the inner basin; ranging, plunging, and striking like a frightened horse; drifting on destruction for herself and bringing it to others. Twice the Olga (still well under command) avoided her impact by the skilful use of helm and engines. But about four the vigilance of the Germans was deceived, and the ships collided; the Olga cutting into the Trenton’s quarters, first from one side, then from the other, and losing at the same time two of her own cables. Captain von Ehrhardt instantly slipped the remainder of his moorings, and setting fore and aft canvas, and going full steam ahead, succeeded in beaching his ship in Matautu; whither Knappe, recalled by this new disaster, had returned. The berth was perhaps the best in the harbour, and von Ehrhardt signalled that ship and crew were in security.

The Trenton, guided apparently by an under-tow or eddy from the discharge of the Vaisingano, followed in the course of the Nipsic and Vandalia, and skirted south-eastward along the front of the shore reef, which her keel was at times almost touching. Hitherto she had brought disaster to her foes; now she was bringing it to friends. She had already proved the ruin of the Olga, the one ship that had rid out the hurricane in safety; now she beheld across her course the submerged Vandalia, the tops filled with exhausted seamen. Happily the approach of the Trenton was gradual, and the time employed to advantage. Rockets and lines were thrown into the tops of the friendly wreck; the approach of danger was transformed into a means of safety; and before the ships struck, the men from the Vandalia’s main and mizzen masts, which went immediately by the board in the collision, were already mustered on the 152 Trenton’s decks. Those from the foremast were next rescued; and the flagship settled gradually into a position alongside her neighbour, against which she beat all night with violence. Out of the crew of the Vandalia forty-three had perished; of the four hundred and fifty on board the Trenton, only one.

The night of the 16th was still notable for a howling tempest and extraordinary floods of rain. It was feared the wreck could scarce continue to endure the breaching of the seas; among the Germans, the fate of those on board the Adler awoke keen anxiety; and Knappe, on the beach of Matautu, and the other officers of his consulate on that of Matafele, watched all night. The morning of the 17th displayed a scene of devastation rarely equalled: the Adler high and dry, the Olga and Nipsic beached, the Trenton partly piled on the Vandalia and herself sunk to the gun-deck; no sail afloat; and the beach heaped high with the débris of ships and the wreck of mountain forests. Already, before the day, Seumanu, the chief of Apia, had gallantly ventured forth by boat through the subsiding fury of the seas, and had succeeded in communicating with the admiral; already, or as soon after as the dawn permitted, rescue lines were rigged, and the survivors were with difficulty and danger begun to be brought to shore. And soon the cheerful spirit of the admiral added a new feature to the scene. Surrounded as he was by the crews of two wrecked ships, he paraded the band of the Trenton, and the bay was suddenly enlivened with the strains of “Hail Columbia.”

During a great part of the day the work of rescue was continued, with many instances of courage and devotion; and for a long time succeeding, the almost inexhaustible harvest of the beach was to be reaped. In the first employment, the Samoans earned the gratitude of friend and foe; in the second, they surprised all by an unexpected virtue, that of honesty. The greatness of the disaster, and the magnitude of the treasure now rolling at their feet, may perhaps have roused in their bosoms an emotion 153 too serious for the rule of greed, or perhaps that greed was for the moment satiated. Sails that twelve strong Samoans could scarce drag from the water, great guns (one of which was rolled by the sea on the body of a man, the only native slain in all the hurricane), an infinite wealth of rope and wood, of tools and weapons, tossed upon the beach. Yet I have never heard that much was stolen; and beyond question, much was very honestly returned. On both accounts, for the saving of life and the restoration of property, the government of the United States showed themselves generous in reward. A fine boat was fitly presented to Seumanu; and rings, watches, and money were lavished on all who had assisted. The Germans also gave money at the rate (as I receive the tale) of three dollars a head for every German saved. The obligation was in this instance incommensurably deep, those with whom they were at war had saved the German blue-jackets at the venture of their lives; Knappe was, besides, far from ungenerous; and I can only explain the niggard figure by supposing it was paid from his own pocket. In one case, at least, it was refused. “I have saved three Germans,” said the rescuer; “I will make you a present of the three.”

The crews of the American and German squadrons were now cast, still in a bellicose temper, together on the beach. The discipline of the Americans was notoriously loose; the crew of the Nipsic had earned a character for lawlessness in other ports; and recourse was had to stringent and indeed extraordinary measures. The town was divided in two camps, to which the different nationalities were confined. Kimberley had his quarter sentinelled and patrolled. Any seaman disregarding a challenge was to be shot dead; any tavern-keeper who sold spirits to an American sailor was to have his tavern broken and his stock destroyed. Many of the publicans were German; and Knappe, having narrated these rigorous but necessary dispositions, wonders (grinning to himself 154 over his despatch) how far these Americans will go in their assumption of jurisdiction over Germans. Such as they were, the measures were successful. The incongruous mass of castaways was kept in peace, and at last shipped in peace out of the islands.

Kane returned to Apia on the 19th, to find the Calliope the sole survivor of thirteen sail. He thanked his men, and in particular the engineers, in a speech of unusual feeling and beauty, of which one who was present remarked to another, as they left the ship, “This has been a means of grace.” Nor did he forget to thank and compliment the admiral; and I cannot deny myself the pleasure of transcribing from Kimberley’s reply some generous and engaging words. “My dear captain,” he wrote, “your kind note received. You went out splendidly, and we all felt from our hearts for you, and our cheers came with sincerity and admiration for the able manner in which you handled your ship. We could not have been gladder if it had been one of our ships, for in a time like that I can truly say with old Admiral Josiah Latnall, ‘that blood is thicker than water.’” One more trait will serve to build up the image of this typical sea-officer. A tiny schooner, the Equator, Captain Edwin Reid, dear to myself from the memories of a six months’ cruise, lived out upon the high seas the fury of that tempest which had piled with wrecks the harbour of Apia, found a refuge in Pango-Pango, and arrived at last in the desolated port with a welcome and lucrative cargo of pigs. The admiral was glad to have the pigs; but what most delighted the man’s noble and childish soul, was to see once more afloat the colours of his country.

Thus, in what seemed the very article of war, and within the duration of a single day, the sword-arm of each of the two angry Powers was broken; their formidable ships reduced to junk; their disciplined hundreds to a horde of castaways, fed with difficulty, and the fear of whose misconduct marred the sleep of their commanders. Both paused aghast; both had time to recognise that not 155 the whole Samoan Archipelago was worth the loss in men and costly ships already suffered. The so-called hurricane of March 16th made thus a marking epoch in world-history; directly, and at once, it brought about the congress and treaty of Berlin; indirectly, and by a process still continuing, it founded the modern navy of the States. Coming years and other historians will declare the influence of that.





With the hurricane, the broken war-ships, and the stranded sailors, I am at an end of violence, and my tale flows henceforth among carpet incidents. The blue-jackets on Apia beach were still jealously held apart by sentries, when the powers at home were already seeking a peaceable solution. It was agreed, so far as might be, to obliterate two years of blundering; and to resume in 1889, and at Berlin, those negotiations which had been so unhappily broken off at Washington in 1887. The example thus offered by Germany is rare in history; in the career of Prince Bismarck, so far as I am instructed, it should stand unique. On a review of these two years of blundering, bullying, and failure in a little isle of the Pacific, he seems magnanimously to have owned his policy was in the wrong. He left Fangalii unexpiated; suffered that house of cards, the Tamasese government, to fall by its own frailty and without remark or lamentation; left the Samoan question openly and fairly to the conference: and in the meanwhile, to allay the local heats engendered by Becker and Knappe, he sent to Apia that invaluable public servant, Dr. Stuebel. I should be a dishonest man if I did not bear testimony to the loyalty since shown by Germans in Samoa. Their position was painful; they had talked big in the old days, now they had to sing small. Even Stuebel returned to the islands under the prejudice of an unfortunate record. To the minds of the Samoans 157 his name represented the beginning of their sorrows; and in his first term of office he had unquestionably driven hard. The greater his merit in the surprising success of the second. So long as he stayed, the current of affairs moved smoothly; he left behind him on his departure all men at peace; and whether by fortune, or for the want of that wise hand of guidance, he was scarce gone before the clouds began to gather once more on our horizon.

Before the first convention, Germany and the States hauled down their flags. It was so done again before the second; and Germany, by a still more emphatic step of retrogression, returned the exile Laupepa to his native shores. For two years the unfortunate man had trembled and suffered in the Cameroons, in Germany, in the rainy Marshalls. When he left (September 1887) Tamasese was king, served by five iron war-ships; his right to rule (like a dogma of the Church) was placed outside dispute; the Germans were still, as they were called at that last tearful interview in the house by the river, “the invincible strangers”; the thought of resistance, far less the hope of success, had not yet dawned on the Samoan mind. He returned (November 1889) to a changed world. The Tupua party was reduced to sue for peace, Brandeis was withdrawn, Tamasese was dying obscurely of a broken heart; the German flag no longer waved over the capital; and over all the islands one figure stood supreme. During Laupepa’s absence this man had succeeded him in all his honours and titles, in tenfold more than all his power and popularity. He was the idol of the whole nation but the rump of the Tamaseses, and of these he was already the secret admiration. In his position there was but one weak point,—that he had even been tacitly excluded by the Germans. Becker, indeed, once coquetted with the thought of patronising him; but the project had no sequel, and it stands alone. In every other juncture of history the German attitude has been the same. Choose whom you will to be king; when he has 158 failed, choose whom you please to succeed him; when the second fails also, replace the first: upon the one condition, that Mataafa be excluded. “Pourvu qu’il sache signer!”—an official is said to have thus summed up the qualifications necessary in a Samoan king. And it was perhaps feared that Mataafa could do no more and might not always do so much. But this original diffidence was heightened by late events to something verging upon animosity. Fangalii was unavenged: the arms of Mataafa were

Nondum inexpiatis uncta cruoribus,

Still soiled with the unexpiated blood

of German sailors; and though the chief was not present in the field, nor could have heard of the affair till it was over, he had reaped from it credit with his countrymen and dislike from the Germans.

I may not say that trouble was hoped. I must say—if it were not feared, the practice of diplomacy must teach a very hopeful view of human nature. Mataafa and Laupepa, by the sudden repatriation of the last, found themselves face to face in conditions of exasperating rivalry. The one returned from the dead of exile to find himself replaced and excelled. The other, at the end of a long, anxious, and successful struggle, beheld his only possible competitor resuscitated from the grave. The qualities of both, in this difficult moment, shone out nobly. I feel I seem always less than partial to the lovable Laupepa; his virtues are perhaps not those which chiefly please me, and are certainly not royal; but he found on his return an opportunity to display the admirable sweetness of his nature. The two entered into a competition of generosity, for which I can recall no parallel in history, each waiving the throne for himself, each pressing it upon his rival; and they embraced at last a compromise the terms of which seem to have been always obscure and are now disputed. Laupepa at least resumed his style of King of Samoa; Mataafa retained much of the conduct of affairs, and continued to receive much of the attendance and respect befitting 159 royalty; and the two Malietoas, with so many causes of disunion, dwelt and met together in the same town like kinsmen. It was so, that I first saw them; so, in a house set about with sentries—for there was still a haunting fear of Germany,—that I heard them relate their various experience in the past; heard Laupepa tell with touching candour of the sorrows of his exile, and Mataafa with mirthful simplicity of his resources and anxieties in the war. The relation was perhaps too beautiful to last; it was perhaps impossible but the titular king should grow at last uneasily conscious of the maire de palais at his side, or the king-maker be at last offended by some shadow of distrust or assumption in his creature. I repeat the words king-maker and creature; it is so that Mataafa himself conceives of their relation: surely not without justice; for, had he not contended and prevailed, and been helped by the folly of consuls and the fury of the storm, Laupepa must have died in exile.

Foreigners in these islands know little of the course of native intrigue. Partly the Samoans cannot explain, partly they will not tell. Ask how much a master can follow of the puerile politics in any school; so much and no more we may understand of the events which surround and menace us with their results. The missions may perhaps have been to blame. Missionaries are perhaps apt to meddle overmuch outside their discipline; it is a fault which should be judged with mercy; the problem is sometimes so insidiously presented that even a moderate and able man is betrayed beyond his own intention; and the missionary in such a land as Samoa is something else besides a minister of mere religion; he represents civilisation, he is condemned to be an organ of reform, he could scarce evade (even if he desired) a certain influence in political affairs. And it is believed, besides, by those who fancy they know, that the effective force of division between Mataafa and Laupepa came from the natives rather than from whites. Before the end of 1890, 160 at least, it began to be rumoured that there was dispeace between the two Malietoas; and doubtless this had an unsettling influence throughout the islands. But there was another ingredient of anxiety. The Berlin convention had long closed its sittings; the text of the Act had been long in our hands; commissioners were announced to right the wrongs of the land question, and two high officials, a chief justice and a president, to guide policy and administer law in Samoa. Their coming was expected with an impatience, with a childishness of trust, that can hardly be exaggerated. Months passed, these angel-deliverers still delayed to arrive, and the impatience of the natives became changed to an ominous irritation. They have had much experience of being deceived, and they began to think they were deceived again. A sudden crop of superstitious stories buzzed about the islands. Rivers had come down red; unknown fishes had been taken on the reef and found to be marked with menacing runes; a headless lizard crawled among chiefs in council; the gods of Upolu and Savaii made war by night, they swam the straits to battle, and, defaced by dreadful wounds, they had besieged the house of a medical missionary. Readers will remember the portents in mediæval chronicles, or those in Julius Cæsar when

“Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds

In ranks and squadrons.”

And doubtless such fabrications are, in simple societies, a natural expression of discontent; and those who forge, and even those who spread them, work towards a conscious purpose.

Early in January 1891 this period of expectancy was brought to an end by the arrival of Conrad Cedarcrantz, chief justice of Samoa. The event was hailed with acclamation, and there was much about the new official to increase the hopes already entertained. He was seen to be a man of culture and ability; in public, of an excellent presence—in private, of a most engaging cordiality. But there was 161 one point, I scarce know whether to say of his character or policy, which immediately and disastrously affected public feeling in the islands. He had an aversion, part judicial, part perhaps constitutional, to haste; and he announced that, until he should have well satisfied his own mind, he should do nothing; that he would rather delay all than do aught amiss. It was impossible to hear this without academical approval; impossible to hear it without practical alarm. The natives desired to see activity; they desired to see many fair speeches taken on a body of deeds and works of benefit. Fired by the event of the war, filled with impossible hopes, they might have welcomed in that hour a ruler of the stamp of Brandeis, breathing hurry, perhaps dealing blows. And the chief justice, unconscious of the fleeting opportunity, ripened his opinions deliberately in Mulinuu; and had been already the better part of half a year in the islands before he went through the form of opening his court. The curtain had risen; there was no play. A reaction, a chill sense of disappointment, passed about the island; and intrigue, one moment suspended, was resumed.

In the Berlin Act, the three Powers recognise, on the threshold, “the independence of the Samoan government, and the free right of the natives to elect their chief or king and choose their form of government.” True, the text continues that, “in view of the difficulties that surround an election in the present disordered condition of the government,” Malietoa Laupepa shall be recognised as king, “unless the three Powers shall by common accord otherwise declare.” But perhaps few natives have followed it so far, and even those who have, were possibly all cast abroad again by the next clause: “and his successor shall be duly elected according to the laws and customs of Samoa.” The right to elect, freely given in one sentence, was suspended in the next, and a line or so further on appeared to be reconveyed by a side-wind. The reason offered for suspension was ludicrously false; in May 1889, 162 when Sir Edward Malet moved the matter in the conference, the election of Mataafa was not only certain to have been peaceful, it could not have been opposed; and behind the English puppet it was easy to suspect the hand of Germany. No one is more swift to smell trickery than a Samoan; and the thought, that, under the long, bland, benevolent sentences of the Berlin Act, some trickery lay lurking, filled him with the breath of opposition. Laupepa seems never to have been a popular king. Mataafa, on the other hand, holds an unrivalled position in the eyes of his fellow-countrymen; he was the hero of the war, he had lain with them in the bush, he had borne the heat and burthen of the day; they began to claim that he should enjoy more largely the fruits of victory; his exclusion was believed to be a stroke of German vengeance, his elevation to the kingship was looked for as the fitting crown and copestone of the Samoan triumph; and but a little after the coming of the chief justice, an ominous cry for Mataafa began to arise in the islands. It is difficult to see what that official could have done but what he did. He was loyal, as in duty bound, to the treaty and to Laupepa; and when the orators of the important and unruly islet of Manono demanded to his face a change of kings, he had no choice but to refuse them, and (his reproof being unheeded) to suspend the meeting. Whether by any neglect of his own or the mere force of circumstance, he failed, however, to secure the sympathy, failed even to gain the confidence, of Mataafa. The latter is not without a sense of his own abilities or of the great service he has rendered to his native land. He felt himself neglected; at the very moment when the cry for his elevation rang throughout the group, he thought himself made little of on Mulinuu; and he began to weary of his part. In this humour, he was exposed to a temptation which I must try to explain, as best I may be able, to Europeans.

The bestowal of the great name, Malietoa, is in the power of the district of Malie, some seven miles to the 163 westward of Apia. The most noisy and conspicuous supporters of that party are the inhabitants of Manono. Hence in the elaborate, allusive oratory of Samoa, Malie is always referred to by the name of Pule (authority) as having the power of the name, and Manono by that of Ainga (clan, sept, or household) as forming the immediate family of the chief. But these, though so important, are only small communities; and perhaps the chief numerical force of the Malietoas inhabits the island of Savaii. Savaii has no royal name to bestow, all the five being in the gift of different districts of Upolu; but she has the weight of numbers, and in these latter days has acquired a certain force by the preponderance in her councils of a single man, the orator Lauati. The reader will now understand the peculiar significance of a deputation which should embrace Lauati and the orators of both Malie and Manono, how it would represent all that is most effective on the Malietoa side, and all that is most considerable in Samoan politics, except the opposite feudal party of the Tupua. And in the temptation brought to bear on Mataafa, even the Tupua was conjoined. Tamasese was dead. His followers had conceived a not unnatural aversion to all Germans, from which only the loyal Brandeis is excepted; and a not unnatural admiration for their late successful adversary. Men of his own blood and clan, men whom he had fought in the field, whom he had driven from Matautu, who had smitten him back time and again from before the rustic bulwarks of Lotoanuu, they approached him hand in hand with their ancestral enemies and concurred in the same prayer. The treaty (they argued) was not carried out. The right to elect their king had been granted them; or if that were denied or suspended, then the right to elect “his successor.” They were dissatisfied with Laupepa, and claimed, “according to the laws and customs of Samoa,” duly to appoint another. The orators of Malie declared with irritation that their second appointment was alone valid and Mataafa the sole Malietoa; the 164 whole body of malcontents named him as their choice for king; and they requested him in consequence to leave Apia and take up his dwelling in Malie, the name-place of Malietoa; a step which may be described, to European ears, as placing before the country his candidacy for the crown.

I do not know when the proposal was first made. Doubtless the disaffection grew slowly, every trifle adding to its force; doubtless there lingered for long a willingness to give the new government a trial. The chief justice at least had been nearly five months in the country, and the president, Baron Senfft von Pilsach, rather more than a month, before the mine was sprung. On May 31, 1891, the house of Mataafa was found empty, he and his chiefs had vanished from Apia, and, what was worse, three prisoners, liberated from the gaol, had accompanied them in their secession; two being political offenders, and the third (accused of murder) having been perhaps set free by accident. Although the step had been discussed in certain quarters, it took all men by surprise. The inhabitants at large expected instant war. The officials awakened from a dream to recognise the value of that which they had lost. Mataafa at Vaiala, where he was the pledge of peace, had perhaps not always been deemed worthy of particular attention; Mataafa at Malie was seen, twelve hours too late, to be an altogether different quantity. With excess of zeal on the other side, the officials trooped to their boats and proceeded almost in a body to Malie, where they seem to have employed every artifice of flattery and every resource of eloquence upon the fugitive high chief. These courtesies, perhaps excessive in themselves, had the unpardonable fault of being offered when too late. Mataafa showed himself facile on small issues, inflexible on the main; he restored the prisoners, he returned with the consuls to Apia on a flying visit; he gave his word that peace should be preserved—a pledge in which perhaps no one believed at the moment, but which he has since nobly redeemed. On the rest he was immovable; 165 he had cast the die, he had declared his candidacy, he had gone to Malie. Thither, after his visit to Apia, he returned again; there he has practically since resided.

Thus was created in the islands a situation, strange in the beginning, and which, as its inner significance is developed, becomes daily stranger to observe. On the one hand, Mataafa sits in Malie, assumes a regal state, receives deputations, heads his letters “Government of Samoa,” tacitly treats the king as a co-ordinate; and yet declares himself, and in many ways conducts himself, as a law-abiding citizen. On the other, the white officials in Mulinuu stand contemplating the phenomenon with eyes of growing stupefaction; now with symptoms of collapse, now with accesses of violence. For long, even those well versed in island manners and the island character daily expected war, and heard imaginary drums beat in the forest. But for now close upon a year, and against every stress of persuasion and temptation, Mataafa has been the bulwark of our peace. Apia lay open to be seized, he had the power in his hand, his followers cried to be led on, his enemies marshalled him the same way by impotent examples; and he has never faltered. Early in the day, a white man was sent from the government of Mulinuu to examine and report upon his actions: I saw the spy on his return; “It was only our rebel that saved us,” he said, with a laugh. There is now no honest man in the islands but is well aware of it; none but knows that, if we have enjoyed during the past eleven months the conveniences of peace, it is due to the forbearance of “our rebel.” Nor does this part of his conduct stand alone. He calls his party at Malie the government,—“our government,”—but he pays his taxes to the government at Mulinuu. He takes ground like a king; he has steadily and blandly refused to obey all orders as to his own movements or behaviour; but upon requisition he sends offenders to be tried under the chief justice.

We have here a problem of conduct, and what seems 166 an image of inconsistency, very hard at the first sight to be solved by any European. Plainly Mataafa does not act at random. Plainly, in the depths of his Samoan mind, he regards his attitude as regular and constitutional. It may be unexpected, it may be inauspicious, it may be undesirable; but he thinks it—and perhaps it is—in full accordance with those “laws and customs of Samoa” ignorantly invoked by the draughtsmen of the Berlin Act. The point is worth an effort of comprehension; a man’s life may yet depend upon it. Let us conceive, in the first place, that there are five separate kingships in Samoa, though not always five different kings; and that though one man, by holding the five royal names, might become king in all parts of Samoa, there is perhaps no such matter as a kingship of all Samoa. He who holds one royal name would be, upon this view, as much a sovereign person as he who should chance to hold the other four; he would have less territory and fewer subjects, but the like independence and an equal royalty. Now Mataafa, even if all debatable points were decided against him, is still Tuiatua, and as such, on this hypothesis, a sovereign prince. In the second place, the draughtsmen of the Act, waxing exceeding bold, employed the word “election,” and implicitly justified all precedented steps towards the kingship according with the “customs of Samoa.” I am not asking what was intended by the gentlemen who sat and debated very benignly and, on the whole, wisely in Berlin; I am asking what will be understood by a Samoan studying their literary work, the Berlin Act; I am asking what is the result of taking a word out of one state of society, and applying it to another, of which the writers know less than nothing, and no European knows much. Several interpreters and several days were employed last September in the fruitless attempt to convey to the mind of Laupepa the sense of the word “resignation.” What can a Samoan gather from the words, election? election of a king? election of a king according to the laws and customs of Samoa? What are the 167 electoral measures, what is the method of canvassing, likely to be employed by two, three, four, or five, more or less absolute princelings, eager to evince each other? And who is to distinguish such a process from the state of war? In such international—or, I should say, interparochial—differences, the nearest we can come towards understanding is to appreciate the cloud of ambiguity in which all parties grope—

“Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,

Half flying.”

Now, in one part of Mataafa’s behaviour his purpose is beyond mistake. Towards the provisions of the Berlin Act, his desire to be formally obedient is manifest. The Act imposed the tax. He has paid his taxes, although he thus contributes to the ways and means of his immediate rival. The Act decreed the supreme court, and he sends his partisans to be tried at Mulinuu, although he thus places them (as I shall have occasion to show) in a position far from wholly safe. From this literal conformity, in matters regulated, to the terms of the Berlin plenipotentiaries, we may plausibly infer, in regard to the rest, a no less exact observance of the famous and obscure “laws and customs of Samoa.”

But though it may be possible to attain, in the study, to some such adumbration of an understanding, it were plainly unfair to expect it of officials in the hurry of events. Our two white officers have accordingly been no more perspicacious than was to be looked for, and I think they have sometimes been less wise. It was not wise in the president to proclaim Mataafa and his followers rebels and their estates confiscated. Such words are not respectable till they repose on force; on the lips of an angry white man, standing alone on a small promontory, they were both dangerous and absurd; they might have provoked ruin; thanks to the character of Mataafa, they only raised a smile and damaged the authority of government. And again it is not wise in the government of Mulinuu to have 168 twice attempted to precipitate hostilities, once in Savaii, once here in the Tuamasanga. The late of the Savaii attempt I never heard; it seems to have been stillborn. The other passed under my eyes. A war-party was armed in Apia, and despatched across the island against Mataafa villages, where it was to seize the women and children. It was absent for some days, engaged in feasting with those whom it went out to fight; and returned at last, innocuous and replete. In this fortunate though undignified ending we may read the fact that the natives on Laupepa’s side are sometimes more wise than their advisers. Indeed, for our last twelve months of miraculous peace under what seem to be two rival kings, the credit is due first of all to Mataafa, and second to the half-heartedness, or the forbearance, or both, of the natives in the other camp. The voice of the two whites has ever been for war. They have published at least one incendiary proclamation; they have armed and sent into the field at least one Samoan war-party; they have continually besieged captains of war-ships to attack Malie, and the captains of the war-ships have religiously refused. Thus in the last twelve months our European rulers have drawn a picture of themselves, as bearded like the pard, full of strange oaths, and gesticulating like semaphores; while over against them Mataafa reposes smilingly obstinate, and their own retainers surround them, frowningly inert. Into the question of motive I refuse to enter; but if we come to war in these islands, and with no fresh occasion, it will be a manufactured war, and one that has been manufactured, against the grain of opinion, by two foreigners.

For the last and worst of the mistakes on the Laupepa side it would be unfair to blame any but the king himself. Capable both of virtuous resolutions and of fits of apathetic obstinacy, His Majesty is usually the whip-top of competitive advisers; and his conduct is so unstable as to wear at times an appearance of treachery which would surprise himself if he could see it. Take, for example, 169 the experience of Lieutenant Ulfsparre, late chief of police, and (so to speak) commander of the forces. His men were under orders for a certain hour; he found himself almost alone at the place of muster, and learned the king had sent the soldiery on errands. He sought an audience, explained that he was here to implant discipline, that (with this purpose in view) his men could only receive orders through himself, and if that condition were not agreed to and faithfully observed, he must send in his papers. The king was as usual easily persuaded, the interview passed and ended to the satisfaction of all parties engaged—and the bargain was kept for one day. On the day after, the troops were again dispersed as post-runners, and their commander resigned. With such a sovereign, I repeat, it would be unfair to blame any individual minister for any specific fault. And yet the policy of our two whites against Mataafa has appeared uniformly so excessive and implacable, that the blame of the last scandal is laid generally at their doors. It is yet fresh. Lauati, towards the end of last year, became deeply concerned about the situation; and by great personal exertions and the charms of oratory brought Savaii and Manono into agreement upon certain terms of compromise: Laupepa still to be king, Mataafa to accept a high executive office comparable to that of our own prime minister, and the two governments to coalesce. Intractable Manono was a party. Malie was said to view the proposal with resignation, if not relief. Peace was thought secure. The night before the king was to receive Lauati, I met one of his company,—the family chief, Iina,—and we shook hands over the unexpected issue of our troubles. What no one dreamed was that Laupepa would refuse. And he did. He refused undisputed royalty for himself and peace for these unhappy islands; and the two whites on Mulinuu rightly or wrongly got the blame of it.

But their policy has another and a more awkward side. About the time of the secession to Malie, many ugly 170 things were said; I will not repeat that which I hope and believe the speakers did not wholly mean; let it suffice that, if rumour carried to Mataafa the language I have heard used in my own house and before my own native servants, he would be highly justified in keeping clear of Apia and the whites. One gentleman whose opinion I respect, and am so bold as to hope I may in some points modify, will understand the allusion and appreciate my reserve. About the same time there occurred an incident, upon which I must be more particular. A was a gentleman who had long been an intimate of Mataafa’s, and had recently (upon account, indeed, of the secession to Malie) more or less wholly broken off relations. To him came one whom I shall call B with a dastardly proposition. It may have been B’s own, in which case he were the more unpardonable but from the closeness of his intercourse with the chief justice, as well as from the terms used in the interview, men judged otherwise. It was proposed that A should simulate a renewal of the friendship, decoy Mataafa to a suitable place, and have him there arrested. What should follow in those days of violent speech was at the least disputable; and the proposal was of course refused. “You do not understand,” was the base rejoinder. “You will have no discredit. The Germans are to take the blame of the arrest.” Of course, upon the testimony of a gentleman so depraved, it were unfair to hang a dog; and both the Germans and the chief justice must be held innocent. But the chief justice has shown that he can himself be led, by his animosity against Mataafa, into questionable acts. Certain natives of Malie were accused of stealing pigs; the chief justice summoned them through Mataafa; several were sent, and along with them a written promise that, if others were required, these also should be forthcoming upon requisition. Such as came were duly tried and acquitted; and Mataafa’s offer was communicated to the chief justice, who made a formal answer, and the same day (in pursuance of his constant design to have Malie attacked by war-ships) 171 reported to one of the consuls that his warrant would not run in the country and that certain of the accused had been withheld. At least, this is not fair dealing; and the next instance I have to give is possibly worse. For one blunder the chief justice is only so far responsible, in that he was not present where it seems he should have been, when it was made. He had nothing to do with the silly proscription of the Mataafas; he has always disliked the measure; and it occurred to him at last that he might get rid of this dangerous absurdity and at the same time reap a further advantage. Let Mataafa leave Malie for any other district in Samoa; it should be construed as an act of submission and the confiscation and proscription instantly recalled. This was certainly well devised; the government escaped from their own false position, and by the same stroke lowered the prestige of their adversaries. But unhappily the chief justice did not put all his eggs in one basket. Concurrently with these negotiations he began again to move the captain of one of the war-ships to shell the rebel village; the captain, conceiving the extremity wholly unjustified, not only refused these instances, but more or less publicly complained of their being made; the matter came to the knowledge of the white resident who was at that time playing the part of intermediary with Malie; and he, in natural anger and disgust, withdrew from the negotiation. These duplicities, always deplorable when discovered, are never more fatal than with men imperfectly civilised. Almost incapable of truth themselves, they cherish a particular score of the same fault in whites. And Mataafa is besides an exceptional native. I would scarce dare say of any Samoan that he is truthful, though I seem to have encountered the phenomenon; but I must say of Mataafa that he seems distinctly and consistently averse to lying.

For the affair of the Manono prisoners, the chief justice is only again in so far answerable as he was at the moment absent from the seat of his duties; and the blame falls on 172 Baron Senfft von Pilsach, president of the municipal council. There were in Manono certain dissidents, loyal to Laupepa. Being Manono people, I daresay they were very annoying to their neighbours; the majority, as they belonged to the same island, were the more impatient; and one fine day fell upon and destroyed the houses and harvests of the dissidents “according to the laws and customs of Samoa.” The president went down to the unruly island in a war-ship and was landed alone upon the beach. To one so much a stranger to the mansuetude of Polynesians, this must have seemed an act of desperation; and the baron’s gallantry met with a deserved success. The six ring-leaders, acting in Mataafa’s interest, had been guilty of a delict; with Mataafa’s approval, they delivered themselves over to be tried. On Friday, September 4, 1891, they were convicted before a native magistrate and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment; or, I should rather say, detention; for it was expressly directed that they were to be used as gentlemen and not as prisoners, that the door was to stand open, and that all their wishes should be gratified. This extraordinary sentence fell upon the accused like a thunderbolt. There is no need to suppose perfidy, where a careless interpreter suffices to explain all; but the six chiefs claim to have understood their coming to Apia as an act of submission merely formal, that they came in fact under an implied indemnity, and that the president stood pledged to see them scatheless. Already, on their way from the court-house, they were tumultuously surrounded by friends and clansmen, who pressed and cried upon them to escape; Lieutenant Ulfsparre must order his men to load; and with that the momentary effervescence died away. Next day, Saturday, 5th, the chief justice took his departure from the islands—a step never yet explained and (in view of the doings of the day before and the remonstrances of other officials) hard to justify. The president, an amiable and brave young man of singular inexperience, was thus left to face the growing difficulty by 173 himself. The clansmen of the prisoners, to the number of near upon a hundred, lay in Vaiusu, a village half way between Apia and Malie; there they talked big, thence sent menacing messages; the gaol should be broken in the night, they said, and the six martyrs rescued. Allowance is to be made for the character of the people of Manono, turbulent fellows, boastful of tongue, but of late days not thought to be answerably bold in person. Yet the moment was anxious. The government of Mulinuu had gained an important moral victory by the surrender and condemnation of the chiefs; and it was needful the victory should be maintained. The guard upon the gaol was accordingly strengthened; a war-party was sent to watch the Vaiusu road under Asi; and the chiefs of the Vaimaunga were notified to arm and assemble their men. It must be supposed the president was doubtful of the loyalty of these assistants. He turned at least to the war-ships, where it seems he was rebuffed; thence he fled into the arms of the wrecker gang, where he was unhappily more successful. The government of Washington had presented to the Samoan king the wrecks of the Trenton and the Vandalia; an American syndicate had been formed to break them up; an experienced gang was in consequence settled in Apia; and the report of submarine explosions had long grown familiar in the ears of residents. From these artificers the president obtained a supply of dynamite, the needful mechanism, and the loan of a mechanic; the gaol was mined, and the Manono people in Vaiusu were advertised of the fact in a letter signed by Laupepa. Partly by the indiscretion of the mechanic, who had sought to embolden himself (like Lady Macbeth) with liquor for his somewhat dreadful task, the story leaked immediately out and raised a very general, or I might say almost universal, reprobation. Some blamed the proposed deed because it was barbarous and a foul example to set before a race half barbarous itself; others because it was illegal; others again because, in the face of so weak an enemy, it appeared 174 pitifully pusillanimous; almost all because it tended to precipitate and embitter war. In the midst of the turmoil he had raised, and under the immediate pressure of certain indignant white residents, the baron fell back upon a new expedient, certainly less barbarous, perhaps no more legal; and on Monday afternoon, September 7th, packed his six prisoners on board the cutter Lancashire Lass, and deported them to the neighbouring low-island group of the Tokelaus. We watched her put to sea with mingled feelings. Anything were better than dynamite, but this was not good. The men had been summoned in the name of law; they had surrendered; the law had uttered its voice; they were under one sentence duly delivered; and now the president, by no right with which we were acquainted, had exchanged it for another. It was perhaps no less fortunate, though it was more pardonable in a stranger, that he had increased the punishment to that which, in the eyes of Samoans, ranks next to death,—exile from their native land and friends. And the Lancashire Lass appeared to carry away with her into the uttermost parts of the sea the honour of the administration and the prestige of the supreme court.

The policy of the government towards Mataafa has thus been of a piece throughout; always would-be violent, it has been almost always defaced with some appearance of perfidy or unfairness. The policy of Mataafa (though extremely bewildering to any white) appears everywhere consistent with itself, and the man’s bearing has always been calm. But to represent the fulness of the contrast, it is necessary that I should give some description of the two capitals, or the two camps, and the ways and means of the regular and irregular government.

Mulinuu. Mulinuu, the reader may remember, is a narrow finger of land planted in cocoa-palms, which runs forth into the lagoon perhaps three quarters of a mile. To the east is the bay of Apia. To the west, there is, first of all, a mangrove swamp, the mangroves excellently green, the mud ink-black, and its face crawled upon by countless 175 insects and black and scarlet crabs. Beyond the swamp is a wide and shallow bay of the lagoon, bounded to the west by Faleula Point. Faleula is the next village to Malie; so that from the top of some tall palm in Malie it should be possible to descry against the eastern heavens the palms of Mulinuu. The trade wind sweeps over the low peninsula and cleanses it from the contagion of the swamp. Samoans have a quaint phrase in their language; when out of health, they seek exposed places on the shore “to eat the wind,” say they; and there can be few better places for such a diet than the point of Mulinuu.

Two European houses stand conspicuous on the harbour side; in Europe they would seem poor enough, but they are fine houses for Samoa. One is new; it was built the other day under the apologetic title of a Government House, to be the residence of Baron Senfft. The other is historical; it was built by Brandeis on a mortgage, and is now occupied by the chief justice on conditions never understood, the rumour going uncontradicted that he sits rent free. I do not say it is true, I say it goes uncontradicted; and there is one peculiarity of our officials in a nutshell,—their remarkable indifference to their own character. From the one house to the other extends a scattering village for the Faipule or native parliament men. In the days of Tamasese this was a brave place, both his own house and those of the Faipule good, and the whole excellently ordered and approached by a sanded way. It is now like a neglected bush-town, and speaks of apathy in all concerned. But the chief scandal of Mulinuu is elsewhere. The house of the president stands just to seaward of the isthmus, where the watch is set nightly, and armed men guard the uneasy slumbers of the government. On the landward side there stands a monument to the poor German lads who fell at Fangalii, just beyond which the passer-by may chance to observe a little house standing backward from the road. It is such a house as a commoner might use in a bush village; none could dream that it gave shelter even to a family chief; 176 yet this is the palace of Malietoa-Natoaitele-Tamasoalii Laupepa, king of Samoa. As you sit in his company under this humble shelter, you shall see, between the posts, the new house of the president. His Majesty himself beholds it daily, and the tenor of his thoughts may be divined. The fine house of a Samoan chief is his appropriate attribute; yet, after seventeen months, the government (well housed themselves) have not yet found—have not yet sought—a roof-tree for their sovereign. And the lodging is typical. I take up the president’s financial statement of September 8, 1891. I find the king’s allowance to figure at seventy-five dollars a month; and I find that he is further (though somewhat obscurely) debited with the salaries of either two or three clerks. Take the outside figure, and the sum expended on or for His Majesty amounts to ninety-five dollars in the month. Lieutenant Ulfsparre and Dr. Hagberg (the chief justice’s Swedish friends) drew in the same period one hundred and forty and one hundred dollars respectively on account of salary alone. And it should be observed that Dr. Hagberg was employed, or at least paid, from government funds, in the face of His Majesty’s express and reiterated protest. In another column of the statement, one hundred and seventy-five dollars and seventy-five cents are debited for the chief justice’s travelling expenses. I am of the opinion that if His Majesty desired (or dared) to take an outing, he would be asked to bear the charge from his allowance. But although I think the chief justice had done more nobly to pay for himself, I am far from denying that his excursions were well meant; he should indeed be praised for having made them; and I leave the charge out of consideration in the following statement.

On the one hand

Salary of Chief Justice Cedarkrantz $500
Salary of President Baron Senfft von Pilsach (about) 415
Salary of Lieutenant Ulfsparre, Chief of Police 140
Salary of Dr. Hagberg, Private Secretary to the Chief Justice 100
Total monthly salary to four whites, one of them paid against His Majesty’s protest $1155

On the other hand

Total monthly payments to and for His Majesty the King, including allowance and hire of three clerks, one of these placed under the rubric of extraordinary expenses $95

This looks strange enough and mean enough already. But we have ground of comparison in the practice of Brandeis.

Brandeis, white prime minister $200
Tamasese (about) 160
White Chief of Police 100

Under Brandeis, in other words, the king received the second highest allowance on the sheet; and it was a good second, and the third was a bad third. And it must be borne in mind that Tamasese himself was pointed and laughed at among natives. Judge, then, what is muttered of Laupepa, housed in his shanty before the president’s doors like Lazarus before the doors of Dives; receiving not so much of his own taxes as the private secretary of the law officer; and (in actual salary) little more than half as much as his own chief of police. It is known besides that he has protested in vain against the charge for Dr. Hagberg; it is known that he has himself applied for an advance and been refused. Money is certainly a grave subject on Mulinuu; but respect costs nothing, and thrifty officials might have judged it wise to make up in extra politeness for what they curtailed of pomp or comfort. One instance may suffice. Laupepa appeared last summer on a public occasion; the president was there—and not even the president rose to greet the entrance of the sovereign. Since about the same period, besides, the monarch must be described as in a state of sequestration. A white man, an Irishman, the true type of all that is most gallant, humorous, and reckless in his country, chose to visit His Majesty and give him some excellent advice (to make up his difference with Mataafa) couched unhappily in vivid and figurative language. The adviser now sleeps 178 in the Pacific, but the evil that he chanced to do lives after him. His Majesty was greatly (and I must say justly) offended by the freedom of the expressions used; he appealed to his white advisers; and these, whether from want of thought or by design, issued an ignominious proclamation. Intending visitors to the palace must appear before their consuls and justify their business. The majesty of buried Samoa was henceforth only to be viewed (like a private collection) under special permit; and was thus at once cut off from the company and opinions of the self-respecting. To retain any dignity in such an abject state would require a man of very different virtues from those claimed by the not unvirtuous Laupepa. He is not designed to ride the whirlwind or direct the storm, rather to be the ornament of private life. He is kind, gentle, patient as Job, conspicuously well-intentioned, of charming manners; and when he pleases, he has one accomplishment in which he now begins to be alone—I mean that he can pronounce correctly his own beautiful language.

The government of Brandeis accomplished a good deal and was continually and heroically attempting more. The government of our two whites has confined itself almost wholly to paying and receiving salaries. They have built, indeed, a house for the president; they are believed (if that be a merit) to have bought the local newspaper with government funds; and their rule has been enlivened by a number of scandals, into which I feel with relief that it is unnecessary I should enter. Even if the three Powers do not remove these gentlemen, their absurd and disastrous government must perish by itself of inanition. Native taxes (except perhaps from Mataafa, true to his own private policy) have long been beyond hope. And only the other day (May 6th, 1892), on the expressed ground that there was no guarantee as to how the funds would be expended, and that the president consistently refused to allow the verification of his cash balances, the municipal council has negatived the proposal to call up 179 further taxes from the whites. All is well that ends even ill, so that it end; and we believe that with the last dollar we shall see the last of the last functionary. Now when it is so nearly over, we can afford to smile at this extraordinary passage, though we must still sigh over the occasion lost.


Malie. The way to Malie lies round the shores of Faleula bay and through a succession of pleasant groves and villages. The road, one of the works of Brandeis, is now cut up by pig fences. Eight times you must leap a barrier of cocoa posts; the take-off and the landing both in a patch of mire planted with big stones, and the stones sometimes reddened with the blood of horses that have gone before. To make these obstacles more annoying, you have sometimes to wait while a black boar clambers sedately over the so-called pig fence. Nothing can more thoroughly depict the worst side of the Samoan character than these useless barriers which deface their only road. It was one of the first orders issued by the government of Mulinuu after the coming of the chief justice, to have the passage cleared. It is the disgrace of Mataafa that the thing is not yet done.

The village of Malie is the scene of prosperity and peace. In a very good account of a visit there, published in the Australasian, the writer describes it to be fortified; she must have been deceived by the appearance of some pig walls on the shore. There is no fortification, no parade of war. I understand that from one to five hundred fighting men are always within reach; but I have never seen more than five together under arms, and these were the king’s guard of honour. A Sabbath quiet broods over the well-weeded green, the picketed horses, the troops of pigs, the round or oval native dwellings. Of these there are a surprising number, very fine of their sort: yet more are in the building; and in the midst a tall house of assembly, by far the greatest Samoan structure now in these islands, stands about half finished and already makes a figure in 180 the landscape. No bustle is to be observed, but the work accomplished testifies to a still activity.

The centre-piece of all is the high chief himself, Malietoa-Tuiatua-Tuiaana Mataafa, king—or not king—or king-claimant—of Samoa. All goes to him, all comes from him. Native deputations bring him gifts and are feasted in return. White travellers, to their indescribable irritation, are (on his approach) waved from his path by his armed guards. He summons his dancers by the note of a bugle. He sits nightly at home before a semicircle of talking-men from many quarters of the islands, delivering and hearing those ornate and elegant orations in which the Samoan heart delights. About himself and all his surroundings there breathes a striking sense of order, tranquillity, and native plenty. He is of a tall and powerful person, sixty years of age, white-haired and with a white moustache; his eyes bright and quiet; his jaw perceptibly underhung, which gives him something of the expression of a benevolent mastiff; his manners dignified and a thought insinuating, with an air of a Catholic prelate. He was never married, and a natural daughter attends upon his guests. Long since he made a vow of chastity,—“to live as our Lord lived on this earth,” and Polynesians report with bated breath that he has kept it. On all such points, true to his Catholic training, he is inclined to be even rigid. Lauati, the pivot of Savaii, has recently repudiated his wife and taken a fairer; and when I was last in Malie, Mataafa (with a strange superiority to his own interests) had but just despatched a reprimand. In his immediate circle, in spite of the smoothness of his ways, he is said to be more respected than beloved; and his influence is the child rather of authority than popularity. No Samoan grandee now living need have attempted that which he has accomplished during the last twelve months with unimpaired prestige, not only to withhold his followers from war, but to send them to be judged in the camp of their enemies on Mulinuu. And it is a matter of debate whether such a triumph of 181 authority were ever possible before. Speaking for myself, I have visited and dwelt in almost every seat of the Polynesian race, and have met but one man who gave me a stronger impression of character and parts.

About the situation, Mataafa expresses himself with unshaken peace. To the chief justice he refers with some bitterness; to Laupepa, with a smile, as “my poor brother.” For himself, he stands upon the treaty, and expects sooner or later an election in which he shall be raised to the chief power. In the meanwhile, or for an alternative, he would willingly embrace a compromise with Laupepa; to which he would probably add one condition, that the joint government should remain seated at Malie, a sensible but not inconvenient distance from white intrigues and white officials. One circumstance in my last interview particularly pleased me. The king’s chief scribe, Esela, is an old employé under Tamasese, and the talk ran some while upon the character of Brandeis. Loyalty in this world is after all not thrown away; Brandeis was guilty, in Samoan eyes, of many irritating errors, but he stood true to Tamasese; in the course of time a sense of this virtue and of his general uprightness has obliterated the memory of his mistakes; and it would have done his heart good if he could have heard his old scribe and his old adversary join in praising him. “Yes,” concluded Mataafa, “I wish we had Planteisa back again.” A quelque chose malheur est bon. So strong is the impression produced by the defects of Cedarcrantz and Baron Senfft, that I believe Mataafa far from singular in this opinion, and that the return of the upright Brandeis might be even welcome to many.

I must add a last touch to the picture of Malie and the pretender’s life. About four in the morning, the visitor in his house will be awakened by the note of a pipe, blown without, very softly and to a soothing melody. This is Mataafa’s private luxury to lead on pleasant dreams. We have a bird here in Samoa that about the same hour of 182 darkness sings in the bush. The father of Mataafa, while he lived, was a great friend and protector to all living creatures, and passed under the by-name of the King of Birds. It may be it was among the woodland clients of the sire that the son acquired his fancy for this morning music.


I have now sought to render without extenuation the impressions received: of dignity, plenty, and peace at Malie, of bankruptcy and distraction at Mulinuu. And I wish I might here bring to an end ungrateful labours. But I am sensible that there remain two points on which it would be improper to be silent. I should be blamed if I did not indicate a practical conclusion; and I should blame myself if I did not do a little justice to that tried company of the Land Commissioners.

The Land Commission has been in many senses unfortunate. The original German member, a gentleman of the name of Eggert, fell early into precarious health; his work was from the first interrupted, he was at last (to the regret of all that knew him) invalided home; and his successor had but just arrived. In like manner, the first American commissioner, Henry C. Ide, a man of character and intelligence, was recalled (I believe by private affairs) when he was but just settling into the spirit of the work; and though his place was promptly filled by ex-Governor Ormsbee, a worthy successor, distinguished by strong and vivacious common sense, the break was again sensible. The English commissioner, my friend Bazett Michael Haggard, is thus the only one who has continued at his post since the beginning. And yet, in spite of these unusual changes, the Commission has a record perhaps unrivalled among international commissions. It has been unanimous practically from the first until the last; and out of some four hundred cases disposed of, there is but one on which the members were divided. It was the more unfortunate they should have early fallen in a difficulty with 183 the chief justice. The original ground of this is supposed to be a difference of opinion as to the import of the Berlin Act, on which, as a layman, it would be unbecoming if I were to offer an opinion. But it must always seem as if the chief justice had suffered himself to be irritated beyond the bounds of discretion. It must always seem as if his original attempt to deprive the commissioners of the services of a secretary and the use of a safe were even senseless; and his step in printing and posting a proclamation denying their jurisdiction were equally impolitic and undignified. The dispute had a secondary result worse than itself. The gentleman appointed to be Natives’ Advocate shared the chief justice’s opinion, was his close intimate, advised with him almost daily, and drifted at last into an attitude of opposition to his colleagues. He suffered himself besides (being a layman in law) to embrace the interest of his clients with something of the warmth of a partisan. Disagreeable scenes occurred in court; the advocate was more than once reproved, he was warned that his consultations with the judge of appeal tended to damage his own character and to lower the credit of the appellate court. Having lost some cases on which he set importance, it should seem that he spoke unwisely among natives. A sudden cry of colour prejudice went up; and Samoans were heard to assure each other that it was useless to appear before the Land Commission, which was sworn to support the whites.

This deplorable state of affairs was brought to an end by the departure from Samoa of the Natives’ Advocate. He was succeeded pro tempore by a young New Zealander, E. W. Gurr, not much more versed in law than himself, and very much less so in Samoan. Whether by more skill or better fortune, Gurr has been able in the course of a few weeks to recover for the natives several important tracts of land; and the prejudice against the Commission seems to be abating as fast as it arose. I should not omit to say that, in the eagerness of the original advocate, there was much 184 that was amiable; nor must I fail to point out how much there was of blindness. Fired by the ardour of pursuit, he seems to have regarded his immediate clients as the only natives extant and the epitome and emblem of the Samoan race. Thus, in the case that was the most exclaimed against as “an injustice to natives,” his client, Puaauli, was certainly nonsuited. But in that intricate affair who lost the money? The German firm. And who got the land? Other natives. To twist such a decision into evidence, either of a prejudice against Samoans or a partiality to whites, is to keep one eye shut and have the other bandaged.

And lastly, one word as to the future. Laupepa and Mataafa stand over against each other, rivals with no third competitor. They may be said to hold the great name of Malietoa in commission; each has borne the style, each exercised the authority, of a Samoan king; one is secure of the small but compact and fervent following of the Catholics, the other has the sympathies of a large part of the Protestant majority, and upon any sign of Catholic aggression would have more. With men so nearly balanced, it may be asked whether a prolonged successful exercise of power be possible for either. In the case of the feeble Laupepa, it is certainly not; we have the proof before us. Nor do I think we should judge, from what we see to-day, that it would be possible, or would continue to be possible, even for the kingly Mataafa. It is always the easier game to be in opposition. The tale of David and Saul would infallibly be re-enacted; once more we shall have two kings in the land,—the latent and the patent; and the house of the first will become once more the resort of “every one that is in distress, and every one that is in debt, and every one that is discontented.” Against such odds it is my fear that Mataafa might contend in vain; it is beyond the bounds of my imagination that Laupepa should contend at all. Foreign ships and bayonets is the cure proposed in Mulinuu. And certainly, if people at home desire that money should be thrown away and blood 185 shed in Samoa, an effect of a kind, and for the time, may be produced. Its nature and prospective durability I will ask readers of this volume to forecast for themselves. There is one way to peace and unity: that Laupepa and Mataafa should be again conjoined on the best terms procurable. There may be other ways, although I cannot see them; but not even malevolence, not even stupidity, can deny that this is one. It seems, indeed, so obvious, and sure, and easy, that men look about with amazement and suspicion, seeking some hidden motive why it should not be adopted.

To Laupepa’s opposition, as shown in the case of the Lauati scheme, no dweller in Samoa will give weight, for they know him to be as putty in the hands of his advisers. It may be right, it may be wrong, but we are many of us driven to the conclusion that the stumbling-block is Fangalii, and that the memorial of that affair shadows appropriately the house of a king who reigns in right of it. If this be all, it should not trouble us long. Germany has shown she can be generous; it now remains for her only to forget a natural but certainly ill-grounded prejudice, and allow to him, who was sole king before the plenipotentiaries assembled, and who would be sole king to-morrow if the Berlin Act could be rescinded, a fitting share of rule. The future of Samoa should lie thus in the hands of a single man, on whom the eyes of Europe are already fixed. Great concerns press on his attention; the Samoan group, in his view, is but as a grain of dust; and the country where he reigns has bled on too many august scenes of victory to remember for ever a blundering skirmish in the plantation of Vailele. It is to him—to the sovereign of the wise Stuebel and the loyal Brandeis,—that I make my appeal.

May 25, 1892.
















R. L. S.












I saw that island first when it was neither night nor morning. The moon was to the west, setting, but still broad and bright. To the east, and right amidships of the dawn, which was all pink, the day-star sparkled like a diamond. The land breeze blew in our faces, and smelt strong of wild lime and vanilla: other things besides, but these were the most plain; and the chill of it set me sneezing. I should say I had been for years on a low island near the line, living for the most part solitary among natives. Here was a fresh experience: even the tongue would be quite strange to me; and the look of these woods and mountains, and the rare smell of them, renewed my blood.

The captain blew out the binnacle lamp.

“There!” said he, “there goes a bit of smoke, Mr. Wiltshire, behind the break of the reef. That’s Falesá, where your station is, the last village to the east; nobody lives to windward—I don’t know why. Take my glass, and you can make the houses out.”

I took the glass; and the shores leaped nearer, and I saw the tangle of the woods and the breach of the surf, and the brown roofs and the black insides of houses peeped among the trees.

“Do you catch a bit of white there to the east’ard?” the captain continued. “That’s your house. Coral built, stands high, verandah you could walk on three abreast; best station in the South Pacific. When old Adams saw 194 it, he took and shook me by the hand. ‘I’ve dropped into a soft thing here,’ says he. ‘So you have,’ says I, ’and time too!’ Poor Johnny! I never saw him again but the once, and then he had changed his tune—couldn’t get on with the natives, or the whites, or something; and the next time we came round there he was dead and buried. I took and put up a bit of stick to him: ‘John Adams, obiit eighteen and sixty-eight. Go thou and do likewise.’ I missed that man. I never could see much harm in Johnny.”

“What did he die of?” I inquired.

“Some kind of sickness,” says the captain. “It appears it took him sudden. Seems he got up in the night, and filled up on Pain-Killer and Kennedy’s Discovery. No go: he was booked beyond Kennedy. Then he had tried to open a case of gin. No go again: not strong enough. Then he must have turned to and run out on the verandah, and capsized over the rail. When they found him, the next day, he was clean crazy—carried on all the time about somebody watering his copra. Poor John!”

“Was it thought to be the island?” I asked.

“Well, it was thought to be the island, or the trouble, or something,” he replied. “I never could hear but what it was a healthy place. Our last man, Vigours, never turned a hair. He left because of the beach—said he was afraid of Black Jack and Case and Whistling Jimmie, who was still alive at the time, but got drowned soon afterward when drunk. As for old Captain Randall, he’s been here any time since eighteen-forty, forty-five. I never could see much harm in Billy, nor much change. Seems as if he might live to be Old Kafoozleum. No, I guess it’s healthy.”

“There’s a boat coming now,” said I. “She’s right in the pass; looks to be a sixteen-foot whale; two white men in the stern-sheets.”

“That’s the boat that drowned Whistling Jimmie!” cried the captain; “let’s see the glass. Yes, that’s Case, 195 sure enough, and the darkie. They’ve got a gallows bad reputation, but you know what a place the beach is for talking. My belief, that Whistling Jimmie was the worst of the trouble; and he’s gone to glory, you see. What’ll you bet they ain’t after gin? Lay you five to two they take six cases.”

When these two traders came aboard I was pleased with the looks of them at once, or, rather, with the looks of both, and the speech of one. I was sick for white neighbours after my four years at the line, which I always counted years of prison; getting tabooed, and going down to the Speak House to see and get it taken off; buying gin and going on a break, and then repenting; sitting in the house at night with the lamp for company; or walking on the beach and wondering what kind of a fool to call myself for being where I was. There were no other whites upon my island, and when I sailed to the next, rough customers made the most of the society. Now to see these two when they came aboard was a pleasure. One was a negro, to be sure; but they were both rigged out smart in striped pyjamas and straw hats, and Case would have passed muster in a city. He was yellow and smallish, had a hawk’s nose to his face, pale eyes, and his beard trimmed with scissors. No man knew his country, beyond he was of English speech; and it was clear he came of a good family and was splendidly educated. He was accomplished too; played the accordion first-rate; and give him a piece of string or a cork or a pack of cards, and he could show you tricks equal to any professional. He could speak, when he chose, fit for a drawing-room; and when he chose he could blaspheme worse than a Yankee boatswain, and talk smart to sicken a Kanaka. The way he thought would pay best at the moment, that was Case’s way, and it always seemed to come natural, and like as if he was born to it. He had the courage of a lion and the cunning of a rat; and if he’s not in hell to-day, there’s no such 196 place. I know but one good point to the man: that he was fond of his wife, and kind to her. She was a Samoa woman, and dyed her hair red, Samoa style; and when he came to die (as I have to tell of) they found one strange thing—that he had made a will, like a Christian, and the widow got the lot: all his, they said, and all Black Jack’s, and the most of Billy Randall’s in the bargain, for it was Case that kept the books. So she went off home in the schooner Manu’a, and does the lady to this day in her own place.

But of all this on that first morning I knew no more than a fly. Case used me like a gentleman and like a friend, made me welcome to Falesá, and put his services at my disposal, which was the more helpful from my ignorance of the native. All the better part of the day we sat drinking better acquaintance in the cabin, and I never heard a man talk more to the point. There was no smarter trader, and none dodgier, in the islands. I thought Falesá seemed to be the right kind of a place; and the more I drank the lighter my heart. Our last trader had fled the place at half an hour’s notice, taking a chance passage in a labour ship from up west. The captain, when he came, had found the station closed, the keys left with the native pastor, and a letter from the runaway, confessing he was fairly frightened of his life. Since then the firm had not been represented, and of course there was no cargo. The wind, besides, was fair, the captain hoped he could make his next island by dawn, with a good tide, and the business of landing my trade was gone about lively. There was no call for me to fool with it, Case said; nobody would touch my things, every one was honest in Falesá, only about chickens or an odd knife or an odd stick of tobacco; and the best I could do was to sit quiet till the vessel left, then come straight to his house, see old Captain Randall, the father of the beach, take pot-luck, and go home to sleep when it got dark. So it was high noon, and the 197 schooner was under way, before I set my foot on shore at Falesá.

I had a glass or two on board; I was just off a long cruise, and the ground heaved under me like a ship’s deck. The world was like all new painted; my foot went along to music; Falesá might have been Fiddler’s Green, if there is such a place, and more’s the pity if there isn’t! It was good to foot the grass, to look aloft at the green mountains, to see the men with their green wreaths and the women in their bright dresses, red and blue. On we went, in the strong sun and the cool shadow, liking both; and all the children in the town came trotting after with their shaven heads and their brown bodies, and raising a thin kind of a cheer in our wake, like crowing poultry.

“By the by,” says Case, “we must get you a wife.”

“That’s so,” said I; “I had forgotten.”

There was a crowd of girls about us, and I pulled myself up and looked among them like a Bashaw. They were all dressed out for the sake of the ship being in; and the women of Falesá are a handsome lot to see. If they have a fault, they are a trifle broad in the beam; and I was just thinking so when Case touched me.

“That’s pretty,” says he.

I saw one coming on the other side alone. She had been fishing; all she wore was a chemise, and it was wetted through. She was young and very slender for an island maid, with a long face, a high forehead, and a shy, strange, blindish look, between a cat’s and a baby’s.

“Who’s she?” said I. “She’ll do.”

“That’s Uma,” said Case, and he called her up and spoke to her in the native. I didn’t know what he said; but when he was in the midst she looked up at me quick and timid, like a child dodging a blow, then down again, and presently smiled. She had a wide mouth, the lips and the chin cut like any statue’s; and the smile came out for a moment and was gone. Then she stood with her head bent, and heard Case to an end, spoke back in the pretty 198 Polynesian voice, looking him full in the face, heard him again in answer, and then with an obeisance started off. I had just a share of the bow, but never another shot of her eye, and there was no more word of smiling.

“I guess it’s all right,” said Case. “I guess you can have her. I’ll make it square with the old lady. You can have your pick of the lot for a plug of tobacco,” he added, sneering.

I suppose it was the smile stuck in my memory, for I spoke back sharp. “She doesn’t look that sort,” I cried.

“I don’t know that she is,” said Case. “I believe she’s as right as the mail. Keeps to herself, don’t go round with the gang, and that. O no, don’t you misunderstand me—Uma’s on the square.” He spoke eager, I thought, and that surprised and pleased me. “Indeed,” he went on, “I shouldn’t make so sure of getting her, only she cottoned to the cut of your jib. All you have to do is to keep dark and let me work the mother my own way; and I’ll bring the girl round to the captain’s for the marriage.”

I didn’t care for the word marriage, and I said so.

“O, there’s nothing to hurt in the marriage,” says he. “Black Jack’s the chaplain.”

By this time we had come in view of the house of these three white men; for a negro is counted a white man, and so is a Chinese! a strange idea, but common in the islands. It was a board house with a strip of rickety verandah. The store was to the front, with a counter, scales, and the poorest possible display of trade: a case or two of tinned meats, a barrel of hard bread, a few bolts of cotton stuff, not to be compared with mine; the only thing well represented being the contraband, firearms and liquor. “If these are my only rivals,” thinks I, “I should do well in Falesá.” Indeed, there was only the one way they could touch me, and that was with the guns and drink.

In the back room was old Captain Randall, squatting on the floor native fashion, fat and pale, naked to the waist, 199 grey as a badger, and his eyes set with drink. His body was covered with grey hair and crawled over by flies; one was in the corner of his eye—he never heeded; and the mosquitoes hummed about the man like bees. Any clean-minded man would have had the creature out at once and buried him; and to see him, and think he was seventy, and remember he had once commanded a ship, and come ashore in his smart togs, and talked big in bars and consulates, and sat in club verandahs, turned me sick and sober.

He tried to get up when I came in, but that was hopeless; so he reached me a hand instead, and stumbled out some salutation.

“Papa’s2 pretty full this morning,” observed Case. “We’ve had an epidemic here; and Captain Randall takes gin for a prophylactic—don’t you, Papa?”

“Never took such a thing in my life!” cried the captain indignantly. “Take gin for my health’s sake, Mr. Wha’s-ever-your-name—’s a precautionary measure.”

“That’s all right, Papa,” said Case. “But you’ll have to brace up. There’s going to be a marriage—Mr. Wiltshire here is going to get spliced.”

The old man asked to whom.

“To Uma,” said Case.

“Uma!” cried the captain. “Wha’s he want Uma for? ’s he come here for his health, anyway? Wha’ ’n hell ’s he want Uma for?”

“Dry up, Papa,” said Case. “’Tain’t you that’s to marry her. I guess you’re not her godfather and godmother. I guess Mr. Wiltshire’s going to please himself.”

With that he made an excuse to me that he must move about the marriage, and left me alone with the poor wretch that was his partner and (to speak truth) his gull. Trade and station belonged both to Randall; Case and the negro were parasites; they crawled and fed upon him like the flies, he none the wiser. Indeed, I have no harm to say of 200 Billy Randall beyond the fact that my gorge rose at him, and the time I now passed in his company was like a nightmare.

The room was stifling hot and full of flies; for the house was dirty and low and small, and stood in a bad place, behind the village, in the borders of the bush, and sheltered from the trade. The three men’s beds were on the floor, and a litter of pans and dishes. There was no standing furniture; Randall, when he was violent, tearing it to laths. There I sat and had a meal which was served us by Case’s wife; and there I was entertained all day by that remains of man, his tongue stumbling among low old jokes and long old stories, and his own wheezy laughter always ready, so that he had no sense of my depression. He was nipping gin all the while. Sometimes he fell asleep, and awoke again, whimpering and shivering, and every now and again he would ask me why I wanted to marry Uma. “My friend,” I was telling myself all day, “you must not come to be an old gentleman like this.”

It might be four in the afternoon, perhaps, when the back door was thrust slowly open, and a strange old native woman crawled into the house almost on her belly. She was swathed in black stuff to her heels; her hair was grey in swatches; her face was tattooed, which was not the practice in that island; her eyes big and bright and crazy. These she fixed upon me with a rapt expression that I saw to be part acting. She said no plain words, but smacked and mumbled with her lips, and hummed aloud, like a child over its Christmas pudding. She came straight across the house, heading for me, and, as soon as she was alongside, caught up my hand and purred and crooned over it like a great cat. From this she slipped into a kind of song.

“Who the devil’s this?” cried I, for the thing startled me.

“It’s Fa’avao,” says Randall; and I saw he had hitched along the floor into the farthest corner.

“You ain’t afraid of her?” I cried. 201

“Me ’fraid!” cried the captain. “My dear friend, I defy her! I don’t let her put her foot in here, only I suppose ’s different to-day, for the marriage. ’s Uma’s mother.”

“Well, suppose it is; what’s she carrying on about?” I asked, more irritated, perhaps more frightened, than I cared to show; and the captain told me she was making up a quantity of poetry in my praise because I was to marry Uma. “All right, old lady,” says I, with rather a failure of a laugh, “anything to oblige. But when you’re done with my hand, you might let me know.”

She did as though she understood; the song rose into a cry, and stopped; the woman crouched out of the house the same way that she came in, and must have plunged straight into the bush, for when I followed her to the door she had already vanished.

“These are rum manners,” said I.

“’s a rum crowd,” said the captain, and, to my surprise, he made the sign of the cross on his bare bosom.

“Hillo!” says I, “are you a Papist?”

He repudiated the idea with contempt. “Hard-shell Baptis’,” said he. “But, my dear friend, the Papists got some good ideas too; and tha’ ’s one of ’em. You take my advice, and whenever you come across Uma or Fa’avao or Vigours, or any of that crowd, you take a leaf out o’ the priests, and do what I do. Savvy,” says he, repeated the sign, and winked his dim eye at me. “No, sir!” he broke out again, “no Papists here!” and for a long time entertained me with his religious opinions.

I must have been taken with Uma from the first, or I should certainly have fled from that house, and got into the clean air, and the clean sea, or some convenient river—though, it’s true, I was committed to Case; and, besides, I could never have held my head up in that island if I had run from a girl upon my wedding-night.

The sun was down, the sky all on fire, and the lamp had been some time lighted, when Case came back with 202 Uma and the negro. She was dressed and scented; her kilt was of fine tapa, looking richer in the folds than any silk; her bust, which was of the colour of dark honey, she wore bare only for some half a dozen necklaces of seeds and flowers; and behind her ears and in her hair she had the scarlet flowers of the hibiscus. She showed the best bearing for a bride conceivable, serious and still; and I thought shame to stand up with her in that mean house and before that grinning negro. I thought shame, I say; for the mountebank was dressed with a big paper collar, the book he made believe to read from was an odd volume of a novel, and the words of his service not fit to be set down. My conscience smote me when we joined hands; and when she got her certificate I was tempted to throw up the bargain and confess. Here is the document. It was Case that wrote it, signatures and all, in a leaf out of the ledger:—

This is to certify that Uma, daughter of Fa’avao of Falesá, Island of ——, is illegally married to Mr. John Wiltshire for one week, and Mr. John Wiltshire is at liberty to send her to hell when he pleases.


Chaplain to the Hulks.

Extracted from the Register

by William T. Randall,

Master Mariner.

A nice paper to put in a girl’s hand and see her hide away like gold. A man might easily feel cheap for less. But it was the practice in these parts, and (as I told myself) not the least the fault of us white men, but of the missionaries. If they had let the natives be, I had never needed this deception, but taken all the wives I wished, and left them when I pleased, with a clear conscience.

The more ashamed I was, the more hurry I was in to be gone; and our desires thus jumping together, I made the less remark of a change in the traders. Case had been all eagerness to keep me; now, as though he had attained a purpose, he seemed all eagerness to have me go. Uma, 203 he said, could show me to my house, and the three bade us farewell indoors.

The night was nearly come; the village smelt of trees and flowers and the sea and breadfruit-cooking; there came a fine roll of sea from the reef, and from a distance, among the woods and houses, many pretty sounds of men and children. It did me good to breathe free air; it did me good to be done with the captain and see, instead, the creature at my side. I felt for all the world as though she were some girl at home in the Old Country, and, forgetting myself for the minute, took her hand to walk with. Her fingers nestled into mine, I heard her breathe deep and quick, and all at once she caught my hand to her face and pressed it there. “You good!” she cried, and ran ahead of me, and stopped and looked back and smiled, and ran ahead of me again, thus guiding me through the edge of the bush, and by a quiet way to my own house.

The truth is, Case had done the courting for me in style—told her I was mad to have her, and cared nothing for the consequence; and the poor soul, knowing that which I was still ignorant of, believed it, every word, and had her head nigh turned with vanity and gratitude. Now, of all this I had no guess; I was one of those most opposed to any nonsense about native women, having seen so many whites eaten up by their wives’ relatives, and made fools of in the bargain; and I told myself I must make a stand at once, and bring her to her bearings. But she looked so quaint and pretty as she ran away and then awaited me, and the thing was done so like a child or a kind dog, that the best I could do was just to follow her whenever she went on, to listen for the fall of her bare feet, and to watch in the dusk for the shining of her body. And there was another thought came in my head. She played kitten with me now when we were alone; but in the house she had carried it the way a countess might, so proud and humble. And what with her dress—for all there was so little of it, and that native enough—what with her fine tapa and fine 204 scents, and her red flowers and seeds, that were quite as bright as jewels, only larger—it came over me she was a kind of countess really, dressed to hear great singers at a concert, and no even mate for a poor trader like myself.

She was the first in the house; and while I was still without I saw a match flash and the lamplight kindle in the windows. The station was a wonderful fine place, coral built, with quite a wide verandah, and the main room high and wide. My chests and cases had been piled in, and made rather of a mess; and there, in the thick of the confusion, stood Uma by the table, awaiting me. Her shadow went all the way up behind her into the hollow of the iron roof; she stood against it bright, the lamplight shining on her skin. I stopped in the door, and she looked at me, not speaking, with eyes that were eager and yet daunted; then she touched herself on the bosom.

“Me—your wifie,” she said. It had never taken me like that before; but the want of her took and shook all through me, like the wind in the luff of a sail.

I could not speak if I had wanted; and if I could, I would not. I was ashamed to be so much moved about a native, ashamed of the marriage too, and the certificate she had treasured in her kilt; and I turned aside and made believe to rummage among my cases. The first thing I lighted on was a case of gin, the only one that I had brought; and, partly for the girl’s sake, and partly for horror of the recollections of old Randall, took a sudden resolve. I prised the lid off. One by one I drew the bottles with a pocket corkscrew, and sent Uma out to pour the stuff from the verandah.

She came back after the last, and looked at me puzzled like.

“No good,” said I, for I was now a little better master of my tongue. “Man he drink, he no good.”

She agreed with this, but kept considering. “Why you bring him?” she asked presently. “Suppose you no want drink, you no bring him, I think.” 205

“That’s all right,” said I. “One time I want drink too much; now no want. You see, I no savvy I get one little wifie. Suppose I drink gin, my little wifie he ’fraid.”

To speak to her kindly was about more than I was fit for; I had made my vow I would never let on to weakness with a native, and I had nothing for it but to stop.

She stood looking gravely down at me where I sat by the open case. “I think you good man,” she said. And suddenly she had fallen before me on the floor. “I belong you all-e-same pig!” she cried.

2 Please pronounce pappa throughout.




I came on the verandah just before the sun rose on the morrow. My house was the last on the east; there was a cape of woods and cliffs behind that hid the sunrise. To the west, a swift cold river ran down, and beyond was the green of the village, dotted with cocoa-palms and breadfruits and houses. The shutters were some of them down and some open; I saw the mosquito bars still stretched, with shadows of people new-awakened sitting up inside; and all over the green others were stalking silent, wrapped in their many-coloured sleeping clothes like Bedouins in Bible pictures. It was mortal still and solemn and chilly, and the light of the dawn on the lagoon was like the shining of a fire.

But the thing that troubled me was nearer hand. Some dozen young men and children made a piece of a half-circle, flanking my house: the river divided them, some were on the near side, some on the far, and one on a boulder in the midst; and they all sat silent, wrapped in their sheets, and stared at me and my house as straight as pointer dogs. I thought it strange as I went out. When I had bathed and come back again, and found them all there, and two or three more along with them, I thought it stranger still. What could they see to gaze at in my house, I wondered, and went in.

But the thought of these starers stuck in my mind, and presently I came out again. The sun was now up, but it was still behind the cape of woods. Say a quarter 207 of an hour had come and gone. The crowd was greatly increased, the far bank of the river was lined for quite a way—perhaps thirty grown folk, and of children twice as many, some standing, some squatted on the ground, and all staring at my house. I have seen a house in the South Sea village thus surrounded, but then a trader was thrashing his wife inside, and she singing out. Here was nothing: the stove was alight, the smoke going up in a Christian manner; all was shipshape and Bristol fashion. To be sure, there was a stranger come, but they had a chance to see that stranger yesterday, and took it quiet enough. What ailed them now? I leaned my arms on the rail and stared back. Devil a wink they had in them! Now and then I could see the children chatter, but they spoke so low not even the hum of their speaking came my length. The rest were like graven images: they stared at me, dumb and sorrowful, with their bright eyes; and it came upon me things would look not much different if I were on the platform of the gallows, and these good folk had come to see me hanged.

I felt I was getting daunted, and began to be afraid I looked it, which would never do. Up I stood, made believe to stretch myself, came down the verandah stair, and strolled towards the river. There went a short buzz from one to the other, like what you hear in theatres when the curtain goes up; and some of the nearest gave back the matter of a pace. I saw a girl lay one hand on a young man and make a gesture upward with the other; at the same time she said something in the native with a gasping voice. Three little boys sat beside my path, where I must pass within three feet of them. Wrapped in their sheets, with their shaved heads and bits of top-knots, and queer faces, they looked like figures on a chimney-piece. A while they sat their ground, solemn as judges. I came up hand over fist, doing my five knots, like a man that meant business; and I thought I saw a sort of a wink and gulp in the three faces. Then one jumped up (he was the 208 farthest off) and ran for his mammy. The other two, trying to follow suit, got foul, came to ground together bawling, wriggled right out of their sheets mother-naked, and in a moment there were all three of them scampering for their lives and singing out like pigs. The natives, who would never let a joke slip, even at a burial, laughed and let up, as short as a dog’s bark.

They say it scares a man to be alone. No such thing. What scares him in the dark or the high bush is that he can’t make sure, and there might be an army at his elbow. What scares him worst is to be right in the midst of a crowd, and have no guess of what they’re driving at. When that laugh stopped, I stopped too. The boys had not yet made their offing, they were still on the full stretch going the one way, when I had already gone about ship and was sheering off the other. Like a fool I had come out, doing my five knots; like a fool I went back again. It must have been the funniest thing to see, and, what knocked me silly, this time no one laughed; only one old woman gave a kind of pious moan, the way you have heard Dissenters in their chapels at the sermon.

“I never saw such fools of Kanakas as your people here,” I said once to Uma, glancing out of the window at the starers.

“Savvy nothing,” says Uma, with a kind of disgusted air that she was good at.

And that was all the talk we had upon the matter, for I was put out, and Uma took the thing so much as a matter of course that I was fairly ashamed.

All day, off and on, now fewer and now more, the fools sat about the west end of my house and across the river, waiting for the show, whatever that was—fire to come down from heaven, I suppose, and consume me, bones and baggage. But by evening, like real islanders, they had wearied of the business, and got away, and had a dance instead in the big house of the village, where I heard them singing and clapping hands till, maybe, ten at night, and 209 the next day it seemed they had forgotten I existed. If fire had come down from heaven or the earth opened and swallowed me, there would have been nobody to see the sport or take the lesson, or whatever you like to call it. But I was to find that they hadn’t forgot either, and kept an eye lifting for phenomena over my way.

I was hard at it both these days getting my trade in order and taking stock of what Vigours had left. This was a job that made me pretty sick, and kept me from thinking on much else. Ben had taken stock the trip before—I knew I could trust Ben—but it was plain somebody had been making free in the meantime. I found I was out by what might easily cover six months’ salary and profit, and I could have kicked myself all round the village to have been such a blamed ass, sitting boozing with that Case instead of attending to my own affairs and taking stock.

However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk. It was done now, and couldn’t be undone. All I could do was to get what was left of it, and my new stuff (my own choice) in order, to go round and get after the rats and cockroaches, and to fix up that store regular Sydney style. A fine show I made of it; and the third morning when I had lit my pipe and stood in the doorway and looked in, and turned and looked far up the mountain and saw the cocoa-nuts waving and posted up the tons of copra, and over the village green and saw the island dandies and reckoned up the yards of print they wanted for their kilts and dresses, I felt as if I was in the right place to make a fortune, and go home again and start a public-house. There was I, sitting in that verandah, in as handsome a piece of scenery as you could find, a splendid sun, and a fine, fresh, healthy trade that stirred up a man’s blood like sea-bathing; and the whole thing was clean gone from me, and I was dreaming England, which is, after all, a nasty, cold, muddy hole, with not enough light to see to read by; and dreaming the looks of my public, by a cant of a broad high-road like an avenue, and with the sign on a green tree. 210

So much for the morning; but the day passed and the devil any one looked near me, and from all I knew of natives in other islands I thought this strange. People laughed a little at our firm and their fine stations, and at this station of Falesá in particular; all the copra in the district wouldn’t pay for it (I had heard them say) in fifty years, which I supposed was an exaggeration. But when the day went, and no business came at all, I began to get downhearted; and, about three in the afternoon, I went out for a stroll to cheer me up. On the green I saw a white man coming with a cassock on, by which and by the face of him I knew he was a priest. He was a good-natured old soul to look at, gone a little grizzled, and so dirty you could have written with him on a piece of paper.

“Good day, sir,” said I.

He answered me eagerly in native.

“Don’t you speak any English?” said I.

“French,” says he.

“Well,” said I, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do anything there.”

He tried me a while in the French, and then again in native, which he seemed to think was the best chance. I made out he was after more than passing the time of day with me, but had something to communicate, and I listened the harder. I heard the names of Adams and Case and of Randall—Randall the oftenest—and the word “poison,” or something like it, and a native word that he said very often. I went home, repeating it to myself.

“What does fussy-ocky mean?” I asked of Uma, for that was as near as I could come to it.

“Make dead,” said she.

“The devil it does!” says I. “Did you ever hear that Case had poisoned Johnny Adams?”

“Every man he savvy that,” says Uma, scornful-like. “Give him white sand—bad sand. He got the bottle still. Suppose he give you gin, you no take him.”

Now I had heard much the same sort of story in other 211 islands, and the same white powder always to the front, which made me think the less of it. For all that, I went over to Randall’s place to see what I could pick up, and found Case on the doorstep, cleaning a gun.

“Good shooting here?” says I.

“A1,” says he. “The bush is full of all kinds of birds. I wish copra was as plenty,” says he—I thought, slyly—“but there don’t seem anything doing.”

I could see Black Jack in the store, serving a customer.

“That looks like business, though,” said I.

“That’s the first sale we’ve made in three weeks,” said he.

“You don’t tell me?” says I. “Three weeks? Well, well.”

“If you don’t believe me,” he cries, a little hot, “you can go and look at the copra-house. It’s half empty to this blessed hour.”

“I shouldn’t be much the better for that, you see,” says I. “For all I can tell, it might have been whole empty yesterday.”

“That’s so,” says he, with a bit of a laugh.

“By the by,” I said, “what sort of a party is that priest? Seems rather a friendly sort.”

At this Case laughed right out loud. “Ah!” says he, “I see what ails you now. Galuchet’s been at you.” Father Galoshes was the name he went by most, but Case always gave it the French quirk, which was another reason we had for thinking him above the common.

“Yes, I have seen him,” I says. “I made out he didn’t think much of your Captain Randall.”

“That he don’t!” says Case. “It was the trouble about poor Adams. The last day, when he lay dying, there was young Buncombe round. Ever met Buncombe?”

I told him no.

“He’s a cure, is Buncombe!” laughs Case. “Well, Buncombe took it in his head that, as there was no other 212 clergyman about, bar Kanaka pastors, we ought to call in Father Galuchet, and have the old man administered and take the sacrament. It was all the same to me, you may suppose; but I said I thought Adams was the fellow to consult. He was jawing away about watered copra and a sight of foolery. ‘Look here,’ I said, ‘you’re pretty sick. Would you like to see Galoshes?’ He sat right up on his elbow. ‘Get the priest,’ says he, ‘get the priest; don’t let me die here like a dog!’ He spoke kind of fierce and eager, but sensible enough. There was nothing to say against that, so we sent and asked Galuchet if he would come. You bet he would. He jumped in his dirty linen at the thought of it. But we had reckoned without Papa. He’s a hard-shell Baptist, is Papa; no Papists need apply. And he took and locked the door. Buncombe told him he was bigoted, and I thought he would have had a fit. ‘Bigoted!’ he says. ‘Me bigoted? Have I lived to hear it from a jackanapes like you?’ And he made for Buncombe, and I had to hold them apart; and there was Adams in the middle, gone luny again, and carrying on about copra like a born fool. It was good as the play, and I was about knocked out of time with laughing, when all of a sudden Adams sat up, clapped his hands to his chest, and went into horrors. He died hard, did John Adams,” says Case, with a kind of a sudden sternness.

“And what became of the priest?” I asked.

“The priest?” says Case. “O! he was hammering on the door outside, and crying on the natives to come and beat it in, and singing out it was a soul he wished to save, and that. He was in a rare taking, was the priest. But what would you have? Johnny had slipped his cable: no more Johnny in the market; and the administration racket clean played out. Next thing, word came to Randall the priest was praying upon Johnny’s grave. Papa was pretty full, and got a club, and lit out straight for the place, and there was Galoshes on his knees, and a lot of natives looking on. You wouldn’t think Papa cared 213 that much about anything, unless it was liquor; but he and the priest stuck to it two hours, slanging each other in native, and every time Galoshes tried to kneel down Papa went for him with the club. There never were such larks in Falesá. The end of it was that Captain Randall was knocked over with some kind of a fit or stroke, and the priest got in his goods after all. But he was the angriest priest you ever heard of, and complained to the chiefs about the outrage, as he called it. That was no account, for our chiefs are Protestant here; and, anyway, he had been making trouble about the drum for morning school, and they were glad to give him a wipe. Now he swears old Randall gave Adams poison or something, and when the two meet they grin at each other like baboons.”

He told the story as natural as could be, and like a man that enjoyed the fun; though, now I come to think of it after so long, it seems rather a sickening yarn. However, Case never set up to be soft, only to be square and hearty, and a man all round; and, to tell the truth, he puzzled me entirely.

I went home and asked Uma if she were a Popey, which I had made out to be the native word for Catholics.

E le ai!” says she. She always used the native when she meant “no” more than usually strong, and, indeed, there’s more of it. “No good Popey,” she added.

Then I asked her about Adams and the priest, and she told me much the same yarn in her own way. So that I was left not much further on, but inclined, upon the whole, to think the bottom of the matter was the row about the sacrament, and the poisoning only talk.

The next day was a Sunday, when there was no business to be looked for. Uma asked me in the morning if I was going to “pray”; I told her she bet not, and she stopped home herself with no more words. I thought this seemed unlike a native, and a native woman, and a woman that had new clothes to show off; however, it suited me to the ground, and I made the less of it. The queer thing was 214 that I came next door to going to church after all, a thing I’m little likely to forget. I had turned out for a stroll, and heard the hymn tune up. You know how it is. If you hear folk singing, it seems to draw you: and pretty soon I found myself alongside the church. It was a little, long, low place, coral built, rounded off at both ends like a whale-boat, a big native roof on the top of it, windows without sashes and doorways without doors. I stuck my head into one of the windows, and the sight was so new to me—for things went quite different in the islands I was acquainted with—that I stayed and looked on. The congregation sat on the floor on mats, the women on one side, the men on the other, all rigged out to kill—the women with dresses and trade hats, the men in white jackets and shirts. The hymn was over; the pastor, a big buck Kanaka, was in the pulpit, preaching for his life; and by the way he wagged his hand, and worked his voice, and made his points, and seemed to argue with the folk, I made out he was a gun at the business. Well, he looked up suddenly and caught my eye, and I give you my word he staggered in the pulpit; his eyes bulged out of his head, his hand rose and pointed at me like as if against his will, and the sermon stopped right there.

It isn’t a fine thing to say for yourself, but I ran away; and if the same kind of a shock was given me, I should run away again to-morrow. To see that palavering Kanaka struck all of a heap at the mere sight of me gave me a feeling as if the bottom had dropped out of the world. I went right home, and stayed there, and said nothing. You might think I would tell Uma, but that was against my system. You might have thought I would have gone over and consulted Case; but the truth was I was ashamed to speak of such a thing, I thought every one would blurt out laughing in my face. So I held my tongue, and thought all the more; and the more I thought, the less I liked the business.

By Monday night I got it clearly in my head I must be 215 tabooed. A new store to stand open two days in a village and not a man or woman come to see the trade was past believing.

“Uma,” said I, “I think I am tabooed.”

“I think so,” said she.

I thought a while whether I should ask her more, but it’s a bad idea to set natives up with any notion of consulting them, so I went to Case. It was dark, and he was sitting alone, as he did mostly, smoking on the stairs.

“Case,” said I, “here’s a queer thing. I’m tabooed.”

“O, fudge!” says he “’tain’t the practice in these islands.”

“That may be, or it mayn’t,” said I. “It’s the practice where I was before. You can bet I know what it’s like; and I tell it you for a fact, I’m tabooed.”

“Well,” said he, “what have you been doing?”

“That’s what I want to find out,” said I.

“O, you can’t be,” said he; “it ain’t possible. However, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Just to put your mind at rest, I’ll go round and find out for sure. Just you waltz in and talk to Papa.”

“Thank you,” I said, “I’d rather stay right out here on the verandah. Your house is so close.”

“I’ll call Papa out here, then,” says he.

“My dear fellow,” I says, “I wish you wouldn’t. The fact is, I don’t take to Mr. Randall.”

Case laughed, took a lantern from the store, and set out into the village. He was gone perhaps a quarter of an hour, and he looked mighty serious when he came back.

“Well,” said he, clapping down the lantern on the verandah steps. “I would never have believed it. I don’t know where the impudence of these Kanakas’ll go next; they seem to have lost all idea of respect for whites. What we want is a man-of-war—a German, if we could—they know how to manage Kanakas.”

“I am tabooed, then?” I cried. 216

“Something of the sort,” said he. “It’s the worst thing of the kind I’ve heard of yet. But I’ll stand by you, Wiltshire, man to man. You come round here to-morrow about nine, and we’ll have it out with the chiefs. They’re afraid of me, or they used to be; but their heads are so big by now, I don’t know what to think. Understand me, Wiltshire; I don’t count this your quarrel,” he went on, with a great deal of resolution, “I count it all of our quarrel, I count it the White Man’s Quarrel, and I’ll stand to it through thick and thin, and there’s my hand on it.”

“Have you found out what’s the reason?” I asked.

“Not yet,” said Case. “But we’ll fix them down to-morrow.”

Altogether I was pretty well pleased with his attitude, and almost more the next day, when we met to go before the chiefs, to see him so stern and resolved. The chiefs awaited us in one of their big oval houses, which was marked out to us from a long way off by the crowd about the eaves, a hundred strong if there was one—men, women, and children. Many of the men were on their way to work and wore green wreaths, and it put me in thoughts of the 1st of May at home. This crowd opened and buzzed about the pair of us as we went in, with a sudden angry animation. Five chiefs were there; four mighty stately men, the fifth old and puckered. They sat on mats in their white kilts and jackets; they had fans in their hands, like fine ladies; and two of the younger ones wore Catholic medals, which gave me matter of reflection. Our place was set, and the mats laid for us over against these grandees, on the near side of the house; the midst was empty; the crowd, close at our backs, murmured, and craned, and jostled to look on, and the shadows of them tossed in front of us on the clean pebbles of the floor. I was just a hair put out by the excitement of the commons, but the quiet, civil appearance of the chiefs reassured me, all the more when their spokesman began and made a long speech in a low tone of voice, sometimes waving his hand towards Case, 217 sometimes towards me, and sometimes knocking with his knuckles on the mat. One thing was clear: there was no sign of anger in the chiefs.

“What’s he been saying?” I asked, when he had done.

“O, just that they’re glad to see you, and they understand by me you wish to make some kind of complaint, and you’re to fire away, and they’ll do the square thing.”

“It took a precious long time to say that,” said I.

“O, the rest was sawder and bonjour and that,” said Case. “You know what Kanakas are.”

“Well, they don’t get much bonjour out of me,” said I. “You tell them who I am. I’m a white man, and a British subject, and no end of a big chief at home; and I’ve come here to do them good, and bring them civilisation; and no sooner have I got my trade sorted out than they go and taboo me, and no one dare come near my place! Tell them I don’t mean to fly in the face of anything legal; and if what they want’s a present, I’ll do what’s fair. I don’t blame any man looking out for himself, tell them, for that’s human nature; but if they think they’re going to come any of their native ideas over me, they’ll find themselves mistaken. And tell them plain that I demand the reason of this treatment as a white man and a British subject.”

That was my speech. I know how to deal with Kanakas: give them plain sense and fair dealing, and—I’ll do them that much justice—they knuckle under every time. They haven’t any real government or any real law, that’s what you’ve got to knock into their heads; and even if they had, it would be a good joke if it was to apply to a white man. It would be a strange thing if we came all this way and couldn’t do what we pleased. The mere idea has always put my monkey up, and I rapped my speech out pretty big. Then Case translated it—or made believe to, rather—and the first chief replied, and then a second, and a third, all in the same style, easy and genteel, but solemn underneath. Once a question was 218 put to Case, and he answered it, and all hands (both chiefs and commons) laughed out aloud, and looked at me. Last of all, the puckered old fellow and the big young chief that spoke first started in to put Case through a kind of catechism. Sometimes I made out that Case was trying to fence and they stuck to him like hounds, and the sweat ran down his face, which was no very pleasant sight to me, and at some of his answers the crowd moaned and murmured, which was a worse hearing. It’s a cruel shame I knew no native, for (as I now believe) they were asking Case about my marriage, and he must have had a tough job of it to clear his feet. But leave Case alone; he had the brains to run a parliament.

“Well, is that all?” I asked, when a pause came.

“Come along,” says he, mopping his face; “I’ll tell you outside.”

“Do you mean they won’t take the taboo off?” I cried.

“It’s something queer,” said he. “I’ll tell you outside. Better come away.”

“I won’t take it at their hands,” cried I. “I ain’t that kind of a man. You don’t find me turn my back on a parcel of Kanakas.”

“You’d better,” said Case.

He looked at me with a signal in his eye; and the five chiefs looked at me civilly enough, but kind of pointed; and the people looked at me, and craned and jostled. I remembered the folks that watched my house, and how the pastor had jumped in his pulpit at the bare sight of me; and the whole business seemed so out of the way that I rose and followed Case. The crowd opened again to let us through, but wider than before, the children on the skirts running and singing out, and as we two white men walked away they all stood and watched us.

“And now,” said I, “what is all this about?”

“The truth is, I can’t rightly make it out myself. They have a down on you,” says Case. 219

“Taboo a man because they have a down on him!” I cried. “I never heard the like.”

“It’s worse than that, you see,” said Case. “You ain’t tabooed—I told you that couldn’t be. The people won’t go near you, Wiltshire, and there’s where it is.”

“They won’t go near me? What do you mean by that? Why won’t they go near me?” I cried.

Case hesitated. “Seems they’re frightened,” says he in a low voice.

I stopped dead short. “Frightened?” I repeated. “Are you gone crazy, Case? What are they frightened of?”

“I wish I could make out,” Case answered, shaking his head. “Appears like one of their tomfool superstitions. That’s what I don’t cotton to,” he said. “It’s like the business about Vigours.”

“I’d like to know what you mean by that, and I’ll trouble you to tell me,” says I.

“Well, you know, Vigours lit out and left all standing,” said he. “It was some superstition business—I never got the hang of it; but it began to look bad before the end.”

“I’ve heard a different story about that,” said I, “and I had better tell you so. I heard he ran away because of you.”

“O! well, I suppose he was ashamed to tell the truth,” says Case; “I guess he thought it silly. And it’s a fact that I packed him off. ‘What would you do, old man?’ says he.—’Get,’ says I, ‘and not think twice about it.’ I was the gladdest kind of man to see him clear away. It ain’t my notion to turn my back on a mate when he’s in a tight place, but there was that much trouble in the village that I couldn’t see where it might likely end. I was a fool to be so much about with Vigours. They cast it up to me to-day. Didn’t you hear Maea—that’s the young chief, the big one—ripping out about ‘Vika’? That was him they were after. They don’t seem to forget it, somehow.”

“This is all very well,” said I, “but it don’t tell me 220 what’s wrong; it don’t tell me what they’re afraid of—what their idea is.”

“Well, I wish I knew,” said Case. “I can’t say fairer than that.”

“You might have asked, I think,” says I.

“And so I did,” says he. “But you must have seen for yourself, unless you’re blind, that the asking got the other way. I’ll go as far as I dare for another white man; but when I find I’m in the scrape myself, I think first of my own bacon. The loss of me is I’m too good-natured. And I’ll take the freedom of telling you you show a queer kind of gratitude to a man who’s got into all this mess along of your affairs.”

“There’s a thing I am thinking of,” said I. “You were a fool to be so much about with Vigours. One comfort, you haven’t been much about with me. I notice you’ve never been inside my house. Own up now; you had word of this before?”

“It’s a fact I haven’t been,” said he. “It was an oversight, and I am sorry for it, Wiltshire. But about coming now, I’ll be quite plain.”

“You mean you won’t?” I asked.

“Awfully sorry, old man, but that’s the size of it,” says Case.

“In short, you’re afraid?” says I.

“In short, I’m afraid,” says he.

“And I’m still to be tabooed for nothing?” I asked.

“I tell you you’re not tabooed,” said he. “The Kanakas won’t go near you, that’s all. And who’s to make ’em? We traders have a lot of gall, I must say; we make these poor Kanakas take back their laws, and take up their taboos, and that whenever it happens to suit us. But you don’t mean to say you expect a law-obliging people to deal in your store whether they want to or not? You don’t mean to tell me you’ve got the gall for that? And if you had, it would be a queer thing to 221 propose to me. I would just like to point out to you, Wiltshire, that I’m a trader myself.”

“I don’t think I would talk of gall if I was you,” said I. “Here’s about what it comes to, as well as I can make out: None of the people are to trade with me, and they’re all to trade with you. You’re to have the copra, and I’m to go to the devil and shake myself. And I don’t know any native, and you’re the only man here worth mention that speaks English, and you have the gall to up and hint to me my life’s in danger, and all you’ve got to tell me is you don’t know why!”

“Well, it is all I have to tell you,” said he. “I don’t know—I wish I did.”

“And so you turn your back and leave me to myself. Is that the position?” says I.

“If you like to put it nasty,” says he. “I don’t put it so. I say merely, ‘I’m going to keep clear of you; or, if I don’t, I’ll get in danger for myself.’”

“Well,” says I, “you’re a nice kind of a white man!”

“O, I understand; you’re riled,” said he. “I would be, myself. I can make excuses.”

“All right,” I said, “go and make excuses somewhere else. Here’s my way, there’s yours!”

With that we parted, and I went straight home, in a hot temper, and found Uma trying on a lot of trade goods like a baby.

“Here,” I said, “you quit that foolery! Here’s a pretty mess to have made, as if I wasn’t bothered enough anyway! And I thought I told you to get dinner!”

And then I believe I gave her a bit of the rough side of my tongue, as she deserved. She stood up at once, like a sentry to his officer; for I must say she was always well brought up, and had a great respect for whites.

“And now,” says I, “you belong round here, you’re bound to understand this. What am I tabooed for, anyway? Or, if I ain’t tabooed, what makes the folks afraid of me?” 222

She stood and looked at me with eyes like saucers.

“You no savvy?” she gasps at last.

“No,” said I. “How would you expect me to? We don’t have any such craziness where I come from.”

“Ese no tell you?” she asked again.

(Ese was the name the natives had for Case; it may mean foreign, or extraordinary; or it might mean a mummy apple; but most like it was only his own name misheard and put in a Kanaka spelling.)

“Not much,” said I.

“Damn Ese!” she cried.

You might think it funny to hear this Kanaka girl come out with a big swear. No such thing. There was no swearing in her—no, nor anger; she was beyond anger, and meant the word simple and serious. She stood there straight as she said it. I cannot justly say that I ever saw a woman look like that before or after, and it struck me mum. Then she made a kind of an obeisance, but it was the proudest kind, and threw her hands out open.

“I ’shamed,” she said. “I think you savvy. Ese he tell me you savvy, he tell me you no mind, tell me you love me too much. Taboo belong me,” she said, touching herself on the bosom, as she had done upon our wedding-night. “Now I go ’way, taboo he go ’way too. Then you get too much copra. You like more better, I think. Tofâ, alii,” says she in the native—“Farewell, chief!”

“Hold on!” I cried. “Don’t be in such a hurry.”

She looked at me sidelong with a smile. “You see you get copra,” she said, the same as you might offer candies to a child.

“Uma,” said I, “hear reason. I didn’t know, and that’s a fact; and Case seems to have played it pretty mean upon the pair of us. But I do know now, and I don’t mind; I love you too much. You no go ’way, you no leave me, I too much sorry.”

“You no love me,” she cried, “you talk me bad words!” 223 And she threw herself in a corner of the floor, and began to cry.

Well, I’m no scholar, but I wasn’t born yesterday, and I thought the worst of that trouble was over. However, there she lay—her back turned, her face to the wall—and shook with sobbing like a little child, so that her feet jumped with it. It’s strange how it hits a man when he’s in love; for there’s no use mincing things—Kanaka and all, I was in love with her, or just as good. I tried to take her hand, but she would none of that. “Uma,” I said, “there’s no sense in carrying on like this. I want you stop here, I want my little wifie, I tell you true.”

“No tell me true,” she sobbed.

“All right,” says I, “I’ll wait till you’re through with this.” And I sat right down beside her on the floor, and set to smooth her hair with my hand. At first she wriggled away when I touched her; then she seemed to notice me no more; then her sobs grew gradually less, and presently stopped; and the next thing I knew, she raised her face to mine.

“You tell me true? You like me stop?” she asked.

“Uma,” I said, “I would rather have you than all the copra in the South Seas,” which was a very big expression, and the strangest thing was that I meant it.

She threw her arms about me, sprang close up, and pressed her face to mine in the island way of kissing, so that I was all wetted with her tears, and my heart went out to her wholly. I never had anything so near me as this little brown bit of a girl. Many things went together, and all helped to turn my head. She was pretty enough to eat; it seemed she was my only friend in that queer place; I was ashamed that I had spoken rough to her: and she was a woman, and my wife, and a kind of a baby besides that I was sorry for; and the salt of her tears was in my mouth. And I forgot Case and the natives; and I forgot that I knew nothing of the 224 story, or only remembered it to banish the remembrance; and I forgot that I was to get no copra, and so could make no livelihood; and I forgot my employers, and the strange kind of service I was doing them, when I preferred my fancy to their business; and I forgot even that Uma was no true wife of mine, but just a maid beguiled, and that in a pretty shabby style. But that is to look too far on. I will come to that part of it next.

It was late before we thought of getting dinner. The stove was out, and gone stone-cold; but we fired up after a while, and cooked each a dish, helping and hindering each other, and making a play of it like children. I was so greedy of her nearness that I sat down to dinner with my lass upon my knee, made sure of her with one hand, and ate with the other. Ay, and more than that. She was the worst cook, I suppose, God made; the things she set her hand to, it would have sickened an honest horse to eat of; yet I made my meal that day on Uma’s cookery, and can never call to mind to have been better pleased.

I didn’t pretend to myself, and I didn’t pretend to her. I saw that I was clean gone; and if she was to make a fool of me, she must. And I suppose it was this that set her talking, for now she made sure that we were friends. A lot she told me, sitting in my lap and eating my dish, as I ate hers, from foolery—a lot about herself and her mother and Case, all which would be very tedious, and fill sheets if I set it down in Beach de Mar, but which I must give a hint of in plain English, and one thing about myself, which had a very big effect on my concerns, as you are soon to hear.

It seems she was born in one of the Line Islands; had been only two or three years in these parts, where she had come with a white man, who was married to her mother and then died; and only the one year in Falesá. Before that they had been a good deal on the move, trekking about after the white man, who was one of those rolling stones that keep going round after a soft job. They talk about 225 looking for gold at the end of a rainbow; if a man wants an employment that’ll last him till he dies, let him start out on the soft-job hunt. There’s meat and drink in it too, and beer and skittles, for you never hear of them starving, and rarely see them sober; and as for steady sport, cock-fighting isn’t in the same county with it. Anyway, this beachcomber carried the woman and her daughter all over the shop, but mostly to out-of-the-way islands, where there were no police, and he thought, perhaps, the soft job hung out. I’ve my own view of this old party; but I was just as glad he had kept Uma clear of Apia and Papeete and these flash towns. At last he struck Fale-alii on this island, got some trade—the Lord knows how!—muddled it all away in the usual style, and died worth next to nothing, bar a bit of land at Falesá that he had got for a bad debt, which was what put it in the minds of the mother and daughter to come there and live. It seems Case encouraged them all he could, and helped to get their house built. He was very kind those days, and gave Uma trade, and there is no doubt he had his eye on her from the beginning. However, they had scarce settled, when up turned a young man, a native, and wanted to marry her. He was a small chief, and had some fine mats and old songs in his family, and was “very pretty,” Uma said; and, altogether, it was an extraordinary match for a penniless girl and an out-islander.

At the first word of this I got downright sick with jealousy.

“And you mean to say you would have married him?” I cried.

Ioe, yes,” said she. “I like too much!”

“Well!” I said. “And suppose I had come round after?”

“I like you more better now,” said she. “But, suppose I marry Ioane, I one good wife. I no common Kanaka. Good girl!” says she.

Well, I had to be pleased with that; but I promise 226 you I didn’t care about the business one little bit. And I liked the end of that yarn no better than the beginning. For it seems this proposal of marriage was the start of all the trouble. It seems, before that, Uma and her mother had been looked down upon, of course, for kinless folk and out-islanders, but nothing to hurt; and, even when Ioane came forward, there was less trouble at first than might have been looked for. And then, all of a sudden, about six months before my coming, Ioane backed out and left that part of the island, and from that day to this Uma and her mother had found themselves alone. None called at their house, none spoke to them on the roads. If they went to church, the other women drew their mats away and left them in a clear place by themselves. It was a regular excommunication, like what you read of in the Middle Ages, and the cause or sense of it beyond guessing. It was some tala pepelo, Uma said, some lie, some calumny; and all she knew of it was that the girls who had been jealous of her luck with Ioane used to twit her with his desertion, and cry out, when they met her alone in the woods, that she would never be married. “They tell me no man he marry me. He too much ’fraid,” she said.

The only soul that came about them after this desertion was Master Case. Even he was chary of showing himself, and turned up mostly by night; and pretty soon he began to table his cards and make up to Uma. I was still sore about Ioane, and when Case turned up in the same line of business I cut up downright rough.

“Well,” I said, sneering, “and I suppose you thought Case ‘very pretty’ and ‘liked too much’?”

“Now you talk silly,” said she. “White man, he come here, I marry him all-e-same Kanaka; very well, then he marry me all-e-same white woman. Suppose he no marry, he go ’way, woman he stop. All-e-same thief, empty hand, Tonga-heart—no can love! Now you come marry me. You big heart—you no ’shamed island-girl. That thing I love you for too much. I proud.” 227

I don’t know that ever I felt sicker all the days of my life. I laid down my fork, and I put away “the island-girl”; I didn’t seem somehow to have any use for either, and I went and walked up and down in the house, and Uma followed me with her eyes, for she was troubled, and small wonder! But troubled was no word for it with me. I so wanted, and so feared, to make a clean breast of the sweep that I had been.

And just then there came a sound of singing out of the sea; it sprang up suddenly clear and near, as the boat turned the headland, and Uma, running to the window, cried out it was “Misi” come upon his rounds.

I thought it was a strange thing I should be glad to have a missionary; but, if it was strange, it was still true.

“Uma,” said I, “you stop here in this room, and don’t budge a foot out of it till I come back.”




As I came out on the verandah, the mission-boat was shooting for the mouth of the river. She was a long whale-boat painted white; a bit of an awning astern; a native pastor crouched on the wedge of the poop, steering; some four-and-twenty paddles flashing and dipping, true to the boat-song; and the missionary under the awning, in his white clothes, reading in a book, and set him up! It was pretty to see and hear; there’s no smarter sight in the islands than a missionary boat with a good crew and a good pipe to them; and I considered it for half a minute, with a bit of envy perhaps, and then strolled down towards the river.

From the opposite side there was another man aiming for the same place, but he ran and got there first. It was Case; doubtless his idea was to keep me apart from the missionary, who might serve me as interpreter; but my mind was upon other things. I was thinking how he had jockeyed us about the marriage, and tried his hand on Uma before, and at the sight of him rage flew into my nostrils.

“Get out of that, you low swindling thief!” I cried.

“What’s that you say?” says he.

I gave him the word again, and rammed it down with a good oath. “And if ever I catch you within six fathoms of my house,” I cried, “I’ll clap a bullet in your measly carcase.”

“You must do as you like about your house,” said he, 229 “where I told you I have no thought of going; but this is a public place.”

“It’s a place where I have private business,” said I. “I have no idea of a hound like you eavesdropping, and I give you notice to clear out.”

“I don’t take it, though,” says Case.

“I’ll show you, then,” said I.

“We’ll have to see about that,” said he.

He was quick with his hands, but he had neither the height nor the weight, being a flimsy creature alongside a man like me, and, besides, I was blazing to that height of wrath that I could have bit into a chisel. I gave him first the one and then the other, so that I could hear his head rattle and crack, and he went down straight.

“Have you had enough?” cried I. But he only looked up white and blank, and the blood spread upon his face like wine upon a napkin. “Have you had enough?” I cried again. “Speak up, and don’t lie malingering there, or I’ll take my feet to you.”

He sat up at that, and held his head—by the look of him you could see it was spinning—and the blood poured on his pyjamas.

“I’ve had enough for this time,” says he, and he got up staggering, and went off by the way that he had come.

The boat was close in; I saw the missionary had laid his book to one side, and I smiled to myself. “He’ll know I’m a man, anyway,” thinks I.

This was the first time, in all my years in the Pacific, I had ever exchanged two words with any missionary, let alone asked one for a favour. I didn’t like the lot—no trader does; they look down upon us, and make no concealment; and, besides, they’re partly Kanakaised, and suck up with natives instead of with other white men like themselves. I had on a rig of clean striped pyjamas—for, of course, I had dressed decent to go before the chiefs; but when I saw the missionary step out of this boat in the regular uniform, white duck clothes, pith 230 helmet, white shirt and tie, and yellow boots to his feet, I could have bunged stones at him. As he came nearer, queering me pretty curious (because of the fight, I suppose), I saw he looked mortal sick, for the truth was he had a fever on, and had just had a chill in the boat.

“Mr. Tarleton, I believe?” says I, for I had got his name.

“And you, I suppose, are the new trader?” says he.

“I want to tell you first that I don’t hold with missions,” I went on, “and that I think you and the likes of you do a sight of harm, filling up the natives with old wives’ tales and bumptiousness.”

“You are perfectly entitled to your opinions,” says he, looking a bit ugly, “but I have no call to hear them.”

“It so happens that you’ve got to hear them,” I said. “I’m no missionary, nor missionary lover; I’m no Kanaka, nor favourer of Kanakas—I’m just a trader; I’m just a common, low-down, God-damned white man and British subject, the sort you would like to wipe your boots on. I hope that’s plain!”

“Yes, my man,” said he. “It’s more plain than creditable. When you are sober, you’ll be sorry for this.”

He tried to pass on, but I stopped him with my hand. The Kanakas were beginning to growl. Guess they didn’t like my tone, for I spoke to that man as free as I would to you.

“Now, you can’t say I’ve deceived you,” said I, “and I can go on. I want a service—I want two services, in fact—and, if you care to give me them, I’ll perhaps take more stock in what you call your Christianity.”

He was silent for a moment. Then he smiled. “You are rather a strange sort of man,” says he.

“I’m the sort of man God made me,” says I. “I don’t set up to be a gentleman,” I said.

“I am not quite so sure,” said he. “And what can I do for you, Mr.——?”

“Wiltshire,” I says, “though I’m mostly called Welsher; 231 but Wiltshire is the way it’s spelt, if the people on the beach could only get their tongues about it. And what do I want? Well, I’ll tell you the first thing. I’m what you call a sinner—what I call a sweep—and I want you to help me make it up to a person I’ve deceived.”

He turned and spoke to his crew in the native. “And now I am at your service,” said he, “but only for the time my crew are dining. I must be much farther down the coast before night. I was delayed at Papa-malulu till this morning, and I have an engagement in Fale-alii to-morrow night.”

I led the way to my house in silence, and rather pleased with myself for the way I had managed the talk, for I like a man to keep his self-respect.

“I was sorry to see you fighting,” says he.

“O, that’s part of the yarn I want to tell you,” I said. “That’s service number two. After you’ve heard it you’ll let me know whether you’re sorry or not.”

We walked right in through the store, and I was surprised to find Uma had cleared away the dinner things. This was so unlike her ways that I saw she had done it out of gratitude, and liked her the better. She and Mr. Tarleton called each other by name, and he was very civil to her seemingly. But I thought little of that; they can always find civility for a Kanaka, it’s us white men they lord it over. Besides, I didn’t want much Tarleton just then. I was going to do my pitch.

“Uma,” said I, “give us your marriage certificate.” She looked put out. “Come,” said I, “you can trust me. Hand it up.”

She had it about her person, as usual; I believe she thought it was a pass to heaven, and if she died without having it handy she would go to hell. I couldn’t see where she put it the first time, I couldn’t see now where she took it from; it seemed to jump into her hand like that Blavatsky business in the papers. But it’s the same way with all island women, and I guess they’re taught it when young. 232

“Now,” said I, with the certificate in my hand, “I was married to this girl by Black Jack the negro. The certificate was wrote by Case, and it’s a dandy piece of literature, I promise you. Since then I’ve found that there’s a kind of cry in the place against this wife of mine, and so long as I keep her I cannot trade. Now, what would any man do in my place, if he was a man?” I said. “The first thing he would do is this, I guess.” And I took and tore up the certificate and bunged the pieces on the floor.

Aué!”3 cried Uma, and began to clap her hands; but I caught one of them in mine.

“And the second thing that he would do,” said I, “if he was what I would call a man and you would call a man, Mr. Tarleton, is to bring the girl right before you or any other missionary, and to up and say: ‘I was wrong married to this wife of mine, but I think a heap of her, and now I want to be married to her right.’ Fire away, Mr. Tarleton. And I guess you’d better do it in native; it’ll please the old lady,” I said, giving her the proper name of a man’s wife upon the spot.

So we had in two of the crew for to witness, and were spliced in our own house; and the parson prayed a good bit, I must say—but not so long as some—and shook hands with the pair of us.

“Mr. Wiltshire,” he says, when he had made out the lines and packed off the witnesses, “I have to thank you for a very lively pleasure. I have rarely performed the marriage ceremony with more grateful emotions.”

That was what you would call talking. He was going on, besides, with more of it, and I was ready for as much taffy as he had in stock, for I felt good. But Uma had been taken up with something half through the marriage, and cut straight in.

“How your hand he get hurt?” she asked.

“You ask Case’s head, old lady,” says I.

She jumped with joy, and sang out. 233

“You haven’t made much of a Christian of this one,” says I to Mr. Tarleton.

“We didn’t think her one of our worst,” says he, “when she was at Fale-alii; and if Uma bears malice I shall be tempted to fancy she has good cause.”

“Well, there we are at service number two,” said I. “I want to tell you our yarn, and see if you can let a little daylight in.”

“Is it long?” he asked.

“Yes,” I cried; “it’s a goodish bit of a yarn!”

“Well, I’ll give you all the time I can spare,” says he, looking at his watch. “But I must tell you fairly, I haven’t eaten since five this morning, and, unless you can let me have something, I am not likely to eat again before seven or eight to-night.”

“By God, we’ll give you dinner!” I cried.

I was a little caught up at my swearing, just when all was going straight; and so was the missionary, I suppose, but he made believe to look out of the window, and thanked us.

So we ran him up a bit of a meal. I was bound to let the old lady have a hand in it, to show off, so I deputised her to brew the tea. I don’t think I ever met such tea as she turned out. But that was not the worst, for she got round with the salt-box, which she considered an extra European touch, and turned my stew into sea-water. Altogether, Mr. Tarleton had a devil of a dinner of it; but he had plenty entertainment by the way, for all the while that we were cooking, and afterwards, when he was making believe to eat, I kept posting him up on Master Case and the beach of Falesá, and he putting questions that showed he was following close.

“Well,” said he at last, “I am afraid you have a dangerous enemy. This man Case is very clever, and seems really wicked. I must tell you I have had my eye on him for nearly a year, and have rather had the worst of our encounters. About the time when the last representative of your 234 firm ran so suddenly away, I had a letter from Namu, the native pastor, begging me to come to Falesá at my earliest convenience, as his flock were all ‘adopting Catholic practices.’ I had great confidence in Namu; I fear it only shows how easily we are deceived. No one could hear him preach and not be persuaded he was a man of extraordinary parts. All our islanders easily acquire a kind of eloquence, and can roll out and illustrate, with a great deal of vigour and fancy, second-hand sermons; but Namu’s sermons are his own, and I cannot deny that I have found them means of grace. Moreover, he has a keen curiosity in secular things, does not fear work, is clever at carpentering, and has made himself so much respected among the neighbouring pastors that we call him, in a jest which is half serious, the Bishop of the East. In short, I was proud of the man; all the more puzzled by his letter, and took an occasion to come this way. The morning before my arrival, Vigours had been sent on board the Lion, and Namu was perfectly at his ease, apparently ashamed of his letter, and quite unwilling to explain it. This, of course, I could not allow, and he ended by confessing that he had been much concerned to find his people using the sign of the cross, but since he had learned the explanation his mind was satisfied. For Vigours had the Evil Eye, a common thing in a country of Europe called Italy, where men were often struck dead by that kind of devil, and it appeared the sign of the cross was a charm against its power.

“‘And I explain it, Misi,’ said Namu, ‘in this way: The country in Europe is a Popey country, and the devil of the Evil Eye may be a Catholic devil, or, at least, used to Catholic ways. So then I reasoned thus: If this sign of the cross were used in a Popey manner it would be sinful, but when it is used only to protect men from a devil, which is a thing harmless in itself, the sign too must be, as a bottle is neither good nor bad, harmless. For the sign is neither good nor bad. But if the bottle be full of gin, the gin is bad; and if the sign be made in idolatry bad, so is the 235 idolatry.’ And, very like a native pastor, he had a text apposite about the casting out of devils.

“‘And who has been telling you about the Evil Eye?’ I asked.

“He admitted it was Case. Now, I am afraid you will think me very narrow, Mr. Wiltshire, but I must tell you I was displeased, and cannot think a trader at all a good man to advise or have an influence upon my pastors. And, besides, there had been some flying talk in the country of old Adams and his being poisoned, to which I had paid no great heed; but it came back to me at the moment.

“‘And is this Case a man of a sanctified life?’ I asked.

“He admitted he was not; for, though he did not drink, he was profligate with women, and had no religion.

“‘Then,’ said I, ‘I think the less you have to do with him the better.’

“But it is not easy to have the last word with a man like Namu. He was ready in a moment with an illustration. ‘Misi,’ said he, ‘you have told me there were wise men, not pastors, not even holy, who knew many things useful to be taught—about trees, for instance, and beasts, and to print books, and about the stones that are burned to make knives of. Such men teach you in your college, and you learn from them, but take care not to learn to be unholy. Misi, Case is my college.’

“I knew not what to say. Mr. Vigours had evidently been driven out of Falesá by the machinations of Case, and with something not very unlike the collusion of my pastor. I called to mind it was Namu who had reassured me about Adams and traced the rumour to the ill-will of the priest. And I saw I must inform myself more thoroughly from an impartial source. There is an old rascal of a chief here, Faiaso, whom I daresay you saw to-day at the council; he has been all his life turbulent and sly, a great fomenter of rebellions, and a thorn in the side of the mission and the island. For all that he is very shrewd, and, except 236 in politics or about his own misdemeanours, a teller of the truth. I went to his house, told him what I had heard, and besought him to be frank. I do not think I had ever a more painful interview. Perhaps you will understand me, Mr. Wiltshire, if I tell you that I am perfectly serious in these old wives’ tales with which you reproached me, and as anxious to do well for these islands as you can be to please and to protect your pretty wife. And you are to remember that I thought Namu a paragon, and was proud of the man as one of the first ripe fruits of the mission. And now I was informed that he had fallen in a sort of dependence upon Case. The beginning of it was not corrupt; it began, doubtless, in fear and respect, produced by trickery and pretence; but I was shocked to find that another element had been lately added, that Namu helped himself in the store, and was believed to be deep in Case’s debt. Whatever the trader said, that Namu believed with trembling. He was not alone in this; many in the village lived in a similar subjection; but Namu’s case was the most influential, it was through Namu Case had wrought most evil; and with a certain following among the chiefs, and the pastor in his pocket, the man was as good as master of the village. You know something of Vigours and Adams, but perhaps you have never heard of old Underhill, Adams’ predecessor. He was a quiet, mild old fellow, I remember, and we were told he had died suddenly: white men die very suddenly in Falesá. The truth, as I now heard it, made my blood run cold. It seems he was struck with a general palsy, all of him dead but one eye, which he continually winked. Word was started that the helpless old man was now a devil, and this vile fellow Case worked upon the natives’ fears, which he professed to share, and pretended he durst not go into the house alone. At last a grave was dug, and the living body buried at the far end of the village. Namu, my pastor, whom I had helped to educate, offered up a prayer at the hateful scene.

“I felt myself in a very difficult position. Perhaps 237 it was my duty to have denounced Namu and had him deposed. Perhaps I think so now, but at the time it seemed less clear. He had a great influence, it might prove greater than mine. The natives are prone to superstition; perhaps by stirring them up I might but ingrain and spread these dangerous fancies. And Namu besides, apart from this novel and accursed influence, was a good pastor, an able man, and spiritually minded. Where should I look for a better? How was I to find as good? At that moment, with Namu’s failure fresh in my view, the work of my life appeared a mockery; hope was dead in me. I would rather repair such tools as I had than go abroad in quest of others that must certainly prove worse; and a scandal is, at the best, a thing to be avoided when humanly possible. Right or wrong, then, I determined on a quiet course. All that night I denounced and reasoned with the erring pastor, twitted him with his ignorance and want of faith, twitted him with his wretched attitude, making clean the outside of the cup and platter, callously helping at a murder, childishly flying in excitement about a few childish, unnecessary, and inconvenient gestures; and long before day I had him on his knees and bathed in the tears of what seemed a genuine repentance. On Sunday I took the pulpit in the morning, and preached from First Kings, nineteenth, on the fire, the earthquake, and the voice, distinguishing the true spiritual power, and referring with such plainness as I dared to recent events in Falesá. The effect produced was great, and it was much increased when Namu rose in his turn and confessed that he had been wanting in faith and conduct, and was convinced of sin. So far, then, all was well; but there was one unfortunate circumstance. It was nearing the time of our ‘May’ in the island, when the native contributions to the missions are received; it fell in my duty to make a notification on the subject, and this gave my enemy his chance, by which he was not slow to profit.

“News of the whole proceedings must have been carried 238 to Case as soon as church was over, and the same afternoon he made an occasion to meet me in the midst of the village. He came up with so much intentness and animosity that I felt it would be damaging to avoid him.

“‘So,’ says he, in native, ‘here is the holy man. He has been preaching against me, but that was not in his heart. He has been preaching upon the love of God; but that was not in his heart, it was between his teeth. Will you know what was in his heart?’ cries he. ‘I will show it you!’ And, making a snatch at my head he made believe to pluck out a dollar, and held it in the air.

“There went that rumour through the crowd with which Polynesians receive a prodigy. As for myself, I stood amazed. The thing was a common conjuring trick which I have seen performed at home a score of times; but how was I to convince the villagers of that? I wished I had learned legerdemain instead of Hebrew, that I might have paid the fellow out with his own coin. But there I was; I could not stand there silent, and the best I could find to say was weak.

“‘I will trouble you not to lay hands on me again,’ said I.

“‘I have no such thought,’ said he, ‘nor will I deprive you of your dollar. Here it is,’ he said, and flung it at my feet. I am told it lay where it fell three days.”

“I must say it was well played,” said I.

“O! he is clever,” said Mr. Tarleton, “and you can now see for yourself how dangerous. He was a party to the horrid death of the paralytic; he is accused of poisoning Adams; he drove Vigours out of the place by lies that might have led to murder; and there is no question but he has now made up his mind to rid himself of you. How he means to try we have no guess; only be sure it’s something new. There is no end to his readiness and invention.”

“He gives himself a sight of trouble,” says I. “And after all, what for?” 239

“Why, how many tons of copra may they make in this district?” asked the missionary.

“I daresay as much as sixty tons,” says I.

“And what is the profit to the local trader?” he asked.

“You may call it three pounds,” said I.

“Then you can reckon for yourself how much he does it for,” said Mr. Tarleton. “But the more important thing is to defeat him. It is clear he spread some report against Uma, in order to isolate and have his wicked will of her. Failing of that, and seeing a new rival come upon the scene, he used her in a different way. Now, the first point to find out is about Namu. Uma, when people began to leave you and your mother alone, what did Namu do?”

“Stop away all-e-same,” says Uma.

“I fear the dog has returned to his vomit,” said Mr. Tarleton. “And now what am I to do for you? I will speak to Namu, I will warn him he is observed; it will be strange if he allow anything to go on amiss when he is put upon his guard. At the same time, this precaution may fail, and then you must turn elsewhere. You have two people at hand to whom you might apply. There is, first of all, the priest, who might protect you by the Catholic interest; they are a wretchedly small body, but they count two chiefs. And then there is old Faiaso. Ah! if it had been some years ago you would have needed no one else; but his influence is much reduced; it has gone into Maea’s hands, and Maea, I fear, is one of Case’s jackals. In fine, if the worst comes to the worst, you must send up or come yourself to Fale-alii, and, though I am not due at this end of the island for a month, I will just see what can be done.”

So Mr. Tarleton said farewell; and half an hour later the crew were singing and the paddles flashing in the missionary boat.

3 Alas!




Near a month went by without much doing. The same night of our marriage Galoshes called round, and made himself mighty civil, and got into a habit of dropping in about dark and smoking his pipe with the family. He could talk to Uma, of course, and started to teach me native and French at the same time. He was a kind old buffer, though the dirtiest you would wish to see, and he muddled me up with foreign languages worse than the tower of Babel.

That was one employment we had, and it made me feel less lonesome; but there was no profit in the thing, for though the priest came and sat and yarned, none of his folks could be enticed into my store; and if it hadn’t been for the other occupation I struck out there wouldn’t have been a pound of copra in the house. This was the idea: Fa’avao (Uma’s mother) had a score of bearing trees. Of course we could get no labour, being all as good as tabooed, and the two women and I turned to and made copra with our own hands. It was copra to make your mouth water when it was done—I never understood how much the natives cheated me till I had made that four hundred pounds of my own hand—and it weighed so light I felt inclined to take and water it myself.

When we were at the job a good many Kanakas used to put in the best of the day looking on, and once that nigger turned up. He stood back with the natives and laughed and did the big don and the funny dog till I began to get riled. 241

“Here, you nigger!” says I.

“I don’t address myself to you, Sah,” says the nigger. “Only speak to gen’le’um.”

“I know,” says I, “but it happens I was addressing myself to you, Mr. Black Jack. And all I want to know is just this: did you see Case’s figure-head about a week ago?”

“No, Sah,” says he.

“That’s all right, then,” says I; “for I’ll show you the own brother to it, only black, in the inside of about two minutes.”

And I began to walk towards him, quite slow, and my hands down; only there was trouble in my eye, if anybody took the pains to look.

“You’re a low, obstropulous fellow, Sah,” says he.

“You bet!” says I.

By that time he thought I was about as near as convenient, and lit out so it would have done your heart good to see him travel. And that was all I saw of that precious gang until what I am about to tell you.

It was one of my chief employments these days to go pot-hunting in the woods, which I found (as Case had told me) very rich in game. I have spoken of the cape which shut up the village and my station from the east. A path went about the end of it, and led into the next bay. A strong wind blew here daily, and as the line of the barrier reef stopped at the end of the cape, a heavy surf ran on the shores of the bay. A little cliffy hill cut the valley in two parts, and stood close on the beach; and at high water the sea broke right on the face of it, so that all passage was stopped. Woody mountains hemmed the place all round; the barrier to the east was particularly steep and leafy, the lower parts of it, along the sea, falling in sheer black cliffs streaked with cinnabar; the upper part lumpy with the tops of the great trees. Some of the trees were bright green, and some red, and the sand of the beach as black as your shoes. Many birds hovered round the bay, 242 some of them snow-white; and the flying-fox (or vampire) flew there in broad daylight, gnashing its teeth.

For a long while I came as far as this shooting, and went no farther. There was no sign of any path beyond, and the cocoa-palms in the front of the foot of the valley were the last this way. For the whole “eye” of the island, as natives call the windward end, lay desert. From Falesá round about to Papa-malulu, there was neither house, nor man, nor planted fruit-tree; and the reef being mostly absent, and the shores bluff, the sea beat direct among crags, and there was scarce a landing-place.

I should tell you that after I began to go in the woods, although no one offered to come near my store, I found people willing enough to pass the time of day with me where nobody could see them; and as I had begun to pick up native, and most of them had a word or two of English, I began to hold little odds and ends of conversation, not to much purpose to be sure, but they took off the worst of the feeling, for it’s a miserable thing to be made a leper of.

It chanced one day towards the end of the month, that I was sitting in this bay in the edge of the bush, looking east, with a Kanaka. I had given him a fill of tobacco, and we were making out to talk as best we could; indeed, he had more English than most.

I asked him if there was no road going eastward.

“One time one road,” said he. “Now he dead.”

“Nobody he go there?” I asked.

“No good,” said he. “Too much devil he stop there.”

“Oho!” says I, “got-um plenty devil, that bush?”

“Man devil, woman devil; too much devil,” said my friend. “Stop there all-e-time. Man he go there, no come back.”

I thought if this fellow was so well posted on devils and spoke of them so free, which is not common, I had better fish for a little information about myself and Uma.

“You think me one devil?” I asked. 243

“No think devil,” said he soothingly. “Think all-e-same fool.”

“Uma, she devil?” I asked again.

“No, no; no devil. Devil stop bush,” said the young man.

I was looking in front of me across the bay, and I saw the hanging front of the woods pushed suddenly open, and Case, with a gun in his hand, step forth into the sunshine on the black beach. He was got up in light pyjamas, near white, his gun sparkled, he looked mighty conspicuous; and the land-crabs scuttled from all round him to their holes.

“Hullo, my friend!” says I, “you no talk all-e-same true. Ese he go, he come back.”

“Ese no all-e-same; Ese Tiapolo,” says my friend; and, with a “Good-bye,” slunk off among the trees.

I watched Case all round the beach, where the tide was low; and let him pass me on the homeward way to Falesá. He was in deep thought, and the birds seemed to know it, trotting quite near him on the sand, or wheeling and calling in his ears. When he passed me I could see by the working of his lips that he was talking to himself, and, what pleased me mightily, he had still my trade mark on his brow. I tell you the plain truth: I had a mind to give him a gunful in his ugly mug, but I thought better of it.

All this time, and all the time I was following home, I kept repeating that native word, which I remembered by “Polly, put the kettle on and make us all some tea,” tea-a-pollo.

“Uma,” says I, when I got back, “what does Tiapolo mean?”

“Devil,” says she.

“I thought aitu was the word for that,” I said.

Aitu ’nother kind of devil,” said she; “stop bush, eat Kanaka. Tiapolo big chief devil, stop home; all-e-same Christian devil.”

“Well then,” said I, “I’m no farther forward. How can Case be Tiapolo?” 244

“No all-e-same,” said she. “Ese belong Tiapolo; Tiapolo too much like; Ese all-e-same his son. Suppose Ese he wish something, Tiapolo he make him.”

“That’s mighty convenient for Ese,” says I. “And what kind of things does he make for him?”

Well, out came a rigmarole of all sorts of stories, many of which (like the dollar he took from Mr. Tarleton’s head) were plain enough to me, but others I could make nothing of; and the thing that most surprised the Kanakas was what surprised me least—namely, that he would go in the desert among all the aitus. Some of the boldest, however, had accompanied him, and had heard him speak with the dead and give them orders, and, safe in his protection, had returned unscathed. Some said he had a church there, where he worshipped Tiapolo, and Tiapolo appeared to him; others swore that there was no sorcery at all, that he performed his miracles by the power of prayer, and the church was no church, but a prison, in which he had confined a dangerous aitu. Namu had been in the bush with him once, and returned glorifying God for these wonders. Altogether, I began to have a glimmer of the man’s position, and the means by which he had acquired it, and, though I saw he was a tough nut to crack, I was noways cast down.

“Very well,” said I, “I’ll have a look at Master Case’s place of worship myself, and we’ll see about the glorifying.”

At this Uma fell in a terrible taking; if I went in the high bush I should never return; none could go there but by the protection of Tiapolo.

“I’ll chance it on God’s,” said I. “I’m a good sort of fellow, Uma, as fellows go, and I guess God’ll con me through.”

She was silent for a while. “I think,” said she, mighty solemn—and then, presently—“Victoreea, he big chief?”

“You bet!” said I.

“He like you too much?” she asked again.

I told her, with a grin, I believed the old lady was rather partial to me. 245

“All right,” said she. “Victoreea he big chief, like you too much. No can help you here in Falesá; no can do—too far off. Maea he small chief—stop here. Suppose he like you—make you all right. All-e-same God and Tiapolo. God he big chief—got too much work. Tiapolo he small chief—he like too much make-see, work very hard.”

“I’ll have to hand you over to Mr. Tarleton,” said I. “Your theology’s out of its bearings, Uma.”

However, we stuck to this business all the evening, and, with the stories she told me of the desert and its dangers, she came near frightening herself into a fit. I don’t remember half a quarter of them, of course, for I paid little heed; but two come back to me kind of clear.

About six miles up the coast there is a sheltered cove they call Fanga-anaana—“the haven full of caves.” I’ve seen it from the sea myself, as near as I could get my boys to venture in; and it’s a little strip of yellow sand. Black cliffs overhang it, full of the black mouths of caves; great trees overhang the cliffs, and dangle-down lianas; and in one place, about the middle, a big brook pours over in a cascade. Well, there was a boat going by here, with six young men of Falesá, “all very pretty,” Uma said, which was the loss of them. It blew strong, there was a heavy head sea, and by the time they opened Fanga-anaana, and saw the white cascade and the shady beach, they were all tired and thirsty, and their water had run out. One proposed to land and get a drink, and, being reckless fellows, they were all of the same mind except the youngest. Lotu was his name; he was a very good young gentleman, and very wise; and he held out that they were crazy, telling them the place was given over to spirits and devils and the dead, and there were no living folk nearer than six miles the one way, and maybe twelve the other. But they laughed at his words, and, being five to one, pulled in, beached the boat, and landed. It was a wonderful pleasant place, Lotu said, and the water excellent. They 246 walked round the beach, but could see nowhere any way to mount the cliffs, which made them easier in their mind; and at last they sat down to make a meal on the food they had brought with them. They were scarce set, when there came out of the mouth of one of the black caves six of the most beautiful ladies ever seen: they had flowers in their hair, and the most beautiful breasts, and necklaces of scarlet seeds; and began to jest with these young gentlemen, and the young gentlemen to jest back with them, all but Lotu. As for Lotu, he saw there could be no living woman in such a place, and ran, and flung himself in the bottom of the boat, and covered his face, and prayed. All the time the business lasted Lotu made one clean break of prayer, and that was all he knew of it, until his friends came back, and made him sit up, and they put to sea again out of the bay, which was now quite deserted, and no word of the six ladies. But, what frightened Lotu most, not one of the five remembered anything of what had passed, but they were all like drunken men, and sang and laughed in the boat, and skylarked. The wind freshened and came squally, and the sea rose extraordinary high; it was such weather as any man in the islands would have turned his back to and fled home to Falesá; but these five were like crazy folk, and cracked on all sail and drove their boat into the seas. Lotu went to the bailing, none of the others thought to help him, but sang and skylarked and carried on, and spoke singular things beyond a man’s comprehension, and laughed out loud when they said them. So the rest of the day Lotu bailed for his life in the bottom of the boat, and was all drenched with sweat and cold sea-water; and none heeded him. Against all expectation, they came safe in a dreadful tempest to Papa-malulu, where the palms were singing out, and the cocoa-nuts flying like cannon-balls about the village green; and the same night the five young gentlemen sickened, and spoke never a reasonable word until they died.

“And do you mean to tell me you can swallow a yarn like that?” I asked. 247

She told me the thing was well known, and with handsome young men alone it was even common; but this was the only case where five had been slain the same day and in a company by the love of the women-devils; and it had made a great stir in the island, and she would be crazy if she doubted.

“Well, anyway,” says I, “you needn’t be frightened about me. I’ve no use for the women-devils. You’re all the women I want, and all the devil too, old lady.”

To this she answered there were other sorts, and she had seen one with her own eyes. She had gone one day alone to the next bay, and, perhaps, got too near the margin of the bad place. The boughs of the high bush overshadowed her from the cant of the hill, but she herself was outside on a flat place, very stony, and growing full of young mummy-apples four and five feet high. It was a dark day in the rainy season, and now there came squalls that tore off the leaves and sent them flying, and now it was all still as in a house. It was in one of these still times that a whole gang of birds and flying foxes came pegging out of the bush like creatures frightened. Presently after she heard a rustle nearer hand, and saw, coming out of the margin of the trees, among the mummy-apples, the appearance of a lean grey old boar. It seemed to think as it came, like a person; and all of a sudden, as she looked at it coming, she was aware it was no boar, but a thing that was a man with a man’s thoughts. At that she ran, and the pig after her, and as the pig ran it holla’d aloud, so that the place rang with it.

“I wish I had been there with my gun,” said I. “I guess that pig would have holla’d so as to surprise himself.”

But she told me a gun was of no use with the like of these, which were the spirits of the dead.

Well, this kind of talk put in the evening, which was the best of it; but of course it didn’t change my notion, and the next day, with my gun and a good knife, I set off upon a voyage of discovery. I made, as near as I 248 could, for the place where I had seen Case come out; for if it was true he had some kind of establishment in the bush I reckoned I should find a path. The beginning of the desert was marked off by a wall to call it so, for it was more of a long mound of stones. They say it reaches right across the island, but how they know it is another question, for I doubt if anyone has made the journey in a hundred years, the natives sticking chiefly to the sea, and their little colonies along the coast, and that part being mortal high and steep and full of cliffs. Up to the west side of the wall the ground has been cleared, and there are cocoa-palms and mummy-apples and guavas, and lots of sensitive. Just across, the bush begins outright; high bush at that, trees going up like the masts of ships, and ropes of liana hanging down like a ship’s rigging, and nasty orchids growing in the forks like funguses. The ground where there was no underwood looked to be a heap of boulders. I saw many green pigeons which I might have shot, only I was there with a different idea. A number of butterflies flopped up and down along the ground like dead leaves; sometimes I would hear a bird calling, sometimes the wind overhead, and always the sea along the coast.

But the queerness of the place it’s more difficult to tell of, unless to one who has been alone in the high bush himself. The brightest kind of a day it is always dim down there. A man can see to the end of nothing; whichever way he looks the wood shuts up, one bough folding with another like the fingers of your hand; and whenever he listens he hears always something new—men talking, children laughing, the strokes of an axe a far way ahead of him, and sometimes a sort of a quick, stealthy scurry near at hand that makes him jump and look to his weapons. It’s all very well for him to tell himself that he’s alone, bar trees and birds; he can’t make out to believe it; whichever way he turns the whole place seems to be alive and looking on. Don’t think it was Uma’s yarns that put me out; I don’t value native talk a fourpenny-piece; it’s 249 a thing that’s natural in the bush, and that’s the end of it.

As I got near the top of the hill, for the ground of the wood goes up in this place steep as a ladder, the wind began to sound straight on, and the leaves to toss and switch open and let in the sun. This suited me better; it was the same noise all the time, and nothing to startle. Well, I had got to a place where there was an underwood of what they call wild cocoa-nut—mighty pretty with its scarlet fruit—when there came a sound of singing in the wind that I thought I had never heard the like of. It was all very fine to tell myself it was the branches; I knew better. It was all very fine to tell myself it was a bird; I knew never a bird that sang like that. It rose and swelled, and died away and swelled again; and now I thought it was like someone weeping, only prettier; and now I thought it was like harps; and there was one thing I made sure of, it was a sight too sweet to be wholesome in a place like that. You may laugh if you like; but I declare I called to mind the six young ladies that came, with their scarlet necklaces, out of the cave at Fanga-anaana, and wondered if they sang like that. We laugh at the natives and their superstitions; but see how many traders take them up, splendidly educated white men that have been book-keepers (some of them) and clerks in the old country. It’s my belief a superstition grows up in a place like the different kind of weeds; and as I stood there and listened to that wailing I twittered in my shoes.

You may call me a coward to be frightened; I thought myself brave enough to go on ahead. But I went mighty carefully, with my gun cocked, spying all about me like a hunter, fully expecting to see a handsome young woman sitting somewhere in the bush, and fully determined (if I did) to try her with a charge of duck-shot. And sure enough, I had not gone far when I met with a queer thing. The wind came on the top of the wood in a strong puff, the leaves in front of me burst open, and I saw for a second 250 something hanging in a tree. It was gone in a wink, the puff blowing by and the leaves closing. I tell you the truth: I had made up my mind to see an aitu; and if the thing had looked like a pig or a woman, it wouldn’t have given me the same turn. The trouble was that it seemed kind of square, and the idea of a square thing that was alive and sang knocked me sick and silly. I must have stood quite a while; and I made pretty certain it was right out of the same tree that the singing came. Then I began to come to myself a bit.

“Well,” says I, “if this is really so, if this is a place where there are square things that sing, I’m gone up anyway. Let’s have my fun for my money.”

But I thought I might as well take the off-chance of a prayer being any good; so I plumped on my knees and prayed out loud; and all the time I was praying the strange sounds came out of the tree, and went up and down, and changed, for all the world like music, only you could see it wasn’t human—there was nothing there that you could whistle.

As soon as I had made an end in proper style, I laid down my gun, stuck my knife between my teeth, walked right up to that tree, and began to climb. I tell you my heart was like ice. But presently, as I went up, I caught another glimpse of the thing, and that relieved me, for I thought it seemed like a box; and when I had got right up to it I near fell out of the tree with laughing.

A box it was, sure enough, and a candle-box at that, with the brand upon the side of it; and it had banjo-strings stretched so as to sound when the wind blew. I believe they call the thing a Tyrolean4 harp, whatever that may mean.

“Well, Mr. Case,” said I, “you’ve frightened me once, but I defy you to frighten me again,” I says, and slipped down the tree, and set out again to find my enemy’s head office, which I guessed would not be far away. 251

The undergrowth was thick in this part; I couldn’t see before my nose, and must burst my way through by main force and ply the knife as I went, slicing the cords of the lianas and slashing down whole trees at a blow. I call them trees for the bigness, but in truth they were just big weeds, and sappy to cut through like carrot. From all this crowd and kind of vegetation, I was just thinking to myself, the place might have once been cleared, when I came on my nose over a pile of stones, and saw in a moment it was some kind of a work of man. The Lord knows when it was made or when deserted, for this part of the island has lain undisturbed since long before the whites came. A few steps beyond I hit into the path I had been always looking for. It was narrow, but well beaten, and I saw that Case had plenty of disciples. It seems, indeed, it was a piece of fashionable boldness to venture up here with the trader, and a young man scarce reckoned himself grown till he had got his breech tattooed, for one thing, and seen Case’s devils for another. This is mighty like Kanakas; but, if you look at it another way, it’s mighty like white folks too.

A bit along the path I was brought to a clear stand, and had to rub my eyes. There was a wall in front of me, the path passing it by a gap; it was tumble-down, and plainly very old, but built of big stones very well laid; and there is no native alive to-day upon that island that could dream of such a piece of building. Along all the top of it was a line of queer figures, idols or scarecrows, or what not. They had carved and painted faces, ugly to view, their eyes and teeth were of shell, their hair and their bright clothes blew in the wind, and some of them worked with the tugging. There are islands up west where they make these kind of figures till to-day; but if ever they were made in this island, the practice and the very recollection of it are now long forgotten. And the singular thing was that all these bogies were as fresh as toys out of a shop.

Then it came in my mind that Case had let out to me 252 the first day that he was a good forger of island curiosities, a thing by which so many traders turn an honest penny. And with that I saw the whole business, and how this display served the man a double purpose, first of all, to season his curiosities, and then to frighten those that came to visit him.

But I should tell you (what made the thing more curious) that all the time the Tyrolean harps were harping round me in the trees, and even while I looked, a green-and-yellow bird (that, I suppose, was building) began to tear the hair off the head of one of the figures.

A little farther on I found the best curiosity of the museum. The first I saw of it was a longish mound of earth with a twist to it. Digging off the earth with my hands, I found underneath tarpaulin stretched on boards, so that this was plainly the roof of a cellar. It stood right on the top of the hill, and the entrance was on the far side, between two rocks, like the entrance to a cave. I went as far in as the bend, and, looking round the corner, saw a shining face. It was big and ugly, like a pantomime mask, and the brightness of it waxed and dwindled, and at times it smoked.

“Oho!” says I, “luminous paint!”

And I must say I rather admired the man’s ingenuity. With a box of tools and a few mighty simple contrivances he had made out to have a devil of a temple. Any poor Kanaka brought up here in the dark, with the harps whining all round him, and shown that smoking face in the bottom of a hole, would make no kind of doubt but he had seen and heard enough devils for a lifetime. It’s easy to find out what Kanakas think. Just go back to yourself any way round from ten to fifteen years old, and there’s an average Kanaka. There are some pious, just as there are pious boys; and the most of them, like the boys again, are middling honest, and yet think it rather larks to steal, and are easy scared, and rather like to be so. I remember a boy I was at school with at home who played the Case business. 253 He didn’t know anything, that boy; he couldn’t do anything; he had no luminous paint and no Tyrolean harps; he just boldly said he was a sorcerer, and frightened us out of our boots, and we loved it. And then it came in my mind how the master had once flogged that boy, and the surprise we were all in to see the sorcerer catch it and bum like anybody else. Thinks I to myself, “I must find some way of fixing it so for Master Case.” And the next moment I had my idea.

I went back by the path, which, when once you had found it, was quite plain and easy walking; and when I stepped out on the black sands, who should I see but Master Case himself! I cocked my gun and held it handy, and we marched up and passed without a word, each keeping the tail of his eye on the other; and no sooner had we passed than we each wheeled round like fellows drilling, and stood face to face. We had each taken the same notion in his head, you see, that the other fellow might give him the load of his gun in the stern.

“You’ve shot nothing,” says Case.

“I’m not on the shoot to-day,” said I.

“Well, the devil go with you for me,” says he.

“The same to you,” says I.

But we stuck just the way we were; no fear of either of us moving.

Case laughed. “We can’t stop here all day, though,” said he.

“Don’t let me detain you,” says I.

He laughed again. “Look here, Wiltshire, do you think me a fool?” he asked.

“More of a knave, if you want to know,” says I.

“Well, do you think it would better me to shoot you here, on this open beach?” said he. “Because I don’t. Folks come fishing every day. There may be a score of them up the valley now, making copra; there might be half a dozen on the hill behind you, after pigeons; they might be watching us this minute, and I shouldn’t wonder. 254 I give you my word I don’t want to shoot you. Why should I? You don’t hinder me any. You haven’t got one pound of copra but what you made with your own hands, like a negro slave. You’re vegetating—that’s what I call it—and I don’t care where you vegetate, nor yet how long. Give me your word you don’t mean to shoot me, and I’ll give you a lead and walk away.”

“Well,” said I, “you’re frank and pleasant, ain’t you? And I’ll be the same. I don’t mean to shoot you to-day. Why should I? This business is beginning; it ain’t done yet, Mr. Case. I’ve given you one turn already; I can see the marks of my knuckles on your head to this blooming hour, and I’ve more cooking for you. I’m not a paralee, like Underhill. My name ain’t Adams, and it ain’t Vigours; and I mean to show you that you’ve met your match.”

“This is a silly way to talk,” said he. “This is not the talk to make me move on with.”

“All right,” said I, “stay where you are. I ain’t in any hurry, and you know it. I can put in a day on this beach and never mind. I ain’t got any copra to bother with. I ain’t got any luminous paint to see to.”

I was sorry I said that last, but it whipped out before I knew. I could see it took the wind out of his sails, and he stood and stared at me with his brow drawn up. Then I suppose he made up his mind he must get to the bottom of this.

“I take you at your word,” says he, and turned his back and walked right into the devil’s bush.

I let him go, of course, for I had passed my word. But I watched him as long as he was in sight, and after he was gone lit out for cover as lively as you would want to see, and went the rest of the way home under the bush, for I didn’t trust him sixpence-worth. One thing I saw, I had been ass enough to give him warning, and that which I meant to do I must do at once.

You would think I had had about enough excitement 255 for one morning, but there was another turn waiting me. As soon as I got far enough round the cape to see my house I made out there were strangers there; a little farther, and no doubt about it. There was a couple of armed sentinels squatting at my door. I could only suppose the trouble about Uma must have come to a head, and the station been seized. For aught I could think, Uma was taken up already, and these armed men were waiting to do the like with me.

However, as I came nearer, which I did at top speed, I saw there was a third native sitting on the verandah like a guest, and Uma was talking with him like a hostess. Nearer still I made out it was the big young chief, Maea, and that he was smiling away and smoking. And what was he smoking? None of your European cigarettes fit for a cat, not even the genuine big, knock-me-down native article that a fellow can really put in the time with if his pipe is broke—but a cigar, and one of my Mexicans at that, that I could swear to. At sight of this my heart started beating, and I took a wild hope in my head that the trouble was over, and Maea had come round.

Uma pointed me out to him as I came up, and he met me at the head of my own stairs like a thorough gentleman.

“Vilivili,” said he, which was the best they could make of my name, “I pleased.”

There is no doubt when an island chief wants to be civil he can do it. I saw the way things were from the word-go. There was no call for Uma to say to me: “He no ’fraid Ese now, come bring copra.” I tell you I shook hands with that Kanaka like as if he was the best white man in Europe.

The fact was, Case and he had got after the same girl; or Maea suspected it, and concluded to make hay of the trader on the chance. He had dressed himself up, got a couple of his retainers cleaned and armed to kind of make the thing more public, and, just waiting till Case was clear of the village, came round to put the whole of his business 256 my way. He was rich as well as powerful. I suppose that man was worth fifty thousand nuts per annum. I gave him the price of the beach and a quarter cent better, and as for credit, I would have advanced him the inside of the store and the fittings besides, I was so pleased to see him. I must say he bought like a gentleman: rice and tins and biscuits enough for a week’s feast, and stuffs by the bolt. He was agreeable besides; he had plenty fun to him; and we cracked jests together, mostly through the interpreter, because he had mighty little English, and my native was still off colour. One thing I made out: he could never really have thought much harm of Uma; he could never have been really frightened, and must just have made believe from dodginess, and because he thought Case had a strong pull in the village and could help him on.

This set me thinking that both he and I were in a tightish place. What he had done was to fly in the face of the whole village, and the thing might cost him his authority. More than that, after my talk with Case on the beach, I thought it might very well cost me my life. Case had as good as said he would pot me if ever I got any copra; he would come home to find the best business in the village had changed hands; and the best thing I thought I could do was to get in first with the potting.

“See here, Uma,” says I, “tell him I’m sorry I made him wait, but I was up looking at Case’s Tiapolo store in the bush.”

“He want savvy if you no ’fraid?” translated Uma.

I laughed out. “Not much!” says I. “Tell him the place is a blooming toy-shop! Tell him in England we give these things to the kids to play with.”

“He want savvy if you hear devil sing?” she asked next.

“Look here,” I said, “I can’t do it now because I’ve got no banjo-strings in stock; but the next time the ship comes round I’ll have one of these same contraptions right here in my verandah, and he can see for himself 257 how much devil there is to it. Tell him, as soon as I can get the strings I’ll make one for his picaninnies. The name of the concern is a Tyrolean harp; and you can tell him the name means in English that nobody but dam-fools give a cent for it.”

This time he was so pleased he had to try his English again: “You talk true?” says he.

“Rather!” said I. “Talk all-e-same Bible.—Bring out a Bible here, Uma, if you’ve got such a thing, and I’ll kiss it. Or, I’ll tell you what’s better still,” says I, taking a header, “ask him if he’s afraid to go up there himself by day.”

It appeared he wasn’t; he could venture as far as that by day and in company.

“That’s the ticket, then!” said I. “Tell him the man’s a fraud and the place foolishness, and if he’ll go up there to-morrow he’ll see all that’s left of it. But tell him this, Uma, and mind he understands it: If he gets talking, it’s bound to come to Case, and I’m a dead man! I’m playing his game, tell him, and if he says one word my blood will be at his door and be the damnation of him here and after.”

She told him, and he shook hands with me up to the hilt, and says he: “No talk. Go up to-mollow. You my friend?”

“No, sir,” says I, “no such foolishness.—I’ve come here to trade, tell him, and not to make friends. But as to Case, I’ll send that man to glory!”

So off Maea went, pretty well pleased, as I could see.

4 Æolian.




Well, I was committed now; Tiapolo had to be smashed up before next day, and my hands were pretty full, not only with preparations, but with argument. My house was like a mechanics’ debating society: Uma was so made up that I shouldn’t go into the bush by night, or that, if I did, I was never to come back again. You know her style of arguing: you’ve had a specimen about Queen Victoria and the devil; and I leave you to fancy if I was tired of it before dark.

At last I had a good idea. What was the use of casting my pearls before her? I thought; some of her own chopped hay would be likelier to do the business.

“I’ll tell you what, then,” said I. “You fish out your Bible, and I’ll take that up along with me. That’ll make me right.”

She swore a Bible was no use.

“That’s just your Kanaka ignorance,” said I. “Bring the Bible out.”

She brought it, and I turned to the title-page, where I thought there would likely be some English, and so there was. “There!” said I. “Look at that! ‘London: Printed for the British and Foreign Bible Society, Blackfriars,’ and the date, which I can’t read, owing to its being in these X’s. There’s no devil in hell can look near the Bible Society, Blackfriars. Why, you silly!” I said, “how do you suppose we get along with our own aitus at home? All Bible Society!” 259

“I think you no got any,” said she. “White man, he tell me you no got.”

“Sounds likely, don’t it?” I asked. “Why would these islands all be chock full of them and none in Europe?”

“Well, you no got bread-fruit,” said she.

I could have torn my hair. “Now, look here, old lady,” said I, “you dry up, for I’m tired of you. I’ll take the Bible, which’ll put me as straight as the mail, and that’s the last word I’ve got to say.”

The night fell extraordinary dark, clouds coming up with sundown and overspreading all; not a star showed; there was only an end of a moon, and that not due before the small hours. Round the village, what with the lights and the fires in the open houses, and the torches of many fishers moving on the reef, it kept as gay as an illumination; but the sea and the mountains and woods were all clean gone. I suppose it might be eight o’clock when I took the road, laden like a donkey. First there was that Bible, a book as big as your head, which I had let myself in for by my own tomfoolery. Then there was my gun, and knife, and lantern, and patent matches, all necessary. And then there was the real plant of the affair in hand, a mortal weight of gunpowder, a pair of dynamite fishing bombs, and two or three pieces of slow match that I had hauled out of the tin cases and spliced together the best way I could; for the match was only trade stuff, and a man would be crazy that trusted it. Altogether, you see, I had the materials of a pretty good blow-up! Expense was nothing to me; I wanted that thing done right.

As long as I was in the open, and had the lamp in my house to steer by, I did well. But when I got to the path, it fell so dark I could make no headway, walking into trees and swearing there, like a man looking for the matches in his bedroom. I knew it was risky to light up, for my lantern would be visible all the way to the point of the cape, and as no one went there after dark, it would be talked about, and come to Case’s ears. But what was I to do? 260 I had either to give the business over and lose caste with Maea, or light up, take my chance, and get through the thing the smartest I was able.

As long as I was on the path I walked hard, but when I came to the black beach I had to run. For the tide was now nearly flowed; and to get through with my powder dry between the surf and the steep hill, took all the quickness I possessed. As it was, even, the wash caught me to the knees, and I came near falling on a stone. All this time the hurry I was in, and the free air and smell of the sea, kept my spirits lively; but when I was once in the bush and began to climb the path I took it easier. The fearsomeness of the wood had been a good bit rubbed off for me by Master Case’s banjo-strings and graven images, yet I thought it was a dreary walk, and guessed, when the disciples went up there, they must be badly scared. The light of the lantern, striking among all these trunks and forked branches and twisted rope-ends of lianas, made the whole place, or all that you could see of it, a kind of a puzzle of turning shadows. They came to meet you, solid and quick like giants, and then span off and vanished; they hove up over your head like clubs, and flew away into the night like birds. The floor of the bush glimmered with dead wood, the way the match-box used to shine after you had struck a lucifer. Big, cold drops fell on me from the branches overhead like sweat. There was no wind to mention; only a little icy breath of a land-breeze that stirred nothing; and the harps were silent.

The first landfall I made was when I got through the bush of wild cocoa-nuts, and came in view of the bogies on the wall. Mighty queer they looked by the shining of the lantern, with their painted faces and shell eyes, and their clothes and their hair hanging. One after another I pulled them all up and piled them in a bundle on the cellar roof, so as they might go to glory with the rest. Then I chose a place behind one of the big stones at the entrance, buried my powder and the two shells, and arranged my 261 match along the passage. And then I had a look at the smoking head, just for good-bye. It was doing fine.

“Cheer up,” says I. “You’re booked.”

It was my first idea to light up and be getting homeward; for the darkness and the glimmer of the dead wood and the shadows of the lantern made me lonely. But I knew where one of the harps hung; it seemed a pity it shouldn’t go with the rest; and at the same time I couldn’t help letting on to myself that I was mortal tired of my employment, and would like best to be at home and have the door shut. I stepped out of the cellar and argued it fore and back. There was a sound of the sea far down below me on the coast; nearer hand not a leaf stirred; I might have been the only living creature this side of Cape Horn. Well, as I stood there thinking, it seemed the bush woke and became full of little noises. Little noises they were, and nothing to hurt—a bit of a crackle, a bit of a rush—but the breath jumped right out of me and my throat went as dry as a biscuit. It wasn’t Case I was afraid of, which would have been common-sense; I never thought of Case; what took me, as sharp as the colic, was the old wives’ tales, the devil-women and the man-pigs. It was the toss of a penny whether I should run: but I got a purchase on myself, and stepped out, and held up the lantern (like a fool) and looked all round.

In the direction of the village and the path there was nothing to be seen; but when I turned inland it’s a wonder to me I didn’t drop. There, coming right up out of the desert and the bad bush—there, sure enough, was a devil-woman, just as the way I had figured she would look. I saw the light shine on her bare arms and her bright eyes, and there went out of me a yell so big that I thought it was my death.

“Ah! No sing out!” says the devil-woman, in a kind of a high whisper. “Why you talk big voice? Put out light! Ese he come.”

“My God Almighty, Uma, is that you?” says I. 262

Ioe,”5 says she. “I come quick. Ese here soon.”

“You come alone?” I asked. “You no ’fraid?”

“Ah, too much ’fraid!” she whispered, clutching me. “I think die.”

“Well,” says I, with a kind of a weak grin, “I’m not the one to laugh at you, Mrs. Wiltshire, for I’m about the worst scared man in the South Pacific myself.”

She told me in two words what brought her. I was scarce gone, it seems, when Fa’avao came in, and the old woman had met Black Jack running as hard as he was fit from our house to Case’s. Uma neither spoke nor stopped, but lit right out to come and warn me. She was so close at my heels that the lantern was her guide across the beach, and afterwards, by the glimmer of it in the trees, she got her line up hill. It was only when I had got to the top or was in the cellar that she wandered Lord knows where! and lost a sight of precious time, afraid to call out lest Case was at the heels of her, and falling in the bush, so that she was all knocked and bruised. That must have been when she got too far to the southward, and how she came to take me in the flank at last and frighten me beyond what I’ve got the words to tell of.

Well, anything was better than a devil-woman, but I thought her yarn serious enough. Black Jack had no call to be about my house, unless he was set there to watch; and it looked to me as if my tomfool word about the paint, and perhaps some chatter of Maea’s had got us all in a clove hitch. One thing was clear: Uma and I were here for the night; we daren’t try to go home before day, and even then it would be safer to strike round up the mountain and come in by the back of the village, or we might walk into an ambuscade. It was plain, too, that the mine should be sprung immediately, or Case might be in time to stop it.

I marched into the tunnel, Uma keeping tight hold of 263 me, opened my lantern, and lit the match. The first length of it burned like a spill of paper, and I stood stupid, watching it burn, and thinking we were going aloft with Tiapolo, which was none of my views. The second took to a better rate, though faster than I cared about; and at that I got my wits again, hauled Uma clear of the passage, blew out and dropped the lantern, and the pair of us groped our way into the bush until I thought it might be safe, and lay down together by a tree.

“Old lady,” I said, “I won’t forget this night. You’re a trump, and that’s what’s wrong with you.”

She humped herself close up to me. She had run out the way she was, with nothing on her but her kilt; and she was all wet with the dews and the sea on the black beach, and shook straight on with cold and the terror of the dark and the devils.

“Too much ’fraid,” was all she said.

The far side of Case’s hill goes down near as steep as a precipice into the next valley. We were on the very edge of it, and I could see the dead wood shine and hear the sea sound far below. I didn’t care about the position, which left me no retreat, but I was afraid to change. Then I saw I had made a worse mistake about the lantern, which I should have left lighted, so that I could have had a crack at Case when he stepped into the shine of it. And even if I hadn’t had the wit to do that, it seemed a senseless thing to leave the good lantern to blow up with the graven images. The thing belonged to me, after all, and was worth money, and might come in handy. If I could have trusted the match, I might have run in still and rescued it. But who was going to trust the match? You know what trade is. The stuff was good enough for Kanakas to go fishing with, where they’ve got to look lively anyway, and the most they risk is only to have their hand blown off. But for any one that wanted to fool around a blow-up like mine that match was rubbish.

Altogether, the best I could do was to lie still, see my 264 shot-gun handy, and wait for the explosion. But it was a solemn kind of a business. The blackness of the night was like solid; the only thing you could see was the nasty bogy glimmer of the dead wood, and that showed you nothing but itself; and as for sounds, I stretched my ears till I thought I could have heard the match burn in the tunnel, and that bush was as silent as a coffin. Now and then there was a bit of a crack; but whether it was near or far, whether it was Case stubbing his toes within a few yards of me, or a tree breaking miles away, I knew no more than the babe unborn.

And then, all of a sudden, Vesuvius went off. It was a long time coming; but when it came (though I say it that shouldn’t) no man could ask to see a better. At first it was just a son of a gun of a row, and a spout of fire, and the wood lighted up so that you could see to read. And then the trouble began. Uma and I were half buried under a wagonful of earth, and glad it was no worse, for one of the rocks at the entrance of the tunnel was fired clean into the air, fell within a couple of fathoms of where we lay, and bounded over the edge of the hill, and went pounding down into the next valley. I saw I had rather under-calculated our distance, or overdone the dynamite and powder, which you please.

And presently I saw I had made another slip. The noise of the thing began to die off, shaking the island; the dazzle was over; and yet the night didn’t come back the way I expected. For the whole wood was scattered with red coals and brands from the explosion; they were all round me on the flat; some had fallen below in the valley, and some stuck and flared in the tree-tops. I had no fear of fire, for these forests are too wet to kindle. But the trouble was that the place was all lit up—not very bright, but good enough to get a shot by; and the way the coals were scattered, it was just as likely Case might have the advantage as myself. I looked all round for his white face, you may be sure; but there was not a sign of him. As for Uma, 265 the life seemed to have been knocked right out of her by the bang and blaze of it.

There was one bad point in my game. One of the blessed graven images had come down all afire, hair and clothes and body, not four yards away from me. I cast a mighty noticing glance all round; there was still no Case, and I made up my mind I must get rid of that burning stick before he came, or I should be shot there like a dog.

It was my first idea to have crawled, and then I thought speed was the main thing, and stood half up to make a rush. The same moment from somewhere between me and the sea there came a flash and a report, and a rifle bullet screeched in my ear. I swung straight round and up with my gun, but the brute had a Winchester, and before I could as much as see him his second shot knocked me over like a nine-pin. I seemed to fly in the air, then came down by the run and lay half a minute, silly; and then I found my hands empty, and my gun had flown over my head as I fell. It makes a man mighty wide awake to be in the kind of box that I was in. I scarcely knew where I was hurt, or whether I was hurt or not, but turned right over on my face to crawl after my weapon. Unless you have tried to get about with a smashed leg you don’t know what pain is, and I let out a howl like a bullock’s.

This was the unluckiest noise that ever I made in my life. Up to then Uma had stuck to her tree like a sensible woman, knowing she would be only in the way; but as soon as she heard me sing out she ran forward. The Winchester cracked again and down she went.

I had sat up, leg and all, to stop her; but when I saw her tumble I clapped down again where I was, lay still, and felt the handle of my knife. I had been scurried and put out before. No more of that for me. He had knocked over my girl, I had got to fix him for it; and I lay there and gritted my teeth, and footed up the chances. My leg was broke, my gun was gone. Case had still ten shots in his Winchester. It looked a kind of hopeless business. 266 But I never despaired nor thought upon despairing: that man had got to go.

For a goodish bit not one of us let on. Then I heard Case begin to move nearer in the bush, but mighty careful. The image had burned out; there were only a few coals left here and there, and the wood was main dark, but had a kind of a low glow in it like a fire on its last legs. It was by this that I made out Case’s head looking at me over a big tuft of ferns, and at the same time the brute saw me and shouldered his Winchester. I lay quite still, and as good as looked into the barrel: it was my last chance, but I thought my heart would have come right out of its bearings. Then he fired. Lucky for me it was no shot-gun, for the bullet struck within an inch of me and knocked the dirt in my eyes.

Just you try and see if you can lie quiet, and let a man take a sitting shot at you and miss you by a hair. But I did, and lucky too. A while Case stood with the Winchester at the port-arms; then he gave a little laugh to himself and stepped round the ferns.

“Laugh!” thought I. “If you had the wit of a louse you would be praying!”

I was all as taut as a ship’s hawser or the spring of a watch, and as soon as he came within reach of me I had him by the ankle, plucked the feet right out from under him, laid him out, and was upon the top of him, broken leg and all, before he breathed. His Winchester had gone the same road as my shot-gun; it was nothing to me—I defied him now. I’m a pretty strong man anyway, but I never knew what strength was till I got hold of Case. He was knocked out of time by the rattle he came down with, and threw up his hands together, more like a frightened woman, so that I caught both of them with my left. This wakened him up, and he fastened his teeth in my forearm like a weasel. Much I cared. My leg gave me all the pain I had any use for, and I drew my knife and got it in the place.

“Now,” said I, “I’ve got you; and you’re gone up, 267 and a good job too! Do you feel the point of that? That’s for Underhill! And there’s for Adams! And now here’s for Uma, and that’s going to knock your blooming soul right out of you!”

With that I gave him the cold steel for all I was worth. His body kicked under me like a spring sofa; he gave a dreadful kind of a long moan, and lay still.

“I wonder if you’re dead? I hope so!” I thought, for my head was swimming. But I wasn’t going to take chances; I had his own example too close before me for that; and I tried to draw the knife out to give it him again. The blood came over my hands, I remember, hot as tea; and with that I fainted clean away, and fell with my head on the man’s mouth.

When I came to myself it was pitch dark; the cinders had burned out; there was nothing to be seen but the shine of the dead wood, and I couldn’t remember where I was nor why I was in such pain, nor what I was all wetted with. Then it came back, and the first thing I attended to was to give him the knife again a half a dozen times up to the handle. I believe he was dead already, but it did him no harm, and did me good.

“I bet you’re dead now,” I said, and then I called to Uma.

Nothing answered, and I made a move to go and grope for her, fouled my broken leg, and fainted again.

When I came to myself the second time the clouds had all cleared away, except a few that sailed there, white as cotton. The moon was up—a tropic moon. The moon at home turns a wood black, but even this old butt end of a one showed up that forest as green as by day. The night birds—or, rather, they’re a kind of early morning bird—sang out with their long, falling notes like nightingales. And I could see the dead man, that I was still half resting on, looking right up into the sky with his open eyes, no paler than when he was alive; and a little way off Uma tumbled on her side. I got over to her the best way I was 268 able, and when I got there she was broad awake, and crying and sobbing to herself with no more noise than an insect. It appears she was afraid to cry out loud, because of the aitus. Altogether she was not much hurt, but scared beyond belief; she had come to her senses a long while ago, cried out to me, heard nothing in reply, made out we were both dead, and had lain there ever since, afraid to budge a finger. The ball had ploughed up her shoulder and she had lost a main quantity of blood; but I soon had that tied up the way it ought to be with the tail of my shirt and a scarf I had on, got her head on my sound knee and my back against a trunk, and settled down to wait for morning. Uma was for neither use nor ornament, and could only clutch hold of me and shake and cry. I don’t suppose there was ever anybody worse scared, and, to do her justice, she had had a lively night of it. As for me, I was in a good bit of pain and fever, but not so bad when I sat still; and every time I looked over to Case I could have sung and whistled. Talk about meat and drink! To see that man lying there dead as a herring filled me full.

The night birds stopped after a while; and then the light began to change, the east came orange, the whole wood began to whirr with singing like a musical box, and there was the broad day.

I didn’t expect Maea for a long while yet; and indeed I thought there was an off-chance he might go back on the whole idea and not come at all. I was the better pleased when, about an hour after daylight, I heard sticks smashing and a lot of Kanakas laughing and singing out to keep their courage up.

Uma sat up quite brisk at the first word of it; and presently we saw a party come stringing out of the path, Maea in front, and behind him a white man in a pith helmet. It was Mr. Tarleton, who had turned up late last night in Falesá, having left his boat and walked the last stage with a lantern.

They buried Case upon the field of glory, right in the 269 hole where he had kept the smoking head. I waited till the thing was done; and Mr. Tarleton prayed, which I thought tomfoolery, but I’m bound to say he gave a pretty sick view of the dear departed’s prospects, and seemed to have his own ideas of hell. I had it out with him afterwards, told him he had scamped his duty, and what he had ought to have done was to up like a man and tell the Kanakas plainly Case was damned, and a good riddance; but I never could get him to see it my way. Then they made me a litter of poles and carried me down to the station. Mr. Tarleton set my leg, and made a regular missionary splice of it, so that I limp to this day. That done, he took down my evidence, and Uma’s, and Maea’s, wrote it all out fine, and had us sign it; and then he got the chiefs and marched over to Papa Randall’s to seize Case’s papers.

All they found was a bit of a diary, kept for a good many years, and all about the price of copra, and chickens being stolen, and that; and the books of the business and the will I told you of in the beginning, by both of which the whole thing (stock, lock, and barrel) appeared to belong to the Samoa woman. It was I that bought her out at a mighty reasonable figure, for she was in a hurry to get home. As for Randall and the black, they had to tramp; got into some kind of a station on the Papa-malulu side; did very bad business, for the truth is neither of the pair was fit for it, and lived mostly on fish, which was the means of Randall’s death. It seems there was a nice shoal in one day, and Papa went after them with the dynamite; either the match burned too fast, or Papa was full, or both, but the shell went off (in the usual way) before he threw it, and where was Papa’s hand? Well, there’s nothing to hurt in that; the islands up north are all full of one-handed men, like the parties in the “Arabian Nights”; but either Randall was too old, or he drank too much, and the short and the long of it was that he died. Pretty soon after, the nigger was turned out of the island for stealing 270 from white men, and went off to the west, where he found men of his own colour, in case he liked that, and the men of his own colour took and ate him at some kind of a corroborree, and I’m sure I hope he was to their fancy!

So there was I, left alone in my glory at Falesá; and when the schooner came round I filled her up, and gave her a deck-cargo half as high as the house. I must say Mr. Tarleton did the right thing by us; but he took a meanish kind of a revenge.

“Now, Mr. Wiltshire,” said he, “I’ve put you all square with everybody here. It wasn’t difficult to do, Case being gone; but I have done it, and given my pledge besides that you will deal fairly with the natives. I must ask you to keep my word.”

Well, so I did. I used to be bothered about my balances, but I reasoned it out this way: We all have queerish balances, and the natives all know it, and water their copra in a proportion so that it’s fair all round; but the truth is, it did use to bother me, and, though I did well in Falesá, I was half glad when the firm moved me on to another station, where I was under no kind of a pledge and could look my balances in the face.

As for the old lady, you know her as well as I do. She’s only the one fault. If you don’t keep your eye lifting she would give away the roof off the station. Well, it seems it’s natural in Kanakas. She’s turned a powerful big woman now, and could throw a London bobby over her shoulder. But that’s natural in Kanakas too, and there’s no manner of doubt that she’s an A1 wife.

Mr. Tarleton’s gone home, his trick being over. He was the best missionary I ever struck, and now, it seems, he’s parsonising down Somerset way. Well, that’s best for him; he’ll have no Kanakas there to get luny over.

My public-house? Not a bit of it, nor ever likely. I’m stuck here, I fancy. I don’t like to leave the kids, you see: and—there’s no use talking—they’re better here than what they would be in a white man’s country, though Ben took 271 the eldest up to Auckland, where he’s being schooled with the best. But what bothers me is the girls. They’re only half-castes, of course; I know that as well as you do, and there’s nobody thinks less of half-castes than I do; but they’re mine, and about all I’ve got. I can’t reconcile my mind to their taking up with Kanakas, and I’d like to know where I’m to find the whites?

5 Yes.








Any student of that very unliterary product, the English drama of the early part of the century, will here recognise the name and the root idea of a piece once rendered popular by the redoubtable O. Smith. The root idea is there, and identical, and yet I hope I have made it a new thing. And the fact that the tale has been designed and written for a Polynesian audience may lend it some extraneous interest nearer home.

R. L. S.




There was a man of the island of Hawaii, whom I shall call Keawe; for the truth is, he still lives, and his name must be kept secret; but the place of his birth was not far from Honaunau, where the bones of Keawe the Great lie hidden in a cave. This man was poor, brave, and active; he could read and write like a schoolmaster; he was a first-rate mariner besides, sailed for some time in the island steamers, and steered a whaleboat on the Hamakua coast. At length it came in Keawe’s mind to have a sight of the great world and foreign cities, and he shipped on a vessel bound to San Francisco.

This is a fine town, with a fine harbour, and rich people uncountable; and, in particular, there is one hill which is covered with palaces. Upon this hill Keawe was one day taking a walk with his pocket full of money, viewing the great houses upon either hand with pleasure. “What fine houses these are!” he was thinking, “and how happy must those people be who dwell in them, and take no care for the morrow!” The thought was in his mind when he came abreast of a house that was smaller than some others, but all finished and beautified like a toy; the steps of that house shone like silver, and the borders of the garden bloomed like garlands, and the windows were bright like diamonds; and Keawe stopped and wondered at the excellence of all he saw. So stopping, he was aware of a man that looked forth upon him through a window so clear that Keawe could see him as you see a fish in a pool upon the reef. The man was elderly, with a bald head and a black beard; and his face was heavy with sorrow, and he bitterly sighed. And the truth of it is, that as Keawe 276 looked in upon the man, and the man looked out upon Keawe, each envied the other.

All of a sudden the man smiled and nodded, and beckoned Keawe to enter, and met him at the door of the house.

“This is a fine house of mine,” said the man, and bitterly sighed. “Would you not care to view the chambers?”

So he led Keawe all over it, from the cellar to the roof, and there was nothing there that was not perfect of its kind, and Keawe was astonished.

“Truly,” said Keawe, “this is a beautiful house; if I lived in the like of it I should be laughing all day long. How comes it, then, that you should be sighing?”

“There is no reason,” said the man, “why you should not have a house in all points similar to this, and finer, if you wish. You have some money, I suppose?”

“I have fifty dollars,” said Keawe; “but a house like this will cost more than fifty dollars.”

The man made a computation. “I am sorry you have no more,” said he, “for it may raise you trouble in the future; but it shall be yours at fifty dollars.”

“The house?” asked Keawe.

“No, not the house,” replied the man; “but the bottle. For, I must tell you, although I appear to you so rich and fortunate, all my fortune, and this house itself and its garden, came out of a bottle not much bigger than a pint. This is it.”

And he opened a lockfast place, and took out a round-bellied bottle with a long neck; the glass of it was white like milk, with changing rainbow colours in the grain. Withinsides something obscurely moved, like a shadow and a fire.

“This is the bottle,” said the man; and when Keawe laughed, “You do not believe me?” he added. “Try, then, for yourself. See if you can break it.”

So Keawe took the bottle up and dashed it on the floor till he was weary; but it jumped on the floor like a child’s ball, and was not injured. 277

“This is a strange thing,” said Keawe. “For by the touch of it, as well as by the look, the bottle should be of glass.”

“Of glass it is,” replied the man, sighing more heavily than ever; “but the glass of it was tempered in the flames of hell. An imp lives in it, and that is the shadow we behold there moving; or so I suppose. If any man buy this bottle the imp is at his command; all that he desires—love, fame, money, houses like this house, ay, or a city like this city—all are his at the word uttered. Napoleon had this bottle, and by it he grew to be the king of the world; but he sold it at the last, and fell. Captain Cook had this bottle, and by it he found his way to so many islands; but he, too, sold it, and was slain upon Hawaii. For, once it is sold, the power goes and the protection; and unless a man remain content with what he has, ill will befall him.”

“And yet you talk of selling it yourself?” Keawe said.

“I have all I wish, and I am growing elderly,” replied the man. “There is one thing the imp cannot do—he cannot prolong life; and, it would not be fair to conceal from you, there is a drawback to the bottle; for if a man die before he sells it, he must burn in hell for ever.”

“To be sure, that is a drawback and no mistake,” cried Keawe. “I would not meddle with the thing. I can do without a house, thank God; but there is one thing I could not be doing with one particle, and that is to be damned.”

“Dear me, you must not run away with things,” returned the man. “All you have to do is to use the power of the imp in moderation, and then sell it to someone else, as I do to you, and finish your life in comfort.”

“Well, I observe two things,” said Keawe. “All the time you keep sighing like a maid in love, that is one; and, for the other, you sell this bottle very cheap.”

“I have told you already why I sigh,” said the man. 278 “It is because I fear my health is breaking up; and, as you said yourself, to die and go to the devil is a pity for anyone. As for why I sell so cheap, I must explain to you there is a peculiarity about the bottle. Long ago, when the devil brought it first upon earth, it was extremely expensive, and was sold first of all to Prester John for many millions of dollars; but it cannot be sold at all, unless sold at a loss. If you sell it for as much as you paid for it, back it comes to you again like a homing pigeon. It follows that the price has kept falling in these centuries, and the bottle is now remarkably cheap. I bought it myself from one of my great neighbours on this hill, and the price I paid was only ninety dollars. I could sell it for as high as eighty-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents, but not a penny dearer, or back the thing must come to me. Now, about this there are two bothers. First, when you offer a bottle so singular for eighty odd dollars, people suppose you to be jesting. And second—but there is no hurry about that—and I need not go into it. Only remember it must be coined money that you sell it for.”

“How am I to know that this is all true?” asked Keawe.

“Some of it you can try at once,” replied the man. “Give me your fifty dollars, take the bottle, and wish your fifty dollars back into your pocket. If that does not happen, I pledge you my honour I will cry off the bargain and restore your money.”

“You are not deceiving me?” said Keawe.

The man bound himself with a great oath.

“Well, I will risk that much,” said Keawe, “for that can do no harm.” And he paid over his money to the man, and the man handed him the bottle.

“Imp of the bottle,” said Keawe, “I want my fifty dollars back.” And sure enough he had scarce said the word before his pocket was as heavy as ever.

“To be sure this is a wonderful bottle,” said Keawe.

“And now good-morning to you, my fine fellow, and the devil go with you for me!” said the man. 279

“Hold on,” said Keawe, “I don’t want any more of this fun. Here, take your bottle back.”

“You have bought it for less than I paid for it,” replied the man, rubbing his hands. “It is yours now; and, for my part, I am only concerned to see the back of you.” And with that he rang for his Chinese servant, and had Keawe shown out of the house.

Now, when Keawe was in the street, with the bottle under his arm, he began to think. “If all is true about this bottle, I may have made a losing bargain,” thinks he. “But perhaps the man was only fooling me.” The first thing he did was to count his money; the sum was exact—forty-nine dollars American money, and one Chili piece. “That looks like the truth,” said Keawe. “Now I will try another part.”

The streets in that part of the city were as clean as a ship’s decks, and though it was noon, there were no passengers. Keawe set the bottle in the gutter and walked away. Twice he looked back, and there was the milky, round-bellied bottle where he left it. A third time he looked back, and turned a corner; but he had scarce done so, when something knocked upon his elbow, and behold! it was the long neck sticking up; and as for the round belly, it was jammed into the pocket of his pilot-coat.

“And that looks like the truth,” said Keawe.

The next thing he did was to buy a corkscrew in a shop, and go apart into a secret place in the fields. And there he tried to draw the cork, but as often as he put the screw in, out it came again, and the cork as whole as ever.

“This is some new sort of cork,” said Keawe, and all at once he began to shake and sweat, for he was afraid of that bottle.

On his way back to the port-side he saw a shop where a man sold shells and clubs from the wild islands, old heathen deities, old coined money, pictures from China and Japan, and all manner of things that sailors bring in their 280 seachests. And here he had an idea. So he went in and offered the bottle for a hundred dollars. The man of the shop laughed at him at the first, and offered him five; but, indeed, it was a curious bottle—such glass was never blown in any human glass-works, so prettily the colours shone under the milky white, and so strangely the shadow hovered in the midst; so, after he had disputed a while after the manner of his kind, the shopman gave Keawe sixty silver dollars for the thing, and set it on a shelf in the midst of his window.

“Now,” said Keawe, “I have sold that for sixty which I bought for fifty—or, to say truth, a little less, because one of my dollars was from Chili. Now I shall know the truth upon another point.”

So he went back on board his ship, and, when he opened his chest, there was the bottle, and had come more quickly than himself. Now Keawe had a mate on board whose name was Lopaka.

“What ails you,” said Lopaka, “that you stare in your chest?”

They were alone in the ship’s forecastle, and Keawe bound him to secrecy, and told all.

“This is a very strange affair,” said Lopaka; “and I fear you will be in trouble about this bottle. But there is one point very clear—that you are sure of the trouble, and you had better have the profit in the bargain. Make up your mind what you want with it; give the order, and if it is done as you desire, I will buy the bottle myself; for I have an idea of my own to get a schooner, and go trading through the islands.”

“That is not my idea,” said Keawe; “but to have a beautiful house and garden on the Kona Coast, where I was born, the sun shining in at the door, flowers in the garden, glass in the windows, pictures on the walls, and toys and fine carpets on the tables, for all the world like the house I was in this day—only a story higher, and with balconies all about like the King’s palace; and to live 281 there without care and make merry with my friends and relatives.”

“Well,” said Lopaka, “let us carry it back with us to Hawaii; and if all comes true, as you suppose, I will buy the bottle, as I said, and ask a schooner.”

Upon that they were agreed, and it was not long before the ship returned to Honolulu, carrying Keawe and Lopaka, and the bottle. They were scarce come ashore when they met a friend upon the beach, who began at once to condole with Keawe.

“I do not know what I am to be condoled about,” said Keawe.

“Is it possible you have not heard,” said the friend, “your uncle—hat good old man—is dead, and your cousin — that beautiful boy—was drowned at sea?”

Keawe was filled with sorrow, and, beginning to weep and to lament, he forgot about the bottle. But Lopaka was thinking to himself, and presently, when Keawe’s grief was a little abated, “I have been thinking,” said Lopaka. “Had not your uncle lands in Hawaii, in the district of Kaü?”

“No,” said Keawe, “not in Kaü; they are on the mountain-side—a little way south of Hookena.”

“These lands will now be yours?” asked Lopaka.

“And so they will,” says Keawe, and began again to lament for his relatives.

“No,” said Lopaka, “do not lament at present. I have a thought in my mind. How if this should be the doing of the bottle? For here is the place ready for your house.”

“If this be so,” cried Keawe, “it is a very ill way to serve me by killing my relatives. But it may be, indeed; for it was in just such a station that I saw the house with my mind’s eye.”

“The house, however, is not yet built,” said Lopaka.

“No, nor like to be!” said Keawe; “for though my uncle has some coffee and ava and bananas, it will 282 not be more than will keep me in comfort; and the rest of that land is the black lava.”

“Let us go to the lawyer,” said Lopaka; “I have still this idea in my mind.”

Now, when they came to the lawyer’s, it appeared Keawe’s uncle had grown monstrous rich in the last days, and there was a fund of money.

“And here is the money for the house!” cried Lopaka.

“If you are thinking of a new house,” said the lawyer, “here is the card of a new architect, of whom they tell me great things.”

“Better and better!” cried Lopaka. “Here is all made plain for us. Let us continue to obey orders.”

So they went to the architect, and he had drawings of houses on his table.

“You want something out of the way,” said the architect. “How do you like this?” and he handed a drawing to Keawe.

Now, when Keawe set eyes on the drawing, he cried out aloud, for it was the picture of his thought exactly drawn.

“I am in for this house,” thought he. “Little as I like the way it comes to me, I am in for it now, and I may as well take the good along with the evil.”

So he told the architect all that he wished, and how he would have that house furnished, and about the pictures on the wall and the knick-knacks on the tables; and he asked the man plainly for how much he would undertake the whole affair.

The architect put many questions, and took his pen and made a computation; and when he had done he named the very sum that Keawe had inherited.

Lopaka and Keawe looked at one another and nodded.

“It is quite clear,” thought Keawe, “that I am to have this house, whether or no. It comes from the devil, and I fear I will get little good by that; and of one thing I am sure, I will make no more wishes as long as I have this 283 bottle. But with the house I am saddled, and I may as well take the good along with the evil.”

So he made his terms with the architect, and they signed a paper; and Keawe and Lopaka took ship again and sailed to Australia; for it was concluded between them they should not interfere at all, but leave the architect and the bottle imp to build and to adorn that house at their own pleasure.

The voyage was a good voyage, only all the time Keawe was holding in his breath, for he had sworn he would utter no more wishes, and take no more favours from the devil. The time was up when they got back. The architect told them that the house was ready, and Keawe and Lopaka took a passage in the Hall, and went down Kona way to view the house, and see if all had been done fitly according to the thought that was in Keawe’s mind.

Now, the house stood on the mountain side, visible to ships. Above, the forest ran up into the clouds of rain; below, the black lava fell in cliffs, where the kings of old lay buried. A garden bloomed about that house with every hue of flowers; and there was an orchard of papaia on the one hand and an orchard of bread-fruit on the other, and right in front, toward the sea, a ship’s mast had been rigged up and bore a flag. As for the house, it was three stories high, with great chambers and broad balconies on each. The windows were of glass, so excellent that it was as clear as water and as bright as day. All manner of furniture adorned the chambers. Pictures hung upon the wall in golden frames: pictures of ships, and men fighting, and of the most beautiful women, and of singular places; nowhere in the world are there pictures of so bright a colour as those Keawe found hanging in his house. As for the knick-knacks, they were extraordinary fine; chiming clocks and musical boxes, little men with nodding heads, books filled with pictures, weapons of price from all quarters of the world, and the most elegant puzzles to entertain the leisure of a solitary man. And as no one 284 would care to live in such chambers, only to walk through and view them, the balconies were made so broad that a whole town might have lived upon them in delight; and Keawe knew not which to prefer, whether the back porch, where you got the land-breeze, and looked upon the orchards and the flowers, or the front balcony, where you could drink the wind of the sea, and look down the steep wall of the mountain and see the Hall going by once a week or so between Hookena and the hills of Pele, or the schooners plying up the coast for wood and ava and bananas.

When they had viewed all, Keawe and Lopaka sat on the porch.

“Well,” asked Lopaka, “is it all as you designed?”

“Words cannot utter it,” said Keawe. “It is better than I dreamed, and I am sick with satisfaction.”

“There is but one thing to consider,” said Lopaka; “all this may be quite natural, and the bottle imp have nothing whatever to say to it. If I were to buy the bottle, and got no schooner after all, I should have put my hand in the fire for nothing. I gave you my word, I know; but yet I think you would not grudge me one more proof.”

“I have sworn I would take no more favours,” said Keawe. “I have gone already deep enough.”

“This is no favour I am thinking of,” replied Lopaka. “It is only to see the imp himself. There is nothing to be gained by that, and so nothing to be ashamed of; and yet, if I once saw him, I should be sure of the whole matter. So indulge me so far, and let me see the imp; and, after that, here is the money in my hand, and I will buy it.”

“There is only one thing I am afraid of,” said Keawe. “The imp may be very ugly to view: and if you once set eyes upon him you might be very undesirous of the bottle.”

“I am a man of my word,” said Lopaka. “And here is the money betwixt us.” 285

“Very well,” replied Keawe. “I have a curiosity myself.—So come, let us have one look at you, Mr. Imp.”

Now as soon as that was said the imp looked out of the bottle, and in again, swift as a lizard; and there sat Keawe and Lopaka turned to stone. The night had quite come, before either found a thought to say or voice to say it with; and then Lopaka pushed the money over and took the bottle.

“I am a man of my word,” said he, “and had need to be so, or I would not touch this bottle with my foot. Well, I shall get my schooner and a dollar or two for my pocket; and then I will be rid of this devil as fast as I can. For to tell you the plain truth, the look of him has cast me down.”

“Lopaka,” said Keawe, “do not you think any worse of me than you can help; I know it is night, and the roads bad, and the pass by the tombs an ill place to go by so late, but I declare since I have seen that little face, I cannot eat or sleep or pray till it is gone from me. I will give you a lantern, and a basket to put the bottle in, and any picture or fine thing in all my house that takes your fancy;—and be gone at once, and go sleep at Hookena with Nahinu.”

“Keawe,” said Lopaka, “many a man would take this ill; above all, when I am doing you a turn so friendly as to keep my word and buy the bottle; and for that matter, the night, and the dark, and the way by the tombs, must be all tenfold more dangerous to a man with such a sin upon his conscience, and such a bottle under his arm. But for my part, I am so extremely terrified myself I have not the heart to blame you. Here I go then; and I pray God you may be happy in your house, and I fortunate with my schooner, and both get to heaven in the end in spite of the devil and his bottle.”

So Lopaka went down the mountain; and Keawe stood in his front balcony, and listened to the clink of the horse’s shoes, and watched the lantern go shining down the path, and along the cliff of caves where the old dead are buried; and all the time he trembled and clasped his hands, and 286 prayed for his friend, and gave glory to God that he himself was escaped out of that trouble.

But the next day came very brightly, and that new house of his was so delightful to behold that he forgot his terrors. One day followed another, and Keawe dwelt there in perpetual joy. He had his place on the back porch; it was there he ate and lived, and read the stories in the Honolulu newspapers; but when anyone came by they would go in and view the chambers and the pictures. And the fame of the house went far and wide; it was called Ka-Hale-Nui—the Great House—in all Kona; and sometimes the Bright House, for Keawe kept a Chinaman, who was all day dusting and furbishing; and the glass, and the gilt, and the fine stuffs, and the pictures, shone as bright as the morning. As for Keawe himself, he could not walk in the chambers without singing, his heart was so enlarged; and when ships sailed by upon the sea, he would fly his colours on the mast.

So time went by, until one day Keawe went upon a visit as far as Kailua to certain of his friends. There he was well feasted; and left as soon as he could the next morning, and drove hard, for he was impatient to behold his beautiful house; and, besides, the night then coming on was the night in which the dead of old days go abroad in the sides of Kona; and having already meddled with the devil, he was the more chary of meeting with the dead. A little beyond Honaunau, looking far ahead, he was aware of a woman bathing in the edge of the sea; and she seemed a well-grown girl, but he thought no more of it. Then he saw her white shift flutter as she put it on, and then her red holoku; and by the time he came abreast of her she was done with her toilet, and had come up from the sea, and stood by the track side in her red holoku, and she was all freshened with the bath, and her eyes shone and were kind. Now Keawe no sooner beheld her than he drew rein.

“I thought I knew everyone in this country,” said he. “How comes it that I do not know you?” 287

“I am Kokua, daughter of Kiano,” said the girl, “and I have just returned from Oahu. Who are you?”

“I will tell you who I am in a little,” said Keawe, dismounting from his horse, “but not now. For I have a thought in my mind, and if you knew who I was, you might have heard of me, and would not give me a true answer. But tell me, first of all, one thing: Are you married?”

At this Kokua laughed out aloud. “It is you who ask questions,” she said. “Are you married yourself?”

“Indeed, Kokua, I am not,” replied Keawe, “and never thought to be until this hour. But here is the plain truth. I have met you here at the roadside, and I saw your eyes, which are like the stars, and my heart went to you as swift as a bird. And so now, if you want none of me, say so, and I will go on to my own place; but if you think me no worse than any other young man, say so, too, and I will turn aside to your father’s for the night, and to-morrow I will talk with the good man.”

Kokua said never a word, but she looked at the sea and laughed.

“Kokua,” said Keawe, “if you say nothing, I will take that for the good answer; so let us be stepping to your father’s door.”

She went on ahead of him, still without speech; only sometimes she glanced back and glanced away again, and she kept the strings of her hat in her mouth.

Now, when they had come to the door, Kiano came out on his verandah, and cried out and welcomed Keawe by name. At that the girl looked over, for the fame of the great house had come to her ears; and, to be sure, it was a great temptation. All that evening they were very merry together; and the girl was as bold as brass under the eyes of her parents, and made a mock of Keawe, for she had a quick wit. The next day he had a word with Kiano, and found the girl alone.

“Kokua,” said he, “you made a mock of me all the evening; and it is still time to bid me go. I would not 288 tell you who I was, because I have so fine a house, and I feared you would think too much of that house and too little of the man who loves you. Now you know all, and if you wish to have seen the last of me, say so at once.”

“No,” said Kokua; but this time she did not laugh, nor did Keawe ask for more.

This was the wooing of Keawe; things had gone quickly; but so an arrow goes, and the ball of a rifle swifter still, and yet both may strike the target. Things had gone fast, but they had gone far also, and the thought of Keawe rang in the maiden’s head; she heard his voice in the breach of the surf upon the lava, and for this young man that she had seen but twice she would have left father and mother and her native islands. As for Keawe himself, his horse flew up the path of the mountain under the cliff of tombs, and the sound of the hoofs, and the sound of Keawe singing to himself for pleasure, echoed in the caverns of the dead. He came to the Bright House, and still he was singing. He sat and ate in the broad balcony, and the Chinaman wondered at his master, to hear how he sang between the mouthfuls. The sun went down into the sea, and the night came; and Keawe walked the balconies by lamplight, high on the mountains, and the voice of his singing startled men on ships.

“Here am I now upon my high place,” he said to himself. “Life may be no better; this is the mountain top: and all shelves about me toward the worse. For the first time I will light up the chambers, and bathe in my fine bath with the hot water and the cold, and sleep alone in the bed of my bridal chamber.”

So the Chinaman had word, and he must rise from sleep and light the furnaces; and as he wrought below, beside the boilers, he heard his master singing and rejoicing above him in the lighted chambers. When the water began to be hot the Chinaman cried to his master; and Keawe went into the bathroom; and the Chinaman heard him sing as he filled the marble basin; and heard him sing, and the 289 singing broken, as he undressed; until of a sudden the song ceased. The Chinaman listened, and listened; he called up the house to Keawe to ask if all were well, and Keawe answered him “Yes,” and bade him go to bed; but there was no more singing in the Bright House; and all night long the Chinaman heard his master’s feet go round and round the balconies without repose.

Now the truth of it was this: as Keawe undressed for his bath, he spied upon his flesh a patch like a patch of lichen on a rock, and it was then that he stopped singing. For he knew the likeness of that patch, and knew that he was fallen in the Chinese Evil.6

Now, it is a sad thing for any man to fall into this sickness. And it would be a sad thing for anyone to leave a house so beautiful and so commodious, and depart from all his friends to the north coast of Molokai between the mighty cliff and the sea-breakers. But what was that to the case of the man Keawe, he who had met his love but yesterday, and won her but that morning, and now saw all his hopes break, in a moment, like a piece of glass?

A while he sat upon the edge of the bath; then sprang, with a cry, and ran outside; and to and fro, to and fro, along the balcony, like one despairing.

“Very willingly could I leave Hawaii, the home of my fathers,” Keawe was thinking. “Very lightly could I leave my house, the high-placed, the many-windowed, here upon the mountains. Very bravely could I go to Molokai, to Kalaupapa by the cliffs, to live with the smitten and to sleep there, far from my fathers. But what wrong have I done, what sin lies upon my soul, that I should have encountered Kokua coming cool from the sea-water in the evening? Kokua, the soul ensnarer! Kokua, the light of my life! Her may I never wed, her may I look upon no longer, her may I no more handle with my loving hand; and it is for this, it is for you, O Kokua! that I pour my lamentations!” 290

Now you are to observe what sort of a man Keawe was, for he might have dwelt there in the Bright House for years, and no one been the wiser of his sickness; but he reckoned nothing of that, if he must lose Kokua. And again, he might have wed Kokua even as he was; and so many would have done, because they have the souls of pigs; but Keawe loved the maid manfully, and he would do her no hurt and bring her in no danger.

A little beyond the midst of the night, there came in his mind the recollection of that bottle. He went round to the back porch, and called to memory the day when the devil had looked forth; and at the thought ice ran in his veins.

“A dreadful thing is the bottle,” thought Keawe, “and dreadful is the imp, and it is a dreadful thing to risk the flames of hell. But what other hope have I to cure my sickness or to wed Kokua? What!” he thought, “would I beard the devil once, only to get me a house, and not face him again to win Kokua?”

Thereupon he called to mind it was the next day the Hall went by on her return to Honolulu. “There must I go first,” he thought, “and see Lopaka. For the best hope that I have now is to find that same bottle I was so pleased to be rid of.”

Never a wink could he sleep; the food stuck in his throat; but he sent a letter to Kiano, and, about the time when the steamer would be coming, rode down beside the cliff of the tombs. It rained; his horse went heavily; he looked up at the black mouths of the caves, and he envied the dead that slept there and were done with trouble; and called to mind how he had galloped by the day before, and was astonished. So he came down to Hookena, and there was all the country gathered for the steamer as usual. In the shed before the store they sat and jested and passed the news; but there was no matter of speech in Keawe’s bosom, and he sat in their midst and looked without on the rain falling on the houses, and the surf beating among the rocks, and the sighs arose in his throat. 291

“Keawe of the Bright House is out of spirits,” said one to another. Indeed, and so he was, and little wonder.

Then the Hall came, and the whale-boat carried him on board. The after-part of the ship was full of Haoles7 who had been to visit the volcano, as their custom is; and the midst was crowded with Kanakas, and the fore-part with wild bulls from Hilo and horses from Kaü; but Keawe sat apart from all in his sorrow, and watched for the house of Kiano. There it sat, low upon the shore in the black rocks, and shaded by the cocoa-palms, and there by the door was a red holoku, no greater than a fly, and going to and fro with a fly’s busyness. “Ah, queen of my heart,” he cried, “I’ll venture my dear soul to win you!”

Soon after, darkness fell, and the cabins were lit up, and the Haoles sat and played at the cards and drank whisky as their custom is; but Keawe walked the deck all night; and all the next day, as they steamed under the lee of Maui or of Molokai, he was still pacing to and fro like a wild animal in a menagerie.

Towards evening they passed Diamond Head, and came to the pier of Honolulu. Keawe stepped out among the crowd and began to ask for Lopaka. It seemed he had become the owner of a schooner—none better in the islands—and was gone upon an adventure as far as Pola-Pola or Kahiki; so there was no help to be looked for from Lopaka. Keawe called to mind a friend of his, a lawyer in the town (I must not tell his name), and inquired of him. They said he was grown suddenly rich, and had a fine new house upon Waikiki shore; and this put a thought in Keawe’s head, and he called a hack and drove to the lawyer’s house.

The house was all brand new, and the trees in the garden no greater than walking-sticks, and the lawyer, when he came, had the air of a man well pleased.

“What can I do to serve you?” said the lawyer.

“You are a friend of Lopaka’s,” replied Keawe, “and 292 Lopaka purchased from me a certain piece of goods that I thought you might enable me to trace.”

The lawyer’s face became very dark. “I do not profess to misunderstand you, Mr. Keawe,” said he, “though this is an ugly business to be stirring in. You may be sure I know nothing, but yet I have a guess, and if you would apply in a certain quarter I think you might have news.”

And he named the name of a man, which, again, I had better not repeat. So it was for days, and Keawe went from one to another, finding everywhere new clothes and carriages, and fine new houses, and men everywhere in great contentment, although, to be sure, when he hinted at his business their faces would cloud over.

“No doubt I am upon the track,” thought Keawe. “These new clothes and carriages are all the gifts of the little imp, and these glad faces are the faces of men who have taken their profit and got rid of the accursed thing in safety. When I see pale cheeks and hear sighing, I shall know that I am near the bottle.”

So it befell at last that he was recommended to a Haole in Beritania Street. When he came to the door, about the hour of the evening meal, there were the usual marks of the new house, and the young garden, and the electric light shining in the windows; but when the owner came, a shock of hope and fear ran through Keawe; for here was a young man, white as a corpse, and black about the eyes, the hair shedding from his head, and such a look in his countenance as a man may have when he is waiting for the gallows.

“Here it is, to be sure,” thought Keawe, and so with this man he noways veiled his errand. “I am come to buy the bottle,” said he.

At the word, the young Haole of Beritania Street reeled against the wall.

“The bottle!” he gasped. “To buy the bottle!” Then he seemed to choke, and seizing Keawe by the arm carried him into a room and poured out wine in two glasses.

“Here is my respects,” said Keawe, who had been much 293 about with Haoles in his time. “Yes,” he added, “I am come to buy the bottle. What is the price by now?”

At that word the young man let his glass slip through his fingers, and looked upon Keawe like a ghost.

“The price,” says he; “the price! You do not know the price?”

“It is for that I am asking you,” returned Keawe. “But why are you so much concerned? Is there anything wrong about the price?”

“It has dropped a great deal in value since your time, Mr. Keawe,” said the young man, stammering.

“Well, well, I shall have the less to pay for it,” says Keawe. “How much did it cost you?”

The young man was as white as a sheet. “Two cents,” said he.

“What!” cried Keawe, “two cents? Why, then, you can only sell it for one. And he who buys it——” The words died upon Keawe’s tongue; he who bought it could never sell it again, the bottle and the bottle imp must abide with him until he died, and when he died must carry him to the red end of hell.

The young man of Beritania Street fell upon his knees. “For God’s sake, buy it!” he cried. “You can have all my fortune in the bargain. I was mad when I bought it at that price. I had embezzled money at my store; I was lost else: I must have gone to gaol.”

“Poor creature,” said Keawe, “you would risk your soul upon so desperate an adventure, and to avoid the proper punishment of your own disgrace; and you think I could hesitate with love in front of me. Give me the bottle and the change which I make sure you have all ready. Here is a five-cent piece.”

It was as Keawe supposed; the young man had the change ready in a drawer; the bottle changed hands, and Keawe’s fingers were no sooner clasped upon the stalk than he had breathed his wish to be a clean man. And, sure enough, when he got home to his room, and 294 stripped himself before a glass, his flesh was whole like an infant’s. And here was the strange thing: he had no sooner seen this miracle than his mind was changed within him, and he cared naught for the Chinese Evil, and little enough for Kokua; and had but the one thought, that here he was bound to the bottle imp for time and for eternity, and had no better hope but to be a cinder for ever in the flames of hell. Away ahead of him he saw them blaze with his mind’s eye, and his soul shrank, and darkness fell upon the light.

When Keawe came to himself a little, he was aware it was the night when the band played at the hotel. Thither he went, because he feared to be alone; and there, among happy faces, walked to and fro, and heard the tunes go up and down, and saw Berger beat the measure, and all the while he heard the flames crackle, and saw the red fire burning in the bottomless pit. Of a sudden the band played Hiki-ao-ao; that was a song that he had sung with Kokua, and at the strain courage returned to him.

“It is done now,” he thought, “and once more let me take the good along with the evil.”

So it befell that he returned to Hawaii by the first steamer, and as soon as it could be managed he was wedded to Kokua, and carried her up the mountain side to the Bright House.

Now it was so with these two, that when they were together, Keawe’s heart was stilled; but so soon as he was alone he fell into a brooding horror, and heard the flames crackle, and saw the red fire burn in the bottomless pit. The girl, indeed, had come to him wholly; her heart leapt in her side at sight of him, her hand clung to his; and she was so fashioned from the hair upon her head to the nails upon her toes that none could see her without joy. She was pleasant in her nature. She had the good word always. Full of song she was, and went to and fro in the Bright House, the brightest thing in its three stories, carolling like the birds. And Keawe beheld and heard her 295 with delight, and then must shrink upon one side, and weep and groan to think upon the price that he had paid for her; and then he must dry his eyes, and wash his face, and go and sit with her on the broad balconies, joining in her songs, and, with a sick spirit, answering her smiles.

There came a day when her feet began to be heavy and her songs more rare; and now it was not Keawe only that would weep apart, but each would sunder from the other and sit in opposite balconies with the whole width of the Bright House betwixt. Keawe was so sunk in his despair he scarce observed the change, and was only glad he had more hours to sit alone and brood upon his destiny, and was not so frequently condemned to pull a smiling face on a sick heart. But one day, coming softly through the house, he heard the sound of a child sobbing, and there was Kokua rolling her face upon the balcony floor, and weeping like the lost.

“You do well to weep in this house, Kokua,” he said. “And yet I would give the head off my body that you (at least) might have been happy.”

“Happy!” she cried. “Keawe, when you lived alone in your Bright House, you were the word of the island for a happy man; laughter and song were in your mouth, and your face was as bright as the sunrise. Then you wedded poor Kokua; and the good God knows what is amiss in her—but from that day you have not smiled. O!” she cried, “what ails me? I thought I was pretty, and I knew I loved him. What ails me that I throw this cloud upon my husband?”

“Poor Kokua,” said Keawe. He sat down by her side, and sought to take her hand; but that she plucked away. “Poor Kokua!” he said again. “My poor child—my pretty. And I had thought all this while to spare you! Well, you shall know all. Then, at least, you will pity poor Keawe; then you will understand how much he loved you in the past—that he dared hell for your possession—and how much he loves you still (the 296 poor condemned one), that he can yet call up a smile when he beholds you.”

With that he told her all, even from the beginning.

“You have done this for me?” she cried. “Ah, well, then what do I care!”—and she clasped and wept upon him.

“Ah, child!” said Keawe, “and yet, when I consider of the fire of hell, I care a good deal!”

“Never tell me,” said she; “no man can be lost because he loved Kokua, and no other fault. I tell you, Keawe, I shall save you with these hands, or perish in your company. What! you loved me, and gave your soul, and you think I will not die to save you in return?”

“Ah, my dear! you might die a hundred times, and what difference would that make?” he cried, “except to leave me lonely till the time comes of my damnation?”

“You know nothing,” said she. “I was educated in a school in Honolulu; I am no common girl. And I tell you, I shall save my lover. What is this you say about a cent? But all the world is not American. In England they have a piece they call a farthing, which is about half a cent. Ah! sorrow!” she cried, “that makes it scarcely better, for the buyer must be lost, and we shall find none so brave as my Keawe! But then, there is France: they have a small coin there which they call a centime, and these go five to the cent, or thereabout. We could not do better. Come, Keawe, let us go to the French islands; let us go to Tahiti as fast as ships can bear us. There we have four centimes, three centimes, two centimes, one centime; four possible sales to come and go on; and two of us to push the bargain. Come, my Keawe! kiss me, and banish care. Kokua will defend you.”

“Gift of God!” he cried. “I cannot think that God will punish me for desiring aught so good! Be it as you will, then; take me where you please: I put my life and my salvation in your hands.”

Early the next day Kokua was about her preparations. 297 She took Keawe’s chest that he went with sailoring; and first she put the bottle in a corner; and then packed it with the richest of their clothes and the bravest of the knick-knacks in the house. “For,” said she, “we must seem to be rich folks, or who will believe in the bottle?” All the time of her preparation she was as gay as a bird; only when she looked upon Keawe the tears would spring in her eye, and she must run and kiss him. As for Keawe, a weight was off his soul; now that he had his secret shared, and some hope in front of him, he seemed like a new man, his feet went lightly on the earth, and his breath was good to him again. Yet was terror still at his elbow; and ever and again, as the wind blows out a taper, hope died in him, and he saw the flames toss and the red fire burn in hell.

It was given out in the country they were gone pleasuring to the States, which was thought a strange thing, and yet not so strange as the truth, if any could have guessed it. So they went to Honolulu in the Hall, and thence in the Umatilla to San Francisco with a crowd of Haoles, and at San Francisco took their passage by the mail brigantine, the Tropic Bird, for Papeete, the chief place of the French in the south islands. Thither they came, after a pleasant voyage, on a fair day of the trade wind, and saw the reef with the surf breaking, and Motuiti with its palms, and the schooner riding withinside, and the white houses of the town low down along the shore among green trees, and overhead the mountains and the clouds of Tahiti, the wise island.

It was judged the most wise to hire a house, which they did accordingly, opposite the British Consul’s, to make a great parade of money, and themselves conspicuous with carriages and horses. This it was very easy to do, so long as they had the bottle in their possession; for Kokua was more bold than Keawe, and, whenever she had a mind, called on the imp for twenty or a hundred dollars. At this rate they soon grew to be remarked in the town; and the 298 strangers from Hawaii, their riding and their driving, the fine holokus and the rich lace of Kokua, became the matter of much talk.

They got on well after the first with the Tahitian language, which is indeed like to the Hawaiian, with a change of certain letters: and as soon as they had any freedom of speech, began to push the bottle. You are to consider it was not an easy subject to introduce; it was not easy to persuade people you were in earnest, when you offered to sell them for four centimes the spring of health and riches inexhaustible. It was necessary besides to explain the dangers of the bottle; and either people disbelieved the whole thing and laughed, or they thought the more of the darker part, became overcast with gravity, and drew away from Keawe and Kokua, as from persons who had dealings with the devil. So far from gaining ground, these two began to find they were avoided in the town; the children ran away from them screaming, a thing intolerable to Kokua; Catholics crossed themselves as they went by; and all persons began with one accord to disengage themselves from their advances.

Depression fell upon their spirits. They would sit at night in their new house, after a day’s weariness, and not exchange one word, or the silence would be broken by Kokua bursting suddenly into sobs. Sometimes they would pray together; sometimes they would have the bottle out upon the floor, and sit all evening watching how the shadow hovered in the midst. At such times they would be afraid to go to rest. It was long ere slumber came to them, and, if either dozed off, it would be to wake and find the other silently weeping in the dark, or, perhaps, to wake alone, the other having fled from the house and the neighbourhood of that bottle, to pace under the bananas in the little garden, or to wander on the beach by moonlight.

One night it was so when Kokua awoke. Keawe was gone. She felt in the bed, and his place was cold. Then fear fell upon her, and she sat up in bed. A little moonshine 299 filtered through the shutters. The room was bright, and she could spy that bottle on the floor. Outside it blew high, the great trees of the avenue cried aloud, and the fallen leaves rattled in the verandah. In the midst of this Kokua was aware of another sound; whether of a beast or of a man she could scarce tell, but it was as sad as death, and cut her to the soul. Softly she arose, set the door ajar, and looked forth into the moonlit yard. There, under the bananas, lay Keawe, his mouth in the dust, and as he lay he moaned.

It was Kokua’s first thought to run forward and console him; her second potently withheld her. Keawe had borne himself before his wife like a brave man; it became her little in the hour of weakness to intrude upon his shame. With the thought she drew back into the house.

“Heaven!” she thought, “how careless have I been—how weak! It is he, not I, that stands in this eternal peril; it was he, not I, that took the curse upon his soul. It is for my sake, and for the love of a creature of so little worth and such poor help, that he now beholds so close to him the flames of hell—ay, and smells the smoke of it, lying without there in the wind and moonlight. Am I so dull of spirit that never till now I have surmised my duty, or have I seen it before and turned aside? But now, at least, I take up my soul in both the hands of my affection; now I say farewell to the white steps of heaven and the waiting faces of my friends. A love for a love, and let mine be equalled with Keawe’s! A soul for a soul, and be it mine to perish!”

She was a deft woman with her hands, and was soon apparelled. She took in her hands the change—the precious centimes they kept ever at their side; for this coin is little used, and they had made provision at a government office. When she was forth in the avenue clouds came on the wind, and the moon was blackened. The town slept, and she knew not whither to turn till she heard one coughing in the shadow of the trees. 300

“Old man,” said Kokua, “what do you here abroad in the cold night?”

The old man could scarce express himself for coughing, but she made out that he was old and poor, and a stranger in the island.

“Will you do me a service?” said Kokua. “As one stranger to another, and as an old man to a young woman, will you help a daughter of Hawaii?”

“Ah,” said the old man. “So you are the witch from the Eight Islands, and even my old soul you seek to entangle. But I have heard of you, and defy your wickedness.”

“Sit down here,” said Kokua, “and let me tell you a tale.” And she told him the story of Keawe from the beginning to the end.

“And now,” said she, “I am his wife, whom he bought with his soul’s welfare. And what should I do? If I went to him myself and offered to buy it, he would refuse. But if you go, he will sell it eagerly; I will await you here; you will buy it for four centimes, and I will buy it again for three. And the Lord strengthen a poor girl!”

“If you meant falsely,” said the old man, “I think God would strike you dead.”

“He would!” cried Kokua. “Be sure He would. I could not be so treacherous—God would not suffer it.”

“Give me the four centimes and await me here,” said the old man.

Now, when Kokua stood alone in the street her spirit died. The wind roared in the trees, and it seemed to her the rushing of the flames of hell; the shadows tossed in the light of the street lamp, and they seemed to her the snatching hands of the evil ones. If she had had the strength, she must have run away, and if she had had the breath she must have screamed aloud; but in truth she could do neither, and stood and trembled in the avenue, like an affrighted child. 301

Then she saw the old man returning, and he had the bottle in his hand.

“I have done your bidding,” said he. “I left your husband weeping like a child; to-night he will sleep easy.” And he held the bottle forth.

“Before you give it me,” Kokua panted, “take the good with the evil—ask to be delivered from your cough.”

“I am an old man,” replied the other, “and too near the gate of the grave to take a favour from the devil.—But what is this? Why do you not take the bottle? Do you hesitate?”

“Not hesitate!” cried Kokua. “I am only weak. Give me a moment. It is my hand resists, my flesh shrinks back from the accursed thing. One moment only!”

The old man looked upon Kokua kindly. “Poor child!” said he, “you fear; your soul misgives you. Well, let me keep it. I am old, and can never more be happy in this world, and as for the next—”

“Give it me!” gasped Kokua. “There is your money. Do you think I am so base as that? Give me the bottle.”

“God bless you, child,” said the old man.

Kokua concealed the bottle under her holoku, said farewell to the old man, and walked off along the avenue, she cared not whither. For all roads were now the same to her, and led equally to hell. Sometimes she walked, and sometimes ran; sometimes she screamed out loud in the night, and sometimes lay by the wayside in the dust and wept. All that she had heard of hell came back to her; she saw the flames blaze, and she smelt the smoke, and her flesh withered on the coals.

Near day she came to her mind again, and returned to the house. It was even as the old man said—Keawe slumbered like a child. Kokua stood and gazed upon his face.

“Now, my husband,” said she, “it is your turn to sleep. When you wake it will be your turn to sing and laugh. 302 But for poor Kokua, alas! that meant no evil—for poor Kokua no more sleep, no more singing, no more delight, whether in earth or heaven.”

With that she lay down in the bed by his side, and her misery was so extreme that she fell in a deep slumber instantly.

Late in the morning her husband woke her and gave her the good news. It seemed he was silly with delight, for he paid no heed to her distress, ill though she dissembled it. The words stuck in her mouth, it mattered not; Keawe did the speaking. She ate not a bite, but who was to observe it? for Keawe cleared the dish. Kokua saw and heard him, like some strange thing in a dream; there were times when she forgot or doubted, and put her hands to her brow; to know herself doomed and hear her husband babble seemed so monstrous.

All the while Keawe was eating and talking, and planning the time of their return, and thanking her for saving him, and fondling her, and calling her the true helper after all. He laughed at the old man that was fool enough to buy that bottle.

“A worthy old man he seemed,” Keawe said. “But no one can judge by appearances. For why did the old reprobate require the bottle?”

“My husband,” said Kokua humbly, “his purpose may have been good.”

Keawe laughed like an angry man.

“Fiddle-de-dee!” cried Keawe. “An old rogue, I tell you, and an old ass to boot. For the bottle was hard enough to sell at four centimes; and at three it will be quite impossible. The margin is not broad enough, the thing begins to smell of scorching—brrr!” said he, and shuddered. “It is true I bought it myself at a cent, when I knew not there were smaller coins. I was a fool for my pains; there will never be found another: and whoever has that bottle now will carry it to the pit.”

“O my husband!” said Kokua. “Is it not a terrible 303 thing to save oneself by the eternal ruin of another? It seems to me I could not laugh. I would be humbled. I would be filled with melancholy. I would pray for the poor holder.”

Then Keawe, because he felt the truth of what she said, grew the more angry. “Heighty-teighty!” cried he. “You may be filled with melancholy if you please. It is not the mind of a good wife. If you thought at all of me you would sit shamed.”

Thereupon he went out, and Kokua was alone.

What chance had she to sell that bottle at two centimes? None, she perceived. And if she had any there was her husband hurrying her away to a country where there was nothing lower than a cent. And here—on the morrow of her sacrifice—was her husband leaving her and blaming her.

She would not even try to profit by what time she had, but sat in the house, and now had the bottle out and viewed it with unutterable fear, and now, with loathing, hid it out of sight.

By and by Keawe came back, and would have her take a drive.

“My husband, I am ill,” she said. “I am out of heart. Excuse me, I can take no pleasure.”

Then was Keawe more wroth than ever. With her, because he thought she was brooding over the case of the old man; and with himself, because he thought she was right, and was ashamed to be so happy.

“This is your truth,” cried he, “and this your affection! Your husband is just saved from eternal ruin, which he encountered for the love of you—and you can take no pleasure! Kokua, you have a disloyal heart.”

He went forth again furious, and wandered in the town all day. He met friends, and drank with them; they hired a carriage and drove into the country, and there drank again. All the time Keawe was ill at ease, because he was taking this pastime while his wife was sad, 304 and because he knew in his heart that she was more right than he; and the knowledge made him drink the deeper.

Now there was an old brutal Haole drinking with him, one that had been a boatswain of a whaler, a runaway, a digger in gold mines, a convict in prisons. He had a low mind and a foul mouth; he loved to drink and to see others drunken; and he pressed the glass upon Keawe. Soon there was no more money in the company.

“Here you!” says the boatswain, “you are rich, you have been always saying. You have a bottle or some foolishness.”

“Yes,” says Keawe, “I am rich; I will go back and get some money from my wife, who keeps it.”

“That’s a bad idea, mate,” said the boatswain. “Never you trust a petticoat with dollars. They’re all as false as water; you keep an eye on her.”

Now this word stuck in Keawe’s mind; for he was muddled with what he had been drinking.

“I should not wonder but she was false, indeed,” thought he. “Why else should she be so cast down at my release? But I will show her I am not the man to be fooled. I will catch her in the act.”

Accordingly, when they were back in town, Keawe bade the boatswain wait for him at the corner, by the old calaboose, and went forward up the avenue alone to the door of his house. The night had come again; there was a light within, but never a sound; and Keawe crept about the corner, opened the back-door softly, and looked in.

There was Kokua on the floor, the lamp at her side; before her was a milk-white bottle, with a round belly and a long neck; and as she viewed it, Kokua wrung her hands.

A long time Keawe stood and looked in the doorway. At first he was struck stupid; and then fear fell upon him that the bargain had been made amiss, and the bottle had come back to him as it came at San Francisco; and at that his knees were loosened, and the fumes of the wine departed from his head like mists off a river in the morning. 305 And then he had another thought; and it was a strange one, that made his cheeks to burn.

“I must make sure of this,” thought he.

So he closed the door, and went softly round the corner again, and then came noisily in, as though he were but now returned. And, lo! by the time he opened the front door no bottle was to be seen; and Kokua sat in a chair and started up like one awakened out of sleep.

“I have been drinking all day and making merry,” said Keawe. “I have been with good companions, and now I only come back for money, and return to drink and carouse with them again.”

Both his face and voice were as stern as judgment, but Kokua was too troubled to observe.

“You do well to use your own, my husband,” said she, and her words trembled.

“O, I do well in all things,” said Keawe, and he went straight to the chest and took out money. But he looked besides in the corner where they kept the bottle, and there was no bottle there.

At that the chest heaved upon the floor like a sea-billow, and the house span about him like a wreath of smoke, for he saw he was lost now, and there was no escape. “It is what I feared,” he thought. “It is she who has bought it.”

And then he came to himself a little and rose up; but the sweat streamed on his face as thick as the rain and as cold as the well-water.

“Kokua,” said he, “I said to you to-day what ill became me. Now I return to carouse with my jolly companions,” and at that he laughed a little quietly. “I will take more pleasure in the cup if you forgive me.”

She clasped his knees in a moment; she kissed his knees with flowing tears.

“O,” she cried, “I asked but a kind word!”

“Let us never one think hardly of the other,” said Keawe, and was gone out of the house. 306

Now, the money that Keawe had taken was only some of that store of centime pieces they had laid in at their arrival. It was very sure he had no mind to be drinking. His wife had given her soul for him, now he must give his for hers; no other thought was in the world with him.

At the corner, by the old calaboose, there was the boatswain waiting.

“My wife has the bottle,” said Keawe, “and, unless you help me to recover it, there can be no more money and no more liquor to-night.”

“You do not mean to say you are serious about that bottle?” cried the boatswain.

“There is the lamp,” said Keawe. “Do I look as if I was jesting?”

“That is so,” said the boatswain. “You look as serious as a ghost.”

“Well, then,” said Keawe, “here are two centimes; you must go to my wife in the house, and offer her these for the bottle, which (if I am not much mistaken) she will give you instantly. Bring it to me here, and I will buy it back from you for one; for that is the law with this bottle, that it still must be sold for a less sum. But whatever you do, never breathe a word to her that you have come from me.”

“Mate, I wonder are you making a fool of me?” asked the boatswain.

“It will do you no harm if I am,” returned Keawe.

“That is so, mate,” said the boatswain.

“And if you doubt me,” added Keawe, “you can try. As soon as you are clear of the house, wish to have your pocket full of money, or a bottle of the best rum, or what you please, and you will see the virtue of the thing.”

“Very well, Kanaka,” says the boatswain. “I will try; but if you are having your fun out of me, I will take my fun out of you with a belaying-pin.”

So the whaler-man went off up the avenue; and Keawe stood and waited. It was near the same spot where Kokua 307 had waited the night before; but Keawe was more resolved, and never faltered in his purpose; only his soul was bitter with despair.

It seemed a long time he had to wait before he heard a voice singing in the darkness of the avenue. He knew the voice to be the boatswain’s; but it was strange how drunken it appeared upon a sudden.

Next, the man himself came stumbling into the light of the lamp. He had the devil’s bottle buttoned in his coat; another bottle was in his hand; and even as he came in view he raised it to his mouth and drank.

“You have it,” said Keawe. “I see that.”

“Hands off!” cried the boatswain, jumping back. “Take a step near me and I’ll smash your mouth. You thought you could make a cat’s-paw of me, did you?”

“What do you mean?” cried Keawe.

“Mean?” cried the boatswain. “This is a pretty good bottle, this is; that’s what I mean. How I got it for two centimes I can’t make out; but I’m sure you shan’t have it for one.”

“You mean you won’t sell it?” gasped Keawe.

“No, sir!” cried the boatswain. “But I’ll give you a drink of the rum, if you like.”

“I tell you,” said Keawe, “the man who has that bottle goes to hell.”

“I reckon I’m going anyway,” returned the sailor; “and this bottle’s the best thing to go with I’ve struck yet. No, sir!” he cried again, “this is my bottle now, and you can go and fish for another.”

“Can this be true?” Keawe cried. “For your own sake, I beseech you, sell it me!”

“I don’t value any of your talk,” replied the boatswain. “You thought I was a flat; now you see I’m not; and there’s an end. If you won’t have a swallow of the rum I’ll have one myself. Here’s your health, and good-night to you!” 308

So off he went down the avenue towards town, and there goes the bottle out of the story.

But Keawe ran to Kokua light as the wind; and great was their joy that night; and great, since then, has been the peace of all their days in the Bright House.

6 Leprosy.

7 Whites.








Keola was married with Lehua, daughter of Kalamake, the wise man of Molokai, and he kept his dwelling with the father of his wife. There was no man more cunning than that prophet; he read the stars, he could divine by the bodies of the dead, and by the means of evil creatures: he could go alone into the highest parts of the mountain, into the region of the hobgoblins, and there he would lay snares to entrap the spirits of ancient.

For this reason no man was more consulted in all the Kingdom of Hawaii. Prudent people bought, and sold, and married, and laid out their lives by his counsels; and the King had him twice to Kona to seek the treasures of Kamehameha. Neither was any man more feared: of his enemies, some had dwindled in sickness by the virtue of his incantations, and some had been spirited away, the life and the clay both, so that folk looked in vain for so much as a bone of their bodies. It was rumoured that he had the art or the gift of the old heroes. Men had seen him at night upon the mountains, stepping from one cliff to the next; they had seen him walking in the high forest, and his head and shoulders were above the trees.

This Kalamake was a strange man to see. He was come of the best blood in Molokai and Maui, of a pure descent; and yet he was more white to look upon than any foreigner: his hair the colour of dry grass, and his eyes red and very blind, so that “Blind as Kalamake, that can see across to-morrow” was a byword in the islands.

Of all these doings of his father-in-law, Keola knew a little by the common repute, a little more he suspected, and the rest he ignored. But there was one thing troubled 312 him. Kalamake was a man that spared for nothing, whether to eat or to drink or to wear; and for all he paid in bright new dollars. “Bright as Kalamake’s dollars” was another saying in the Eight Isles. Yet he neither sold, nor planted, nor took hire—only now and then for his sorceries—and there was no source conceivable for so much silver coin.

It chanced one day Keola’s wife was gone upon a visit to Kaunakakai, on the lee side of the island, and the men were forth at the sea-fishing. But Keola was an idle dog, and he lay in the verandah and watched the surf beat on the shore and the birds fly about the cliff. It was a chief thought with him always—the thought of the bright dollars. When he lay down to bed he would be wondering why they were so many, and when he woke at morn he would be wondering why they were all new; and the thing was never absent from his mind. But this day of all days he made sure in his heart of some discovery. For it seems he had observed the place where Kalamake kept his treasure, which was a lockfast desk against the parlour wall, under the print of Kamehameha the Fifth, and a photograph of Queen Victoria with her crown; and it seems again that, no later than the night before, he found occasion to look in, and behold! the bag lay there empty. And this was the day of the steamer; he could see her smoke off Kalaupapa; and she must soon arrive with a month’s goods, tinned salmon and gin, and all manner of rare luxuries for Kalamake.

“Now if he can pay for his goods to-day,” Keola thought, “I shall know for certain that the man is a warlock, and the dollars come out of the Devil’s pocket.”

While he was so thinking, there was his father-in-law behind him, looking vexed.

“Is that the steamer?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Keola. “She has but to call at Pelekunu, and then she will be here.”

“There is no help for it then,” returned Kalamake, 313 “and I must take you in my confidence, Keola, for the lack of anyone better. Come here within the house.”

So they stepped together into the parlour, which was a very fine room, papered and hung with prints, and furnished with a rocking-chair, and a table and a sofa in the European style. There was a shelf of books besides, and a family Bible in the midst of the table, and the lockfast writing-desk against the wall; so that anyone could see it was the house of a man of substance.

Kalamake made Keola close the shutters of the windows, while he himself locked all the doors and set open the lid of the desk. From this he brought forth a pair of necklaces, hung with charms and shells, a bundle of dried herbs, and the dried leaves of trees, and a green branch of palm.

“What I am about,” said he, “is a thing beyond wonder. The men of old were wise; they wrought marvels, and this among the rest; but that was at night, in the dark, under the fit stars and in the desert. The same will I do here in my own house and under the plain eye of day.”

So saying, he put the Bible under the cushion of the sofa so that it was all covered, brought out from the same place a mat of a wonderfully fine texture, and heaped the herbs and leaves on sand in a tin pan. And then he and Keola put on the necklaces and took their stand upon the opposite corners of the mat.

“The time comes,” said the warlock; “be not afraid.”

With that he set flame to the herbs, and began to mutter and wave the branch of palm. At first the light was dim because of the closed shutters; but the herbs caught strongly afire, and the flames beat upon Keola, and the room glowed with the burning: and next the smoke rose and made his head swim and his eyes darken, and the sound of Kalamake muttering ran in his ears. And suddenly, to the mat on which they were standing came a snatch or twitch, that seemed to be more swift than lightning. In the same wink the room was gone and the house, the breath all beaten from Keola’s body. Volumes of light rolled 314 upon his eyes and head, and he found himself transported to a beach of the sea, under a strong sun, with a great surf roaring: he and the warlock standing there on the same mat, speechless, gasping and grasping at one another, and passing their hands before their eyes.

“What was this?” cried Keola, who came to himself the first, because he was the younger. “The pang of it was like death.”

“It matters not,” panted Kalamake. “It is now done.”

“And in the name of God where are we?” cried Keola.

“That is not the question,” replied the sorcerer. “Being here, we have matter in our hands, and that we must attend to. Go, while I recover my breath, into the borders of the wood, and bring me the leaves of such and such a herb, and such and such a tree, which you will find to grow there plentifully—three handfuls of each. And be speedy. We must be home again before the steamer comes; it would seem strange if we had disappeared.” And he sat on the sand and panted.

Keola went up the beach, which was of shining sand and coral, strewn with singular shells; and he thought in his heart—

“How do I not know this beach? I will come here again and gather shells.”

In front of him was a line of palms against the sky; not like the palms of the Eight Islands, but tall and fresh and beautiful, and hanging out withered fans like gold among the green, and he thought in his heart—

“It is strange I should not have found this grove. I will come here again, when it is warm, to sleep.” And he thought, “How warm it has grown suddenly!” For it was winter in Hawaii, and the day had been chill. And he thought also, “Where are the grey mountains? And where is the high cliff with the hanging forest and the wheeling birds?” And the more he considered, the less 315 he might conceive in what quarter of the islands he was fallen.

In the border of the grove, where it met the beach, the herb was growing, but the tree farther back. Now, as Keola went toward the tree, he was aware of a young woman who had nothing on her body but a belt of leaves.

“Well!” thought Keola, “they are not very particular about their dress in this part of the country.” And he paused, supposing she would observe him and escape; and, seeing that she still looked before her, stood and hummed aloud. Up she leaped at the sound. Her face was ashen; she looked this way and that, and her mouth gaped with the terror of her soul. But it was a strange thing that her eyes did not rest upon Keola.

“Good-day,” said he. “You need not be so frightened; I will not eat you.” And he had scarce opened his mouth before the young woman fled into the bush.

“These are strange manners,” thought Keola. And, not thinking what he did, ran after her.

As she ran, the girl kept crying in some speech that was not practised in Hawaii, yet some of the words were the same, and he knew she kept calling and warning others. And presently he saw more people running—men, women, and children, one with another, all running and crying like people at a fire. And with that he began to grow afraid himself, and returned to Kalamake, bringing the leaves. Him he told what he had seen.

“You must pay no heed,” said Kalamake. “All this is like a dream and shadows. All will disappear and be forgotten.”

“It seemed none saw me,” said Keola.

“And none did,” replied the sorcerer. “We walk here in the broad sun invisible by reason of these charms. Yet they hear us; and therefore it is well to speak softly, as I do.”

With that he made a circle round the mat with stones, and in the midst he set the leaves. 316

“It will be your part,” said he, “to keep the leaves alight, and feed the fire slowly. While they blaze (which is but for a little moment) I must do my errand; and before the ashes blacken, the same power that brought us carries us away. Be ready now with the match; and do you call me in good time, lest the flames burn out and I be left.”

As soon as the leaves caught, the sorcerer leaped like a deer out of the circle, and began to race along the beach like a hound that has been bathing. As he ran he kept stooping to snatch shells; and it seemed to Keola that they glittered as he took them. The leaves blazed with a clear flame that consumed them swiftly; and presently Keola had but a handful left, and the sorcerer was far off, running and stooping.

“Back!” cried Keola. “Back! The leaves are near done.”

At that Kalamake turned, and if he had run before, now he flew. But fast as he ran, the leaves burned faster. The flame was ready to expire when, with a great leap, he bounded on the mat. The wind of his leaping blew it out; and with that the beach was gone, and the sun and the sea, and they stood once more in the dimness of the shuttered parlour, and were once more shaken and blinded; and on the mat betwixt them lay a pile of shining dollars. Keola ran to the shutters; and there was the steamer tossing in the swell close in.

The same night Kalamake took his son-in-law apart, and gave him five dollars in his hand.

“Keola,” said he, “if you are a wise man (which I am doubtful of) you will think you slept this afternoon on the verandah, and dreamed as you were sleeping. I am a man of few words, and I have for my helpers people of short memories.”

Never a word more said Kalamake, nor referred again to that affair. But it ran all the while in Keola’s head—if he were lazy before he would now do nothing. 317

“Why should I work,” thought he, “when I have a father-in-law who makes dollars of sea-shells?”

Presently his share was spent. He spent it all upon fine clothes. And then he was sorry:

“For,” thought he, “I had done better to have bought a concertina, with which I might have entertained myself all day long.” And then he began to grow vexed with Kalamake.

“This man has the soul of a dog,” thought he. “He can gather dollars when he pleases on the beach, and he leaves me to pine for a concertina! Let him beware: I am no child, I am as cunning as he, and hold his secret.” With that he spoke to his wife Lehua, and complained of her father’s manners.

“I would let my father be,” said Lehua. “He is a dangerous man to cross.”

“I care that for him!” cried Keola; and snapped his fingers. “I have him by the nose. I can make him do what I please.” And he told Lehua the story.

But she shook her head.

“You may do what you like,” said she; “but as sure as you thwart my father, you will be no more heard of. Think of this person, and that person; think of Hua, who was a noble of the House of Representatives, and went to Honolulu every year; and not a bone or a hair of him was found. Remember Kamau, and how he wasted to a thread, so that his wife lifted him with one hand. Keola, you are a baby in my father’s hands; he will take you with his thumb and finger and eat you like a shrimp.”

Now Keola was truly afraid of Kalamake, but he was vain too; and these words of his wife incensed him.

“Very well,” said he, “if that is what you think of me, I will show how much you are deceived.” And he went straight to where his father-in-law was sitting in the parlour.

“Kalamake,” said he, “I want a concertina.”

“Do you indeed?” said Kalamake.

“Yes,” said he, “and I may as well tell you plainly, 318 I mean to have it. A man who picks up dollars on the beach can certainly afford a concertina.”

“I had no idea you had so much spirit,” replied the sorcerer. “I thought you were a timid, useless lad, and I cannot describe how much pleased I am to find I was mistaken. Now I begin to think I may have found an assistant and successor in my difficult business. A concertina? You shall have the best in Honolulu. And to-night, as soon as it is dark, you and I will go and find the money.”

“Shall we return to the beach?” asked Keola.

“No, no!” replied Kalamake; “you must begin to learn more of my secrets. Last time I taught you to pick shells; this time I shall teach you to catch fish. Are you strong enough to launch Pili’s boat?”

“I think I am,” returned Keola. “But why should we not take your own, which is afloat already?”

“I have a reason which you will understand thoroughly before to-morrow,” said Kalamake. “Pili’s boat is the better suited for my purpose. So, if you please, let us meet there as soon as it is dark; and in the meanwhile let us keep our own counsel, for there is no cause to let the family into our business.”

Honey is not more sweet than was the voice of Kalamake, and Keola could scarce contain his satisfaction.

“I might have had my concertina weeks ago,” thought he, “and there is nothing needed in this world but a little courage.”

Presently after he espied Lehua weeping, and was half in a mind to tell her all was well.

“But no,” thinks he; “I shall wait till I can show her the concertina; we shall see what the chit will do then. Perhaps she will understand in the future that her husband is a man of some intelligence.”

As soon as it was dark, father and son-in-law launched Pili’s boat and set the sail. There was a great sea, and it blew strong from the leeward; but the boat was swift 319 and light and dry, and skimmed the waves. The wizard had a lantern, which he lit and held with his finger through the ring; and the two sat in the stern and smoked cigars, of which Kalamake had always a provision, and spoke like friends of magic and the great sums of money which they could make by its exercise, and what they should buy first, and what second; and Kalamake talked like a father.

Presently he looked all about, and above him at the stars, and back at the island, which was already three parts sunk under the sea, and he seemed to consider ripely his position.

“Look!” says he, “there is Molokai already far behind us, and Maui like a cloud; and by the bearing of these three stars I know I am come where I desire. This part of the sea is called the Sea of the Dead. It is in this place extraordinarily deep, and the floor is all covered with the bones of men, and in the holes of this part gods and goblins keep their habitation. The flow of the sea is to the north, stronger than a shark can swim, and any man who shall here be thrown out of a ship it bears away like a wild horse into the uttermost ocean. Presently he is spent and goes down, and his bones are scattered with the rest, and the gods devour his spirit.”

Fear came on Keola at the words, and he looked, and by the light of the stars and the lantern the warlock seemed to change.

“What ails you?” cried Keola, quick and sharp.

“It is not I who am ailing,” said the wizard; “but there is one here very sick.”

With that he changed his grasp upon the lantern, and, behold! as he drew his finger from the ring, the finger stuck and the ring was burst, and his hand was grown to be of the bigness of three.

At that sight Keola screamed and covered his face.

But Kalamake held up the lantern. “Look rather at my face!” said he—and his head was huge as a barrel; and still he grew and grew as a cloud grows on a mountain, 320 and Keola sat before him screaming, and the boat raced on the great seas.

“And now,” said the wizard, “what do you think about that concertina? and are you sure you would not rather have a flute? No?” says he; “that is well, for I do not like my family to be changeable of purpose. But I begin to think I had better get out of this paltry boat, for my bulk swells to a very unusual degree, and if we are not the more careful, she will presently be swamped.”

With that he threw his legs over the side. Even as he did so, the greatness of the man grew thirty-fold and forty-fold as swift as sight or thinking, so that he stood in the deep seas to the armpits, and his head and shoulders rose like a high isle, and the swell beat and burst upon his bosom, as it beats and breaks against a cliff. The boat ran still to the north, but he reached out his hand, and took the gunwale by the finger and thumb, and broke the side like a biscuit, and Keola was spilled into the sea. And the pieces of the boat the sorcerer crushed in the hollow of his hand and flung miles away into the night.

“Excuse me taking the lantern,” said he; “for I have a long wade before me, and the land is far, and the bottom of the sea uneven, and I feel the bones under my toes.”

And he turned and went off walking with great strides; and as often as Keola sank in the trough he could see him no longer; but as often as he was heaved upon the crest, there he was striding and dwindling, and he held the lamp high over his head, and the waves broke white about him as he went.

Since first the islands were fished out of the sea there was never a man so terrified as this Keola. He swam indeed, but he swam as puppies swim when they are cast in to drown, and knew not wherefore. He could but think of the hugeness of the swelling of the warlock, of that face which was as great as a mountain, of those shoulders that were broad as an isle, and of the seas that beat on them in vain. He thought, too, of the concertina, and shame 321 took hold upon him; and of the dead men’s bones, and fear shook him.

Of a sudden he was aware of something dark against the stars that tossed, and a light below, and a brightness of the cloven sea; and he heard speech of men. He cried out aloud and a voice answered; and in a twinkling the bows of a ship hung above him on a wave like a thing balanced, and swooped down. He caught with his two hands in the chains of her, and the next moment was buried in the rushing seas, and the next hauled on board by seamen.

They gave him gin and biscuit and dry clothes, and asked him how he came where they found him, and whether the light which they had seen was the lighthouse Lae o Ka Laau. But Keola knew white men are like children and only believe their own stories; so about himself he told them what he pleased, and as for the light (which was Kalamake’s lantern) he vowed he had seen none.

This ship was a schooner bound for Honolulu and then to trade in the low islands; and by a very good chance for Keola she had lost a man off the bowsprit in a squall. It was no use talking. Keola durst not stay in the Eight Islands. Word goes so quickly, and all men are so fond to talk and carry news, that if he hid in the north end of Kauai or in the south end of Kaü, the wizard would have wind of it before a month, and he must perish. So he did what seemed the most prudent, and shipped sailor in the place of the man who had been drowned.

In some ways the ship was a good place. The food was extraordinarily rich and plenty, with biscuits and salt beef every day, and pea-soup and puddings made of flour and suet twice a week, so that Keola grew fat. The captain also was a good man, and the crew no worse than other whites. The trouble was the mate, who was the most difficult man to please Keola had ever met with, and beat and cursed him daily, both for what he did and what he did not. The blows that he dealt were very sore, for he 322 was strong; and the words he used were very unpalatable, for Keola was come of a good family and accustomed to respect. And what was the worst of all, whenever Keola found a chance to sleep, there was the mate awake and stirring him up with a rope’s end. Keola saw it would never do; and he made up his mind to run away.

They were about a month out from Honolulu when they made the land. It was a fine starry night, the sea was smooth as well as the sky fair; it blew a steady trade; and there was the island on their weather bow, a ribbon of palm-trees lying flat along the sea. The captain and the mate looked at it with the night-glass, and named the name of it, and talked of it, beside the wheel where Keola was steering. It seemed it was an isle where no traders came. By the captain’s way, it was an isle besides where no man dwelt; but the mate thought otherwise.

“I don’t give a cent for the directory,” said he. “I’ve been past here one night in the schooner Eugenie; it was just such a night as this; they were fishing with torches, and the beach was thick with lights like a town.”

“Well, well,” says the captain, “it’s steep-to, that’s the great point; and there ain’t any outlying dangers by the chart, so we’ll just hug the lee side of it.—Keep her romping full, don’t I tell you!” he cried to Keola, who was listening so hard that he forgot to steer.

And the mate cursed him, and swore that Kanaka was for no use in the world, and if he got started after him with a belaying-pin, it would be a cold day for Keola.

And so the captain and mate lay down on the house together, and Keola was left to himself.

“This island will do very well for me,” he thought; “if no traders deal there, the mate will never come. And as for Kalamake, it is not possible he can ever get as far as this.”

With that he kept edging the schooner nearer in. He had to do this quietly, for it was the trouble with these white men, and above all with the mate, that you could 323 never be sure of them; they would be all sleeping sound, or else pretending, and if a sail shook they would jump to their feet and fall on you with a rope’s end. So Keola edged her up little by little, and kept all drawing. And presently the land was close on board, and the sound of the sea on the sides of it grew loud.

With that the mate sat up suddenly upon the house.

“What are you doing?” he roars. “You’ll have the ship ashore!”

And he made one bound for Keola, and Keola made another clean over the rail and plump into the starry sea. When he came up again, the schooner had payed off on her true course, and the mate stood by the wheel himself, and Keola heard him cursing. The sea was smooth under the lee of the island; it was warm besides, and Keola had his sailor’s knife, so he had no fear of sharks. A little way before him the trees stopped; there was a break in the line of the land like the mouth of a harbour; and the tide, which was then flowing, took him up and carried him through. One minute he was without, and the next within: had floated there in a wide shallow water, bright with ten thousand stars, and all about him was the ring of the land, with its string of palm-trees. And he was amazed, because this was a kind of island he had never heard of.

The time of Keola in that place was in two periods—the period when he was alone, and the period when he was there with the tribe. At first he sought everywhere and found no man; only some houses standing in a hamlet, and the marks of fires. But the ashes of the fires were cold and the rains had washed them away; and the winds had blown, and some of the huts were overthrown. It was here he took his dwelling; and he made a fire drill, and a shell hook, and fished and cooked his fish, and climbed after green cocoa-nuts, the juice of which he drank, for in all the isle there was no water. The days were long to him, and the nights terrifying. He made a lamp of cocoa-shell, and drew the oil of the ripe nuts, and made a wick of 324 fibre; and when evening came he closed up his hut, and lit his lamp, and lay and trembled till morning. Many a time he thought in his heart he would have been better in the bottom of the sea, his bones rolling there with the others.

All this while he kept by the inside of the island, for the huts were on the shore of the lagoon, and it was there the palms grew best, and the lagoon itself abounded with good fish. And to the outer side he went once only, and he looked but the once at the beach of the ocean, and came away shaking. For the look of it, with its bright sand, and strewn shells, and strong sun and surf, went sore against his inclination.

“It cannot be,” he thought, “and yet it is very like. And how do I know? These white men, although they pretend to know where they are sailing, must take their chance like other people. So that after all we may have sailed in a circle, and I may be quite near to Molokai, and this may be the very beach where my father-in-law gathers his dollars.”

So after that he was prudent, and kept to the land side.

It was perhaps a month later, when the people of the place arrived—the fill of six great boats. They were a fine race of men, and spoke a tongue that sounded very different from the tongue of Hawaii, but so many of the words were the same that it was not difficult to understand. The men besides were very courteous, and the women very towardly; and they made Keola welcome, and built him a house, and gave him a wife; and, what surprised him the most, he was never sent to work with the young men.

And now Keola had three periods. First he had a period of being very sad, and then he had a period when he was pretty merry. Last of all came the third, when he was the most terrified man in the four oceans.

The cause of the first period was the girl he had to wife. He was in doubt about the island, and he might have been in doubt about the speech, of which he had 325 heard so little when he came there with the wizard on the mat. But about his wife there was no mistake conceivable, for she was the same girl that ran from him crying in the wood. So he had sailed all this way, and might as well have stayed in Molokai; and had left home and wife and all his friends for no other cause but to escape his enemy, and the place he had come to was that wizard’s hunting-ground, and the shore where he walked invisible. It was at this period when he kept the most close to the lagoon side, and, as far as he dared, abode in the cover of his hut.

The cause of the second period was talk he heard from his wife and the chief islanders. Keola himself said little. He was never so sure of his new friends, for he judged they were too civil to be wholesome, and since he had grown better acquainted with his father-in-law the man had grown more cautious. So he told them nothing of himself, but only his name and descent, and that he came from the Eight Islands, and what fine islands they were; and about the king’s palace in Honolulu, and how he was a chief friend of the king and the missionaries. But he put many questions and learned much. The island where he was was called the Isle of Voices; it belonged to the tribe, but they made their home upon another, three hours’ sail to the southward. There they lived and had their permanent houses, and it was a rich island, where were eggs and chickens and pigs, and ships came trading with rum and tobacco. It was there the schooner had gone after Keola deserted; there, too, the mate had died, like the fool of a white man as he was. It seems, when the ship came, it was the beginning of the sickly season in that isle; when the fish of the lagoon are poisonous, and all who eat of them swell up and die. The mate was told of it; he saw the boats preparing, because in that season the people leave that island and sail to the Isle of Voices; but he was a fool of a white man, who would believe no stories but his own, and he caught one of these fish, cooked it and ate it, and swelled up and died, which was good news to Keola. As 326 for the Isle of Voices, it lay solitary the most part of the year; only now and then a boat’s crew came for copra, and in the bad season, when the fish at the main isle were poisonous, the tribe dwelt there in a body. It had its name from a marvel, for it seemed the sea-side of it was all beset with invisible devils; day and night you heard them talking one with another in strange tongues; day and night little fires blazed up and were extinguished on the beach; and what was the cause of these doings no man might conceive. Keola asked them if it were the same in their own island where they stayed, and they told him no, not there; nor yet in any other of some hundred isles that lay all about them in that sea; but it was a thing peculiar to the Isle of Voices. They told him also that these fires and voices were ever on the seaside and in the seaward fringes of the wood, and a man might dwell by the lagoon two thousand years (if he could live so long) and never be any way troubled; and even on the sea-side the devils did no harm if let alone. Only once a chief had cast a spear at one of the voices, and the same night he fell out of a cocoa-nut palm and was killed.

Keola thought a good bit with himself. He saw he would be all right when the tribe returned to the main island, and right enough where he was, if he kept by the lagoon, yet he had a mind to make things righter if he could. So he told the high chief he had once been in an isle that was pestered the same way, and the folk had found a means to cure that trouble.

“There was a tree growing in the bush there,” says he, “and it seems these devils came to get the leaves of it. So the people of the isle cut down the tree wherever it was found, and the devils came no more.”

They asked what kind of tree this was, and he showed them the tree of which Kalamake burned the leaves. They found it hard to believe, yet the idea tickled them. Night after night the old men debated it in their councils, but the high chief (though he was a brave man) was afraid of the 327 matter, and reminded them daily of the chief who cast a spear against the voices and was killed, and the thought of that brought all to a stand again.

Though he could not yet bring about the destruction of the trees, Keola was well enough pleased, and began to look about him and take pleasure in his days; and, among other things, he was the kinder to his wife, so that the girl began to love him greatly. One day he came to the hut, and she lay on the ground lamenting.

“Why,” said Keola, “what is wrong with you now?”

She declared it was nothing.

The same night she woke him. The lamp burned very low, but he saw by her face she was in sorrow.

“Keola,” she said, “put your ear to my mouth that I may whisper, for no one must hear us. Two days before the boats begin to be got ready, go you to the sea-side of the isle and lie in a thicket. We shall choose that place before-hand, you and I; and hide food; and every night I shall come near by there singing. So when a night comes and you do not hear me, you shall know we are clean gone out of the island, and you may come forth again in safety.”

The soul of Keola died within him.

“What is this?” he cried. “I cannot live among devils. I will not be left behind upon this isle. I am dying to leave it.”

“You will never leave it alive, my poor Keola,” said the girl; “for to tell you the truth, my people are eaters of men; but this they keep secret. And the reason they will kill you before we leave is because in our island ships come, and Donat-Kimaran comes and talks for the French, and there is a white trader there in a house with a verandah, and a catechist. O, that is a fine place indeed! The trader has barrels filled with flour; and a French war-ship once came in the lagoon and gave everybody wine and biscuit. Ah, my poor Keola, I wish I could take you there, for great is my love to you, and it is the finest place in the seas except Papeete.” 328

So now Keola was the most terrified man in the four oceans. He had heard tell of eaters of men in the south islands, and the thing had always been a fear to him; and here it was knocking at his door. He had heard besides, by travellers, of their practices, and how when they are in a mind to eat a man they cherish and fondle him like a mother with a favourite baby. And he saw this must be his own case; and that was why he had been housed, and fed, and wived, and liberated from all work; and why the old men and the chiefs discoursed with him like a person of weight. So he lay on his bed and railed upon his destiny; and the flesh curdled on his bones.

The next day the people of the tribe were very civil, as their way was. They were elegant speakers, and they made beautiful poetry, and jested at meals, so that a missionary must have died laughing. It was little enough Keola cared for their fine ways; all he saw was the white teeth shining in their mouths, and his gorge rose at the sight; and when they were done eating, he went and lay in the bush like a dead man.

The next day it was the same, and then his wife followed him.

“Keola,” she said, “if you do not eat, I tell you plainly you will be killed and cooked to-morrow. Some of the old chiefs are murmuring already. They think you are fallen sick and must lose flesh.”

With that Keola got to his feet, and anger burned in him.

“It is little I care one way or the other,” said he. “I am between the devil and the deep sea. Since die I must, let me die the quickest way; and since I must be eaten at the best of it, let me rather be eaten by hobgoblins than by men. Farewell,” said he, and he left her standing, and walked to the sea-side of that island.

It was all bare in the strong sun; there was no sign of man, only the beach was trodden, and all about him as he went the voices talked and whispered, and the little fires 329 sprang up and burned down. All tongues of the earth were spoken there; the French, the Dutch, the Russian, the Tamil, the Chinese. Whatever land knew sorcery, there were some of its people whispering in Keola’s ear. That beach was thick as a cried fair, yet no man seen; and as he walked he saw the shells vanish before him, and no man to pick them up. I think the devil would have been afraid to be alone in such a company: but Keola was past fear and courted death. When the fires sprang up, he charged for them like a bull. Bodiless voices called to and fro; unseen hands poured sand upon the flames; and they were gone from the beach before he reached them.

“It is plain Kalamake is not here,” he thought, “or I must have been killed long since.”

With that he sat him down in the margin of the wood, for he was tired, and put his chin upon his hands. The business before his eyes continued: the beach babbled with voices, and the fires sprang up and sank, and the shells vanished and were renewed again even while he looked.

“It was a by-day when I was here before,” he thought, “for it was nothing to this.”

And his head was dizzy with the thought of these millions and millions of dollars, and all these hundreds and hundreds of persons culling them upon the beach and flying in the air higher and swifter than eagles.

“And to think how they have fooled me with their talk of mints,” says he, “and that money was made there, when it is clear that all the new coin in all the world is gathered on these sands! But I will know better the next time!” said he.

And at last, he knew not very well how or when, sleep fell on Keola, and he forgot the island and all his sorrows.

Early the next day, before the sun was yet up, a bustle woke him. He awoke in fear, for he thought the tribe had caught him napping; but it was no such matter. Only, on the beach in front of him, the bodiless voices called and 330 shouted one upon another, and it seemed they all passed and swept beside him up the coast of the island.

“What is afoot now?” thinks Keola. And it was plain to him it was something beyond ordinary, for the fires were not lighted nor the shells taken, but the bodiless voices kept posting up the beach, and hailing and dying away; and others following, and by the sound of them these wizards should be angry.

“It is not me they are angry at,” thought Keola, “for they pass me close.”

As when hounds go by, or horses in a race, or city folk coursing to a fire, and all men join and follow after, so it was now with Keola; and he knew not what he did, nor why he did it, but there, lo and behold! he was running with the voices.

So he turned one point of the island, and this brought him in view of a second; and there he remembered the wizard trees to have been growing by the score together in a wood. From this point there went up a hubbub of men crying not to be described; and by the sound of them, those that he ran with shaped their course for the same quarter. A little nearer, and there began to mingle with the outcry the crash of many axes. And at this a thought came at last into his mind that the high chief had consented; that the men of the tribe had set-to cutting down these trees; that word had gone about the isle from sorcerer to sorcerer, and these were all now assembling to defend their trees. Desire of strange things swept him on. He posted with the voices, crossed the beach, and came into the borders of the wood, and stood astonished. One tree had fallen, others were part hewed away. There was the tribe clustered. They were back to back, and bodies lay, and blood flowed among their feet. The hue of fear was on all their faces: their voices went up to heaven shrill as a weasel’s cry.

Have you seen a child when he is all alone and has a wooden sword, and fights, leaping and hewing with the 331 empty air? Even so the man-eaters huddled back to back, and heaved up their axes, and laid on, and screamed as they laid on, and behold! no man to contend with them! only here and there Keola saw an axe swinging over against them without hands; and time and again a man of the tribe would fall before it, clove in twain or burst asunder, and his soul sped howling.

For a while Keola looked upon this prodigy like one that dreams, and then fear took him by the midst as sharp as death, that he should behold such doings. Even in that same flash the high chief of the clan espied him standing, and pointed and called out his name. Thereat the whole tribe saw him also, and their eyes flashed, and their teeth clashed.

“I am too long here,” thought Keola, and ran further out of the wood and down the beach, not caring whither.

“Keola!” said a voice close by upon the empty sand.

“Lehua! is that you?” he cried, and gasped, and looked in vain for her; but by the eyesight he was stark alone.

“I saw you pass before,” the voice answered; “but you would not hear me.—Quick! get the leaves and the herbs, and let us free.”

“You are there with the mat?” he asked.

“Here, at your side,” said she. And he felt her arms about him.—“Quick! the leaves and the herbs, before my father can get back!”

So Keola ran for his life, and fetched the wizard fuel: and Lehua guided him back, and set his feet upon the mat, and made the fire. All the time of its burning the sound of the battle towered out of the wood; the wizards and the man-eaters hard at fight; the wizards, the viewless ones, roaring out aloud like bulls upon a mountain, and the men of the tribe replying shrill and savage out of the terror of their souls. And all the time of the burning, Keola stood there and listened, and shook, and watched how the unseen hands of Lehua poured the leaves. She poured them fast, 332 and the flame burned high, and scorched Keola’s hands; and she speeded and blew the burning with her breath. The last leaf was eaten, the flame fell, and the shock followed, and there were Keola and Lehua in the room at home.

Now, when Keola could see his wife at last he was mighty pleased, and he was mighty pleased to be home again in Molokai and sit down beside a bowl of poi—for they make no poi on board ships, and there was none in the Isle of Voices—and he was out of the body with pleasure to be clean escaped out of the hands of the eaters of men. But there was another matter not so clear, and Lehua and Keola talked of it all night and were troubled. There was Kalamake left upon the isle. If, by the blessing of God, he could but stick there, all were well; but should he escape and return to Molokai, it would be an ill day for his daughter and her husband. They spoke of his gift of swelling, and whether he could wade that distance in the seas. But Keola knew by this time where that island was—and that is to say, in the Low or Dangerous Archipelago. So they fetched the atlas and looked upon the distance in the map, and by what they could make of it, it seemed a far way for an old gentleman to walk. Still, it would not do to make too sure of a warlock like Kalamake, and they determined at last to take counsel of a white missionary.

So the first one that came by, Keola told him everything. And the missionary was very sharp on him for taking the second wife in the low island; but for all the rest, he vowed he could make neither head nor tail of it.

“However,” says he, “if you think this money of your father’s ill gotten, my advice to you would be, give some of it to the lepers and some to the missionary fund. And as for this extraordinary rigmarole, you cannot do better than keep it to yourselves.”

But he warned the police at Honolulu that, by all he could make out, Kalamake and Keola had been coining false money, and it would not be amiss to watch them. 333

Keola and Lehua took his advice, and gave many dollars to the lepers and the fund. And no doubt the advice must have been good, for from that day to this Kalamake has never more been heard of. But whether he was slain in the battle by the trees, or whether he is still kicking his heels upon the Isle of Voices, who shall say?





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