Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/100

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fortunately, this ill feeling is kept up by the utterly unprincipled whites—German, English, and American—who have their own interests to serve, and are quite unscrupulous as to the means they employ. So, thanks to their machinations, there was a sharp skirmish about three months ago actually in the town, close to this house, and to the convent, where the. French Sisters have a large and excellent school for girls. There appears no doubt that it began by a treacherous onset unawares, instigated by a scoundrelly American. The fight lasted all night, just behind this house. Sixty men of the Puletoa faction were slain, and their heads were cut off and sent to friendly chiefs as delicate offerings.

You can imagine the horror of that night to the ladies here, hearing the noise of battle, the firing of muskets, and the shouts of the warriors, but unable to distinguish through the darkness what was going on. In the first glimmer of dawn they looked out, and saw a great crowd of poor terrified refugees of the Puletoa party crouching round the flag-staff here (at the consulate), claiming British protection. The Union-jack that was run up that morning has never since been lowered day or night, as the conquerors have as yet given no definite promise to spare the lives of the vanquished. Others, who had hidden in the scrub, have since crept in, under cover of night; and from that day to the present, the fifty men (great chiefs and their followers), besides wives and children, are living within the very confined grounds of the consulate.

The men never dare to venture outside these bounds, knowing that for long the place was surrounded by guards of the enemy, watching to shoot any of the refugees who might venture to step over the enclosure, which at the time of the fight was only partially fenced in. The women and children are, however, allowed to go out and forage. The principal chiefs sleep in the dining-room and passages, and wherever they can find room to lie down; and when I come to my room at night, I have to pick my way in and out among the sleepers. But the majority of the followers have built a large native house in the garden, where they sleep; and as they dare not go out even to bathe, they have dug a deep well for