Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/114

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considerable body of armed men were accordingly landed at 10 p.m., and were led by the U.S. consul to Stewart's store, whence Captain Wright had just departed. Stewart's agents wrote a protest against such proceedings, then walked out of the house, locking it, and pocketing the key, leaving only a sick man inside. They affirmed that Wright was not in the house, but added that if a warrant were obtained from the British consulate, the U.S. consul might search to his heart's content. Ignoring all remonstrance, the search-party broke open the house, and sought in vain for the bird who had flown.

Meanwhile another boat-load had gone in the opposite direction to search for more delinquents, none of whom were captured. And a third party came to demand the surrender of the house next to this one, which the bishop claims as Church property, though Stewart's agent has thought fit there also to hoist the British flag. This demonstration also proved futile, as the said agent, Mr Hunt, presented a firm front, and refused to quit the premises. The whole thing has been a sort of Don Quixote and the windmills business, resulting in nothing but stirring up much bad blood. Of course immense excitement prevails in consequence of this insult offered to a house flying the Union-jack. (Poor Union-jack! it is made to sanction some very shady doings in these far corners of the earth.) The Franco-Griffin party allege that the house is American property, and that the unjustifiable proceeding was that of breaking open the U.S. consular seals and hauling down the Stars and Stripes!

At the best, it is a low, contemptible row; and I am dreadfully sorry (as are all the French officers) that their kind captain's Quixotic kindness should have drawn him into it. But it is more difficult to arrive at the truth here than in any other place I know of. It seems as if every one's chief occupation in life was to rake up stories, old and new, against his neighbour; and these are swallowed and made much of, without any allowance for the fact that they are retailed by vicious foes. Some of the poison-mongers in this poor settlement were well-known characters in Fiji, and only left it when, after annexation, it became too warm for their com-