Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/134

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voyage to the worse certainty of being consigned to cannibal ovens. The sea was, however, wild and tempestuous; and after vainly struggling for several hours to make head against it, they were compelled to return to land, and happily re-entered their own house before any of the natives had discovered their flight. Matters now seemed desperate; but, as the old proverb says, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." When the villages were blazing on every side of them, and their last hours seemed at hand, a sail hove in sight. It proved to be The Highlander (name of good omen), a whaler, whose captain, knowing that the Turners and Nisbets had gone to Tanna, thought he would just run in and see if they were still alive. The presence of the foreign ship stayed the fighting for the moment, and enabled the mission party very quietly to make their preparations for embarking. This was on Saturday. On Sunday, they as usual abstained from any manner of work, and held public worship. Soon after midnight they silently stole forth, and though their chapel and outhouses, and even the boat-shed, were crowded with people from the neighbouring villages, whose homes had been burnt by the enemy, not one awoke till almost all the party were safely on board with their baggage. So this was accomplished without the dreaded opposition. At last some men awoke, and then messengers flew through the district to summon the chiefs. Mr Turner asked them all to come on board to bid him farewell. Eleven did so, and expressed their grief at all that had occurred; one fine old chief wept like a child, but none ventured to bid the white men stay. In truth, they said that they expected themselves to be exterminated as soon as the vessel had departed.

Seeing no possibility of establishing a mission on any of the neighbouring isles, Mr Turner induced Captain Lucas to convey the whole party to Samoa—a journey which was not without danger, owing to baffling winds and the lack of any reliable chart. They narrowly escaped coming to grief as they passed through the Fiji group, where the vessel was becalmed and quickly surrounded by large war-canoes, each manned by from fifty to a hundred most formidable, armed savages. Providentially a light