Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/135

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111
WITCHCRAFT

breeze sprang up and carried them away from that danger; and so in due time they reached Apia, where they found welcome and much-needed rest and comfort.

Soon after, Mr Turner was appointed to the charge of a district in Samoa, which gave him the care of sixteen villages; but ere long the pressing need of teachers led to the commencement of the training college, where, with the exception of occasional voyages to the New Hebrides and other groups, he and his successive colleagues have ever since found abundant work, in training native evangelists, translating valuable books, and, so far as lay in their power (not having received a regular medical training), in ministering to the temporal needs of the people, administering such medicines as they could procure, and even, under pressure of necessity, attending to surgical cases. Their chief care, however, was to vaccinate every man, woman, and child within reach, a precaution to which may be attributed the happy circumstance that there has never been a case of smallpox in Samoa, though it is visited by so many foreign ships. In many other groups, where some chance vessel has touched, the deadly infection has been left, and in some cases about a third of the population has died.

Dr Turner observed that the people of Tanna are in mortal dread of a form of witchcraft precisely similar to that so commonly practised in Fiji in its heathen days (and perhaps, sub rosa, even now; for we noticed the extreme care with which some of our followers occasionally collected and buried every scrap of food which they, or we, had touched).

The Fijians believed that if they could get a fragment of the hair or food of an enemy, or a small bit of any garment he had worn, the heathen priest could therewith work a spell which should cause death within four days. The priest kindled a fire and performed incantations over these relics, approaching the spot only on his hands and knees.

The wizard of Tana is a professional disease-maker. He prowls about, continually seeking for refuse of any sort which he can turn to account. An old banana-skin, a bit of a cocoa-nut, the parings of a yam, will answer his purpose. He wraps it in a leaf, that no