Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/136

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one may know exactly what he has found. He ties the parcel round his neck, and stalks about ostentatiously through the villages. In the evening he scrapes some bark off a certain tree, mixes it with the rubbish he has found, rolls it all together in a leaf, like a very long cigar, and lays it close to the fire, so that one end may gradually smoulder. As it burns, the true owner becomes ill; and as the pain increases, he calls to his friends, who immediately recognise the work of the disease-maker, and blow loud blasts on the trumpet-shell, which can be heard at a distance of two or three miles. This is a pledge that if he will stop burning the rubbish, they will bring him offerings of their best mats, pigs, &c.

The wizard, hearing the blast, draws away the green cigar, and waits impatiently to see what gift his dupes will bring in the morning. They firmly believe that if the cigar is allowed to burn to the end, the victim must die. Should the pain return, the friends suppose the wizard is dissatisfied with his gifts, and they blow louder than before, making night hideous with their dismal noise, and load the disease-maker with presents, all of which he of course readily accepts. Should the man die, the friends merely suppose they failed to propitiate the wretch. These wizards were the worst foes of the mission party, and were for ever trying to work spells for their destruction, though happily without effect. You can readily understand how a people deeply imbued with the faith in this possibility of working mischief, were always ready to attribute to the missionaries those epidemics of illness, formerly unknown, which so strangely seem to have broken out in almost every group soon after the arrival of white men—generally influenza, measles, smallpox, or dysentery, each of which has invariably proved a deadly pestilence when first attacking these races.

I have just told you how this belief resulted in the mission being driven from Tanna. About the same time, dysentery appeared in the neighbouring isle of Fotuna, and led to the massacre of the Samoan teachers who had been left there by Mr Williams. It also ravaged Eromanga, carrying off one-third of the population,