Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/137

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MALICIOUS SAILING-GODS.

who believed that the scourge had been introduced by some hatchets which they had received as barter from a sandal-wood ship, and accordingly they threw them all away. On several other islands the teachers were either murdered or compelled to flee for their lives, solely on this account.

What makes this more remarkable is, that these illnesses often followed the visit of a ship which itself had a perfectly clean bill of health; and in many cases the missionaries and other good authorities recorded that they had no reason to believe that any white man had been to blame for the introduction of new diseases.

Therefore the poor islanders naturally concluded that these scourges were introduced by malicious foreign gods; so when a Samoan family assembled for their evening meal, the head of the house, ere tasting his bowl of kava, poured a little on the ground as a drink-offering to the gods; and every voice was hushed while he prayed that the gods of Samoa would give increase and prosperity to the household and all pertaining to it; that the war-gods would give strength to the people; but to such foreign gods as might have arrived in Tongan canoes or great ships, he said—" Here is kava for you, O sailing gods; do not come ashore at this place, but be pleased to remain on the ocean, and go to some other land!"

Sometimes the worshippers preferred to leave this matter in the care of their own protecting gods. In that case they kindled a blazing fire just before the evening meal, and offered its light to the king of gods, and all his fellow-deities, beseeching them to keep away from Samoa all sailing gods, lest they should come and cause disease and death.

Dr Turner takes high rank among the apostles of the Pacific. Few men living know better, from their own experience, how marvellous has been the change wrought in the last forty years, by which barbarous cannibals have been transformed into peaceful Christians.

For instance, when he first visited the Isle of Niuē, or Savage Island (which lies as the centre of a triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa, and the Hervey Isles), its people were in much the same