Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/145

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SEARCH FOR RAROTONGA.

had built a large church, and rigidly hallowed the Sabbath. On the following day nearly 2000 of these now tamed savages assembled on the shore, and all knelt together in solemn prayer to the Christian's God; after which they brought thirty of their discarded idols, and carried them on board the mission-ship, that the men of other isles, beholding them, might know that they were no gods, but only worthless images, and so might be led to discard their own.

This was a satisfactory beginning for one year's work; and a great promise for the future lay in the fact that among the converts were six natives from the then unknown isle of Rarotonga, who earnestly prayed that teachers might be sent to their brethren, and that they themselves might be allowed to accompany them. The men of Aitutaki declared the Rarotongans to be most ferocious cannibals, and horribly treacherous, and were sorely alarmed for the safety of any teachers who should venture among them. Nevertheless it was agreed that the opportunity was one not to be lost. Accordingly the mission-ship sailed in search of Rarotonga. For eight days they sought in vain, but failed to discover it.

At last they found themselves off an isle which proved to be Mangaia. There three brave Tahitian teachers, two of whom were accompanied by their wives, volunteered to land and endeavour to establish a footing among the people. These, however, proved such unmitigated savages that the attempt was frustrated. Though the chiefs had invited the teachers to land, their doing so was the signal for brutal ill-treatment of both men and women. All their little property was at once stolen, and they only escaped with their lives by swimming back to the ship through the surf.

A few months later another attempt was made to commence a mission in the Hervey Isles. Once more the mission-ship returned to Mangaia, and two unmarried teachers, Davida and Tiere, leaped into the sea and swam to the shore, taking nothing with them but the cloth they wore, and a portion of the New Testament in Tahitian, which was carefully wrapped up and tied on their heads. Crowds had assembled on the shore, and one warrior rushed at