Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/152

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leather. Having none in reserve, invention was sorely taxed, till at last Mr Williams devised a machine which should throw out air as a pump throws water.

This was but one of the countless difficulties to be overcome. To obtain planks, trees were split with wedges, and then cut up with small hatchets. For lack of nails the planks were riveted together with wooden pins. Sails were made of quilted mats and ropes of hybiscus-bark. Cocoa-nut husk supplied the place of oakum. A clumsy stone anchor was contrived, and also a wooden one. In short, determination triumphed over every difficulty; and in fifteen weeks, without any help save what the Rarotongans could give by obeying his directions, Mr Williams had the satisfaction of launching a seaworthy vessel of about 80 tons burden, 60 feet in length, and 18 in breadth. To test her sailing powers, she was to make a preliminary trip to Aitutaki, distant about 170 miles. Before they had gone six miles, the natives let slip the foresail, which, straining in the wind, broke the foremast, and with some difficulty they returned to land. Having repaired the damage, they started again, reached Aitutaki, and returned thence to Rarotonga with a cargo of pigs, cats, and cocoa-nuts. The two first, but especially the pigs, were invaluable in ridding the island of rats; but a cargo of cocoa-nuts suggests coals to Newcastle, till we learn that in native warfare the cocoa-palms and bread-fruit trees were invariably destroyed, so that the fruitful isles were utterly ravaged.

The Messenger of Peace being now proven seaworthy, sailed for Tahiti, whence she was despatched to the Marquesas, and on several other mission expeditions, ere starting on that for which she had been designed. It was not till the year 1830, that Mr Williams, taking Mr Barff as his colleague, and seven Tahitian teachers with their wives and children, actually sailed in search of the almost unknown Navigator's Isles. They touched at the Hervey Isles on their way, and these likewise contributed several teachers, eager to carry to Samoa the Word of Peace, which had so recently gladdened themselves.

Passing on thence to Tonga they received warm welcome from