Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/155

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
131
WILLIAMS ARRIVES AT SAMOA.

Christian—and encourage all his people to do likewise. He and his brother Tamalelangi, or "Son of the Sky," each promised to protect the native teachers and their wives, and gave them a hearty welcome as they landed; nevertheless, the old order passed away in flames and bloodshed, all to avenge the murder of the rapacious tyrant, who had actually been worshipped as a god, till the people could no longer endure his outrages and oppressions, and so waylaid and slew him.

Even at the moment when the teachers were landing on the island of Savaii, the mountains of Upolu, on the other side of the straits, were enveloped in flames and smoke, which told that a battle had been fought that very morning, and that not only were the plantations being destroyed, but that the women, children, and infirm people were all being murdered, and their bodies burnt in their villages. This sanguinary war continued for several months, and the country was so desolated that for miles together not a house was left standing; and even the villages which escaped were full of the sound of wailing and mourning for the dead, in whose honour the living lacerated their own flesh with broken shells and sharks' teeth. When, finally, one party triumphed, they made huge bonfires, into which they threw many of the vanquished. Though the Samoans were never guilty of cannibalism, still there was enough of barbarous cruelty in their warfare to make a residence among them a very anxious experiment. Having done what they could to smooth the way for the teachers, Mr Williams and his colleague were obliged to leave them, in devout trust that their work might prosper.

Twenty months elapsed ere they were again able to return to Samoa, and marvellous, far beyond their highest hopes, was the change they found. On their first visit they had only touched at Savaii and Upolu, the most westerly of the Navigator group. Now the first land they sighted was Manua, the most easterly, about 250 miles distant from that on which the teachers were established. To their astonishment a number of canoes came out to meet them, and as they neared the vessel several natives stood up and declared themselves to be Christians, and that they were