Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/160

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a Christian so soon as he had fully avenged the death of Tamafainga, "in whom was the spirit of the evil gods," before himself going forth to battle, he sent one of his sons to help the teachers to build their chapel. On his return, when the chapel was to be opened, he called his sons together and announced his intention of fulfilling his promise to the white chief. With one accord they replied that what was good for their father was good for them, and that they too would lotu. This, however, he forbade, declaring that if they obstinately insisted on so doing, he would continue in the faith of his ancestors. "Do you not know," he said, "that the gods will be enraged with me and seek to destroy me? and perhaps Jehovah may not be strong enough to protect me against them! I purpose, therefore, to try the experiment. If He can protect me, you may safely follow my example; but if not, then I only shall perish."

The young men were reluctant to obey, and asked how long they must allow for this test, Malietoa suggested a month or six weeks; and intense was the interest with which all his people waited and watched, lest sickness or other evil should befall him. But when, at the end of three weeks, all went on prosperously, it was felt that the supremacy of the Christian's God was established, and the sons of Malietoa would wait no longer. So, calling together a great company of friends and kinsmen, they proceeded solemnly to cook a large quantity of anae, a silvery fish, which was the etu of their tribe. These being laid on freshly gathered leaves, were placed before each person, and the teachers solemnly offered a prayer, ere, with fear and trembling, these young converts nerved themselves to swallow a few morsels of the sacred fish, hitherto held in such reverence. So intense, however, was the hold of the old superstition, that the young men, unable to conquer their fear lest the etu should gnaw their vitals and destroy them, immediately retired to swallow a large dose of cocoa-nut oil and salt water, which, acting as a powerful emetic, greatly tended to counteract any malignant influence of the offended gods.

Soon after this, a great meeting of chiefs was convened to consult on the fate of Papo, the venerable god of war. This