Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/163

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139
ILL-FATED EROMANGA.

Then, returning to her own district, she had collected all the women, and told them all she had learnt, and so interested them in the subject, that a large number had agreed to renounce heathen worship. They built a leaf-hut for their church; and here the teacher from Amoa occasionally came to conduct service. At other times the chiefess herself did so, making frequent pilgrimages through the week to learn new lessons from the teacher, and returning to impart this wisdom to her companions.

Thus, within the short space of twenty moons, was Mr Williams allowed to see the beginning of an abundant harvest, where he had but scattered the seed; and a true grief saddened his heart when compelled to refuse the entreaties of chiefs and people that he would fetch his family and come to live and die among them, to teach them how to love Jesus Christ. But when he reminded them that there were eight isles in the group, and that he must return to England to fetch other teachers, they bade him Godspeed,—only praying that he would hasten back, because assuredly many of them would be dead ere his return.

This true apostle went on his way, carrying the light to many a region of darkness, till, in the year 1839, he reached the ill-fated shores of Eromanga, in the New Hebrides, which was the scene of his martyrdom. With his loved friend, James Harris, he had succeeded in obtaining a friendly reception on the neighbouring isle of Tanna, and there left three Samoan teachers to begin work among its hideous savages. Twenty miles further lies Eromanga, whose people are the most hopeless cannibals of the Pacific. As the brave men landed on the inhospitable isle, a host of armed savages rushed out from the bushes in which they were concealed. In an instant both were clubbed, and the bodies of the grand apostle of the South Seas and his young disciple became food for the miserable cannibals whom they longed to reclaim. It was the usual tale of revenge. These Eromangans had, shortly before, been cruelly ill-treated by a party of sandal-wood traders, who wantonly killed several natives on their attempting to defend their women, and to save their plantations from indiscriminate plunder. Naturally enough, these poor savages, seeing another foreign boat