Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/224

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which at other times they dared not touch without incurring the penalty of death.

The most horrible feature of this society was, that by its primary law no Areoi was allowed to rear his offspring. Celibacy was by no means enjoined—very much the reverse; indeed each Areoi had an acknowledged wife, who was a member of the society: but of the innumerable children of these favoured sinners, not one was ever suffered to live; and any person desiring to enter the holy brotherhood, was required in the first instance to murder any children he might already have. The sect was supposed to have been divinely instituted, and its members were sure of admission to the Rohutu noa-noa, or fragrant paradise, in which the blessed were to spend an eternity of feasting, with every delight that heart or flesh could desire.

The total extinction of this society was one of the most marked triumphs of Christianity in this group; and the early missionaries record with thankful wonder, that many Areois were among their earliest and most zealous converts and steady adherents, and became hard-working and successful teachers and native missionaries, striving with their whole energy to counteract the evils in which they had hitherto been prime movers.

Such being the associations connected with this most unattractive dance, it certainly is strange to read the regrets, expressed by various travellers, that the missionaries should have seen fit to discourage it, as if in so doing they had deprived the people of some delightful pleasure. It is a very different thing from the beautiful and artistic dances of Fiji, which the Wesleyan Mission have so wisely encouraged the people to retain, even at their school and church festivals.

This afternoon was clear and bright, and the drive to the isthmus and then up the ridge was very beautiful. Part of the road lay through a real jungle of large orange-trees laden with ripe fruit. I need not say how we feasted; as did also herds of many pigs, that wander at large through these enchanting thickets, and find an ample supply of fruit which falls unheeded on the grass—true windfalls! It is from these groves that cargoes of several hun-