Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/29

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9
HOUSES IN TONGA.

were wizards, and that an epidemic, which was then raging, was due to their malignant sorceries. So, at the bidding of this scoundrel, the poor savages murdered their true friends.

That any should have escaped was due to the most providential and unlooked-for arrival of a ship captured in the Spanish war and brought to Tahiti—whence a member of that mission undertook to navigate her to New South Wales, on condition she might call at Tongatabu, to see how it fared with his brethren in the Friendly Isles. Thus happily were the survivors rescued, and the mission abandoned, till the Wesleyans ventured to reoccupy the dangerous ground, with what success we well know, seeing that to the aid given by their Tongan converts was due much of their wonderful progress in Fiji. On the green hill of Nukualofa are the graves of those early martyrs, shadowed by dark, mournful casuarina trees.

Leaving the church, on the little grassy hill, we descended to the dead level, and passed long rows of thatched houses embowered in flowering shrubs, with banana and pine-apple gardens. These are the homes of the mission students and their families,—all very tidy, and with well-kept grass paths and green lawn all round.

All the native houses here are oval in form, having both ends rounded. They have the same deep thatch as the Fijian houses, generally of reeds or wild sugar-cane. The walls are of plaited cocoa-palm leaves or reeds interlaced. The houses have no stone foundation to raise them above the damp earth, and in many of the poorer huts the floors are merely strewn with dried grass instead of having neat mats, such as the poorest Fijian would possess. Only in the wealthier houses did we see coarse mats, made of pandanus. In the majority, however, there is an inner room screened off to form a separate sleeping corner; and we noticed that the Tongan pillow closely resembles that of Fiji, being merely a bit of bamboo supported by two legs. The cooking is generally done in a hut by itself, built over an oven in the ground; but a good many ovens are al fresco, and the daily yams, or the pig of high festivals, are baked quite in public.