Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/30

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Mr Baker,[1] who is the head of the mission here, was absent, but we called on his wife, who received us kindly, and made me a present of a pretty Tongan basket and combs. She regretted that she could not offer to take me for a drive, her carriage having come to grief. There are all manner of vehicles here—wonderful in our eyes after having so long looked with reverence on the engineer's wheel-barrow as the only wheeled conveyance in Fiji! There are also a number of horses, descendants of those left here by Captain Cook, A.D. 1777, which the Tongans ride at a hard gallop, with a tether rope round their necks in lieu of a bridle. Finding that Nukualofa was utterly lacking in picturesque incident (at least so it appeared to eyes satiated with Fijian beauty of scenery), we followed a broad grass path which runs along the shore and intersects the isle. Like everything else here, it is in apple-pie order. King George is too wise to waste the labour of his subjects, albeit convicts; so instead of useless stone-drill or treadmill, all Tongan criminals labour for the good of their brethren, eminently to the improvement of the isle. How often, in India and Ceylon, when unable to close my ears to the monotonous word of command of some police sergeant, "Take up—put down," " Take up—put down," I have watched the cruel waste of human strength expended on lifting a heavy stone, carrying it so many paces, and putting it down—and then doing the same thing again, and again, and again, in the stifling heat of a tropical sun! Would that our prison disciplinarians might borrow a hint of wisdom from this once savage Tongan king!

Following the pleasant path, beneath the shadow of greenest bananas, with the sunlight streaming in mellow gold through the tall palms far overhead, we reached the village of Maofanga, where we found the bishop at the house of the Fathers.

Père Lamaze then brought me here to the good Sisters, who received me with open arms. The delicate one immediately slipped

  1. Since the above was written, Mr Watkin has been appointed Chairman (or as we might say, Wesleyan Bishop) of Tongatabu.

    Mr Baker has ceased to work in connection with the mission, and now acts as Prime Minister to King George.