Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/38

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passed dense masses of the large-leaved white sort. From these lovely hiding-places flashed green pigeons and blue kingfishers, startled by our approach. Tall sugar-cane, wild ginger with scarlet blossom, and blue clitoria, with here and there a clump of glossy bananas or quaint papawa, kept up the tropical character of the vegetation.

We had no difficulty in finding the great dolmen of which we were in search. It stands on a grassy lawn, surrounded by bush, and is certainly a remarkable object. It differs from all other trilithons I have seen or heard of, in that the two supporting pillars are cut out at the top to secure the transverse capstone, which is hewn.

The height above ground is 15 feet, length 18 feet, and the width 12 feet. Nothing whatever is known concerning its origin, and the natives have apparently no tradition concerning it.

This is the only rude stone monument I have seen in the Pacific, but I am told that others have been observed in different groups, though on a smaller scale; for instance, in the Society Isles, where the great altar of the principal marai on Huahine is a large slab of unhewn stone, resting on three boulders. Around it are the rock-terraces which formed the rude temple.

At Haamonga the cyclopean trilithon stands alone. All others known to us, such as those at Stonehenge, at Tripoli, Algeria, and in Central America, are found in connection with circles of huge stones, to which they have apparently been the gateway; but here there does not appear to have been any circle, not even a detached dolmen.

In its weird solitude it most resembles the cromlech of Byjnath in Bengal; but what may be its story none can possibly guess. One thing only is certain, that these grey stones were brought here by some long-forgotten race, who little dreamt, when they raised this ponderous monument, that a day would come when it should survive as the sole proof that they ever existed.

We have been told that within the memory of persons now living, an enormous kava bowl stood on the horizontal stone, and that most solemn and sacred drinking festivals were held here. It