Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/71

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47
"MASSACRE BAY."

We are passing through a great shoal of jelly-fish—I suppose I ought to say medusæ—filmy, transparent creatures of very varied form. Some are like mushrooms, some like great bells, with delicately marked patterns of pale green or pink, and long fringe of feelers. They are beautiful by day, and at night gleam like balls of white fire. They are here in myriads, and are of all sizes, from a teacup to a cart-wheel. There are also a great number of flying-fish skimming on the surface of the glassy sea.

I am told that we are now 630 miles from Levuka in a direct line; but our détour in the Friendly Isles has made our voyage thence amount to about 1100 miles.

We have just sighted Mount Matafae, the highest point in the isle Tutuila. It is a conical mountain 2300 feet high, and lies just above Pango-Pango, the most perfect land-locked harbour in all the Samoan group, with water six or eight fathoms deep close in shore, and surrounded by luxuriantly wooded hills. At present we are steering straight for Leone, where the bishop has work awaiting him. The place had an evil name in old days, as that where M. de Langle, who accompanied La Pérouse on his expedition in 1787, was barbarously murdered, with eleven men of his boat's crew,—hence the name of "Massacre Bay," and the character of treacherous and bloodthirsty savages which for so many years clung to the people, till Messrs Williams and Barff arrived here in 1830 with their trained Tahitian teachers, and made friends with them. Then they learnt the native version of the fray, and heard the invariable story of innocence suffering for guilt,—namely, that a poor fellow who had gone off to the ship to trade had been detected in some trifling act of pilfering, when he was immediately shot and carried ashore mortally wounded. Of course his friends determined to avenge his death, and so assembled on the beach, armed with stones and clubs, ready to attack the invaders the moment they attempted to land. They were only carrying out the example given to them, and combined revenge for evil done, with prevention of further assault.