Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/77

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53
A SAMOAN COUNCIL.

provided me with a private teapot and a good supply of tea and sugar, so that I can have a brew whenever I wish;—a great comfort, as the ecclesiastical hours are very irregular, the Fathers being in the habit of luxuriating on dry yam, drier biscuit, and cold water. The only attempt at cooking is that of a nice half-caste lad, who is the bishop's sole attendant, and combines the duties of chorister, acolyte, episcopal valet, and cook; so his duties in the latter capacity have to wait on the former.

It seems we have arrived here at a most critical moment. The majority of the chiefs of Tutuila have assembled here to hold council of war how most effectually to subdue the rebels. The majority are in favour of war. A few have not yet arrived. All to-day they have been sitting in parties all round the malœ—that is, the village green. At intervals one of the "talking men" stood up, and, laying his fly-flapper on his bare shoulder, leant on a tall staff, and, without moving from the spot where he had been sitting, threw out an oration in short, detached, abrupt sentences. Having had his say he sat down, and each group apparently made its own comments quietly. There were long pauses between the speeches, which made the proceedings rather slow; but we sat by turns with all the different parties (we, meaning myself, M. de Kerraoul, and M. Pinart, who had walked across the hills from Pango-Pango).

After a while, the bishop was invited to speak—a great exertion, as the audience formed such a very wide circle. He took up his position beneath the shade of a bread-fruit tree in the centre, and though his voice was very weak, he was distinctly heard by all—and his speech seemed impressive. Of course he urged peace, and he has a good hope that at least the Roman Catholic chiefs will allow themselves to be guided by him. But the meeting closed with a bad tendency to war, which was illustrated by various actions in the manner of bringing in the feast, the way in which women, wearing trains of tappa, were going about all day, carrying bowls of kava to the orators, and other symptoms evident to practised eyes. Many of the men wore beautiful crowns of Pearly Nautilus shell, which are also symptomatic of warlike intentions.