Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/83

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59
TROUBLOUS TIMES.

12th December; and on the 7th February, Malietoa appealed to the United States consul to aid him in getting rid of his arrogant premier. Mr Foster forwarded this petition to the British consul and Captain Stevens, who, after an interview with the king and the Samoan representatives—the Taimua and the Faipule—agreed to arrest Steinberger, who, accordingly, was carried on board the Barracouta for safe keeping.

His right hand, Jonas Coe, was however left at large, and by his advice the Steinberger faction proceeded that night to seize the king and carry him off to the isle of Savaii, where they forced him to sign a deed of abdication, vesting all power of government in the Taimua and Faipule. Within a week Malietoa contrived to send a message to Captain Stevens, acquainting him with these circumstances, and requesting his further aid. The Barracouta accordingly went to the rescue, and brought the king back to Apia, where he was landed with a salute of twenty-one guns, and a guard of marines was told off to protect him. The town was now full of armed mobs, who surrounded the British consulate in a threatening manner, so that Mr Williams, the consul, was obliged to swear in special constables for its protection.

So matters went on till the 13th March, when the king, wishing to explain to his people his reasons for dismissing Steinberger, summoned all the chiefs to meet him at the neighbouring village of Mulinunu, which lies on a green peninsula beyond Apia. Malietoa was escorted by his principal chiefs, the consuls, and foreign residents, and Captain Stevens, with a guard of sailors and marines; the latter with unloaded arms, which were piled on reaching the village. Then, in their rear, appeared a strong party of armed natives, cutting off their retreat, and evidently meditating an attack. An officer, with a small party of marines, advanced to parley with these men, but were received with a volley of musketry, which killed and wounded several. Then followed a sharp skirmish, in which the sailors fought at a great disadvantage—the enemy being 500 strong, and concealed by the dense thickets of bananas and sugar-cane. Eleven sailors and marines were killed and wounded, and the assailants lost about double that number.