Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/210

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76
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

which they tasted probably for the first time in their lives. Before they took their leave, presents of print, mosquito netting, stationery, and other useful articles were distributed.

On the 4th October we quitted the Aroma District for Stacey Island, alternatively named South Cape. We gave the reef a wide berth, and came into a stiff south-easter, which gave us a lively time of it for twenty hours, this being the first night under steam since we made Papua. Early on Monday, the 5th, we passed Tree Point on the port quarter, and steering E. by N., left Wedge Rock to starboard, and Rugged Head to port, when we entered the narrow straits called Mairy Pass, formed by the mainland on the north, and Stacey Island on the south. The scenery here is surpassingly beautiful, the most beautiful we have yet visited. The narrowest part of the strait is not more than a mile in width, stretching away to the far east, and is bounded by Leocadi Island, which is crowned with a tree looking from the distance singularly like a lighthouse. The varied tints of green on the steep rises of Stacey Island, the deep azure of the straits, and the woody shores of Bertha Lagoon, dotted with native villages, combined to form a picture delightful to an artist's eye. Nothing seemed to be wanting to complete the charm of this terrestrial paradise. The eye roamed from spot to spot, everywhere resting on fresh and varied beauties. The lights developing the salient points of the glorious panorama of mountain, wood, and water, constantly changing from the shadows cast by flitting clouds. The mountains in the background rise to 3,000 feet above the level of Bertha Lagoon, and are covered from base to summit with luxuriant vegetation. The spot will always rest in my memory as the most beautiful I ever saw. The lagoon at its mouth is about 1,500 yards across, but widens considerably within. At 9 a.m. we anchored 300 yards from shore opposite the Mission Station of Suau, the native name for Stacey Island. The South Cape Missionary having died some time previous, his duties devolved upon his widow, who discharged them most efficiently, and to the entire satisfaction of the mission authorities. Anxious to preserve some