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Title: Savage Island - An Account of a Sojourn in Niué and Tonga
Author: Thomson, Basil C.
Language: English
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SAVAGE ISLAND



BY THE SAME AUTHOR


SOUTH SEA YARNS

THE DIVERSIONS OF A PRIME MINISTER

A COURT INTRIGUE

THE INDISCRETIONS OF LADY ASENATH



  SAVAGE ISLAND

  AN ACCOUNT OF A SOJOURN
  IN NIUÉ AND TONGA



  BY BASIL C. THOMSON



  LONDON
  JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET
  1902



PREFACE


Niué, more commonly known as Savage Island, lies 1,000 miles N.N.E. of
New Zealand, and 300 miles S.S.E. of Samoa, in the loneliest spot in
that part of the Pacific. Its iron-bound coasts tempt no vessels to
call for supplies. At rare intervals great four-masted timber-ships
pass in the offing; more rarely still schooners call to replenish the
stock of the traders and to carry away their copra.

I went to the Niuéans in the name of the Queen and Empress whom the
world is still lamenting, and I do not like to think of what our loss
means to the people in these remote outposts of her Empire. The oldest
native in the South Seas remembers no sovereign's name but hers. She
was a real person to them all; a lady who had made them her especial
care, had sent the gospel to them, and had bade them lay aside their
clubs, and live in peace, order, and equity. Vika, as they called her
affectionately--Vika, after whom they named their girl-children--was
the benign, all-powerful chief, whose house was built upon the coral
strand of Lonitoni (London), opposite the landing-place, where her
men-o'-war were moored stem and stern in rows before her door. She read
their letters with her own eyes, and had her captains to sit before her
on the floor-mats while she gave them messages for the brown folk in
far islands. And now Vika, the well-beloved, has left them, mourned by
the empire of which they were but the tiniest part. It was hers, and
she never saw it; but we, who have seen it--who have, in the humblest
way, helped in the making of it--think with heavy hearts of how much
hangs upon a name, and of how hard it will be to reassure them, when,
as they say of their own dead kings, "kuo hala 'ae langi"--"the heaven
has fallen."

NORTHAMPTON, 1901



  CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I

                                                              PAGE

  THE ISLAND AND ITS PEOPLE                                      1


  CHAPTER II

  AFFAIRS OF STATE                                              23


  CHAPTER III

  THE KING OF ALL NIUÉ                                          34


  CHAPTER IV

  A TRIP THROUGH THE ISLAND                                     49


  CHAPTER V

  SOME HISTORICAL RECORDS                                       69


  CHAPTER VI

  THE ANCIENT FAITH                                             84


  CHAPTER VII

  _The Tribunals of Arcadia_                                   103


  CHAPTER VIII

  _A Native Entertainment_                                     117


  CHAPTER IX

  BYWAYS OF CUSTOM                                             133


  CHAPTER X

  WESTWARD HO!                                                 141


  CHAPTER XI

  TONGA REVISITED                                              152


  CHAPTER XII

  THE KING AND HIS MINISTERS                                   167


  CHAPTER XIII

  VAVAU                                                        182


  CHAPTER XIV

  BETWEEN THE ACTS                                             194


  CHAPTER XV

  FAREWELL                                                     211


  APPENDIX

  TONGAN MUSIC                                                 218

  INDEX                                                        229



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                         FACE PAGE

  "Ship Ahoy!"                                                   6

  The Church at Alofi                                           14

  A Street in Alofi                                             14

  The Royal Procession                                          26

  King Tongia                                                   38

  Hoisting the Union Jack over Savage Island                    40

  The Queen of Niué                                             46

  "Decently clothed from head to foot"                          78

  The King and Queen take their Seats                          118

  A Grave in Tonga                                             134

  Uiliame Tungi, the blind Chief of Hahake                     164

  George Tubou II., King of Tonga                              170

  A Tongan Girl                                                178

  The Church built by King George I. and the
  Government Offices wrecked by the Cyclone                    186

  The Land-locked Harbour of Vavau                             192

  The Colony of Flying Foxes at Kolovai                        202

  J. Mateialona, Cousin of the King and
  Governor of Haapai                                           212

  The Otuhaka                                                  222

  Map of Niué                                         _At the end_



SAVAGE ISLAND



CHAPTER I

THE ISLAND AND ITS PEOPLE


     "To Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, the first
     kingdom of all the kingdoms of the world.

     "We the chiefs and rulers and governors of Niué-Fekai desire to
     pray Your Majesty, if it be your pleasure, to stretch out towards
     us your mighty hand, that Niué may hide herself in it and be safe.
     We are afraid lest some other powerful nation should come and
     trouble us, and take possession of our island, as some islands in
     this quarter of the world have been taken by great nations. On
     account of this we are troubled, but we leave it with you to do as
     seems best to you. If you send the flag of Britain, it is well; or
     if you send a Commissioner to reside among us, that also will be
     well.

     "Our king, Tuitonga, died on the 13th July last, but before he
     died he wished to write to Your Majesty, and beg you to send the
     powerful flag of Britain to unfurl in this island of Niué, in
     order that this weak island of ours might be strong. It was from
     your country that men first came to this island to make known the
     name of the Lord, and through them this land of Niué-Fekai became
     enlightened; then, for the first time, this people knew that
     there were other lands in the world. Therefore the people of this
     land rejoice in you and in your kingdom. This land is enlightened
     by the gospel of Jesus Christ brought by the subjects of Your
     Majesty, and that is why we make this petition.

     "That is all we have to say. May Your Majesty the Queen and your
     powerful kingdom be blessed, together with the kingdom of Niué, in
     the kingdom of Heaven.

     "I, Fataäiki, write this letter."

Thus wrote Fataäiki, King of Niué, otherwise known as Savage Island,
thirteen years ago.

The first request for a protectorate was made to a missionary as early
as 1859, when the people were in the first heat of conversion to
Christianity; this seems to have gone no further. But King Fataäiki's
letter reached its destination, and England, "the first kingdom of all
the kingdoms of the world," England the earth-hungry and insatiable (as
others see her), took thirteen years to think it over, and then, having
received a second letter more precisely worded, reluctantly consented.
It is an object-lesson of the way in which we blunder into Empire.

It was not until the Germans began to develop their plantations in
Samoa that Niué was discovered to have a value. The Polynesian races,
as everybody knows, are a picturesque, easy-going, and leisure-loving
people, too fond of home to travel, and too indolent to do a steady
day's work. A dash of some alien blood, as yet unrecognised, has played
strange freaks with the men of Niué. Alone among Polynesian races
they opposed the landing of Europeans; alone they love to engage as
labourers far from home, and show, both at home and abroad, a liking
for hard work; no other island race has the commercial instinct so
keenly developed. The number of them working in Samoa has increased so
rapidly in recent years that their houses form a distinct quarter of
the town of Apia, and when the recent troubles broke out they went in a
body to the British Vice-Consul and claimed his protection as British
subjects. It was hard to turn away people who were fellow-subjects by
inclination, and to put the case at its lowest, our need of plantation
labourers is tenfold greater than the Germans'. And so, when we had to
receive from Germany an equivalent for the surrender of our claims in
Samoa, Niué was thrown into our side of the scale in what is known as
the "Samoa Convention, 1899," and it became my duty when negotiating
a British protectorate over the independent kingdom of Tonga in 1900,
to visit the island and announce a favourable answer to the petition
forwarded thirteen years before.

So little was known of the lonely island that we approached it with
mixed feelings--anxiety on the part of the captain, and high curiosity
in those unconcerned with the navigation of the ship. There were,
indeed, other feelings among our company, for we had been plunging
into a strong head sea ever since we left the shelter of a Tongan
harbour, and H.M.S. _Porpoise_ has a reputation as a sea boat on
which it would be charitable not to enlarge. The island has never been
surveyed--indeed, the greater part of it is still indicated in the
chart by a dotted line--and the brief paragraph devoted to it in the
"Sailing Directions" is not encouraging to navigators. While the wind
was in the east, a precarious anchorage might be found at more than one
point on the western side, but let the wind shift to the west, and you
were on a lee shore of precipitous cliffs.

As the grey cloud, that stretched like a bow across our course, grew in
definition, the least sea-going of our party staggered to the deck. The
island appeared to be what indeed it is--a coral reef upheaved from the
sea-bed by some terrific convulsion--a Falcon Island of old time, only
made of solid coral instead of pumice, and thirteen miles long instead
of two furlongs. Not a hill nor a depression broke the monotonous
line, but a fuzzy indistinctness in the drawing betokened that the
place was densely wooded, as all limestone islands are. The sea was
moderating; already we had begun to feel the influence of that great
natural breakwater; with a strong glass we could make out a cluster
of white houses nestling among the palm trees. Setting our course for
them, we steamed in, until the sea grew calm and the steady breeze
broke into sharp puffs with still air between. On either hand, as far
as the eye could reach, the sea dashed against an abrupt limestone
cliff, unprotected by any reef; here breaking into smoky spray that
dimmed the far horizon, there thundering into inky caverns. A hundred
feet above sprang the wall of dark green timber, broken here and there
by clusters of cocoanut palms that shaded trim villages, with roofs of
thatch and walls of dazzling white. Neatest of all was our haven of
Alofi, for there the houses were fenced, and a grass lawn sloped down
to the edge of the cliffs. Before the lead touched the bottom a fleet
of small canoes had put out to meet us. Something unusual about these
caught the eye; it was not the canoe, which was of the out-rigged build
common to these seas; it was the crew. Every man wore a hat instead of
a turban, and a sober coat and trousers instead of a bronze skin and a
gay waist-cloth. From one of these--the only craft that carried more
than one man--a youth boarded us, and, introducing himself as Falani
(Frank), the son of the late king, mounted the bridge, and offered to
pilot us to an anchorage.

"What you come here for?" he inquired, with an easy unconsciousness
of his responsibilities towards the ship. "You come to hoist flag?"
But his thoughts were elsewhere, for presently, espying the captain's
black steward, he descended to the deck, and began to seek occasion
for bringing himself under the notice of a functionary who, he had a
right to assume, would have control of the proper perquisites of a pilot.
Thereafter we saw little more of him. That a person of such exalted rank
should volunteer his services as pilot to even the humblest ship
proceeded, as we afterwards learned, from no public spirit; the only
spirit that drew him forth from the shore was that which is kept in the
steward's pantry. But for this frailty he might have succeeded his royal
father, but he had now forfeited all his chances of succession by
refusing to vacate the tin-roofed palace, built by public subscription as
an official residence for future monarchs, on a site which, owing to an
unfortunate oversight, was still the private property of the royal family.
The reputation of the rightful heir requires no comment from me, if so
commercially-minded a people could prefer the building of a second
palace at Tuapa to being ruled over by the occupant of the original.
Some four hundred yards from the base of the cliff the lead gave
nineteen fathoms, and there the anchor was let go. It caught upon the
extreme edge of a submarine precipice, for soundings under the counter
gave sixty-three fathoms; and if a westerly wind would put us on a lee
shore, it was equally manifest that a strong easterly puff might set
us dragging our anchor into deep water. We might have found better
holding ground closer in, but it is not good to play tricks with His
Majesty's ships, and as we had decided to keep the fires banked until
our departure, there was nothing to be gained by moving. The captain
may have had in his mind the case of another ship-of-war that anchored
in seventeen fathoms in a secure but unsurveyed harbour for three days,
when the navigating officer happened to notice that a blue-jacket,
casting off one of the boats from the boom, was using his boat-hook
as a punt pole against some object a few feet below the surface of
the water. It was then discovered that all the ship's company, except
the officers, were aware that the ship was anchored a few feet from a
sharp-pointed rock, upon which any veer in the wind would have impaled
her, but that no one had considered it his business to mention what it
was the officers' duty to find out for themselves.

[Illustration: "SHIP AHOY!"

Our first visitors from Savage Island

To face page 6
]

I lost no time in sending a boat ashore for Mr. Frank Lawes, the
representative of the London Missionary Society, who, from his long
residence and his kindly influence over the natives, has long been
regarded by them as their adviser in all matters at issue between
the Europeans and themselves, and who has so modestly and tactfully
discharged the duties of his unsought office that Europeans and natives
alike have cheerfully accepted his arbitration. He came on board at
once, and willingly tendered his services, nominally as interpreter,
but actually as a great deal more than that. He is a man of middle age,
of gentle, sympathetic, and rather melancholy mien, with a vein of
quiet humour, and a manner that would inspire confidence and affection
in the native races of any country. He was anxious that we should move
the ship to the king's village of Tuapa, for it seems that the key to
native politics in Niué is the jealousy between village and village. To
summon the headmen to the king's village could not be misinterpreted,
but to send for the king to Alofi would be not only to put the old
gentleman into ill-humour, but to imply a pre-eminence in Alofi that
would in no wise be tolerated or forgiven by its fellow villages.
But, since his description of Tuapa disclosed the fact that the
anchorage was vile, and the landing-place such that it would probably
be necessary to wade ashore in full-dress uniform, we decided to brave
the royal displeasure, and to send a message explaining that a Queen's
ship is not as other ships, and that although, out of consideration
for her safety, our bodies must be landed at Alofi, our hearts would
certainly be in that capital of capitals, Tuapa. Mr. Lawes, having
taken upon himself the task of despatching messages to each of the
eleven villages, inviting all the inhabitants of the island to a solemn
council at ten o'clock the next morning, most kindly begged us to take
up our quarters on shore with him, and took his leave.

There were, meanwhile, signs of a stir on shore. Men were running down
to the landing-place with planks to build a wharf, and a fluttering
crowd of women and children lined the edge of the cliff. When we
reached the shore we wondered no longer that the Europeans in Niué
prefer canoes to boats when they have to board a ship. There is a slit
in the fringing reef of coral just wide enough to admit a boat, which
heaves and falls with the swell in imminent peril of being ground to
splinters against its jagged sides.[1] But there are no better boatmen
in the world than the English blue-jackets, and in a few seconds we
were hoisted upon the crazy pier with our baggage.

There was a smile of welcome on every native face, and we had a good
opportunity for noting the characteristics of this interesting people.
The men are generally shorter than the Samoans and Tongans, and their
well-knit muscular bodies are less inclined to accumulate fat. Their
features are smaller, and they often have a pinched appearance, as if
they had originally been cast in a larger mould and compressed, like
toy faces of india-rubber. Their colour is darker than the Samoan,
and their bright eyes and vivacious gestures show that they have far
greater energy and activity. Their hair is now cropped short, and
very few wear beards, but this is a mark of civilisation, for the
warriors of old depended upon hair and beard, plaited and ornamented
with shells, and long enough to chew between their teeth, for striking
terror into the hearts of their enemies. They all wore suits of
European slop clothing, complete except for boots, and wide-brimmed
hats plaited at home. The women wear the flowing _sacque_--a kind of
nightgown of coloured print not taken in at the waist--like the women
of Tahiti and Rarotonga. They had the same facial characteristics
as the men, but they were fleshier in youth and more disposed to
corpulence in age. They had long and rather coarse black hair,
sometimes knotted on the back of the head, but more often hanging
loose down the back. It is a pity that they do not follow the cleanly
custom of Tonga and Fiji of smearing the hair with lime once a week,
which, besides dyeing it a becoming auburn, serves other more practical
purposes. That Niué is destitute of running water might be seen in a
glance at their clothing, which has always to be washed with water
in which soap will not lather. In a large assemblage such as this
it was easy to recognise two distinct racial types--the one clearly
Polynesian, the other doubtful. This admixture is an ethnological
puzzle which I shall discuss later.

The Mission-house is a vast thatched building with walls of concrete,
partitioned off into a number of large rooms, and standing in its own
small compound. Most cool and spacious it seemed after the confined
quarters in a third-class cruiser. The space before the verandah
is planted with the flowering shrubs of which you may see dwarfed
specimens in the tropical houses at Kew. I was surprised to find that
this little compound was the only land on the island which Mr. Lawes
could call his own. He could not even have milk, because when he kept
a cow he was always having to meet claims by his parishioners for the
damage it was alleged to have done. Judging by the ways of Missions in
other parts of the Pacific, I may safely say that if any other than
the London Missionary Society had taken Niué, it would have made the
island a "Mission field" in the more literal sense. For itself it would
have taken the eyes of the land; the pastor would have had a horse and
a boat and a company of white-robed student servants to wait upon him;
as in Hawaii and New Zealand, he would have acquired a handsome little
landed property of his own, and for the natives there would have been
left what the Mission had no use for. Here the missionary must pay
for everything except the very rare presents of produce that are made
him, and though four-fifths of the island are overgrown with bush, he
has not land enough to keep a cow. I do not say which I think is the
better system; I only contrast the two.

In the afternoon we were taken to see the cave of the Tongans. Public
curiosity having now subsided, the village had resumed its normal
appearance. It is cleaner and tidier even than it looked from the sea.
The grass that stretches like a lawn to the cliff's edge, laced with
the delicate shadow of the palm leaves, is bounded on the landward
side by a stiff row of cottages, all built as exactly to plan as if a
surveyor to a county council had had a hand in it, with lime-washed
walls so dazzling that the eye lifts instinctively to the cool brown
thatch to find rest. Every doorway is closed with a rough-hewn door;
every window with broad, unpainted slats pivoted on the centre, so as
to form a kind of fixed Venetian blind that admits the air and excludes
the sun and rain--a device learned, it seems, from the Samoan teachers,
who must in their turn have adapted it from the Venetian blinds of some
European house in their own islands. These cottages are divided into
rooms by thin partitions of wood or reeds that reach to the eaves,
leaving the roof space open. Most of them are floored with palm-leaf
matting, and a few boxes and wooden pillows are the only furniture.
The cooking is done in little thatched huts in the rear. Mr. Lawes
confessed that the older natives keep these cottages for show,
preferring to live on week-days in the thatched hovels that contented
their ancestors. You may see one of these behind each cottage, rickety
when new, and growing year by year more ruinous until the crumbling
rafters and rotten thatch are ripe for the firebrand that puts an end
to their existence. Besides his town house, every householder has a
building on his plantation in which he passes the nights during the
planting and copra-making season with such of his family and friends
as care to work with him. A thatched roof and frail wicker-work walls,
with a mat or two to sleep on, and an iron pot for cooking, are all
that he needs when the days from dawn to sunset are spent in hard
work upon the land.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH AT ALOFI

(See page 16)]

[Illustration: A STREET IN ALOFI

To face page 14
]

It is curious to note how the native clings to the form, however he may
vary the material, of his architecture. The Savage Island hut of Cook's
time, with its rounded ends, took the shape of an elongated oval, and
the concrete walls of the modern cottage are moulded to the same form.
In Tonga, where corrugated iron, alas! is gradually usurping the place
of thatch, the roof was rounded in the form of a scow turned bottom
upwards, and the sheets of iron, with infinite skill and labour, have
been tortured into the same form. The King of Tonga told me that it was
hopeless to attempt to rebuild the fine native church built in 1893 by
his great-grandfather in Vavau, and destroyed in the hurricane of April
2nd, 1900, because, although the posts and rafters were all intact, and
had only to be cut loose from their lashings to be fit for use again,
there was not a builder left in the group who understood the art of so
lashing them in place as to produce the bellying curve which appeals to
the Tongan eye for beauty in architecture. The new edifice, he said,
must be built of weatherboard and iron.

The church in Niué, being simply a glorified native house, was an
excellent object-lesson in the Polynesian system of building. The South
Sea Island architect, whether Polynesian or Melanesian, thinks in
fathoms, which he measures with the span of his outstretched arms, but
whereas the Fijian is obliged to regulate the size of his house by the
length of the _vesi_ trunk he can find for his king posts, the Samoan
and Tongan, by a more elaborate arrangement of his interior supports,
may build a roof as lofty as he pleases. The ridge pole of the Fijian
rests upon two uprights, buried for two-sevenths of their length in
the ground if the house is to withstand hurricanes; and, since it is
impossible to find straight _vesi_ trunks more than fifty-four feet
long, the ridge pole can never be more than forty-two feet above the
ground. And since the sense of proportion would be wounded by a house
being too long for its height, there is no public building in Fiji
more than sixty-six feet long--the length of the great _bure_ at Bau
and the court house at Natuatuathoko (Fort Carnarvon). The system
of supports for the Tongan roof-tree is best shown by a sectional
diagram. By elongating the side and centre supports, such a building
may be seventy or eighty feet high and of a proportionate length and
breadth. If it succumbs to a hurricane, the roof merely slips from the
supporting posts and subsides in a single piece, held firmly together
by its sinnet lashings, as was the case with the great church at Vavau,
shown in the illustration. Far otherwise is it with a weatherboard
building overtaken by the same fate. The Government offices in Vavau
were reduced to a mere heap of kindling wood, for lashings, by reason
of their greater elasticity, have a great advantage over nails for
building in the hurricane belt.

[Illustration]

The Niuéan style of house-building so closely resembles the Tongan
that it is difficult to believe that the one has not been copied from
the other. Alofi Church, a fine native building with concrete walls,
is almost as imposing as the best of King George's churches. Into one
of the wall-plates the builder has worked a bifurcated tree-trunk,
skilfully trimming it so that each prong shall bear an equal share of
the weight of the beam.

When we reached the path to the Tongan cave at the southern end of the
village our train had swelled to half a dozen voluble young men and a
shy little girl. The cave was a rent in the limestone rock overgrown
with creeping vines. A steep slope led down into an irregular gallery
about twenty feet wide on the floor and narrowing to barely six feet
at the narrowest part of the roof. The floor was very uneven, but in
the lowest part, where there was a pool much encumbered with boulders,
the cave must have been from thirty to forty feet high. Near the walls
there was some depth of vegetable mould washed down from above, and
I noticed that buckets were placed at intervals to catch the drip
from the stalactites. This water, heavily charged with lime, was the
drinking water of the village.

One of the men related the tradition of the cave, Mr. Lawes
interpreting. In the days of the ancestors of old time a fleet of
war-canoes was seen approaching from the west, and the warriors of
Alofi made hasty preparations to receive what they knew to be an
invading army. The women and children were sent into the thicket
behind the rift, across which slender boughs were thrown, covered with
soft earth to conceal the pitfall below. In the cave a chosen band of
warriors was posted, armed with clubs. A war party of Tongans, leaping
from the canoes, rushed up into the village, and was drawn towards
the treacherous bridge by the retreating Niuéans, who knew where it
was safe to cross. Dashing hot-foot in pursuit, the Tongans crashed
through the false covering into the cave beneath, where they lay with
broken limbs at the mercy of a clubbing party which knew no mercy.
Only a remnant of stragglers stopped short of the pitfall and regained
the canoes. And if we doubted the truth of the tradition, here in the
soft earth were bones--the bones of those invaders of old time; and
our escort fell to upon the proof, using their naked hands for spades.
Bones there were certainly, but since the Niuéans laid the bones of
their own dead in caves until the missionaries introduced the fashion
of European burial, he would be a bold man who would swear to their
nationality.

Now, mark how history is written by the savage as well as by the
civilised man. I had heard a Tongan tradition of the invasion of Niué,
and when I returned to Tonga I induced old Lavinia, the highest chief
lady in the group and the guardian of ancient lore, to relate it again.

Fifteen generations ago, that is to say about 1535, Takalaua, King
of Tonga, was assassinated by two old men, Tamajia and Malofafa, who
had taken upon themselves the duty of avenging the miseries of their
country. Pursued by his eldest son, Kau-ulu-fonua, they put to sea, and
fled from island to island until they came to Futuna, where, because
it was the end of the world and they could flee no further, they made
a stand, and, being captured, were forced by their conqueror to chew
his kava with their toothless and bleeding gums. From this horrible
draught, swallowed in the ecstasy of triumph, Kau-ulu-fonua earned
his surname of Fekai (the Cannibal). Among the islands visited by
Kau-ulu-fonua in his pursuit of his father's murderers was Niué, and
here, as the Tongan tradition has it, he landed on a small outlying
islet, divided from the main island by a narrow chasm, into which the
Niuéans, not knowing the stuff of which Tongan warriors are made,
confidently expected that they would fall, if they essayed to cross.
In this false security the defenders of the island assembled on the
landward side of the chasm, and strove to terrify the invaders into
retreating to their ships. But they fell into their own trap, for the
Tongans, taking the chasm at a leap, slew hundreds of them, and cast
the bodies of the slain into the depths below. And just as there are
English and German and Belgian, if not French, historians to claim the
victory at Waterloo, so Tongans and Niuéans tell the story each in
their own fashion, and are happy.

That the tradition is history cannot be doubted. The Tongans relate
that in the assault upon the walled fortress of Futuna, in which
the murderers had taken refuge, a man, marvelling at the prowess of
Kau-ulu-fonua, cried, "Thou art not brave of thyself, but by favour
of the gods!" and that the chief retorted, "Then let the gods defend
my back, and leave my front to me"; that as he was rushing through a
breach in the wall he was wounded in the back, and cried, "The gods
are fools!" An old man of Futuna, whom I asked whether there were
any traditions of a foreign invasion, replied that the Tongans once
assaulted his island, led by a chief who cried, "The gods are fools!"
and that as a punishment for his impiety so many of his warriors were
slain that stacks were made of the dead bodies. It is scarcely possible
that by mere coincidence such an incident could be common to the
history of two peoples who have had no intercourse for generations.

[1] In October, 1900, the boat that landed Lord Ranfurly for the
ceremony of annexation shipped a big sea, and the captain of H.M.S.
_Mildura_ so re-formed the landing-place with gun cotton that a boat
may now turn round in it.



CHAPTER II

AFFAIRS OF STATE


Mr. Lawes' fears were relieved by the messenger who had carried my
invitation to the king at Tuapa. The old gentleman, far from being
offended at our choice of Alofi for the meeting, had beamed upon him
with his left eye (the right is missing, and it was all he had to beam
with), and was already half-way to the royal lodging in Alofi. The
other messengers, returning from the more distant villages at intervals
during the evening, brought back news no less favourable. Early in the
morning persons sent out to reconnoitre reported that men were erecting
awnings on the green before the school-house, that the headmen of
villages had all arrived, and that His Majesty was being helped into
his uniform. Ten was the hour, and on the stroke of the hour Captain
Ravenhill landed with the portrait of the Queen, sent from Windsor as
a present to the king. The sun was very hot: English uniforms are
not built for a thermometer above eighty in the shade, and there was
therefore some excuse for our feelings when we walked on to the green
and found three men trying to fasten a mat to four stakes planted
anyhow in the grass. Half a dozen children were amusing themselves with
a running commentary upon how not to rig an awning, and that was all.

The hour that we spent in the school-house was the sultriest of my
experience, but it was cool and comfortable beside the language that
might have clothed our thoughts had Mr. Lawes not been present. That
we were impotent made it no better. There were no means of knowing
whether the king's unpunctuality was an intentional slight or merely
the innate inability of a native to keep an appointment, and there was
no certainty that he would choose to come at all. But although, as the
green began to fill with a gay-coloured, chattering crowd, I was at
one moment almost resolved to get to business without His Majesty, I
was restrained by the mortification of poor Mr. Lawes, who felt that
he had been charged with the arrangements, and whose hope that his
flock would do nothing to disgrace themselves was suffering so cruel
a check. The messengers who trod heels in the road leading to the
royal quarters brought back conflicting rumours. One said that the king
was arraying himself in the new rifle-green uniform imported for him
by a storekeeper; another that he was taking off his royal trousers
at the behest of a Samoan teacher, who asserted that trousers were
no trappings for an interview with the Queen's Commissioner; another
that he had sent for a trusted councillor to decide whether, if he
wore a Samoan petticoat, he might retain his military helmet with the
cock-feather plume to which he clave. What Mr. Lawes did not know
about the people was not worth knowing, and yet, so long have form and
ceremonial been abandoned by the Niuéans, that he was still inclined to
think that the king would stroll on to the green as if he was taking
the air, despite these reports of elaborate preparations.

The awnings were rigged at last--one for us, floored with planks, at
the door of the school-house, and the other facing it, with a couple of
wooden chairs for Their Majesties, and benches for the retinue. A crowd
of several hundred people--women and children for the most part--had
assembled when a man ran in to say that the royal procession was coming
up the road. There was but just time to post Amherst Webber with his
camera when the procession burst from behind the angle of the Mission
fence.

It was worth waiting for. I heard Mr. Lawes murmur, "Well, I never
thought they would do this!" The procession was headed by a dozen
men in slop clothes and villainous, billycock hats set at a rakish
angle. They all carried spears and paddle-shaped clubs in either
hand, and a similar rabble brought up the rear. In the middle of this
grotesque bodyguard walked the king and queen, both in petticoats, as
befits the sex to which they belonged, for if the queen was a young
woman, the king was assuredly an old one. To their united ages of
ninety-four His Majesty contributed seventy-six, but what he lacked in
youthful elasticity he made up in condescension, for she had been but
a beggar-maid--or what corresponds therewith in Niué, where beggary
is unknown--when he had played Cophetua to her a few months before
our visit. She wore a wreath of roses, he the soldier's helmet with
the cock's plume, which was all that the officious Samoan teacher
would leave him of his military uniform, and from which he refused to
be divided, although it assorted ill with his petticoat. To tell the
brutal truth, His Majesty was unsexed by the garments that had been
chosen for him, and his appearance justified the remark of a friend
who, holding the photographs of Their Majesties in his hand and
confusing them, exclaimed, "Why, the queen's got a beard!" With the
king was an angular old man in a strange, ill-fitting uniform and a tall
hat of ancient date, carefully brushed the wrong way to show its wealth
of nap; his uniform was bespattered with yellow anchors and other
nautical devices, and he carried a spear in either hand. Though we could
not discover that he had any connection with the court, he certainly
imparted to the royal procession an air of dignity that it sadly needed.

[Illustration: THE ROYAL PROCESSION

The King dons a helmet and petticoats for the occasion

To face page 26
]

As soon as the royal party had taken their seats under the awning
that faced ours the retinue fell upon the crowd with loud shouts,
brandishing their paddle-shaped clubs, making thereby a louder
disturbance than that which they were sent to quell; but the sight of
Mr. Lawes standing forth to interpret produced what passes for silence
in Niué. I gave my speech to Mr. Lawes sentence by sentence, using
my old experience as an interpreter of South Sea languages to cast
them in the form and length that are best suited to the translator.
But, had I disguised my remarks in the language of the accomplished
gentlemen who provide the copy for the halfpenny press, Mr. Lawes would
have triumphed over all difficulties. Mindful of his gentle tones in
conversation, I had suggested a doubt whether his voice would carry
easily over the wide interval between the awnings, and had evoked from
Mrs. Lawes an assurance that his voice would carry twice the distance.
In truth its power and resonance were astonishing, and for once in my
life I found it a positive pleasure to talk to a native through an
interpreter. The similarity of Niuéan and Tongan was so close that I
was able to appreciate the clever way in which he turned his sentences
so as to convey the exact meaning without a superfluous word. After the
usual compliments I explained that the Queen had answered the petition
of the late king by taking Niué under her protection; that the people
need never fear seizure of their country by one of the great Powers;
that their young men working on plantations in other countries would
henceforth be able to claim the protection of the British Consul;
and that, as a token of her solicitude for their welfare, the Queen
had sent them a portrait of herself to be the property of the Niuéan
people. The picture, an engraving of Her Majesty in the robes of her
Jubilee in 1887, was carried over to the king's awning. Then I improved
the occasion by giving them the results of a little calculation I
had made. Their island, denuded of its young men, had, in its record
harvest, produced but seven hundred tons of copra, valued at six
thousand pounds; if the young men who went abroad to earn twenty-four
pounds a year were to stay at home and plant cocoanuts, they would
soon be able to earn four times that amount from their own lands,
money would flow into the island, the women who had neither husbands
nor children would be bringing up families, and the chiefs, who now
encouraged their young men to go abroad for the sake of the beggarly
commission paid to them by the recruiting agent, would be richer than
they had ever dreamed.

On the previous afternoon a travelled Niuéan had asked me anxiously
whether the hoisting of the flag entailed _tukuhau_, the Tongan word
for taxes, an institution unknown in Niué save by report, and justly
dreaded on account of the stories brought back by those who had been
in Tonga, where labourers are made to pay £1 16_s._ to the Government
out of their wages. When I reassured him, the good news was passed
down the line of our followers, who received it with enthusiasm. A
repetition of this assurance as regards the immediate future made the
most appropriate peroration to my speech.

The king, who had till now sat like a bronze image, so deeply sunk
in his voluminous draperies that little could be seen of him but his
helmet, now shook himself, and returned thanks in a formal speech, from
which his real feelings could not be gathered; and I, warned by Mr.
Lawes that if I once allowed the pent-up flood of oratory to find an
open sluice, the river of talk would flow far into the night, went over
to shake hands with him and to invite him to come into the school-house
and sign the treaty. In Samoa, in Tonga, or in Fiji, this portion of
the proceedings would have been invested with some solemnity; in Niué
it was a children's game. The treaty was laid upon the schoolmaster's
standing desk, and three separate messengers were despatched to bring
ink, pens, and blotting-paper. The king sat apart in a Windsor chair;
the headmen, under the guise of electing three of their number to
witness the king's signature, were boiling over with jealousy; a troop
of children were playing noisily at the far end of the school-house,
and near us a woman was sitting on the floor, placidly suckling her
baby. Outside three of the club-bearers were haranguing the crowd,
which, having much to say on its own account, did not listen to
them. We had almost to shout to make ourselves heard, until some new
attraction took the fancy of the idlers, the earth shook to the thud of
running feet, and the orators were left to harangue to the babies who
were too tiny to run.

Now a difficulty arose. On the most liberal allotment of space--and
Niuéan calligraphy demanded full measure--there was room in the treaty
for but three signatures besides the king's. Eleven villages, and
space for only three! It meant that three headmen would be represented
to Queen Victoria as pre-eminent above their fellows. Mr. Lawes had
been listening to the discussion, and he hastened to assure me that
unless space could be found for four at least there would be trouble,
for it meant that the headman of Alofi would be left out. The other
seven mattered but little, for they were either amiable nonentities
themselves, or their villages were too insignificant to matter. Room
had to be made for Alofi, but his fingers were so tremulous with
indignation at the suggested insult that they could scarcely hold the
pen.

When the treaty was signed, I invited the chiefs to ask me questions,
suggesting at Mr. Lawes' instance that the king should be their
spokesman. His Majesty, fixing his single eye upon me, began in a
plaintive voice to recite the wise acts of his reign. He desired
me to take note that he had enacted two laws which would never be
abrogated: the one forbidding the sale of land to Europeans, and the
other prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquor to his people. I
hastened to assure him that these wise enactments (in which I suspected
the guiding hand of Mr. Lawes) had my full approval, provided that
no difficulties were thrown in the way of leasing land to Europeans
for trading purposes. This, the king assured me, was never the case;
they liked Europeans, and if their young men stole things from them,
the community made restitution and punished the culprits. What they
wanted was advice, and if the Queen sent an adviser to live among them,
it would be well. He agreed with me that it was ill to denude the
island of its young men, and I might count upon him to discourage the
practice.[2] Finally he commended Niué-Fekai to the keeping of God, who
had showed His favour to her this day in uniting her to England--the
"greatest nation in the world."

A messenger, who now arrived from the landing-place, explained the
defection of the crowd outside. A party had landed from the _Porpoise_
to erect the flagstaff that we had brought from Sydney. As soon
as the people understood their purpose, the crowbars and shovels
were snatched from the hands of the blue-jackets, and the natives
themselves, with shouts of laughter, fell to with a will upon the grave
of their independence. The blue-jackets, nothing loath to exercise
their unaccustomed rôle as foremen of works, were laughingly directing
operations, when some officious elders, scandalised by what they
considered to be a breach of manners, fell upon the volunteers with
their paddle-clubs and drove them off, though not before the happiest
relations had been established between the natives and their visitors.

[2] Here I may remark that His Majesty lacked his usual frankness, for
the first recruiting vessel that called after my visit found him as
active an ally as ever.



CHAPTER III

THE KING OF ALL NIUÉ


For a few hours His Majesty could lay aside the cares of state, and I
was able to make his acquaintance. He faced the camera without a trace
of embarrassment, though he had probably never seen one before, and he
consented, at my entreaty, to be photographed without his helmet. He
is a withered, grey-bearded, querulous old man, and he looks the age
assigned to him--seventy-six; but, despite the ravages of age and the
blemish of a missing eye, there is an air of decision and obstinacy
about him which does not belie his character. For it is by sheer
tenacity of purpose that Tongia has attained his present giddy eminence.

The institutions of Niué have always been republican. In heathen
times the king was theoretically an officer elected by the people;
in practice he was a figure-head set up by the war-party (_toa_) who
happened to have the upper hand for the moment. And since, in the
see-saw of intertribal warfare, Fortune sometimes frowned upon his
supporters, and the hopes of the opposition were always centred in
the murder of the king, from the day of his election he went in peril
of his life. In fact, a violent death was so often the portion of the
titular ruler of the island that it became as difficult to find a
candidate for royal honours as it was to discover a person to serve
heir to a _damnosa hereditas_ in Rome before Justinian. About the
middle of the last century the supply failed altogether: for eighty
years there was no king at all, and the island seems to have got
on very well without one. But with the arrival of the missionaries
and the cessation of war the office was discovered to have some
attractions, and Tuitonga, a chief of Alofi, leaned his back against
the stone[3]--the time-honoured symbol of the assumption of supreme
power. His successor, Fataäiki, also of Alofi, was described by
Commodore Goodenough as the most remarkable chief he had seen in the
Pacific, and, at his death in 1897, no one was found worthy to succeed
him. His son, the young man who had acted as our pilot, was addicted
to strong waters, and even if he had been otherwise eligible, he had
put himself out of court by refusing to vacate the house built by the
people as an official residence, but, owing to an oversight, erected on
Fataäiki's private land. There was an interregnum for two years, and
only one man in the island thought that there need ever again be a king
of Niué-Fekai.[4] That man was Tongia.

Tongia was headman of Tuapa, and if he had attained no greater eminence
until he was past seventy, it was owing to no foolish modesty on his
part. You may, it seems, choose your own surname in Niué, and the
name he chose in early life was Folofonua, which is "Horse"--the
most terrible of all the beasts known to the men of that day. When
horses lost their terrors and became vulgar, he took a name more
awe-inspiring still--Puleteaki, which is "Great Ruler"; but, lest men
should forget his importance for lack of reminder, he changed that for
Tongia, the highest title he knew. A full year he waited for someone
to suggest an election to the throne, and then, at one of the monthly
councils, he took the matter in hand himself. As no one seemed to covet
the dignity, how would it do, he asked, to elect _him_? When they had
recovered from their astonishment, his colleagues adduced reasons
enough why it would not do: to begin with, they had done very well
without a king, and (if he would have the brutal truth) should they
ever find themselves in need of one, there were ten other good men and
true from whom to choose. They, in fact, were adamant, but Tongia knew
that drops of water will wear even adamant away. He had experienced
seventy years of opposition, and he had always had his way in the end.
He dangled the empty crowning-stone before them at Fono after Fono,
until in very weariness they let him have his will of them. It made
little difference to them then, for in Niué there is no civil list.
The king lives like any other landowner, on the produce of his own
plantation, and the rent which his poor relations pay him in kind.
Occasionally, when these fail him, he suggests how becoming it would
be in his people if they were to bring him an offering of food, or
even money, and they, mindful of the manner in which their liege lord
attained his present dignity, murmur, "Anything for a quiet life," and
hasten to stop his mouth.

Whether he is begging or merely asserting his importance, there is an
air of conscious rectitude about Tongia that is impressive. Like most
men who have done great things in the world, he has no sense of humour;
I do not think he has ever been known to smile. He has gone through
life in a deadly earnest, beside which the purpose in other men was but
the purpose of butterflies. He had been but a few days king when he
heard of the Queen's Jubilee of 1897. "Has the Queen of England been
told of me?" he asked Mr. Head. "What? Has no one thought of telling
her that I am king of all Niué--of Niué-Fekai?" Yet he must not be
called vain, if the old definition be just which sets forth that "the
conceited man is he who thinks well of himself and thinks that others
do so too; the vain man is he who thinks well of himself and _wishes_
that others thought so too; but the proud man is he who thinks well
of himself and does not care a jot whether others think well of him
or not." Upon this exegesis Tongia is a proud man. Knowing that he
was versed in ancient lore, I asked him some questions about the Niué
custom in time of war. "Tell him," he said to Mr. Lawes, "that the
greatest warrior of old time was my father. There has been none like
him in the world before or since." I tried my question in three several
forms, but His Majesty, knowing better than I what I wanted to know,
entertained me with anecdotes of his dashing father until I dropped my
point.

[Illustration: KING TONGIA

To face page 38
]

In order to give éclat to the ceremony of hoisting the flag, which
is in itself a somewhat brief and barren entertainment, I had asked
Captain Ravenhill to invite the volunteer drum and fife band belonging
to the ship to take part in it. He objected that the band had not
played together for many months, but as the Niuéans had never heard
a band of any kind, and were not likely to be a critical audience,
we decided to send the invitation. Half an hour later the island was
startled by the spirited performance of the "British Grenadiers."
It brought the whole population to the flagstaff at a run, and I
doubt whether musicians ever played to so attentive an audience since
Joshua's trumpets played their symphony before the walls of Jericho.
We needed no crier to remind the people of the historic hour; when
the guard of honour landed not even a dog was missing. The sky had
clouded, and a gentle rain was falling as the guard formed up, but
ere I had done reading the proclamation, the sun came out to see
another gap in its course filled by the flag on which it never sets.
As the signalman slowly ran up the Jack, the band played the National
Anthem, and a royal salute thundered from the guns of the ship lying at
anchor below us. To stand at the salute in a hot sun until the whole
twenty-one guns have been fired is a tedious ordeal, and I could not
help my eyes ranging right and left of me to the faces of the crowd.
It was a strange scene. Here were some thousands of natives, clad for
the most part in clothes made by the slop-tailors of Europe, gazing
in open-mouthed wonder at a handful of officers in gold-laced uniform
performing a ceremony intended in some way to change the tenour of
their lives. And behind lay the island, unchanged and unchangeable
through the centuries. Overhead were the trees that had looked down
upon the assault upon Cook by the native grandsires of these orderly
Christians, who set upon him "with the fury of wild boars," brandishing
paddle-clubs, and throwing these same lances that arm the king's
bodyguard. The foreigner has been too strong for them, but the island
will be too strong for the foreigner. The foreigner has landed and
brought with him the disease they feared so much, but let him hoist
flags and fire guns once a week until the Last Trump, he will never
conquer the stern fact that the island lies remote from the great
highways of the ocean, and turns a frowning cliff, against which the
great rollers shatter themselves unavailingly, upon those who would
beguile her into commerce.

[Illustration: HOISTING THE UNION JACK OVER SAVAGE ISLAND

April 21st, 1900

To face page 40
]

With the smoke of the last gun still floating in the air, I turned
to congratulate the king upon being now under the protection of Her
Majesty. He shook hands with me and thanked me in a bewildered way.
And looking round upon these hundreds of "British Protected Persons,"
who had changed their international status so suddenly, I could not
help wondering what they (or, indeed, anybody else) thought had been
effected by the change.

And here let me say a word about Protectorates. The word was invented
by the lawyers a few years ago when the scramble for the world began,
and there are those who think that if the man who first conceived the
idea had been led out quietly to a lethal chamber, the world would have
been saved a great deal of worry and vexation. In the old days when a
nation wanted a land it took it, dishonestly, it may be, but at least
openly, and tried to govern it after such fashion as lay within its
power. But when the scramble began, the European Powers had to invent
a polite way of saying to one another, "We have taken this country,
not because we mean to use it, but because we do not mean you to have
it! We take it under 'our protection.'" Under the old system nations
recognised some responsibility towards the land they seized; they
were at least responsible for its good government; under the new they
recognise none except the duty of crying "Hands off!" to the others,
until action is forced upon them by internal disorder. Now mark the
hair-splitting that ensues. No man can serve two masters. The men of
Niué owe allegiance to their own sovereign; they cannot also owe it
to the Queen; and a man who owes no allegiance to the Queen cannot be
a British subject. And yet when you guarantee him protection at home,
it would be unreasonable to refuse him protection while sojourning
abroad. If not a British subject, yet something British he must be.
The lawyers had to invent another term, and they called him a "British
Protected Person." When a black man is a British subject it is bad
enough. A Fijian residing in Tonga has a child by a Tongan woman. If he
was legally married to her the child is British, and must be tried by
a British court; if they were not legally married it is Tongan, and is
under the jurisdiction of Tongan magistrates. And the wretched consul
has to test the legality of the native marriage. If it was a heathen
marriage the case is worse, for the courts have never settled whether
heathen marriages, performed after the custom of the country, are
marriages at all in the eye of the law of England. But when a "British
Protected Person" has a child, we are treading upon thin ice indeed,
and I presume that every consul follows the dictates of such conscience
as he may have left to him. One need not go further than Siam to
see how the system may be abused. You have only to rake in half the
population as Protected Persons to establish a very fair claim to the
Protectorate of the soil on which they live, and this is precisely what
the French Consul, by inscribing all disaffected Siamese as French
citizens, is doing.

The invention of the Protectorate is, of course, very useful in certain
cases. Many of the Pacific Islands are the natural heritage of the
future Australian people, and it would have been most unfair to them to
allow alien nations to seize upon points of vantage about their very
gates. It would have been equally unfair to the English taxpayer and to
the natives of the islands to assume the government of countries that
were content to be under the authority of their own chiefs. If the idea
of the Protectorate had entered the heads of politicians sixty years
ago, the French would not now own Tahiti and New Caledonia, nor the
Germans the Marshalls, the Northern Solomons, and Northern New Guinea.

There are Protectorates and Protectorates. In some you may have a
resident adviser who virtually rules the country; in others a resident
who is there to give advice when it is asked for; in others no resident
at all. To the first class belong Zanzibar and the protected states of
India; to the second, Tonga and Somaliland; and to the third, Niué;
but in every class the establishment of a Protectorate is probably the
prologue to annexation more or less delayed. Why then was the flag
hoisted? There is, in fact, no reason why the flag should be hoisted
in a Protectorate, for the mere hoisting of a piece of bunting is not
in itself an act of appropriation recognised by international lawyers.
At one time or another the British flag has been hoisted in many parts
of the world that now belong to other nations. The legally recognised
act is the reading of a proclamation, and of this the flag is a mere
symbol that adds nothing to the legality when it is there, nor takes
away from it when it is absent. As a general rule the flag is not
hoisted in countries that have a flag of their own. It has never been
hoisted in Zanzibar nor in the protected states of India. On the other
hand, a people like the Niuéans, who have no flag, and know that other
countries have one, would never consider the Protectorate effective
unless they were granted the outward symbol of their allegiance. As the
matter had been left to my discretion, I had no hesitation in giving
them what they wanted. Fortunately none of the complications attending
a Protectorate had time to arise in Niué, for six months later the
island was formally annexed to the Colony of New Zealand.

The king had a request to make. He had never been on board a
man-of-war. Would the captain invite him to pay the ship a visit that
very afternoon? The eleven headmen also had requests to make: they too
would like to be of the party. As each of the eleven would have brought
two friends, and each friend two cousins, Captain Ravenhill was advised
by Mr. Lawes to make stern discrimination. The captain's boat would be
sent for the king, the queen, and the king's son. No one else, on pain
of the captain's severe displeasure, was to take passage in her, but
the eleven would be welcomed provided that they came alone and found
their way off in their own canoes. Their Majesties were punctual, and
the boat was got away with Mr. Head's son, a well-educated half-caste,
as interpreter, and not more than two interlopers. All went well until
she neared the ship, and then the queen, after a whispered consultation
with her consort, began to take off her boots. This operation being
still in progress long after the boat was alongside the gangway, faces
began to peer curiously over the side, but the blue-jacket stationed at
the foot of the ladder preserved an admirable composure, and, when
Her Majesty had paddled up the steps in her stockings, he gravely
followed the procession, carrying the royal boots as if they were
insignia of office, to the suppressed merriment of his fellows, who
were drawn up to receive the royal party. After the usual entertainment
in the captain's cabin the king was shown over the ship. Neither the big
six-inch guns, nor the neat little three-pounders that are fired from the
shoulder like a shot-gun, seemed to impress him, and it was not until
he was shown into the chart-room that he began to show enthusiasm.
Deceived by the brass chimney of the heating stove, he declared it to
be the finest kitchen he had ever seen. It was in vain for the
interpreter to explain the real uses of the room. It was the
kitchen--anyone could see that for himself--and if the captain chose,
for reasons of his own, to lie about its real uses, he, Tongia, was
too old in the craft of this world to be taken in. When I questioned
him afterwards about his visit, he said without hesitation that the
part of the ship that he had most admired was the kitchen, and he clung
to the idea with the same tenacity that had won him the throne. When
the interpreter had hinted to him that it was time to take leave, the
king, producing a dollar from his waistband, signified his intention
of tipping the captain for the pleasant entertainment he had provided,
and the interpreter had the greatest difficulty in persuading him that
such an act would be contrary to the decencies of European custom.
A dollar was a very precious possession in the king's eyes, and it
puzzled him, after many years' experience of the breed, that any white
man should refuse to pocket money when it was offered him. The king was
half-way down the ladder when he turned back, and the smile faded from
the countenance of the captain, who thought that he was in for a second
visit; but it appeared that Tongia had suddenly remembered the foreign
custom of giving precedence to ladies, and he gallantly motioned to
the queen to precede him, and handed her boots down after her. At that
moment he caught sight of the red ensign flying at the fore, and asked
the captain to give him one like it. Pointing with some contempt to
the Jack floating proudly from the flagstaff on shore, he said that
the red ensign was the flag for him, the other being too dingy for his
taste. With great tact Captain Ravenhill explained that the red ensign
was the badge of merchant ships and second-class potentates, and that,
on seeing the Jack, visitors would at once recognise the importance
of Niué-Fekai, and would conduct themselves with a proper spirit of
respect.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN OF NIUÉ

To face page 46
]

[3] The two great stones against which Tongia's last two predecessors
had leaned may still be seen standing in the square before Alofi
Church. Tongia chose to have the ceremony at his own village of Tuapa.

[4] The following is a list of the kings as far back as their names are
recorded:--

    1. Punimata of Halafualangi, who reigned at Fatuaua (died).
    2. Galiaga of Pulaki (killed).
    3. Patuavalu of Puato (died).
    4. Pakieto of Utavavau (starved to death).

    Interregnum of eighty years.

    5. Tuitonga (succeeded 1876).
    6. Fataäiki (succeeded 1888).

    Interregnum of nearly two years.

    7. Tongia (succeeded 1898).



CHAPTER IV

A TRIP THROUGH THE ISLAND


On a sunny afternoon we took horse and rode to Tuapa, the royal
village. The road was a grassy path vaulted with palm fronds and walled
with dense undergrowth. Though it followed the trend of the coast, and
was never more than a few hundred yards from the edge of the cliff,
the foliage was so dense that we seldom caught sight of the sea below
us. I imagined in my innocence that we should cover the seven miles
at a hand gallop, the ordinary pace of horses in Tonga, but in less
than a hundred yards I discovered the difference between a Niuéan and
a Tongan road. The couch grass that looked so soft and springy was
as specious as the thin earth which a gamekeeper sprinkles over the
teeth of his gin. Taking root in little pockets of earth, it sent out
a tangle of runners over the jagged projections of coral, which it
just served to hide, so that the poor unshod horses could not avoid
them. My beast knew his business, which was to walk daintily, like
a cat on hot bricks. He had his frogs to mind, and when I forced him
into a canter he obliged me for half a dozen paces, just to show me
what pain I was giving him. After that we let our horses choose the
pace they preferred, which was something under three miles an hour. We
passed hundreds of natives dispersing from the meeting at Alofi, among
them four men who were carrying the Queen's picture, shoulder high, on
a sort of bier. Men and women alike, they all had a smile for us, and
most of them a word of greeting to Mr. Flood, who had not only lent
us the horses, but was acting as our guide. We passed through three
villages of white cottages, not arranged on any plan, as in Alofi,
but straggling among the trees in a most picturesque fashion. On the
seaward side the way was dotted with graves, sometimes in clusters,
oftener in twos and threes. They varied from an oblong cairn of stones,
with a white headstone of concrete, to a neat domed tomb, carefully
trowelled off, so as to leave the name of the deceased in bas-relief
characters of irregular shape, six inches in length. The fashion of
burying the dead was introduced by the missionaries, for in former
times (and unlike the Tongans, who always buried their dead in graves,
even where caves abounded) the Niuéans used occasionally to lay their
dead in canoes and let them drift out to sea; but more generally they
laid the body on a platform of stones in the bush, under a coverlet of
bark cloth (_hiapo_) until nothing was left but the bones, which they
gathered up and deposited in a cave. During the lying-in-state a kind
of wake was held on the ninth day, and repeated at intervals until
the hundredth, and during the earlier stages the body was frequently
washed. In the little island of Nayau, in Fiji, I once visited one
of these natural catacombs. The steep and rocky path by which it was
approached was polished by the feet of the generations of mourners that
had passed over it. In the cave itself the dead were laid in a neat
row. In the more recent cases the skeletons were entire, and fragments
of the mats that had swathed the bodies still lay about them; but
further in the bones had crumbled, bats' droppings had mingled with the
dust, and the teeth and a few fragments of the jaws were all that was
left.

The attention now paid to graves in Niué is due less to the influence
of the Mission than to the superstition of the people. The Mission has
never been able to cure them of their belief in ghosts. When a man is
sick to death his friends bring him food (which he is long past eating)
and say, "Grant our request; if go you must, go altogether." But his
dying promise is not enough. As soon as the breath is out of him they
lay a fragment of white bark cloth beside the body, and sit watching
for an insect to crawl on to it. The insect is the dead man's _mou'i_,
the soul (literally, "life"), and it is carefully wrapped up and buried
with the body. The grave having been dug and the body, washed, oiled,
and wrapped in bark cloth, laid in it, heavy stones are piled upon
it to keep the _aitu_ down. The dome of concrete, plastered without
a crack, is generally enough to baffle the most restless ghost, but
there have been cases when it has defied even this precaution. About
the year 1898 a woman, who had thus buried her daughter, fell ill of a
lingering malady, which could only have been caused by the malevolence
of the dead girl's ghost. With infinite difficulty she collected a load
of firewood, which she stacked over the grave and ignited, reducing the
limestone rock to powder. From that day she steadily recovered, and in
that village, at all events, superstition will die hard.

At a village near Alofi we left the road to examine the bathing-cave,
which proved to be a rift in the limestone--a cavern whose roof had
fallen in. Scrambling down its steep sides, we found the water about
sixty feet below the surface. It was an oblong pool, about eighty feet
long and twenty broad, green, brackish, and forbidding. Somewhere
in its mantling depths there must have been communication with the
sea, for the water rose and fell with the tide. It was difficult to
understand how anyone, for the sake of some twenty per cent. less salt
in the water, could prefer this stagnant pool, striking icy cold from
the grim shadow of the rock, to the sunlit sea so near at hand. In the
same village there was a natural well, which Mr. Lawes had commended to
me as being the one place where really fresh drinking water was to be
had. It was a mere crack in the rock by the side of the footpath, eight
inches by twelve, and the gear for drawing water was a little canvas
bucket with a sinnet string attached. By measuring the string we found
its depth to be sixty-three feet. It was a hot day, and we fell eagerly
upon the clear, cool water, but a mouthful was enough. A tumblerful
of spring water with a teaspoonful of salt well stirred would have
tasted fresh in comparison. I gently chaffed Mr. Lawes about his
well afterwards, and he then admitted that it was an acquired taste,
but that for his part he found the water of other countries a little
insipid.

We found Tuapa almost deserted, for we had overtaken the greater part
of its population on the road. It is as large as Alofi, but more
irregular, and, if the truth be told, the palace of His Majesty is the
meanest and ugliest building in it. I was constrained to drop my voice
when I said so, for it seems that his palace is not the least of King
Tongia's claims to fame, seeing that it shares with the dwelling of the
late king the distinction of being the only native house in the island
roofed with corrugated iron. If I had told him that there were many
dogs in England lodged in houses of more pretentious size, he would (if
I understand the old gentleman's character) not have put an end to his
existence; on the contrary, he would have asked me for the ground plan
of Buckingham Palace, and have worried his council until they had got
to work upon an edifice a size larger.

A few miles beyond Tuapa the road breaks away from the sea so as to cut
off the north end of the island. The bush is denser, the way more wild
and lonely, and, night coming on, we were obliged to turn back to Tuapa
to sleep. And yet, though none but the European traders own carts, the
natives have made all these roads, with the exception of a bad bit
between Alofi and Avatele, available for wheel traffic. The Pacific
Islands Company is doing its best to persuade the people to buy and
use carts, but a people who cheerfully carry to market on their backs
a sack of copra weighing close upon a hundredweight for a distance of
nine miles do not see any point in labour-saving contrivances.

Mr. Flood was good enough to show me the contents of his store.
The products of civilisation that tempt natives are much the same
throughout the Pacific. Axes and knives come first, of course;
looking-glasses and umbrellas run them hard for second place; prints,
and sewing-machines to make them up with, and (alas!) slop clothing
have now become necessities. For luxuries there are pipes and plug
tobacco and cheap scents and a hundred other things, but there are
certain articles that you will not find in a native store. The
Niuéans want no hats; they make them for themselves and for others,
the export of straw hats to New Zealand having been a few years ago
three thousand dozen. These hats are plaited very cleverly by the
women from the leaves of the pandanus and a similar leaf imported from
Anuia in the New Hebrides. The manufacturer got a shilling, and the
middleman only tenpence, which sounds curious until you learn that
the manufacturer was paid in trade, and then you understand where the
middleman came in. Unfortunately the market was overstocked, and the
export fell away to nothing, but this year it is reviving. You will
find neither combs nor spades, for the native makes his own comb, and
finds a digging-stick the more handy tool in his garden.

The traders make no fortunes in Niué. In normal years the whole export
of the island is about three hundred and fifty tons of copra, a few
hats, and eight tons of fungus, which finds its way to China to be food
for mandarins. Arrowroot might be grown in any quantity if there were
any demand for it. The export of fungus is now decreasing, owing to
the fall in price. At the liberal valuation of £9 a ton for the copra,
and allowing for the money brought back by the returned emigrants,
the entire income of the island is under £3,500 a year, and upon this
modest sum the natives have to satisfy their new wants, the Mission
teachers and several independent traders have to live, and a fair
margin of profit has to be found for the shareholders of two trading
companies, after paying the salaries of their local employés. In 1899,
however, the export of copra reached the unusual figure of seven
hundred tons, and the island was passing rich.

The first trader to settle in the island was the late Mr. H. W.
Patterson, who came from Samoa in 1866 as agent for Messrs. Godefroy
and Son, of Hamburg. For some years this famous firm had almost a
monopoly of the trade of the Pacific. In 1866, owing to the American
civil war, kidney cotton fetched 20 cents a pound. The export from Niué
increased year by year until 1880, when it fell to 7 cents. For a brief
period it advanced to 10 cents, and then it fell so low that it is not
worth growing. Mr. R. H. Head, who landed in January, 1867, began to
trade as agent for the notorious Bully Hayes, pirate and blackbirder.
He was the first to buy fungus, which reached its highest export about
1880. Copra, which was not manufactured until 1877, is now almost the
only export.

At present the cocoanuts planted on Niué consist of a strip along the
western coast that widens into patches on the sites of the villages.
The trees were in rude health, and I do not doubt that every acre on
the island would grow nuts with a trifling expenditure of labour in
clearing and planting. The cocoanut palm must have been specially
designed by Providence for South Sea Islanders, for after the first
five years it takes care of itself, and will continue to bear nuts
though its roots are choked by undergrowth. All that its owner has to
do is to collect and split the fallen nuts, exposing their kernels
to the sun, which shrivels the pulp until a shake will free it from
the shell. A sack and a sturdy pair of shoulders will carry the dried
kernel--now converted into copra--to the nearest store, where it is
worth a shilling for every ten pounds. The traders are able to give
this high retail price, because they pay in "trade," and not in money.
Their profit is made out of the calico, etc., accepted by the native
as the equivalent for the shilling. To even the laziest native an
occasional short spurt of energy is pleasant, and his copra having
provided him with a change of clothes, a tin of biscuits, and a gallon
of lamp oil, he can lie on his back for the rest of the year. Copra, it
must be remembered, has nothing to do with his daily subsistence, for
which nature has provided in other ways. In the bread-fruit islands of
the east he has only to bury the ripe fruit in a pit, and dig it up as
it is wanted; in the west he has to plant his yams and taro, or set his
wives to do it, as his fathers did before him. But the Niuéans are not
lazy, and I could not help contrasting their neglect of so obvious a
source of wealth with the greater energy in copra-making of the Tongan.
It is here that the Mission comes in. But for the missionary collection
it may be doubted whether some of the Polynesian races would plant
cocoanuts at all, and I do not think that justice has been done to
the value of the Wesleyan missionaries, who always run their missions
on a good business basis, as fosterers of commerce. When the Tongan
has bought his small luxuries and paid his taxes, the native ladies
who are to have basins at the missionary collection (as Englishwomen
hold stalls at a bazaar) begin to tout for constituents. The chain of
emulation is most skilfully forged. Each basin-holder vies with her
neighbour; each of her constituents vies with his fellows who shall
attain the glory of making the largest contribution. The missionary has
simply to set the delicately balanced machine in motion, and wait until
it showers dollars into his lap. The basin-holders do the rest. "Paul
has promised to give five dollars: you beat Paul last year!" and Peter
sets forth next morning with his splitting-hatchet to split nuts enough
to make six dollars. Out of this copra the trader sucks his profit.
From the mercantile point of view this is to be put to the credit side
of the account: with its other side I have dealt with elsewhere.[5]

The London Missionary Society appears to care more for the work of
its churches and schools than for its balance-sheet, and to practise
no method for swelling its collections. And as the Niuéans have as
yet few wants, and are subject to no sudden calls for money, they
leave tree-planting alone, and expend their energy in road-making, in
house-building, and in working for white men in other islands. If they
were to spend but one day a month in planting cocoanuts for the next
five years, they might double their export of copra. But their needs
are growing, and with instincts so keenly commercial they are unlikely
long to leave the potential wealth of their island unexploited.

In view of the enormous tracts of land throughout the tropic zone that
have lately been planted with cocoanuts, it is remarkable that copra
has maintained its price. In Ceylon I saw hundreds of acres planted
with trees in full bearing, where scarce a tree was to be seen twelve
years ago. From both coasts of Africa and from the West Indies the
export has been steadily increasing, and yet, though the world seems
to be easily sated with every other kind of tropical product, of copra
it never seems to have enough. Handicapped by a sea-carriage of twelve
thousand miles, the South Sea Island copra has always commanded a local
price of from £8 to £11 a ton, and now that a soap and candle factory
has been established in Australia, it is more likely to rise than fall.
Ten years ago most of the copra went direct to Europe on German sailing
ships, which came out to Australia with a general cargo and loaded
copra in the islands. In the long homeward voyage of from four to six
months the rats and the little bronze copra-beetles tunnel through the
cargo, destroying large quantities. On arrival at the oil mills it is
crushed by rollers, and the refuse, after every drop of oil has been
squeezed out of it, is pressed into oil-cake for fattening cattle.
The oil is then resolved into glycerine and stearine, from which more
than half the candles and soap used in the world are made. At first
sight it would seem more economical to press the oil on the spot, and
so save the freight upon the waste material; but the explanation is
that oil must be shipped in tanks or in casks. Ships fitted with tanks
would have to make the outward voyage empty, and casks, if shipped in
"shooks," require expert coopers, and when soaked in oil become a prey
to borers. It is possible that a new use may be found for copra as fuel
for warships. Every ton of copra contains over one hundred gallons
of oil besides other combustible matters, and it burns with a fierce
heat. It is very easily stored and handled, and it is only one-third
more bulky than coal, its disadvantage in this respect being more than
compensated by its superior heating qualities and its freedom from ash.
It is expensive, but as Welsh coal costs in distant stations such as
China as much as £2 10_s._ a ton, it is only four times as dear, and in
naval warfare, where quick steam is everything, the dearest fuel may
often be the cheapest. It would be peculiarly suited to torpedo craft
and destroyers, which are required to get up steam in a hurry, and to
go short distances at enormous speed. I offer this suggestion to the
Admiralty as a matter for experiment.

I have wandered far from the village of King Tongia, which was a
curious peg on which to hang a digression on the markets of the world.
Whatever the fates may have in store for Tuapa, it will never hum with
the business of a trade centre. Our reluctance to anchor one of Her
Majesty's ships at the seat of government was amply justified when I
came to look at its so-called harbour. At this point the coast breaks
away to the eastward, and even with the light easterly breeze that was
blowing, there was a very respectable sea. With the wind inshore no
ship could anchor and live. The cliff was so sheer that shoots had been
built by which the bags of copra could be dropped to its base, and the
little schooners that ship the copra have to watch the weather before
they venture from the safer anchorage of Alofi. Mr. Head, the oldest
trader on the island, told me that one morning several years ago his
attention was attracted by seeing the natives running to the steep
path that leads to the base of the cliff. Looking over, he saw them
crowding about some object on the beach, and a mile to the northward
a similar group was forming. Their gestures were so excited that he
ran down the path to see what it was. Shouldering the natives aside,
he was astonished to find a white girl of about eighteen, barefooted,
half-laughing and half-crying at the perplexity of her case. For the
natives were touching her to see whether she was real, and satisfied on
that score, but baffled by her voluminous draperies, were proceeding
in all innocence to more searching investigation, when Mr. Head
fortunately intervened. While she was recovering from her hysterical
laughter Mr. Head had time to remember that visitants from another
world do not appear to mortals dressed in white flannel, albeit neither
vessel nor boat was in sight. Yet her account of how she came to be
one of the first white women to land on Niué was simple enough. She
was not alone: farther up the beach he would find her father (Mr. Head
remembered the second group of excited natives a mile away). He was the
captain and owner of a little yacht a month out from Honolulu, and in
the early morning they had landed to stretch their legs while the yacht
lay off and on seeking anchorage. They thought the island uninhabited,
and when her father wandered off and left her paddling in the warm sea,
this crowd of wild savages had surrounded her, and she had made up her
mind that she was to be eaten. While she was speaking, a trim little
yacht, flying American colours, glided out from behind the point,
towing her dinghy behind her.

Near Tuapa there is a cave which is dark at high noon. In its murkiest
recess you may see a relic of the first civilised institution that
took root in Niué--a set of stocks. The only punishments the Niuéans
then knew were fines and the death penalty, and the stocks, which they
appear to have seen in use on a whale ship, or more likely in Tahiti
whither some of them were carried as slaves, were a notable discovery.
The poor wretches thus imprisoned in the black hole of Tuapa were at
least spared the dead cats and rotten eggs that were a recognised
part of this punishment in England. When Hood visited Niué in 1862, a
boy was lashed hand and foot to a bamboo for several days with just
sufficient food to keep the life in him, as a punishment for tattooing
himself after the Samoan fashion, to the scandal of the Niuéans
who were never tattooed. Hood describes this as one of the ancient
punishments.

Most fortunately for me the schooner _Isabel_, owned by Captain Ross,
one of the most daring and successful navigators of these seas,
arrived that day from New Zealand, bringing Mr. Head, who had been
commended to me as the most suitable person to act as registrar to
the Consul in Tonga, in whose province, as it was then intended, the
new Protectorate was temporarily to be placed. I was a little bashful
in approaching him with the offer, for twenty-three years ago Lord
Stanmore, the High Commissioner, had offered him a similar post, and
the letter of appointment was still to come. But finding that, despite
his seventy years, he was still ready to accept the unpaid office,
and that he was a _persona grata_ to Europeans and natives alike, my
hesitation vanished. I was particularly anxious to see him for another
reason. He had lived more than forty years among the natives, and quite
early in life he had married a Niué woman, with whom he still lived:
consequently his knowledge of Niué customs was absolute and complete.
To my great satisfaction a messenger arrived to announce that he had
walked over to Tuapa in the dark, and that he invited me to spend the
night with him. What he must have thought of me I dare not think, for
blind to the fact that he had just landed from a rough voyage, and had
tramped fourteen miles, I plied him with questions till past midnight.
To me it was one of the most interesting evenings I have ever spent,
but I blush now when I think of my inhumanity. To him and to Mr. Lawes
I am indebted for all the ethnological information in this book. They
agreed in every particular, and as Mr. Bell, a gentleman who had
spent seven years in the island in the service of the Pacific Islands
Company, to whom I showed my notes in Sydney, added his testimony, they
may be accepted as accurate.

Mr. Head was the best specimen of an English trader that it has been my
fortune to meet. He had had more than ten children by his native wife,
and he was sufficiently educated to know the value of a good education.
Nothing daunted by the gloomy forebodings of his friends, he determined
to bring them up as European children. One after another, as they grew
old enough, they were sent to school in New Zealand. All the sons that
have stayed there are in good positions. Three have returned to Niué,
where two help their father in his business, and a third has set up a
store on his own account.

"'It's all very well with the boys, but what about the girls?' they
used to say, but I think I have proved that half-caste girls are as
good as any other if you give them a start," he said with quiet pride.
One of his girls is married and prosperous in Auckland, another is a
teacher in the public schools, and a third whom I met at Alofi would
pass for a handsome, well-educated Italian. It was interesting to
observe the manners of the boys towards their native mother when we
met at breakfast. Mrs. Head wears the native dress and speaks English
with hesitation, but she is an intelligent woman, and she plays the
hostess at the head of her table admirably. She seemed a little shy
of her English sons, but they spoke to her with courtesy and respect,
and obliged her to take her fair share in the conversation. They have
preserved the old fashion of addressing their father as "Sir." Thus has
Mr. Head solved the problem that has baffled most fathers of half-caste
children the world over.

[5] _The Diversions of a Prime Minister._



CHAPTER V

SOME HISTORICAL RECORDS


It would have astonished the first visitors to Niué not a little if
they could have lived to see the island now. The first foreigner to
land on the island after the Tongan invasion under Kau-ulu-fonua in
the sixteenth century was Captain Cook, and his experience would have
led no one to suppose that the natives would take kindly to strangers.
They were, in fact, the only Polynesians who would have nothing to say
to him. On Monday, June 20th, 1774, he landed on the north-west side
of the island, at a spot probably not far from Tuapa, and, seeing no
natives, rowed southward in his boat to a rift in the cliff, which, to
judge from his description, must have been none other than Alofi. Here
two canoes, hauled up upon the sand, tempted him to land, after his men
had been posted on a rocky point to guard against surprise. He had not
long to wait. Voices were heard in the thick undergrowth, and in a few
minutes a band of men, naked save for a waistband, smeared from head
to foot with black paint, and armed with throwing spears and slings,
ran out into the open. His friendly gestures met with no response. They
came at him "with the ferocity of wild boars and threw their darts."
One of them struck Lieutenant Spearman on the arm with a stone from
his sling, and another threw a spear at Cook at five yards that went
near to ending the great navigator's career before ever he saw Hawaii.
The spear missed his shoulder by a hair's-breadth, and the musket with
which he tried to shoot the man missed fire, though when he afterwards
fired it in the air, the powder exploded. The marines immediately
opened fire, and at the report the natives took to their heels without
suffering any loss. Cook wisely refrained from making further attempts
to open relations with them, for the island was wooded to the edge of
the cliff, and, the villages at that time being little fortresses in
the interior, he saw no houses. Naming the place "Savage Island," a
title which the natives now resent, he bore away to the north.

The first white man to land upon the island after Cook's visit did
so under dramatic circumstances. It appears from the account of an
aged native, who described the occurrence to Mr. W. G. Lawes as an
eye-witness, that a whaler was lying off the island bartering with the
natives, who were as wild and savage in appearance as Cook described
them. As the ship got under weigh the master savagely threw one of
his men overboard among the supposed cannibals, who took him ashore
in their canoes. The natives were in great perplexity what should be
done under such unprecedented circumstances. Many took their stand upon
the ancient law. Salt water was in the stranger's eyes--he must die!
On the other hand, it was evident that the man had not landed of his
own free will. The matter was settled by giving him a canoe victualled
with bananas and cocoanuts and sending him out to sea. Returning to an
unfrequented part of the coast under cover of night, he lay hid in a
cave for several days, and succeeded in getting on board another whaler
cruising in the neighbourhood.

In 1830 the pioneer missionary, John Williams, visited Niué in the
_Messenger of Peace_,[6] on his way from Aitutaki to Samoa, where he
intended to found a mission. Perceiving some natives on a sandy beach,
which must have been the present landing-place at Avatele, he made
signals of peace by waving a white flag, and, as soon as these were
returned, he despatched a boat manned by natives only. They found the
islanders drawn up in battle array, each having three or four spears,
a sling, and a belt filled with large stones. They laid aside their
arms as soon as they were satisfied that there were no Europeans in
the boat, and presented the _utu_, or peace-offering, receiving small
presents in return. This ceremony performed, they ventured out to the
ship in their canoes, but Mr. Williams could prevail upon only one of
them--the old man who endeavoured, with some success, to make the white
men's flesh creep with the war dance--to come on board the ship. While
he was retained as a hostage the boat party was permitted to land,
but, night coming on, the hostage was landed, and the vessel stood out
to sea. The old man had received with indifference an axe, a knife,
and a looking-glass, but he broke into transports of joy when he was
presented with a pearl shell.

On the following day Williams landed the two Aitutaki teachers and
their wives, whom he intended to leave as pioneers of Christianity.
They were "handled, smelt, and all but tasted," and, perceiving a vast
multitude of natives gathering thoroughly equipped for war, they took
alarm, and rowed off to the ship with one native, whom they persuaded
to embark with them. This man wore the handle of an old clasp knife
attached to his girdle, thus giving colour to the report that a few
months earlier the natives had cut off a boat belonging to a passing
vessel, and had murdered all the crew. The Aitutaki teachers, not
unnaturally, objected to be left unprotected among these inhospitable
people, and begged to be taken on to Samoa. To this Williams assented,
not out of fear for their lives, which he thought would be in no
danger, but because he thought it probable that they would be despoiled
of everything they possessed.

He now set about inducing two natives to sail with him to the Society
Islands, with the idea of restoring them to Niué after a course of
instruction in the Mission school. With the greatest difficulty he
persuaded two lads to embark, but no sooner did they see their island
vanishing in the offing than they became frantic with grief, tearing
their hair, "and howling in the most affecting manner." Nor would they
eat, drink, or sleep for three days. They turned with disgust from meat
and howled piteously, for, having never seen meat before, they took it
for human flesh, and concluded that they had been taken on board as
sea-stock for the voyage. On the third day, however, their fears were
allayed by seeing a pig killed and cooked, and gradually they became
reconciled to their new companions and pleased at the prospect of
seeing new countries. They stayed some months with Williams in Samoa,
and re-embarked with him in August, 1830, to return to their island.
"Very favourable impressions had been made on one of them, but the
other had resisted every effort to instruct him." Baffled by calms and
light head winds, the ship ran out of provisions, and was compelled to
bear away for Rarotonga without landing the boys, at which they showed
much disappointment, until they were comforted by the assurance that
by going first to Raiatea, they would be able to return home with more
valuable presents. A few months later they were landed at Niué by Mr.
Crook, one of the original missionaries who came out in the _Duff_ in
1797, and Williams saw no more of them.

Perhaps it was as well. Dr. Turner, who visited Niué in 1848, says that
shortly after the two lads' return influenza broke out, and they were
accused of bringing the disease from Tahiti, which was not unlikely,
seeing that Williams speaks more than once of its prevalence among the
Mission families. One of the lads was killed, together with his father;
the other contrived to escape in a whaler in company with a boy named
Peniamina Nukai, who entered the Mission school in Samoa. In 1842 this
boy returned to Niué in the Mission ship _Camden_, but so threatening
was the attitude of his countrymen that he had to leave again by
the same vessel. After another spell of four years in the school he
returned to his island in October, 1846, in the _John Williams_. On his
landing an armed crowd assembled to kill him. They wanted him to send
his canoe, his chest, and all his property back to the ship, saying
that the foreign wood would cause disease among them. He told them to
examine the wood--it was the same that grew on their own island--and as
for himself, how should he, a Niuéan like themselves, have more control
over disease than they? Thereupon they broke up into two parties, the
one for sparing his life, the other for giving him the shortest shrift.
"Let us do it now," they said; "let us do it now while he is alone, and
before the disease comes; presently others will join him, and it will
be difficult." Night came on, but the people, fearing the infection,
refused him shelter, and sent him to a deserted fortress, where he
wandered about in the rain, until one man, moved either by compassion
or scepticism, ventured to give him asylum for the night. Next day he
began to display the treasures of his chest, purchasing many friends at
the cost of his whole outfit.

The heathen priests, seeing their occupation in jeopardy, now set
to work to compass his death by witchcraft, and perhaps much of the
success of the Mission was due to the fact that he was too tough for
their spells. Other villages began to wish that they had Mission
teachers with the attendant blessings of hatchets and fish-hooks.

On August 29th, 1848, Dr. Turner, having obtained permission to send
Samoan teachers to the island, sailed for Samoa with two more Niué boys
to be trained in the Mission school. In October, 1849, a Samoan teacher
named Paulo was landed at Avatele, and he was followed afterwards by
four others, Amosa, Samuela, Sakaio, and Paula.

Captain Erskine touched at Niué in H.M.S. _Havannah_ on July 6th, 1849,
but did not land owing to the heavy swell from the westward. Numbers of
the natives boarded the ship from their canoes, prepossessing Erskine
favourably with their fearlessness and their honesty. One of them
puzzled him by repeating the Samoan salutation of "Alofa!" and going
through the pantomime of prayer, intending, doubtless, to inform him of
the presence of Samoan teachers on the island.

Long before Dr. Turner's next visit in 1859 the whole population, with
the exception of ten irreconcilables, was nominally Christian. The five
Samoans had, indeed, changed the face of the country. The natives,
formerly scattered about in little strongholds in the bush, were now
congregating in settled villages round the school-houses; they had
caught the garment-epidemic in its most aggravated form, and, as the
missionary records complacently, they were all decently clothed from
head to foot (we only, who have seen it, can realise the appalling
nature of this reform); they had completed a six-foot road round the
coast, which would "enable a missionary to take a horse all round
the island, a distance of forty or fifty miles, perhaps"; they had
abandoned war and infanticide; they no longer cut down the fruit-trees
of the dead; they had even changed their manner of house-building.
All this is an extraordinary result for five Samoans to have achieved
unaided in half a dozen years.

The breaking down of the old system of exclusiveness was not an unmixed
blessing to the islanders. Hitherto the whalers, knowing the reputation
of the place, had given it a wide berth. As early as 1830 John Williams
had found evidence in support of the story that they had cut off and
murdered the boat's crew of a passing vessel, and in 1847 an American
whaler lying off the island had not ventured to land to cut firewood
until Peniamina showed the captain his paper of credentials as a
Mission teacher. With the establishment of free intercourse the visits
of ships became frequent. Whalers introduced a terrible disease; Bully
Hayes, as will be presently related, found it a virgin field for
"blackbirding."

[Illustration: "DECENTLY CLOTHED FROM HEAD TO FOOT!"

To face page 78
]

The first European missionary who settled on the island was the Rev.
G. Pratt, who was followed a few months later by the Rev. W. G. Lawes,
now the head of the London Mission in New Guinea, the elder brother
of our kind host. He came out direct from England with his wife in
August, 1861, and found himself priest, prime minister, lawgiver,
and physician all in one. He must have suffered terribly from the
strain of isolation. Occasionally he obtained American papers from
passing whalers--in one case a ship calling in 1862 supplied him with
a Boston journal of 1834--but oftener he had the mortification of
seeing ships pass in the offing without communicating with the shore.
More than once English men-of-war actually had communication with the
natives, but left again without knowing that there were white people
on the island, or that there was a practicable landing-place.[7] Mr.
Lawes' first intercourse with Englishmen took place in June, 1862,
when H.M.S. _Fawn_ (Captain Cator), the first steam vessel to visit
Niué, put in, expecting to find the natives as Cook and Williams
described them. Lieutenant Hood has left us an interesting account
of this visit.[8] The natives were then in the first blush of their
conversion. Less sophisticated than they are now, and as warm-hearted,
they overwhelmed their visitors with the heartiness of their welcome.
"Pleasant surprises," wrote Mr. Hood, "are amongst the most agreeable
things in life. I don't remember ever being better pleased than with
our reception at Savage Island." But the fever of foreign travel had
already seized upon them. They importuned the captain to give them a
passage in the ship; and it was then common, some days after whalers
had left the coast, for two or three half-starved wretches to make
their appearance from the hold. Force had generally to be used to drive
the would-be emigrants into their canoes when a vessel was leaving, and
it was reported that among the unhappy wretches labouring in slavery
in the guano pits of the Chincha Islands were a few Savage Islanders.

The great enemy to the prosperity of the island is the labour trade.
It began in 1865, when the Germans took a number of young men to work
on their plantations in Samoa. In 1871 Messrs. Grice Sumner carried a
number of men to Malden Island at a wage of ten dollars a month, half
in trade and half in English money, with one month's wages paid in
advance. This has been the regulation wage since that date, and it is
not surprising that the island has been depopulated of its young men,
for it is double the profit that can be made by tillage of the land in
its present state, with the attractions of foreign travel thrown in.
Nevertheless, if they only knew it, the Niuéans might become passing
rich if they would stay at home and bestow their labour on the planting
of cocoanuts.

In early life Mr. Head had been in the employment of Bully Hayes,
the pirate. In the intervals of piracy Mr. Hayes had passed as a
law-abiding trader, and it was only when he wearied of the slow
returns accruing from the sale of calico that he turned to means of
quicker profit. One day, in 1868, he put in unexpectedly at Alofi,
and made himself so agreeable to the natives that sixty of them came
off to his vessel to gloat over the wonder of a foreign ship. With
that he slipped his cable and stood out to sea. The indignation of the
islanders at this outrage knew no bounds. It was at its height when
one morning, a week later, the joyful news spread that the ship was
returning. Mr. Hayes landed alone, and met Mr. Head on the village
green before all the natives. He was in high spirits, and had a ready
answer to Mr. Head's reproaches. "I told the beggars that I was going
to sail," he said, "but they wouldn't leave the ship. I couldn't stay
here a month. What could I do?" The men, he told the natives, were
all right. Finding that he had not provisions enough for so large a
company, he had landed them at a nice little island to the northward,
and had returned for food and water for the return voyage. If he had
meant to kidnap them, would he have returned like this? The story was
thin, but the natives were in no mood to test it. Provisions were
shipped in quantities, and the crew of Aitutaki men landed and made
friends with the people. That night word was brought to Mr. Head that
these gentry had made plans to elope with a number of girls, whose
heads they had turned with stories of foreign travel. He went at once
to the chiefs, and a guard was despatched hotfoot to the beach, only
to make out the schooner's lights in the offing. When they called the
roll they found that more than thirty girls were missing. This was the
last time Bully Hayes visited Niué. It was not till long afterwards
that Mr. Head heard the sequel to the story. Re-embarking the men, whom
he found half-starving, Hayes set sail for Tahiti, where he disposed
of the whole of his cargo to the highest bidder, or, as he chose to
put it, to the planter who paid the highest sum for their passage
money. He had promised to bring them back in two years, but they heard
no more of him. Many died in Tahiti; a few found their way to Samoa
and Queensland; a remnant, in which was King Tongia's daughter, now a
middle-aged woman, returned to Niué; the rest had scattered, who knows
whither?

[6] The _Messenger of Peace_ was the most remarkable vessel that ever
plied among the islands. She was built in Rarotonga, for the most part
by natives who had never handled tools before. Williams killed his
goats to make bellows for welding the bolts, and, when his iron ran
out, he fastened his planking with wooden trenails. Cocoanut fibre
stood for oakum, but there was not an ounce of pitch or paint for
caulking. She was of about sixty tons burden. When she put to sea with
her landsman captain, her crew of natives, who had never been to sea,
and her cargo of pigs, cocoanuts, and cats, she must have been a sight
to make a seaman weep.

[7] The vile anchorages of Niué are responsible for the loneliness
of the Europeans. Even in these days of more or less regular steam
communication among the islands the visits of ships are so rare that
the Europeans have come to believe in omens foretelling their arrival.
An insect settling on the dining-table is one of these, and the Mission
party laughingly recalled the fact that this portent had raised their
hopes two days before our arrival. Never were people so easy to
entertain. It happened that the captain had some new carbons of French
make to test in his searchlight, and the people took his experiments to
be a display of fireworks for their amusement. The brilliant flashes,
which, in the more sophisticated islands would not have drawn an
European to his door, were watched with rapture, and every native who
was entangled in the dazzling beam went frantic with delight.

[8] _The Cruise of H.M.S. "Fawn_," by T. H. HOOD, London, 1862.



CHAPTER VI

THE ANCIENT FAITH


The mythology of the Niuéans affords no key to the problem of their
undoubtedly mixed origin, for it is purely Polynesian. As in New
Zealand, Tonga, and many other Polynesian islands, Tangaloa and Mau'i
were their principal deities--Tangaloa, the Creator, too august and
remote to concern himself with human affairs; Mau'i, the sportive and
mischievous, the Loki of Nibelung myth. Every village had its _deus
loci_, who protected its crops in peace and its warriors in war,
but, since there is no tradition of the earthly pilgrimages of these
deities, there is no direct evidence to show that they were deified
ancestors. One Niuéan story of the peopling of the earth is almost
identical with the Maori myth as related by Sir George Grey. The Niuéan
version is as follows. In the beginning of things Langi, the Heaven,
lay locked in the embraces of his spouse, the Earth. Offspring were
born to them, but because Langi would not leave their mother, they lay
in perpetual night. So they took counsel together; and some were for
killing both their parents; others were for forcing them apart, yet not
so far but that their father should protect them from dangers above
and their mother be close to nurse and feed them. The milder counsel
prevailed. Uniting all their force, the men of those days pushed
upwards and rent the pair in twain, nor desisted until the Heaven was
set far above them and the light and air gushed in. Ever since that day
the tears of Langi, thus severed from his bride, fall gently upon her,
and in summer time his deep-toned lament terrifies the ears of men.

As another version of the myth has it, the wife of the first man
complained that between the Heaven and the Earth there was not room for
her to till the ground. The husband thrust his digging-stick upward,
and pushed and pushed until something gave way, and the Heaven went up
with a run.

In those days the ocean rolled unbroken over Niué. The god Mau'i, the
same that drew Tonga to the surface with his entangled fish-hook, lying
in a cave at the bottom of the sea, pushed up the floor of the ocean
until it became a reef awash at low water. With another heave he sent
it higher than the spray can reach, and birds settled upon it; seeds
floated to it and germinated, and it became an island like to Tonga.
Uprooting it with a last effort, he forced it to its present height,
and, if you doubt the story, you have only to sail seaward and look
back upon the cliff, where you will note galleries eaten into it by
waves, marking its successive levels.

A third myth ascribes the creation of the island to Huanaki and Fao,
two men who swam to Niué from Tonga. They found the island a mere reef
awash at high water. They stamped upon it, and it rose, flinging the
water from its sides. They stamped again, and up sprang the trees and
grass. From a _ti_ plant they made a man and woman, and from these
sprang the race of men. At this time Mau'i lived just below the surface
of the Earth. He prepared his food secretly, and his son, who had long
been tantalised by the delicious smell of his father's food, lay in
hiding to watch the process, and saw fire for the first time. When
Mau'i was out of the way he stole a flaming brand and fled up one of
the cave mouths into Niué where he set an _ovava_ tree on fire. And
thence it comes that the Niuéans produce fire from _ovava_ wood by
rubbing it with a splinter of the hard _kavika_ tree.

A similar myth is current in the Union Group. An adventurous person
named Talanga, having descended into the lower regions, found an old
woman named Mafuike busied with a cooking fire. Compelling her by
threats of death to part with her treasure, he enclosed the fire in a
certain wood, which was consequently used by his descendants for making
fire by friction.

There is a vast difference in the age of these myths. The Mau'i story,
being common to other Polynesian races, belongs to the period before
the Niuéans arrived in their island; the story of the two Tongans is
probably a fragment of traditional history corrupted by Polynesian
folklore. Huanaki and Fao were the ancestors of the race who drifted
hither in a canoe with their women, perhaps through a westerly wind
setting in while they were making the passage from Haapai to Vavau.
That it was a chance drift, and not an organised immigration, is shown
by the fact that there were no domestic animals in the island. Once cut
off, the first immigrants seem to have lost all wish to seek their own
land, which they might easily have done by building a canoe and running
westward before the wind. They soon forgot how to make a sail. There
is still current in Tonga a fragmentary tradition of a canoe belonging
to the Tui Tonga having drifted to Niué in comparatively modern times.
The Niuéans use the word "Tonga" to denote all foreign countries, and
the best known of their kings bore the title of "Tui Tonga." Europeans
were called _Koe tau mau'i_, after the Polynesian god, either from the
wonders that they brought with them, or because they were supposed to
come from the nether regions where Mau'i has his abode.

The oldest natives, when asked for an explanation of the name "Niué"
shake their heads, and suggest that their ancestors, driven seaward
from another island, and giving themselves up for lost, saw palms upon
the island, and hailed them with the cry "Niu--é!" ("Palms ahoy!");
but that may be classed with a host of other native derivations of
place-names, equally ingenious and equally improbable.

In the crowd at Alofi I noticed two distinct types of physiognomy,
the one with wavy Polynesian hair and the large features of the Cook
Islanders, and the other with lank, coarse hair and the Malayan
features and rather oblique eyes of the Micronesians. These latter were
comparatively rare--not more than ten per cent.

The exact origin of the people, now that the old men are fast dying
off, can never be ascertained; but a clue may be found in the people
of Avatele, the village at the south-west corner of the island. Even
now they show traces of a distinct physical type, and in the last
generation the short and thick-set frame, the large mouth and thick
lips were very marked. They have, moreover, a higher reputation for
bravery. They have several words not used in the other villages, and
they speak with a peculiar sing-song, so that, as soon as an Avatele
man opens his mouth, his speech betrays him. In olden times the
whole island was against them, and they would certainly have been
exterminated but for their fortress, which was _taue uka_--impregnable.
It is situated at a place called Tepá, a little south of Avatele. The
only entrance to it is a hole in the rock about three feet high and
three feet six inches wide. The warriors and their families lived
inside, where they cultivated bananas, sugar-cane, taro, and _kape_
(giant taro). Thence they made frequent sorties against their enemies.
To this day they dislike being united with the rest of the island,
wishing only to be left alone to go their own way.

It may be that the Avatele people are the remnant of the aboriginal
inhabitants, driven southward by Tongan immigrants, who have succeeded
in impressing their language upon them. What they were, it is too late
to speculate upon. The type is not Melanesian, though it has some
Melanesian characteristics. There must have been other immigrants
besides the Tongans. Drifts from the Gilbert Islands may have left a
Micronesian trace in the blood, and from time to time there must have
been arrivals from Aitutaki and other islands of the Cook Group, which
lies to windward. Indeed, there is still a tradition of the wreck on
the east side of the island of a canoe containing several men and one
woman. The men were all killed, but the woman was kept as a wife. It
may be that one of these arrivals was followed by an epidemic, and that
the people took fright, and thereafter adopted their murderous system
of quarantine.

There is more than one reason for believing that the island has been
inhabited for five hundred years at least. Mr. Gill found the oldest
historical tradition in Mangaia (I do not include mythological story)
to be no older than four hundred and fifty years: the earliest
tradition in Tonga is of about the same age; and, though Fornander
professes to date Hawaiian history from far earlier, his methods seem
to be too free to be convincing. Five centuries seem to be the limit
which the memory of a people, unacquainted with writing, can attain,
and the fact that the Niuéans have preserved no certain tradition of
their origin seems to show that they were established as a race before
that limit. Again, in Pylstaart Island, a known colony of Tongan
castaways, a complete aristocracy on the complicated Tongan model was
found in miniature, although the island is scarce a mile across. That
the institutions of the Niuéans were republican suggests that they left
Tonga before society in that group had crystallised into its present
form. Moreover, so far from regarding the Tongans as brothers sprung
from the same ancestors, the Niuéans had a traditional horror of them
as "man-eaters," which by the way they were not. The tie must have
been remote that allowed Polynesians to speak thus of their kinsmen,
whatever injuries they had suffered at their hands. And lastly, though
the Tongans, even as early as Tasman's visit in 1642, tattooed their
thighs from the buttocks to the knees, tattooing was unknown in Niué
until the arrival of the Samoan teachers.

Custom, of course, is more durable than tradition, and there was until
lately a custom in Niué that is, I believe, unique in the history of
the human race. When a boy was a few weeks old the old men assembled,
and a feast was made. On the village square an awning of native cloth
was rigged, and the child was laid upon the ground under it. An old
man then approached it, mumbling an incantation, and performed the
operation of circumcision in dumb-show with his forefinger. No child
was regarded as a full-born member of the tribe until he had been
subjected to this rite of _Matapulega_. Now, circumcision was pretty
generally practised in Fiji, in Tonga, and in Samoa, but the Niuéans
assert that the rite was never performed in their island except in
this modified form. They even express disgust at the idea of such a
mutilation, but they are quite unable to assign any reason for their
own purposeless mummery. If what they say is true--and Mr. Lawes has no
reason to doubt it--we have in this a perfect example of the survival
of a meaningless form five centuries after the death of the custom that
gave rise to it. In their old home the ancestors of the race practised
circumcision, but, the operation being the prerogative of a skilled
caste to which none of the band of castaways belonged, they did not
dare to tamper with their children's bodies, nor yet to abandon a rite
which their gods demanded.

There is a trace of totemism in certain animals being sacred to the
people of certain villages; but these animals, at any rate in late
heathen times, were not regarded as incarnations of the tutelary god.
Thus, though Langa'iki was the god of Alofi, the owl (_lulu_), which
was tabu to the same village, was not his incarnation. A small lizard,
the _moko_ (_Lawesii_), which is peculiar to the island, is sacred
throughout Niué, and this must be the totem of the original castaways.
I have already described how the soul of a dead man is supposed to have
entered into the body of the first insect that crawls upon the cloth
spread by the body: possibly the soul of some ancestor may have entered
into the _moko_ lizard in the same way, but it is more likely that
the _moko_ was a totem, and, if only Polynesian folklore were being
systematically collected in all the Polynesian islands, we might, by
comparing the Niuéans with other peoples to whom the _moko_ is sacred,
arrive at a clue to the origin of the people. In Fiji the bond known
as _tauvu_--that is, the worship of the same god--has always been found
to be a sign of a common origin, for the cult of the common ancestor is
remembered long after the historical tradition of the division of the
tribe has perished.

The Niuéans had a belief in a future state, albeit shadowy and
ill-defined. The virtuous passed into _Aho-noa_ (everlasting day),
the vicious into _Po_ (darkness), but there was none so bold as to
conjecture what they did there. The virtues were kindness, courage in
battle, chastity, theft from another tribe, the slaughter of an enemy;
the vices, cowardice, the breaking of an agreement or a tabu, theft
from a member of the tribe, homicide in the time of peace. Ardent
Christians though they are, no effort of the missionary can avail to
break them of their belief in the malevolence of ghosts, even of those
who loved them best in life; the spirits of the dead seem compelled
to work ill to the living without their own volition. And yet their
malevolence may be directed into a seemly channel, for, though they
cannot be summoned to answer the questions of the living, widows often
go to the graves of their dead husbands and cry to them for help when
they are oppressed, in the hope that they will afflict their oppressor
with sickness. Even so did the Christian natives of a village in the
Mathuata Province in Fiji when they rebelled against the government in
1895. To make their secession patent to the world they first killed and
ate a village policeman, and then carried kava to the grave of their
dead chief, imploring his assistance. The office of the priesthood
(_Taula'atua_) was hereditary. And here is another curious survival of
the customs of the original home. The kava plant (_piper methysticum_)
abounds in Niué as in most other Polynesian islands; kava, as everybody
knows, is the national drink of Polynesia; it was also the drink under
which the priests went into their inspired frenzy. The Niuéans alone,
of all the Polynesian races who know the use of kava, do not drink it
as a beverage, reserving it for the inspiration of their priests. The
Niuéan priests behaved much as priests do all the world over, that is
to say, they took the offerings made to the gods as their perquisites.
While they were in the frenzy of inspiration their voices were the
voices of the god; at other times, though they had great influence,
no special reverence was due to their persons. There were no built
temples; the gods were approached under the open sky, as gods should
be--upon consecrated mounds, or in sacred clearings in the forest.
There was a perfect understanding between the priests and the petty
chiefs, to their mutual advantage, for the chiefs could not afford to
ignore the political influence of the priests, and the priests, knowing
that a chief could invoke the god without their aid, realised that they
were not indispensable.

The gods to whom offerings were made were the spirits of dead
ancestors, for the gods of Polynesian myth were too remote to concern
themselves with human affairs. Turner was informed in 1848 that a long
time before they were wont to make offerings to an idol which had legs
like a man, but that in the time of a great epidemic, believing that
the sickness was caused by the idol, they broke it in pieces and threw
it away.

Christianity has failed to eradicate the belief in witchcraft; indeed,
in one curious particular, it has even strengthened it. As in Tonga and
Fiji, when the perpetrator of a crime is undiscovered, it is common to
summon the inhabitants of a village, and to require them each to swear
upon the Book that he is not the guilty person. Sometimes the evildoer
is discovered by the trembling of his hand; sometimes after taking the
oath he falls sick from sheer fright and makes confession. In 1887 when
I was in Lomaloma (Fiji) several cases of arson had occurred among the
Tongans settled there. Mafi, the old native magistrate, caused every
man and woman in the village to take the oath, and a week later he was
summoned to a woman to receive her dying confession. As soon as she
had relieved her conscience she began to mend, and she lived to take
her trial for the crime. A very exalted personage in Tonga, in his
anxiety to prove to me that he had had no relations with the French, a
matter of which I had indubitable proof, called for a Bible, and would
have imperilled his health in the same way had I not interfered. The
custom, which probably originated with the early missionaries, has
been disseminated far and wide throughout the Christianised Pacific by
native teachers. So deeply rooted is it that all Mr. Lawes' efforts
have failed to discourage it.

A common form of witchcraft was to take up the soil on which an enemy
had set his footprint and carry it to a sacred place, where it was
solemnly cursed in order that he might be afflicted with lameness. When
preparing for war a piece of green kava was bound on either side of the
spear-point to strike the enemy with blindness. Nowadays no spell can
be more fatal than to imprison one of the sacred _moko_ lizards in a
bottle and bury it at the foot of a cocoanut tree with an appropriate
curse, to destroy any person who may drink the water of the nuts. To
ensure the working of this spell it was, of course, essential that the
victim should come to know of his impending doom; a hint was enough
to lay him on his bed from pure fright. There was one slender hope
for him. Curses can be neutralised by counterspells and the voluntary
imposition of tabus, such as abstaining from certain acts, or certain
kinds of food, much as the ancient Hebrews laid themselves under vows.
When other means fail, a knife is run into the nape of the patient's
neck. It is not uncommon for medical officers in Fiji, when prescribing
medicine for a patient, to be asked what _tabu_ is to be observed, for
most native medicine-men of repute insist upon certain prohibitions,
such as abstention from all "red food" (_i.e._ shell fish, red _kaile_,
roots, etc.), or from all food grown under the earth, as essential to
the cure. If the victim of the spell believes in his own antidote he
does not fall ill; if he is sceptical he sickens from fright; in either
case the belief in witchcraft receives a gentle impetus.

No less active is the belief in the possession by evil spirits. Not
long ago a middle-aged woman was hag-ridden. She rushed in frenzy
about the country to the consternation and terror of the people, and
for several days she neither ate nor slept. To one question only
would she give a connected answer: she knew the name of the spirit
that had entered into her. Knowing no means of exorcising him, the
people let her alone, and she eventually recovered, having apparently
no recollection of her seizure. Close beneath the phlegmatic surface
of the Polynesian there runs a strong current of neurotic hysteria,
often unsuspected by the Europeans that know them best. The early
missionaries were startled at the frequent disturbance of their
services by an outburst of frenzy on the part of their most promising
converts, who professed to be possessed by the Holy Spirit as at
Pentecost. They gabbled in an unknown tongue, while their neighbours
patted them soothingly on the back to bring them back to their senses.
It was nothing else than the inspired frenzy of the heathen priests,
who shivered and foamed at the mouth, and squeaked in shrill falsetto
when possessed by their god. To the same neurotic quality are to be
ascribed that curious seizure described by Mr. Rathbone[9] among the
Malays, known as Lâtë, where at the utterance of some simple word such
as "cut" a man will spring to his feet and leap about in a frenzy,
shouting "Cut! Cut! Cut!" in endless reiteration; and the curious
affection known in Fiji as "Dongai," whereby two young people of a race
not naturally amorous, being separated after a first cohabitation,
will pine away and die from purely physical debility, or, as we should
say, of a broken heart; and that strange surrender whereby a man who
thinks himself bewitched will give up all hope of life, and will take
to his mat and foretell correctly the hour of his death. In the early
part of 1888 a young native private of the garrison stationed at Fort
Carnarvon in Fiji fell sick on returning from furlough on the coast.
His comrades soon discovered the cause: he had had one brief hour of
happiness with the girl of his choice, her parents had discovered the
liaison and had driven him from the village; they were both "dongai"
and would surely die. Every means was taken to distract him, and I had
just completed arrangements to send him down to the coast for change
of air, when the camp blackguard, one Motulevote, had a seizure in the
night, and woke up every man in the barrack-room. When asked whose
spirit possessed him, he replied in a squeaky voice, "I am Avisai
(the sick man). I am about to die. I shall die on Thursday." In the
morning, it is scarcely necessary to say, Avisai, who had heard this
cheering announcement, was too ill to move. When Motulevote appeared
next morning among the defaulters in the orderly room, he treated
himself as an interesting case, and was proceeding to give the fullest
details of his symptoms when the remedy of the cane was prescribed. It
was gravely explained to him that he personally was entitled to the
greatest sympathy; it was imperative that his carcass should be made
an uncomfortable lodging for wandering spirits, and that the strokes
of the cane were intended to extend below the surface of his innocent
skin to that of Avisai's truant spirit that lay within. It is said that
the corporal who wielded the cane entered into the spirit of the cure,
and when Motulevote howled, addressed himself to Avisai's spirit, who
was reported to me as having fled at the tenth stroke. By adopting the
same air of tender solicitude that nurses use towards a child after it
has been made to take a dose of nauseous medicine, I believe that we
ended by impressing Motulevote with a sense of obligation. At any rate
the spirit took the hint and visited him no more, and Avisai ultimately
recovered.

Cannibalism was unknown in Niué, which is remarkable in a Polynesian
race destitute of animal food. This does not in itself entitle
the people to rank high among Polynesian nations, for, as is well
known, cannibalism is not inconsistent with considerable advance
towards civilisation, and the absence of it may be found accompanied
with a very low state of barbarism. The Hawaiians and the Maories,
whose polity and art and ornate manners entitled them to be called
semi-civilised, were cannibals; the South African bushmen were not. Nor
did the Niuéans make human sacrifice, though infanticide used to be
common in the cases of illegitimate children, or of children born in
war time. In the latter case the child was disposed of by _fakafolau_;
that is to say, the babies were laid in an ornamental basket cradle,
and, with many tears, were set adrift upon the sea when the wind was
off shore. Then, as now, mothers were very affectionate towards their
children, and when stern necessity commanded this sacrifice, they had
to be restrained by force.

[9] _Camping and Tramping in Malaya_, by H. RATHBONE, 1898.



CHAPTER VII

THE TRIBUNALS OF ARCADIA


Happy is the land that has neither taxes, nor treasury, nor paid civil
service, nor prisons, nor police! The problem that puzzled Plato and
Confucius and Machiavelli and Locke and Jeremy Bentham has never
troubled Niué, for only once in its history has it felt the need of
these things. It happened in 1887, when one Koteka slew his brother.
He could not be acquitted--the man was disobliging enough to admit his
guilt--the penal code had never contemplated such a crime as this. The
chiefs sought counsel of Mr. Lawes, as they have ever done in moments
of perplexity, and for once he was powerless to help them. There was
no prison, and an execution carried out by natives was out of the
question; the High Commissioner's Court in Fiji had no jurisdiction
over natives, and the Pulangi Tau, or Council of War, that would have
given the man short shrift in heathen days by telling off one of his
judges to betray him into ambush, had long been dissolved. There was
nothing for it but to sentence him to perpetual labour on the roads,
and, as they could not sentence a free citizen to stand perpetual guard
over him, they left it to the convict's honour to see that the sentence
was carried out. But Koteka, who had showed singular callousness to
the embarrassment of his fellow-countrymen, now came to their aid,
which proved that there was good in the man, since he suffered little
personal inconvenience from the sentence. A ship coming in a few weeks
later, he boarded her without opposition, and worked his passage to
Manahiki, where he is still living, to the undisguised relief of the
native authorities.

The old criminal court was, as I have said, the Pulangi Tau, or Council
of War, whose only rule of procedure was to meet and try the accused
when he happened to be out of the way. The code was the Lex Talionis
modified by the rank and influence of the defendant. Murder, that is
the killing of a member of the tribe (for the slaying of a potential
enemy was a virtue rather than a crime), was punished by the _kopega_.
The trial was held in secret and without the knowledge of the accused.
If he was condemned to death, some member of the court was told off to
_afo_ him, that is to say, to win his confidence by an open profession
of friendship. The business of the executioner was thus drawn out into
weeks. When he had wormed himself into his victim's confidence, a day
was appointed, and a band of warriors was concealed at a concerted
spot in the bush. Then the Judas, on the pretence of taking him to an
assignation with some village beauty, led him into the ambush, and he
was done to death by blows struck from behind. Adultery was punished by
fine or by the paddle-club, according to the influence of the offender,
and there were instances of persons being condemned to be the slaves of
their accusers. The gratification of private revenge was recognised,
and justice was administered capriciously, as must always be the case
in a society that tolerates might as right.

All this was swept away by the five Samoan teachers. They brought with
them the penal code of the London Missionary Society, which was already
in full force in Tahiti and Rarotonga, and was beginning to displace
the elaborate system of punishments in Samoa. When the Mission ship
_Duff_ sailed from Portsmouth the stocks were still in use, and just
as they were being abandoned in England, they took root in the South
Seas. But in 1859, as Dr. Turner records with complacency, the "Broom
Road," which was to aid the good work by enabling the missionary to
keep a horse, had become the sheet-anchor of the law. All malefactors,
from thieves to truants from the Sunday school, were sentenced to
a spell of work upon this road, calculated in fathoms according to
the degree of their iniquity, and if at that early date it stretched
already, as Dr. Turner says, from Avatele to Alofi, a distance of six
miles, the greater part of the population must have brought themselves
within the clutches of the law. In these days men must sin with greater
impunity, for to keep the road in repair the entire male population
is giving the first Monday in the month. On the very afternoon of my
landing they took me with pride to see a gigantic feat of engineering
on which they were engaged--nothing less than the grading of a steep
hill of coral for wheel traffic, although the only carts in the island
belong to the traders. A few charges of dynamite would have done the
job in a week, but they were too proud to ask the white men to help
them, and they had set about the task in the only fashion they knew,
which was to light big fires on the limestone rock, and then break
away the calcined surface with hammers, a few inches at a time. That
bluff may be cut through some day, but it will not be in our time, nor
in theirs.

The law courts of Niué have never felt the want of paid police. There
is a judge in every village, who holds his court when and where he
pleases, but preferably in the open air. A verbal summons is sent to
the accused. If he appears, the trial proceeds, but if not, the court
adjourns until such time as his contumacy yields to the constant
worrying to which he is subjected. There are no particular rules
of procedure. The great object is to get the accused to confess.
Accuser and accused generally fall to wrangling before the judge, who
sits quietly listening until they have done, when, having used this
excellent opportunity for forming an opinion of the merits of the case,
he pronounces sentence. When there is no clue to the perpetrator of a
crime, it is not unusual for the judge to send for a Bible and solemnly
curse him upon it. Then the real culprit generally falls ill from sheer
fright, and confesses to save his life. Primitive as the system is,
I feel sure, from my experience of the Tongan courts, that with more
elaborate machinery the Niuéan magistrates will do less justice.

Three penalties are now recognised by the courts: the making of fifty
or one hundred fathoms of road, the burning of an oven of lime, and the
fine. The road-making consists in clearing the undergrowth, filling up
the crevices in the jagged limestone with branch coral carried from the
beach, and spreading a layer of sand over all. Making an oven of lime
is supposed to take a fortnight--one week for cutting the firewood, and
another for bringing coral to burn in the fire; but, inasmuch as there
is no officer paid to see that the sentence is carried out, the courts
have fallen into an easy way of imposing fines for all offences, which,
being usually paid by the relations of the prisoner, are apt to fail as
a deterrent.

It is not surprising that offences are on the increase. The abduction
of married women to the bush--an offence that was kept down by the club
in the old days--is a growing source of trouble. A fine paid by the
relations of the co-respondent does not satisfy the injured husband,
who might think his honour cleared if he could see the gallant sweating
at labour on the public road. I remember once laying before the great
Council of Chiefs in Fiji a proposal to substitute a civil action for
damages for the criminal penalty for seduction. During the debate that
followed not a single voice was heard in support of the proposal. The
opinion was unanimous that the existing law was a safety-valve without
which there would be constant explosions. A man wanted no monetary
gain from his dishonour, and if he were denied the legitimate revenge
of seeing the man that had injured him languishing in gaol, he would
resort to the old remedy of the club. Suicide, which seems to have
been common in heathen times, is still of not unfrequent occurrence.
It is rarely committed deliberately, but in an access of rage or shame
young men and women jump over the cliffs and are dashed to pieces on
the coral rocks below. Like angry children, they are tempted to avenge
themselves by picturing the trouble that they will bring upon the
friends who have offended them.

Thefts from Europeans are settled in an informal manner that does
credit to everyone but the thief. The European generally goes first
to Mr. Lawes, who invites the chiefs to make inquiry. A Fono is held,
and, as a rule, the offender is discovered. The honour of the island
being concerned, the relations of the thief are obliged to make
restitution, in some cases twofold. But even in cases where a close
inquiry has failed to discover the thief, restitution is sometimes
made by the district, even though the European has admittedly thrown
temptation in the way of the thief by his own negligence. It was owing
to the just and tactful arbitration of Mr. Lawes that the Europeans
had no complaints to bring before me, and that there exists between
the traders and the natives a good feeling that can scarcely be found
in any other part of the Pacific. These good relations may not last.
Mr. Lawes told me that the young bloods who have been abroad and have
worked side by side with Europeans are becoming prone to be insolent
and abusive to the traders, and that there is a disposition to take
advantage of the traders' necessity when a copra ship is in by refusing
to work for the time-honoured rate of a dollar a day. The Niuéan's mind
does not deal in fractions; it works in dollars, and when one seems
insufficient, it jumps lightly to two. "Two dollars or we strike," are
the terms they spring upon the wretched trader, who knows that his ship
cannot wait many hours in her dangerous anchorage, and that his copra
may lie rotting in his sheds before another ship will come to take it.
This is one of the questions that an English Resident may be trusted to
deal with.

The judicial preference for moral suasion to overcome contumacy is
shared by the Executive. Nothing is done in Niué without the decree of
the Fono, a council attended by all the chiefs of villages and heads of
families. The Fono is half parliament and half law-court. Nothing is
too great or too small for its attention. Has a strong man encroached
on a widow's yam patch, it is to the Fono that she makes her plaint.
Has a villager of Avatele been rude to a visitor from Tuapa, it is to
the Fono that he will be called to answer. Time was when the Fono made
laws, but as the only copy of these enactments is in the possession
of Mr. Lawes, and the magistrates have managed very well without them
for many years past, legislation is a very rare part of its labours.
It sometimes happens that a village has refused to obey the decree of
the Fono. The Great Council flies into no vulgar passion, talks not of
legal penalties, sets no police in motion. It simply announces that
the next meeting will be held in the rebellious village. This means
more than meets the eye, for councillors are hungry folk, and they do
not bring sandwiches with them. No village would dare incur the odium
of neglecting to feed its august visitors. The headstrong village
knows its doom. Day after day the Fono will blandly hold its sittings,
eating its meals with intervals of talk between, and one thing only
will prorogue the session--the humble submission of its refractory
entertainers. Is it surprising that no standing army is wanted to
suppress sedition in Niué?

When I asked to see the Statute Book, Mr. Lawes, who combines with
his other unofficial functions the duties of Custos Rotulorum,
produced a faded sheaf of foolscap paper. It was the only existing
copy of the Acts of King Fataäiki, and it was doubtful whether any of
the magistrates, who administered the code from memory, knew of its
existence. It was simple in the extreme. Theft and adultery were to be
punished with labour on the roads; for traffic in strong liquor and the
sale of land, both absolutely forbidden, no penalties were provided. I
would fain have left the law in its nebulous and elastic condition had
it not been for the increasing proneness of the Niuéan to remove his
neighbour's landmark and--if the naked truth be told--his neighbour's
wife. Having with me the Penal Code which I drafted for the Tongans
in 1891, I dictated to Mr. Lawes the simplest and the shortest Penal
Code that every nation had, providing broadly for every crime in the
calendar, with penalties ranging from a fine of a plaited straw hat to
a maximum of six months' labour on the roads. The omission was criminal
assault upon children--a crime unknown in Niué, Mr. Lawes assured me,
though by a strange coincidence, as I heard afterwards, this very crime
was committed within a month from the passing of the code. My part
of the work was finished in two hours, and I blushed when I accepted
the offer of my patient amanuensis to make the translations and fair
copies after my departure, and even to persuade King Tongia to the
task of commending it to his council--the only legislative body. To
quote Mr. Lawes' own words, written six weeks afterwards: "We got the
Quarantine Regulations through at Fono on May 1st. At the same time I
read the translation of the laws which you wrote out, and suggested
that the present would be a fitting time to revise their laws, and,
together with those left by you, get all written out and put in force.
The proposal was received more cordially than I expected. The _patus_
had two sittings at Alofi. In every case in which they had similar
laws to those left by you they voted for the _mena fou_ in preference
to the old. I wrote out all on which they were unanimous, and at the
Fono at Tuapa to-day they have passed them by show of hands, and got
the king's signature affixed. The late king was an intelligent, shrewd
man, but I could not get him to do what Tongia has now done. There
was a little hesitation in substituting work in almost every case for
fines. The constables shrugged their shoulders at six or three months
on the roads, and no pay. We advised them to pass the law and arrange
afterwards about some remuneration for constables. For feeding the
prisoners for the longer terms of labour they have agreed to let them
off two days a week, to work for themselves and get food. In addition
to fines, they have decided upon a sixpenny poll-tax per annum for man
and wife and sons up to the age of going away in ships: unmarried women
and girls exempt. The beginning of taxes in Savage Island! What will it
grow to?"

There was one other matter in which I was obliged to tamper with
legislation. There were cases of bubonic plague in Australia and New
Zealand, and ships were free to communicate with the shore at four
different parts of the coast. A master might even land his sick on the
island and sail away unchallenged if he chose, and though masters who
would commit such an act of infamy are fortunately rare in these days,
the risk of infection was too great to be left unprovided for. There
being no Customs officer or medical man on the island, it was obvious
that nothing could be done without the willing cooperation of the
Europeans. The nine traders responded to my invitation to a meeting.
Having laid before them the risk the island ran, I called for volunteer
health officers. It was first proposed that Alofi should be made the
only port of entry, but to this it was objected that masters, having
anchored at one port, would refuse to incur the delay of going on to
another and returning before they began to discharge their cargo. There
was nothing for it but to appoint a health officer for every port, and
to the credit of the gentlemen present volunteers at once came forward.
Quarantine Regulations were drafted to be passed by the native council
(which must have been sorely puzzled by the unaccustomed phraseology);
the health officers undertook to board every incoming vessel, and
demand the Bill of Health, at the same time serving upon the master a
copy of the penalties he would incur if he allowed men to land before
he got pratique; and King Tongia, for his part, undertook to punish
any native who should put off to a vessel flying the yellow flag. It
was a game of bluff--for how was the penalty of £50 or six months'
imprisonment to be enforced?--but it served its purpose.



CHAPTER VIII

A NATIVE ENTERTAINMENT


It was not in accordance with Niuéan custom that visitors should
go away empty-handed. At three o'clock one sunny afternoon we were
summoned to an entertainment on the square of grass before the
Mission-house. Sitting with our backs to the gate, we faced a grassy
stage, built, as it were, of palm trees--their stems for wings, their
feathery, glistening fronds for flies, and for background the blue
Pacific clear to the horizon, save for the _Porpoise_ lying at anchor
below.

First there came a band of shy girls with garlands twined in their
black tresses and presents in their hands, shepherded by a few armed
warriors (in coat and trousers, be it confessed) and three or four aged
women capering grotesquely. Sitting down in two double rows facing one
another, they began to chant pæans in our honour to the cadence of an
English drum. Mr. Lawes, sitting at my elbow, translated as they sang.
It must be confessed that both in voice and melody they fell far behind
the Samoans and the Tongans, but a people who in a single night can
compose and teach to a chorus of fifty persons words and music, with
the accompanying gestures, is not lightly to be called unmusical. One
of the songs described the hoisting of the flag; the girls imitated the
action of hauling on a rope and the salute fired from the ship as they
sang "_Fusi! Fusi!_" ("Pull up! Pull up!"). Viewed in a body like this,
the women were not prepossessing. Their straight, greasy-looking black
hair, fat cheeks, ill-shaped features, and clumsy figures wanted more
than a good-natured expression and bright smiles to redeem them from
ugliness. The songs were led by the composer, a daughter of the late
king and sister to the young gentleman who had acted as our pilot, an
enormously fat girl, with a smile that seemed to lose itself behind her
ears. After the singing had been protracted into the second half-hour
the old gentleman of the nautical uniform, whom we had nicknamed "the
Admiral," broke in upon the stage to expostulate. It appeared that he
too had a band of singers behind the scenes, and that the first choir
was cheating him of his fair share of our attention. He had now
discarded his ancient beaver for a homemade cocked hat, hastily
constructed in imitation of mine. At his remonstrance the first choir
good-naturedly yielded him place, which meant that every member of
the troupe came up to us in turn, presenting us with some trinket
with the left hand and shaking hands with the right. The pile of
presents between our feet rose higher and higher, and the garlands
wreathed our knees until we looked too Bacchanalian for the gravity of
the crowd of blue-jackets who were looking on. There were fans and
shells and coloured pebbles, and crab shells with scarlet spots upon
them, and tail feathers of the frigate bird, and live chickens bound
fast by the leg, and necklaces of little yellow shells, which, as we
afterwards found, are highly prized in Tonga.

[Illustration: THE KING AND QUEEN TAKE THEIR SEATS

The man on the right is armed with both spear and paddle-club

To face page 118
]

The Admiral's troupe now advanced upon the stage, and we were again
reminded that dignity is little accounted of in Niué. At its head
capered the Admiral and three old ladies, and warriors with spears in
poise danced awkwardly in the rear. While the song was in progress
the Admiral's sister, a dame as old as himself, danced before us in a
flame-coloured nightgown. No stately measure was this, but a vulgar
caper of the Moulin Rouge that recked not of singers or of drum-beat.
With her fists clenched on a level with her ears, this weird old
person pranced solemnly in the background until she wore down the
other dancers and was left to caper by herself. When flesh and blood
would bear no more, she sat down panting beside us. Blown though she
was, she had no intention of yielding the _crachoir_ to the legitimate
performers, for now she called for a wooden drum, upon which she beat
vigorously for a few minutes quite out of time to the music. Then,
flinging it aside, she whipped a nose-flute from the bosom of her
nightgown, and blew soft notes upon it with one nostril, watching us
the while out of the corner of her eye, lest our attention should
stray from her. Whatever further tricks she had to show us were cut
short by the close of the singing and the consequent handshaking, in
which she gravely took her part, presenting me with her nose-flute.
Her buffoonery did not provoke a smile from the other performers until
they noticed our amusement, when some of the girls smiled indulgently
upon her. It is possible that she was touched in the head, though Mr.
Lawes had always known her as a staid matron and a regular attendant at
church. We were told that this dance of old women, which is practised,
so far as I know, in no other part of Polynesia, and which Mr. Lawes
had never seen, was a revival of an ancient custom.

The warriors now engaged in mimic duel. A short man brandishing a
paddle-club with both hands challenged another armed with a spear.
Contorting his features into the most horrible grimaces, the club man
rushed upon his antagonist, and appeared to be on the point of cracking
his skull, when he seemed to take alarm at the spear and retired step
by step before the other's onset. Thus by alternate rushes the fight
swayed to and fro, until both the duellists were out of breath and gave
place to others. The feints were so cleverly done that more than once I
feared for a moment that they had lost their heads in the excitement,
and that one or the other would receive a dangerous wound. What they
must have looked in war paint, with tangled locks over their eyes and
matted beards chewed between their teeth, it was easy to imagine, and I
think that the success of the performance, which was so popular that we
had to interfere when we had had enough of it, was due to the fact that
it was not play-acting at all, but actual warfare as it was waged in
the old days; for, as I shall presently explain, there is good reason
to believe that hand-to-hand fighting was seldom more than a series
of feints persisted in until the weaker vessel ran away, leaving his
antagonist master of the field.

When the dancers had withdrawn a man rose from the ring of spectators
and began an oration of welcome. He was the headman of Avatele, and it
soon became evident that the headmen of each of the eleven villages
intended to deliver themselves of the oratory of which I had defrauded
them when the Treaty was signed. Mr. Lawes achieved the difficult
feat of interpreting in a rapid undertone without interrupting the
speakers, whose fluency and declamation would shame the average
public speaker in England. The fact is that you will scarcely find in
the Pacific a native who cannot make a fair speech in public on any
subject at a moment's notice. There is none of the hesitation, the
tiresome reiteration, the halting delivery, and the dependence upon
the rhetorical conjunction "er-er-er" when the reservoir of thought
runs dry, that distinguish the efforts of the male Briton who is called
suddenly to his feet. (I say _male_ Briton because I have been given
to understand that the oratory of platform ladies, having none of
these defects, is a pure delight to listen to.) The Polynesian is never
at a loss for a word, for a phrase, or for an illustration. He owes,
perhaps, something to his language, for I am not the only Englishman
who finds it easier to make a speech in a Polynesian language than in
English.

Niué, lying east of the 180th degree of longitude, keeps western
time, and our Sunday was the natives' Saturday. Captain Ravenhill, in
compliance with my hint that the natives should have none but pleasant
recollections of our visit, allowed no one to go on shore who was
below the rank of petty officer. I do not think that, if he had, the
result would have been different, for after six weeks' stay in Tonga,
where every man on board was allowed the usual shore leave, the king
assured me that the _Porpoise's_ was the best-behaved ship's company
that had ever visited his kingdom. But the British petty officers are
a class apart, and if I were set the task of winning the confidence
of suspicious and hostile natives, I should ask for an escort of the
first naval petty officers that came to hand and consider the work
done. On returning from a walk late in the afternoon we heard sounds
of merrymaking in the village square, and found the whole population
sitting convulsed with laughter at an entertainment provided by their
visitors. It appeared that the shore party, returning to their boat,
had discovered a band of urchins playing catch with oranges, and seized
upon the opportunity for teaching the new British subjects the British
national game. With sticks for wickets and cocoanut butts for bats,
they soon had the game going, and when we came up a boy of eight was
bowling to a bearded engine-room artificer, who was going through the
antics of clown-cricket to the huge delight of the onlookers. The
little boys positively wept when the boat came to carry away their
new-found friends.

As no one has yet done justice to the enormous political influence
wielded by English blue-jackets in these seas, I will here set down an
unwritten chapter of history, related to me by the King of Tonga, in
His Majesty's own words:--

"I think that it is because the English joke with us Tongans that
they are our friends. Now, when the _Taulanga_ (H.M.S. _Tauranga_)
was here, there was a marine who used to carry the letters to the
post-office. He could not speak our language, yet he spent much time
with my guard-boys in the guard-room at the end of the wharf, and was
beloved of them. One day another man-of-war was signalled. She was the
flagship of the French admiral, and we all watched through telescopes,
wondering whether the two ships would salute one another, and whether
the French admiral would first call upon the English captain, or the
English captain would first call upon the admiral, for we thought that
the first to call would acknowledge himself to be the inferior of the
other. And while we watched, a boat put off from the _Taulanga_ to
carry the captain to the French ship; therefore some said, 'See, the
Englishman admits his inferiority.' But they did not speak thus on
the next day. It was a Sunday, and the French sailors, to the number
of about eighty, landed in boats, and marched to the Roman Catholic
church at Maofanga to attend the service. The English marine was in
the guard-room when they passed, and the Tongan guard-boys jested with
him, saying how fine the Frenchmen looked and how terrible they must be
in battle, at which the marine spat upon the ground, but said nothing,
and presently he went away to walk in the town. About noon the sentry
called the guard to the door, saying, 'Here come the Frenchmen!' and
while they watched them marching proudly in lines of four, they saw
also their friend, the English marine, coming down a cross-road from
the town, so that he must encounter the Frenchmen at the place where
the two roads met, though as yet he saw them not because of the trees.
'Now,' they said, 'we shall see an Englishman abashed, for our friend
loves not the French, and when he comes upon these suddenly, he will
turn and slink back into the town as white clergymen of rival churches
are used to do when they encounter one another in the street.' But they
were false prophets, for as soon as their friend saw the Frenchmen he
threw back his head proudly and stepped high, behaving like a general
about to lead his troops into battle. So waited he at the cross-road,
and when they had come up to him he put himself at their head, and
marched so bravely in his red coat, that the Tongans cried out, 'Lo,
a king is approaching us with his bodyguard! It behoves us to salute
him with all humility!' The face of the French officer was not good to
look upon, for when he called upon his men to stamp the ground and let
the marine go on, he also stamped the ground, and when they pressed
forward to pass him he quickened his steps and kept with them, as if
he was indeed their leader. Nor was it better when they passed the
guard-room, and saw even the Tongan sentry dissolved in laughter, for
the marine behaved as if he was too exalted to know his friends, save
for a secret sign that he made to them with one eyelid. So they went on
together to the boat. The rumour of this thing was carried throughout
Tonga, and the people thought more of this marine than of the French
admiral and all his men."

When I read the narratives of Captain Cook and John Williams, the
missionary, I believed the Niuéans to be the most ferocious warriors
that the world has ever seen. Now I have my doubts. The sham duel
performed in our honour at Alofi was no doubt a very terrifying
performance, and to witness, as Williams did, an old gentleman of sixty
in a state of nature, smeared with charcoal, with a long grey beard
plaited into rats'-tails, poising and quivering his spear, distorting
his features most horribly by distending his mouth, gnashing his teeth,
and forcing his eyeballs almost out of their sockets, "thrusting his
long grey beard into his mouth, and gnawing it with the most savage
vengeance," and maintaining throughout the performance a loud and
hideous howl, must have made a lasting impression. And King Tongia,
it is true, could talk of little less than the warlike exploits of
himself and his fathers. But one of His Majesty's anecdotes has left
me to wonder whether Niuéan warfare often overstepped the limits of
beard-chewing. He was relating how an ancestor of his, the greatest
warrior the world has known, met the second greatest warrior in single
combat. The battle-light glowed in Tongia's left eye as he described
the weapons, the strength, the courage, and the ferocious aspect of
the warriors. At his recital the stoutest heart must have quailed.
But noticing that the battlefield of this historic duel was no larger
than the dining-room of a suburban villa, and knowing that only one
of them could have come alive from a combat in so confined a space,
Mr. Lawes inquired which of them was killed. "Oh, neither!" said the
king, and passed lightly to other battle stories. I believe that in
Niué the battle was not to the strong, but to the ugly. Your object in
battle was not so much to crack your opponent's skull as to frighten
him off the field, and if your grimaces and howls failed to make him
run, you knew that he meant business, and you ran away yourself. If
you could make up well, you became a _toa_ (brave), and the ball was
at your feet, for the _toa_ ruled their rulers, made and unmade kings,
and lived on the fat of the land. We have no photographs of the famous
men of old, but I suspect that they were blessed from birth with a
natural uncomeliness which they fostered with art, by plaiting their
beards into rats'-tails, and by assiduous practice of the battle-howl.
That a whole people should devote itself to the cult of ugliness is,
I think, uncommon even among the most primitive races. Nearly every
warlike people do something to "make-up" for the part of a warrior,
but their object is to strike fear into their enemies by an effect
of noble and awful dignity. The Samoans don a lofty headdress; the
Fijians disguise themselves with black and white paint; the people of
New Britain wear masks. The Aztecs and the Mallicolo Islanders, it is
true, compress their skulls to a point, and the Maories disfigure their
faces with tattooing, but only because what we regard as disfigurements
minister to their ideas of beauty. With the sole exception of the
Niuéans the Polynesian races never forget their dignity so far as to
make themselves either ludicrous or grotesque. In the whole island of
Niué I saw but one man with a trace of dignity about him, and he was
a Samoan teacher. As for the rest, from the grey-bearded elder to the
smallest child, they all behaved like schoolboys. Some alien strain in
the blood has debased a race of Polynesian aristocrats into Melanesian
republicans.

The loss of life from warfare can never have been great. I imagine that
in place of desperate assaults upon fortified strongholds, as in Tonga
and New Zealand, the Niuéan warrior contented himself with cutting off
defenceless stragglers and slaying individuals by ambush. Naturally
timorous, the Niuéans did not even dare to execute their criminals
honestly.

Their arms did not lend themselves to precision. The paddle-club was
almost as ineffective a weapon as an oar, for, being flimsy and light,
the blade caught the air, and the force of the stroke was diminished.
The spear was a mere stick sharpened at one end, and, as we have
seen, the warrior who launched one at Cook at five yards range failed
to hit him. If the slings and the hand-grenades fashioned from the
cave-stalactites, rounded and polished, had been accurate in aim,
scarce a man of Cook's party would have escaped. But the club and the
spear were excellent weapons for brandishing, and scaring the enemy
was all that the Niuéan warrior aimed at. The Fijians, who are often
quoted as types of ferocity, expended their heroism in the preliminary
_mbole_, or "boasting," before they encountered the enemy. Striking the
earth with his club before his chief, one cries, "I cause the earth
to tremble; it is I who meet the enemy to-morrow!" Another, swinging
his club, shouts, "This club is a defence, a shade from the heat of
the sun and the cold of the rain; you may come under it!" But in the
face of an enemy who will not run away the performance fell short of
the promise, and the frontal attack was unknown unless a contingent
of Tongans happened to be of the party. I have never myself witnessed
a fight between two war parties of natives armed with nothing but
their own weapons, but a European, the late Mr. English, who saw one
in Cloudy Bay, British New Guinea, thus described it to me. One party
having been pursued on to the open beach made a stand, whereupon the
pursuers halted, uncertain what to do. The pursued, taking heart,
shouted their battle-cry and made a move towards them; the others ran
back for fifty yards or so, and rallied in their turn. This bloodless
see-saw having continued for three or four rounds, accompanied by much
abusive language, the battle ended by the invaders taking to flight.
Never once did either side get within spear-throw of the other, though
spears enough flew harmlessly into the sand.

This dislike of hard knocks is a provision of Nature for perpetuating
island races. Were it otherwise, how could an island thirteen miles by
four continue to be populated? With pigs, women, and land to quarrel
about, a race of warriors cooped up within such narrow limits would be
reduced to a single survivor in less than a century.



CHAPTER IX

BYWAYS OF CUSTOM


Among those who had made speeches to us after the dancing was the
headman of Hakupu village, whose features had been destroyed by the
ravages of lupus. The roof of his mouth being also involved, his
speech was hardly intelligible even to Mr. Lawes. "I am afflicted, as
you see," he said, "yet could I not bear to let this day pass without
bidding you welcome to Niué-Fekai." I questioned Mr. Head about the
diseases of the natives. He said that yaws (Frambæsia, so called from
the strawberry-like appearance of the eruption), and phthisis, coughs
and colds were quite unknown before the arrival of the Samoan teachers.
The people, when he first arrived on the island, generally died of old
age. The diseases of that time were _makulokuli_, an urinary trouble,
lupus and scrofula. Since intercourse with ships has become common,
there has been ample justification for the policy that earned for the
Niuéans from Cook the title of Savage Islanders. Nowadays every child
has yaws as a matter of course, though, being a contagious disease,
it might easily be stamped out by isolation. Whooping-cough has never
left the island since its introduction. Measles, brought in two years
ago by a labourer returning from abroad, occasioned about one hundred
deaths, but though it lasted twelve months, so efficient was the native
quarantine of infected villages that Tuapa escaped it altogether. The
worst form of contagious disease, unknown thirty-four years ago, is
said now to be common in the tertiary stage, especially among infants.
As its name, _tona Tahiti_ (Tahitian yaws), implies, it was introduced
from Tahiti during the sixties. There is not much ophthalmia, and
deformities are rare. There are a few cases of insanity--our friend,
the Admiral's sister, is fast qualifying to rank among them--and the
people do not treat them kindly.

Serious illness is still regarded as possession by the spirit of
some dead person, and a necessary part of the treatment is to evict
the spirit in possession. I have already told how a mother destroyed
her daughter's grave by fire in order to burn the spirit that was
afflicting her. Nearly all the old women are medical practitioners.
The number of herbal decoctions that they administer to a sick
person is incredible. If one fails in working a cure before their eyes,
they administer another, and if the patient persists in dying after
drinking them all, as is not uncommon, they lay the blame upon the
spirit, and their practice suffers no injury. The best known of these
native doctors exact heavy fees in kind for their services, but their
faith in their own nostrums must be rather slender, for they
themselves, when taken ill, resort to the Mission dispensary. Mr.
Lawes and Mr. Head, who both dispense medicines for the natives,
are agreed in finding that the natives are more susceptible to the
action of drugs than Europeans, and require smaller doses.

[Illustration: A GRAVE IN TONGA

Made of coral, white sand, and polished black pebbles. The garlands
worn by friends are suspended above as a mark of affection

_From a photograph by J. Martin, Auckland._

To face page 134
]

Families are large. Five or six children are quite common, and there is
more than one woman now alive who has given birth to sixteen children.
There used to be no barren women, though now childless women are not
unknown. These generally adopt children, whom they treat with the same
affection as if they had borne them. The marriage of first cousins
is not popular as in Fiji, though there is a trace of the sentiment
that has produced the curious custom of concubitancy practised by the
Fijians. The offspring of two sisters are absolutely forbidden to
marry, but the children of two brothers, or of a brother and sister,
may do so without shocking the sentiments of the community. In the
case of the offspring of two sisters the prohibition dates from a time
when a man who married one member of a family had a right to marry all
her sisters, and it was never certain that the children of sisters had
not the same father. The population of 4,576, as will be seen in the
returns in the appendix, is now stationary.

Relationships are traced back for four or five generations. The people
seem to be in a transition state between Patriarchy and Matriarchy. A
grown-up son inherits his father's house and land, but the daughters
seem to have claims upon their mother's brother, and though these
claims are universally recognised, there is nothing approaching the
extraordinary rights of the Fijian _vasu_.

The land is the common property of the septs, represented by their
heads. The present boundaries are not of old standing, for in fighting
times the braves (_toa_) ignored all rights, and seized upon any land
they thought themselves strong enough to hold, and some of this spirit
still survives. But there is land enough for all and to spare, and
the junior members of a sept come to their laird whenever they are in
need of land to plant on. There is individual ownership in a sense,
because a title can be acquired by cultivation, and the sons inherit
their father's land; but no landowner can demise his holding to anyone
outside the limits of his sept, and, in default of heirs, the land
reverts to the head of the sept for assignment to other members of it.
The headman receives a sort of rent in the form of labour and produce,
and the firstfruits, formerly offered to the gods, are sometimes
presented to him. Last year the Pacific Islands Company applied for a
lease of two hundred acres in the interior for a plantation, and as
there were no native plantations on the land, they considered that
the refusal of their application was due to mere obstruction. As King
Tongia had laid great emphasis upon one of his laws which prohibited
the sale of land to foreigners, I thought it possible that he did
not understand the difference between a lease and a sale, and I was
at some pains to explain that the company was not asking him to do
anything contrary to the spirit of the law. But he replied that the
refusal rested upon other grounds. The persons who had expressed their
willingness to lease were in fact not the exclusive owners. Every
member of several different septs would claim a voice in granting the
lease, and the boundaries of this unoccupied land were so ill-defined
that the division of the rent would lead to endless bickering and
dispute. Moreover it might well happen that the poorer members of some
of the septs would be left landless, on the excuse that the lease of so
large an area had eaten up the land for which they might have applied.
He satisfied me that the boundaries would have to be settled by some
sort of commission before it would be prudent to grant leases for
plantations.

Like all the Polynesians, the Niuéans are possessed by an earth-hunger
that nothing will satisfy. Most of the jealousy between villages has
its root in land disputes, and the land question is daily becoming
more complicated through the system that allows titles to be acquired
by cultivation, because the entanglements can no longer be cut
periodically by the sword, or rather by the paddle-shaped club. The
planting of plantains or of yams by leave of the owner confers no
title, but the planting of cocoanuts and other fruit trees does so. In
Fiji it is not uncommon for one man to own the land and another the
trees growing upon it, but in Niué the trees carry the land with them.
Thus, there being no boundary marks, encroachment by tree-planting
is a continual source of friction. It presses particularly hard upon
widows and orphans, whose protests against tree-planting are unheeded,
and who are frequently robbed of land inherited from their dead
husbands and fathers in this way. The excuse usually given for this
injustice is that widows and orphans are in wrongful possession, for
their connection with the dead man's sept ceases with his death, and
they should go back to their own kin for land to plant on; but that
this argument is regarded as sophistry is shown by the fact that the
majority of natives condemn the practice.

I have purposely refrained from touching on the flora and fauna of Niué
because they are subjects that are better left by the passing traveller
to the specialist, who is certain sooner or later to visit so promising
a field as a solitary island originally destitute of domestic animals.
Unlike human customs, which change with the old order, the fauna of
an island is not affected by the fictions of human statecraft; the
birds and the lizards and the land-shells will continue to breed their
kind under the Union Jack as they did when the Pulangi Tau swayed the
destinies of Niué-Fekai. But I must make an exception in favour of the
_Musca Domestica_, the common house-fly. All the later visitors agree
in describing the swarms of flies as an Egyptian plague. The bodies
of the men who came off the ships were black with them, and I knew
of them by reputation long before we arrived at the island. We were
prepared for the worst when our royal pilot boarded us, and we were
astonished to find that he came on board unattended. One of our first
questions was, "Where are your flies?" and we found that the Europeans
on shore shared our surprise. At Christmas, 1899, they had been as bad
as ever: then came February and March, unusually wet months, and the
flies entirely disappeared. During our stay not a fly was seen. Those
are the facts: entomologists must explain them. The house-fly, as most
people know, takes something under fourteen days from the laying of the
egg to the hatching of the pupa. The voracious larvæ are supposed to
earn their living by scavenging, but the Niuéans have dispensed with
their services for some months without being one penny the worse. Their
satisfaction will be short-lived: a new breed will be introduced by the
steamers, and Niué will be fly-blown again.



CHAPTER X

WESTWARD HO!


The following day was the Niué Sunday. It had been my intention to
sail soon after daybreak, but Mr. Lawes seemed to be so anxious that
we should attend the morning service that I agreed. It seems that the
influence of the Mission is waning from a variety of causes. Chief
among these is the passion for foreign travel, which, having been the
cause of the peopling of these remote spots, still possesses all the
natives of the smaller Polynesian islands. Every year numbers of young
men return from abroad and disturb the still waters of the island with
fascinating tales of the emancipation of foreign lands, where men get
drunk and swear and break the Sabbath with impunity. They play upon
the mercantile instinct of the old men with garbled stories, told
them by beachcombers, of the money that the missionaries make out of
the natives. Every year Mr. Lawes, who has devoted thirty years'
unremitting labour to these people, finds arrayed against him a growing
opposition composed of all the "bad hats" in the island.

The church was crowded. We were placed with the other Europeans within
a sort of chancel rail, facing the congregation, who sat on the matted
floor. Seven-eighths at least were women, whose enormous straw hats,
heavily trimmed with artificial flowers, resembled a vast flower bed.
Here and there a dusky face and a pair of bright eyes peeped out, but
behind the first two rows stretched an unbroken area of hat brim, like
a light-coloured soil in which the flowers were growing. From the
roots of the bed proceeded a whimpering chorus of babies, and every
now and then, when a louder burst threatened to drown the voice of the
preacher, officials stationed at intervals round the walls stirred the
flowers at the noisiest spot with a long pole. Then a woman would rise,
producing from among her petticoats a jolly fat baby, who instinctively
threw his legs apart in the proper position for straddling his mother's
back, while she threw a folded cloth over her shoulders as a sling
for him to sit in. He would then smile complacently at us as he was
carried out, as who should say, "I have won my point; I advise you
to howl too." Babies flowed out all through the sermon, but there was
little cessation of the overtone of whimper. At the end of the sermon
Mr. Lawes announced that the ship was leaving, and that it was not
improbable that a salute might be fired. This, he explained, must not
be accounted to us for unrighteousness; a ship belonging to the Queen
was no Sabbath-breaker. It was simply a matter of the calendar, because
the ship, coming from a far land, reckoned its days differently,
and counted the Niuéan Sabbath a Monday. If anyone in that great
congregation remembered the petty officers' clown cricket on what was
the ship's Sabbath, they did not show it.

Shaking hands is better than rubbing noses, but that is all that can
be said for it, for, where two Niuéans of the old time rubbed noses,
one hundred insist upon shaking hands. Every male of the congregation
approached us in unending file at the church door to indulge in
this friendly exercise, and, thinking that this was to pass for our
farewell, we had not the heart to escape. Were I made Resident of the
island, the first bill that I would introduce to the Fono would be a
"Bill for Abolishing the Pernicious Custom of Hand-shaking" (short
title, "The Salutations Act, 1901"). It would contain a single clause
substituting for contact with the hands a vulgar nod, with the optional
addition of the word "Alofa!" on pain of being sentenced to shake
the handle of the village pump until the village reservoir was full.
But legislation in such matters is not invariably successful even in
Tonga, the most overgoverned community in the world. The ancient form
of salutation to superiors in Tonga was to drop everything that you
were carrying and to crouch at the roadside with the head sunk between
the knees. When the country, under the guiding hand of its Wesleyan
pastors, set out to seek _fakasivilaise_ (which is "civilisation"), and
decreed it "to be the will of God that man should be free, as He has
made all men of one blood," some modification was felt to be necessary.
King George Tubou I. himself settled the point in his fine autocratic
manner. His subjects, high and low alike, were to exchange greetings
by raising the hand perpendicularly from the elbow about six inches
from the right ear--an invention of His Majesty's own, suggesting a
compromise between a friendly wave of the hand and a military salute.
And, having noticed that the natural cheek of the Tongan swelled
mountainously when he could look down upon his fellows from the saddle,
he further decreed that men should dismount from their horses when they
encountered the person or passed the house of any member of his House
of Lords. Ten years ago, while he lived, you might have seen his decree
in daily practice in the streets of Nukualofa; now Jack has grown so
much better than his master that all outward marks of deference have
passed away, men jostle their chiefs openly in the road, good manners
and respect for authority have perished with their outward symbols,
and the only person in whose presence a Tongan lays aside his jaunty
swagger is a mounted policeman. A fine of one dollar or four days'
imprisonment still frowns upon the disrespectful from the pages of the
statute book, but the noble loses dignity by prosecuting, while the
policeman gains promotion.

At the Mission House the last box was being packed, and, despite our
entreaties, Mrs. Lawes was generously stripping her house of all her
curiosities as parting gifts--shells, rare mats, barbaric ornaments
and specimens of ingenuity in plaiting. If the boat had not been lying
in jeopardy among the rocks below, there would have been nothing
left on her walls or in her cabinets. This lavish bounty was to be
the impression we were to carry away from this delightful island,
wherein we had been overwhelmed with a hospitality that we can never
repay, and with a kindness that we shall never forget. The path to the
landing-place was lined with our native friends pressing forward for a
parting hand-clasp. Down we scrambled to the boat, which rose and fell
with the swell between two walls of jagged coral; we were afloat again,
the features of our friends waving to us from the landing-place grew
blurred and indistinct, the three-pounders banged, we were off. In a
few minutes H.M.S. _Porpoise_ was dipping her nose into the swell, the
island was fading into a grey haze on the horizon, and it was difficult
to believe that we had not dreamed the whole adventure.

It has been a year of high emotion for Niué-Fekai. Six weeks later--on
June 1st--the _Tutunekai_, a steam yacht belonging to the New Zealand
Government, brought Mr. Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, who, while
cruising for the sake of his health, was occupied with his scheme of
federating the Pacific Islands under New Zealand.

On October 19th--six months to a day from the date of our
landing--H.M.S. _Mildura_ arrived with Lord Ranfurly, Governor of New
Zealand, to proclaim the formal annexation of the island.

The natives must be sorely puzzled by the solemn pageant of
flag-hoisting, for the Protectorate Jack was hauled down, and a
counterpart of it run up in its stead with the usual salutes. The
deed of cession was signed, like the treaty, in the school-house, two
villages, Alofi and Avatele, dissenting, until they saw that they were
to be outvoted by the other nine. There are, it seems, even in Niué a
few professional grumblers, who accused King Tongia and his chiefs of
having sold the country to a foreign power, and even went so far as to
attack Mr. Lawes for having acted as interpreter at the proclamation of
the Protectorate. The ringleader had come to my meeting primed with a
hostile speech, but, having been denied an opportunity for unburdening
himself, he discharged it upon the next meeting of the Fono. He was
busy organising opposition to Lord Ranfurly, when, in an unlucky
moment for his cause, he was called up to sign the deed of cession as
the representative of Avatele. Thus was he impaled on the horns of a
dilemma. If he refused, another would have gone down to posterity as a
greater than he in his own village; if he accepted, he stultified his
own words. Staggered by the compliment, or reflecting, perhaps, that it
is the written word that endures, he cast his principles to the winds
and signed the deed. That is the last that we shall hear of the Home
Rulers of Niué.

My readers will rejoice to hear that King Tongia is not to suffer the
mortification of parting with the title for which he worked so hard.
Filtered through His Majesty's peculiar cast of mind this part of the
agreement may not be without embarrassment to the new Resident. So
far from suffering any eclipse, Tongia emerges from the late events
with an added dignity, according to his rendering of the clause that
refers to him in the agreement, "It has pleased the two of us, Me and
Victoria ..." (_Kua metaki ko e tokoua a maua, Ko au mo Vitoria_). To
do him justice, I think that if he had been offered the alternative
between abdicating unconditionally with a life pension, or continuing
to enjoy his high title without emolument, he would have taken the
pension; but, since that temptation was never put in his way, he is
quite right to cling to what he has. And who shall grudge him this
modest satisfaction? As Mr. Gladstone once said of Peel, "I should not
say that he was egotistical, but I should say that his own personality
occupied no inconsiderable area in his mental vision." There are worse
men and weaker kings than Tongia of Niué-Fekai.

The future of this interesting little people depends upon the man
chosen by the New Zealand Government to be the first Resident. A wise,
sympathetic, and patient man, endowed with a sense of humour, not
over-sensitive about his dignity, and content to gain his point by
suasion rather than pressure, will be able to do what he pleases with
the people; a pompous or choleric person will have the island about his
ears before he has been there a month. New Zealand has not always been
wise in her choice of residents for her dependencies, though no colony
has better material to choose from. During the next few years she will
be on her trial: if she governs her new dependencies wisely, keeping
out the liquor traffic, and fostering the prosperity and contentment of
her native fellow-subjects, she may prove herself fit to be entrusted
with the government of a great South Sea confederation; but if she uses
her new dependencies merely as a means of rehabilitating her declining
South Sea trade, and is cynically indifferent to the interests of the
natives, she will find herself with a new and more difficult Native
Question on her hands, and her great scheme will be rudely shattered.
In her own interest, therefore, besides that of the sturdy, energetic
little people that she has taken under her wing, she will pray for a
wisdom in her second experiment of governing natives that was sadly
wanting in her first.

As I began this account of the island with a letter from one king of
Niué, I will end it with that of another. I wanted to bring back with
me autograph letters from the native sovereigns for the wonderful
collection of Her Majesty, the late Queen. Probably the last presents
that she received from abroad were those that we brought back from the
newest and most distant parts of the great empire. From the King of
Tonga we brought a piece of red hand-woven cloth, which had been thrown
about the shoulders of his ancestor by Captain Cook in 1772, and had
been religiously preserved as an heirloom in the royal family out of
reverence for the memory of the great "Tute"; from the King of Niué
came the letter of which this is a translation:--

     "Niué, 23 May, 1900.

     "To Her Majesty

     "Queen Victoria,

     "Queen of Great Britain.

     "Thanks to the Lord of Heaven, for through Him we have peace upon
     Earth. I, the King of Niué, send greeting to Your Majesty, the
     great Queen of Britain, and to your chiefs and governors. We, the
     King and Chiefs of Niué, send our thanks for the portrait of the
     Queen of Great Britain that has reached Niué. We, the chiefs and
     people of Niué, men, women, and children, gaze at the portrait.

     "Thanks! Thanks! Great Thanks!

     "Thanks for your great thought of us! Thanks for stretching out
     your arm to protect Niué-Fekai, Nukututaha (the land that stands
     alone), and Faka-hua-motu (the dependent).

     "Tulou! Tulou! Tulou! (the form used in thanking a chief for help
     in war, implying a request for help in any future emergency).

     "May the Lord of Heaven, of His grace, bless the treaty now made!

     "That is all.

     "I, Tongia,

     "King of Niué-Fekai."



CHAPTER XI

TONGA REVISITED


Our holidays were over; our real work was now to begin. As we steamed
past the islet of Atatá and opened the low, monotonous shores of
Tongatabu, stretching crescent-wise as far as the eye could reach, I
wondered how the impulsive, faction-riven little people would receive
me. Ten years ago I had been escorted to the steamer by the Lords and
Commons in procession, but I had then been a Tongan Minister of the
Crown working my hardest to bolster the independence of my adopted
country; now I was an Englishman charged with a very different errand.

There is an apparent inconsistency about the two rôles that calls for
explanation. Ten years bring many changes in the circumstances of
little states. When I was last in Tonga, Hawaii was independent; three
great Powers were still wrangling over Samoa; countless islands in the
Pacific were yet unclaimed. All had fallen now, and eyes had been cast
upon Tonga--the last independent state in the Pacific. She could make
no resistance; her seizure was only a question of months, unless she
had a powerful protector. For political, strategic, and geographical
reasons England could not afford to tolerate a foreign Power in
possession of the best harbour in the Pacific islands within striking
distance of Fiji. And with the new agreement between England and
Germany the last prop to Tongan independence had been cut away. Until
then, the coaling station ceded to the Germans had been a guarantee
against seizure by another Power, while British interests had acted
as a check upon Germany. But now that the Germans had ceded all their
treaty rights to us, we had either to take what was given to us, or
leave the field open to others. In extending our protection, therefore,
to the Tongans we were serving their interests even more than our own.

The reports which we had heard in Sydney, Fiji, and Samoa were very
conflicting. All agreed in one thing--that, since the newspapers
announcing us had been received, our arrival was awaited with anxiety;
but, while some declared that the Tongans would resist the loss of
their independence to the last man, others asserted that they would
not be satisfied with a Protectorate, but would ask for annexation. I
flattered myself that I knew the little people too well to believe the
latter forecast.

As the white line of houses that marked the capital grew in definition,
I began to notice changes. There stood the palace and its church as
trim as ever within the stone-walled compound, but to the westward,
where a native could be seen running up the British ensign, a wooden
bungalow had replaced the picturesque old native-built consulate.
These had been prosperous years with the Tongans; there was not a
native-built house to be seen; trim little weather-board cottages had
sprung up everywhere, and in the vacant space beside the government
offices of my day there now stood a pretentious wooden building,
the new House of Parliament. Naturally the traders, who had had the
erecting of all these, had prospered too, and the line of stores on
the eastern side of the town were resplendent in new paint. Two houses
only in all the half-mile--ruinous, rain-washed, and neglected--told
their own tale. They belonged to old Tungi and his son Tukuaho, my dear
lamented colleague; with them and with their owners the years had dealt
unkindly, as I shall presently relate.

The town was asleep in the sun; its trim, grassy streets stretching
away inland were utterly deserted; it was like a toy town,
fresh-painted from the shop before the miniature inhabitants have
been taken out of their packing box. Nukualofa is, indeed, unlike any
other town in the world. Not long ago a friend of mine encountered an
American tourist, just landed from a steamer, gaping at a street corner
where four ways meet, and asked him what he was looking at. "Sir,"
he replied, "they tell me that this is the business quarter of this
capital, and I'm going to watch these four grass-walks till I see a
human being. But I've wasted ten minutes, and I'll have to give it up."

We were boarded by my friend, Dr. Donald Maclennan, who, as the only
practitioner in the group, is the hardest-worked man in Tonga. He has
had a remarkable career. A Scotsman, educated in Canada, he practised
first in San Francisco and afterwards in Hawaii, where he became a
close friend of the native queen and the royalist party. When the
Revolution of 1893 resulted in annexation by the United States, he
made a tour round the Pacific islands without a definite intention
of settling, and chanced to reach Tonga when the government was in
desperate need of a medical officer. He accepted the post temporarily
and has remained ever since, having by his skill, his independence, his
distaste for politics, and his unselfish and fearless devotion to duty,
inspired extraordinary confidence in the king, the people, and the
Europeans--a feat which no foreigner has ever accomplished before.

It being necessary that we should take up our quarters on shore, we
accepted Dr. Maclennan's hospitality with an alacrity that was almost
indecent, since we knew, and he did not, the tax that we were to levy
upon him. He had to submit to our society, to endless interruptions
from messengers, and to an invasion by the entire court retinue on
a memorable night when he was kept up till half-past two to witness
the signing of the treaty in his dining-room. But he bore it all with
untiring good humour to the end, and buried us beneath a load of
obligation that would weigh very heavily upon me if he were conscious
of it.

If any of us flattered himself that the town would wake up when it
learned of our arrival, he was disappointed. Flags, it is true,
fluttered up to the head of every staff, but the beach and the streets
were still deserted. At three o'clock we ran the Tongan ensign to the
masthead and saluted it, and the report of the first gun did certainly
produce some stir. Little Tongan guardsmen began to bustle about the
guard-room at the shore end of the wharf; presently a score of them
hauled out a couple of five-pounders mounted on iron carriages, and
trundled them to the foot of the flagstaff. The Tongan ensign fluttered
down; the Jack was run up in its place and saluted with remarkable
precision and regularity, for the guns must have been dangerously hot
before the twenty-one had been fired. Presently a boat was manned,
and a burly gentleman in frock-coat and silk hat, whom even at that
distance I could recognise as Tui Belehake, embarked in her and came on
board.

The lineal descendant of the gods had carried the ten years easily.
His hair was a shade greyer, but the brightness of his eye and the
natural gaiety of his laugh were not abated. With the exception of poor
Tukuaho, all my old friends were well; they had heard of my coming
through the newspapers, and rejoiced at it, though they knew not the
cause (and here the hereditary laugh carried a tremor of nervousness);
a princess had been born to the king six weeks before, and he, as His
Majesty's father, chuckled at the thought of being a grandfather, and
touched lightly on the still burning question of the king's marriage,
which had not disturbed him, for all it had threatened revolution. And
"Misa Beika" was back again. He laughed long and loud at this admission
and the reminiscences that it evoked.

I must here digress to explain what had taken place since my term of
office ten years before. In 1893 King George had died, at the age
of ninety-seven, of a chill supposed to have been brought on by his
obstinate habit of bathing at daybreak in the sea, and had been buried
in a huge mound thrown up in the public square of Nukualofa, known
as the Malaekula, or Red Square. Contrary to expectation, his great
great-grandson, Taufa'ahau, had succeeded him without disturbance,
under the title of George Tubou II. Not long after his accession he
had dismissed Tukuaho, appointing him governor of Vavau, and had
made Sateki, my auditor-general, premier in his stead. For a time
the premier had had an European clerk, but the native government had
gradually come to dispense with all Europeans except the Customs staff.
This meant, of course, that it had sought unofficial and irresponsible
advice from traders, and, during the last few months, the government
was said to have been in the hands of a Hebrew firm, which contracted
for the public supplies. In the eighth year of the king's reign it was
felt that it was time for him to marry. Overtures are said to have
been made to more than one Polynesian princess, but public feeling
ran high in favour of Ofa, a near kinswoman of Tukuaho, and therefore
a chief woman of the Haatakalaua line. The betrothal was announced,
and preparations had already been made for the royal wedding, when
the king announced that he preferred Lavinia, Kubu's daughter, who,
though descended from the Tui Tonga on her father's side, inherited
inferior rank and congenital weakness from her mother. A meeting of all
the high chiefs was summoned in Nukualofa, which recommended the king
to make Ofa his queen; but His Majesty's reply, that, if he were not
allowed to marry Lavinia, he would not marry at all, threw the meeting
into confusion, and he was permitted to have his way under protest.
It seems that the Lavinia party, though numerically inferior, trotted
out that ancient stalking horse, the Constitution, to prove to their
antagonists that inasmuch as "it shall not be lawful for any member of
the royal family, who is likely to succeed to the throne, to marry
any person without the consent of the king," the king was free to give
consent to his own marriage with any person he pleased. This argument,
so characteristic of the sophistry of the Tongan mind, was gravely
set forth to me in a letter from my old colleague Asibeli Kubu, the
father of His Majesty's preference; it reminded me of a legal judgment
delivered during Mr. Baker's term of office, when two men, indicted for
the theft of a pig, were sentenced to ten years' penal servitude for
conspiracy, because in the evidence it had transpired that by mutual
agreement one of the accused had kept watch while the other did the
stealing. "Therefore," said his worship, "not only did you steal the
pig, which is a small matter in itself, but you conspired together to
steal it; and having sought in the index of this code for the clause
concerning conspiracy, I find the minimum sentence to be ten years. To
that term I sentence you, and you may think yourselves fortunate that I
do not punish you for the theft as well."

To have the "Konisitutone" thrown at their heads was more than the
nobles had reckoned upon. They might be wrong in law, but they knew
what they wanted, and they broke up their meeting grumbling, and
departed, each to his own home. The king, boycotted by all but his
immediate adherents and the relations of his bride, kept close within
the palace compound; the marriage feast was but sparsely attended,
and the dissatisfaction of the people vented itself in attempts to
burn public buildings and the houses of unpopular members of the royal
party. The last of these incendiary attempts had occurred shortly
before my visit.

Meanwhile, my old acquaintance Mr. Shirley Waldemar Baker, a person
so remarkable in the Pacific that it will some day be a public duty
to write his biography, had turned up again. Having spent several
years in Auckland after his deportation by the High Commissioner, he
had made overtures to the Free Church of Tonga to accept him as their
president. The Conference considered his application with the utmost
gravity, and replied that, while they would be glad to welcome him as
a minister, the office of president happened to be filled. That the
Church of his own creation should treat him so was more than he could
bear, and his next letter was a grim intimation that they would hear
of him again. Those who knew him best may have felt an uncomfortable
shiver at the threat, but none in his wildest dreams can have guessed
how he would carry it out. For when Mr. Baker came back to Tonga it was
as an emissary of the Church of England, speciously introduced to the
Tongans as the _Jiaji a Vika_ (the Church of Queen Victoria). Rebuffed
by the Bishop of Honolulu, to whom the Bishop of London has delegated
his authority over this part of the globe, he had persuaded the Bishop
of Dunedin to give him a licence as lay reader. It is no part of my
business to criticise this bishop's action, or to relate how the
bishops of New Zealand intervened to dissuade him from going himself to
Tonga to support his protégé, but I may be pardoned for asking under
what authority of custom or ecclesiastical law one bishop can issue a
licence for what is virtually the diocese of another.

The new Church was just the political weapon that the party of the
rejected princess wanted. It offered a proof of discontent, it was a
new experiment in Churches, and, above all, it annoyed the king. It was
safer than burning houses, because, at the first whisper of reprisal,
you could stand boldly forth and quote the Constitution about liberty
of conscience. At the time of our visit Ofa had joined the new Church
with most of her relations; and poor blind Tungi, her kinsman, had so
far conquered his aversion to Mr. Baker as to permit services to be
held in his premises. Mr. Baker had been careful not to define his
exact position to the Tongans. All that a stole and surplus could do
towards making him an ordained clergyman had been done. He did not
bother the Tongans with any nonsense about Church government; the one
thing he did understand was making a collection, and he held his first
while I was at Nukualofa. Something under three hundred adherents
subscribed nearly £200. I asked Ofa who kept the money. Had they
churchwardens?

"Churchwardens," she said, "what are they?"

I explained. No, they had no churchwardens.

"Then who keeps the money?"

"Misa Beika."

It was melancholy to see how cruelly Fortune had used Tungi, whom I had
left the most influential chief in Tonga. While his son Tukuaho was
still alive his sight had begun to fail, and he had made the voyage to
Samoa to consult a German oculist, who pronounced his case to be beyond
hope. Hardly had night closed in upon him when Tukuaho, his only son
and the most popular chief in Tonga, died suddenly of heart disease
while riding with the king. Then came the jilting of Ofa, his near
kinswoman, an insult to his family which must have hit him hard. He
had retired to his little house in Nukualofa and was living quietly on
the rents of the adjoining property, which he had enjoyed undisputed
for many years, when the government suddenly put in a claim to it and
dispossessed him, reducing him to poverty. I do not know the rights of
the matter; I only know that the man who, failing royal issue, stood
next to the throne, who was the most courtly and imposing of the chiefs
of the old time, the last repository of ancient lore and tradition, was
reduced to living in a hovel in which you would not stable a horse,
blind, deserted, and in utter penury. A few weeks after our departure
the last link with the past was severed by his death.

Beyond the birth of a princess three weeks before our arrival nothing
had occurred to change the position. The king was in voluntary
confinement in his compound, estranged from his chiefs, and consorting
with three of his ministers, his kinsmen, and his guardboys, who
tumbled into uniform only when a foreign ship was in port. The
government of the country was nominally in the hands of old Sateki, my
old auditor-general, then regarded as a sort of Sea-green Incorruptible,
but now openly accused of acting at the behest of the firm of Hebrew
merchants who were contractors to the government. The Treasury was
empty and the salaries in arrear, but the country was not in debt,
probably because its credit was not strong enough to carry a loan.
The chronic depletion of the Treasury was due partly to the
light-hearted Polynesian habit of turning money into goods on the first
opportunity, and partly to the light-fingered ease with which the Treasury
officials helped themselves to the contents of the till. It reminded me of
old times to hear that a sum of £2,000 was missing from one of the
sub-treasuries; that the treasurer, put upon his trial, had challenged an
audit; and that the auditors, after completing their task, had stated that
they were not quite sure whether the money had ever been received, or,
if it had been received, whether it had been paid out legitimately or
purloined. The foreshore was littered with dressed stone, intended for the
thief-proof treasury which had been projected even in my time--"to keep
out the rats," as the Chief Justice remarked facetiously, "only the rats
that gnaw the money-bags will come in through the door." The
Europeans made much of these defalcations as a factor in the general
discontent, but in reality the grumbling was confined to the European
traders, who naturally object to pay taxes under such conditions, for the
Tongan does not greatly care what becomes of his money after he has
paid it.

[Illustration: UILIAME TUNGI

THE BLIND CHIEF OF HAHAKE

To face page 164
]



CHAPTER XII

THE KING AND HIS MINISTERS


Punctually at ten next morning we made our official landing, taking
with us Her Majesty's presents to the King of Tonga--her portrait and a
sword of honour inscribed with his name. The kodak representations of
our procession were not flattering, but the large crowd of Tongans in
the public square was too much preoccupied to perceive the humour in
the show. For after passing the guard of honour on the wharf, we had
to skirt the flagstaff, and we were told afterwards that, according
to Mr. Baker, we should halt there and run up the Jack in place of
the Geneva cross that fluttered aloft. But we passed the fatal spot,
to the evident relief of the natives sitting on the grass and the
disappointment of the Europeans who had their kodaks ready levelled.

The entire Tongan army was drawn up in the palace compound as a guard
of honour, and its band played our national anthem very creditably as
we approached. While the rank and file numbered about thirty, as in
my time, I noticed that the roll of officers had increased until they
formed a third line nearly as close as that of the men: their uniforms
were so spotless and correct that some of my companions mistook them
for Europeans. We were ushered into the throne-room, where two rows
of chairs were drawn up facing one another, each with a becrowned
armchair in the centre. On these, after the first greetings, we took
our seats. I knew the room well, and it called up many memories, for
here old King George had often received me informally, and all the
state functions and receptions of foreign officials, which the old king
disliked so heartily and underwent so cheerfully, had taken place. At
an earlier date, when Mr. Baker had sought protection in the palace
with his family, it had been Mrs. Baker's parlour, and from that
epoch dated the fairy lights, wax flowers, and other incongruities.
The faces of the king's suite were all familiar, for they had been
my own colleagues when I was a Tongan like themselves. There was
Fatafehi in his sober suit of black; Kubu, now swelled to the dignity
of a sovereign's father-in-law, in a French-looking uniform with a
cocked hat; Sateki, greyer and more care-lined than of old, and the
two uniformed aides-de-camp, both famous cricketers in my day, but now
inclining to obesity. Towering above all was the king, something over
six feet in height and so broad in proportion that he cannot weigh much
less than twenty stone. His tight uniform tunic, which enhanced his
bulk, was covered with orders, which on closer examination proved to be
the various classes of some Tongan decoration instituted by himself,
designed by a jeweller in Sydney, and not yet bestowed upon lesser men.
He has a broad, intelligent, good-humoured face, with black, languid
eyes, and a strong family likeness to his kinsman, poor Tukuaho. His
manners are scarcely less genial and engaging, though he has not much
taste for the society of Europeans, who cannot help feeling in his
company _qu'il ne montre jamais le fond du sac_. Of his intelligence
it is enough to say that, though he has never been abroad save for a
few weeks spent in Auckland, he speaks English fairly well and reads
the English newspapers; that he conducts his own correspondence with a
typewriter, and can write Pitman's system of shorthand with facility.
Though there are said to be flaws in his nature which prevent him
from becoming a strong or popular ruler, he is by no means wanting in
character. He has never been tempted by strong liquors, like so many
of the Polynesian chiefs; his private life is regular; he has always
known how to hold himself aloof from the lower sort of European; and I
do not doubt that the insincerity of which he is so generally accused
is really due to the desire of pleasing and the dislike of refusing a
request. His health is not all that could be desired. Remembering the
early death of all his family, until he alone was left to succeed his
great-grandfather, we could not regard his stoutness, which had been
characteristic of all of them, as a healthy sign, especially when we
heard that he only took exercise in the palace compound at the direct
order of his doctor. His mother and his uncles had all died of fatty
degeneration of the heart when under forty, and none were so stout as
he at twenty-seven.

A foreign language is apt to rust on the tongue after disuse for
ten years, and my speech, presenting my credentials and the Queen's
presents, ran less trippingly than I could have wished. But words came
back to me as I talked, and, having plenty of time before me, I left
politics alone. Then came the usual presentation of the naval officers,
and a promise that the king would visit H.M.S. _Porpoise_ on the morrow.

[Illustration: GEORGE TUBOU II., KING OF TONGA

To face page 170
]

Next morning we sent on shore for the royal standard of Tonga to hoist
at the masthead when the king came on board. His Majesty came off in
his barge, manned by a crew clad in black jumpers and _valas_ fastened
at the waist with a red sash, his band playing the Tongan national
anthem as he left the wharf. Mounting the gangway alone, he seemed a
little bewildered at finding a guard of honour drawn up to receive him,
and not a little heated by the weight of his uniform and the orders
that plastered it. His suite, consisting of Kubu, Fatafehi, and his
aides-de-camp, quite filled the captain's cabin, and being the only
medium of communication between hosts and guests, I found the burden of
conversation rather difficult, for good manners in Tonga require that
on formal occasions chiefs should confine themselves to monosyllables,
and have their talking done for them. Once on deck, however, the ball
rolled of itself, for the captain had rigged a mine, which the king
fired with a button, sending a volcano of water into the air and
slaying innumerable fish. The men then went through gun drill with the
six-inch guns, which, it was explained, would carry with precision
to the farthest limits of the island, and ended up with the imaginary
ramming of an enemy. As the king left the side the three-pounders
roared out a salute of twenty-one guns, perhaps the part of the
entertainment which the king enjoyed best, for, whatever our mission
might portend, it had so far left him the outward symbol of royalty.

That afternoon the draft treaty was sent to him, and then the tussle
began. Besides the acknowledgment of a Protectorate, which would
prevent the country falling into other hands, two definite concessions
had to be made. In the port of Neiafu, in Vavau, Tonga possesses
the best harbour in the Pacific--a land-locked basin with an easily
defended entrance three or four miles long. In 1876, as the price
of her treaty with Germany, Tonga had ceded a coaling-station in
this harbour, and the Germans had dumped some twenty tons of coal
upon their concession as a proof of occupation, and had thereafter
forgotten all about it. Though we had succeeded to their treaty rights,
it was necessary, not only to obtain the consent of the Tongans
to the transfer, but to acquire the site for a fort to defend the
coaling-station--a matter which had been neglected by the Germans.
The second matter was more important. Tonga had made three treaties,
ceding her jurisdiction over the subjects of the Powers concerned
to their respective consuls, but, inasmuch as England only had a
consular court in the group, it followed that Germans and Americans
who committed a crime could not be punished for it, while the subjects
of other Powers, in theory amenable to the native courts, in practice
were free to break the law with impunity. The Samoa Convention gave the
jurisdiction over Germans to us, but the experience of Zanzibar has
taught us that a Protectorate without jurisdiction over all foreigners
is a very unsatisfactory arrangement. The only person who could legally
confer the jurisdiction over foreigners upon our courts was the King
of Tonga, who nominally possessed it, and this he had to be asked to
do. If he had been anxious to part with his responsibilities there
would have been little difficulty, but Tongans share with schoolboys
a light-hearted contempt for the dangers of responsibility, and are,
besides, rather proud of their law courts. We soon found that it was to
be a long and tortuous business, calling for all the patience that we
had at command.

It was common gossip that the most influential chiefs and a large
number of the people were secretly in favour of a Protectorate, but
that the real obstacle was the king. Not long before my visit he had
received a letter from the deposed queen of Hawaii, greeting him as
the last independent sovereign of the Polynesian race, and condoling
with him upon the threatened loss of his independence. Fully alive to
the advantages it would give him in securing him from the constant
demands for compensation pressed upon him by foreigners, he feared that
if he voluntarily ceded a Protectorate his opponents would accuse him
of having sold his country; and he thought, no doubt, that it was the
first step towards depriving him of the outward pomp of royalty which
was so dear to him. One cannot but understand his attitude, though it
was inconsistent with the welfare of his country.

At my first private interview with the king as in duty bound I asked
to be presented to the queen and the new-born princess. The queen was
still confined to her room. His Majesty led me upstairs. The whole of
the wall space on the staircase is filled by a colossal equestrian
portrait of the first Kaiser, very ill-painted, and so large that
the frame must either have been carried in piecemeal or the palace
built round it. It belonged to the period when the Germans acquired
their coaling-station and Mr. Baker was decorated with the Red Eagle
of Prussia. There are four large rooms on the upper floor, three of
them furnished in European style, and the fourth used as a lumber-room
for the toys and litter which Polynesian chiefs buy so readily and
tire of so quickly. We found Her Majesty in the best bedroom, which
is furnished with a four-post bed and Brussels carpet. Everything was
immaculately clean, and there was nothing to show that the room did
not belong to an European lady. The queen wore a pink silk wrapper,
and was sitting in a low chair with her brown baby on her knee. Her
illness, which at one time had caused great anxiety, accounted for
her pallor and her delicate appearance. Though she is not handsome,
her slenderness and her delicacy of feature give her a certain air of
distinction, and, like all Tongan women of good family, she has pretty
manners. Having made my christening present and kissed the baby, I took
my leave. During the queen's illness Dr. Maclennan had a busy time,
for, though the king has an implicit belief in European treatment,
the old ladies about the court insist upon administering nostrums of
their own on the principle of "more medicine, quicker cure." It is only
by simulated outbursts of indignation that Dr. Maclennan can get his
orders obeyed.

In surgery alone do the Tongans frankly admit their helplessness.
An old shed in our host's compound had been hastily converted into
an operating-room, in order that the presence of a naval surgeon
to assist in operations might be turned to account. For several
days in succession the two doctors were operating on bad cases of
elephantiasis, the relations of the patients camping outside to act as
hospital nurses. Even under these unfavourable conditions the patients
all made rapid recovery, but there was one painful case in which the
patient deliberately preferred death. A young man, while pig-shooting
in the bush, had put a charge of shot into his own leg, shattering the
ankle. There was nothing for him but amputation, but when his relations
heard that he must lose his foot, they refused to allow the operation.
They would try herbs, they said, and for a day or two they brought
reports that he was better. Gangrene at last set in, and while there
was yet time I went to reason with the lad's mother. Secretly, I fear,
the reflection that if he lived the lad would be a helpless cripple on
their hands had some weight with them. At last they were brought so far
as to put him on a litter to carry him to the operating-room, but their
hearts failed them in the end and he never came. The lad himself seemed
to prefer death, so great is the Polynesian's horror of mutilation.

It is not always for human beings that Dr. Maclennan is asked to
prescribe. Having been much troubled by his neighbours' pigs, he gave
public warning of his intention of shooting intruders at sight. The
very next night he executed his threat by moonlight, and heard the
trespasser make off with an agonised squeal. Next morning he received
an urgent summons from the inspector of police, a particular friend
of his, to see his favourite pig which had been taken violently ill.
One glance was enough to show him what ailed it, and he said, "The
pig is very ill; it cannot live many hours, but if you kill and eat
it at once, the meat will be perfectly wholesome." The owner took
his advice, but unhappily, in carving the meat, he came across a
bullet. It cost the doctor more than the value of the pig to patch
the friendship up. By dint of a happy mingling of kindliness and mock
ferocity he contrives to get his orders obeyed, and the people have an
extraordinary respect and affection for him.

I had more than one interview with the chief justice--not the somnolent
old gentleman of ten years ago, but William Maealiuaki, who was then
but an over-intelligent Radical member of Parliament. Persecution (he
was an exile for conscience' sake in Mr. Baker's time), prosperity,
or promotion had not been good for him; he had parted with even that
little meed of modesty which adorns even the loftiest eminence. He took
his duties very seriously, however, and whenever he came to see me it
was to resolve some legal doubt that had arisen in the course of his
duties on the bench. "You see," he said one day, "I have to be more
careful now that there are _loya_ listening to my judgments."

"Lawyers?" I inquired in surprise.

"Yes," he said, with pride; "and that is your work."

It was, I confess with shame, only too true. In Mr. Baker's days no
one knew the law--not even the magistrates--and, as judgments went by
favour, a suitor lost nothing by pleading his own case. But the code
which I had drafted for them changed all that. It was furnished with an
index, and a copy could be bought for less than a dollar. As soon as it
transpired that there was nothing in it to preclude one Tongan from
pleading for another, every native who could talk better than he could
work took to loafing about the police courts, offering himself as a
mouthpiece to the litigants. His fees were tentative at first--"give me
what you like if I get you off," and so on--but now he likes to be paid in
advance, though you can brief him with a sucking-pig and keep him
going with an armful of yams as a "refresher." The _loya_ who enjoyed the
largest practice were those who had the code at their finger-ends, and
had acquired a high reputation for obscuring the issue and confusing the
common sense of the court.

[Illustration: A TONGAN GIRL

To face page 178
]

The chief justice also gave me a summary of the birth and death returns
for the nine years ending December, 1899. I do not regard them with
any confidence, partly because I know the haphazard way in which the
registers are kept, and partly because, assuming the total population
of the kingdom to be not less than 19,000,[10] the death-rate is
represented as low as eleven per thousand and the birth-rate as high as
twenty-six per thousand, which is very unlikely, seeing that families
of more than three living children are rare. Nevertheless, the Tongans
are all agreed that, in spite of a devastating epidemic of measles
in 1893, there has been an increase of population of over 200 in the
nine years; the returns say 203. I think myself that the population is
stationary, or slightly decreasing, but that there has been no very
marked decline, as in Hawaii, New Zealand, and Fiji since the beginning
of the nineteenth century. The people, moreover, are so fearful of
foreign epidemics and so sensitive about quarantine that there is not
much likelihood of a sudden decline for many years to come.

It was very pleasant to renew acquaintance with the European colony
at the Consulate. Many of them are prosperous merchants, and their
appearance of rude health justified the saying that the climate of
Tonga is the healthiest in the Pacific. The little gathering did not
pass off without incident. While I was talking to two new arrivals an
elderly and rather feeble little gentleman in black entered the room,
and my two visitors hastily seized their hats and took their leave
before I had had time to exchange a word with them. The features of
my new visitor seemed familiar, but the suspicion that crossed my
mind while he was talking affably of the weather and the earthquake
and other general topics died away, as I noticed how decrepit and
broken he seemed. Suddenly through the open window I saw a party of
new arrivals stop short, hesitate for a moment, and then turn tail,
and knowing that there was but one man in all Tonga who could produce
this effect, I recognised my visitor. It was Mr. Shirley Waldemar Baker
himself. He was greatly changed from the masterful and prosperous
minister of King George, whose name had been a byword throughout the
Pacific and Australasia. His gains were all gone; years of hard living
had played havoc with his health and prematurely aged him; he seemed
to have lost even the self-confidence behind which he had concealed
his lack of education. And yet even in this broken state he was able
to make himself feared. Why he came and what he wanted I do not know;
his motive can scarcely have been friendly after the criticism of
his proceedings that I had been obliged to publish ten years before.
Probably he wished to prove to the adherents of his new Church that he
was on terms with the authorities.

[10] The Mission returns put the total population at 19,968: Tongatabu,
8,454; Haapai, 5,087; Vavau, 4,589; Niuatobutabu, 710; Niuafoou, 1,128.
The males exceed the females by 454, or 2.2 per cent., and the adults
outnumber the children.



CHAPTER XIII

VAVAU


I need not detail all the moves in a game of hide-and-seek played in
a South Sea capital with private agents for pieces. It lasted a full
six weeks, and like other hard-fought games, it is pleasanter in the
retrospect than it was in the playing. There were pauses in the game,
and in one of these I steamed off to Vavau, carrying with me Fatafehi,
His Majesty's father, to choose the fort and the coaling-station.

Fatafehi, Tui Belehake--"Two-belly," as the blue-jackets irreverently
called him--is a lineal descendant of the gods, and too exalted a
personage to sit upon an earthly throne. So while his son, inheriting
through his mother Fujipala, the late king's granddaughter, wears the
crown (fashioned by a Sydney jeweller out of a metal that was charged
for as gold, but apt to develop verdigris in damp weather), he is
content to discharge the humbler office of Minister of Lands combined
with that of Speaker of the Parliament. To assist in determining the
boundaries of the coaling-station, he brought with him a body-servant
and a young man armed with a theodolite, an instrument which proved of
great value to us, though not in the way intended by its makers. By his
charming manners and his hearty laugh he endeared himself to all on
board, though he could not speak a word of any language but his own,
and I was not always at hand to interpret. He lived nominally in the
captain's cabin, but though he ate heartily and was quite at his ease,
he showed the instinct of an old sailor in carrying up his blanket to
the deck, where he was found in the morning asleep in a canvas chair.

Having a curiosity to visit Falcon Island, we did not take the direct
route to Vavau. Early in 1896 Falcon Reef, then a patch of coral awash
at low water, suddenly broke into eruption and cast up an island of
pumice stone more than 100 feet high. Mr. Shirley Baker, who watched
the eruption from a schooner, described it to me as a terrific
spectacle, as indeed it must have been, for the sea had access to the
crater, and was flung aloft in explosions of steam. As soon as the mass
was cool enough to stand upon, the Tongan ensign was hoisted upon it,
and the new island became a portion of King George's dominions. It did
not swell his revenues, for, when I passed it four years later, it had
shrunk to less than half its original size, and every roller that broke
upon its shores brought down a landslip of pumice which covered the
surface of the sea for some distance. H.M.S. _Porpoise_ had examined it
in 1899, and had reported it as a reef barely awash, and her officers
were anxious to see whether there had been any change since their last
visit. We sighted it at three o'clock in the afternoon. The sea was
breaking heavily, and as we drew near we were astonished to find a
black hump protruding nine feet above the waves. It was impossible to
make a closer examination in the boats, but the navigating lieutenant
was satisfied that the restless island was emerging again from the sea.

Early next morning we steamed into Neiafu Harbour. Something unusual
about the vegetation on the outer island had struck us as we came in,
but we were not prepared for the scene of desolation that met us as we
swung round Utulei Point to the anchorage. The centre of a terrific
cyclone had struck the island on April 2nd, 1900, just a week before
our arrival. Scarce a house was left standing; the trees were naked;
the graceful palms were mere ragged broomsticks stuck aslant in the
earth. In the steamy calm the water of the harbour was like oil, and it
was impossible to picture the wild fury that had beset the place but
seven days past. We landed, half deafened by the reverberating echo
of the saluting guns, to pay our official visit to George Finau, now
promoted to be governor over the people whose hereditary lord he is.
Abnormally thick-set when I knew him, he was now elephantine in girth,
and if his twelve-year-old son maintains his present rate of growth,
his little finger will be thicker than his father's loins.

The formal reception being over, we were free to stroll through the
town. The ruin was complete; the government offices were an untidy
heap of lumber; the great native church, the last work of King George
of pious memory, had collapsed; its mighty roof, unshipped from the
supporting posts, but still held together by its sinnet lashings,
lay careened like a stranded hull--the pulpit was overturned, the
flooring ripped from end to end. Never again, the king told me, would
such a house be built again, for the degenerates of these days prefer
corrugated iron. Already the Roman Catholics were pointing to their
concrete church, still standing like an island among the general
wreckage, as a proof of Divine warranty, a little tempered perhaps by
reason of a gaping rent in the tower. The people were living in the
open air, crawling into the cover of their ruined houses to shelter
from the rain. Poor souls! they bore their misfortunes with a light
heart, though the crop of orange trees, from which they get their
living, were uprooted, and the cocoanuts would not recover for two
years. Every boat in the island was busy bringing food from the less
stricken villages, and the men were saving something from the wreck by
turning the fallen cocoanuts into copra.

Next day we set forth in the ship's boats to survey the German
coaling-station in the bight of the harbour. The shore is here a coral
reef, upheaved about fifteen feet above the sea. The soil is shallow,
but, like all limestone formations, very productive, and covered with
plantations and cocoanut trees. On the further side was the open sea,
for this part of the harbour is a mere breakwater, tapering away to a
boat passage in the bight of the harbour, where the land is only two
furlongs across. The Germans had done themselves handsomely, and had
allowed no concern for the welfare of the natives to interfere with their
wishes. Starting from the boat passage, they had annexed a generous
strip of country for a distance of half a mile, regardless of the fact that
many families, who had never been consulted, were robbed of all their
planting land at a stroke of the pen. These families had continued
placidly to cultivate their plantations, and they were now sitting silent
in the road to hear their fate. The coal, the sole evidence of their
dilemma, was now a hillock of crumbling, chocolate-coloured gravel,
overgrown with creepers and long unrecognisable as fuel.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH BUILT BY KING GEORGE I.

Wrecked by the cyclone]

[Illustration: THE GOVERNMENT OFFICES AT VAVAU

Wrecked by the cyclone. A female convict is clearing away
the wreckage

To face page 186
]

We chained the boundary with a sounding-line, the owners cheerfully
pointing it out without any attempt to diminish the area, which proved
to contain no less than thirty acres of good planting land. This being
far more than we wanted, I saw an opportunity for securing a site for
the fort as well. Calling them together in an open place, I announced
that though England had succeeded to all the German concession, yet
she would restore to them six-sevenths of this good land, and in
return would only ask for a little plot of bad land in another part of
the harbour. Then we chained out a rectangular piece, with a frontage
of 200 yards, 100 yards deep on one side and 140 at the other, and the
natives showed their delight by clearing the boundary and planting
lines of cocoanuts to mark it. The ship's carpenter made huge broad
arrows in cement at the corners on the sea face, and erected blocks of
stone, similarly marked, at the inner corners.

Meanwhile the navigating officer was taking angles with a sextant on
the sea front, and Unga, Fatafehi's secretary, was following him about
with his theodolite like a faithful dog. So pathetic was his anxiety
that his ancient instrument should be put to use that the lieutenant
at last took pity on him, and set it up. The first glance showed him
that the metal cap had rusted to the lens, and when he wrenched it off
a cry of agony was wrung from Unga, as who should say, "Now you've done
it!" For years he had been pretending to survey the boundaries in land
disputes with the cap on, and the erection of the instrument had always
sufficed to settle the dispute, and here was an Englishman, albeit
possessing the occult knowledge of a naval lieutenant, ruthlessly
destroying the _mana_ of his weapon for ever. But when he was shown
that he could look through the telescope, which had formerly only
presented darkness to his eye, and his instructor even promised to
give him lessons in the science of angles, his delight knew no bounds.
For days afterwards the lieutenant and his disciple were familiar
spectacles in the chart-room, and the former, who came to be a little
bored with his pupil's ardour, admitted that he had shown amazing
aptitude, and that he could take rough angles and calculate area with
approximate accuracy.

It was not easy to select the site for the protecting fort owing to
the wealth of choice, but eventually we found what we wanted. Fatafehi
undertook to "square" the owner, the descendant of a Portuguese
deserter from a ship, who had found favour with the Finau Ulukalala
of Mariner's time. So far from receiving the idea of a British fort
on Tongan territory with coolness, the Tongans seemed to be pleased
with it, especially when I hinted that the garrison might consist of
Tongans under the command of a British officer. They are a race of
warriors, condemned for the present to live upon the traditions of
their ancestors' exploits, and soldiering is to them the most noble of
occupations; indeed, no commander could ask for more promising material
for troops, for alone among South Sea races they had evolved the idea
of discipline, and preferred to capture entrenched positions by direct
assault.

The remainder of our visit was given to sight-seeing. I was anxious
to revisit the Hunga cave, twice-famed by Mariner and Byron. In 1890
a westerly swell had prevented me from diving into it, but this time
Finau had promised to provide guides from the best divers in the
island, and to put no obstacles in my way if the weather made the
adventure possible. But to my disappointment a westerly swell again set
in, and the guides backed his declaration by refusing to risk their own
skins. I had to admit to myself that it would have been a poor ending
to my trip to be sent home in bandages, after defying the advice of the
guides, especially as I had been warned by Mr. H. J. Marshall, R.N.,
who was a midshipman on H.M.S. _Calliope_ when Captain Aylen explored
the cave in 1852, that the feat was difficult even in calm weather.
Captain Sir J. Everard Home being anxious to have the cave explored in
order to test William Mariner's story, selected Mr. J. F. R. Aylen,
then a Master's Assistant, now a Post-Captain retired, as being the
best diver in the ship. He was taken to the indicated position of the
cave's mouth in the galley, and furnished with a lead line and two
natives as guides. There was no sea on, but the dive is a long one--one
fathom down and five fathoms along the passage before it is possible to
rise into the cave. Aylen was, I believe, the first white man to enter
the cave since Mariner, and, being something of a draughtsman, he made
a sketch of the interior, which was afterwards turned into a picture by
an artist in Sydney. The return dive was not so successful. The great
difficulty in diving out of these submarine caves is that, your face
being downwards, you are deceived by the reflected light into coming
up too soon. Captain Aylen scratched his back so severely with the
stalactites that the wounds did not heal for two months.

With Finau for guide we rode out to see the famous fortress of Feletoa,
at whose ramparts the most stirring of Mariner's adventures[11] were
enacted. Those who have read this classic in the literature of travel
will remember that when Toeumu revolted against her nephew, Finau
Ulukalala, in 1810, the entire population of the island was entrenched
at Feletoa in the largest and strongest fortress ever built in Tonga.
Finau besieged the place with an army of 5,000 men and artillery taken
from the captured ship _Port-au-Prince_, but, after an ineffective
siege of many months, was obliged to make terms with the enemy. The
place lies four miles from Neiafu, on a deep bay communicating with
the same harbour. Descending from the modern village which lies just
outside the landward defences, we came upon the outer rampart at a spot
about two furlongs from the beach and 100 feet above it. We traced the
triple line of ditches and earthworks for 200 yards, to a spot near the
angle, where they made a semicircular sweep to enclose a fissure in
the earth before trending inland. This rift was the secret of the long
resistance to Finau's army. The story runs that, a few years before the
siege, a man weeding yams in the gardens above noticed that his dog
disappeared and returned with a dripping coat. Fresh water is too rare
in Vavau for this to be allowed to pass, and the next day the dog was
followed. He vanished into a hole in the coral rock, and after several
minutes, returned dripping as before.

Torches were procured and a man scrambled down. The passage
gradually widened until, at a depth of forty or fifty feet, it became a
large cave full of water of unknown depth. It was this discovery
that led to the choice of Feletoa as the site for the fortress that was
to contain the entire population of the island. We explored the cave,
and found that the water was clear, but slightly brackish. Probably
it rises and falls with the tide, and the whole island, like Niué,
contains similar reservoirs of fresh water beneath its crust. Mariner
says that Finau had the ramparts levelled with the ground, but, to
judge by the works still remaining, his commands must have been but
grudgingly obeyed, for it would not take much to put the place into a
state of defence again.

[Illustration:  THE LAND-LOCKED HARBOUR OF VAVAU
_From a photograph by J. Martin, Auckland_

On the right is the flat-topped hill of Talau; in the distance Hunga
Island and Mariner's Cave; the entrance stretches away beyond it

To face page 192
]

Surveying the fort, even in its dismantled and overgrown condition,
we could well believe that it had a most imposing appearance. The
land-locked inlet, with its vista of hazy islands to seaward and its
brilliant reflections, broken here and there by light puffs of wind,
must have been a fit setting for the lofty triple rampart alive with
warriors in their war-harness. Of their Homeric deeds in the great
siege you may read in the pages of Dr. Martin, who, if he wrote no
epic, contrived at least to lose nothing of the romance in William
Mariner's story.

[11] _Mariner's Account of the Tonga Islands._ By JOHN MARTIN, M.D.



CHAPTER XIV

BETWEEN THE ACTS


On our return to Nukualofa, we found that the hurricane had had its
bearing upon the negotiations. The king had promised to assemble all
his chiefs, and of the vessels at his disposal one had come to grief
and the remaining two were engaged in the pressing work of carrying
food for the relief of the homeless and hungry people of Vavau. There
was reason in his demand that he should not be asked to take the sole
responsibility of signing a momentous treaty, an act which might
afterwards be used against him by any disaffected chief, and there was
nothing left to do but to urge more rapid action and sit still until
the chiefs came. While my native agents were employed in allaying the
wild rumours that had been set abroad among the people, we were free to
do some sight-seeing.

We made an expedition to Bea to inspect the English guns, said to be
those abandoned by the landing party from H.M.S. _Favourite_, which
came to grief at the siege of Bea in 1840, and often cited by the
Tongans as evidence of how they beat a British man-o'-war. We found two
of them half buried in the grass in the middle of the village, and a
third serving as a fencing-post. They all bore the same mark:--

     9 [Illustration] Pr.

     P

     1813

     8:3:14

that is, 9-pounders, cast in Portsmouth in 1813, and weighing
8 cwt. 3 qrs. 14 lbs. It seemed unlikely that frigates in 1840 would have
been carrying iron guns cast in 1813, but an old man who had taken
part in the defence of Bea and old Tungi cleared up the difficulty between
them. The relics of the _Favourite_ had all been removed by another
ship, sent expressly from Sydney in the following year, and these guns
had been bought from the captain of a whaler which was wrecked at the
eastern part of the island some years after the siege. For many years
whalers and trading vessels had carried guns like these, which they had
probably bought cheap from the Admiralty, for purposes of trade.

One of our excursions was to the colony of flying-foxes at Hihifo,
where I wished to renew my acquaintance with old Ata, the hereditary
lord of the western district, who had not been on cordial terms with
the king since the royal marriage. His village lies upon the shores of
Maria Bay, so named by Tasman when he discovered the island in 1643,
and it is close to Kanakubolu, where the temporal kings were always
crowned, and from which they take their title of Tui Kanakubolu. The
ancient tree under which they sat was overthrown (_absit omen_) in a
gale a few years ago, and the present king caused pieces of the wood
to be inlaid in the throne of the royal chapel. But the feature of the
place is the flying-fox colony. Four or five great _toa_ trees stand
in the village square, and many thousands of these great fruit-eating
bats roost there in the sunshine, hanging head downward like noisome
fruit, crawling, scratching, quarrelling, killing the foliage with
their droppings and poisoning the air with their reek. At nightfall
they set forth in long procession for the banana plantations, levying
toll on them as far as Mua, fifteen miles distant, and returning to
their perch before daybreak. In no sense are they sacred, and away from
the colony they may be shot, but it is inauspicious to shoot them in
the village itself, because then they would go away and dire misfortune
would happen. For every great family in Tonga has its death portent;
with the Fatafehi it is the splitting of a great banyan tree; with the
Tui Kanakubolu it is the roar of breakers on the reef in calm weather;
with the Ata it is the sudden migration of the flying-foxes from the
trees in Kolovai.

We had a delightful ride along the grassy road shaded with orange
trees ripening to harvest. On either side of the road lay wide tracts
of uncultivated bush, and I was sorry to see, mingled with the matted
foliage, the ill-omened pink flowers of the _Talatala hina_. In the
Parliament of 1891, when I sat on the Treasury bench, a panic bill had
been hurried through, making it penal for any landowner to have this
plant on his land after March, 1902. If the fines then provided were
to be enforced now, the government would require no other source of
revenue, for the plant, then confined to a small district at the back
of the island, has now advanced to within a few miles of Nukualofa.
It is a tough, creeping vine, armed with sharp, reflexed thorns,
deep-rooted and very difficult to eradicate. Throwing its wicked arms
about a young tree it thrusts them up to the light, choking its
support in its tangled embrace. The story that it was introduced by a
trader in the straw of a packing-case is, perhaps, mythical, but it was
certainly unknown in Tonga thirty years ago. Unless strong measures
are taken to check it, there will come a day when neither cocoanuts
nor yams can be planted any more. Then Tonga, overrun with a tangle of
thorny vines, swarming with hornets, will not be a pleasant place to
live in.

This plant is not the only pest for which packing-straw is said to
be accountable. Between 1890 and last year hornets were introduced.
They have multiplied so rapidly that it is now unsafe to brush through
the thick undergrowth in which they build their nests. We had lived
on shore in Nukualofa for three weeks before we saw any, but on a
never-to-be-forgotten day in May, they made up for their neglect. About
ten the air began to vibrate with an angry hum, and we noticed a few
hornets cruising about the eaves of the verandah. An hour later they
were knocking against the window panes and crawling about the walls,
seeking entrance to the house. At lunch-time the dining-room was full
of them, and their angry hum almost drowned conversation. They were
making for the darker places, the shade of the shuttered bedrooms, the
backs of pictures and the folds of curtains. They took no notice of
us, but every now and then a couple would meet in the upper air, fall
pat upon the floor, and take to crawling. As there seemed no reason
why they should not choose to fall between the collar and the neck, or
crawl up the legs, we thought it time to seek sanctuary. But there was
none. Every corner of the house was theirs, and in the pitiless sun
outside the air was black with them. A hot argument arose about this
phenomenon, some of us maintaining that they were swarming, and, like
bees, would gather about their queen; others, who knew them better,
that they were male and female, and that this was their pairing time.
To that emotional hour I owe all my learning about hornets. The brute
so heavily barred with black stripes that he looks a wicked brown,
is the male, who has no sting, and may be trodden on with impunity;
the bright yellow beasts are females, with a barbed sting nearly as
long as their bodies. We disturbed the economy of Nature that day.
Our host had a five-gallon jar of some American insect powder, and we
lighted censers of the acrid stuff in every room until we had to dash
into the air to breathe. Would that I could remember the name of that
powder, to give its inventor a gratuitous advertisement! In half an
hour our enemies were all upon the floor at the mercy of a soft broom
and a dust-pan. We filled two buckets with their kicking bodies, and
fed the kitchen fire with them. We heard next day that every house
in Nukualofa, from the king's palace to the pigsties, had been made
uninhabitable, but that at sunset they had disappeared, to be seen no
more till next year.

Our escort of policemen were most obliging fellows. One was a Wesleyan,
the other a Free Churchman, and the friendly theological discussions in
which they indulged from time to time showed that the bitter sectarian
hatred, so sedulously nurtured by Mr. Baker, had quite died away.
Ten years before a Wesleyan could not have hoped for the humblest
government appointment.

I was bursting with the showman's pride as we rode into Kolovai,
having wrought the expectations of my companions to the highest pitch.
I begged them not to look up until we halted under the trees. When I
gave the word they looked up, and then they looked at me. Surely these
were not the trees! But the state of the foliage left no doubt upon
that point. We called an old woman out of a neighbouring house, and
there was no mistaking the concern in her tone as she was telling her
tale. Four days before, she said, at an hour before sunset, an albino
flying-fox had circled over the village, settling at last on the
branches of a tree over against the door of Ata's house. Early in the
morning it had flown over the trees, and the entire colony, which was
just settling down to sleep after its nocturnal excursion in search of
food, took to wing and followed it. Not a flying-fox had visited the
town since.

Our escort were very grave over the news. "You know our belief," said
Salesi; "when the _beka_ flies away, it is a sign to Ata's family.
Twice have I known it so; the last time when Ata's son, who was a tutor
in the Wesleyan college, died without warning, and it was always so in
the time of our fathers." I found old Ata and his wife in excellent
health and spirits to all outward seeming, though naturally the
flying-foxes were not mentioned in our conversation. Next day Nukualofa
was buzzing with the news of Ata's approaching dissolution. Ridicule of
the superstition was always met with the remark, "Well, wait and see;
it may not be this week, or this month, but none the less Ata has not
long to live"--a statement which, as the old gentleman's age verged
upon seventy, we were not in a position to gainsay. The king, who is
as enlightened as anyone in his kingdom, was scarcely less positive.
"It is one of those things," he said, "that one would fain laugh at,
but it has come true so often that one is compelled, against his will,
to believe it true." Well, ten days passed, and Ata attended the great
council of chiefs assembled to consider the treaty, the halest and
liveliest of the old gentlemen present. I noticed that while he was
chaffing two members of the cabinet, the bystanders regarded him with
the tender, melancholy interest which is supposed to be bestowed upon
the man in the condemned cell, and this may have told upon his spirits;
for certain it is that a few weeks after my departure from the islands
I received the news that he was dead. That superstition will die hard,
and if I were Ata's successor I would see to it that a few of the
flying-foxes were caught and tied to their perches by a string.

One morning two of Kubu's nieces, accompanied by an aged duenna,
brought presents from their uncle, who perhaps felt that, since his
dual rôle as my friend and the king's father-in-law had been beyond his
powers, some pledge of our old intimacy would not be out of place.
Among the things was a set of stamps for printing the native cloth, and
when I hastened to appropriate these, the younger sister, who has
kittenish manners, broke in with "Oh, but _I_ made these; they are not
for you, they are for this gentleman!" Webber did his best to rise to this
embryonic flirtation, but it died stillborn in nods and smiles for want
of an interpreter. As the conversation dragged and the ladies showed no
consciousness of having discharged their mission, it was suggested that
they should face the camera by way of complimentary dismissal. They
were nothing loath, but the elder sister stipulated for the loan of a
silk handkerchief to hide her neck. As she had the ordinary English
neck of not ungraceful outline, and her sister, who had no neck to
speak of, showed none of this bashfulness, our curiosity was aroused.
It was thus that we discovered the Tongan ideal of female loveliness.
The perfect woman must be fat--that is most imperative--her neck must
be short (like the younger sister's); she must have no waist, and
if Nature has cursed her with that defect she must disguise it with
draperies, or submit to be "miscalled" in the streets of Nukualofa; her
bust and hips and thighs must be colossal. The woman who possesses
all these perfections will be esteemed chief-like and elegant, and her
nose will not matter, though, if she have that organ flat to the face,
she will be painting the lily. There chanced to be an illustrated paper
on the table, and when we showed them the wasp-waisted ladies in the
fashion plates they chuckled with amusement and derision. The king,
whom I afterwards asked for a definition of female beauty, confirmed
all they said, and added a philosophical explanation of his own. He
said that the human eye demanded a sufficiency in the things presented
to it; if they were insufficient, it found them ugly. The Tongan dress
did not conceal the form as does the European; consequently Tongan
ladies were expected to be satisfying in respect of the portions of
their anatomy that are exposed to view. We may be content with a
simpler explanation. In days gone by the chief women got more to eat
than their inferiors, and _embonpoint_ became a chiefly attribute.
This mark of high birth being once stereotyped, men chose their
wives accordingly, and the Tongan dames will grow stouter with every
generation. It is not a pleasing prospect.

[Illustration: THE COLONY OF FLYING FOXES AT KOLOVAI
_From a photograph by J. Martin, Auckland_

They were seen on the same trees by Vason, the renegade missionary, in
1799

To face page 202
]

At one stage in our negotiations the king began to develop a remarkable
capacity for digression. At any other time his excursions would have
been interesting, for, untrained as he is, he possesses the historical
and literary instinct, and he can tell a good story. I think that it
was while we were discussing the relative merits of the Tongan synonyms
for the word Protectorate that he suddenly inquired my opinion upon
the close connection between the Tongan and Hebrew tongues. I hastened
to turn the subject, assuring him that I had never thought about the
matter, for that hoary folly of the Ten Lost Tribes was in the air;
but he said that it was his own discovery. Someone had given him a
Hebrew book to look at, and in one page he had found no less than six
Tongan words. He quoted the conjunction _kaeuma'a_, which, he said,
occurred in both languages with the same meaning. On another occasion
he brought out the piece of hand-made red cloth which I was to take
home as a present to the Queen. This had been given by Captain Cook to
the Tamahá, the noblest lady in the land, and had been preserved by the
family of the Tui Haatéiho. It was a large piece of hand-made woollen
cloth, rather loosely woven and of a rusty red colour, with a black
selvedge edge, and it smelt strongly of sandalwood oil, having been
worn on great occasions by chiefs anointed with that precious essence.
It is now, I believe, among the curiosities in the royal collection
at Windsor Castle. He then told me some native traditions of Cook's
visit. When the vessels were seen approaching Hihifo in 1773 there was
a heated discussion among the Tongans as to whence they came. The king
mimicked the querulous intonation of the old Tongans very funnily.
"Whence come they?" said one. "Seuke!" exclaimed the old chief,
Eikinaba, a noted wit in his day, "why, from the land of riches--from
Babalangi!" (or, as we might say, from Brobdignag), and the nickname
Babalangi has stuck to Europeans ever since. _Ba-ki-langi_ ("shooting
up to heaven") is the derivation which Fatafehi favours, meaning that
the ships' masts reached to the sky. When the Tongans boarded the
_Resolution_, the same chief, Eikinaba, noticed a strange yam on the
deck and picked it up. "I _give_ you that," said Tute (Cook), and from
that day this kind of yam was called the _Kivi_. Favoured perhaps by
the cooler climate and the new soil, this yam has grown to colossal
dimensions. Cook had probably brought it from Rarotonga, or from Tahiti.

Of the number of curious petitions to which I had to listen, the
strangest came from a singularly ill-favoured private in the king's
guards. He waylaid me in the road with a letter in an official
envelope, which I took to be a message from the palace. It contained,
however, a long and confused recital of the love troubles of one
Josefa, who, being enamoured of Ana, the daughter of an Englishman and
the most beautiful _taahine_ in all the world, had eloped with her into
the bush. At this, as it appeared, Ana's father, the Englishman, had
been much incensed (as was not unnatural), and had haled Josefa before
the British Consul, who had fulminated threats, scaring Josefa out of
his wits. Would I therefore order the Consul to marry the pair out of
hand, for, loving each other with so consuming a passion, how were they
to wait five years?

When I asked who had written this mysterious letter in the envelope
superscribed "On His Tongan Majesty's Service," the bearer's sheepish
look betrayed the fact that he had written it himself. In fact, he
himself was Josefa, and, looking at his countenance, I could only
wonder at the lady's taste. It then transpired that she was barely
sixteen (love's arrows strike early in these latitudes), and he had
been guilty of nothing less than the abduction of a British subject
under age, for her father was an English carpenter legally married to
a Tongan wife. I could only counsel the love-sick guardsman to win
consent from the father, or in the alternative to contain his soul in
patience till she was twenty-one. It seemed to be cold comfort, for
the father had terminated their last interview by chasing him with a
carpenter's adze, and I suspect that by this time the friendly forest
has again swallowed up the pair, and the carpenter is abroad with his
chopper.

The eaves-dropping nuisance at the palace was little less tiresome than
it had been ten years before, when one had to bawl state secrets into
the deaf ears of old King George. One morning, while I was explaining
the treaty to the king's ministers, I chanced to see in a mirror the
reflection of a girl on her hands and knees, with eyes and ears wide
open at a chink of the door, which she had pushed ajar. Our eyes met
in the glass, and she scurried away like a frightened rabbit, but I
was not surprised to hear afterwards that many of my remarks were
being quoted verbatim in the town. Accordingly when the king asked
me one morning to come into his private chapel to hear an important
communication, I understood his reasons. As we crossed the compound he
remarked in a loud voice for the benefit of the sentry, "Yes, all that
remains of the sacred tree has been inlaid in the state chair like your
coronation stone in England. Come and see." Sitting on the two thrones
on the daïs we were at last secure from eaves-droppers, and could talk
freely. He told me that there were two Tongan words that expressed the
feeling of his country towards England--_falala_ and _faha'a_. Rising
and leaning against one of the pillars of the aisle, he said, "This is
_faha'a_: then I spring away from it so, and cry, 'Oh! but it won't
bear my weight!' and you say, 'Don't be afraid; _falala be ki ai_'
('Lean upon it without fear')" As his mighty bulk thrust against the
wooden post, it cracked ominously. It was fortunate that the king is
not superstitious, for the post represented England in his metaphor.

The European merchants had a well-founded grievance in their complaints
against the premier, my old colleague Sateki. It was not that he was
obstinate, or that he was ignorant, though I was assured that the most
stubborn Carolina mule might resent being mentioned in the same breath
with the Prime Minister; it was that he was no longer incorruptible.
There were slanderous stories of cases of merchandise delivered at
his door that had never been paid for over the counter, but, putting
these aside, there was the fact that a certain Semitic firm, not long
established in the group, had the ear of the Cabinet, imported most of
the stores required by the government, and could oblige its friends and
harass its enemies with an ease that would have been impossible if the
Cabinet had been impartial. When I brought these matters to the notice
of the king he said, "Without doubt Sateki is very unpopular; you see,
he is like Mr. Joseph Chamberlain." Perhaps my face betrayed surprise,
for he hastened to add, "Of course, I do not mean that he is as able
as Mr. Chamberlain, or as eloquent; what I mean is that, like Mr.
Chamberlain, Sateki says just what is in his mind without thinking, and
seldom opens his lips to speak without hurting somebody's feelings."
Perhaps I should add that His Majesty's only English journal is the
_Review of Reviews_.



CHAPTER XV

FAREWELL


We had now been in Tonga for six weeks, and still the chiefs tarried.
But the arrival of the monthly steamer from New Zealand met the
difficulty. Through the kindly offices of my friend Captain Crawshaw,
who had frequently done good service for the British Government in
similar emergencies, the whole of the rank and fashion of the Friendly
Islands was landed on Nukualofa wharf within the week, and on May 17th
we rode to the palace to meet the House of Lords assembled in council.
I found them sitting in the dining-room on rows of chairs as at a
charity meeting. The king presided, seated on his throne at a table,
and I was provided with a chair on his left. Some of the nobles arrived
heated and late; they explained to me afterwards that they had been
turned back by the sentry at the doors, and told to go home and don
black coats, which accounted for the funereal aspect of the meeting.
The only absentees were bed-ridden; even poor old blind Tungi had been
wheeled to the palace in his bath-chair. Among the new arrivals by the
steamer was Mateialona, the most intelligent and enlightened of all
the chiefs. The son of an elder brother of the king's mother, he would
have had an earlier claim to the throne but for the bar sinister: the
influence that he would have derived from his birth and character has
been somewhat neutralised by his loyalty to the Wesleyan Church, which
made him choose exile to Fiji rather than bow the knee to the Free
Church which Mr. Baker had set up. He is now Governor of Haapai, and
whatever hope there may be of the regeneration of King George's Cabinet
is centred in him. With his portrait before the reader it is scarcely
necessary to say that he is a man of great purpose and strength of
character. The proceedings were conducted with the old-world courtesy
and decorum which is fast dying out in Tonga, except among the men of
high degree. This is not the place to describe the intricacies of our
long, but friendly contest; it is enough to say that after nightfall on
the second day of debate all the main difficulties had been overcome.
As it was so late, the king of his own motion proposed that we should
adjourn for dinner to Dr. Maclennan's house, and sign the treaty before
we separated for the night. We made a singular procession. The night
was very dark, and the king's guards hastily procured lanterns to light
their master, who, I believe, had not left the compound of his palace
to pay such a visit since his marriage. We overtook Tungi's bath-chair
in the darkness; I believe that the king would have avoided the
meeting if he had been alone, for his relations with the blind chief
were anything but cordial; but the stately manners of Tongan chiefs
came to his aid, and their complimentary speeches would have been
thought unsparing for a friendship of many years' standing. "Farewell,
Wiliame," cooed the king at parting; "I will come and drink a bowl of
kava with you." His Majesty must have been thinking of another and a
better world.

[Illustration: J. MATEIALONA

COUSIN OF THE KING AND GOVERNOR OF HAAPAI

To face page 212
]

I trembled when I thought of our kind host, who had been waiting dinner
for more than an hour, and was now to have two royal, hungry, and
uninvited guests sprung upon him. But he bore the invasion with his
usual good-nature, and set his cook to work, while Webber played the
part of David to our Saul with the piano. As soon as the cloth was
drawn we got to work. Guards crowded the verandahs; native secretaries
sat on the floor drafting amendments, which the king produced from
under the table like cards from a conjurer's hat, only to have them
gently but firmly put aside. At one in the morning we were agreed on
the main points, and the king, who had long been yawning, drove off in
his carriage, leaving the negotiation of the minor points to Fatafehi,
his father, whom he had appointed his plenipotentiary. This cleared the
air, and at half-past two, the oil in the last lamp having given out,
the treaty was signed by the light of a guttering candle. Then, and
not till then, was it discovered that the privy seal had been left at
the palace, and we had to wait until a messenger had galloped for it
on horseback. Then Fatafehi and I exchanged presents, and we were free
to go to bed. The thing that had astonished the king most was Webber's
extraordinary power of writing correctly from dictation Tongan, of
which he did not understand a word, the secret being that Tongan is
written phonetically with the Italian vowels, and that, so long as the
speaker indicates the divisions between the words, the task is not so
difficult as it sounds.

Next day we said good-bye to our kind hosts and went on board the
_Porpoise_ to prepare for our departure. Having duly appointed ten
o'clock on the morning of May 19th, 1900, for taking leave of the
king, we landed with a guard of honour of fifty men, and visited
the palace for the last time. Our reception was the same as on the
occasion of our arrival. In the presence of his ministers I gave the
king some wholesome advice, and he asked me to be the bearer of a
letter of thanks to the Queen. On leaving the palace we took our way
to the middle of the public square, where a large crowd was assembled.
The guard of honour fell in behind us and the proclamation of a
Protectorate was read in English and Tongan.

As the guard presented arms, the signalman on board, who was watching
our proceedings through a glass, gave the word, and at the pull of a
string the ship was dressed with flags from stem to stern, and the
first of twenty-one guns was fired. Then we returned on board, leaving
a sergeant of marines to serve copies of the proclamation upon the
king, the premier, the foreign consuls, and the heads of missions.
While we were getting up steam we saw flags hoisted on every flagstaff,
and a number of people came on board to take leave of us. From the
king came a note enclosing his letter to the Queen and thanking me
for all that had been done. Of the numerous native presents the most
interesting was that from my fellow-plenipotentiary, Fatafehi, who sent
a curious stone celt.[12]

As the sun set Tonga was a mere cloud upon the horizon, and the
_Porpoise_ was plunging in a heavy westerly swell. I had seen the
little kingdom in three phases--under the dictatorship of Mr. Baker in
1886, under old King George in 1891, when I was one of his ministers,
and as a British Protectorate. May the Protectorate remain purely
nominal for many years to come! That rests with the Tongans. If they
will abstain from squabbling among themselves, keep free from debt,
and govern themselves decently, there is no reason that their status
should change, though the history of little states is not reassuring.
The scattered group has been under one king as long as tradition runs;
its people have played a notable part in the history of the Pacific as
navigators, conquerors, and colonists; and I for one should be grieved
if the last native state in the Pacific should pass away.

[13] This celt measures 9-1/2 inches long by 3-3/8 inches wide in the
broadest part, made of an olive-green stone with grey longitudinal
veins, and beautifully polished. It was clear that it had come from
another part of the Pacific, for the Tongan celts are wedge-shaped,
angular, and roughly made. Sir William Macgregor, who saw it on my
return to England, at once pronounced it to be from New Guinea, and
identified the stone as belonging to the quarry that he had discovered
in Woodlark Island. All that Fatafehi could say was that it had been
for generations in his family, and if this was true, the celt might be
used as evidence of a Tongan migration from the west, for there were
no whalers or sandalwooders before 1790; but there have been Tongan
teachers working in New Guinea, and he may have been mistaken about its
age.



APPENDIX

TONGAN MUSIC


The music of the Tongans was inseparable from the dance (by which I
mean the rhythmic movements of any part of the body), and it therefore
esteemed rhythm before melody or harmony. There were two principal
forms, the _Me'e-tu'u-baki_ (dance standing up with paddles) and the
_Otuhaka_ (song, with gestures). Since the inculcation of English
hymn-singing a third form, known as the _Lakalaka_, which is music
composed by Tongans on the European model, has been introduced, and
of this the Tongans are inordinately fond. Fortunately the taste of
the older chiefs and the influence of the French missionaries have
been strong enough to preserve the old forms intact, and both the
_Me'e-tu'u-baki_ and the _Otuhaka_ are given on ceremonial occasions,
though their ultimate decay is certain.

The specimens of Polynesian music that have found their way into the
text-books are, from Mariner downward, nearly all inaccurate. Written
down by untrained musicians, they have afterwards been "faked" to bring
them into line with our notation, and (infamy of infamies) harmonised!
The visit of a composer with time on his hands and a patient
determination to record the native music faithfully, at any sacrifice
of time and temper, was an opportunity not to be neglected. Soon after
our arrival, therefore, we paid a visit to Mua, where the old music
is most cultivated, and invited the people to entertain us with the
_Lakalaka_, for we had naval officers with us, and the _Otuhaka_ is
strong meat for the uninitiated. At the close of the performance I sent
for the leader, Finease (which is Phineas), and unfolded my proposal,
which was that, for value to be received, he and a select band of
musicians of the old school should come to Nukualofa and sing without
ceasing until they had yielded up their treasures to the paper. Plainly
they thought it a fatuous proceeding, but they consented lightly, not
knowing what lay before them.

Three mornings later we were at work in the huge wooden shed which
serves Dr. Maclennan as operating-room and hospital. At the further end
lay two patients who had undergone serious operations on the previous
afternoon; what they thought of our proceedings I do not know, but I
could make a shrewd guess from the expression of the old ladies who
were nursing them. Amherst Webber sat at a deal table littered with
music-paper, with Phineas and three middle-aged ladies, all noted
singers, sitting in a row on the floor before him. He wore a harassed
air, for it soon transpired that the ladies, thinking that they knew
better than he did what he wanted, were bent on running through their
_répertoire_ without _encore_. When I explained that they would have
to sing each phrase, not twice, but perhaps forty times over, they
were at first amused and afterwards distinctly bored. Webber found it
impossible to take the music down phrase by phrase, because they were
incapable of picking up the melody where they had left it; the only way
was to make them begin each time at the beginning, and carry the score
a few notes further with every repetition. Moreover, it was discovered
that Phineas seldom sang the same phrase in exactly the same notes,
for the melody is overlaid with innumerable turns and ornaments at
the will of the singer, and these are impossible to represent in our
notation. Two hours at a time being as much as writer or singer could
stand with safety, the work took several days, but, thanks to the good
sense of Phineas and the patience of Webber, a valuable collection was
ultimately made. For the notes I am, of course, indebted to Amherst
Webber.


1. THE "ME'E-TU'U-BAKI."

A good drawing of this dance is to be found in _Cook's Voyages_, and,
as Mariner also has described it, I need say no more than that it is
performed by men, drawn up in one line or two, who perform certain
slow and stately evolutions, accompanying the music by twirling a
light wooden instrument carved in the shape of a paddle. The rhythm
is set by three large wooden drums, and a number of men sitting round
them sing the words, which consist generally of a single phrase,
endlessly reiterated. Unlike the _Otuhaka_, the _Me'e-tu'u-baki_ is not
contrapuntal, and, though a number of voices maintain one note while
the others sing the melody, it may be said to be sung in unison. To
the European ear, despite its marked character, it is indescribably
monotonous, for the words have no meaning, and the phrase is repeated
for twenty minutes at a stretch, without any variation except an
occasional _crescendo_. The native, however, regarding it as a mere
accompaniment, concentrates his attention on the dance, which, though
also monotonous to our eyes, is full of ancient grace and dignity to
his.

[Music: ME'E-TU'U-BAKI.]


2. THE "OTUHAKA."

Though it may be performed standing, the singers of the _Otuhaka_
generally sit in a single line, loaded with garlands and anointed
with scented oil. The feature of the performance is the _haka_, or
gesture-dance, for though the performers may be sitting, it is still a
dance. Head, eyes, arms, fingers, knees, and even toes all have their
part, and the precision of the gestures is extraordinary. The talent
may be said to be born in every Tongan, for you may see little mites
of eight years old shyly take their places at the end of the row and
acquit themselves without a slip. The _Otuhaka_ opens with a long and
threatening solo on the drum, consisting of the same bar insistently
repeated. After thirty bars or so the gesture dance begins in silence
to the same monotonous accompaniment, until at last, when you have
almost given up hope of anything more, the leader bursts into song, the
rhythm of the drum never varying until it quickens up towards the end.
All the performers sing; the leader takes the melody, and the chorus
the second part, for the _Otuhaka_, which are generally of the same
form, are always in two parts, and usually in rough canon. Here, too,
there is an interminable repetition of the same theme until the leader
gives the signal for a change by striking a higher note, and then the
gestures change, the time quickens, and the chorus breaks into the
_tali_, or coda, ending with a long-drawn note and a sudden dropping of
the voice down the scale, like an organ when the bellows give out. The
time is generally common or two-four, but in one of the examples given
below the time is three-eight.

In reading these examples it is to be remembered that the leader loads
his melody with turns and grace notes which are never quite the same,
and which are impossible to write down, and further, that the final
note always ends with the peculiar groan which I have described.

[Illustration: THE OTUHAKA

The two drummers sit in the middle of the semicircle

_From a photograph by J. Martin, Auckland_

To face page 222
]

[Music: OTUHAKA (1)

[Transcriber's note: Words taken from sheet music; song for two voices,
overlapping as in a round]

    He nonu a tongi a tongi e a nonu a tongi
    He nonu a tongi a tongi e
    He nonu a tongi a tongi e a nonu a tongi
    He nonu a tongi a tongi e
    He nonu a tongi a tongi e a

[English translation by transcriber: The nonu tree to be carved
(repeat) Dancers miming carving? Tongan hakas are done sitting down,
with upper body movements only.] ]

[Music: OTUHAKA (2) Koe Kolo Kakala.

    Tau matangi tule i he Vai
        Tau matangi tule i he Vai
    Tule i he Vai
    Tau matangi tule i he Vai
        Tau matangi tule i he fua
    Tau malu
        Tau matangi tule
    Tau matangi tule i he Vai

[English translation by transcriber:

    We have a soft wind on the water
    We have a soft wind going our way
    We are safe
    We have a soft wind on the water

Perhaps the motions of the dancers mimicked rowing.]
]

[Music: OTUHAKA in three-eight time.]

From these examples it will be seen that the old Tongan scale is
limited to the following notes:--

[Music]

In the absence of any indication of the chord, it would be incorrect to
speak of tonic or dominant, but if we assume the key to be C minor, we
may say that the Tongans have no fifth, nor leading note, and that they
are not enamoured of the fourth. It is not that any of these intervals
are abhorrent, for, as we shall presently see, they have taken very
kindly to our notation in the _Lakalaka_, where a progression of
consecutive fifths seems to afford them peculiar delight. The character
of their music is contrapuntal and not harmonic, though in their church
music they are intensely fond of the full chord. The intonation in
singing is very nasal, and though the men were easily taught to correct
this fault in singing European music, the women are incorrigible. The
explanation offered to me by a native lady was that opening the mouth
wide while singing swelled a disfiguring vein in the throat, but I
suspect the real reason to be that which prompts them to conceal a yawn
behind the hand--namely, that it is indelicate to expose the inside of
the mouth to public gaze.


3. THE "LAKALAKA."

The only interesting feature in the _Lakalaka_ lies in the fact that
it is music composed by natives under the influence of European music.
It shows little talent or invention, and its more ambitious melodies
and crude harmonies, however spirited the performance, pall quite as
quickly as the _Otuhaka_, which has at least a weird and striking
character of its own. The composer of the _Lakalaka_ is at once poet
and dancing-master as well as composer. When the afflatus is upon him
he retires to the bush, and returns with words, music, and appropriate
gestures complete in his head, and an hour's practice suffices to make
all the boys and girls in his village perfect in their parts. Finease
Fuji was one of these, and his reputation ensured a public performance
to all his compositions. Those that become popular may endure for many
years. _Langa fale kakala_ (build a house of flowers), for example,
which is given below, is as popular a favourite now as it was when I
was in Mua in 1886. The themes are boating songs, odes to Nature and
to flowers, or laments, but never love-songs. I remember one very
pathetic lamentation of a poet named Tubou, whose theme was a term of
six months' hard labour awarded him for flirting; it attained immense
popularity on account of its pathos; indeed, I think that the pathetic
_Lakalaka_ are the most enduring. Love-songs are called _sipi_, and
they are never sung in public, being rather in the nature of sonnets
to my lady's eyebrow.

Like the _Otuhaka_, the _Lakalaka_ is in two parts, though the voices
may divide into four parts in the final chord. They are contrapuntal
in form as well as harmonic, and they are accompanied with the same
kind of gesture dance as the _Otuhaka_. The singers may either sit or
stand in one or two rows; if they stand, the men go through a sort of
dance, while the women move their heads and arms without changing their
position. The difference between the two forms lies in the scale, for
the _Lakalaka_ makes use of our scale both major and minor, with the
exception of the leading note, which is generally omitted; the melody
is more sustained, and, no drum being used in accompaniment, the rhythm
is less marked.

The European music which have been the foundation of the _Lakalaka_
are Wesleyan hymns, military band marches, and Mozart's Twelfth Mass,
which is very well done by the students of the Wesleyan College. Most
of the educated natives can read very well in the _tonic sol-fa_
notation, and they have now begun to compose a kind of choral anthem
for themselves, which is very much like the _Lakalaka_ without the
gestures. They show a great aptitude for keeping their parts, even in
complicated counterpoint. That they have a strong natural turn for
music is certain; it is the exception to find a native without a voice
and a correct ear, and if they lack originality themselves, they have
at least a very quick appreciation. I have described elsewhere[A] how
the Grand March from Tännhauser took them by storm when it was first
performed, albeit imperfectly, by the king's band.

[Music: LAKALAKA.

by FINEASE FUJI of MUA]

[12] _The Diversions of a Prime Minister._



INDEX


  Abduction, 108

  Adultery, the punishment for, 105

  Aitutaki, 90

  -- teachers, 73

  Alofi, 63, 69, 82, 93, 113, 115, 147;
    arrival at, 6, 10;
    the cottages of, 14;
    church of, 18, 35;
    a council at, 23 _et seq._;
    types of physiognomy at, 88

  Amosa, the Samoan teacher, 77

  Apia, 4

  Architecture, native, 16-18

  Asibeli Kubu, 160

  Ata, 201, 202

  -- family, the, death portent of, 197, 201

  Atatá, the islet of, 152

  Avatele, 72, 77, 147;
    the people of, 89, 90;
    the headman of, 122

  Aylen, Captain, 190, 191


  Baker, Shirley Waldemar, 160 _et seq._, 167, 168, 175,
    181, 183, 200, 216

  Bea, 194, 195

  Beauty, the Tongan ideal of, 203

  Bell, Mr., 67

  Blue-jackets, the political influence wielded by, 124

  "Broom Road," the, 106

  Bubonic plague, 114

  Burial customs, 50, 51


  _Calliope_, H.M.S., 190

  _Camden_, the, 75

  _Camping and Tramping in Malaya_, H. Rathbone's, 100 (footnote)

  Cannibalism, 102

  Catacombs, ancient, 51

  Cator, Captain, 80

  Celt, a curious stone, 216

  Chincha Islands, the, 81

  Circumcision, the practice of, 92

  Cloudy Bay, a native fight in, 131

  Cook, Captain, 127, 130;
    landing of, in Niué, 69, 70;
    a relic of, 150, 205;
    native traditions of his visit to Tonga, 206

  _Cook's Voyages_, 220

  Copra, trade in, 56 _et seq._;
    manufacture of, 58, 61;
    price of, 61;
    use of, 62

  Crawshaw, Captain, 211

  Crime, an unknown, 113

  Crime and its punishment, 103 _et seq._

  Crook, Mr., 75

  _Cruise of H.M.S. "Fawn," The_, 80 (footnote)

  Custom, a unique, 92


  Dance, a native, 119, 120

  Disease, native fear of, 75, 76;
    introduced by whalers, 78

  Diseases of the natives, 133 _et seq._

  "Dongai," 100

  Duel, a mimic, 121

  _Duff_, the, 75, 105

  Dunedin, the Bishop of, 162


  Earth, tradition of the peopling of the, 84

  Eaves-dropping, 208

  Elephantiasis, cases of, 176

  English, Mr., 131

  Entertainment, a native, 117 _et seq._

  Erskine, Captain, visit of, to Niué, 77

  European merchants, 209

  Evil spirits, belief in, 99


  _Fakafolau_, the practice of, 102

  Falcon Island, 183

  Fao, 86, 87

  Fataaki, King, 2, 3, 35, 36 (footnote)

  Fatafehi, 157, 168, 171, 182, 189, 214, 216

  -- family, death portent of, 197

  _Favourite_, H.M.S., 194, 195

  _Fawn_, H.M.S., 80

  Feletoa, fortress, 191, 193

  Fiji, 94, 100;
    the Mathuata province in, 95;
    medical officers in, 98;
    warriors of, 131;
    concubitancy in, 135;
    land tenure in, 138

  Fijian architecture, 16, 17

  Finau, George, 185, 190, 191

  -- Ulukalala, 189, 191-3

  Flies, swarms of, 140

  Flood, Mr., 50; his store, 55

  Fono, the, 37, 111, 112

  Fornander, 91

  French missionaries, the influence of, 218

  Fujipala, 182

  Futuna, 21, 22


  Galiaga, King, 36 (footnote)

  George Tubou I., King, 144, 158, 216

  George Tubou II., King, 158

  German plantations in Samoa, 3, 81

  Germans in Tonga, the, 153, 172, 173

  Gilbert Islands, 90

  Gill, Mr., 90

  Godefroy and Sons, 57

  Goodenough, Commodore, 35

  Graves. _See_ Burial customs

  Grey, Sir George, 84

  Grice Sumner, Messrs., 81


  Haapai, 212; population of, 179 (footnote)

  Hakupu, the headman of, 133

  _Havannah_, H.M.S., 77

  Hawaii, 152, 155;
    the Queen of, and Tonga, 174

  Hawaiian history, 91

  Hayes, "Bully," 57, 79, 81-3

  Head, R. H., 38, 57, 63, 64, 66, 81-3, 133, 135;
    family of, 67

  -- Mrs., 68

  Hihifo, flying foxes at, 196;
    Captain Cook's visit to, 206

  Home, Captain Sir J. Everard, 190

  Honolulu, the Bishop of, 162

  Hood, Lieut. T. H., his visit to Niué, 65, 80

  Hornets, 198

  Huanaki, 86, 87

  Hunga Cave, the, 190, 191


  Infanticide, 102

  Influenza, prevalence of, 75

  _Isabel_, the, 65


  _John Williams_, the, 75

  Jurisdiction over foreigners, 173

  Justice, native, 103 _et seq._, 107


  Kaiser, the first, a portrait of, 174

  Kanakubolu, 196

  Kau-ulu-fonua, 20-2, 69

  Kava, the use of, 95, 97

  -- plant, the, cultivation of, 95

  Kolovai, 200

  -- family, the, death portent of, 197

  _Kopega_, the, 104

  Kubu, 168, 171, 202


  Labour trade, the, 81

  Land tenure, 136 _et seq._

  Langa'iki, the deity, 93

  Lavinia, the princess, 20, 159

  Lawes, Frank, 9, 10, 19, 23-28, 30, 31, 53, 54,
    67, 93, 97, 103, 109-12, 118, 121, 122, 135,
    141, 143, 147

  -- Mrs., 28; bounty of, 145, 146

  -- Rev. W. G., 71, 79

  Lizard, the, sanctity of, 93, 98

  Lomaloma, 97

  London Missionary Society, the, 9, 13, 60;
    the house of, 12, 13;
    influence of, 51, 52, 59, 141;
    the penal code of, 105


  Macgregor, Sir William, 216 (footnote)

  Maclennan, Dr. Donald, 155, 156, 175, 177, 213

  Maealiuaki, William, 178

  Mafuike, 87

  Malden Island, 81

  Malofafa, 20

  Mangaia, 90

  Maria Bay, 196

  Mariner, William, 190, 191 (footnote), 193, 218, 220

  Marshall, H. J., R.N., 190

  Martin, John, M.D., 191 (footnote), 193

  Matapulega, the rite of, 92

  Mateialona, 212

  Mau'i, the deity, 84-6, 88

  Measles, an epidemic of, 180

  _Messenger of Peace_, the, 71

  _Mildura_, H.M.S., 11 (footnote), 147

  Mua, 196, 219

  Murder, the punishment for, 104


  Native beliefs, 94 _et seq._;
    customs, 50, 51, 92, 95, 133 _et seq._;
    mythology, 84;
    superstitions, 51, 52;
    justice, 103 _et seq._, 107;
    entertainment, 117 _et seq._

  Neiafu, the port of, 172, 184

  New Zealand, annexation of Niué to, 45, 147;
    and her dependencies, 149

  Niué-Fekai, letter from chiefs of, to Queen Victoria, 1;
    the inhabitants of, 3, 11;
    native politics in, 9;
    the architecture of, 15-18;
    the church in, 16;
    a tradition of the invasion of, 20 _et seq._;
    the language of, 28;
    institutions of, 34;
    sovereignty in, 37, 38;
    annexation of, to New Zealand, 45, 147;
    burial customs in, 50, 51;
    superstition in, 51, 52;
    traders in, 56 _et seq._;
    cocoanut plantations in, 57, 58;
    a set of stocks in, 65;
    influence of Samoan teachers in, 77;
    anchorages of, 79 (footnote);
    mythology of, 84;
    meaning of the name, 88;
    origin of the people of, 89 _et seq._;
    tattooing in, 92;
    a unique custom in, 92;
    beliefs in, 94;
    infanticide in, 102;
    the tribunals of, 103 _et seq._;
    the warriors of, 127, 130, 131;
    want of dignity in the natives of, 129;
    earth-hunger in, 138

  Niuafoou, population of, 179 (footnote)

  Niuatobutabu, population of, 179 (footnote)

  Nukualofa, 145, 155, 158, 159, 163, 164, 194, 198, 201, 211;
    plague of hornets at, 199, 200


  Ofa, Princess, 159, 164;
    joins the Church of England, 162, 163


  Pacific Islands, the, federation of, 146

  Pacific Islands Co., the, 55, 137

  Pakieto, King, 36 (footnote)

  Patterson, H. W., 57

  Patuavalu, King, 36 (footnote)

  Paula, the Samoan teacher, 77

  Penal code, a, 112, 113, 178

  Penalties for crimes, 108

  Peniamina Nukai, 75, 78

  Petitions from the natives, 206, 207

  Polynesian chiefs, 170, 175

  -- music, 218

  Polynesians, the, 3, 165;
    dignity of, 129

  Population returns, 179

  _Porpoise_, H.M.S., 4, 33, 117, 123, 146, 184, 215, 216;
    a royal visit to, 46, 171

  _Port-au-Prince_, the, 192

  Pratt, Rev. G., 79

  Priesthood, the, 95

  Protectorates, 41 _et seq._

  Pulangi Tau, the, 103, 104

  Punimata, King, 36 (footnote)

  Pylstaart Island, 91


  Quarantine regulations, 113, 115


  Ranfurly, Lord, 11 (footnote), 147

  Rarotonga, 74, 105

  Rathbone, H., 100

  Ravenhill, Captain, 23, 39, 46, 48, 123

  Relationships, 136

  _Resolution_, the, 206

  _Review of Reviews, The_, 210

  Ross, Captain, 65


  Sakaio, the Samoan teacher, 77

  Samoa, 152;
    German plantations in, 3, 81;
    visit of John Williams to, 74;
    mission school in, 74, 75, 77

  "Samoa Convention, 1899," the, 4, 173

  Samoan teachers, the, 77, 92, 105, 133

  Samuela, the Samoan teacher, 77

  Sateki, 158, 164, 169, 209, 210

  Savage Island. _See_ Niué

  Seddon, R. J., 146

  Spearman, Lieutenant, 70

  Spells, the working of, 98

  Stanmore, Lord, 66

  Stone of power, the, 35

  Suicide, 109

  Superstition, prevalence of, 51, 197, 201


  Tahiti, 105

  Takalaua, King, 20

  Talanga, 87

  _Talatala hina_, the, flowers of, 197

  Tamajia, 20

  Tangaloa, the deity, 84

  Taufa'ahau. _See_ George Tubou II.

  _Tauranga_, H.M.S., 124

  Tauvu, 94

  Taxes, 29

  Tepá, 89

  Theft, 109

  Toeumu, 191

  Tonga, 91, 153, 155, 172;
    the protectorate over, 4, 172, 174, 215, 216;
    taxes paid by labourers in, 29;
    the Free Church of, 161;
    the army of, 167;
    the Queen of, 175;
    the European colony of, 180

  Tongan castaways, a colony of, 91

  -- families, death portents of, 197

  -- music, Appendix

  Tongans, the, 173, 189;
    cave of, 14, 18, 19;
    burial customs of, 51, 52;
    energy of, in copra-making, 59;
    practice of tattooing amongst, 91;
    regard of, for the English, 124 _et seq._;
    their ignorance of surgery, 176;
    their ideal of female beauty, 203

  Tongatabu, 152;
    population of, 179 (footnote)

  Tongia, King, 34, 35 (footnote), 36-9, 113, 116, 128, 137, 148;
    his daughter, 83;
    letter from, to Queen Victoria, 151

  Totemism, 93

  Traders, 56 _et seq._

  Treaty, the signing of a, 30, 172 _et seq._; 214

  Tuapa, 9, 10, 35 (footnote), 36, 54, 55, 63, 134;
    cave near, 65;
    the road to, 49;
    the King's palace in, 54

  Tui Belehake. _See_ Fatafehi

  Tui Kanakubolu, death portent of the, 197

  -- Tonga, the, 88

  Tuitonga, King, 2, 35, 36 (footnote)

  Tukuaho, 154, 157, 158, 163

  Tungi, 154, 163, 195, 212, 213

  Turner, Dr., 75-7, 96, 106

  _Tutunekai_, the, 146


  Ugliness, the cult of, 129

  Unga, 188

  Utulei Point, 184


  Vavau, 172, 182 _et seq._;
    the native church of, 16, 18;
    the German coaling-station at, 186, 187

  Victoria, Queen, letter to, from native chiefs, 1;
    from King Tongia, 151;
    a portrait of, 23, 28;
    autograph letters for, 150;
    presents from the King of Tonga, 167


  Webber, Mr. Amherst, 25, 203, 213, 214, 219, 220

  Wesleyan missionaries, 59

  Whalers, 78

  Williams, John, 71-6, 127

  Witchcraft, belief in, 96, 97

  Women doctors, 135

  Woodlark Island, 216 (footnote)[13]



PLYMOUTH
WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, PRINTERS

[Illustration: NIUÉ OR SAVAGE ISLAND]



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Inconsistencies in the author's use of hyphens have been left
unchanged, as in the original text. Obvious printer errors have been
corrected without comment. Otherwise, the author's original spelling,
punctuation, hyphenation and use of accents have been left intact with
the following exceptions:

Page 140: The word "to" was changed to "the" in the following phrase:
"... who came off the ships were black with them,"

Page 141: The word "of" was added to "--- the peopling of these remote
spots,"





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