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(See p. 51). 


Fijian Pictures icith Pen mid Brush 





K.C.M.G., K.B.E., C.B. 

Governor of Fiji and High Commissioner of the Western Pacific, 


with eighty reproductions of Drawings by the Author 
and two maps. 









My visit to Fiji worked such wonders for me, in filling my 
mind with interest and giving me a new outlook on life, that 
I long to bestow a little of the benefit of my trip upon others, 
who may be circumstanced much as I was but who cannot 
have the same advantages. It is in this spirit that the book 
has been written, and if it brings a little brightness, and mental 
rest and refreshment to even a few, I shall feel richly re- 

I should like to take this opportunity of offering my sincere 
thanks to Sir Everard im Thum, without whose kind en- 
couragement I should never have ventured to launch my 
little craft, and whose sympathetic assistance all through has 
been invaluable. I have particular cause to be grateful to 
him for the generous way in which he put his unique Pacific 
library at my disposal, and for supplying the very interesting 
introduction and glossary. 

My especial thanks are also due to all the kind residents in 
Fiji who made a stranger so welcome, and who patiently 
answered my many questions, furnishing me with an immense 
amount of interesting information ; and who grudged neither 
time nor trouble to make my stay pleasant and help me on 
my way. 

Agnes Gardner King. 

Habtwell, Wroxham, 
August, 1920. 



It is a great pleasure to me to bring out a second edition of 
"Islands Far Away," and I hope it may meet with as kind a 
reception as did che first. 

I am very glad to find that the book has been appreciated 
by those for whom it was more especially written, and that it 
has brought a little refreshment to many who were sick or sad, 
letting a ray of light in through closed doors and drawn blinds ; 
and I am perhaps equally pleased to learn of the delight young 
people and children have taken in it. 

In the new edition there are a few more pictures ; and great 
care has been taken to select paper better adapted to the 
drawings, both pen and wash, and not less suitable for the 
letterpress, than that on which the first edition was printed. 
The paper for this edition has been specially manufactured, 
and I am indebted to my publisher for the great trouble he 
has taken in the matter. 

AU who have been interested in the book will be sorry to 
hear of the death of Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi on the 13th of 
last December. To me the news came as a shock, and I felt 
that I had lost a real personal friend. Never have I met a 
more lovable man, and certainly he was, as the Fiji Times 
said of him, at the time of his death, " a great Fijian and a 
noble gentleman." To quote further from the same paper: — 
" Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi, in his ofiicial career, equally in his 
private life, furnished a splendid example of the inherent high 

X Preface to Second Edition. 

qualities of the Fijian race. Highly educated, and animated 
by the highest principles of right and honour, he always per- 
formed his duties, especially those associated with the adminis- 
tration of his provinces, to the entire satisfaction of the 
Government. He was held in the highest esteem by all classes 
of the European population of Fiji. His name throughout 
Fiji is a synonjrm for rectitude of purpose and high endeavour." 
Durmg the few years that have elapsed since I was in Fiji, 
death has been busy and has carried off a great many of those 
to whom I am indebted for the main pleasure and interest of 
that time — Ratu Kindavu Levu, Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi, Ratu 
Saimoni Dombui, the King and Queen of Tonga, and Mr. 
Frank Spence have all gone. I hope that my humble narrative 
may serve in a measure to preserve for future generations a 
little of what has passed and is passing so quickly away. 

Agnes Gardner King. 
April, 1921. 





The Start 



The Sandwich Islands . 



Arrival in Fiji . . . . 



Fijian architecture 



Fijian servants , . . . 



Life on a sugar estate . 



A week in a Fijian Village 



Moonlight rambles 



Old Marita's tragic tale 



Where the village had been . 



Yangona .... 



Farewell to Vuni-mbau 



Poling up the Navua River . 



Namosi .... 



The old town of Namosi 



The last evening at Namosi . 

. 103 


Ratu Kandavu Levu . 



In the old Heathen Capital . 

. 115 


Canoes .... 



The great ceremony at Mbau 

. 130 


Christianity in Fiji 

. 139 


Sailing in Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi' 

s Yacht 144 


Visit to Ratu Saimoni Dombui 



Marooned at sea 



Ndarivatu safely reached 

. 161 


A night surprise , 

. 165 


The Provincial Council Meeting 

. 170 


Trooping ofi with the crowd 

. 175 




Chapter XXIX. 

Among rocks, over rapids in a 

native canoe 181 


A remote wedding 



Struggle through a cane-field 

. 194 


Fijian afifection . 



Far, far away 




Tribute with joy 




The Shadow of Death . 




Good-bye .... 




Swimming for the mail 




Ala Loto Alofa . 




The King of the Friendly Isles 




" At evening- time there shall be light " 









, , 



" One specially attractive little mite " 

Members of Fiji Labour Corps on the way 

Members of Fiji Labour Corps on service 

Pig baked whole 

Surf-riding at Honolulu . 

Tropic Fish (tivitivi) 

Comb ..... 

Pillow (or " headrest ") . 

Semi ..... 

Suva Harbour with Pandanus Tree 

Men fishing .... 

Birds (mbelo) on the shore 

Interior of Fijian House . 

The Rat .... 

Little Boy in Meke dress 

" One of the men wore a wreath all day " 

Mynah birds arguing and chattering 

Vuni-mbau ..... 

*' One fat little fellow some three years old 

Old Marita tells her tragic tale 

Boy carrying Kurilangi 

Cannibal fork 

Cannibal dish 

Fijian Fish-fence 

Yangona root 

Yangona growing 

Coconut Palms at Vuni-mbau 

Ratu Amare in his paraphemaUa of war 


facing xxvi 
. xxvii 
facing 6 



One of our boatmen poling up the river 

One of our carriers with coconut-leaf baskets 

Namosi ..... 

Cannibal family — four generations 

Old Cannibal beating the lali 

Ratu Kandavu Levu 

Fusi. Kandavn Levu's Tongan housekeeper 

Mbau — the old heathen capital 

Audi Thakombau 

Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi . 

Sinnet work in Ratu Mbolo's house 

Ratu Tui Vanua Vou 

Canoes bring supplies for the great ceremony at Mbau 

Shark baked whole . 

A Fijian canoe {wanga) . 

Solemn yangona drinking at Mbau 

Cup-bearer with cup 

Great War dance at Mbau 

Launching toy canoe 

Mbau children revelling in the Meke dresses 

Thakombau .... 

Blowing the conch-shell . 

The consecration stone at Mbau 

Nukuloa .... 

Ratu Saimoni Dombui 

Meke head-dress 

The gloomy Kauvandra Mountains 

Nasongo cup-bearer in official dress 

The Provincial Council Meeting at Nasongo 

A Fijian apology 

An infant prodigy . 

Bread Fruit . 

Our canoe on the Rewa 

Sunrise at Lambasa 







. 108 

. 113 

facing 114 

. 116 

facing 117 

. 117 



. 127 

. 129 


. laa 


. 138 

facing 138 








. 168 

. 173 








River Qawa from the cane -field 

Native house at Lambasa 

Lambasa girl with Ai-tombi 

Lambasa man dressed only in grass 

Four years old Indian servant 

The sacred bird of Fiji 

Fijian women in gala dress 

Tui Dreketi's house 

Potter at work 

Women fishing 

Hope or Niuafdu Island 

The Niuafdu Mail . 

Vaihma and Vaea . 

Samoan houses 

Samoan horseman . 

Tongans in mourning, going to church 

Tongan girl in church in mourning garb 

The King of Tonga with his baby 

Avava tree, and beach, with great bivalve shells 


Pacific Ocean 
Fiji Archipelago 


. 199 
. 201 
. 205 
. 208 
. 213 
. 216 
. 219 
. 220 
facing 220 
. 225 
. 226 
. 227 
. 236 
. 237 
. 240 
. 243 

at end of volume 


Antonio. Tell me, Panthino, what sad talk was that 

Wherewith my brother held you in the cloisters ? 

Panthino. T'was of his nephew, Proteus, your son. 

Antonio, Why, what of him ? 

Panthino. He wondered that your lordship. 

While other men, of slender reputation, 
Put forth their sons to seek preferment out : 
Some to the wars, to try their fortunes there : 
Some to discover islands far away .... 

The age of romance was not as nearly dead, even before the 
crash of war so thoroughly reawakened it, as some were m- 
clined to think. In 1012, Miss Gardner King, the writer and 
illustrator of this book, needing rest and recreation, after a 
period of great bodily and mental strain, left her pleasant 
Norfolk home to seek refreshment, not, indeed, in discovering 
islands far away, but in a visit, certainly for her adventurous, 
to certain antipodean islands, situate where the sun sets 
exactly when here in England it rises and where it is winter 
when with us it is summer, and, above all, where western 
civilization has not yet repressed the natural flourish of an 
elaborate native culture, which, in the isolation of that then 
unknown sea, had developed far before Europeans first ven- 
tured into those parts, and where, not yet fifty years ago, the 
British had, almost reluctant! j- and with hesitation, taken on 
themselves the task of pruning, with as little disturbance as 
might be, the indigenous culture. 

The social condition of the natives of the Fiji Islands, which 
were the bourne to which Miss King went, is peculiar, not only 
in itself but also in relation to the Europeans and others who 
have intruded among them. 

The islands were first seen by European eyes as long ago 
as 1643, when Tasman and his companions one morning just 
discerned through the mist an islet or two, which were long 

xviii Introduction. 

after identified as belonging to the Fiji group. Nothing 
further was seen of these till, in 1774, Captain Cook discovered 
another Fijian island, and even sent some of his crew ashore 
there, but there was no intercourse with the natives on that 
occasion ; and three years later (in 1777) Captain Cook, on 
one of his visits to the Tongan or Friendly Islands, there met 
some Fijians, and heard much from his Tongan hosts of their 
dreaded Fijian neighbours, and of the richness of the islands 
from which they came. Again a few years later. Captain 
Bligh and his companions in misfortune, when cast adrift by 
the mutineers of the Bounty, passed through the group ; and 
before the end of that century, two or three other ships sighted 
these islands, but without landing or communicating with 
the Fijians,* whose reputation for ferocity and inhospitality, 
gathered from the Tongans, was discouraging. 

In the first week of the nineteenth century the small 
schooner Argo was wrecked on an outlying reef of the group. "j* 
The crew were not inhospitably received by the astonished 
natives of these parts, who had never before seen or heard of 
such white skinned animals, with such strange clothes, and 
such powerful and seemingly magical weapons. Some of these 
wrecked sailors lived for a time among those Fijians, still 
kindly treated as long as they behaved themselves. They 
wandered from island to island, or were deliberately taken 
by the Fijians ; and some of them eventually seem to have 
reached Mbua and Mbau, where the higher Chiefs lived. For 
the Fijians were found even by that time to have developed 
a social order and a culture of their own — in many ways 
admirable ; in some ways, and these naturally the most con- 
spicuous to the wrecked sailors, abominable, at least from an 
abstract moral point of view. 

The consequences of this earliest intrusion of Europeans 
into Fiji present material for a hitherto unwritten chapter in 
the history of Fiji and of Australasia generally. One of the 
survivors from the wreck of the Argo, Oliver Slater by name, 
after wandering among the natives for some twenty-two 

* See end of Introduction, p. xxxii. 

t The date, 1806, hitherto given as that of the wreck of the Argo, from 
the time of Arrowsmith, in 1814, to the latest edition (1918) of our Ad- 
miralty Saihng Directions, is erroneous ; the true date is as above. 

Introduction. xix 

months, was picked up by a passing vessel and carried to Port 
Jackson, whence he made his way to the Far East. In both 
places he spread the story of the sandalwood which he had 
seen in his wanderings in Fiji, and also, it would appear, 
spoke, from personal experience, of the better qualities of the 
Fijians as well as of their readiness in attack on any hostile 
visitors. His story interested certain Americans who were 
then actively trading between the New England ports and 
the Chinese markets of Canton, where sandalwood was an 
article verj^ much in demand ; and these American traders 
were induced to send the first ship, the Fair American, to Fiji 
for sandalwood.* Meanwhile Captain Bligh, previously of 
the Bounty but at that time Governor of the settlement at 
Port Jackson, was also fully alive to the importance of the 
discovery, wherein he foresaw the possibility of getting the 
then much needed valuable commodity for export from the 
young and as yet unproductive settlement under his charge. 
British and American competitors, however, alike fully appre- 
ciated the risk, as well as the possible profit, in the contem- 
plated intercourse with a till then unknown people as fierce, 
bold and independent as the Fijians had hitherto been re- 
ported to be ; and care was consequently taken to arm the 
ships with an unusual number of guns. 

However, keen competition for Fijian sandalwood took 
place ; and between 1804 and 1816, by which latter date the 
stock of the wood had been exhausted, a succession of sandal- 
wood ships, English and American, was continuously at anchor 
in and about the one then known harbour of Fiji, that of 
Mbua in the island then known as Pau.t 

At first the white traders were hospitably welcomed by the 
Chiefs whom they found in Fiji, especially by the Chief of 

* Slater returned to Port Jackson in the Fair American, and thence reached 
Fiji in the Colonial v essel Marcia ; and he was either continuously or at least 
frequently in the Islands till 1816, when, while taking part in the last serious 
attempt to get a cargo of sandahvood from these Islands, he was killed by 
the natives of Makongai. 

t Pau, then also known as " Sandalwood Island," is that which is now 
called Vanua Levu, and must be carefully distinguished (as has not always 
been the case) from Mbau (=Bau) or Ambow as it was called by the earlier 
European visitors. Mbau attained its subsequent importance at a some- 
what later date. 

XX Introduction. 

Mbua, and consequently by the native followers of these 
Chiefs. Before long, however, the traders became impatient 
at what seemed to them the dilatory ways of the Fijians. The 
last named were ready enough to let the white men have the 
wood, for which they themselves had little use except as " a 
toilet requisite," but did not care for the trouble of collecting 
it for their visitors, especially when the trees, which grew only 
within a limited area, became scarce ; and they resented the 
attempts of the white men to expedite the business by use of 
force. Naturally the Fijians, before the superior skill and 
superior weapons of the white men had the w^orst of it, but 
yet succeeded in inflicting considerable loss on their new 
fdends who had already become enemies. Had the supply of 
sandalwood lasted, European vessels might have continued 
to visit the islands ; but the trees had never been abundant 
and were soon exhausted ; and the trade passed to other 
islands in the Pacific, where further supplies of the wood had 
been discovered, and Fiji was for a good many years there- 
after avoided by European ships — except for an occasional 
American trading for heche-de-mer, also intended, as had been 
the sandalwood, for the Chinese market. 

The temporary presence of the many sandalwooders can, 
of course, not have been without effect on the Fijians of those 
days, who, before the white men came among them, had lived, 
as above indicated, a social life of their own. There had been 
many more or less small groups, each of which, under its own 
Chief or Chiefs, occupied as much ground as it could, under a 
strict and effective — and on the whole not unwholesome — 
club - law. Intertribal warfare between the many small 
' states ' (it is difficult to know what else to call them) must 
have been fairly common ; but as long as the contending 
parties had been all natives — as long — that is — as each side 
had the same weapons and the same means of offence and 
defence, it was only, as it were, a fair struggle for existence — 
it was only a rough, to the native not unpleasantly rough, 
game. But when the white men, with their guns and other 
weapons, and their superior cunning, came into the fight, on 
the one side or the other, they obviously brought to the side 
of their adoption a very unfair advantage, generally with the 

Introduction. xxi 

result that the other side was annihilated — and always that 
the game of war became much embittered, and the manners 
of the natives not improved. 

Before the white men came cannibalism had, no doubt, been 
practised, though probably only to the extent that the bodies 
of those killed in fair fight were eaten. But the increase, due 
to the white men, in the frequency and severity of the fighting 
naturally not only increased the number of the slain but this 
in turn led, under the spur of really savage emulation, to a 
frantic desire on the part of the Chiefs and leaders to mark 
their power by the number of the victims they had eaten, and, 
when there were no bodies of slain enemies to be eaten, to get 
the horrible fodder from any other available source. 

The discontinuance of the visits of the sandalwood ships to 
Fiji did not entirely clear the islands of Europeans. A few 
of those who had come with the ships, generally not those of 
best character, remained on, at first under the protection, and 
more or less as the humble allies of these Chiefs, and rather 
strengthened than decreased the evil influence which had been 
introduced into this society of nature-folk. 

But as long as it was only a case of a few individual white 
men living as refugees and under the protection of one or other 
of the Chiefs, the social state of the Fijians — supported by 
club-law — was not essentially affected. It was only when the 
white settler began to have interests of his own, apart from, 
often adverse to, those of his former native patron : only when 
these white men's interest began to acquire support (against 
the Chief) either by the Europeans uniting for mutual support 
or — a much more important factor in the case — when the 
sovereign power to which these owed allegiance supported the 
white settlers — ' through tliick and thin ' — against the native 
Chiefs : that the power of the latter began to wane, and that, 
as was inevitable, the native social organisation became shaken. 

By 1870 a very curious condition had arisen in Fiji. The 
Chiefs nominally maintained their authority and the native 
social system at the head of which they were supposed to be ; 
but in the same islands the European settlers, by that time 
fairly numerous, had created at least the semblance of another 
social svstem, more or less modelled on that under which they 

xxii Introduction. 

had been bom, but, still more, in accordance with whatever 
they thought to be their own interests. And the two systems 
naturally clashed. 

Then followed a curious phase, in wliich the white man and 
the Native Chief joined to form a ' Kingdom of Fiji,' with 
Thakombau — the so-called King of Fiji, really the Chief of the 
comparatively small part of Fiji under the influence of the tiny 
island of Mbau — as crowned king, and with a Government and 
Parliament composed of the other great Chiefs and of the 
European settlers — mainly the last named. 

Something similar had happened in some of the other island 
groups of the South Seas — for instance in the Friendly or 
Tongan Islands. But in Fiji only had it happened in such a 
way that, the several independent Chiefs not being able to 
agree among themselves, and no one of them being able to 
attain real supremacy over the others, the preponderance of 
power rested with the white settlers — though these also were 
not a united body and though they were not at all actively 
supported by the Power to which most of them owed allegiance, 
i.e. the British. Consequently the unfortunate Thakombau 
Rex and his fellow Chiefs, found the difficulties of their position 
insupportable ; and Thakombau — as primus inter pares of the 
Chiefs — ceded the Islands not to the British Crown but, as 
they intended, to Queen Victoria personally, or rather to that 
abstraction of benevolence and almost divine power into which 
rumour had transformed that great but very human Lady. 

Commissioners were sent to report ; and after careful in- 
vestigation on the spot Commodore Goodenough and Consul 
Layard reported, primarily on the then state of the Fijians 
and, incidentally, on the relations of these with the Europeans 
of several nationalities, but chiefly British, who had settled 
among them and had in more or less legitimate ways acquired 
quasi-titles to native land. It was an able report, and even 
yet deserves more consideration than it has ever received. 
Sir Hercules Robinson (afterwards Lord Rosmead), then 
Governor of New South Wales, formally accepted the cession 
of the islands to the British Crown ; and in the foflowing year 
(1875) Sir Arthur Gordon (afterwards Lord Stanmore) took 
up his appointment as first Governor of Fiji, and at once set 

Introduction. xxiii 

himself the ahnost impossible task of preserving a native com- 
munity intact within the limits of a British Crown Colony, as 
it were a mechanical rather than a chemical mixture. 

The conditions with, which Sir Arthur had to deal were 
certainly difficult and peculiar. He had to think and act for 
two widely different classes of people, living side by side, in 
a few small and remote islands, then almost infinitely further 
removed from headquarters than they now are. It was almost 
inevitable that he should attach greater importance to the 
interests of one or other of these classes ; and he made the 
interests and rights of the Fijians his first object rather than 
those of the European population which had come fortuitously 
together in the islands during the seventy-five years which 
had elapsed since the wreck of the Argo. 

The Fijians still retained most of their own ideas and cus- 
toms, though these were already much obscured under the 
teaching of the missionaries, and they retained intact their 
original social system, at the head of which were their own 
hereditary Chiefs. Such was the community which Sir Arthur 
Gordon set himself strenuously to graft on to the British 
Empire with as little disturbance as possible of the native 
system. To effect his purpose he devised a set of " Native 
Regulations." which were intended to codify and legalize the 
better part of native custom as it existed at that moment. 

The creation of an enclave in which natives should live 
according to their own ideas, or rather according to the ideas 
which their folk held at one particular moment in their history, 
and should develop the land to something like the same full- 
ness as would have been possible under the western system 
of civilisation, was a fine idea — -which has attracted, and 
misled, other enthusiasts before Sir Arthur Gordon — but did 
not allow for the fact that if the islands were to be developed 
to the utmost possibility as a British Colony, and were to pay 
their way, the encouragement of Europeans was essential for 
the commercial development of the place. 

It was not long before Gordon himself had to encourage the 
start of the European enterprise of sugar-growing — thereby 
laying the fomidation of the economical prosperity of Fiji ; 
but even this was to be done in strict subordination to the 

xxiv Introduction. 

supposed rights of the Fijians, as the supposed owners of the 
greater part of the new land which it was necessary to take 
in for this new industry. Moreover, as the Fijians abstained 
from taking adequately active part in this new industry, the 
Governor had not only to regulate the already existing 
practices of bringing ' Polynesian labour ' (from other Pacific 
Island groups) but had further to introduce East Indians 
into Fiji as indentured labourers. 

Incidentally, it may be noted that in the forty-four years 
which have elapsed since Sir Arthur Gordon went to Fiji as 
governor, these new classes of residents thus introduced have 
never in any way tended to amalgamate with the Fijians, 
who remain apart in their own, often remote, villages ; and 
at best furnish a few temporary hands for coconut cultivation 
and similar congenial jobs— always of a temporarj^ character. 
However, the result of all this has been that, as Miss King 
saw, the Fijians live — one might almost say vegetate— apart 
from the other communities, with much of the more harmless 
part of the ideas which their forefathers held, prevented, by 
the ' Native Regulations,' from developing even along the 
lines which would have been followed by their forefathers, had 
they been left to their own devices, and prevented by the 
" privileges " secured to them by British law from sharing 
whatever may be the real advantages of full British citizenship. 
A few Fijians, it is true, have found their way, almost by 
chance, into the outskirts of the European community, but 
most of them live lives apart in their own villages, constrained 
by the regulations which have been imposed on them from 
doing what, in our judgment, it would be distinctly wrong for 
them to do, but, for the rest, constrained also to do exactly 
as their ancestors did, even though the few more enlightened 
among them may see that these ways are obsolete. 

These remote Fijians were the folk among whom Miss King 
spent most of her time, and in whom she certainly found her 
chief interest. She saw, it may probably safely be said, more 
of them in their own homes than any other entirely unpre- 
judiced European who has been among them. She went, not 
to advance her own interests (unless those of her health), not 
even to make a book — for her present book is entirely an 

Introduction. xxv 

afterthought. It is true that she laboured under the dis- 
advantage of ignorance of the language ; but she had with 
her as companion a lady who had been brought up among 
Fijians from early childhood and was in thorough sympathy 
with these folk. Miss King's own sympathy v^dth these folk 
is apparent in everything wliich she has here written — as is 
also the fact that the qualifications with which she started on 
this the one great adventure of her life, her power of expression 
with pen and pencil, were quite exceptional. Even more ex- 
ceptional, from both a technical and artistic point of view,. 
is her power of drawing the scenery and people that she saw. 

So truly do the illustrations as a whole show things seen in 
Fiji, that it would be a matter of some difficulty to select any 
for special notice. But to me — feeling as I do towards Fiji — 
I can never look at the drawing of the sea approach to Lambasa 
(page 189) without a longing to be back early some morning 
in a boat off that rocky palm-clad coast ; and the ' Tropic 
Bird ' (page 205), shown alone on the face of the waters, brings 
up to me a crowd of memories, of the desolate, but pleasant, 
quiet spaces of the Pacific at rest, and, by association, of a 
certain ride, on a sunny but wind-cooled midday, along the 
top of the cliff in which the northern face of the Island of 
Vavau ends, of a glance through palms and ferns and other 
greenery on to the sea at the base of the cliff, and of a single 
tropic-bird floating lightly on the haze which lay along the 
face of the cliff between me and the waters of the sea. Again 
Miss King's mata-ni-vanua (page 174) still actually speaks to 
me, as many a one of these Fijian heralds has done, and 
presents his ceremonial gift of a whale 's-tooth ; and the cup- 
bearer (page 133) — a drawing for which all anthropologists 
should be grateful — once more presents his 'yangona,' — Robert 
Louis Stevenson's ' kava,' — to refresh me, as no other ' pick- 
me-up ' has ever done. 

But there is another aspect of Miss King's story which 
should be especially noted. She was in Fiji before the war ; 
and her account of the quiet and uneventful life of the Fijians 
in their own homes seems to have gained additional interest 
to those who know what these folk did when the European 
war broke over the world. 

xxvi Introduction. 

Li the autumn of 1914, the Fiji islands, distant as they are 
from the place where the war-cloud broke, were, in common 
\\'ith the other Pacific Islands, in a not uninteresting position 
on the battlefield of the world. The German Pacific squadron 
was known to be cruising somewhere away from its own base 
{which was in German New Guinea), and was believed to have 
been assigned the duty of playing its part in the war by at- 
tacking one or other of the British or French possessions in 
those parts, most of which were practically in an undefended 
condition. Fiji as the richest — and as undefended as any of 
the others — naturally supposed itself especially liable to 
attack ; and, despite the fact that all the white folk who 
could possibly get away, rushed across to Europe, every 
effort was made to improvise defences. The Natives were at 
least as eager and anxious to help as any other class of the 
population ; it was comparatively esisy to keep them in the 
islands for home defence, though it was by no means their own 
^\dsh not to repair to the ' homeland,' as they too had come 
to regard England, for service there ; but they poured out 
their money, to an astonishing extent, and helped in every 
other possible way. And as soon as volunteers had been 
called for, for a native labour corps to go ' home,' the response 
was so great that selection was the only difficulty. And those 
who were selected, distinguished themselves, according to the 
military authorities under whom they served at home, not 
only as the best workers of any body of natives that came 
home, but also as the best behaved, and the most amenable 
to discipline. 

It is true that some part of the success of the Fiji Labour 
Corps must be attributed to the officers who came from the 
islands in charge of these men : to Captain Kenneth AUardyce, 
who, as Native Commissioner in Fiji, had learned to know and 
sympathize with the Fijians : to Lieutenant Frank Williams 
(the brother of Mrs. Hopkins, to whom Miss King makes more 
than one reference, and who has long since earned a just repu- 
tation as the best and most sympathetic manager of Fijian 
labour), and to Ratu Sukuna, to whom also Miss King makes 
frequent reference, and as to whom I shall have more to say 
presently. Had the Fijian Labour Corps been placed on arrival 




? fl 


rt m 


— J 





• 10 

t^ « 


> s s 
















M tp 

Introduction. xxvii 

at home under the orders of officers not thoroughly acquainted 
and sympathetic \vith these strangers from a far land, the 
effectiveness of the corps would certainly not have been as 
great as it has been. But even making due allowance for 
this exceptional advantage, very great credit indeed must be 
given to these natives who rendered us such good service 
during the latter part of the war. 

Two illustrations which I am able here to give are interesting 
as showing the difference in appearance between these Fijians 
as they were when they left their native islands for England 
and as they appeared when wearing the uniform of the King's 
Labour Corps. It happened that the whole of the men were 
photographed, with extraordinary success, as they passed 
through Honolulu on their way to England ; it happened also 
that six of these Fijians, with Captain Allardyce, were photo- 
graphed when they were on leave in England from France. 
The six men in the London photograph were picked out from 
the larger Honolulu group and very carefully and successfully 
drawn by Miss King. A comparison of the two pictures can- 
not fail to be interesting. 

It will be noticed that in Miss King's picture a seventh 
Fijian is shown. The additional man is Ratu Sukuna, above 
mentioned. This young Fijian Chief's special war service is 
quite worthy of special mention. He happened to be in 
England, as an Oxford undergraduate, when the war broke 
out ; and, as might have been expected, was as keen to do 
what he could to help as almost every other British subject 
wherever he might happen to have been born. Unfortmi- 
ately he could not get any English regiment to accept his 
services. He therefore slipped over to France — without ask- 
ing leave from those under whose authority he was while in 
England. In France he joined, and served with the French 
Foreign Legion. It happens that he is one of the few re- 
maining Fijian Chiefs of high rank who are qualified to take 
a leading part in the administration of native affairs ; and 
the Colonial Government, short-handed as it then was, was 
anxious to get him back to the islands. At the request of the 
War Office the French Military Authorities, somewhat re- 
luctantly, consented to let him go — if he himself wished it. 

xxviii Introduction. 

He certainly did not wish, it ; but after a time, having been 
seriously wounded and long ill in a Lyons hospital, he was 
persuaded to apply for his own discharge. He returned to 
Fiji ; but before very long he came over again, as one of the 
Officers in charge of the Fiji Labour Corps, and, as has been 
above mentioned, served with that body. It seems only 
right to add, that after returning a second time to Fiji with 
the Labour Corps, he came back once more, resumed his place 
in his Oxford College (Wadham), graduated as B.A., and at 
once began to read for a B.C.L. degree. 

Doubtless the effect of the war has been great — more or less 
great — upon almost every individual who was alive when the 
cataclysm broke over the World ; but in few cases can it have 
]:)een greater than in that of the Fijians who served in the 
\^■ar, and of these on none more than on the young Fijian 
Chief, Ratu Sukuna, whose typically Fijian external aspect 
is shown in the illustration opposite page xxvi, while the 
following extracts from two of his letters, addressed either to 
^Nliss King or myself, while serving with the Foreign Legion in 
France illustrate, in strangely strong contrast, the Europeanized 
side of his character. 

Both of the letters here quoted from are of the same date 
(February 24th, 1915). To Miss King he writes : "I am 
grateful for your kind letter and thoughts and also for your 
cordial offer of help. ... It will be delightful to come to 
Hartwell again after this terrible affair and to battle at the 
more peaceful game of croquet. Many thanks for all you are 
doing for me. The shirt and socks will be extremely useful 
as it is still quite cold, though I am getting more or less used 
to it. On these conditions of hard work on a diet that one is 
totally unaccustomed to, cakes and jam are the most welcome 
things a man can get. ... I have been up at the Front since 
4th February — life here is fairly strenuous. They work the 
Legion quite hard, and the fare is not over excellent ; but 
still I am very glad to be in it and would not have missed it 
for a good deal. My first experience of being under fire was 
under heavy shrapnel fire. One shell burst within twenty 
feet of a kitchen I was cooking in, wounding two of our 
fellows. We had to leave the vicinity immediately, as shells 

Introduction. xxix 

were dropping all round, and had to leave our food which was 
the most annoying feature of it all. Eventually, when the 
fire had died down, I was able to rescue our breakfast. Just 
at present we are having a rest here in a small village, after 
a spell in the trenches. Guard work in the trenches at night 
is somewhat tiring, but one makes up for it in the daytime by 
having several hours' rest. So far there has been no e.Kcite- 
ment, only continual rifle fire, and occasionally shells from 
the German smaller guns, which for the most part do not 
burst. The life seems to agree with me quite well ; I have 
rarely felt fitter. We go back to the trenches to-morrow 
night. My last post there was mthin fifty yards of the 
advance German trenches, and at night one could distinctly 
hear them chopping wood." 

To me he wrote : — •" I was extremely glad to get your kind 
letter and enclosures. I am much distressed by the sad news 
of Ratu Kandavu Levu's death. He was, as you know, our 
highest Chief, and there were hopes, since he married, that he 
might yet do good work among his people. In spite of all 
his short-comings he still retained, I believe, more influence 
over the masses in Fiji than any other li\ang Fijian. Offi- 
cially his death ^vill remove many administration difficulties 
in the Province of Tai Levu. I am grateful to you for the 
things you sent. The food and tobacco were very welcome, 
and the sleeping-bag — I have only been able to use it twice — 
is extremely comfortable and warm. The night before last 
there was a very cold snap and people shivered all night. I 
rested perfectly all night and was surprised to hear that it 
had been so cold. I have just been given a letter from Miss 
King, while yesterday Mrs. A's ' tucker box ' arrived ; just 
for the present I am living quite a luxurious life. Everything 
seems so strange here. As I write heavj^ rifle fire is taking 
place on our right, while away to the left French guns are 
roaring away at the Germans. My baptism of fire was any- 
thing but pleasant and occurred about two weeks ago. French 
guns had begun a violent fire early in the morning, and about 
10 a.m. the Germans replied ; but instead of firing on the 
batteries they shelled our headquarters. The very first shell 
struck the house in which my squad was quartered. I was 

XXX Introduction. 

in the kitchen cat the time, cooking potatoes. The shell burst 
about twenty feet away, wounding two men and completely 
wrecking the house with the exception of the kitchen, which 
happens to be slightly detached from the main building. The 
fire lasted till 3 p.m., and in the meantime our squad was 
ordered off to another part of the village. The General's 
Headquarters, which was within a few doors of our place was 
completely wrecked. We were again heavily bombarded next 
day and had several casualties. We took our turn at the 
trenches six days ago. The American, Farnsworth, and I 
were with the people who occupied the French advanced 
trench, fifty yards from the Germans holding a semicircular 
position on our left point. We were ineffectively shelled 
twice, but there was continuous rifle fire. After the ordeal 
at Headquarters one hardly notices rifle fire and I had none 
of the half excited, half settled feeling that seized me at the 
last place. Trench work is distinctly bad for the temper, and 
one gets so little sleep, and by the time ' the relief ' comes 
round one is almost stiff with the cold and the crouching 
position one is forced to take up. But once in the rest 
trenches, one is apt to forget all one's troubles ; enormous coal 
fires, which are impossible to get elsewhere, and hot tea and 
rum are an excellent tonic for ' trench ' moods. We left the 
trenches two days ago for a spell at out-post duty, after four 
days of which we again go up into the first line. The regiment 
has, I believe, been fighting continuously for the last three 
months and it is now due for a rest and a refit, as it has been 
selected to take part in the bigger operations yet to come, 
whenever that may be. There are all sorts and conditions 
of men in the Regiment, and the character of some of the old 
Legionaries would deserve a chapter in any book. One man 
we had in our squad, a really excellent kind-hearted old gen- 
tleman, was an expert thief and stole for us at the expense of 
the other squads and companies. He had a wonderful stock 
of knowledge for avoiding work and escaping all punishment, 
and when in trouble he was really most useful. Unfortunately 
the old gentleman took a liking for a clothes' brush of mine 
and when he was transferred to the French Army Service 
Corps the brush also was transferred to the same corps, but 

Introduction. xxxi 

withal secretly. I get on excellently ; and Farnsworth and I 
have become close friends. This morning in the trenches I 
was telling people in my broken French the things I had lost 
in the trenches. Amongst them was a pipe. A Russian near 
me pulled out a pipe, old and not over-clean, and offered to 
lend it to me whenever I wanted to smoke. I hesitated and 
he pressed, and to avoid being brutal I accepted warmly his 
kind offer." 

The following is a fitting complement to the above extracts 
from Ratu Sukuna's letters ; it is from a letter written by one 
of his fellow legionaries, I believe the American referred to 
above : — " As the stars were paling before the oncoming dawn 
and the wild ducks ceased their domestic squabbles in the 
neighbouring marshes, my companion sentinel, a Fijian Chief 
who is also an Oxford undergraduate, rolled his eyes poetically 
towards the German trenches : ' It is really time that second 
tuck box arrived,' he said simply. Unpoetic, but delightful 
thought. There would be biscuits, peppermints, jam, English 
tobacco, for S is a generous chap and never lets his fellow- 
sentinel go hungry." 

The ' tail-piece ' hereto annexed is a copy of a Christmas 
card, drawn by Miss King for me, which was sent to every 
Fijian then serving, with their Christmas dinner for 1917. It 
is a most Ufe-like representation of the ' piece de resistance ' 
served at every considerable Fijian feast. The legend below 
may be translated : " This, sir, is my little feast for you at 

E. IM T. 





I should liko slightly to modify my statement that the few ships which 
had passed through the Islands before the wreck of the Argo in 1800 had 
done so "without landing or communicating with the natives.''^ The writer of 
a review in the Sydney Morning Herald points out that Mrs. Marriott, in her 
recently published " Captain Bligh's Second Voyage to the South Sea," states 
that in 1792 Bligh had examined the Islands closely and had had dealings 
with the natives, and that therefore it is not quite accurate to say that " our 
first practical knowledge of Fiji dates from the wreck of the Argo in 1800.'* 
As a matter of fact I have long been acquainted with Lieut. Tobin's Journal 
of the 'second voyage,' and those of others of his messmates ; but I had not 
actually seen Bligh's own account, and I am indebted to Mrs. Marriott for a 
much clearer understanding of what Bligh actvially did in Fiji in 1792. It is 
clear that neither Bligh nor any of his men set foot on any Fijian shore, and 
that they comminiicated with the natives only to the extent that on two 
occasions they questioned the natives who came out in their canoes to the 
ships (once indeed the natives got on board the ships). Neither party under- 
stood the language of the other, and there was no one present to interpret. 
For the rest, the only other knowledge which the visitors got of the Islanders 
was what they saw, from on board the ships, of the natives' houses and 

Bligh was naturally interested in the Islands, then called " Bligh's Islands" 
and, as Mrs. Marriott writes, he "had now determined to explore Fiji very 
thoroughly " ; and he did so, as far as time and the means at his disposal 
allowed, l>ut only as an hydrographer who sails along unknown shores for 
the purpose of getting material for a draft chart. 

It may be added that, according to Sir Basil Thompson (" Voyage of the 
Pandora^'), the officers and crew of the Pandora's launch had — whether they 
used it or not is still a matter of conjecture — a better opportunity, at about 
the same period, of real communication, on shore, with Fijian natives. 

But in none of these cases — and it is now known that other ships visited 
Fiji at that time — did the European visitors even land, much less remain for 
any appreciable time among the natives — as did, unfortunately for them- 
selves, the crew of the Argo. — E. im T. 

[See page xviii.'\ 


Chapter I. 


A GOOD deal of surprise and interest has been caused by my 
going to Fiji,, and I have often been asked what made me think 
of it. It came about in this way. " A sea voyage and a 
complete change " : these were the doctor's orders. Atlases 
were got out and time tables and shipping advertisements 
consulted, and many plans suggested, but they did not seem 
to me interesting. I wanted something wild and new, some- 
thing that would carry not only my body but my mind far 
away, and fill it with thoughts and ideas upon which it could 
feed long after. Fiji had always had a great attraction for 
me from my earliest childhood, and this was increased by 
meeting Mrs, Hopkins who, by the winter fire, when the frosty 
wind was howling outside, told of the sunny islands far away, 
lying in a sea of blue, in whose translucent depths, myriad 
fishes, gayer than butterflies, played among coral flowers, and 
where palm trees waved in scented breezes and a strange 
people lived and moved and loved. This was the place for 
me ; and moreover Mrs. Hopkins was free at the time, and I 
was fortunate enough to be able to engage her as guide and 
companion for the trip. She had lived in Fiji from the time 
she was four years old till the death of her husband, who was 
a magistrate out there. She had travelled all over the islands, 
had a real affection for the inhabitants, and could speak the 
language like a native. It was an opportunity not to be lost, 
so my brother at once said, " Let it be Fiji," and set about 
planning every bit of my trip for me, there and back, right 
round the world, and he took our tickets for us, across the 

2 Islands Far Away. 

Atlantic, over the Rockies, via Vancouver and Honolulu, and 
back by New Zealand, Australia and the Cape ; the arrange- 
ment of our wanderings in Fiji itself being left to Mrs. Hopkins. 

On the 17th of May, 1912, we started from Liverpool on the 
Empress of Britain. Our farewells had been said at the 
railway station in London, so we had plenty of time to acquaint 
ourselves with our new surroundings and to observe our 
fellow passengers. There was a large company on board, two 
thousand in all, many of them emigrants. The vessel, indeed, 
was quite full, not a spare comer anywhere, in first, second or 
third class. 

I stood watching the big crowd, assembled on the wharf to 
catch a last sight and give a last wave to dear ones going far 
away, some of whom they woidd probably never see again m 
this world. The}^ looked cheerful as English crowds always 
do, for we do not like to betray our feelings before others ; but 
there must have been many an aching, anxious heart, for the 
Titanic disaster had only just happened, and we were going 
forth to the same seas and to meet the same perils. 

Suddenly the still waters were lashed into foam, and quietl}', 
steadily, the great vessel began to move away — we had started 
on our course. The crowd on the whari serried its ranks and 
drew closer to the water's edge ; caps and handkerchiefs were 
waved in the air ; then with a sudden impulse the people all 
burst into song, and as we steamed away the tones of " Brit- 
tania Rules the Waves " became fainter, and the assembled 
crowd vanished in the distance. We were off, fairly off, with 
the unkno\^Ti before us, and all that was familiar left behind. 

The third class passengers looked a large company, but they 
were very jolly, laughing and chatting. Then a good natured man 
began to play an accordion, and men and girls with, gay scarves 
and blouses were soon happily dancing, while the ' wallflowers ' 
packed themselves close together and applauded. This went 
on merrily till they had to turn in for the night, and one won- 
dered how so many could be stowed away in quarters appar- 
ently so small. On Sunday they were equally bright, but 
hjTims took the place of the dance music. All day long they 
sang one hymn after another, and never seemed to tire. But 

The Start. 3 

we were soon to look down upon a very different scene — the 
wild waves lashing the deck, dashing over everytliing in their 
fury, and even sweeping the bridge seventy-two feet above, 
while all those lively dancers and singers were battened do"\vn 
in their close quarters, suffering the miseries of sea sickness. 
We were in the worst gale the Empress of Britain had encoun- 
tered for more than a year. In the darkness of the night there 
was something very awful in the roar of the waters and the 
tossing of the great steamer, especially as the bitter nip in the 
air told us we must be near ice. The waves hurled themselves 
against the vessel with a tremendous roar, like huge cannon 
balls, and the vessel shivered as it plunged on its course. 
Sometimes it almost stood on end, climbing some mighty wave, 
and when it mounted the crest and began to descend, we could 
feel by the strange sound and motion that the propeller was 
out of water. 

At last there was one terrible moment, when we and many 
others thought we had struck ice. There was a wild impact 
with something, and a great crashing sound. The vessel 
shivered from stem to stern and seemed to stop for some 
seconds. We held our breath and waited — there was no 
fear, but a great sense of awe, and a feeling of being in the 
hands of the Almighty. In such a sea boats and life-belts 
would have been useless. No one could have got the boats 
out, and the passengers into them ; and they could not have 
lived amid the waves, so there was nothing for it but to wait 
and trust. We learned afterwards that the shock had been 
caused by a specially large wave, which struck the vessel with 
tremendous force, and shattered the windows of the officers' 
quarters on the bridge. Our cabin was just below the bridge, 
so that the broken glass crashing down made a great noise 
over our heads. 

Towards morning we encountered a snowstorm, and the 
vessel had to go dead slow for two hours, as nothing could be 
seen, and we had a careful captain who would not risk the lives 
of the two thousand committed to his charge, simply in order 
to be up to time. There was need for all his care, for when 
the snow cleared away we found ourselves surrounded by ice- 

4 Islands Far Away. 

bergs — a wonderful and beautiful sight, which with the fresh 
chill of the air suggested much, calling up weird pictures of 
the lonely frozen seas from which our visitors had come. In 
spite of the biting wind I got out my sketch book, and tried 
to catch the spirit of the floating army around us. It was 
working under difficulties, the icy wind, which made white 
crests on the waves, fluttered the leaves of mj' sketch book 
and bit my hands till they could hardly hold the brush. But 
it all helped to intensify the strange feeling of the scene and 
lend spirit to the work. At first the skies were grey, and a 
recollection of the snow storm pervaded the air. Then the 
clouds opened and the sun came out. The icebergs had been 
beautiful before, but now they were glorious, and one, a great 
castellated mass, defied description. The intense blue of the 
sea threw up the snowy whiteness of its crystal domes and 
turrets, and on its sides where it had broken away from the 
parent glacier the colour was radiant and rainbow hues danced 
over its glittering surface. It was impossible to realise that 
a thing so beautiful should be a source of danger to anything 
or anyone ; it seemed more like a fairj- palace, or even a 
glimpse into the better world. 

All day long we watched the trooping of the icebergs, and 
I think there were not a few on board who, as Newfoundland 
hove in sight, were glad to realise that land was not far off 
and that we were no longer out on the open sea. As we 
neared the beautiful harbour of Quebec, the sun sank in a 
glory of orange and gold which I have never seen surpassed. 

Late in the evening, when we glided up to the pier, we knew 
that we had passed through many perils and were safe and we 
lay down to rest that night with hearts full of thankfulness 
to the good captain who had guided us safely through, and to 
the Great God who had held us in the hollow of His hand. 

Chapter II. 


On the 12th of June the Makura was to call at Victoria, 
British Columbia, and carry us to " Islands far Away," so 
we had only eighteen days to cross Canada. It gave just 
time to alight here and there and glance at places familiar 
from childhood, though seen now for the first time. 

We peeped at the big cities in passing, listened to the roar 
of Niagara, gazed at the eternal snows of the jagged Rockj' 
Mountains and finally we saw the pretty houses and smiling 
gardens of Victoria, where the late Sir Richard McBride did 
all in his power to make our stay pleasant. Then we were 
off on the mighty ocean again. 

To me it was a wonderful thing, going forth to see all those 
Pacific Islands which had stirred my imagination from my 
earliest childhood. We touched first at the Sandwich Islands 
and the day at Honolulu was a delightful break in our eighteen 
days' voyage. We were timed to arrive on the 19th of 
June, yet it was a joyful surprise when I jumped up in the 
early morning and saw the group of lovely islands, half asleep 
under their cloud blankets, which they were gradually throwing 
off in the pink morning sunshine. 

The Sandwich Islands naturally suggested Captain Cook 
and the pleasure he must have felt when he sighted them at 
the same season a hundred and thirty-five 3^ears before, and 
I realised how much more it must have meant to him and his 
little band of followers than to me. Travelling in comfort and 
luxury as we do now, over well charted seas, it requires the 
strongest effort of imagination to picture what these early 
discoverers went through, in their small sailmg boats, with 

6 Islands Far Away. 

unsatisfactory provisions picked up in savage islands, and 
with no Icnowledge of what was before them. As they sailed 
on and on, day and night, their hearts must often have failed 
them. When they would meet with land they could not tell. 
Fresh water and provisions might be finished first, and the 
country when they reached it might be barren and unable to 
supply their needs, or inhabited by inhospitable natives who 
would not allow them to land. I wondered if the Sandwich 
Islands looked as beautiful when Captain Cook first saw them 
as they did now ? The touches of green would tell him there 
was fresh water and probably fruit, and it must have been a 
great pleasure to him, not only to find all he required, but 
friendly natives willing and ready to lavish it on him. They 
were delighted with him and everything about him, and he 
and his followers filled them with wonder ; but pockets were 
the greatest surprise ; having no idea of clothes, they looked 
upon these as folds in the skin and were amazed to see knives 
and beads, and other things, drawn out of them. 

It is sad that here, on a later voyage, Cook ended his illus- 
trious career, killed by these savages who both loved and 
venerated him. There were thefts and punishments, and a 
flood of excitement and misunderstanding, which he tried to 
stem, but a missile struck him behind and he fell. The natives, 
thinking he was a God and invulnerable, could not believe he 
was dead, and mourned over him ; and they even kept some of 
his bones, and decking them with flowers and feathers they 
worshipped them as late as 1819. 

On landing at Honolulu, one is at once struck by the trees. 
An endless variety of palms gives a delightfully tropical effect, 
but it is the great flowering trees that are the special feature, 
and they are very different from anything I had seen before. 
There are few ground flowers, but the trees and shrubs almost 
aU bloom, the individual blossoms being often of enoimous 
size and of the most searcliingly brilliant colours. Even the 
hedges of hibiscus and alamanda were bursting into flower. 
It seemed unreal and gave something of the impression of 
stage scenery. We had hit upon the most flowery season of 
an ever flowery land. 

The Sandwich Islands. 7 

Cousins who live in Honolulu took charge of us for the day, 
which was all too short for what was to be seen. We first 
spent some time watching the surf roll in. The blue green of 
the sea resolves itself into pure white as the huge waves curl 
and break in endless succession, while the natives ride over 
their crests on planks. They balance themselves in the most 
wonderful manner, often even standing on the planks. It 
looks very dangerous, but they can all swim, and they are very 
skilful, having begun to learn this pastime when they were 
tiny children. 

We next visited the strangely beautiful aquarium, where we 
were able to study carefully the glittering tropical fish, wliich 
were to become so famihar later on, glancing and gleaming 
among the coral flowers in the Fiji waters. These fish are 
of every size and colour and of every shape. Some are gro- 
tesque in the last degree and seem to have been created to 
make one laugh, while others are delicately formed and graceful 
in every motion, as they wind out and in among their rocks. 
Almost all are intensely brilliant and some are as gaudy as 
macaws. There are checks and spots and stripes and dashes. 
Some wave a banner, some have queer little teeth and others 
aggressive looking horns, and they are all unfamiliar. 

We saw much more of the island, which I cannot now stop 
to describe. Every^vhere we were struck with the great 
variety of race and costume among the inhabitants. First 
there were the Hawaiians themselves, in loose European dress, 
with straw hats — fine looking people, the older women rather 
too stout. Then there were the Japanese, the women and 
children very sweet in national dress, and the Chinese, the 
girls too in national dress, pretty graceful figures in long blue 
cotton trousers and short jackets, mth their beautiful black 
hair braided in two long plaits and tied with ribbon. They 
looked very pretty and comfortable as they skipped about 
unencumbered by skirts. And lastlj^ there were Europeans 
in light summer clothing, many of them tanned by the sun to 
a colour almost as dark as that of the natives. 

As we made our way back to the ship, on every side Hawaiian 
flower sellers stood holding out streamers and garlands of 


Islands Far Away. 

flowers of the sweetest and gayest description, in tempting pro- 
fusion. My cousins draped me in them, a pretty old Hawaiian 
custom, and I and all the other passengers looked like May 
Queens as we stood on deck, waiting for the vessel to steam 
off into space again. The assembled crowd on the pier gave 
us a grand good-bye. The fine native Hawaiian band was 
there in military dress, playing the most lovely, heart-reaching 
music, the last a wonderful air composed by a native princess. 
So we sailed away in a dream of music and flowers, and our 
day at Honolulu receded into a happy memory. 


Chapter III. 


On the 20th of June I first saw a coral island, a sight which 
was to become very common, but never commonplace. We 
passed through the Phoenix Group but sighted only Hull 
Island — a little fringe of palm trees Ijang on the horizon. 
From the description I got it appeared to be a true atoll, 
that is a coral island or rim of coral surrounding a lagoon. 
But the chief interest is that turtles abound there, and that 
somehow the inhabitants of Tahiti, which lies 1400 miles off, 
found it out and journeyed thither in their open canoes twice 
a year to get them. It is wonderful that they were able to 
find their way all these miles without a compass to this little 
dot in the great ocean, and that they should have been so fond 
of this food as to venture on such a long and perilous journey 
in search of it, for the canoes must often have been wrecked 
and many lives lost. 

On the morning of June 29th we were to arrive at Suva, the 
big Enghsh port on the island of Viti Levu, or Great Fiji. It 
is the largest of the Fiji Islands, of which there are a great many, 
scattered over a considerable area of sea, nearly eighty being 
inhabited. Viti Levu is ninety miles long by fifty miles wide. 

I had been warned not to expect much of Suva, " very 
English, crowds of commonplace, new, unsubstantial, ugly 
houses " — " close and airless," and according to one, " a 
stuffy dead alive hole." But it would be Fiji. I would soon 
really see Fiji. The thought thrilled me. It would be the 
beginning of, I did not know what, of interesting new ex- 
perience and rich artistic food ; and a very beautiful beginning 
it proved to be. 

I was prepared for what was commonplace, so it passed un- 

10 Islands Far Away. 

heeded ; but I was not prepared for the lovely harbour, with 
its graceful background of islands and mountains, as fine in 
form as I have seen anywhere. Then when we stepped on 
to the pier there was no mistaking where we were, for in no 
place else in the world is there anything quite like the true 
Fijian, and there were some very true types standing about 
on the pier, ready to help with our boat or engaged with others. 
A Fijian is not much good in a mill or any place of that kind ; 
the hard monotonous work does not suit him, and he pines ; 
but give him work with boats or ships and he is one of God's 
finest creatures, and a joy to watch. He is considerably taller 
than the average Englishman, and his physique is massive, 
but not heavy, mth grand proportions, and perfect muscular 
•development. His features, in spite of certain differences 
from any other nation, are not ugly, though they are apt to 
give that impression when seen only in photographs. His 
hair, however, is certainly his crown of glory, and the most 
striking thing about liim at first sight. It is thick and frizzly, 
and stands out all over his head in a compact mass, which is 
cut and shaped, much as we shape ornamental yew trees in 
this country. Each district, I learned afterwards, has its 
own style, so that a Fijian always knows at once where a man 
comes from by the cut of his hair. 

The arrival of the mail steamer is a great event in Suva, and 
all along the pier vendors were squatting, displaying such 
articles as might attract travellers — pure white coral, shells, 
baskets, necklaces. I was struck with the quiet way they 
waited, with none of the deafening clamour of Port Said, or 
Colombo, or Naples. There is a natural politeness about the 
Fijian which prevents him from ever pushing liis wares or 
insisting on notice. 

If you betray an interest he will shew you his things, but 
if you do not want to buy he detects it at once, and tries to 
look as if he had never expected it, but was simply pleased 
with your notice. 

The Club Hotel, which was to be our headquarters for the 
next three months, was very different from the Canadian 
palaces we had been staying in, but it was the best in Suva, 

Arrival in Fiji. 1 1 

the new Royal Pacific Hotel not being completed, and the 
kindness and consideration of Mr. and Mrs. Cox, and their 
delightful Fijian staff, made up for much that was lacking in 
order, fmish and elegance. We were packed into a very 
small room, with two very big beds ; but it opened on to the 
verandah which had a glorious view. There was no place for 
boxes in our room, so they were piled up on the verandah. 
The guests all had their boxes there, and they might often be 
seen rummaging in them, with their belongings spread ail over 
the boards. It looked very untidy, and in moving about we 
had to steer our way carefully, or jump over the tilings. Fiji, 
however, seems to produce an atmosphere of good nature and 
nothing is taken amiss. 

What pleased me most was the Fijian servants. I was glad 
at once to be brought into close quarters with the natives, and 
I realised from the first that we should be in sympathy and 
get on well together. The dress now usually worn is a thin 
white vest, low in the neck and with short sleeves, and a sort 
of kilt or " sulu," as it is called, which consists of a couple of 
yards of material wound round the loins, and skilfully tucked 
in at the waist, so that it remains in place without button or 
tie, and falls down to the knees. The appearance of these 
servants is a little alarming at first, with their strong dark 
copper faces and shocks of soot black hair standing out over 
their heads, and they do not understand much about knocking 
at doors, but slip silently into the rooms on their bare feet to 
attend to their duties. I got quite a fright the first time I 
suddenly found that I was not alone in my room, but that a 
dark figure was noiselessly arranging my mosquito net while 
I was dressing for dinner. He looked at me steadily for a 
moment, his jet black eyes glittering strangely in the candle 
light, then quietly went on with his work. I was later to 
become great friends with these servants. It began with my 
painting, which I have many times found to be the golden key 
opening the door to friendship. Being anxious to get a study 
of a Fijian face, I asked Mr. Cox if he could lend me one of 
his " boys " for an hour. He willingly consented and I 
selected Semi, a fine-looking young fellow who waited on us 


Islands Far Away. 

at table. He was to come and sit on the verandah, so I settled 
myself there with paints and paper ready to immortalize him, 
and I waited, and waited. At last I got hold of one of the 
other boys and managed to make him understand that I 
wanted to know what had become of Semi. " Semi dressing " 
was the answer. A little later Semi was still " dressing." I 
wondered what I was going to see when Semi came. Visions 
presented themselves of shaved heads and best clothes, such 
as I had been afflicted with in Italy and elsewhere under 
similar circumstances, and I wondered if Semi would arrive 
in trousers and a hard hat. Semi however when he did come 
was a vision of delight to an artist. His beautiful 
dark skin was polished with oil till it looked like a well 
kept old mahogany table. His vest was removed, 
and romid his bare shoulders hung a wreath of 
various coloured leaves. But it was his hair which 
had taken the time. It was all so carefully and evenly 
combed out as to present a surface like velvet. To 
do this is a matter of time and requires skill, and 
a wooden comb with teeth about six inches long is 
ij used for the purpose. These combs are troublesome 
to make and are much valued. I had great diffi- 
culty in getting hold of any specimen to bring home. 
I found there was just one to a household and it 
could not be spared. But at last I procured a new 
one at Levuka, and Semi gave me his in exchange. A Fijian's 
pride and joy is his hair. Besides the careful combing he often 
bleaches it with lime to a light yellowish browTi, afterwards in 
the remote districts dyeing it, frequently to the most extra- 
ordinary colours. In the olden days, before the introduction 
of scissors, the hair was kept at least as beautifully and carefully 
cut as it is now, not a hair projected beyond its proper limits, 
and it was all done with a shark's tooth fixed on a stick, or a 
bivalve shell. Dressing the hair occupied hours, and the chiefs 
always had barbers, often more than one, whose sole duty was 
to dress it. The work was considered of so sacred a nature, that 
the barbers were not permitted to touch anything else with their 
hands, they might not even lift their own food to their lips. 


Arrival in Fiji. 



but had to be fed by another man, and the cup too, at the great 
yangona drinkings, was held to their lips for them. Every little 
lock of hair was separately attended to and spread out so that not 
infrequently the whole mass measured a yard or more across. 
This elaborate work of art had to be taken care of. At night 
there could be no burying the head in a nice soft pillow ; 
instead of this they used, and 
indeed still use, a thick piece 
of bamboo, or a bar of wood, 
or little round log carefully 
polished and set up on legs, and 
this is placed under the neck. 
It seems a veritable instrument 
of torture and a truly great 

sacrifice to the exigencies of the Goddess of Fashion. We offer 
up many of our comforts at her shrine, but this seems to go 
beyond anything we ever do. People, however, appear to be 
able to habituate themselves to anything, and I have seen the 
Fijians lie dowai on the floor, and, tucking the queer little stools 
under their necks, drop off into a most enviable sound, pleasant 

Semi squatted in front of me in true Fijian fashion, with his 
legs crossed, and I made a quick sketch in the little time that 
remained for the work. There was something very interesting 
about his face, in common with all those of the nicer Fijians, 
a strange sort of wdstfulness, and an expression, especially in 
the eyes, which reminded me of wild animals. I have seen 
the same far away look in a caged lion, as with drawn brows, 
he gazed beyond me, more and more intently, till I wondered 
what his mind was conjuring up of the wild jungle where he 
would be. 

Semi was enraptured with his portrait. All the " boys " 
came up to see it, and they were delighted, they could not see 
enough of it. I could find no place to hide it in my room 
where it was not pulled out and examined, as also were sub- 
sequent sketches of other " boys." 

One of my next models was very funny. He placed himself 
where he could see and be seen from the road, and then he put 


Islands Far Away. 

himself into the most extraordinary attitudes for the benefit 
of his friends who passed by. He went through a good deal 
of violent action, better adapted for a cinematograph than for 


my purpose, but I enjoyed watching him, even if there were 
no great tesult on paper. 

For the first few days I was alone in Suva, Mrs. Hopkins 
having gone to see some of her friends and discuss our future 
plans and arrangements with them. I was rather glad to be 
alone, for I was in a wonderland, which was no wonderland 










1 6 Islands Far Aw 


to her, and I wanted time quietly to think and to gaze. I took 
long walks by the shore and up among the hills above the 
town, whence the view of the ranges of mountains on the 
other side of the harbour was very fine, and the rich tropical 
vegetation made a charming foreground. There was not the 
wealth of flowering trees we had met with at Honolulu, but 
of course it was winter here, though it had been summer there. 
At no time, however, is Fiji very flowery, on account of the 
heavy rainfall, but there is a rich harmony about the foliage, 
which is very pleasing, and with which I felt rather more at 
home. Sometimes indeed, when in the bush, among green 
trees and feathery ferns, I was reminded of the west coast of 

I wandered about the little town, the pier, and the shore, 
watching with special interest the Fijians whom I saw, and 
what struck me most was their love of ornament ; they take 
every opportunity of decorating themselves, and it looked 
very strange to see grown men with wreaths on their heads 
and garlands round their necks, standing gravely chatting 
with other men, or occupied with boats, or carrying boxes and 
other things. 

Everything was new and strange to me, and I had even to 
make acquaintance for myself with the wayside flowers and 
grasses, and the birds on the shore, and with the everchanging 
marvellous sky of Fiji, which lends such charm to its sea and 

On Sunday I went to the native church, and heard for the 
first time, what was to be a source of endless delight, our old 
familiar hymn tunes sung in parts by the Fijians. Their 
voices are rich and beautiful, and well adapted to this simple 
harmony. The effect is impressive and grand, like the eternal 
roll of the ocean surf on their coral reefs. 

Mrs. Hopkins came back very bright, and replete with plans 
for our future, exciting enough to banish sleep and fill me with 
keen anticipation. The first visit was to be to Mr. and Mrs. 
Spence at Naitonitoni, where Mr. Spence was Magistrate. 

The intervening days were full of interest. Mrs. Hopkins 
and I both had introductions to Ratu Pope Seniloli, and he 

Arrival in Fiji. \^ 

came to see us. " Ratu " is a term of respect applied only 
to chiefs. It corresponds better to the title " Don " in Spanish 
than to anything else I can think of. He is a handsome man, 
and speaks English well, having been educated at Auckland 
and spent a good deal of time there, but he has not adopted 
the clipped hair and trousers, which are so unbecoming to a 
native ; there is therefore notliing to mar his natural grace. 
The Fijian chief is very superior to the " kai-si " (commoner). 
He is generally taller and better built, with smaller and better 
shaped hands and feet, and a much more intellectual and 
refined face. The Fijians hold the truest and highest ideal 
for their aristocracy, and their chiefs have prided themselves 
for generations on being able to do everything better than 
their people — swimming, rowing, sailing, fishing, and even 
house and canoe building, and their wives excel in all the 
feminine arts, such as mat and basket weaving, and tapa (native 
cloth) making. I possess a most beautiful piece of tapa made 
and painted by Audi Torika, Ratu Pope's wife. " Andi " for a 
woman corresponds to " Ratu " for a man, and indicates a 
lady of high position. The tapa is six yards long, and must 
have been a serious bit of hard work. It is made from the 
bark of the Masi tree, which is taken off in long strips and 
steeped in water. Then it is beaten out with a grooved mallet 
of hard wood, till it assumes somewhat the texture of fine new 
linen. The strips are beaten together, one after the other, and 
so completely welded into each other, with a paste made from 
arrowroot, that it is almost impossible to detect any joins. 
The finer kinds are bleached in the sun till they are snow 
white. The painting is a very elaborate operation. It is done 
in several ways, but the best is obtained by a kind of stencil 
work. The pattern is cut with a sharp shell into banana 
leaves, which have been heated at the fire till they have a soft 
leathery consistency. This is then laid on the material, and 
the colour is applied with a soft wad of fibre, dipped in a dye 
produced from red earth, or vegetable charcoal, mixed with 
the juice of the candle nut, or bread fruit tree, sometimes with 
the addition of a little of the juice of the sugar cane. The 
finishing touches are put in afterwards with a feather. Boards 

I 8 Islands Far Away. 

^vith the raised pattern carved on them are also used in mncli 
the same way as we use a printing frame at home, but the 
result in this case is not so clear and good. There is a third 
and very primitive method still in use. On a flat surface 
made of palm leaves closely sewn together, a raised pattern 
is traced with strips from the mid rib of the leaf sewn firmly 
down. This is wetted with the dj^e, and the impression is got 
by laying the material on it, and pressing it down, so that it is- 
brought in close contact with the raised portions, from whicli 
it receives the colour. Ratu Sukuna, one of the chiefs, told 
me his mother made a great deal of tapa and printed it in this- 

Ratu Pope had many charming plans for our entertainment^ 
but nothing came of them, partly no doubt because he was- 
very busy in the government service at Suva. 

One day we went at low tide to the reef, and saw some of the 
wonderful tropical fish at play among the coral flowers. One 
tiny little fish abounded, of a brilliant turquoise colour, whicli 
glanced and glittered in the water, and a flash of yellow or 
orange would indicate the passage of some large fish, whose 
movements were too rapid for us to distinguish its shape. 
There were also odd sponges, and starfish of a rich ultramarine- 
colour. We were fortunate enough to come upon some men 
fishing, and very picturesque they looked, with their brown 
skins against the blue water, and their long fish spears, which, 
they wielded with skill and precision. I perched myself on 
a slippery rock and tried to sketch them, but clinging to my 
precarious seat, it was no eas}^ task, and the tide rose so quickly 
that I soon found myself surrounded by deep water and in 
danger of being submerged, till one of the men good-naturedly 
carried me back to safe quarters. It was most interesting to 
watch the quick and easy way they possessed themselves of 
the fish. They stood motionless as statues, gazing down into 
the water, then suddenly the spear flew and a fish was caught. 
Or a hand was plunged into the water and a fish grasped and 
brought up. And such fish ! They did not seem real. There 
was every imaginable shape and every colour of the rainbow, 
like those we saw in the Honolulu aquarium. The men were 


Islands Far Away. 

pleased with our interest, and kindly gave us a bunch to take 
home and eat. I tried painting some of them but the exqui- 
site brilliancy soon faded from them, when lifeless and exposed 
to the air. 

^ -x;;^ 


Chapter IV. 


Starting for Naitonitoni proved more exciting than we ex- 
pected, especially for my companion. It lies at the opposite 
side of the harbour near the mouth of the Navua, one of the 
five great rivers of Fiji, and a steam launch plies daily ; the 
hour at which it starts depending on the tide. We ascertained 
the approximate hour and were waiting on the pier before it 
came in, to make sure of being in time. Launches from Rewa 
and other places were already there waiting, when at last it 
appeared and made its way among them. As it did not look 
very clean, and it was exposed to the sun, which was already 
very hot, we did not feel inclined to get on board sooner than 
was necessary, so after seeing our luggage put on, we stood 
waiting on the pier. Then we thought that, as a horn should 
warn us five minutes before starting, we had better seek shelter 
from the sun. I went into a kind of shed with seats, close by, 
and was entertained studying Fijian women with their funny 
little black eyed babies, who had also taken refuge there. I 
could not see the Naitonitoni launch, because the one from 
Rewa was in front, but as it was booked to start first, I felt 
perfectly safe as long as it was there and no horn had sounded. 
Soon, however, a Fijian came in and cheerfully told me 
" Launchee gone." Jumping up, I was horrified to see our 
launch making its way out to sea with all our tilings on board. 
I shouted and gesticulated but it was no use : on it went. 
Turning round I saw my companion coming leisurely up the 
pier. She was so positive about the horn, that it was some 
time before she grasped what had happened. We learned 
afterwards that the horn had been stopped because its blast 

22 Islands Far Away. 

was too much for the sensitive ears of the Suva people. What 
was to be done ? That was the next question. The launch 
would not ply again till next daj^ our hosts were expecting us 
and all our things had gone on. Mrs. Hopkins went off to 
find and consult her brother, Mr. Frank Williams, who was in 
the U.S.S. office close to the pier, and I took shelter behind 
a pile of wood and amused myself by studying the very 
abundant sensitive plant. It was most interesting to watch 
how, at the slightest touch, the whole plant shrivels up, as if 
it were absolutely dead. Not only do the leaves clap them- 
selves together, but all the petioles and all the minor stems, 
drop limplj^ down ; the effect is magical. Taking the time 
by my watch, I found it to be exactly three minutes after 
being touched before the stems again rose, the leaves spread 
out and the fairy-like little plant w^as itself again. I was very 
busy and perfectly happy, when I perceived Mrs. Hopkins 
rushing distractedly down from the pier. I seemed to have 
placed myself where she could not fail to see me, but she had 
missed me. After securing a private launch with considerable 
difficulty, she came to look for me and passed me by. No- 
where could I be found and no one had seen me. I must have 
seen some boat that interested me, and, intent on getting a 
better view, must have walked absent-mindedly over the edge, 
where a hungry shark had devoured me, sketch book and all, 
leaving no trace. I hope Jonah's friends were half as relieved 
when his whale gave liim up to them, as Mrs. Hopkins was 
when her visionary shark returned me to her, but the fright 
left a severe headache that spoiled for her the delightful trip 
across the harbour, in a nice clean boat, with a pleasant man. 
The water was so clear that as we crossed patches of reef, we 
could see the coral on the bottom and the gay fish glancing 
and glittering among it. 

Midway we sighted the other launch and signalled it. We 
were glad that they perceived us, for, not laiowing what to 
do with our luggage, they had brought it back. It was not 
very easy to get it transferred from one boat to the other, for 
the wdnd had got up, and the sea was rather rough. But at 
the imminent risk of its being dropped into the sea it was 

Fijian Architecture. 23 

pitched over and caught, and higgage and all we arrived safe 
a,t the Naitonitoni pier. 

Our hosts had given up hope of us and settled down to 
dinner, so they were not a little surprised when we walked in, 
but they gave us a hearty welcome, and it was very pleasant 
to find ourselves in a home, and a very pretty, comfortable 
home too, with a gracious hostess ; and neither she nor her 
husband ever spared time or trouble or anytliing else, in their 
bountiful hospitality to us, during such opportunities as our 
time in Fiji afforded. Indeed I may say that we were treated 
with the utmost kindness and consideration wherever we went, 
both by the English residents and by the natives. All Mrs. 
Hopkins' old friends were delighted to testify that they had 
not forgotten her, and every one seemed anxious to show me 
everything, though I fear I may sometimes have been rather 
a bore with my many questions, but nothing was ever 
made a trouble, and magistrates, managers, planters, cap- 
tains, natives, all united in giving me every advantage in 
their power for my painting, and when I came away, I strapped 
up a big load of grateful remembrance to carry to my Norfolk 
home where I can spread it out and enjoy it at leisure. 

The Magistrate's house at Naitonitoni is small and a native 
" mbure " has been added, in the garden close to the sea, for the 
accommodation of the numerous visitors who come to this 
popular spot within such easy reach of Suva. 

The " mbure " is built in perfect native style, and as, with 
modifications, it is characteristic of all the native houses in 
which so much of our time was to be spent, I shall give a little 
description of it here. 

First there is a raised platform of stones and earth ; and 
the earth well flattened do^vn forms the floor. On this the 
house is placed, and from outside it looks like a large haystack. 
The sloping roof is thatched with reeds or sugar cane and is 
very thick. And the ridge pole, wliich is black, projects a 
considerable distance beyond at each end. This is very 
characteristic, and in the houses of high chiefs it is always 
covered with white cowrie shells. These shells are absolutely 
sacred to chiefs, who decorate their doorways \vith them, and 

24 Islands Far Away. 

their yangona bowls and their clubs, and they used to wear 
them round their necks or on their girdles. If a commoner 
had had the hardihood to adopt a single one, the club would 
have been the result. Even now it is looked upon as a grave 
offence worthy of serious resentment and punishment. 

The walls of the houses, which are also very thick, are 
covered on the outside with makita leaves tied together with 
strips of bark. The bunches are fitted in, and attached neatly 
and closely one above the other, with the leaves pointing 
downwards, so as to form a compact surface. When new, the 
colour is much like that of red winter beech leaves, but after 
long exposure to the weather, it assumes a delicate purpUsh 
grey. These w^ell directed leaves throw off the heavy tropical 
rain, and the thick walls and roof keep out the sun, and temper 
the heat, at the same time allowing the air to percolate, so 
that a Fiji house is cool and never close, and altogether could 
not be better adapted to the climate. 

The interior however is the striking part. The pleasing, 
though ordinary shape and appearance of the outside, does 
not prepare one for the unique grandeur of the inside. It 
impresses one afresh each time one enters. The perfect sim- 
plicity, the symmetry, the fine proportions, and the tasteful 
and harmonious use of natural materials, satisfy the mind like 
beautiful Gothic or Norman architecture, and it is very sad 
to think how ephemeral these buildings must necessarily be. 
There is nothing used in the construction which can defy time,, 
and a house only lasts ten or fifteen years, or at the most 
twenty years. 

The whole house is constructed without the use of a single 
nail, all the joints and beams and cross bars being carefully 
fitted and bound together wdth sinnet, a strong string made 
of coconut fibre. The natural colour of the string varies, 
from light terra cotta to deep rich brown, and when soaked 
in the muddy ooze of the sluggish streams, it takes a good 
black. In binding, these colours are skilfully worked together 
so as to form symmetrical and beautiful patterns, in great 
variety, and, each town having its own design, the design in- 
dicates the habitat of the artificer. Sometimes a hundred or 



26 Islands Far Away. 

more men are employed at one time in building a house, and 
how they manage to work without hopelessly incommoding 
each other is a mystery. 

When a house is to be built, the chief sends round to his 
people in the various surrounding villages and commands them 
to come and do it. If a council house, or chief's house, or anj^ 
house of importance be required, with much elaborate work- 
manship, workers are brought in large numbers and from very 
considerable distances. They get no pay, but are handsomely 
provided for, as long as they are at work. They enjoy it 
immensely, and do not hurry, so it often proves a very ex- 
pensive business, and when at last they finish and go home, 
there is not much left to eat in the town. The place might 
have been swept by a swarm of locusts, only that the locusts 
would have spared the pigs, while the builders clear off these 

Tree trunks and branches form the frame work of all the 
houses. These are not cut or squared, but only barked and 
carefully scraped and smoothed, and being round, the upright 
posts have the effect of majestic pillars. The two end ones 
are called " king posts " and are very large. In the olden 
days, with nothing but stone axes, it must have been no small 
task to cut down and dress these trees. In the chief's houses 
and in the temples they were of immense size, and it took 
sometimes as many as two hundred men to drag them from 
their native woods and get them into position. Great rope- 
like vines, which in Fiji are exceedingly strong, were passed 
under them, and a hundred men or so at each side pulled them 
along, the butt end first. A gradual slope of earth was made 
which ended abruptly over the hole prepared for the post, 
and up this slope the post was brought, till its end was well 
over the hole ; the earth was dug away from under it till it 
overbalanced and dropped into the hole ; then it was pulled 
up into the perpendicular with the help of the vines. 

It was the custom in the old heathen days, always, in any 
important building to put a serf or two into the hole, and make 
them stand clasping the post, till the hole was filled in and they 
-were buried alive, and they seem to have submitted with 

Fijian Architecture. 27 

perfect calm to the inevitable. These posts thus became 
tombstones, and as they are of hard enduring wood (vesi), in 
many places where all else has disappeared, they stand, grim 
recorders of the savage deed. 

In addition to the actual frame-work of the house, there 
are posts all round the walls, made of the trunks of tree-ferns, 
and these are most ornamental. The surface has the appear- 
ance of black velvet, and the sinnet work which attaches them 
to the walls contrasts pleasantly with it. The inside walls 
are reeded, the reeds being beautifully laid and tied with 
sinnet so as to form patterns. 

In the true native house there is no furniture, and nothing 
is allowed to lie about to disturb the quiet harmony of the 
building. The floor is covered with quantities of ferns and 
grass, and over these large mats are laid, on which the inhabi- 
tants squat, or sit, or lie. In this house, of course there was 
European furniture, light and elegant. 

The great objection to a Fijian house is its tendency to 
harbour rats, ^vith which the country is infested. They are 
very noisy at night and may be seen at any time runnmg up 
and down the beams and along the rafters. One here was 
most attentive to me : my companion and I occupied oppo- 
site ends of the great room, but the rat kept to my end. 
The first morning I was surprised to find a big hole in 
the side of my painting bag. I could not imagine how it 
had happened, till I remembered that I had had an apple 
which was gone, then I knew Mr. Rat must have been 
there. I should not have grudged him the apple, if he 
had only gone in by the front door and not made an 
entrance for himself. Next morning my candle was gone, 
neatly extracted from the candlestick. What annoyed me 
most, however, was that the culprit had dragged some red 
hibiscus on to the dainty white toilet cover, which caused 
great black stains. He had climbed up the flowers and sat 
on the vase to get out the candle. Next morning it was my 
soap that was taken, a nice scented piece which I had left on 
the floor in its dish after my bath. I blamed myself for leavmg 
it there, and next night I was particular to put the dish on the 

28 Islands Far Away. 

basin stand. But the soap was taken again. It was really- 
provoking, for scented soap, I was sure, must be expensive 
in Fiji, and I hated to ask for more. This time I put 
it under the soap dish on the basin stand, but I could hardly 
believe my eyes next morning when once more it was gone, 
and this time it was a big bit. I was much teased by my 
good natured host and hostess, who insisted that I was making 
a collection of articles necessary for the visit to Namosi and 
other wild parts, which we were planning. Afterwards I 
Avrapped my soap up in a handkerchief and put it under my 
pillow, and it was safe. It was a satisfaction to learn that 
when another lady and her daughter occupied the room after 
we left, Mr. Rat continued his depredations. He helped him- 
self to more soap, and being a very clean rat he also took a 
tooth brush. A search was made, and his hole was found in 
the thick thatch of the wall, and in the hole a wonderful col- 
lection of articles, among them the said tooth brush and all 
my soap, hardly touched ; so I was absolved. 

Excepting for rats, we were never troubled with vermin in 
any part of Fiji. I never even saw a flea all the time I was 
there. Here, and in the rest of my narrative, I am simply re- 
counting my own experience, which was limited to three and 
a half months. I am told, however, that in tliis last particular 
I was unusually fortunate and that there are sometimes regular 
plagues of fleas, which come on quite suddenly and even invade 
Government House. 


Chapter V. 


Here, as in the Club Hotel, the servants were Fijian boys 
dressed alike, and with bright responsive faces. Very 
efficient they were, to judge by the appearance and arrange- 
ments of the house, for everything was in good order, and the 
food elegantly and well served. Mrs. Spence, however, was 
at the top and bottom of everything, and if she had not been 
ever vigilant and ever active, early and late, there would have 
been little comfort in the house. She had to act puss all the 
time, for never is the old adage " When the cat's away the 
mice will play," better exemplified than among Fijian servants. 
As long as they are superintended, they can do good work, but 
it is laid down for amusement directly the watchful eye is 

A young Fijian chief, Ratu Sukuna (or, to give him his full 
name, Josef a Lala Vana-aliali Sukuna), who visited me in 
Norfolk, was amazed that a man and a little boy could 
accomplish the work in my garden. " Whj^ ? " he said, " Six 
Fijian men could not keep it like that, so much of their time 
would always be spent resting under those shady trees ! '' 
To find the gardeners always at work, at any time in the day, 
without being watched was a great surprise to him. 

Our hostess gave us most recherche little dinners with an 
endless variety of tempting dishes. One pretty entree was 
crowned with what I took to be a bright little radish, which I 
popped into my inexperienced mouth. Alas and alack it was 
a red pepper, the hottest of the hot ! My face was crimson in 
a moment and the tears were running down my cheeks, and 
my mouth felt as though the skin had been torn off. The 


Islands Far Awa 


company were full of sympathy and greatly distressed. Fresh 
butter was given me to sup, which relieved the pain a little, 
but it was some time before I had any sense of taste again. 

The servants resided in native houses about the place, and 
as I wandered round in the morning in search of a sketch, I 
selected the dearest of little laughing babies ^dthout a stitch 
on, but I had to fetch Mrs. Hopkins to explain what I wanted. 
The mother looked pleased, but went off mth the baby saying 
she would bring it back soon. From the recesses of one of the 

haystack-like houses screams arose, and 
went on increasing for some time, till 
at last the mother emerged again, carry- 
ing such a changed little mite, all in 
European dress, buttoned up to the 
neck and down to the wrists, and with 
a sad little puckered face, damp with 
tears. I could not paint it and the 
mother looked very disappointed, but 
Mrs. Hopkins kindly came to the res- 
cue and took a photograph, which turned 
out better in the end, for a few weeks 
later the little thing died, and she sent 
the broken-hearted mother a copy, 
which was her one consolation. 

I looked round for another subject 
for my brush, and perceived a bonny 
little boy of four, nearly in a state of 
nature. When I indicated my desire, 
this time a pleased father carried off 
the child to attend to his toilet, and 
disappeared with him into another of 
the haystacks. Greatly alarmed, I followed to try and 
prevent mischief. Fortunately " Meke '" (war dance) dress 
was considered the most suitable for a boy, and I had the 
pleasure of watching all the preparations. First his little 
garment was removed, and he was oiled all over and 
polished from head to toe with the palm of his father's hand, 
very vigorously, much as one might polish a metal teapot. 


Fijian Servants. 31 

When he was considered sufficiently shiny, a gay little " sulu " 
(loin cloth) was put on. Then various leafy vines were selected 
and plaited together, to form a garland for his neck, and 
wound round his little arms above the elbow, which last deco- 
ration was finished with a big red hibiscus blossom. Lastly a 
small knotted stick was put in his hand to represent a club, and 
the little man was ready. His father carried him out and 
placed liim in front of the house, where he stood as stiff and 
still as a statue till he almost fainted. I had to hurry to finish 
my sketch as I could not make him understand that he might 
have a rest. The father watched its progress with infinite 
delight, and every inhabitant of the place had to see it when 
it was done. 

It is almost impossible to catch the Fijians of to-day in easy 
natural positions, they pose at once, as soon as they see sketch 
book or camera. I tried to draw another graceful little boy, 
but he immediately straightened himself up, and three other 
little boys came and stood in a row beside him. I could not 
make them understand that it was not what I wanted, so to 
please them I began to draw. When I looked up bye and bye, 
to my surprise there were five, and the middle one was white. 
It was a little visitor, who, with his mother, was also staging 
at Naitonitoni, and who had been most earnestly longing for 
me to immortalize him. He was just as stiff as the rest, and 
in exactly the same attitude. All five were as grave as judges 
and the effect was intensely comic. 

Among the many delightful plans for our enjoyment were 
two water picnics, one by sea, and one by river. 

For the first we went in a rowing boat out to the little coral 
island of Nuku-wailala, a very pretty expedition. On the way 
we faced the island of Mbenga which is a conspicuous point in 
the view from Naitonitoni. It has a pleasing outline, having 
much the same contour as Arran from Largs. But the great 
interest connected with it is that firewalking is still practised 
there. I much regret that I had not the opportunity of 
seeing it for myself, but I have heard it described by Mrs. 
Hopkins and other eye witnesses. 

It is only done on important occasions. Great preparations 

32 Islands Far Away. 

are made for a feast and the natives assemble in gala dress, 
those who are to perform wearing only scanty costumes of 
fresh leaves and grass. They gather round a circular pit, 
several feet deep and some fifteen feet across, which has been 
lined with large stones and filled with heaps of firewood. The 
wood is ignited and allowed to bum furiously till the stones 
are white hot and cracking, so that they sometimes throw off 
pieces which fall among the spectators ; the wood is then 
whipped out vnth loops of vines tied to long sticks. The heat 
proceeding from the hole is so intense that it is impossible to 
stand near it. Mrs. Hopkins told me that she leaned forward 
and held her handkerchief over it, and it immediately caught 
fire. Into this burning fiery furnace, like Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abednego of old, these Fijians leap with a wild shout and 
walk unflinchingly across. Then quantities of leaves are 
thrown in and volumes of steam arise, into the middle of which 
they again descend, and then step briskly out. Not a hair is 
singed and there is not a blister on their bodies or feet. Yet 
as soon as they come out, the yams and taro for the feast are 
put in among the seething-leaves, and in the course of an hour 
are cooked ready for eating. 

We found a shady nook among the tropical vegetation of 
Nuku-wailala, where our swarthy boatmen kindled a fire and 
boiled our kettle and we enjoyed our tea. Then, in the glow 
of a gorgeous sunset, we made our way back. 

As we passed along near the shore, I caught a glimpse under 
the tall palms of a cluster of native houses, indicating the 
presence of a most charmingly situated Fijian village, and I 
was seized with a great desire to go and stay there. It had 
been decided that, before going into the heart of the moun- 
tains, we should make a trial trip to some village, within easier 
reach of civilisation, to see how I should stand the rough life. 
There had been much discussion concerning which place to 
choose, but to my mind this place, Vuni-mbau, seemed to offer 
every advantage, so the magistrate kindly said he would look 
into the matter and make arrangements for us. 

Our next picnic was a great affair, lasting a whole day and 
taking us away up the country. It ended our visit to 

Fijian Servants. 33 

Naitonitoni, for we branched off at the end of the day to 
Tamanua, where a visit to the sugar estate there was to begin 
with a dance, to which our whole party was invited by the 
manager and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan. 

We were up betimes on the morning of July 13th, and our 
expedition commenced with a drive over a rough road in two 
extraordinary, ramshackle carriages, with rather ragged Indian 
drivers. At Thambia, where we reached the primitive sugar 
railway, I had my first drive in a sugar truck. It is not a 
luxurious way of travelling but it is better than luxurious, for 
it is entertaining and exhilarating. Some of the officials con- 
nected with the mills have light trucks of their o^vn, fitted 
with benches, otherwise the ordinary uncovered iron trucks 
for transporting sugar cane are used, rough seats being put 

Indians act as the locomotives, sometimes running and push- 
ing the trucks, but more often standing inside and poling with 
long sticks. In the latter way a great speed is acquired and 
there is considerable liability to a spill, if there should be any 
little obstruction, or if the pointing of the lines be not right ; 
but I have never heard of a serious accident. There is but a 
single line of rails, so if another truck be met, one of the two 
must be lifted off the line till the other is pushed past. Some- 
times a long line of trucks is on the way, and considerable delay 
is caused ; but what matter ? We have the whole day before us 
and can be happy and laugh as well at one place as another. 
There is no need to hurry, we are out of the world's feverish 
rush here, and long may it be before Fiji is drawn into the 

From the railway terminus we walked across to the Navua 
river, and joined it at the village of Raiwanga. I now had the 
opportunity not only of seeing, but also of walking in a 
Fijian village, and there is nothing in the world more peace- 
fully beautiful. Such harmony is very seldom attained 
between human dwellings and their natural setting. The little 
brown houses nestle pleasantly down among the tall waving 
palms and the big leaved bread-fruit trees, while the inhabi- 
tants, quietly working, or sitting chatting in little groups about 

34 Islands Far Away. 

the doors, add to the pervading sense of repose, and there are 
no rubbish heaps and nothing ugly or offensive to detract 
from the charm. I was not sorry that there was a Httle delay 
about our boats, and it was good news that we were to stop 
here for tea on our way back. 

Two boats took our party up the beautiful river. Our 
boatmen were all Fijians, and as the magistrate's own servants 
would not have been enough, he brought also a couple of 
prisoners from the little gaol connected with his court house. 
They were very conspicuous with their close shaven hair, the 
cutting of which must be a great mortification to a Fijian, 
and with their coarse sliirts, stamped with a broad-arrow, 
but they were not at all alarming, and their faces looked 
more stupid than bad. It must have been a nice change for 
them, and I think they enjoyed the picnic as much as any of 
us. One of the other men made a wreath which he wore in 
his hair all day, and no one thought it unusual. 

The final objective of our expedition was a pretty waterfall 
in a glen which ran up from the river. Our host had sent men 
the day before to cut a path through the dense vegetation 
from the river to the falls. We would think twice in England 
before giving a picnic if all this had to be done. 

Having settled ourselves in a cool shady little dell beside 
the tinkling water, which gathered in a clear translucent pool 
at our feet, the big picnic basket was unpacked, and the 
Fijians were soon busy with preparations for dinner. Some 
bestired themselves to catch prawns in the stream, while others 
kindled a fire and put on the kettle, and arranged yams in a 
row to cook. We all partook heartily, the genial company 
and the pleasant surroundings making everything taste 

The river seemed even more beautiful on the return trip, for 
we had a lovely sky ; and in the glow of the sunset we had tea 
at Raiwanga. Here we branched off for Tamanua, and it was 
pitch dark before we reached our destination. We had all 
our evening clothes with us in a basket, and on our way we 
stopped at the hospital, where the superintendent kindly 
allowed us to dress in his own rooms. It must have been 

Fijian Servants. 


rather a change for him when a company of ladies took pos- 
session of his place and made free with his things. He was 
very kind, however, and regaled us with some most acceptable 
coffee, before we started to grope our way up the long, steep 
hill to the manager's house. 


Chapter VI. 


The Tamanua house, to which we were going, is on top of the 
largest of many volcanic cones which dot the wide alluvial 
plain, through which, after its wild dash from the mountains, 
the Navua river calmly winds its way to the sea. The bril- 
liant day had ended in a slight drizzle, the ground was slippery 
with mud and the road exceedingly rough. We tucked up our 
evening dresses, however, and stumbled along. Some of the 
gentlemen connected with the mill had joined us, and they 
knew the way well, so we reached in safety the interminable 
flight of stone steps which lead from the plain to the top of the 
steep cone, on which the house is perched without an inch of 
level ground around it. 

We were a little late, and the company had already assem- 
bled. To us, emerging from the darkness, the scene looked 
very pretty and gay, in the light of the acetylene gas, the men 
all in white, and the ladies in graceful evening gowns ; for the 
English ladies in Fiji dress well, though generally as the 
result of their own busy needles. 

The ladj^ of the house stepped forward to meet us with her 
two sweet little girls, very creditable specimens of a second 
generation in Fiji. They became great friends of mine, and 
their unbounded admiration for ni}^ work started them on the 
thorny path of artistic ambition. 

There is no division between the large dining room and the 
hall, so there was a fine space for dancing on the smoothly 
polished floors, and it went gaily on till one o'clock in the 
morning ; then there was music for an hour, mostly very 
spirited singing on the part of the young men, who at lastj 

Life on a Sugar Estate. 37 

with the help of a broad hint from the host, went off with 
great reluctance about two o'clock m the morning. 

These little gatherings are held very frequently, for the sake 
more particularly of the young fellows connected with the mill. 
They have a very refining influence, and help to keep up the 
tone of the whole sugar-mill community, and to prevent the 
laxity and degeneration to which people are liable in far away 
regions and hot climates. I have stayed with the managers 
of three of the great sugar estates of Fiji, and I came away 
with the highest opinion of them and of their wives. They 
seem to me to realise the responsibility of their position, and 
to use it for good. The managers had not only the welfare of 
their mills at heart, but the welfare of their men, and although 
themselves grave and serious, they fostered and encouraged 
in leisure time, innocent gaity among the people, gi\dng a sense 
of happy fellowship, which is very pleasant ; and their wives, 
in the position of queens of the little community, helped them 

Life on a sugar estate is c^uite different from life elsewhere 
in Fiji. The Fijian element is conspicuous by its absence. 
The servants are all Indians, the labourers are all Lidians, 
and the mill-hands are all Indians, Well trained East 
Indians make very good servants, they do their work quietly 
and well, and look very ornamental, their curiously wrapped 
and folded white drapery, little, tight, wliite jackets, and large 
white turbans, contrasting with their intensely dark skins. 

In their perfect decorum, erect carriage, and unchanging 
expression, they seem ideal servants to those who like auto- 
maton service ; but I missed the enthusiastic blundering at- 
tention of our friends at the Club Hotel, where there was heart 
in everything they did : in hurrying to serve us, often bringing 
us things before they were cooked, and as they flew across the 
room with our coffee, jostling up against each other and 
spilling it into the saucer — delighted when praised, but fear- 
fully crestfallen when blamed. These quiet Lidians have 
something stealthy in their movements, which always gave 
me a sense of uneasiness, and I never felt inclined to trust 
them. Indeed, when I was sketcliing among Indians, it was 

38 Islands Far Away. 

not comfortable, endless little things disappeared, and I had 
to look carefully after my belongings ; if I even laid my leather 
strap down beside me it was carried off, and so silently that 
I could never detect the culprit, while on the contrary, sur- 
rounded by Fijians I never missed anything. In Suva I 
dropped my gold watch with chain and seals, and was told 
there was no hope of getting it back ; there were so many 
Indians about that one of them would be sure to find it 
and melt it down at once. The crier, however, " cried it," and 
it turned out to have been found by one of our own " boys " 
who was dehghted to return it to me, and was surprised and 
pleased when I gave him ten shillings. 

The Tamanua house has a very fine view, commanding from 
its elevation a wide panorama, bounded on one side by the 
sea, and on the other side by the jagged range of the Namosi 
mountains, into whose recesses we were to plunge by-and-by. 
Nearer, stretches the alluvial plain, everywhere planted with 
sugar cane, the cheerful green of which is here and there in- 
terrupted by newly ploughed ground. Along the furrows, 
horses may be seen guided by picturesque Indians, but in 
this hot climate horses have to be treated with great care. 
Too long hours, too hard work, or above all exposure to the 
hot sun, would be fatal, so at a certain signal they are all 
withdrawn for the mid-day siesta. 

The plain is watered by many streams, and the stately 
Navua winds through it in graceful curves, spanned by a very 
wide bridge, which I was told was an engineering feat, and 
which stretches over the river and the uncertain marshy ground 
on each side. But the most important point in the whole 
view is " The Mill." The mill-buildings are on the bank of 
the river, the tall chimney projected against the sea, and were 
not so ugly as I expected. They suit the surroundings, and 
the red roofs, partly screened by sheltering palm trees, tone 
with the landscape. Within reach of every sugar-estate 
there must be a mill, as the cane wastes very quickly when 
cut, and it has to be crushed within twenty-four hours ; so 
all the work has to go on at once, which involves a large staff 
of labourers. While the mill is doing its work, busy hands 

Life on a Sugar Estate. 39 

are cutting the tall cane and carrying it to the trucks, the 
narrow railways for which intersect the whole plain. As 
soon as the trucks are loaded, they are taken in long trains to 
the mill. The manager very kindly took me over the mill, 
showed me everything and explained the whole working. I 
was very much interested and wished I had some knowledge 
of engineering to enable me to grasp it better. 

As the heavily laden trucks presented themselves one by 
one in front of the mill, great hooks descended and, picking 
the cane off the trucks, drew it up a long slope, where it passed 
between the crushers, and the juice, which looked like dirty 
water, was squeezed out and flowed away in streams. When 
the crushers have done with the cane, the juice has been so 
completely extracted as to leave nothing but dry fibre, which 
does not even taste sweet to the tongue. The juice has to go 
through many processes before it becomes sugar. It is first 
clarified, by putting in lime which precipitates the extraneous 
matter, the sediment being then automatically removed by 
means of a great conical continuous subsider, and carried to 
filter-presses where every drop of juice is got out, and nothing 
remains but solid blocks of mud. Meanwhile all the juice 
flows in a clear stream to the multiple evaporators, from which 
it emerges concentrated and viscid but still quite fluid. It 
next passes from one to another of three great vacuum-pans 
where it is kept boiling. It is boiled in vacuo in order to 
prevent it from becoming uncrystallizable. If boiled under 
full atmospheric pressure it would become uncrystallizable 
(that is sim])le treacle). There is always some waste in the 
form of treacle, but by boiling it at a low temperature in a 
vacuum far more of it is crystallized into sugar. Less heat 
is also required and an economy is effected in fuel. Here 
granulation is accomplished, and sugar is produced. It is 
so heavy and black with treacle, however, that it looks 
much more like tar. The treacle is next got rid of by cen- 
trifugal force. The whole product is put into a large 
perforated metal drum, which is made to revolve at a 
terrific rate, and the treacle is expelled through the little holes, 
while the sugar remains inside. The sugar has a rich, fruity 

40 Islands Far Avvav. 

flavour, suggestive of nature and sunshine, which unfortu- 
uatel}^ disappears in the refining in New Zealand and Van- 
couver, where it is sent after it has been packed in bags. 

The exhausted cane coming from the mill is called megass. 
It goes to special furnaces, in which it is burned, raising the 
principal part of the steam for the whole factory. The mud 
from the sediment is used to manure the ground for the growing 
cane, so there is no waste in a sugar mill. 

Cane is indigenous to Fiji. The natives ate it and used the 
juice in many ways, but they knew nothing of granulation, 
and up to 1865, the Europeans imagined that sugar would 
not granulate in Fiji. The question was finally determined 
by Messrs. Smith and Harrison at Navua, who made per- 
sistent efforts to solve it, the various settlers in the neigh- 
bourhood lending them enthusiastic assistance. A quantity 
of cane was cut and collected. It was first pounded with 
mallets ; then wrung by boys, and a percentage of juice ex- 
tracted ; this was put in a three-legged pot and boiled, then 
strained through blotting paper. Great was the excitement 
and delight when a few grains of sugar were found to have 
remained on the top. This was the first sugar-mill in Fiji ; 
there are now many, and their hungry maws crush up huge 
quantities of cane. In Tamanua mill alone, 500 tons are 
made into sugar every day when the mill is working. 

Mr. Smith afterwards received the government reward for 
the first granulation of sugar in Fiji. He came from Deme- 
rara, where sugar had long been granulated, and his merit was 
that he discovered how to modify his experience gained there, 
so as to suit the slightly different conditions present in Fiji. 

As we came home in the evening, the Indian labourers were 
returning from their work. The women and girls in little 
groups seemed happy, and were very pretty and attractive 
vdih their graceful figures and bright draperies. They stepped 
gaily along, not a bit as if they were tired with their day's 
work, and smiled brightly as they passed us, shewing double 
lines of exquisite, white teeth. Many of them were really 
beautiful, and perfect pictures, and they have happier faces 
than the men, and much more responsive. Among the Fijians 

Life on a Sugar Estate. 41 

the men are far better looking than the women, and though 
many of the men attracted me, I saw only two or three women 
whom I admired, or had any inclination to paint, the build 
and features being of too strong a type for a woman. With 
the Indians it is otherwise. They are slender and slightly made, 
and though the men, through immense endurance, can accom- 
plish a great deal of hard work, they do not give one the 
impression of strength. They are stimulated by what the 
Fijians lack altogether — ambition. They want to get on, to 
gather their little pile, to buy a bit of land and live on it, and 
for this they will work, and screw, and save, and do anything. 

The Fijian lack of ambition and unAvillingness to work, is 
due in a great measure to the communal system under which 
they have always lived, and which, instead of passing away 
under British rule, has rather become stereotyped. It is im- 
possible for them under this system to feel that anything is 
really their own. The community alone counts, and their 
whole work and everything they possess has to be for the good 
of all. 

There is an old Fijian custom, which, in spite of being con- 
trary to British law, still has a firm hold on the people, and 
which militates strongly against individual effort. This is 
the right of " kere-kere," b}^ which certain chiefs are by birth 
entitled to anything they choose to fancy belonging to certain 
other people, and the right is so sacred that even when the 
sacrifice is great, it is made without a grumble and even with 
an effort at cheerfulness. 

I myself met with a very remarkable example of this when 
stajdng on the coast with Ratu Saimoni, one of the chiefs. 
He was looking at my sketch book, and when he came across 
a sketch of another chief's house with a canoe lying in the dyke 
in the foreground, he remarked " That Wanga is the Sham- 
rock, and I made it with my own hands." I was so interested 
and surprised that he told me all about it. He was anxious 
to have the most perfect canoe possible, and spared no pains 
to gain his end. The best vesi w^ood for the body of the canoe 
was sought in the depths of the forest, and for material and 
labour he was £20 out of pocket, not to speak of his own time 

42 Islands Far Away. 

which he devoted to the work for over a year. When finished, 
the boat was a joy to behold, and his pride was great when, 
a native canoe-regatta having been arranged in Suva harbour, 
he went up with his wanga and carried everything before him, 
mnning all the races. 

In triumph he brought the " Shamrock " home, and drew 
it carefully up in his own little dock. Next morning he went 
to look at his treasure — it was gone. A chief who was his 
superior had fetched it away. It was a great disappointment. 
I expressed horror and asked if there were no way of getting 
it back. " No," he said, " none. Everything I have belongs 
to him, if he chooses to claim it ; and his people have all to try 
to be satisfied if they have anything which so far pleases him 
that he wishes to possess it." It seems extraordinary that 
such curious native customs should be observed, contrary to 
British law, after sixty years of British rule ; and it shows how 
firmly these customs are rooted. They militate strongly 
against ambition. What is the use of working hard to produce 
any tiling good and beautiful, if its very excellence makes it 
liable to be seized and carried off ? The natural consequence 
of all this is a certain spiritlessness and distaste for work. 

Of course work must be done, and if the Fijians cannot be 
induced to do it themselves, they must make room for those 
who will. But to me it was very sad to see this beautiful 
country passing from its natural and rightful owners into the 
hands of strangers, who settle down and make themselves 
comfortable, but have no real love for it. 

The Indians were brought over in shiploads, indentured for 
five years, during which time they had to work for their 
employers. After that period they were free to continue, or to 
work for themselves, or to go back to India ; but they often 
preferred to stay and work for their employers long enough 
to lay by a little independence, and start on their own 

Much has been said against this system of indentured 
labour, but as far as I could judge it seemed to me that the 
people were well off, and well cared for. Their little homes 
are all they require, and they have their own mosques, and 

Life on a Sugar Estate. 


beautifully fitted and arranged hospitals, where they are 
looked after when they are ill.* 

I must not close this chapter about life on a sugar estate 
without mentioning the mynah birds which form a very 
important part of the population. These were brought 
originally from India, to destroy some of the insect pests 
which infest the sugar cane ; and so useful have they proved 
in this work that, although they have increased enormously, 
and there are already swarms of them, the planters highly ap- 
preciate them. Elsewhere, however, they are becoming rather 
a nuisance, and are showing themselves destructive, especially 
to the thatch of the native houses, of which they make sad 
havoc. They are very noisy and very comical as they stand 
in groups, arguing and chattering ; and as they are fond 
of human beings, and constantly frequent verandahs, there is 
plenty of opportunity of studjdng their antics and enjoying 
their forward and impudent ways. 

* The Government of India has recently put an end to the transfer to 
Fiji, and other of our tropical colonies, of East Indians, under this carefully 
devised and controlled system of indenture, which, for some forty -five years 
in the case of Fiji, has provided the bulk of the manual labour necessary for 
the sugar and other industries concerned. 


Chapter VII. 


Preparations had been going on meanwhile for our visit to 
Vuni-mbau, when we were really to leave civilisation behind, 
and live the life of the people. 

Friends were most eager to supply us with every comfort, 
cups, saucers, plates, knives, forks and spoons, together with 
sheets, curtains ; but we did not want to have with us 
luxuries which would take away from the true feeling of the 
native life, so we took only what we considered absolutely 
necessary. Cups, a tea-pot, two clean mats to lie on, a curtain 
for privacy, mosquito nets, and our own pillows ; the little 
wooden stools used by the natives would hardly have suited 
our heads, or rather necks. 

We took some provisions to supplement the native food, and 
it was a good thing we did, for, just as we arrived, to ray 
fellow traveller's dismay, we saw all the men of the village and 
a good many of the women starting off in canoes, with quanti- 
ties of provisions, to a great funeral feast, so that there could 
be but a scanty supply left. We fared excellently however, 
with her good management, together with what we brought 
with us. It was on the 17th of July that we started in the 
magistrate's boat, with three of his men, and it was a long and 
delightful two and a half hours' row, over river and sea. 

The chief's house was allotted to us, but his wife and he 
were away at the funeral, and the people were greatly dis- 
tressed on our account, at the absence of the former. " Who 
would care for us ? " " Who would cook for us ? " they 
asked. With my housekeeper, however, there was no diffi- 
culty ; all she required was the family pot, and it was won- 

46 Islands Far Away. 

derful what an interesting variety came out of it. There 
was always enough, though we were seldom alone for our 
meals. Some two or three natives, squatting round, generally 
shared with us, or got the remains when we had done. It 
would be a great want of manners in Fiji to reserve any of the 
dinner for another day, and it would be thought very mean 
and greedy, so it does not do to prepare more of one's store at 
once than can be spared. 

We never had any milk at Vuni-mbau, or at any other Fijian 
village, but there was always at least one cow wandering about 
picking its livelihood here and there, or sometimes snatching 
a tit-bit off the roof or wall of a house. 

The government demands the presence of these interesting 
animals in every village, and the order has been carried out 
very thoroughly, but the object for which it was issued has 
not been attained. Enquiry having been made into the 
causes of the rapid decline of the native population, it was 
ascertained that infant mortality was very great, especially 
at the time of weaning, there being no transition between 
mother's milk and adult food. It was considered that 
cow's milk would solve the difficulty, so a cow was pre- 
scribed, and the "mbulumakau " arrived. Cows and bulls are 
ahke " mbulumakau." The name is said to have come from 
Tonga and to date back to the long ago days when one of the 
early visitors presented a pair to Finau in Haapai, saying as 
he gave them, " A bull and a cow." 

The cow looks very nice and gives an air of comfort, but 
there is never any milk. Fijians would need to be very much 
altered before they could be counted on, regularly every 
morning and evening, to milk a cow and to keep a proper array 
of utensils clean and in order. Then what vessels would they 
use ? A cow could not be milked into a banana leaf, or into 
a five foot bamboo with the divisions knocked out, such as 
they carry their water in. The household yangona-bowl might 
serve the purpose nicely, but the household would not like 
to spare it. Then where would the bowl stand ? There are no 
shelves, and if it were put on the floor, the dog and cat and the 
hens would help themselves to the milk, and the children 
would dabble in it. 

A Week in a Fijian Village. 47 

As it is, the happy calf has the milk. And on great occa- 
sions cow and calf fall victims, and are baked whole for the 
feast. They do not look at all pretty with their spraddle legs 
sticking up and their necks hanging down, but they are, I 
believe, quite good eating. And a Fijian, like the King of 
Beasts, to whom I have already compared him, enjoys a huge 
feed of butcher meat at any time, when he can get it. 

There is no privacy in a Fijian house, and hospitality is one 
of the strongest native principles. Any one seems to be 
welcome at any hour and all day. Often late in the evening, 
swarthy figures slip silently in and squat in groups all 
over the floor, sometimes remaining a long time and then slip- 
ing out again, as silently. They never knock, or make any 
signal to indicate their approach, but just creep in. Some- 
times our presence drew a very considerable number, but I 
never saw anything but welcome expressed. A young chief 
told me that when he went home after having been absent, 
often for the first two or three days and nights he got no rest 
at all, guests kept dropping in the whole time, and he could 
not dare even to lie down, as it would have been a breach of 

It was perhaps just as well for me that when I first came 
to Vuni-mbau the village was almost empty, as it let me down 
gently, and I got more used to the life before having to face 
the publicity I became accustomed to later on. In the middle 
of the day Mrs. Hopkins and I had the place nearly to our- 
selves, as the few inhabitants who were not away at the funeral 
had gone out fishing and digging. 

The chief's house was one spacious room, grand in its sim- 
plicity and beauty of proportion. There were fifteen pillars 
of black, velvety mbala-mbala (tree fern) along each side, and 
great beams supported the lofty roof, which sloped away up 
into the darkness, giving a pleasant sense of space. Except 
for a few wooden headrests, there was no furniture, or any- 
thing lying about, to disturb the restful simplicitj^ of the 

At the end of the room, as in all Fijian houses, there was a 
raised dais made of bamboo or wood covered with mats, the 

48 Islands Far Away. 

number and texture of which indicated the standing of the 
owner of the house. I have counted as many as thirteen, but 
as these lie flat one on the top of the other, numbers do not 
make them soft. This dais is used as a bed by the principal in- 
habitants of the house, and it was always given to us. It was 
not a luxurious couch, and I often envied the Fijians extended 
on the floor, for it was much softer, ferns and grasses being 
thickly strewn under the mats. There is sometimes a large 
amount of this material used, giving the floor a billowy ap- 
pearance, and causing a curious sensation to any stranger 
walking upon it. It looks strangest at night when an ordin- 
ary, rather common English lamp, with a glass globe and 
coloured container, is planted on it, and stands all askew on 
the uneven surface, looking most unsafe. The light on the 
floor was to me very uncomfortable, making my eyes ache 
when I tried to do anything ; and it had little effect in light- 
ing the huge room, which looked very weird with the scantily 
dressed figures slipping about. 

Of course we sat on the floor, as there were no seats except 
my little far travelled sketching stool, by sitting on which I 
could sometimes get relief. Our meals too, were served on 
the floor, with large fresh green leaves for plates, and knives 
and forks of split bamboo. I was supposed to do the washing 
up, so the leafy plates suited me very well, and I enjoyed 
collecting them in the dewy morning and laying in a stock for 
the day, while my companion got the tea ready and toasted 
slices of yams and taro for our breakfast. 

In each corner of the room there was a fireplace, which 
was simply a hollow in the floor, surrounded mth large 
stones. How these houses, built of what seems to be most 
inflammable material, last a week, under these circumstances, 
was always a puzzle to me. The men too are most careless 
with their matches and their pipes ; I have often seen sparks 
dropped about among the matting, yet I never saw a fire, 
though I believe they frequently happen, and sometimes 
whole villages are burned down. I was not much concerned 
for anything but my sketches, for it would have been easy 
enough to have escaped had a fire occurred. 

A Week in a Fijian Village. 49 

I had a great longing to laiow the language, and felt if I 
could only converse I should form a real friendship with the 
people. They gathered round me when I was sketching and 
looked at me with the kindest of eyes, and it was quite sad 
when they spoke to me to have just to shake my head. 

One woman would not be beaten, but was determined to 
make me understand. I gathered at last that she wanted me 
to follow her, so although I was in the middle of a sketch I 
got up and went. She conducted me to her house, which was 
a small one near the sea, and she made me enter. I never saw 
anything sweeter and daintier in my life ; the whole place was 
spotlessly clean, from the reeded walls to the matted floor. 
And the bed was covered with the most beautiful mats of her 
own making, bordered with gay fringes of coloured wools. I 
aired my one word " vinaka " (good). She was delighted, and 
reading true appreciation in my expression, a look of intense 
pleasure and affection passed over her old wrinkled face. She 
could not contain herself ; in a moment her arms were round 
my neck and her weather-tanned face touched mine in a kindly 
embrace. It reminded me of a similar experience in the wilds 
of Majorca,* and I felt the whole world kin. 

My grey eyes and the red of my cheeks were a source of 
endless interest and speculation to the Fijians. Once two 
women were closely inspecting me and I felt myself under 
earnest discussion. At last one of them jumped up, and 
rubbing her finger over my cheek, examined it to see if the 
colour had come off. When I was relating this anecdote at 
home, a small niece who was present enquired, " And did it ? " 

There was one woman whose attentions I was not very 

* In 1904 at Easter, my sister and I were on the coast in a wild part of Majorca 
within i-each of the little known, old world town of PoUensa. We learned from 
the young man who brought us daily supplies from there, that there would be 
wonderful processions and oelel)rations in Pollensa, and he proposed himself as 
guide, an offer we gladly accepted. We saw much that was intensely interesting, 
then our guide said, " I am going to take you to see the most beautiful thing of 
all — my mother." He conducted us to a large low room, where a tine featured 
elderly woman in nun-like widow's costume, was standing with great dignity 
behind trestle tables, on which were pink and v/hite sweets for sale. When we 
entered he said with a great ring of pride in his voice, " This is my mother." 
She stepped gracefully forward and cordially embraced us both, thanking us very 
prettily in Majorcan for the kind interest we had always taken in her son. 

50 Islands Far Away. 

eager to encourage. She was a well made, good looking girl, 
and she wore her slight clothing with unusual grace, but she 
was covered all over with Tokelau ring-worm. Her skin was 
like brown satin, with a brocaded pattern of circles and half 
circles closely interwoven. The malady did not seem to have 
missed one inch of her body, but she showed no sign of in- 
convenience, smiling and chatting with the other girls in the 
happiest manner. There were others affected in the same 
way, but she was the worst ; and, as they were all particularly 
friendly, it made me creep when they squatted on my skirts 
to watch me paint. Not liking to vex them, I always made 
an excuse to go into the house when I saw them approach. 

There were also eye-trouble, and nasty sores about the 
mouth, especially affecting the young children, which would 
have made me uneasy if it had not been that there were so 
few flies to carry about infection. I attributed the want of 
flies to the absence of rubbish heaps, and to the general 
care among the people to bury or destroy everything attrac- 
tive to such pests. The Government insists on systematic 
sweeping and cleaning of every part of the villages, but the 
good result is much assisted by a very wide spread super- 
stition which still hangs about here. It is believed that if 
an enemy should get hold of any personal rubbish, or half- 
eaten food, and were to curse it, the individual to whom 
it had belonged would suffer and perhaps die. Hence the 
cuttings of hair and parings of nails and scraps of worn- 
out clothing, are immediately burned and never allowed to 
lie about. The remnants of a meal are given to the fowls, 
or burned, not a crumb is allowed to stay. I often wondered 
what the merry little rats lived on when everything they 
would naturally eat was so systematically done away with. 
The effect, however, in the village is very pleasing. Wander 
where you will behind or in front of the houses, there is 
never anything to offend the senses. 

The babies who were unspoiled by eye and face trouble were 
truly delicious little mortals, with their chubby cheeks and 
wondering black eyes, ever read}' to twinkle into merriment. 
At first they were very much afraid of the strange white ladies 

A Week in a Fijian Village. 51 

and screamed and clung to their mothers whenever they saw 
us ; our fair skins were quite as alarming to them as the sudden 
apparition of the blackest of negroes would be to one of our 
own infants. Not being at all used to babies treating me that 
way, I was much disturbed, but they soon got used to me and 
there were dimples instead of tears. One specially attractive 
little mite came to me, and when I held the sweet little dump- 
ling in my arms it felt as if made of black indiarubber. 
It gazed steadily at me, and I wondered what it was thinking 
about behind those great expressive eyes.* 

* See frontispiece. 

Chapter VIII, 


The first evening we took a long walk to the nearest village. 
The road, not a native road, though made by the natives, was 
different from anything I had seen before, but it is charac- 
teristic of the lower parts of this island of Viti Levu. It is 
fiat, smooth and grassy, wide enough for a vehicle, and raised 
above the surrounding country, with a ditch along each side ; 
and runs right through the natural forest, where palms and 
" wild plantains " and all sorts of strange trees grow tangled 
together, but I saw no flowers, no butterflies, no birds ; I 
do not remember seeing a single butterfly while I was in Fiji. 
There was a strange death-like stillness everywhere, and it 
was a relief to come upon life again in the shape of a pretty 
village on its grassy lawn, with groups of men and women 
among the houses, who came forward to welcome us with 
their usual kmdness. There was a sudden cry of surprise and 
delight. Two of the men recognised my companion, and she 
remembered them, though it was some ten years or more 
since they had met. Eager questions and answers followed, 
which of course I did not understand, but we could not stay 
long, the glow of the sunset warning us that we must be 
getting home to our quarters. The men politely conducted 
us all the way back, and it was interesting to see how they 
kept turning to me so that I should not feel out of it, though 
I could not understand what they said. In the outskirts of 
Vuni-mbau they bade us goodbye, warning us at the same 
time that we had better not wander so far again alone in the 
evening, as it was " not safe." But it was quite bright, for 
we were fortunate in having lovely weather and moonlight. 

Moonlight Rambles. 53 

The extreme impressiveness of moonlight in Fiji seems 
strangely incompatible with the familiar way the moon is 
treated in the native mythology. There is a ludicrous want 
of dignity in making the mouse and the moon have a hot 
discussion. It was left to them to decide how men should die ; 
the moon wanted to arrange that they should all die at 
once, but the mouse said " Let them have children and grand- 
children as I do, and die one by one," and she carried her 
point. But they wanted to die and go to heaven all together, 
so they were very angry with the mouse ; and that is why they 
hate the mouse to this day. Again, the moon had to supply 
the god Takei with fish, and he was so displeased with a 
shortage that he decided to drown her. He had a delightfully 
baited pit prepared and a quantity of bamboo water-vessels 
filled with salt water put ready. The moon's mother was 
very sad, and she made up her mind to frustrate the plan, so 
she substituted fresh water for salt. The moon fell into the 
trap, and when she was enjojdng the bait at the bottom of the 
pit, the water was poured in. She was so used to rain 
that the fresh water did not hurt her, and she scrambled out , 
but some of the mud at the bottom stuck to her. Hence the 
spots on her surface. 

We always strayed out in the moonlight before going to 
bed, and the inexpressible beauty of these rambles cannot be 
put into words. The moon is so clear, it is like daylight, only 
much more lovely. One special ramble made an indelible 
impression on my mind. We left the village behind and 
wandered along a path which led through graceful ferns 
and under tall tropical trees. The stillness was tempered 
by the rustle of the palms, so high above us that in 
the ghostly light they appeared to be mingling with the stars 
which twinkled among them. The smooth foliage of all the 
trees reflected the glittering moonshine ; everything seemed 
made of silver, and the broad banana leaves were sheets of 
ethereal light, thrown into brilliant relief by the velvety 
blackness of the shadows. And there was a sweetness in the 
balmy air, completing the feeling of an absolute perfectior, 
which seemed hardly to belong to this world. 

54 Islands Far Away. 

When we reached the village on our return, a crowd of 
anxious women was awaiting us. They had seen us wander 
into the forest, a thing they would never do at night, and 
they did not know what might have happened to us. They 
were full of congratulations and chatter when we re-appeared. 
It was like being suddenly awakened from a poetic dream. 

One evening I thought the village was on fire. I heard 
shouts, and rising up from among the trees I saw smoke and 
flames and dark excited figures projected against them. I 
hurried to the spot and found a party of almost naked boys 
and girls playing with bamboo torches which were flaming 
and sputtering. They were waving them about, wild with 
excitement and delight, quite regardless of the sparks that 
flew and ignited the grass. It looked horribly dangerous with 
all the inflammable native houses so near. The children saw 
me and thought my anxious expression denoted desire to join 
in the sport ; and one little fellow in the most gentlemanly way 
stepped forward, handed me his torch, and then with some 
difficulty got another bamboo lighted for himself. They 
watched over me with the greatest care and kindness, re- 
lighting my torch, if through mismanagement on my part it 
went out, or bringing me another if it burned short and the 
flame was too near my hand. As for themselves, the fire 
seemed to have no effect on them whatever. They paid no 
heed to the sparks which fell on their black glittering bodies, 
or to the flames that licked their legs as they danced over the 
embers and among the burning grass, with their bare feet ; 
their eyes sparkling with laughter and their white teeth 
gleaming in the fire light. One fat little fellow, some three 
years old, stamped delightedly about over the burning ends 
that were thrown away and put the flames out with his chubby 

It was a most interesting exhibition of native immunity 
from the effects of fire, and I could not have believed it possible 
if I had not seen it. Had the children been burned or blis- 
tered in any way they could not have been so absolutely happy. 
And the parents in the village never came to look after them, 
or showed any uneasiness about them. I seemed to have 

Moonlight Rambles. 


stepped into a fairy tale, and to be standing on enchanted 
ground, surrounded by elves. 

My evening dip was as delicious as the evening ramble. The 
house was close to the sea and a few steps took me into the 
water, rippling in quiet waves upon the smooth shelving shore. 
The moon shone through the palm trees and their tall stems 
cast long dark shadows over the sand. And, as I splashed in 
the cool water, the phosphorescent lights glittered as if I were 
bathing in diamonds. 



Chapter IX. 


We were told that a very old woman lived in the village. 
" How old ? " " Very, very old." " Eighty years ? " " More, 
much more." " A hundred ? " " Yes, and more, probably." 
No one could tell. There had been no register of births when 
she was bom long ago in the wild, savage days. All anyone 
knew was that she had seemed old, as long as the oldest in- 
habitant could remember. I wanted very much to see her, 
so she was produced from her little house on the banks of the 
river at the end of the village. Her hair was close cut and 
thick, and as white as the driven snow, in strong contrast 
with the brown skin of her wrinkled face. She was very thin, 
but wiry and strong, and not exceedingly bent. Her eyes 
were bright and her hearing good, and she seemed as if she 
might outlive many of the comparatively young people about 
her. She readily consented to my painting her, and very 
kindly placed herself in a most un-Fijian attitude, which was 
evidently very trying to herself. I felt painfully the lack of 
the language, for I longed to converse ; the poor old body 
looked sadly uncomfortable, and she was so patient and still, 
that I could see her whole figure trembling with the strain. 
At last I fetched my interpreter from indoors to tell her 
that I had finished. At once her face lighted up and her 
limbs relaxed. She was quite a different creature, and, as she 
went off to feed her pigs with a bunch of sugar-cane leaves 
under her arm, she looked very picturesque and the little 
spotted animals came running to her call. 

Sitting for her picture had been an effort, but the attention 
gratified her, and she arrived in the evening for a chat. She 

Old Marita's Tragic Tale. 


was all animation then, and proved, by what she told us, to 
be perhaps the most interesting person in Fiji — the last, 
the only survivor of as hideous a tragedy as was ever enacted 
on the face of the earth — the Navua massacre. I had heard 
the story from my companion who was familiar with the spot 
where it occurred, and I had read of it in some of the old 
books on Fiji, but I never expected to have the opportunity 
then presented to me of being brought into immediate con- 
tact with one who had gone through it all. Mrs. Hopkins 
interpreting old Marita's flow 
of words, I gazed at the old 
woman almost with awe, and 
wondered how she could tell 
of horror upon horror with 
such evident delight. I got 
out my brush and sketched 
her as she squatted in front 
of us, her old eyes glittering 
and her hand gesticulating 
to impress point after point 
upon us. 

This is the story : — A tribe 
by the name of Kai-na-lotha 
to which she belonged, 
offended the chief Ra-tui- 
mbuna who was very power- 
ful and held sway over a wide 

area. He lived on one of the little conical hills which dot 
the Navua valley, the one now occupied by the doctor's house. 
The punishment measured out to the offending village was 
terrible beyond description. All the inhabitants were con- 
demned to be killed and eaten, one household at a time, 

The chief came with his retinue, and there was a great feast. 
The awful wooden death drum, used only on special occasions, 
was beaten, producing a dull boom which could be heard for 
miles. Then the doomed family were all clubbed, baked 
and eaten, the house was set fire to, and there was one house - 



Islands Far Away. 

hold less in the village. On the ashes, kurilangi, a kind of taro 
or arum, was planted, which was always and only eaten with 
*' rabokola " (human flesh). It was supposed to make the 
human flesh less heavy, and more digestible. This ghoulish 
garden had to be looked after by the remaining members of 
the tribe, and the taro tended for their own funeral feast. 


Marita had recollections of being with her mother when she 
was watering and weeding it, and of seeing it growing with its 
great handsome, glossy green leaves. When they began to 
turn yellow the root was ripe, this was the signal for the 
feast, and the next household was clubbed and eaten. Then 
their house, now reduced to ashes, became the garden. Marita 
could remember these awful conflagrations and the flames 
leaping from thatch to beam, and rising in columns till the 

Old Marita's Tragic Tale. 59 

roof gave way and crashed in upon the tenantless hearth. 
Her family lived in the last house, and the ghastly proceedings 
had begun before the dawn of her memory and gone on all 
through her childhood, so she was habituated to the yearly 
feast. Who partook of the " mbokola " she could not tell. She 
did not know if any of the inhabitants of the village did so, 
but she herself had never tasted human flesh, though it had 
many times been offered to her ; the idea disgusted her. At 
last one house alone remained — her house. For some reason, 
she did not know why, the hand of death was stayed and her 
family was spared. They left the desolate village, and came 
to live in Vuni-mbau. Without leave from the chief to act 
as passport it would have been useless to come away. They 
would have been seized, and would at once have met with the 
same fate as if they had stayed. This is how the inconceiv- 
able happened and these Kai-na-lotha stayed in their own 
homes awaiting their doom. To go was certain and immediate 
death ; on the other hand there was always the chance, as 
with Marita's household, that the chief might relent, or some- 
thing arise to stop the massacre. 

A man who was present while old Marita told her tale, said 
he had been present at many cannibal feasts, and that he had 
once eaten a human hand. This was the first real cannibal 
I had ever seen and it gave me a strange feeling. 

Cannibalism before it was finally given up increased to an 
alarming extent in Fiji and became a positive passion. In 
the early days the eating of human flesh is said to have been 
looked upon as a ceremonial rite. Other food was prepared 
by women, while the human flesh was cut up and cooked 
entirely by the priests, who dissected it with knives made 
of split bamboo, and showed great anatomical skill in the 
way they separated the parts. Only the bodies of those 
killed in war were eaten, and when there were none but 
native weapons, these were few. 

The feasts were very serious affairs accompanied by a 
solemn yangona drinking. Only the high chiefs, priests, and 
people of importance partook, and never the Kai-si (com- 
moners) or women and children. 

6o Islands Far Away. 

*' Mbokola " was never touched with the fingers, but special 
forks were used, and whereas other food was eaten off leaves, 
it was served in bowls, " ndari ni mbokola." I am fortunate 
enough to possess one, a curious vessel with little feet, cut out 
of a solid block of wood. Mrs. Hopkins managed to secure 
it for me with great difficulty in the mountains. I have also a 
cannibal fork, a remarkable wooden instrument 
with three long wooden prongs. These were never 
used for anything but human flesh, and the forks 
especially, many of which were beautifully carved, 
were looked upon with great veneration, and handed 
down from father to son. Each fork even had its 
own individual name, as also had clubs, spears, 
etc.; one fork for instance was called "Undro- 
undro " (a small thing carrying a great burden). 
When not in use they were hidden away and 
special care was taken that children should not 
see them. 

With the introduction of firearms a great and 
horrible change was wrought. This began about 
1800, when a vessel was wrecked on an outlying 
reef of the group, and the survivors of the crew 
purchased their lives by teaching the natives the 
use of firearms. The chiefs at first thought them 
wonderful people, and gave them everything they 
wanted, even to a liberal supply of wives. In re- 
CANNIBAL turn they helped them with their wars, witnessing 
^°^^' and encouraging the cannibal feasts. These be- 
came very frequent, and the slaughter in war was 
so great that there were many bodies, and the flesh was 
now distributed to all classes, to the women and even to the 
children. Some of the people told us that when they were very 
young they had actually been given fingers to chew. Parcels 
also, done up in banana leaves, were sent away as presents to 
distant friends. With the indulgence the taste grew and 
became an obsession, and, like drink, it engendered a positive 
craving. Every occasion had to have its feast and every 
feast its " mbokola.' It would have been a want of hospitality 

Old Marita's Traeic Tale. 61 


not to present it. When there was no war. quarrels were 
picked and excuses invented to justify clubbing. When this 
failed, innocent folk were snared, for a constant supply of this 
loathsome food had to be kept up. Everyone was compelled 
to partake and more than one of the natives told us they 
dreaded these feasts, and hated to join in them ; for if the in- 
dulgence bred appetite in some, it bred disgust in others, and 
many of the younger chiefs were only too glad to make the 
arrival of the missionaries the excuse for giving it up. 

It has been hinted in some of the books about Fiji, mis- 
sionary and others, which I have read, that the first lawless 
visitors to Fiji themselves actually indulged in cannibalism, 
but of this there is no proof and it is not likely. Many of 
them, however, paid the penalty of their misdeeds and were 
killed and very probably eaten, for they lost the respect of 
the chiefs who had defended them and suffered in consequence. 
On the other hand, the missionaries coming quite unprotected, 
without arms, and bringing with them young mves and little 
children, were almost always well treated even in very savage 
places, and I know of only one instance of any of them being 
killed and eaten. Their courage commanded respect, and 
their clean lives and unvarying Icindness drew out affection, 
so that " the whole armour of God " proved a better protection 
than swords and guns. 


Chapter X. 


I WAS sorry that anything should interrupt our week in the 
Fiji village, but even in this remote spot with our one only 
batch of letters, invitations reached us to a ball which my 
companion thought it a great pity to miss, and, as our invita- 
tions included a boat being sent all the way from Naitonitoni 
to fetch us and to bring us back, it would have been churlish 
to refuse, so the messenger who brought the letters, took our 
acceptance back. It was a " bachelors' surprise ball " in the 
Naitonitoni magistrate's native buri. These surprise balls 
are a feature in the life of the little English colonies in Fiji. 
It is the only way the single men, or people with small quarters, 
have of returning the hospitality they receive so freely. 
Those who have suitable accommodation get, every now and 
then, a request to lend their rooms for a certain night, and this 
is all they have to do with the entertainment. They provide 
nothing, make no arrangements, and do not even know who is 
coming. The bachelors in this case sent out the invitations, 
supplied the provisions, and decorated the mbure. 

Our preparations had to be made ; my fellow traveller fore- 
seeing such a contingency, had to my surprise, when we were 
packing our things, insisted that evening dresses must go in. 
For herself she took material, and proceeded to make her 
own dress in the native house. It was cut out on the floor 
without a pattern, then she set of! in quest of a sewing machine. 
I could not believe she would find one in such a place, where, 
even in the chief's house, there was not a single modern con- 
venience, not even a spoon. But shortly she came back 
accompanied by a woman carrying a Singer's hand-machine 

Where the Village had been. 63 

which was put on the floor, and Mrs. Hopkins, squatting beside 
it, settled to work. I learned afterwards that there are sewing 
machines in all the villages. It seems most unnecessary when 
the ladies' garments are so slight, just two yards of material 
Avrapped round the legs and tucked in at the waist, and a sort 
of pinafore, or overall, which is taken off when working hard 
or walking any distance. The Fijian ladies, however, are as 
concerned about their dress as we are. and these pinafores 
occupy much of their attention, and are sometimes very 
dainty with tucks, frills, insertion, and lace, and to hav^e 
the latest cut in sleeves is of great moment. It would be 
much better for them, however, if they had to work entirel}^ 
by hand ; they have too little to do now-a-days, and they 
would be happier if they had to spend a good deal of time 
quietly semng. 

The new dress proved very successful and becoming, and 
when tried on, an audience assembled to see it, and it was 
received with little click, clicks of delight ; but still more 
satisfaction was elicited when we were both dressed ready 
for the ball ; and before we put on our wraps we had to walk 
up and do^\^l to be admired — our things being most carefully 
examined all over and pronounced " vinaka " (good). 

Our boat meantime had arrived with its swarthy rowers, 
and feeling thoroughly well dressed we set off. When we 
reached the shore a difficulty arose. The tide was out and 
the boat lay far away in the distance, leaving a wide expanse 
of wet sand and mud to be traversed. It was soon overcome, 
however, by the men picking us up in their powerful arms, 
as if we were children, and carrying us out to the boat. Then 
we started on our two-and-a-half hours' journey. 

Steadilj^ the men rowed us, and we watched the sun go 
down behind the water, dyeing the little strips of cirrus clouds 
red and gold as it sank. Then gradually darkness mped out 
everything except the stars which pierced their waj^ through 
the black dome above us. I do not laiow how the Fijians 
found their way, but in due course we arrived. 

After the dark river the lighted buri looked brilliant, and 
very lovely with its Chinese lanterns and gay decorations. All 

64 Islands Far Away. 

the furniture had been stacked at one end, and a curtain drawn 
across. Garlands were tmned about the mbala-mbala pillars, 
and Chinese lanterns and flowers decorated the beams. 

Here the dancing went on till late at night, a gramophone 
yielding the music ; and at long tables in the garden refresh- 
ments were served. 

My companion was rather nervous at the idea of the long 
row back in the dead of a moonless night, alone with these 
miknown Fijian men, getting perhaps stuck in the mud, and 
finally feeling our way through the sleeping village to our 
house ; and she was not a little relieved when our friends 
declared it to be out of the question, and would not hear 
of our going away that night. Arrangements were hastily 
made for us. The curtain in the mbure was drawn back, chairs 
and tables were pulled off the beds, and we were soon tucked 
under the mosquito nets among the wreaths and garlands. 

Sunday dawned bright and clear, and our surroundings 
looked strange in the morning light, with the drooping garlands 
and flower-strewn floor. I went to the native service, which 
took place early. Though I could not understand the language, 
the beautiful singing was such a pleasure that I took every 
opportunity of attending ; the rich voices ringing in harmony 
without an instrument seemed to me the most perfect kind 
of church music. 

The service was in the Court House, the congregation 
was small but very reverent, and there was a freshness about 
everyone which gave a pleasant Sunday feeling. The women 
wore clean white pinafores, and the men were all in white, — 
white singlet and white sulu, — and every bushy head was 
so carefully dressed that there was not a hair out of place. 
The prisoners from the gaol were there too, all freshly washed, 
and with clean sack-like shirts decorated with the broad arrow. 
All was reverence, order and decorum. Yet this was Naitoni- 
toni, where savagery and cannibalism ran riot within living 
memory. The very name of the place, Naitonitoni (the 
steeping in the waters), speaks of the horrors committed there, 
for in the rivers the bodies were put to soak till they were 
wanted for food, and near this place was the terrible Na-Lotha 

Where the Village had been. 65 

where Marita had lived. As my fellow traveller knew the site 
well she offered to take me to it. When she lived here she 
had often visited it with her children. They used to take 
baskets "u^ith them, and picnic under the great ivi trees which 
mark the spot. I hardly felt as if I should like to picnic there, 
but people get used to anything, and familiarity rubs the 
horror off the greatest tragedies. Tilings were a good deal 
changed since she had been here, and there was no path, so 
that it was difficult to find the way. We tucked up our white 
dresses, and struggled through the thick vegetation and over 
treacherous ground. Sometimes we were stopped by an 
impassable barrier, and had to retrace our steps. We had to 
cross several native bridges, simple palm-trunks, over water 
sluggishly oozing through black, slimy mud, and there was 
rather a heavy smell of dank, decaying vegetation. Some- 
times we were afraid we should have to give up, but I was 
most anxious to get there, and my companion never liked to 
be baffled, so we struggled on. At last she exclaimed, " There 
it is," and above the thick undergrowth we caught a glimpse 
of two great glossy-leafed trees. These were ivi trees [Ino- 
carpus edulis) always, and only, associated with villages. 
They are very umbrageous, and under them people can gather, 
almost as completely sheltered from the sun as if they were 
inside a building, and there meetings can be held, and feasts 
take place. What a story these trees could tell ! They stood 
once on the \dllage green, encircled by pretty houses and care- 
fully tended fruit trees. On the smooth grass the happy 
children played, as I have often seen them do, making them- 
selves toys, decking themselves with flowers, and laughing in 
glee over their miniature war dances. Then came the offence 
and the punishment ; not confinement in a well-ordered gaol 
for the actual offenders, but the slaughter of all, and the awful 
feasts. It must have been under one of these very trees that 
judgment was given, and here the chief would come to enjoy 
the measuring of it out, year after year, till the whole village 
was gone, and nothing was left to tell the tale but those two 
great trees. 

The jungle had crept in, rank vegetation choked the green, 

66 Islands Far Away. 

and great rampant vines clasped and strangled the fruit trees, 
twisting and entangling everything, and trailing in great 
ropes to the ground, where ripe fruit had fallen and lay rotting 
unheeded. It was desolation of desolation. I picked up a 
few ivi-nuts in their rough brown envelopes, and gathered 
some of the glossy laurel-like leaves. Then, silent and grave, 
we turned to retrace our steps. It was no easy matter, and 
after wandering for some time we found ourselves back in the 
dreary spot. We started afresh and this time hit our track, 
but we had to hurry now, for it was getting late. When we 
came to one of the bridges my guide called back to me to be 
cautious as it was rather shaky. Looking up to answer I 
lost my footing and slipped down into the slimy ooze. For- 
tunately I was able to grasp some branches and climb back 
to the bridge, but I brought up a mass of mud with me, for I 
sunk above the knees. We did not know what to do ; I 
could hardly walk and the odour was most offensive. We got 
stiff leaves and scraped ofi the thickest of the mud, then, in 
the nearest water, rinsed what garments we could. 

When we reached the house I made my way in unobserved, 
and, taking off my things, got into bed where I was none the 
worse for a rest. 

Chapter XI. 


We did not return to our romantic quarters till Monday. 
Fijians have been taught by the missionaries to be very par- 
ticular about the observance of Sunday, and mil do no work 
that is not absolutely necessary on that day. On Monday 
we set off in good time, accompanied by our Naitonitoni 
hostess and a friend, -wdth her small boy. The callage was 
quite deserted when we arrived, and the fire in the house was 
out. This, however, was remedied by the boatmen, who got 
a light by rubbing two sticks together. Watching how they 
managed it was wonderfully interesting, but it took them some 
time to find the necessary materials. Piece after piece of 
wood was examined and discarded, till at last they were satis- 
fied and set to work. A tliick bit of softish wood well seasoned 
was held firmly down on the ground by one oi the men, 
while, into a groove in it, the other rubbed a pointed piece 
of very hard stick, backwards and forwards mth all his 
might. He worked with such a will that the perspiration 
streamed down, and at last smoke began to rise from the 
hollow ; then a tiny flame which caught the loose fibres the 
friction had raised. The flame was carefully nursed, a few 
shavings applied, then bits of bamboo, which lighted up 
beautifully, and this live-fire was carried into the house and 
put among some sticks, so that a cheerful fire was soon 
crackling on the stone hearth. 

We felt very hospitable and invited our guests to lunch, 
and they were delighted to accept our invitation. While they 
had a little walk we busied ourselves with, preparations. My 
companion went in search of provisions, while I collected the 

68 Islands Far Away. 

plates, my long arms commg in very useful in reaching the 
beautiful broad bread-fruit leaves, too high up to have been 
gathered by the other women. When I got back to the house 
the pot was on the fire, and a savoury smell was proceeding 
from it and from sundry objects invitingly cooking among the 
sticks. On a clean mat I spread the leaves and some red and 
yellow peppers, which I viewed now with fear as well as ad- 
miration. Two or three flowers here and there, and the split 
bamboo loiives and forks completed the arrangements. 

Dinner was ready. And by way of gong we clapped our 
hands for our guests, who were not long in appearing. We 
felt superior and blase when they exclaimed with surprise and 
delight at everything. I offered my sketching stool all round 
but it was scornfully declined, and we all sat on the floor. 
The friend had some difficulty in disposing of her legs and feet, 
but she would not own to it, and tried elaborately to look ex- 
tremely comfortable. We all enjoyed our dinner which was 
really very good. The menu was as follows : roast taro and 
yam, shell-fish stewed with coconut, boiled taro leaves, and 
bread-fruit sliced and toasted. 

Our guests had hardly gone when the absent inhabitants 
of the village began to return in canoes and rowing boats, and 
to troop up in crowds to their houses. Every place was now 
full, and all the people were chattering as hard and as fast as 
they could. The character of the place was completely 
changed, and we now saw the real village life. Tliey had 
brought tiirtle back with them, and we saw it cut up with 
great wooden knives, and tasted the carefully cooked flesh. 
I did not think it at all good, and wondered that people should 
have risked their lives many times to obtain it, and that it 
should be looked upon as such a dainty in England. 

I now made acquaintance with several Fiji dishes, not all 
to my liking, notably " pudding." I had been told about it 
and was anxious to see it, when one day it arrived — a woman 
came in with a parcel done up in a large leaf, and crouching 
down respectfully before us, she opened it up and displayed 
a number of damp doughy-looking little balls, which appeared 
as if they had been much handled, and were not very inviting. 

Yangona. 69 

We had to accept, however, but I could only taste one and hide 
away the rest of it. I found it mawkish, and its appearance 
was against it. It is made of green bananas and taro grated 
together to a kind of pulp, with the addition of thick juice 
squeezed from coconut. It is then tied up in bits of banana 
leaves as we tie up suet pudding at home, and baked. The 
natives consider it a great treat, and we were thought very 
generous because we distributed most of what had been given 
to us among them. They hardly ever allow their bananas to 
ripen, but gather them green and cook them, when they have 
a purely vegetable taste. It seemed to us great waste, and we 
were very thankful whenever we could get hold of some ripe 
ones. The absence of ripe fruit to eat when travelling in 
Fiji was a disappointment. 

We went once with a boat to see the fish taken out of the 
fish-fence. The fence is crescent shaped, the open end towards 
the shore, and is made of bamboos set into the sand close to- 
gether. When the tide is in it is entirely under water, and the 
fish swim into it. When the tide is out the ends of the fence 
are in dry ground, and the fish cannot get out again, and are 
easily captured by the skilled hands of the Fijians. 

By the evening I think the village must have had its full 
complement of inhabitants. They crowded into the chief's 
house, and in the light of the rickety lamp on the floor, we 
could see them squatting one beyond the other all over the 

Suddenly I was startled by the very barbaric sound of the 
beating of the " lali," the famous wooden drum of Fiji, which 
in the old days used to summon the people to the horrible 
cannibal feasts. I had seen the drums lying in the village ; 
they looked like great pig-troughs, hollowed out of a tree 
trunk, and I had been told what they were, but had never 
heard them till that night. The dull, penetrating half-musical 
thud, sent a shiver down my back, and I looked round to see 
what was to happen . The people in the room had all assumed 
reverential attitudes, and were quietly waiting. Presently the 
leaves at the door rustled and a tall figure stepped in. It was 
the native missionary, who with the rest of the people had been 

Yangona. 71 

away at the funeral feast. He was dressed in a clean white 
shirt and snlu, and was a handsome, well-made man, very dark 
and with bushy hair, but with a singularly sweet expression. 
He raised his hand in benediction, and the people bowed 
devoutly. Then he squatted on the floor among us, and the 
whole company joined in singing, in Fijian, the hymn — " Abide 
with me "—and never did the beautiful old hymn seem more 
beautiful. It was sung in parts, with perfect precision, the 
rich voices of the men blending in sweet harmony with the 
clear, ringing voices of the women and boys ; I felt I should 
like to listen to it for ever. The native missionary then read 
a portion of scripture and oHered a prayer, the people all 
kneeling with their foreheads on the ground. After another 
hymn had been sung he went away as silently as he came, 
and entered the next house. He goes round thus to each 
house, and this beautiful little service takes place every night. 
No worship has ever impressed me so much, though 1 have 
heard fine music with well trained choirs in many of the world's 
most famous cathedrals, where great preachers have ex- 
pounded the Word of God. This simple service touched a 
deeper chord. 

The light of the one dim lamp on the floor lost itself in the 
far recesses of the vast room and among the cross bars of the 
high roof, and it only partly revealed the congregation, all 
absolutelj^ still and quiet. Outside too there was quiet, for 
all knew it was prayer time, and work, laughter and talk 
were suspended. It was difficult to believe how recent were 
the wild savage days, and that some of those now bending in 
meek devotion had witnessed the most hideous of cannibal 
feasts, and been themselves partakers. 

Presenth^ the leaves of the door again rustled and a man 
entered carrying an uprooted plant with thick jointed stems. 
He squatted near the door and waited. This was a present 
of yangona root to the chief, and was to be used for brewing 
the famous Fiji grog. The great wooden yangona bowl was 
unhooked from the wall, where I had already noticed it hang- 
ing, and set in the middle of the floor ; then preparations 

72 Islands Far Away. 

Yangona is a kind of pepper-wort {Piper methisiicum). It- 
grows in Fiji, but tradition ascribes its origin to Tonga. It is 
said to have been brought over when the Tongans first acci- 
dentally discovered Fiji. It came about in this way: 

Night after night the Tongans had watched the sun drop 
into the sea and a new sun take its place each morning. What 


waste to lose all those beautiful golden discs ! If only one 
could be captured before it sank, what a splendid ornament 
it would make hung round the neck as a breastplate ! 

An adventurous chief and his wife with their young son set 
off in their canoe in quest of it. They sailed away westwards, 
and all day long they kept on their course, but in the evening, 
beyond their reach, the sun vanished into the depths. They 
were not discouraged but still went on, sun after sun eluding 
them. At last with the long exposure their boy began to 
droop and they were glad when they sighted land (Fiji). They 
made for it as quickly as they could, but arrived too late to 
save him ; as they gently carried him on shore he died. They 
buried him there, and watered his grave with their tears. B}^ 
and by a little plant sprang up and grew and flourished : . it 
was Yangona, the delight of Fiji. 

Till lately the first process in the preparation of yangona 
was far from attractive, and I was glad that, for sanitary 
reasons, it had been modified by the English government before 
my day, or I could not have made up my mind to partake, and 
that would have been considered a great slight. Young men 
with good strong teeth acted as mills and chewed up bits of 

Yangona. 73 

the root, being careful not to swallow any of the juice, and 
when it was thoroughly masticated they rolled it into a ball 
with the tongue and spat it into the bowl. Now it is ground 
between two stones instead, but it is said to have lost flavour 
with the change, and there were those, even among the English, 
who actually preferred it chewed. Water is next poured into 
the bowl, and all the fibres of the root are strained out very 
carefully with the fibre of the vau tree, a kind of hibiscus. A 
cup, fashioned from half a coconut is then filled by squeezing 
the juice into it from the fibre used as a sponge, and it is handed 
to the companj^ in order of rank, each person draining the cup 
at a single draught, and spinning it back with a quick gesture 
to the feet of the cup-bearer. 

There is much old ceremonial connected with the making 
and drinking of yangona which I shall describe later on, but 
this was a very informal affair, and interesting only as my first 
experience of Fiji grog. 

No sooner was this brew fuiished than another man slipped 
in with another bunch of the root, and the whole performance 
began again. Still a third man came in. I was getting dread- 
fully tired, and felt a sense of despair and a great longing for 
quiet and to lie down and rest. Mrs. Hopkins said a word to 
the chief and began stringing up the curtain across our corner, 
and when this third supply was done the self-invited guests 
withdrew, and the household settled down to sleep with their 
necks on their wooden pillows. 

Sometimes this yangona drinking goes on all night. Ratu 
Sukuna, the young chief already referred to, told me that 
after he had been absent at any time his welcoming friends- 
would sometimes come in one after the other all night, bring- 
ing yangona roots, for several nights in succession. Etiquette 
in Fiji is very stringent. The present must be accepted, 
however unwelcome, the beverage prepared, and the polite 
attitude maintained all the time. There must be no lying 
do"wn or reclining at ease, except for the highest chief pre- 
sent, nor any dropping off to sleep. My young friend showed 
me how he had to sit all the time, and it seemed as if it could 
not but be painfully cramping, and the constraint must be all 

74 Islands Far Away. 

the more trying as the grog has in itself a soporific effect. 
But a high-bred Fijian would bear anything rather than 
wound feelings or give offence, or do what is considered 

I tried to make out what was the attraction of yangona. To 
me it was simply nasty. It tasted like dirty soapy water 
Avith a certain astringency which left a curious velvety feeling 
in the mouth. It does not intoxicate, or go to the head, but 
when taken to excess it causes a temporary paralysis of the 
legs. As far as I could make out from description, the sensa- 
tion produced after taking a good deal is pretty much that of 
smoking opium — a dreamy feeling of goodness and beauty and 
happiness, and a vanishing away from the mind of any painful 
realities. It does not, however, seem to do much harm after- 
wards, unless when indulged in to very great excess. My 
young friend said he only felt rather "old" next day; but 
squatting all night in the same position would produce this 
feeling without any yangona to account for it. 


Chapter XII. 


There was not much repose that night. The Fijian s are 
restless mortals under all circumstances, marching about and 
talking and going in and out of the house at all hours. But 
it is worse when they have just met together again after a few 
days' separation, and I have never seen anything like it, except 
perhaps in Majorca. They seem as if they could not be still 
a minute, and they chatter, chatter, chatter, like a colony of 
rooks. I wondered what all the talk could be about, but no 
doubt we figured largely in the discourse of those who had 
stayed behind. Once elsewhere we had been kept awake all 
night by the restlessness and eloquence of our companions, 
and finding ourselves alone were trving in the morning to 
snatch a few minutes' rest when some women came in, eager 
to help us about our breakfast, and seeing us still Ipng down 
they remarked to each other " Oh, these English, how they 
do sleep ! " It was a trifle riling. They could always make 
up for their broken nights by lying down on the floor in the 
day time and going fast asleep, but we could not, and were 
often very tired. It was perhaps just as well under the 
circumstances, that our week was dramng to an end ; yet I 
was sorry. I felt it was the close of a stage in my life that 
could never recur ; and though it was really only the beginning 
of my experiences in Fiji, and I should be \dsiting other and 
more interesting villages, Vuni-mbau would always hold its 
own as the first place where I had lifted the veil, and seen into 
the hearts of the people. The fact that I had chosen it myself 
gave me a feeling of proprietorship, all the stronger because 
it was a little place which would always remain obscure, and 


Islands Far Away. 

never become a sight of the world, as might Namosi and 

Mbau some day. The 
women, too, who had 
been round us all the 
time, were very friendly ; 
and if I could only have 
broken through the bar- 
rier of the language we 
might have had nice 
chats. As it was, my 
small efforts were greet- 
ed with enthusiasm. 
There was tremendous 
excitement when I 
brought out a new word, 
and I could hear them 
telling each other about 
it, and going over my 
whole vocabulary which 
was not too copious, and 
as far as I was con- 
cerned amounted to 
almost nothing. In all 
my travels I had been 
used C[uickly to master 
enough even of the pa- 
tois of the people I was 
among, to have pleasant 
intercourse, but here it 
was different. I could 
not grasp even the rudi- 
ments of the language, 
the time being so short 
and my brain so busy 
receiving all the won- 
derful new impressions 
of the scenes passing so rapidly before it. I had a last 
sketch or two to make, and the merry little children as usual 


Farewell to Vuni-mbau. 


placed themselves so as to be sure to be taken, and screamed 
with delight when they found their little sparkling black faces 
on the paper. They have not j^et got the shadowy look of sad- 
ness which is such a marked 
characteristic of their elders. 
While I was sketching under 
the palms I was startled by 
something brushing past my 
shoulder and falling mth a 
terrific crack, at my side. 
There was a rush of the 
children, and a coconut* 
was picked up. If it had 
fallen on my head I should 
not have been here to tell 
the tale. I cannot imagine 
hov/ there are so few 
accidents. On enquiry I 
learned that once a child 
had been killed, and that 
a man and a boy had had 
their heads split open ; but 
this was a small list of casu- 
alties, seeing that coconut 
palms wave over every vil- 
lage, and that the natives 
live out of doors. 

The men were as inter- 
ested and excited about my 
sketches as were the chil- 
dren, and one of the chiefs 
put on all his paraphernalia of war for me to paint him, 

* Coconut is the correct spelling, not " cocoannt " as usually adopted. In a 
very interesting lecture on the subject, Sir EverarJ ini Thurn tells how the nut 
got the name of Coco from Vasco de Gama in 1498 or 1499, prol)ably on account 
of the face-like marks on it when the outer husk is removed, " coco '" meaning 
"grimace" in Portuguese. 

A clerical error in an early edition of Johnson's dictionary gave the spelling as 
"Cocoa nut," confusing it with the very different tropical product called cocoa, 
from the Mexican " cacastal. " 


78 Islands Far Away. 

and they acted a miniature battle for my benefit, in which one 
fell dead. What surprised and delighted them particularly 
was that the sketch came out at once and they could see it 
coming ; whereas for a photograph faith was required. But 
the photographs they saw taken generally ended in becoming 
post-cards, and in their getting copies, and they expected mine, 
too, to turn into post-cards. I am sure if any of them should 
go to Suva they would search very earnestly for them in the 
shops there. 

A Fijian loves to see his own likeness ; it does not much 
matter whether it be good or bad ; he feasts his eyes on it, 
with a look of rapture on his face. They delight in all pictures, 
and they comprehend and understand them wonderfully-, far 
better than our own uneducated classes at home. This makes 
it very surprising that they themselves never try to draw. I 
came upon only one instance of native art ; it was at Nuku- 
loa : an excited croAvd came upon me when I was sketching, 
carrjdng with them a very childish representation of a boat, 
such as might have been done by a little boy of four or five 
at home, executed in colours on the back of a bit of paste- 
board. It was held in front of me, between me and the sketch 
I was doing, with such an evident expectation of admiration 
that I could not do less than say " ^inaka " (good), and enquire 
who had done it. The crowd disappeared in search of the 
artist, and soon returned bringing in triumphal procession a 
pleased but bashful old man, very scantily dressed. He was 
evidently considered the star of the community, but I was 
sorry he was such an old man, as I fear the native art of Fiji 
will soon pass away. 

Our week was over, and we had now to say good bye to our 
village. We were to spend a few more days at Tamanua, 
while I painted the manager's pretty little daughter, Molly ; 
and early in the morning of July 24th we expected one of his 
little launches to come and fetch us back to civilisation, 
but it did not arrive till quite late in the afternoon. I was in 
no hurry, and I got another sketch, and we had one more 
dinner oft' leafy plates on the floor. The tide was so far 
out that the l^are patches of sand seemed to be spreading 

Farewell to Vuni-mbau. 79 

themselves here and there as far as Mbenga, and we had almost 
given up hope of the launch, when on the dim horizon it was 
discovered, a little speck trying in vain to find an approach 
to the shore. The Vuni-mbau men were all off fishing, so 
there was neither boat nor boatman available. The women and 
boys trooped down, and there was great shouting and gesticu- 
lating, till at last the men in the far distance were made to 
understand that there was a creek leading to a little river, up 
which they could come. We joined the launch there, but it 
had to keep well in the middle, not to get stuck in the mud. 
It came up as far as a native bridge, along which we had to 
climb and then drop ourselves into the boat. The bridge was, 
as usual, simply a felled tree thrown across the water, better 
adapted to the bare feet of the natives than to ours ; but eager 
little black hands were ready to help, and we were soon safely 
established in as clean a corner as we could find in the oily 
little boat. 

The natives crowded along the bridge, silent and grave, to 
watch us go. Not a smile on all the dear little faces that had 
been so merry. It was a true Fijian farewell. We called back 
" Sa tiko "* and they replied " Sa lako.""f Then the noisy 
little launch started its unmusical clatter, the lovely river 
with its charming group of natives was left behind, and we 
were gone. 

* " Sa tiko " (you stay) | The Fijian way of saying 
t " Sa lako " (you go) ) ''good-bye." 

Chapter XIII. 


Pretty little Molly Duncan mth her fair complexion, golden 
hair, and blue eyes, was a great change from my late models ; 
she was like a spring flower among the brown leaves of winter. 

My paint box had to be well washed, a process in which she 
took the keenest interest. And then we began. She proved 
a ver}^ good sitter, and a most attentive listener to stories of 
the goat who went to market, and my own special and very 
exciting version of Rumpel Stiltzchen. It was a liberation 
to be able to talk again ; I felt as if I had been labouring under 
a spell. Little Lily, the older girl, superintended the picture 
and imbibed my stories with appetite. She looked a little 
wistful that I could not paint her too and she would have 
made a sweet picture, but Namosi rugged and grand was 
calling us from afar, and we had to shout back, " We come." 

Namosi was one of the places, perhaps the place, I had most 
set my heart on seeing in Fiji. It is a mountain village, in a 
setting of jagged crags more extraordinary in form than any 
I have come across in all my travels. Their outline as seen 
from Suva harbour is enough to excite any artist, especially 
one with an interest in geology, and to produce an intense 
desire for a nearer view. 

My fellow traveller, I believe, was the first white lady to 
visit the spot. It was in her husband's district when he was 
magistrate at Naitonitoni, and she accompanied him on one 
of his yearly visits. The dijfificulties she had then to encounter 
were very great, crossing turbulent rivers among huge boulders, 
and being pulled up slippery, perpendicular rocks. By telling 
me of the wonders of the place, she whetted my desires. Then 

Poling up the Navua River. 8i 

she said it would be impossible for me to reach it, and told of 
dripping clothes and scratched hands. In my case, however, 
the dangers were rather an attraction, and I was almost dis- 
appointed to learn that the magistrate had improved the 
road, circumventing or removing the chief diificulties prior 
to a visit of Lady im Thurn, a fact of which he was extremely 

The district is inhabited by a very mid tribe, not long turned 
from barbarism ; and the magistrate told us there were signs 
of restlessness, and that he did not consider that it would be 
at all safe for us to visit it alone ; as, however, he would be 
going up for his annual council meeting he offered to take us 
with him, and it was just about this time that he was pro 
posing to go. Circumstances, however, interfered and his 
meeting was put olf till September, too late for us. He tried 
to dissuade us altogether from going, but when he found that 
we were quite determined, he rendered every assistance and 
made things as easy as possible. 

As he considered that a proper escort was absolutely neces- 
sar}'-, ha arranged that the native doctor from Namuamua, a 
superior and very fine looking man, should accompany us, 
remain with us all the time, and bring us safely back. Then 
we had four men carriers and a chaperon. Both the magis- 
trate and his wife insisted that we should have a native woman 
with us for propriety, and to wait on us. A pretty, sweet 
creature, the wife of a chief, would much have liked to come 
with us, but her husband was a bit of an ogre and he would 
not have it. So another lady was procured. I do not know 
what was the reason of the choice, but certainly it was not 
beauty. I suppose she considered herself well connected, for 
she brought more luggage than we, having her own pillows, 
stuffed cotton ones with frilled pillow cases, and a considerable 
wardrobe, which enabled her to be resplendent in a silk and 
lace pinafore at Namosi on Sunday ; and no doubt the ladies 
there realised that she had quite the latest cut in sleeves. She 
also carried a large umbrella, to protect her from the sun and 
to save her very dark complexion no doubt ! This umbrella 
proved the greatest bother to me, because, combined with her 


Islands Far Awa 


broad substantial person, it completely cut ofiE my view when 
she walked immediately in front of me in the narrow paths, 
or sat before me in the boat, a view which I had come so far 
to see, and which was to be seen just once in a lifetime. Some- 
times we induced her to put her umbrella down for a little, 

but it was soon up again. I am 
sure it gave her a consciousness 
of great style and superiority. 

It was hard work for our men 
poling against the stiff current 
and getting our boat up rapids 
a.nd among boulders. Formerly 
it was extremely difficult and 
even dangerous ; but, on account 
of banana traffic, the worst 
rocks had been removed by 
blasting, which was still going 
on. A certain amount of ex- 
citement remained however, 
especially on the return journey, 
when the boat swirled and 
twisted in shooting some of the 
rapids. Our men were full of 
talk about an artist who had 
gone that way the previous year 
and been overturned. I am 
afraid they were rather amused 
at his lamentations over his losb 
photographs and sketches. I 
had little concern for a ducking, 
or even the risk of a shark, but 
I would have failed to see the joke if the Navua had claimed 
my sketch book, so I kept it in my hand ready to pitch on to 
the bank should an accident occur. Indeed it was constantly in 
my hand in order to snatch what impressions I could in season 
and out of season. Unless I had done this I should have had 
little to bring home of the wonderful panorama which was 
always unrolling itself before us in our wanderings through 


Poling up the Navua River. 83 

the islands, the most beautiful scenes appearing when there 
was the least opportunity to sketch. 

Our baggage was reduced to a minimum, as it had often to 
be taken out of the boat and carried by the men, while we 
scrambled over stones along the banks, to lighten the boat 
where the water was shallow and navigation hardly possible. 
Later, when we finished our journej'' on foot, the men had to 
carry it entirely. 

We had, however, to take provisions with us, as we could 
count only on yams and taro at Namosi. When we stopped 
to hmch on a gravelly island in the middle of the river, the 
men quietly helped themselves to a loaf each, and one for the 
chaperon, six out of our supply of eight. We were horrified, 
and my companion at once took over the provisions and gave 
them out as she thought fit, and it was astonishing how 
economically she managed. We all fared alike. Tea and 
biscuits served us in the middle of the day, and when we put 
up in the evening in a native mbure she secured the household 
pot, and "vvith one tin of meat, to which were added yams and 
taro till there was enough for all, she made a savoury stew. 
The doctor and the chaperon ate with us, and the men had 
the rest afterwards. A bit of the two precious remaining 
loaves handed round after dinner served as pudding, and it 
was wonderful how nice that bread tasted. 

We had lovely weather all the time, which is very unusual 
here w^here it is more often wet than fine, the luxuriant vege- 
tation bearing testimony to the frequent rain. 

Poling up the river was a true luxury. Our men decked 
themselves with wreaths of flowers intermingled with streamers 
of masi (beaten bark), and put roses in their hair, wliich made 
a pretty touch of colour and gave a festive appearance. They 
wore these ornaments the whole time, and, when walking on 
in front carrpng our belongings, they looked very picturesque 
threading their way among tall ferns and straggling creepers. 
In all our journeys with carriers, they were constantly decora- 
ting themselves. They could not pass coloured leaves or flowers 
without stopping to gather and bestow some of these about 
their persons. 

84 Islands Far Away. 

The first night we spent at Namuamua, the doctor's home, 
a beautiful little village clinging to the high cliffs which here 
rise on each side of the river. 

The doctor had been away some little time, and he was 
disgusted to find everything in his little domain completely 
neglected, his servants not having done a stroke of work while 
he was away. 

After supper and a little rest, I wandered by moonlight 
about the village and along the top of the cliffs. The silvery 
light was so bright that I could see mountain beyond mountain 
vanishing in the far distance, and the glittering river ^nnding 
in the valley beneath, appearing and disappearing among the 
misty shadows of the cliffs. Nearer, the pretty reed-built 
houses nestled among the palms, and here and there the red 
glow of a lamp blinked through a doorway, casting a warm 
line of light across the grass. Nothing could have been more 
peacefully beautiful. 

M}^ companion joined me to say that, in spite of their long, 
hard day's work, our men had offered to take us a little bit 
up the river and across to a village on the other side. We 
were delighted to accept . and we thoroughly enjoyed the row 
in the moonhght. 

From one of the houses we heard chanting as we strolled 
through the village, and looking in we were much interested 
to find a large class of tiny boys in leafy garments learning 
" meke." They were so eager to catch the words of the 
chants and the correct motions of these intricate war dances, 
that they went straight on and never heeded us, though the 
advent of two white ladies must have been a rare event. All 
these little dark scholars, with their gleaming eyes, brandishing 
miniature clubs, and swaying their lithe little bodies in unison, 
had a curious and somewhat impressive effect in the dim lamp 

A bath in the river ended the day. We slipped down bare- 
foot through the tangle of dewy vegetation shimmering in 
the silvery moonlight, and stepped into the glittering water. 

The doctor vacated his house for us, and we retired — 1 was 
going to saj^ to rest, but there was no rest that night. The 

Poling up the Navua River. 


doctor had just come home, and he had to have his welcome, 
and everything had to be discussed. His friends assembled 
just outside our door, and they talked and talked all night 
without stopping. Tired as we were with, the long day, it was 
quite impossible to sleep, and we were glad when it was time 
to get up and set about arrangements for the last stage of our 



The first preparation for our pedestrian journey was the 
making of baskets to carry our food, so as to dispense with 
the heavy, clumsy packing cases. It was interesting to 
watch how skilfully this was done. A large palm-leaf was 
gathered and plaited up, and in about five minutes a sub- 
stantial and very picturesque basket resulted, with a handle 
by which it was slung on to a pole. I brought one of 

86 Islands Far Away. 

these baskets home, and it was amusing to see the astonish- 
ment of the young Fijian chief who visited me at Wroxham, 
when he saw it hanging up in my studio. "We would call 
that a very common basket in Fiji," he said. 

When all was ready for departure, T wanted to get a remem- 
brance of the whole party setting off, and made my wishes 
known through my interpreter. The men immediately put 
down their loads and crossing their arms, arranged themselves 
in a neat group, like the photo of a cricket team or boating 
party, all full face in the same attitude. I remonstrated, and 
when my desires were interpreted to them, and they learned 
that I wished to draw their backs as they walked away, they 
became so angry that they looked quite dangerous. I had 
drawn their fine athletic backs the day before as they poled 
the boat, and now to want to draw their backs again gave 
dire offence. There is still a lingering recollection of the old 
fear of a treacherous dart from behind, which makes a Fijian 
very nervous pbout his back, and it is considered bad manners 
in Fiji to pass behind a person. You must always pass in 
front ; indeed, in the old days, it was a matter of clubbing if 
any went behind a chief. It was some time before our men 
recovered from the insult I had unwittingly inflicted, and 
they were very sulkj^ most of the way to Namosi. 

In ascending the river we had already reached a consider- 
able height. We now left our boat behind, and proceeded 
on foot to make a climb through indescribably grand and 
beautiful scenery. We kept to the little native path, and had 
to walk in single file. It was well worn, and wound its way 
among thick vegetation and through endless streams, which 
we generally had to ford, as they are spanned only occasionally, 
when narrow and deep, by a log bridge. The men were 
always ready to carry us, but I preferred to walk. I wore 
canvas shoes, leather boots being no good in Fiji where so 
much wading is required, and I enjoyed stepping through 
the cool water. 

The path was unlike anything I had seen before. It bore 
the impress of the constant tread of generations of bare 
feet. Where it made its way over rocks or up the naked 

Poling up the Navua River. 87 

mountain side, the stone was smooth and pohshed, telhng of 
the many years it had been used ; and it was easy to picture 
the "vvild dark men in their fearsome war paint, with their 
arrows and long spears and murderous clubs, sUpping stealthily 
over this very path, intent on aggression or revenge. These 
heights were seldom scaled on a peaceful errand. War was 
the game of life, and all the men played it. 

A part of the way led through an alley of hibiscus ; the 
branches, bright with big scarlet and crimson flowers, met 
overhead. It told of a white man's effort to live there, which 
had failed, and house and all were gone. To grow this beau- 
tiful hibiscus in Fiji it is necessary only to cut off slender 
branches and stick them in the ground, and they are soon 
graceful little trees. Our men renewed their decorations, and 
we went on our way, which all the rest of the time led through 
undisturbed nature. Shaddock trees, with fruit like great 
yellow oranges, dropped their burdens on our path, and we 
refreshed ourselves with the juice as we walked. Thej'^ are 
not so good as oranges, and being very astringent, too much 
of the juice draws the mouth unpleasantly, producing sore 
throat. Lemon trees abounded too, old and gnarled, which 
were laden with luscious fruit, juicy and ripe and richly scented, 
but too acid to be palatable. 

Chapter XIV. 


The scenery grew grander and grander. Our path lay high 
on the mountain side and we looked across a deep valley to 
mountains which seemed to have been pitched about in fan- 
tastic confusion, rent and riven by wild volcanic action long 
ago, but now smiling in the sunshine and clothed in nature's 
loveliest dress. Here, in tliis mild damp climate, wherever 
there is a little ledge something springs up. In the cracks of 
the beetling precipices there are little emerald lines, and on 
the very crest of the mountains, high up among the clouds, 
there is a feathery edge of green. All over the slopes a 
sweeping velvet mantle covers every thing, only the undu- 
lating lights and shadows indicating the irregularity of the 
ground underneath. This makes the scenery very indi\'idual 
and exceedingly difficult to paint. It took me some time to 
get used to it and to feel it to be quite natural. 

Then we began to descend and plunged into the jungle 
which hid everything. Suddenly it opened and we had a 
peep of the strange crags which surround Namosi, and in a 
few minutes we were there. 

Could it be real — or was I dreaming, and was this a stage 
where some great play was to be acted, with scenery painted 
by a master hand ? 

It was so utterly different from anything I had seen before, 
that I stood looking with a dazed feeling and it was some 
time before I could realise that it was tangible. Even now, 
when I look back, this first sight of Namosi and the time I 
spent there, seem more like a dream or apiece of savage poetry 
of which I formed a part, than an actual event in my life. I 

90 Islands Far Away. 

had been taken so completely out of myself that it was almost 
painful to be recalled by my companion's questions, " Well, 
what do you think of it ? Is it as nice as you expected ? Are 
you disappointed ? " I had to wake myself up to try to say 
something appropriate. 

There before us lay the broad green " rara," which looked 
as fiat and fair as an English la-v\Ti ; and round it, neatly and 
evenly set, the reed houses, at the far end that of the chief, 
larger than the rest, and with a palm tree at each side. Then, 
behind, surrounding it on all sides, battlements and bulwarks 
of rugged crags. No wonder Namosi was difficult to subdue, 
and that it was one of the last places where cannibalism and 
barbarism hid themselves away. 

The sun was low and streams of golden light poured them- 
selves between the rocks, lighting up into glorious hues the 
"croton " and dracsena leaves round the houses ; while on the 
grass the people were moving about, the men, fine athletic 
figures with hardly anything on, and the women in gay 
draperies and gayer hair, for it was dyed every colour — yellow, 
orange, and even magenta. All this added to the strangeness 
of the picture, and made Namosi what it was. 

The chief, Ratu Langi-ni-Vala, a pleasant, well-mannered and 
intelligent man, with a deeply marked countenance, received 
us with great kindness. He much regretted that, through 
some mistake, word had not reached him of our coming, so that 
no preparation had been made to receive us, nor had provisions 
been got in. He conducted us to his house, which as usual con- 
sisted of one very large room, which in this case measured fifty- 
one feet by thirty-one ; and he allowed to us the end with the 
■dais, the place of honour. There we strung up our curtain, 
which however we could not draw except at night, as that would 
be thought so rude and unfriendly in Fiji. People trooped 
in from every side, and, while the chief's pretty Mbengan wife 
was preparing a meal for us, we were plied with questions. 
First came the inevitable, " Where are your husbands ? " My 
companion explained that her's was dead. " We know that, 
but could you not get another ? " They were much surprised 
when she said she did not want one. As for me, thev could 

Namosi. 91 

not get over the idea that I had never had any husband at all. 
They failed to understand my family allowing it, and my 
wishing it. Wherever we went this v/as always a great source 
of astonishment and speculation. Mrs. Hopkins often heard 
them discussing the matter. They evidently thought it great 
waste of good material and said what a pity it was, for we 
could have made two strong men so happy. This was a great 
compliment, as strength is always looked upon by them as the 
thing most worthy of respect. The strong men might have 
been very imposing belongings, but we could travel more lightly 
without them ! After learning that I had no husband, the 
Fijians invariably enquired if I had any children. And Mrs. 
Hopkins had to tell them that it was not the custom for un- 
married women in England to have children. 

I strolled out after supper to acquaint myself with my sur- 
roundings, which seemed more lovely than ever in the twilight. 
The people had gone in and there was an air of peace and 
quiet everywhere ; the only sound was the murpiur of voices 
from the surrounding houses and the tinkle of the Wai-ndina, 
the loveliest of lovely rivers, which flows beside the village. 
On the other side were black fro\vning rocks, and dense vege- 
tation hiding with its kindly curtain terrible secrets, some of 
which were to be revealed to us later on, for there once stood 
the old town of Namosi. It was nice to learn that the sweet 
village green of to-day had never been stained with blood, or 
disgraced with heathen orgies, and that the houses, so cheerful 
and attractive, had never been spoiled by evil rites. When 
the inhabitants were converted and gave up cannibalism, 
twenty years ago, they were seized with fear and disgust and 
could not stay in their polluted village, so they deserted, it 
and, crossing the river, built the new village, clean and fresh, 
on the other side. 

When I came back the lamp was lighted and stood askew 
on the billowy floor, and my fellow traveller was squatting 
native fashion in the middle of a large group of intensely in- 
terested listeners, to whom she was telling what had happened 
in the great far away world since her visit here years ago. 
They remembered her visit well. It was a great event, and they 

92 Islands Far Away. 

had talked about it ever since. They had seen six other white 
ladies, but she had been the first, and in consequence a person 
of great distinction. She chatted on and on in fluent Fijian and 
told them all about the King's funeral, and the coronation and 
endless other things, and neither she nor her listeners seemed 
to tire. Fijians are veritable children where there is question 
of a story. They listen as only children listen, with an in- 
tensity of attention and delight, handing over their whole 
being to absorb the narrative. What a good time I should 
have had if only I could have spoken the language. I was 
quite jealous of the talker spinning her yams while I had to 
sit dumb, not even knowing what she was talking about. 

Our guests sat late and I was very tired. I counted twenty- 
seven of them, but I daresay there were far more. The light 
was very dim, and it was difficult to make out the dark figures 
one behind the other, losing themselves in the shadowy distance 
of the big room. 

At last they melted silently away and we prepared for bed. 
Our ablutions were performed in the Wai-ndina. The bath 
in the cool moonlight after the crowded room, was very refresh- 
ing, and a good preparation for the night. It was not very 
easy to sleep however, partly on account of the rats, wliich 
were very lively. When they scampered over the floor their 
little feet made a great pattering on the soft matting, and when 
they ran along the beams they dropped things down which 
rattled on the floor. I resented their looking at me in bed, 
but they never came inside the mosquito net, which thus was 
useful in more ways than one. 

I chose for my resting place the vicinity of a little window 
with shutters, which I had opened. It was pleasant to feel 
the night air and to watch the moonlight among the palm 
trees, but a pussy found the opening convenient, and it was 
not a little disturbing when she chose many times to jump in 
and out, right on the top of me. I do not know how the rats 
and she managed to live so good-naturedly together. It seemed 
to be carrying peace and goodwill a little too far. 

The Fijians too were very restless. I peeped out from 
behind the curtain, and saw them lying about over the floor 

Namosi. 93 

with their little hard "■ pillows " tucked under their necks. I do 
not know who they all were, for the chief had only one little 
boy, a child of three years old, who early in the evening had 
dropped asleep in a little heap where he had been sitting by 
the lamp, and had been covered with infinite tenderness by his 
mother with a warm shawl, and then carried by his father and 
gently laid down in a far corner. There seemed a good many 
people altogether and they were always waking up and talking. 
One old wretch had a great deal to say and when he did go 
to sleep he snored abominably, so that we much regretted that 
our useful curtain kept out no sound. 

During this part of our travels we had the loan of a hurri- 
■cane lantern, and we left it alight all night, which was a great 
■comfort. Later we had to do without any such luxuries, but 
we were more used to things then ; we had even to forego our 
beloved curtain and make the best shelter we could by stringing 
aip a waterproof. The mosquito net we never dispensed with. 
It was an absolute necessity, and, when the worst came to the 
worst, it gave us privacy, and a good deal of our toilet could 
be performed inside, but I often felt as if I were going to bed 
in the street. 

Next day w^as devoted to sketching, but I wished I had more 
time before me. It was despairing w'ork to try to catch 
anything of this entirely new scenery in such a little wiiile, 
•and there was difficulty in settling to one thing when on all 
sides subjects were calling me to sketch them. I tried to 
grasp thp village with the people flitting about, and they were 
interested as usual and recognised the tiniest figures. The 
natives here are different from those by the sea, where there 
is a mixture of Tongan blood. They are much blacker, and 
a, good many of them have a distinctly wild savage appearance, 
■and of course most of the old people had been cannibals. 

One old man, Gangi-ni-Lawa (Strength of the Law), b}' 
name, who frequented our house, delighted in telling about 
the old days, w^hich I fear he regretted. He told with gusto 
of the feasts after the battles, and he said human flesh was 
■delicious, better than beef or mutton. He remembered too 
that much talked-of event when the missionary, Mr. Baker 


Islands Far Awa 


was killed and cooked with his Wellington boots on, which 
were supposed to be a kind of hide, and he saw one of the 
feet which was sent here as a gift to the grandfather of the 
present chief, and I think he may have tasted it, for he said 
white flesh was not so good as black, being much Salter. He 
was very dark, with a sooty complexion and a heavy un- 
pleasant mouth. 

There was an old woman here who boasted of having been 

a thorough out and out 
,,_ cannibal. She must 

have reached a great 
age, for her son and her 
grandson and her great 
grandson were all in the 
village. With difficulty 
we induced them to 
come out and stand, so 
that T might perpetuate 
the group. The son too 
had been a cannibal. 
The expression of all, 
except that of the little 
boy, was distinctly re- 
pellant though there 
was a certain hand- 
someness about them. 
The old woman was well 
preserved, erect of car- 
riage, and with remark- 
able eyes, sharp and 
piercing and hawk-like. The lobe of her ear was distended 
and a large white shell inserted and her fingers were much 
mutilated. Many of the older people here had several 
joints missing from fingers and toes ; this was a sign of 
mourning. In case of a death the relatives and friends cut 
off a finger or toe joint with a sharp stone, searing the stump 
in the fire, and then carrying the bit to the house where the 
dead lay. Even children sometimes gave of themselves in 


Namosi. 95 

this way, and the trophies of affection and regret were hung 
round the door. In the case of a person who bad been much 
beloved, or of a very high chief, there would be wreaths of 
these ghastly relics, on which the near relatives gazed \sith 
proud satisfaction. 

This old woman was tatooed, as were all the older women 
in the place. One woman, who had been done with especial 
care, invited my companion in to see her tatooing. It was 
exactly like a short pair of drawers and was always hidden 
by even the scanty clotliing of long ago. Though no one 
could see it, and the process was horribly painful, the girls 
willingly submitted to it, because this costume was de riguevr 
with the god Ndengei who ruled in the world of spirits, and 
no woman wdthovit her tatoo garment was admitted to his 
heaven. It was done at the age of twelve or thirteen and 
occupied days. The young girl was held down by one woman, 
while another drew the lacy pattern into the flesh with the 
tooth of a rat or a shark. The pain wa.s so exhausting that 
intervals of a day or two's rest had to be given in the middle 
of the operations. Could the faith of us Christians stand such 
a test ? I often think there is many a lesson to be learned 
from untutored savages. 

In the evening I had the last of my moonlight baths in Fiji. 
It was specially delicious, our dusky chaperon accompanying 
me, but she sat on the bank in the deep shade of the trees 
while I splashed into the water. The sky was cloudless and the 
moon clear and round. It had recently risen and was low, so 
that the shadows were long and dark. But where the light 
fell it was bright as day. The new village was all dark, but 
the silvery rays shot across the rippling water, and lit up the 
tangled foliage on the forbidden ground of the deserted tovm 
on the other side, where no foot but the chief's might tread, 
and to him it was a place of fear, not to be visited at night. 
Weird creatures of the imagination peopled the solitudes, and 
kept guard over the ripe fruit which hung heavy on the trees 
and dropped into the sparkling waters. 

Loath to leave a scene of such fairy-like beauty I stayed 
some time in the river. When I came out I found my dark 

96 Islands Far Away. 

companion a little excited and nervous, and most eager to get 
back to the house as quickly as possible. An invisible hand, 
she said, had thrown a stone at me from the shadowy depths 
of old Namosi. I had neither seen nor heard anything of it, 
and terror, I was sure, had conjured it up, but the chief took 
the whole matter very gravel3^ His ancestors he said, were 
buried on the top of the rocks which crown the old town ; 
they did not like their solitude disturbed at night, and it would 
be the ghost of one of them which threw the mj'^sterious stone. 
It was well, he said, that I had not been killed, and it would 
not be at all safe for me to venture there again at night. 

Mrs. Hopkins would not allow me to open the shutters of 
the little window any more. She said pussy disturbed her, 
but afterwards she told me that she had really been nervous, 
a very unusual thing for her. She did not like the stone 
episode, and thought a human hand had thrown it, and she 
disliked the look of a great many of the people. This all gave 
her a feeling of uneasiness and distrust, which in her mind 
justified the magistrate's warning, and made her feel that it 
was necessary to be careful. 

In the middle of the night, the stillness was rent by piercing 
shrieks, and wail after wail followed. A cold shiver ran 
through me, and I started up to listen. The cries gradually 
subsided, and there was quiet again, but sleep was hard to woo 
back. In the morning we learned that the lamentations 
announced the death of a child who had been ill for some 
time, and next day when we passed near the house where it 
lay we could hear the mother weeping and sobbing, a most 
pathetic sound. 

Chapter XV. 


In the morning Ratu Langi-ni-Vala offered to take Mrs. 
Hopkins and me to see the site of old Namosi. I was glad that 
the sun was shining cheerily, or the gloom of this weird for- 
bidden spot would have been too oppressive. We left the 
bright busy village behind and forded the Wai-ndina at its 
shallowest part, the chief carrying us across the deeper places. 
On the other side the silence of death reigned, not a living 
creature stirred, there was not even the humming of an insect 
to disturb the utter silence. 

The chief tore his way through the matted verdure and we 
followed as best we could. It was difficult to make headway, 
for the weeds were tall and the great leaves as they tried to 
open were seized by vines with long succulent stems, which 
wreathed and twisted over everything, covering the rocks and 
hanging in long garlands from the trees. They had been very 
busy, for they had much to hide, much that no one must see. 
The chief poked about with a stick he carried, then at last he 
began vigorously to pull away the creepers and expose to view 
some large stones standing on end. When two or three of the 
stones were bare he pointed them out to us and told us that 
each stone represented five people killed and eaten. He had 
himself counted seven hundred of these, and there were more. 
They formed a ring right round the old Namosi town — strange 
monuments of a savage time. Soon it will be impossible to 
find them any more, for dame nature is already adopting them 
and they will have disappeared in her arms. We went a little 
farther, ploughing our way through the thick vegetation 
where for years no foot had trod. From among it a few posts 

98 Islands Far Away. 

stood out, themselves clothed in verdure. This was all that 
was left of old Namosi. Ratu Langi pointed out two rather 
larger than the rest, twined with graceful creepers. These 
were the king posts of the chief's house. He said they were 
very hard wood and had lasted seven generations. Long ago 
when they were put in, silent unresisting serfs had held them 
till the earth was filled in and they were buried alive. The chief 
showed us where the gigantic cannibal pot had stood, which 
was large enough to enable two bodies to be cooked at once. 
Probably it had been brought from the coast and was originally 
a beche-de-mer pot ; but it was gone now and the killing 
stone near by had been buried out of sight never to be seen 
again. Round about in all directions were orange trees with 
beautiful ripe fruit going to waste. The chief gathered a 
bunch and gave it to us, but he took none himself — they were 
deliciously refreshing, the best I have ever tasted. From 
among the grass and weeds sprang great spikes of the most 
beautiful flowers (Amomum, or thevunga in Fijian) ; yet, fond 
as the Fijians are of flowers, and although these special ones 
are great favourites with them, much coveted for meke dresses, 
and general decoration, no one would touch them. Year by 
year the thevunga blooms and the oranges ripen and drop 
unheeded, guarded by grim superstition, a more complete pro- 
tector than a whole army of constables. 

Above us rose two great steep rocks, on the top of which 
were buried our companion's ancestors. These were laid on 
soft mats ■\\dth their wives who died for them, voluntarily 
giving themselves to be strangled, that they might accompany 
their lords to the land of spirits and wait on them there. Here 
again faith in their own creed gave them courage, and made 
them cheerfully lay down their lives, believing that it was the 
one door to heaven and a happy hereafter. 

Ratu Langi told us that at the coming of age of his grand- 
father, Ratu Kuru-ndua-ndua, whose bones were resting on the 
top of the rock above us, a whole village was sacrificed to 
celebrate the occasion. The ceremony, which was a great affair, 
took place when he was about fifteen. A rebellious village 
was selected and all the inhabitants killed off, the bodies being 

The Old Town of Namosi. 99 

brought to Namosi and piled up to form a liigh platform. 
Upon this the boy climbed, accompanied by two of his uncles, 
who invested him with a club and his first clothing, a long 
strip of pure white tapa. Meanwhile the priest chanted 
prayers that he might kill many enemies, have long life and 
never be conquered in battle, the whole assembled town 
looking on. 

At Ratu Langi's father's coming of age there were no 
victims. Seemann, who was one of the first visitors to Namosi, 
happened to be there just at the time, and when he learned 
what was about to take place, and that five hundred inhabi- 
tants of the town of Sauana were to be sacrificed, he induced 
Ratu Kuru-ndua-ndua to spare the town, and to let him do 
the investing. The ceremony was carried out with great eclat 
and he gave the boy a gun instead of the usual club, and 
wrapped him in thirty yards of Manchester print. Now his 
remains and those of his father lie in this silent spot on the 
top of the great black rocks. 

I was anxious to visit the graves, and we wandered right 
round the rocks to see if there were any means of access. But 
the cliflis rose perpendicularly all round to a height of some 
thirty or forty feet and there did not seem to be a foothold 
for a cat. How a chief's body could be got up there, with 
those of his -wives, seemed a complete mystery and Ratu 
Langi could not enlighten us as he had never been up there 

The rocks were of very dark stone, blotted over ^\^th black 
lichen which intensified their gloomy appearance. It was 
relieved only by an orange tree which, high up, had found 
footing in a crack, and hung down branches heavy with bright 
coloured fruit. 

We left the enchanted garden to its silence and loneliness 
again and made our way back to human habitation and life. 

I think Ratu Langi's wife was very glad to see us safe back. 
She was waiting for us at the door with her little boy. All 
the time we were away she had been busy with preparations 
to welcome the little stranger who was to come by and by 
and claim a share of the love so largely bestowed on her son. 

loo Islands Far Awa 


The preparations were simple, twelve tiny mats woven by 
her own loving hands out of fine strips of pandanus leaves and 
edged with scarlet wool, and she showed them to us with 
great pride. They were very soft and of the most delicate 
workmanship. I gave much pleasure by laying a pretty 
necklace on the little pile. 

In the afternoon the native doctor proposed taking my 
fellow traveller to another village a considerable distance 
away, and not caring for several hours tete a. tete, she took 
our chaperon with her. I went a bit of the way but returned 
alone, as I was eager to make a drawing of some of the more 
remarkable mountains round Namosi. The walk through 
this intensely grand and beautiful scenery was a great treat. 
It was all more like a picture than reality in its utter stillness 
and silence. The path was a well marked native track on 
the brow of the hill, and deep down below rippled the 
Wai-ndina, too far away for the sound of its waters to reach 
me. Round about was rich tropical vegetation, and across the 
valley I caught glimpses of the mountains, crag upon crag 
standing out bold against the sky. But it was necessary to 
hurry if I was to get a sketch, for the clouds were gathering 
and beginning to wrap up the highest peaks. I was surprised 
how far I had gone ; and when I reached Namosi the cloud 
curtain had descended and the mountains were completely 
blotted out. This was a disappointment indeed, till I be- 
thought me of the old man who had been a cannibal, and of 
how interesting it would be to get a sketch of him beating the 
lali in front of the Christian church. 

Namosi is Roman Catholic, but I do not think religion has 
any great hold. As far as my limited experience in Fiji went, 
I did not think Roman Catholicism appealed to the people, 
or had as much influence with them as the simple form of 
Methodism which I met with at Vunirmbau and elsewhere. 
The Namosi church was simply one of the houses rather patched 
and out of repair. I went to the service on Sunday and 
found that the inside was somewhat dirty and neglected, and 
the congregation, mostly women and children, inattentive. 
They told their beads and mumbled their prayers, which they 

The Old Town of Namosi. 


did not understand, staring about them, and stopping to make 
whispered comments upon me. I do not think that the 
service meant much more to them than their own meki 
chants, and it was less cheerful and attractive. 

My having come back alone interested the people, and 
when they gathered round me I managed with my rudimen- 
tary Fijian and ample signs to make them understand that I 
wanted Ganga ni Lawa. The man was produced and seemed 
flattered when he realised my wish 
to sketch him. I pointed at him, 
then at my paper and brush, and 
then at the big lali in front of the 
church. My meaning was grasped, 
and we were soon established, I on 
my little stool, and he with the 
heavy wooden drum sticks in his 
hands and his black eyes steadily 
fixed on me. He got stiff and 
tired but I could not tell him to 
rest, and the only thing was to 
finish as quicklj^ as possible. 
This dark old cannibal had not a 
pleasant face and the stare of his 
eyes seemed to mesmerize me so 
that I could hardly paint. It was 
the only time I ever felt nervous 
in Fiji. It was impossible to forget 

his conversation of the day before, and how completely he had 
been reared in savagery ; one felt too that the savage was in 
him still, only kept in abeyance by English rule. I was not ex- 
actly afraid, but there was a sense of uneasiness in this strange 
wild place among a people whose language I did not know, 
painting the dark old Fijian before me with his transfixing eyes. 
It was a comfort that I was not alone with him and that a large 
group had gathered to watch the progress of the sketch which 
I made a hasty one, and it was a relief when I could sign to 
my model that it was done. He hurried round at once to 
look at his portrait and though I was not very well pleased 


I02 Islands Far Away. 

with it myself, it gave the greatest satisfaction to him and to 
all the other natives. My pictures were the delight of the 
place. Every evening Ratu Langi asked for them, and they 
were spread out on the floor under the lamp, and crowds came 
to see them, sometimes from long distances. Ratu Langi 
acted showman and pointed out all the interesting details to 
a thoroughly appreciative audience. He showed very good 
taste and admired most the best sketches. The group of 
slightly dressed figures bending over my sketch book in the 
glow of the lamp looked very picturesque. It was a pity it 
was not possible to paint them. 

Chapter XVI. 


Everything must come to an end. We had reached the last 
evening at Namosi, and Ratn Langi was determined to make 
it a memorable one. First, the great yangona bowl was taken 
down from the wall, and there was a more ceremonious 
yangana drinking than I had yet seen, though not so cere- 
monious as we were to see later on. Mrs. Hopkins had in- 
structed me how to handle the yangona cup (a polished half 
coconut), which was very fortunate, as it was handed to me 
first, the principal guest, and it would have been a gi'eat pity 
to have made a mistake. It should properly have been handed 
first to the chief and, as women, not to us at all. We were 
however always treated as if we had been men and high 
chiefs. A kneeling figure presented it to me, while the large 
company behind chanted, strange wild sort of chants. When 
I took the cup, merciful! \^ only half filled for me, they all clapped 
their hands in unison as I drained it at a single draught, and 
then dexterously span it back to the foot of the cup-bearer. 
My success in accomplishing this always gave great satis- 
faction, and was received with shouts of applause and ex- 
clamations of " A Matha " (it is dry). With very little trouble, 
it is wonderful how much pleasure one can often give in 
travelling, by observing little points of etiquette, and con- 
forming to the usages of the people one is amongst. 

During the ceremony gorgeous figures were slipping in 
through the door — men with well polished and oiled skins, 
wearing fringes of brilliantly coloured leaves round their 
waists, and with garlands hung about their necks and twisted 
round their arms and legs, and leaves and flowers stuck in 

104 Islands Far Away. 

their great bushy heads of hair. Each carried a heavy 
alarming looking club, giving altogether a most barbaric 
appearance. This was a meke (war dance) arranged for our 
benefit. The men went through a great many manoeuvres 
in absolute unison, sometimes brandishing their clubs, some- 
times apparently listening or pointing to some hidden foe, 
while their bodies writhed and twisted, many of the motions 
being so unlike anything European as to give a strange savage 
look. All the time they chanted weird songs, their actions 
corresponding no doubt to the words, while their black eyes 
gleamed and glittered. 

These chants are very old and many of them in almost 
obsolete Fijian. Sometimes they are historical, relating to 
real events, the memory of which is thus transmitted, but 
more often they are legends about wild expeditions to impos- 
sible places, and hair breadth escapes from monsters. 

One tells of the god Okova, whose beautiful wife Tutuwathu- 
wathu was carried off by a gigantic bird ; and of his long search 
for her accompanied by her brother, and of their arrival too 
late, when the bird had finished his repast, and had left nothing 
of the lady but her little finger. It tells how the two disconso- 
late gods prayed three other gods to help them to destroy the 
bird, and how they sent a wind which blew up its tail and 
exposed its vitals when a well aimed arrow ended its existence. 
They pitched its body into the sea, which caused such a com- 
motion and displacement that the water reached the top of 
the highest mountains. First, however, they had secured 
a feather to use as a sail for their canoes to take them home. 
They could not take a wing feather, it would have been too 
big and would have capsized the vessel. 

There are many other similar and equally wild legends. 
Sometimes the gods get into mischief, and go off mth other 
people's wives. They assume all kinds of disguises — turtles, 
snakes, etc. One of their gods, on such an errand bent, took 
the form of a pretty girl and was admitted to the house he 
meant to rob. But he was discovered by the way he sat and 
promptly clubbed. He sat with his knees apart as men sit, 
not with knees together as a girl would have done. 

The Last Evening at Namosi. 105 

Much in these old stories reminds one of the Greek My- 

It was late when the yangona drinking and meke were over, 
and we had a very earlj^ start before us ; but the huge assembled 
company had no inclination to go away, and, as it was our 
last night we did not like to hurry them, or seem in any way 
inhospitable or unkind. Suddenly an old man suggested that 
as they had done all they could to entertain us, would we not 
do something to entertain them ? Could we not sing ? My 
fellow traveller promptly began, and sang " Home, Sweet 
Home " and some other things, but they wanted me to sing 
too. I am not used to singing in public, but, strange to say, I 
was not at all nervous and sang " Dame Goose " and " Baby 
Bear," and some of the other songs with which I have often 
entertained my youthful sitters at home, my audience testifjdng 
their approval by gentle clapping and exclamations of 
" vinaka." 

Our dark-skinned neighbours were all there, filling the whole 
great room. I could see my old cannibal among them, lying 
full length on the floor in a picturesque attitude. He seemed 
to look blacker than ever, and the whites of his eyes glistened 
in the lamp light. 

A request next came that we should dance. My com- 
panion said " We cannot dance without music." One of the 
meke men said, " But I can play the accordion." He slipped 
out, and soon returned with the instrument and to our as- 
tonishment began to play a familiar waltz ; and my companion 
at once jumped up on to the dais where we slept at night, 
which was hard, and not billowy like the floor, and began to 

I was taking in the strangeness of the scene, from the dancing 
figure on the dais to the swarthy musician in his leafy dress, 
when Mrs. Hopkins swooped dowTi upon me, drew me up to 
the platform, and insisted on my dancing too. So, in our 
canvas shoes on the padanas mats to the Fijian music, we 
performed, shouts of " vinaka " from our wild audience 
showing their satisfaction. " All the world's a stage and all 
the men and women merely players." The truth of Shak- 

io6 Islands Far Away. 

speare's words had often struck me before, but never so 
forcibly as now. Providence, the great stage manager, allots 
ns each day our parts, but I never thought to take the ballet, 
and in such a setting ! Could my friends at home have lifted 
the curtain of distance and seen me now, they would have had 
a great surprise. 

At last the people began to slip off, and when the house was 
comparatively clear we ventured to draw our curtain and to 
lay ourselves down for the night. 

We were up in the morning before it was light. I could not 
resist groping my way down to the Wai-ndina, and having one 
last splash in its cool waters. I hoped the angry spirits of the 
departed would not resent my coming then, as ghosts are not 
supposed to have much to do with the morning, and in all 
accounts I have ever read of them they disappear at dawn. 
And early and dark as it was, life was already beginning in the 
village, where a few figures were moving about. I looked 
across once more to the deserted haunted town on the other 
side, which alwaj^s stirred my imagination so deeply ; the 
dense vegetation and dark rocks were only just distinguish- 
able, black against the sky. Then I slipped back to the 

After a hasty breakfast our goodbyes were said ; and 
through the quiet village, in the first gray glimmer of the 
morning, we passed away, and Namosi like Vuni-mbau had 
joined the realms of memory. 

Chapter XVII. 


As we threaded our way down over the mountain path the 
sun rose, first catching the jagged peaks around us, then 
flooding the whole landscape. It was very warm, and, when 
we passed into the grateful shade of the thick bush, the light 
shone emerald green through the big leaves, and lit up the 
yellow shaddocks, which seemed to shine like golden suns in 
the dewy morning light. We could not stop to look and 
admire, for we had a long day before us, but our carriers, with 
their lightened loads, found it easy work swinging downhill, 
and had plenty of time to talk and laugh and be merry. They 
chose to tease our chaperon, pretending to make love to her, 
and throwing out wild suggestions about running off together 
into the bush. They enjoyed the fun very much and did all 
the laughing, but it made no impression whatever upon her ; 
she might have been stone deaf for all the effect their remarks 
had on her expression. She walked sturdily on, carrying some 
little belonging of ours and the inevitable umbrella, and she 
did not even look annoyed. It was strange that so one-sided 
a joke could have been amusing, but it lasted till we reached 
Namuamua. We did not stop there tliis time, but got into 
our boat and went straight back to Tamanua. This saved a 
day, and so had allowed us more time at Namosi. A kind 
welcome awaited us at the end of our journey, and my little 
friends, Lily and Molly, were quite excited to get us back. 
They had been very busy while we were away preparing a 
surprise for us in the shape of an art exhibition, and next 
morning we were taken into their playroom to see the show. 
The pictures covered the table, and wherever possible were 


Islands Far Away. 

stuck on the wall. The style was distinctly post impressionist, 
and, in default of a catalogue, it was well the young artists were 
there themselves to explain the motive of the various com- 
positions, or we might have failed to grasp it. I was able 
conscientiously to admire the breadth of touch and great 
expenditure of colour ; but, when asked if there was not a 
resemblance to my work, I was obliged to admit that the style 
was more modern than anything that I had yet reached. 

Next day v/e proceeded to Suva, and our return to the Club 
Hotel was hailed with joy, Mr. and Mrs. Cox welcoming us 
warmly. The place was full, but they said they would always 
find room for us, and they managed by squeezing themselves 
together and vacating some of their own quarters for us. 

As for the " boys," they beamed on us, and I had scarcely 
undone my straps before they arrived in an armj^ to see my 
work. The enthusiasm was wonderful — all was " vinaka." 
Their appreciation was a true pleasure to me, all the more so 
that there was a certain amount of understanding in the way 
they noted things, showing that I must have caught charac- 
teristics which I had been striving 
after, but was doubtful of having 
attained. Then Semi's portrait was 
asked for again, and once more it was 
produced for admiration. 

One day at lunch a very dark man 
came in and sat down at one of the 
tables. He wore European dress, 
trousers and all, which is so strangely 
unbecoming to natives, and his hair 
was cut short. My companion told me 
this was Ratu Kandavu Levu, the eld- 
est surviving descendant of Thakom- 
bau, the great War Lord, or King of 
Fiji, as the Europeans styled him. Kandavu Levu would have 
occupied this high position now if Thakombau had not in 
1875 joined with the other Fijian chiefs in ceding these 
islands to the " Great White Chief," Queen Victoria. Even 
as it is, he is held in much awe by many of the natives, 


Ratu Kandavu Levu. 109 

especially those of Mbau, the old heathen capital, and I noticed 
that all the "boys" in the Club Hotel crouched on approach- 
ing or passing him, which is their way of showing great 

After lunch he came across and shook hands warmly with 
my companion, who introduced him to me. He speaks 
English fluently, so I was happy in being able to join in the 
conversation, which on his part was curiously naive. He told 
us that he had been deposed by the English Government from 
being Roko (Governing Chief) of Tailevu, and he in\Tted us 
to come and stay with him at Mbau, and see the great ceremony, 
when his cousin Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi was to be installed 
in his stead. I was struck by the generosity of the invitation, 
and wondered if in any other country could be found a man 
who would frankly invite friends to come and see another 
installed in the place of which he himself had been de- 

It was a grand opportunity for me, and we were delighted 
to accept. Mbau was the ancient heathen stronghold from 
which, during the early part of last century, large parts of Fiji 
were conquered. I had naturally an intense desire to visit 
it, and it would be splendid to see it under such circumstances. I 
had read of it in endless missionary books, and books of travel, 
and the accounts of what went on there make the blood run 
cold. It was for a time the seat of, probably, as bad canni- 
balism and barbarism as the world has ever known. 

It occupied a rocky island, not two miles in circumference, 
which lies within fordable distance, at low tide, of the East 
coast of Vitu Levu (Great Fiji). 

Accounts of it at one time tell of the houses crowded to- 
gether with only narrow lanes between them, and of the 
teeming population of more than three thousand, swarming 
like ants in an ant hill. They tell of the great flotilla of canoes, 
large and small, which came and went — of Thakombau's 
really magnificent vessel, the remains of which now lie rotting 
on the island. I think I am right in sa^ang it was the largest 
native canoe ever built so far as we know. Then there were 
the war canoes, also very large, over twenty in number. Be- 

iio Islands Far Away. 

sides these, there were some two hundred canoes, or " wangas " 
as they are called in Fiji, such as are still to be found there, 
not to speak of numerous dug-outs, "takias," for use round 
the coast. A large number of boats was absolutely necessary 
for obtaining supplies for the island, which was of course much 
too small to provide for its great crowd of inhabitants, and 
even fresh drinking water had to be fetched from the main- 

The fishermen or " Butoni " were a much esteemed class. 
They were allowed sometimes, as there were so many of them, 
to hire themselves out to other chiefs, on condition of re- 
turning periodically to pay tribute, which they did very 
willingly, and their coming was made a time of rejoicing, and 
celebrated with a great feast. 

The great ceremony of Mbau was to take place on the 9th 
of August. On the 7th Ratu Kandavu Levu was going over, 
and he offered to escort us. Our packing was soon done, as 
we intended to return on the afternoon of the !)th, or the 
following morning. 

We met on the pier after a hurried breakfast, and took the 
mail boat, a small steam launch, as far as Wai-ni-bokasi on 
the Rewa, where Ratu Kandavu Levu has a house. The 
launch went across the harbour, out into the open sea and 
round through Lauthala Bay up one of the mouths of the 
great Rewa River. 

There was only one other first-class passenger, a plain 
harmless-looking white man, sitting in the little saloon or 
cabin when we entered. Ratu Kandavu Levu did not come 
in with us himself, but he looked in over and over again to 
ask if we were comfortable. He seemed very uneasy about 
us. At last he came in and urged us to come out on to the roof, 
" it would be so much better there," he said. We followed 
him, but it was quite an acrobatic feat to climb out of the 
window and round on to the roof. However, we managed it 
with considerable difficulty, and at the risk of falling into the 
sea, which had become choppy. Having settled ourselves on 
some bags and ropes, we had just begun to enjoy the view 
when there was a sudden puff, and the funnel emitted a volume 

RatLi KandavLi Levu. 1 1 1 

of steam and soot which made us jump, and smothered our 
clean white clothes in dirt. We suggested going in again, but 
the idea was not favourably received, so we waited for one or 
two more black shower baths, and then again suggested the 
saloon. " No," said Ratu Kandavu Levu, " better not " ; 
and he added, " Come with me to the bow," which was the 
third-class quarters. The third-class passengers were all 
Fijians, and he unceremoniously cleared the front, and made 
them pack themselves together as best they could, while we 
took their places, and sat down with our feet dangling over the 
edge. It was much nicer than the saloon, and we had a fine 
uninterrupted view, but I could not understand why the 
saloon was taboo. It came out, however, that the chief did 
not think that the Englishman inside was fit company for us ; 
he would not sit with him himself, nor would he allow us to 
do so. 

The first part of the way was much what I had seen before, 
but when we entered one of the mouths of the Rewa River 
and began to ascend, it was new to me, and I saw for the first 
time mangrove swamps. There was something dreary about 
them, and yet to me interesting. On and on stretched the 
same monotonous dark green, and endless stems dropped 
themselves down from the branches into the water in long 
wands, to root in the mud below. Bronze figures in little but 
nature's garb, spear in hand, appeared and disappeared among 
the trees. The spear I knew was only for fish, but it conjured 
up pictures of the old savage warlike days ; and a few primitive 
dug-outs with little naked boys paddling, or springing from 
them into the water, gave the finishing touches. We landed 
at the fine Roman Catholic Church on the Rewa, and walked 
to Wai-ni-bokasi, where we spent an hour at Ratu Kandavu 
Levu's house, till a vehicle was got ready for our further pro- 
gress. Ratu Kandavu Levu himself was to ride. The house 
was empty, and we were a little disappointed to get no refresh- 
ment as we had had nothing since early breakfast. 

Our gig when it appeared looked the most extraordinary 
little affair that I had ever had to do with. It stood on two 
very high wheels, was ramshackle and exceedingly small, and 

112 Islands Far Away. 

it seemed impossible to imagine how room was to be found for 
Ratu Kandavu Levu's luggage, together with ours, and for 
ourselves, and the dirty Indian driver. It was a pack ! 
The middle one had to sit Fijian fashion on the top of the 
luggage, a position which we took in turns. 

We rattled off, our chief in front presenting a fine aristo- 
cratic appearance on his beautiful white horse. The grassy 
road through somewhat marshy ground was very rough, 
and it was raised, with a ditch on each side. We were so 
jogged and bumped that we were made to realise rather 
painfully that we had bones under our flesh, and we had 
to hold on tight, the one perched on the luggage being in 
frequent danger of getting jerked off. 

The view was interesting, the more so as my fellow traveller 
told me that in the old days it was here that she and her 
mother and sister had fled for their lives in the night from an 
angry chief — a thrilling story which she had many times 
related with great spirit. 

Around us stretched the wide alluvial plain, and above in 
the great expanse of sky the setting sun began to fly banners 
of the most glorious hues. All round us they spread, growing 
ever more brilliant — red, blue, orange, yellow, green, scarlet, 
purple, every colour was there, glowing, changing, mingling. 
The Indian whipped up his horse and we tore madly along, 
but the short tropical t^vilight was soon gone, and we were 
enveloped in darkness. 

We had counted on the moon, but the sky was completely 
overcast, and the clouds which had been so brilliant heralded 
rain, and it began to fall in big drops, soon increasing to a 
heavj^ shower. It was difficult to see the track, and at 
last impossible, the dim light from a wretched little lantern 
and a few flickering fireflies only intensifying the gloom around. 
Indians hate the dark, and our man became very nervous 
and hardly able to manage his horse. Fortunately it was a 
good one, and apparently able to see without light, for it 
trotted on ; but the least mistake would have meant disaster, 
as the two-wheeled cart was high, and the sides of the road 
very steep. At one place we came to a long rough bridge 

Ratu Kandavu Levu. 


where the horse got frightened and shied, and we nearly had 
an accident, but my companion promptly jumped out and 
led him over. At last we reached the sea, and a long way off 
a light on an island cast a. stream of yellow across the water. 
This island was Mbau, and the light, the chief told us, came 
from his kitchen. 

The sea, which looked as if it would swallow us up, was 
fordable, and we had to splash in and make our way over. 
The horse was frightened, and the 
Indian, who was himself terrified, 
had to get out and lead it. The 
water grew deeper and deeper till 
it was well over his waist, and 
wetting our feet in the carriage, 
which rocked and reeled as it went 
over the irregular surface of the 
bottom. The poor Indian waded 
on, and was sometimes almost sub- 
merged when he splashed into a 
deeper hole. He became so beside 
himself with terror that he let go the 
bit and tried to run away, but a stern 
word from the chief brought him to 
his senses, and he crawled on. At 
last we were safe on the other side, 
and the chief's servants were ready 
to help us out of the carriage and 
conduct us to the house. The un- 
fortunate Indian had a bad time 
of it going back : the carriage slip- 
ped over the bank, and he and his 
horse and gig were found later on 
by some Fijians in a sorry plight 
in the ditch. 

As for us, tired and hungry and wet, we were thankful to 
find ourselves under Ratu Kandavu Levu's hospitable roof, 
and to see preparations awaiting us for an evening meal. His 
housekeeper, a wild-haired Tongan girl, picturesquely dressed 


114 Islands Far Away. 

in orange and red garments, was expecting us and gave us a 
warm welcome. 

Mbau, this former heathen capital mth its strange but brief 
history of power, and war, and savagery, seemed a fitting end 
to our wild journey. 

Ratu Kandavu Levu died on the 11th of December, 1914. He had been 
living at Levuka, but, feeling very ill, he was on his way to the Suva 
Hospital and called in at Mbau where he died. Ratu Saimoni Dombui, also 
mentioned by Miss Gardner King, had relinquished the Roko-ship of Ra and 
was living at Mbau, when the shock of the news of Ratu Kandavu Levu's 
death so affected hiin, that he also died on 14th December, 1914. 

Ratu Kandavu Levu has been succeeded in his position as hereditary chief 
of the Fijians by Ratu Pope, also above-mentioned. — E. im T. 

Since the first edition of this book was published the very sad news has 
come to hand that Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi died in Suva Hospital on the 13th 
of last December. He will be more missed than any other Fijian of the 
present day. The Fiji Times says of him : "Thus passes one of the finest 
Fijians of the present day, a man who had earned the respect and esteem of 
all classes. Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, in his official career as in his private life, 
furnished a splendid example of the inherent high qualities of the Fijian 
race. Highly educated and animated by the loftiest principles of right and 
honour, he has always jjerformed his duties, especially those associated with 
the administration of his provinces, to the entire satisfaction of the Govern- 
ment. He was held in esteem by all classes of the European population of 
Fiji. His name throughout Fiji is a synonym for rectitude of purpose and 
high endeavour. 

" The funeral service was conducted in the church. There was a large 
attendance of natives, besides a nirmber of visitors from Suva. The coffin 
was then raised and the procession in solemn array proceeded to the Hill-top, 
where the grave had been duly prepared. Here close to the mausoleums of 
King Thakombau and leading Chiefs were laid to rest the remains of a great 
Fijian Chief and a noble gentleman." — E. im T. 

Chapter XVIII. 


Rattj Kandavu Levu was a polite attentive host, but, though 
he is a very high chief, there was nothing aristocratic about 
his house. It consisted of three rather small buris raised as 
usual on platforms of stones, and united by bridges from door 
to door. The first was the sitting room, with a sleeping apart- 
ment screened off, the second was the dining room, and the 
third was the kitchen. The building was slighter than usual : 
the breeze played freely through the walls, and we could even 
see chinks of light in the morning. The furniture was an odd 
mixture of Fijian and English — a beautiful old yangona bowl 
of great size Avith its correct decoration of white cowrie shells, 
and valuable tambuas (whale's teeth), among shoddy Birming- 
ham furniture, and engravings of gross English pictures, which 
he told me with pride had been presented to him by the artist, 
but which I was sorry to see there. Bits of cheap art muslin 
vied with beautiful old tapa in adorning the walls. I suppose 
the natives were very pleased with it all, and thought it fine, 
but there was none of the grand restful simplicity of a true 
Fijian interior. 

We did not sit on the floor here. We were too far advanced 
for that, but the common uncomfortable chairs were no im- 
provement, and were very back breaking. There was a writing 
table, and, behind the screen, English beds with mosquito 
nets, but no bed clothes. 

The table in the dining room was spread with a cloth and 
plates, ready for a much needed meal, and it was not long 
before we were partaking of it and finding it very good. There 
was fish soup served in half coconuts ; then roast and boiled 


Islands Far Away, 

fish, fresh caught in the sea ; and finally fowl well cooked, but 
not prettily served. Fijians never truss their fowls, and the 
legs stick out in an ugly aggressive manner. Two nice Fijian 

lads about twelve years old 
waited at table, quickly and 
eagerly. Between each 
course they handed round 
a large half coconut with 
water, to rinse our fingers. 
It was handed to the chief 
first, then to us ; this was 
Vaka-viti (Fijian custom), 
but it struck me as a slip in 
Ratu Kandavu Levu's other- 
wise perfect English manners. 
Hot tea without milk was our 
beverage, and we had ship 
biscuits but no bread. 

After supper, Andi* Tha- 
kombau, the most beautiful 
Fijian lady I have seen, came 
in to pay her respects, and 
to offer to do anything she 
could for us. Ratu Kan- 
davu Levu told us to look 
upon her as our hostess, 
and a most gracious hostess 
she proved herself to be. 
She also is descended from 
Thakombau, and is first 
cousin to Ratu Kandavu 
Levu. She is much lighter 
in colour, having a dash of 
Tongan blood, and she has fine features and a singularly sweet 
attractive expression. There is a courtly grace about her 
manners, whether she be sitting on an English chair or squat- 

* " Andi," title indicative of high birth corresponding to Ratu (see Chapter III, 
■piv^e 17). Andi Thakombau's illness prevented a sitting; so the above sketch 
was done from memory after she had gone to the nursing-home. 


In the Old Heathen Capital. 


ting Fijian fashion on the floor, which gives at once the feeling 
of rank and birth. She arranged with us that we were to 
come in the morning to her house and see her little son, and 
afterwards she was to take us over the town. Then she bade 
us good night. 

The rain meantime had stopped, and we sallied forth and 
strayed about the dark town. We looked in to see the new 
Roko, Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi, who was staying with his 
cousin, Ratu Mbolo, in his beautiful new house. I thought 
it very odd that ive should go to call upon him, and at that 
hour, but it is quite Fijian fashion, and it was taken as a 
great compliment. 

The house is richlj^ decorated with 
the finest sinnet work I have seen, 
and is large and spacious, \vith no 
cheap English furniture or ornament 
to destroy its grand simplicity. We 
were warmly welcomed by both 
chiefs, and, sitting on the soft matted 
floor, we chatted, and, as they could 
talk English, I enjoyed the evening, 
and absorbed a great deal of interest- 
ing information. 

Ratu Joni is also an important 
chief, and related to Ratu Kandavu 
Levu. He is between fifty and sixty 
years of age, very dark, tall, and well 
made. Though he is not handsome 

according to English ideas, it is pleasant to look at his face, 
for there is something so good about it ; and his expression, 
which is habitually grave to sadness, lights up in conversa- 
tion with a very kind smile. He is somewhat bald, and his 
scanty hair lies close to his head, but he never uses a hat — 
in former days he would have worn a wig, — and his dress is 
European as far as coat and shirt are concerned ; but he 
generally wears the sulu or kilt, showing his well developed 
calves and shapely feet. He is considered the most intelh- 
gent of the Fijians, and commands the respect and esteem of 


ii8 Islands Far Away. 

all who come in contact with him, whether Europeans or 

He had been in the government service for thirty years, and 
for the last fifteen years he had been Roko, first of Ra, then 
of Ra and Mbua, and latterly of Mba. And now, when it was 
considered necessary to supersede Ratu Kandavu Levu, it 
did not seem as if a better man could be chosen for the difficult 
and important post of Roko of Tailevu, in which is situated 

It is sad that any change had to be made, but in the capacity 
of an official under the British Government Ratu Kandavu 
Levu was not a success. Such rights as would hav^e been his 
by inheritance from his savage ancestors had been abrogated 
at the cession of the islands in 1875; but he was still looked 
up to with almost superstitious veneration, and the right as 
a great chief to take anything he chose to possess himself of, 
though it was against English law, was still so completely 
accepted by the Fijians, and so deeply rooted in their minds, 
that it was almost impossible for him to understand our law 
of mine and thine : hence endless troubles and difficulties. 

Ratu Kandavu Levu, with the hospitality which is natural 
to high bom Fijians, vacated his house for us, and went to 
sleep elsewhere : thus we had it all to ourselves when we went 
back. There were no fastenings to the door, so we just slipped 
in and went to bed. 

I was up betimes in the morning, eager to catch a sight of 
our historic surroundings, but, early as it was, a cup of tea was 
sent in before I was dressed. 

The doorstep first caught my eye. It was a bit of white 
marble with an inscription in Fijian on it, and it looked very 
like a broken tombstone. Ratu Kandavu Levu told us after- 
wards that it was the tombstone of one of his relatives, and he 
pointed out with pride that there was one at each door. Tomb- 
stones are of recent introduction, and they are not an improve- 
ment on the true Fijian graves, which, like the houses, have an 
impressive simplicity about them. The graves are just oblong 
walls of loose stones neatly piled up and filled in with earth, 
which is carefully spread and flattened so as to present an 

In the Old Heathen Capital. 119 

absolutely even surface, \ipon which, if the grave be well kept, 
not a single weed is permitted to grow. 

These imported grave stones fared very badly in a severe 
hurricane which occurred in the January pre nous to my 
visit. They were tossed about and the majority thrown 
down and broken. As man 3^ as possible were set up again, 
and those tliat were too much broken for this were used as 
doorsteps. This was considered a grand idea, for it would 
have been such a pity to waste them. 

I found that the house was on a green, fenced off from the 
other houses, and quite close to the sea, with steps leading 
down to it, ready for a convenient bath. Near by was a 
steep cliff, on the top of which stood the grave yard, a con- 
spicuous white obelisk marking Thakombau's tomb. 

I was called in for an ample breakfast, and afterwards we 
went to fulfil our engagement with Andi Thakombau. 

One of our host's boys conducted us to her house, and as 
soon as we passed through the fence we found ourselves in 
the town. 

I wondered how far my knowledge of the history of the 
place affected my impression, but Mbau certainly seemed 
different fiom other places. It looked old and time-worn, 
and there was a gravity about it, and a general dark sombre- 
ness of colour, which I had not seen elsewhere. Such trees 
as existed had deep green foliage, the rocks were dark 
grey, and so were the stones which formed the steps and ter- 
races, and the platforms of the houses. The monotony was 
relieved, and a beautiful note of colour gained, by fine peacocks 
strutting about, and perching on the old trees and among the 
ruins. I do not know how long they had been there, or where 
they came from, but they were a very great ornament, and 
seemed to know exactly where it would be effective to place 
themselves. Andi Thakombau's nibure was raised up on a 
rather liigh terrace, the stones of which were grasped by the 
curious roots of a pandanus tree. We found her and her 
mother and her grandmother sitting on the floor, and they 
received us with graceful politeness, and we sat do-\\ii beside 
them. The little son, Ratu Tui Vanua Vou, a beautiful child 


Islands Far Away. 


of three, was marching about in a most lordly manner, and 
treating his elders with the greatest contempt. He wore 

nothing but a little white sulu which 
would come off, but which, to his annoy- 
ance, was always immediately refixed 
by one of his relatives. 

When we had sufficiently admired 
the young chief, Andi Thakombau took 
us to see the sights of the town. She 
was very frank about the past. Canni- 
balism in Mbau was given up in 1854, 
and that seemed a very long time ago 
to her, though to us, with our centuries 
of history, it seems but yesterday. She 
thought of it as belonging to the dark 
ages, with as little to do with her as 
the persecutions of Bloody Mary, or the burning of witches 
have to do with us. And it certainly was impossible to 
imagine the sweet creature at our side indulging in, or even 
being present at, any savage rite. Yet her grandmother re- 
membered it all. She told us she had seen the war canoes 
coming in with bodies of men, women, and even children, 
for the ovens, and she was present when, at the death of 
Tanoa, Thakombau's father, his five wives were strangled 
to make a soft bed for his body to lie on. 

Andi Thakombau showed us where the mbokola ovens had 
been, those ovens I had so often read of, which at one time 
were never allowed to be cold, while the heavy smell from them 
pervaded the air. Then she took us to the large Methodist 
church, where a class of intelligent looking children were 
squatting to receive instruction. There she pointed out what 
seemed to us an extraordinarily incongruous thing — the killing 
stone from the heathen temple, with a sort of basin scooped 
in it by the early missionaries, who brought it into the church 
to use as a font. To them it seemed a beautiful symbol of 
the conversion of the people, but it sickened me to tliink of 
this stone being used as the baptismal font for innocent little 
babies, and I was glad to learn that the present missionary, who 

In the Old Heathen Capital. 121 

is more advanced and broader minded than most Methodists, 
had discarded it, and that Ratu Joni talks of putting it back 
into the temple, where it would certainly be more appropriate. 
We went next to the great temple, or rather the remains of the 
temple, for in the late hurricane it was blown away, together 
with the large Strangers' House and many other buildings on 
the island. There were at one time no less 5han thirty temples 
on this little island, but this was the largest, the Great Spirit, 
House. I had read of the building of it long ago, and how, 
because it was a very sacred edifice, there were human sacri- 
fices to celebrate every stage of its construction, from the 
putting in of the first posts, to the placing of the cowrie shells 
on the ends of the ridge poles. Now nothing remained but 
the king-posts and great wooden pillars all round, reminding 
me somewhat of Paestum. They were on the top of a very high 
terrace, or rather several terraces, reached by steps of rough 
stones at the four sides, now smothered and almost hidden 
in green. At the foot of each of the flights were large upright 
stones, convenient perches for the peacocks. These, our 
guide told us, were consecrated stones, brought as trophies 
from other places when they were conquered. The one from 
Rewa she showed with especial pride. Rewa was a rival state, 
and the stone was obtained after a bloody struggle of many 

Leaning up against the high wall of the lowest terrace were 
two remarkable objects — an antiquated anchor and rudder, 
whose story we were at once eager to learn . Andi Thakombau 
told us they were the remains of the first ship wrecked on 
Mbau, that the natives ate all the people on board, and then, 
fmding the ship in their way, and being too ignorant to make 
any use of the materials, they burned it, saving the anchor and 
rudder as ornaments for their temple. I have not been able 
to learn any more details, or the name of the ship. 

When we got back to the house, Ratu Kandavu Levu had 
finished his business and was read}^ to stroll out with us him- 
self. We walked right across the town to the sea on the other 
side and as we went we passed the temple. The great naked 
king-posts were stretching up into the air, and I was looking 

122 Islands Far Away. 

at them with a feeling of awe, thinking of the skeleton serfs 
clasping them underground. " I suppose," I said to our 
companion, " that several men were buried with each of 
these posts." " I think not," he answered. " Surely there 
would be more than one ? " I said. " I think none," he 
replied. Much surprised, I asked what gave him that im- 
pression. " Because I put them up myself," was the con- 
clusive answer. It seems that the interesting old temple 
which appears in the early records of Fiji was completely de- 
stroyed, king-posts and all, by a hurricane, and that Ratu 
Kandavu Levu erected it again somewhat on the old lines as 
a sort of assembly room, and this was the building which 
was carried away by the January hurricane. 

Our host asked us if we were tired and would like to go in. 
I asked when dinner would be. "It will be when you wish," 
he said. I enquired when it would be ready. " It will be 
ready now," he said. I at once intimated that " now " would 
be a very agreeable time to have it, so we went back. 

As we walked along, a blight seemed to spread itself around 
us ; men, women, and children appeared to be smitten down 
with some terrible malady, which crippled them in every limb, 
so that they could hardly crawl along. As soon as they caught 
sight of our companion they doubled themselves up, like the 
sensitive plant at the touch of a finger, and not till we had 
gone on a considerable distance did they straighten up again. 
This crouching is a sign of respect, and in the olden days any 
breach of it was instantly punished with the club. Etiquette 
was strictly enforced in those days and by very stern measures. 

It was most interesting staying with this high chief in the 
old heathen town where his ancestors had ruled for genera- 
tions, and where so much remains of the old customs. When 
we were in the house, if a messenger came, he slipped in at the 
end door : — there are at least three entrances to a Fiji buri, 
but the side doors are only for the chief and his friends. The 
messenger came in, bent double, and silently squatted near the 
door. Sometimes another, and another, would appear in the 
same way, till there was quite a row of still patient figures. 
The chief would go steadily on with his writing without showing 

In the Old Heathen Capital. 123 

any sign, then he would get up and stand in front of them, and, 
while they squatted, learn from them one by one what they 
wanted. The first would perhaps produce a note from some- 
where about his person, the second might have a question to 
ask, and the third be charged with the delivery of a present, 
and so on. When he had dealt with them all they would 
crawl off again. There were generally one or two waiting, but 
he let them accumulate, and never interrupted himself to speak 
to them till there were a good many. An inferior must never 
be taller than a superior. If a chief happens to be a small 
man, very unusual in Fiji, those about him must constantly 
stoop or double up. If he be sitting on the floor, they must 
crawl about on all fours. The effect is very funny and I could 
not understand it at all at first. A major whom we met in 
Suva told me that he once took refuge in a buri, where the 
natives immediately set about preparing a meal for him, while 
he sat down on the floor to rest. Now it so happened that 
most of the utensils required were hanging up on the wall. 
When the first was wanted one of the natives crept up and 
asked him to get it down ; he good-naturedly rose and did so, 
and when a second and a third were wanted he complied. 
At last, however, be grew restive and said " You lazy beggars, 
can you not get the tilings down for yourselves ? " They 
looked shocked at the suggestion, and said " But if we stret- 
ched up we should be taller than you." 

It always struck me as strange on entering a Fijian house 
to be allowed to stand while the inhabitants themselves re- 
mained sitting, or, if they happened to be standing, promptly 
sat down. It seemed rude and inhospitable till I learned that 
it was really Fijian respect.* 

* A somewhat striking instance of native politeness came to my knowledge : 
■a high chief, accompanied by a number of other men, was walking along a 
mountain path in rainy weather, the path consisting of soft yellow mvid. At 
one point where the path was very slippery he slid and fell and his white 
shirt and loin cloth were saturated with the mud. Each of his followers on 
reaching the same spot also allowed himself to slide down, that the chief 
might not appear awkward, or be the only dirty member of the party. 

Chapter XIX. 


Preparations for the great ceremony and feast next day 
were evident everywhere. Leaves and flowers were strewn 
about where meke dresses were being made, a heap of pro- 
visions was being piled on the rara, and a great shelter of 
palm leaves, supported on slender posts, was in course of 
erection. While I was watching the work my fellow traveller 
came hurriedly to fetch me, as a flotilla of canoes was coming 
in, which her quick eye had detected on the horizon line. 
These canoes are fascinating in their grace and beauty, but 
I am sorry to say they are dying out, superseded by English 
cutters, and, alas, motor boats. 

I had learned of their picturesqueness years before, and 
longed to see them. They come and go in the Suva harbour 
and I had caught exciting glimpses of them in the distance 
and had sketched all I saw ; but to see them in a troop, from 
near, and undisturbed by anything inartistic and modem, here 
was the chance for me. I settled myself on the seashore and 
watched. At first only tiny specks were to be seen in the 
distance, but gradually they grew larger, and soon the sea was 
covered with the most exquisite yellow butterflies, wafted 
towards us across the water. How I wished they would not 
go so fast. They were no sooner plainly visible than they 
had reached the shore, the great sail of pandanus matting was 
being rapidly let down, and the boat drawn up — it seemed just 
like a flash. With a suitable wind these wangas attain a very 
great speed and leave an ordinary motor-boat far behind. I 
had the greatest longing to sail in one, but it never was grati- 
fied. Ratu Kandavu Levu was to take me in his boat, but 

126 Islands Far Away. 

the wild weather, which kept us storm-stayed for ten days 
at Mbau, began this very day and prevented it. Then, when 
Ratu Kandavu Levu had gone, Rata Joni said we should go 
mth him, but this same storm prevented it ; and later, when 
Ratu Simoni proposed taking us, the weather again inter- 
fered and the rain came down in buckets full. It was not to 
be, but it was a disappointment. Perhaps, if I had gone, I 
should not now have been writing, for wangas are not very 
safe, and are often upset. The natives can swim like fish, and 
are not much coveted bj^ sharks, so an upset is of little conse- 
quence to them, especially as they are clever in righting their 
canoes again. But my case would have been quite different. 
Still, the fact that I never sailed in one of these canoes is a 
matter that I shall always regret. 

These boats are curious and very picturesque. Both ends 
are the same and they can go either way. When they sail 
against the wind, instead of tacking, the great sail is carried 
round, and what was the stem becomes the bow. There is 
no fixed rudder, a large paddle serving the purpose, and when 
there is no wind two of these paddles propel the boat. The 
canoes are still made in the same way as the houses, without 
a single nail or bolt, or any modern contrivance, but the 
different parts are laced together with sinnet, and caulked 
with fibre mixed with a kind of pitch or gum obtained from 
the bread-fruit tree. 

The body of the wanga is a solid tree trunk, and generally 
of hard vesi wood. The inside is scooped out and the outside 
is shaped. The upper part is neatly fitted into a groove round 
the top, little holes are bored, and it is laced on with sinnet. 
Over this is a platform for the cargo and the crew, leaving one 
opening which is boxed round, where a man can stand, or a 
few things be stowed away. Then there is the great outrigger 
or thama, which steadies the vessel and is held out from it by 
long poles. 

The sail, wherein the great loveliness lies, is very large and 
is made of strips of fine pandanus matting sewn together, 
formerly with a needle made of human bone. The matting 
is a beautiful colour in itself, and, being shiny, it reflects the 



colour of the sky and sea, and tones majestically into the 
landscape, so that it never failed to thrill me with its perfect 
grace, and harmony with the surromidings. 

The Fijians were the master canoe-makers of the Pacific ; 
and the Tongans and all inhabitants of other islands got their 
canoes from them, or were taught by them how to make them. 
Sometimes the canoes were very large, as much as a hundred 
feet long, and instead of a thama, there would be a second canoe, 
so that a great many people could go in them. 

The flotilla of canoes this day was bringing in fish and other 
provisions for the feast, and fire-wood to cook them. A 
great quantity of firewood was required, because the native 


ovens are many of them very large. Much food had to be 
got ready for the morrow, and pigs and calves, not to speak 
of a large shark, had to be cooked whole. During the cere- 
mony we saw the shark strung on a long pole being carried 
past by four natives. It was done up just as the human 
bodies used to be, and was very suggestive of the old days 
when no feast was complete without its mbokola, and it would 
certainly not have been wanting on such an occasion as this. 
The shark is a great feature of all Mbauan feasts, and the in- 
habitants of the two small islands of Kamba and Kiuva are 
obliged to supply it. Catching it is a verj^ exciting affair. 
The natives go out in a canoe and wait in deep water close to 
a reef frequented by tliese animals ; and there they remain 

128 Islands Far Away. 

absolutely silent but alert, watching, while one man holds 
himself ready, a long line of sinnet, with a noose at the 
end, wound round his arm. Sometimes it is a considerable 
time before a shark appears, but natives are patient people, 
and they remain so still that they might be statues. At 
last one fin gliding over the surface of the water marks 
the unmistakable approach of the shark to its favourite 
haunt in the reef. There is breathless silence till it is near 
enough, then, quick as thought, the native with the line 
slips into the sea, and, holding to the reef with the arm, over 
which he carried the line, he passes the other hand under 
the creature's belly, and proceeds gently to tickle it, which it 
greatly enjoys, soon becoming stupified with satisfaction. 
Then, like lightning, the noose is slipped over its tail and the 
man is safe back in the canoe. But great skill is required and 
the least mistake would have the most serious consequences. 
After this the shark is played like a salmon, and dispatched 
with spears. 

Next comes the cooking. The great creature is wrapped in 
leaves, and carefully tied and bound up with reeds so as to 
look like a mummy; then put whole into the native oven. 
These ovens consist of hollows in the ground lined mth stones, 
and are made ready for use by quantities of fire-wood being 
throwTi in, and lighted, and when the stones are quite hot, 
again extracted with loops of vine stems. Then, after the 
shark or whatever is to be cooked has been deposited, leaves or 
reeds or old mats are laid on as a covering, and the earth filled 
in. There is no way of testing when the food is ready, but 
the natives seem to know by instinct the right moment to 
remove the earth and take it out. 

These primitive ovens produce very satisfactory results, 
the food, even when it is a whole animal of considerable size, 
being evenly and equally cooked through, and having a rich 
tasty flavour. The shark I was told was very good to eat, 
but I had no chance of judging for myself. Its flesh is re- 
served entirely for the " Mbati " (warriors), and no one else 
gets any. 

When all the food was ready, and everyone had brought 



what he could, all the surrounding villages contributing, it 
was piled up in a huge heap on the rara or village green, and 
formally presented next day to the representative of the 
Governor, who, with his native Commissioner, had come doA\ii 
from Suva for the ceremony. The food was then given back 
to the Mata-ni-vanua, or herald, of Mbau, who distributed it 
among all the people present, to be afterwards enjoyed in 
their own homes. 


Chapter XX. 


The 9th of August was a very disappointing day for the cere- 
mony for which such preparations had been made. The sky 
was black and lowering, and gusts of wind accompanied by 
heavy rain broke now and then. 

Ratu Kandavu Levu was not to be present, and he told us 
he was going away at midday. He had completed all his 
preparations : — his yacht lay off the island, his things were 
packed and on it, and his two Fijian lads were already on 

We were made welcome by him to remain as long as we 
liked, but, though he knew Andi Tliakombau would look after 
us, he was concerned for our comfort, and wanted to leave his 
cook, whom he greatly valued. But we would not hear of 
it, and my companion said she would cook. This did not 
prove to be necessary however, for Fusi, his mid-haired Tongan 
housekeeper, assisted by a very ugly old woman with a squint, 
managed to do all we required quite nicely. But as they did 
not wear watches, or have clocks, we could come to no arrange- 
ment about hours. Mbau, however, is small and we could 
always be found and fetched in for a meal when it happened 
to be ready. 

As Ratu Kandavu Levu was going away, his portion of the 
provisions was brought round, before the distribution, slung 
on a pole between two natives. It consisted of a large basket 
containing a variety of vegetables and a pig baked whole. 
He had a large joint cut oft' the pig and left for us. It was 
excellent. I have never tasted such nice pork, before or since. 

We could not learn when the ceremony was to take place. 

The Great Ceremony at Mbau. 131 

No one knew, and it was a source of surprise that we should 
expect the hour to be fixed. We were told that we would be 
sent for when it was time, and about a quarter to eleven 
messengers arrived to tell us to come. 

The leafy shed was finished, but unfortunately the weather 
was gusty and wet, and the pretty palm leaves, which would 
have been such a pleasant shelter from the sun, were no pro- 
tection from the rain. The leaflets formed ducts which poured 
the water down in little rivers here and there, making pools 
on the mats which were spread on the grass, and the wind 
shook the leaves and spattered the drops in all directions. 

A large company of men were squatting on the mats, closely 
packed together, leaving a semi-circular space in the middle, 
in the centre of which stood a very large yangona bowl, imme- 
diately in front of an important looking man. All the men 
as far as I could see were dressed in sulu and singlet, or shirt, 
with sometimes the addition of a coat ^nd tie. They seemed 
a grave and dignified assemblage, many of them with ex- 
tremely intelligent, interesting faces. 

A line of chairs, brought probably from the missionary's 
house, faced this audience. There were two vacant places 
left for us, and the rest were occupied by the missionary and 
his family, the new Roko, Ratu Joni Mandraiwdwi, the Hon. 
William Sutherland, and in the centre, as representing the 
Governor, the Hon. Eyie Hutson. There were also mata-ni 
vanuas, or heralds, attending on Mr. Hutson and Ratu Joni. 

The ceremony began with the solemn making and drinking 
of yangona. A native put the grated root into the bowl and, 
amid absolute silence, another native poured in water out of 
an earthen vessel. Then began the mixing and straining with 
the vau fibre, during which process the natives behind chanted 
gravely. Suddenly the chanting stopped, and an extraordi- 
nary figure started up from among the squatting assembly — 
a tall splendidly built man, dressed in no other clothing than 
grass and bright coloured flowers and leaves. The effect was 
most dramatic and startling. When the half coconut which 
lie held in his hand had been filled with the grog, he stood for 
a moment or two facing us, looking reverently up, with the 


The Great Ceremony at Mbau. 


full cup in both hands, then he let himself down into a purely 
Fijian attitude which cannot be described in words, but I 
hope a sketch may give some idea of it. Without quite 
getting up, and yet with dignity, he made his way in turn to 
those who were to partake, sinking in front of each into the 
same attitude again, and presenting the cup with both hands. 
Though the cup was nearly full each time, except when brought 
to us, he never spilt a drop, and it certainly required great 
skill — obtained no doubt through much practice— to succeed 


in this. In former days the post of cup-bearer must have 
been a very anxious one, as any mistake brought the dub 

The cup was handed only to Mr. Hutson, Mr. Sutherland, 
the new Roko, the two heralds, and the missionary, and, out 
of compliment, to us. All the time it was being handed and 
drunk the natives behind the bowl solemnly clapped their 
hands in unison, and each time it was emptied, they shouted 
" A Matha "(it is dry). The colonial secretary then read a 
nice letter from the Governor, in which he said, among other 
things, that he hoped the new Roko would as far as possible 

134 Islands Far Awav. 

keep up native customs. Next there was an address from 
the people to the Roko, and a short and clear speech from him 
to them, and lastly, a speech from one of the natives, which 
ended in a very reverential prayer that the new Roko might 
be strengthened in his difficult work, and that his people 
might be faithful to him. The Governor and " the English 
ladies who had so kindly come to witness the ceremony," were 
also prayed for. The quiet dignified simplicity of the whole 
thing was very impressive, the more so that close by, visible 
through the posts of our shelter, towered the ruins of the 
heathen temple, over the rara in front of which we could see 
the natives, all through the ceremony coming up from the 
ovens carrying the shark and all the other suggestive looking 
food, strung on long poles, ready for the feast. 

Elaborate war dances were to succeed the ceremony, and 
the men were gathering. At the risk, however, of missing 
the first part, we hurried back to the house to bid goodbye to 
our host, and see him off. 

Ratu Kandavu Levu looked very sad, although he had rot 
allowed himself to show it till now, but he was pleased to see 
us, and he shook hands warmly as he stepped into the canoe 
which was to carry him to his j^acht, which was tossing 
among white-crested waves some way out from the shore. It 
did not seem at all safe to start. The sky was very black, 
and blasts of rain and wind whipped our faces. We re- 
monstrated, but he said " I shall be all right." 

No one else knew when he was going, so it was a very quiet 
send off. Fusi was crying indoors, and none but our two 
selves stood on the rocks to receive his last wave, as he went 
off in the storm, never to return to his hereditary home as 
Roko any more. I knew it was right and had to be, yet I felt 
disinclined to return again to the festivities to welcome his 

We found that he had left word that we were to have some 
lunch , and that some hot soup and biscuits were waiting ready 
for us. We were touched with this attention and very grateful 
for the refreshment. 

When we got back the first meke was about to begin. For- 



136 Islands Far Away. 

tunately the lovely flowery dresses of the men were not injured 
by the rain which fell pretty heavily and it did not interfere 
with the wild barbaric grace of their movements as they waved 
their clubs and danced and leaped and stamped in unison, it 
was astonishing what perfect time they kept. These great 
big men, in their gay fantastic garments and shiny dark skins 
had a most strangely striking appearance. As each man de- 
signed and made his own dress there was a great variety, and 
all were more or less interesting. The wreaths and garlands 
were very beautiful and most skilfully and artistically put 
together. They were veritable works of art and must have 
taken a long time to make, and it seemed a pity they could 
serve for only one occasion. Most of the performers wore 
broad white sashes of light transparent native cloth, tied in 
huge bows behind, and many of them too had head dresses of 
the same, the long broad streamers more than reaching the 
ground ; these last looked like wedding veils, waving and 
fluttering in the wind as the men danced. Long feathers 
or reeds stuck in the hair, and savage looking omamnets of 
teeth or shell completed the costume. There were four 
makes got up from different districts. The dresses and 
arrangements were considered particularly fine, but of course 
I had no means of comparison. That it was intensely 
picturesque I can testify, and especially here in Mbau among 
all the historic surroundings, and performed to the music of 
the wild dash of the stormy waves on the shore. 

Next morning, the tenth, we were to have returned to Suva, 
but the weather was still very wild. The government party 
most kindly offered to take us back in their launch, but we 
should have had a terrible tossing, and I was more than glad 
to seize on any excuse to remain longer at Mbau. I should 
like to have stayed a whole month. 

Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi was good enough to put his yacht, 
the Tui Rewa, at our disposal with the splendid Othello-hke 
cup bearer as our captain, and suggested that when the stormy 
weather passed we should sail round the coast to Nukuloa in 
Viti Levu Bay, and stay with Ratu Saimoni Dombui. From 
there we would make arrangements to walk up to Ndarivatu 

The Great Ceremony at Mbau. 137 

among the mountains, where the government have put up a 
rest house, and a country house for the Governor. We would 
make our way back to Suva, first by walking down till we 
reached a navigable point on the Rewa (the largest of the 
Fijian rivers), then, bj^ taking a native canoe down as far as 
Nausori, which is within easy reach of Suva. I should thus 
see not only a fine part of the coast, but also cross the island 
through wild and beautiful inland parts. 

When my fellow traveller unrolled the plan to me, I felt that 
nothing could be more delightful, but I said " What about 
clothes, etc. ? " We had nothing suitable with us, the light 
dresses we were wearing were already draggled and dirty, 
and besides these we had brought only our best hats, and a 
few dainty things for the ceremony. We had not anything 
with us in the way of rugs ; I had my mosquito net and pillow 
from which I never parted, but she had not even these. It was 
impossible to go across to Suva to fetch anything, and Mbau 
had no shops. " Must we give it up ? " " Certainly not," 
said my resourceful guide. " Trust me and I will manage|;" 
and she did. 

While I was busy sketching she set off with Fusi, in spite of 
the gusty showery weather, and after being taken across to 
the mainland, walked all the way to Nausori, some seven 
miles, where there was a shop. It was not exactly a Whiteley, 
and she was unable to procure a good many things that might 
have been considered necessities if we had not been so anxious 
to carry out the programme that we would not acknowledge 
the presence of any lions in the way, however ferocious they 
might appear. She managed, however, to secure what even 
we could not possibly do without, a couple of thin cotton 
blankets, one each, to serve as bed and bedding, material to 
make two dresses, and some provisions for the way. She 
picked up a vehicle, and returned in triumph, tired but happy ; 
and that very afternoon, securing the loan of Andi Thakom- 
bau's sewing machine, she set about making the dresses. 

It was difficult for me to settle upon a subject to paint when 
I wanted to see everything and to study everything, and to 
paint everything, and when I could only run out between 


Islands Far Away. 

:showers. 1 decided on Aiidi Thakombau's house, but my 
xittention was soon distracted by a troup of children who had 
got hold of the gorgeous wreaths and likus of yesterday's 
mekc, and who were trooping about, trying on all the won- 
derful things, and acting the war dances of the day before, 
the smaller ones mth the brilliant leaves of their gay dresses 
•sweeping the flower-bestrewn grass. It was a pretty sight. 
Children are children all the world over, and my thoughts 
were carried back to many a costume party of my little 
iiephews and nieces, arrayed in studio properties in my far-oH 
Norfolk home. 

The Mbau children were particularly attractive and full of 
play, and there was no skin disease or eye trouble to mar them. 
"Toys of primitive manufacture were in evidence here and 
there, and it was specially pretty to see the little boys sailing 
their miniature canoes with matting sails, and laughing and 
splashing with delight when they skimmed gail}- across the 












Chapter XXI. 


One afternoon we were asked up to tea by the resident mis- 
sionary. He lives with his family in a pretty house on the 
top of the steep hill which forms the centre of the island. It 
was v^ery restful sitting on the broad verandah, looking out 
over the wide view of sea and sky and distant land. He in- 
dicated to us the various points of interest, among them the 
island of Viwa where mission work in this neighbourhood first 
began, and he promised to take us over some day to see it. 

The Wesleyans were the first to start missions in Fiji, and 
they took them up so thoroughly, and spread their stations 
so widely over tlie whole group of islands, that there was little 
room for other Protestant societies, who therefore gave their 
energies to other places, and left the work here entirely to 
this body ; so that, except where the Roman Catholics came 
in, soon after the Wesleyans, there was no controversy of 
doctrine to disturb the infant religion of Fiji. 

It was in the autumn of 1835 that the missionaries first 
reached any Fijian island. These came from Tonga, where 
a Wesleyan mission had gained footing some ten years before. 
Mr. Calvert and Mr. Cross, with, their wives, came over from 
Vavau, one of the Friendly Islands, to Lakemba in the Wind- 
ward Fijian Islands. Almost at the same time the inhabitants 
of the isolated island of Ono-i-Lau, the southernmost of the 
Fijis, were visited by a severe epidemic and other troubles, and 
in their anxiety and distress, they sought the Unknow^l God, 
of whom they had vaguely heard from wanderers who hap- 
pened to land there from Tonga. Their efforts at worship) 
were very touching. They had grasped only the idea that 


Islands Far Awav. 

there was one great God to whose worship one day in seven 
should be devoted, and, having made great preparations the 
day before, they assembled in gala dress for worship. They 
did not Imow how to begin , and invited one of their own priests 
to officiate. He offered the simplest of prayers to the Christian 
God, asking for His blessing, and that they might find means 
of learning more about Him. They sent off canoes to Tonga 
for teachers, but there were none to spare. Then, learning 
that white missionaries had gone to Lakemba, they sent there 
begging them to come. It was impossible for either Mr. 
Calvert or Mr. Cross to be spared. All that could be done was 
to retain the messengers awhile for instruction, which they tried 
eagerly to grasp ; and then carefully to train one of the natives 

to be sent as missionary, till one 
of themselves could visit the island. 
It was three years before they had 
any one advanced enough to be 
given such a responsible position : 
then they sent a man called 
Ravuata. When he arrived he 
found over two hundred natives 
who had banded themselves to- 
gether to try to be Christians and 
live Christian lives. 

In 1830 Mr. Cross started mis- 
sion work in Viwa, an islet close 
to Mbau. It was unfortunate that 
he was unable, owing to the de- 
termined opposition of the great 
chiefs, to settle at Mbau itself. Mr. Cross did not realise the 
supreme importance of such a step till it was too late, for 
Thakombau showed willingness at first to receive the white 
teacher, and to make him welcome ; but when he went to Viwa 
instead, the great chief was probably bitterly offended, for he 
and his father, Tanoa, who was still the nominal ruler, for 
many years after opposed the missionaries in every way and 
did all in their power to shock and annoy them. For fifteen 
years they had to wait at Viwa only two miles off, knowing 


From an old drawing at Mbau. 

Christianity in Fiji. 141 

what awful horrors were going on, and utterly unable to do 
anything. Every effort they made only exaggerated the evil. 
It was at the instance of the King of Tonga, m 1854, after 
Tanoa's death, that Thakombau finally renounced cannibalism 
and adopted Christianity, and a year later Mr. Waterhouse 
was rather reluctantly permitted to come and live at Mbau. 

There is a charming story told by Mrs. Wallis, who accom- 
panied her husband on a beche-de-mer expedition to Fiji a 
few years earlier, when cannibalism was at its height. The 
Mbutoni (sailors) had come in a large company to pay tribute, 
and, as usual, were to be entertained at a great feast, where 
bokalo would of course be the most important dish. There 
was no war at the time, but war canoes were sent to fetch what 
they could, and they trapped fourteen women fisliing, and 
returned bringing them with them. Word of this reached 
Viwa ; Mr. Calvert and Mr. Cross were away on the mainland 
at a council meeting, and their wives were alone, but they 
determined that they must do what they could, so they set oft 
in a canoe accompanied by only one native, taking with them 
as a peace offering, two " tambuas " (whales' teeth) tied to- 
gether with a ribbon. When they arrived they found they 
were too late, and that several of the women had been, or 
were actually being killed. They went bravely on, however, 
undaunted by painful sights, and walked straight into Tanoa's 
presence, although it was taboo for a woman to do so. He 
Avas amazed, and asked what brought them there. They pre- 
sented the tambuas and proferred their request. To their 
great joy he accepted them, and gave orders that those women 
who still lived should be spared and handed over to the ladies, 
who had the great pleasure of taking them back with them 
to Viwa till such time as they could be returned to their homes. 

Tanoa was delighted with the ribbon on which the tambuas 
were strung, and Mrs. Wallis saw him later on, wearing it 
round his white head-dress. Thakombau was present at the 
interview, and was so impressed by the bravery of the ladies 
that he promised to give up cannibalism, and he so far fulfilled 
his promise that at the next great feast when tribute was 
brought to Mbau there was no bokalo. 

142 Islands Far Away, 

Our visit to Viwa was carried out the first possible afternoon 
and proved very interesting. It roused the imagination to 
look back across the water to the little island of Mbau and to 
think of the fifteen long years the missionaries watched and 
waited, knowing what was going on, but unable to do anything 
whatever to stop it. 

On the top of the hill with its simple monument we saw the 
resting place of John Hunt. It is surrounded by Fijian graves 
with their neatly kept earth encircled by stones. He died in 
1848 at the early age of thirty-six, worn out with toil and care, 
and with sorrow, for one by one little ones were sent him, too 
fragile to stand the hardships, and his wife and he were called 
upon with breaking hearts to give them all up. He was the 
first missionary to lay his bones in this far-off land. 

The present missionary has a great affection for the Fijians, 
and speaks of them in a broadminded way. He told a very 
interesting story of their hospitality. An Englishman was 
coming to visit friends on a plantation up one of the large 
Fiji rivers, and it was arranged that the coasting steamer was 
to land him at its mouth, where a motor launch would await 
him to carry him to his destination. When he found himself 
on shore, however, there was no launch. Wandering along 
disconsolately carrying his bag, he met some Fijians, one of 
whom happened to be a chief. They saw he was a stranger, 
and that he was in straits ; by signs they indicated to him to 
follow. Noting their savage appearance he was uneasy, but 
he obeyed. The chief took him to his owai house, and at once, 
made preparations for his comfort. In the first place pro- 
visions were got ready and put before him, on banana leaves ; 
taro and yams, four eggs, fish and two boiled fowls ; the chief 
squatting beside him the while and encouraging him to eat. 
At night he was given the dais to himself, and the family 
slept on the floor at the other end of the house. 

The launch having broken doAvn, it was two days before it 
appeared, and all that time the same liberal and kind hospi- 
tality was showered upon him. Before going away he wanted 
to pay handsomely for his entertainment, but his host would 
accept nothing. He got the friend who had come to fetch 

Christianity in Fiji. 143 

him to make it clear that it would make no difference in his 
gratitude for all the kindness. But no, the chief would accept 
nothing. " You were a stranger and it was our duty to take 
care of you," he said, and he would have neither monej^nor gift. 
When we came home we found a strange Englishman, 
established in the house. We were not more surprised to fuid 
him than he to find us. He had business in Mbau, and Ratu 
Kandavu Levu had invited him some time before to come and 
stay at his house when he had to conduct it. He offered to 
go and look about for other quarters ; as he had been invited, 
however, and we had been storm-stayed much beyond our 
time, we did not like to allow this. Fusi came forward and 
asked us to sleep at her house, and we accepted. I think she 
was very pleased, and told all her friends of her coming visitors ; 
for when we went over, intending to lie do\vn for the night, they 
crowded in and took the most trjdng interest in all our move- 
ments. Yangona had to be made, and we had to drink it, 
and endeavour to look pleasant, but I was very tired and 
longing for quiet. At last my companion let down her hair 
and proceeded to comb it. The thick bro^^'n shower as it 
tumbled in wavy masses over her shoulders produced " click, 
clicks " of delight all over the company, and more and more 
people were fetched to admire it. Two or three times., when 
she had begun to wind it up for the night, a,t an earnest request 
she had to let it all do^^^l again. They wanted to see mine 
too, and nodded at me, making very expressive gestures indi- 
cating the pulling out of hair pins. Comparisons, however, 
would have been odious, and I pretented not to understand ; 
and finally, when they asked my interpreter to make their 
desires known, I said my hair would be combed in the morning, 
not now. It seemed hopeless to get to bed. At last she 
insisted on the men going away, but she could not dismiss the 
women, and I wished they would not take such a very embar- 
rassing interest in my every movement, from the winding of 
my watch, to the drawing off of my stockings, and the emerging 
of my white feet. By a determined effort to lie down and take 
no further notice of anything or an}^ one, we got quiet at last. 

Chapter XXII. 


Day by day we were expecting the weather to settle, so that 
we could start in the Tui Rewa which was all ready for us, but 
it only got worse, and we learned afterwards that two or three 
cutters, that had injudiciously put out, had been wrecked. 

Each day we were detained, 
however, was a reprieve to me. 
Sketching of course was not easy 
under the circumstances, but in- 
terest was so concentrated all 
round, that, every time I ran out 
between showers, something new 
and absorbing was discovered. 

The most notable thing was per- 
haps the consecration stone. My 
companion found it and called 
me, and though it hid itself away 
in the fishermen's quarters, once 
seen it was striking enough. It 
stood up boldly from a platform 
of flat stones, sheltered by old 
pandanus trees. Here, took place 
in former days the most serious 
rite of knighthood. Mrs. Wallis, 
already referred to, happened to be 
present when one of these cere- 
monies was going on, and we are 
indebted to her for a very interesting account of it. To begin 
with, amid the noisy blowing of conch shells, the king addressed 


146 Islands Far Away. 

the warriors who had distinguished themselves in battle, 
using a very old chant in almost obsolete Fijian ; then came 
the young men who had killed their first foe, and for them there 
was special disrobing and robing. As each man approached, 
the priest called him by a new name which he afterwards bore. 
It was generally the name of the man killed. All those knighted 
got new names : they could be knighted over and over again 
till they had quite a string of names. While the name was 
being given, attendants poured out libations of water from 
banana leaves which they had been using as vessels. Then 
followed anointing with sweet scented oil, and an immense 
number of other ceremonials, among them the handling of 
clubs. A great many were brought, and, one after another 
given to these heroes to touch, which seems to have been 
supposed to bestow special virtue. The proceedings lasted 
four days, and, except at the beginning, the most absolute 
quiet was maintained, not a drum being beaten, or any sound 
made all through the town. The fourth day was so sacred 
that a baby was not even allowed to cry ! The knights had 
to pay dearly for the honour, for during these four days they 
were permitted neither food nor rest, and they might not go 
away. A shed was erected for their shelter at night, and to 
screen them from the noonday sun, but they were not allowed 
to lie down or take their clubs from their shoulders. 

When a place was conquered, it was always the effort of the 
victors to get hold of the consecration stone and carry it off. 
To lose it was a terrible disgrace, and blood would be spilt 
like water to get it back again. Hence the pride Mbau has in 
the consecration stones which ornament the steps of its temple. 

When it was too wet to be out I secured a likeness of Ratu 
Joni. He most good naturedly came and sat for me and I 
much enjoyed studying his curious but interesting features. 
It was not easy, however, to see his dark brown face in the 
badly lighted mbure, and we had to get some white tapa, and 
hang it up behind, before I could make him out at all. 

Food had been a little difficult to obtain owing to the stormy 
weather, and we had to trench on the provisions procured for 
our voyage. Even fish was not always obtainable. When- 

Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi's Yacht. 147 

ever possible, however, the women trooped out with their 
nets, and Fusi and the old servant always went too. They 
formed very merry parties, and looked most picturesque, 
wading about in groups in the water. They took delight in 
every part of the business. One day I came upon our two 
preparing the fish for dinner. Before I reached them I could 
hear their merry laughter. They were sitting beside the steps 
which led down the low cliffs to the sea, with a basket of 
fresh caught, living fish beside them. They picked them out 
one by one, and got them ready for the pot with their teeth. 
The sensation of the fish wriggling between their lips seemed 
to be very enjoyable, from the bursts of merriment it evoked. 
I dined on biscuits and butter that day ! 

One evening when we went into the dining buri we found 
dressmaking in progress. Fusi had borrowed Andi Thakom- 
bau's sewing machine, and was making herself a shell-pink silk 
pinafore, elaborately trimmed with Valenciennes lace, and 
the old woman was helping her. Both were smoking clay 
pipes, and were blissfully happy. I was looking at the old 
woman, and thinking what a comic figure she was, with her, 
broad flat face, squinting eyes, and benevolent expression, 
when she took the pipe out of her mouth and offered it to me, 
and indeed pressed it upon me. I had to assure her over and 
over again that I did not smoke, before she would consent to 
return it to her own mouth. 

On Sunday, August 18th, the wind had ceased to whistle and 
sigh through the reeds of our mbure. I had been long awake 
thinking over all I had seen and heard and read, and I felt 
the calm. Before dawn I slipped out and down the steps into 
the sea. The sky was blue and cloudless, and while I was 
rejoicing in the fresh, cool water, the sun rose clear and bright 
and cast a brilliant pathway of gold across the sea. 

We had been ready for days with everything packed, pre- 
pared for an early start. This was a perfect morning but I 
did not think the Fijians would be willing to go off' on a Sunday. 
However, a message came saying we had better not lose such 
an opportunity, as Ratu Joni did not think the fine weather 
would last ; so, after a hurried breakfast, we embarked. 

148 Islands Far Away. 

Fusi bade us goodbye at the house, giving me at parting 
a beautiful piece of Mbau tapa. Andi Thakombau unfortu- 
nately had gone : she was taken ill soon after Ratu Kandavu 
Levu's departure, and had to go across to a nursing home at 

The people came out of the houses as we passed, to say good 
bye, and some of them followed us to the shore, but the real 
farewell came from Ratu Joni. The tide was out, and he 
carried me himself over the wet sand to the rowing boat which 
was to take us to the yacht ; and as we sailed away we saw 
him standing, tall and erect, watching, till he became a mere 
speck in the distance. 

It was a very sweet morning, with just enough wind to 
carrjT- us along. There was a sense of profound restfulness 
and Sunday peace, as we glided in the gentle breeze, and watched 
the old cannibal town growing smaller and smaller, till it lost 
itself in the morning mist. 

When all else had disappeared we could still distinguish 
the large white church and school house. And over the water 
fainter and fainter came the tones of the lali, beating to call 
the people to their devotions. 

Then our captain and his three men began to sing beautiful 
hymns in parts, at first very softly, then gradually letting their 
voices swell, till the rich harmony seemed to vibrate through 
the whole air, and fill it with praise. One of the boys had a 
voice like a flute, clear and pure, and the captain's was the 
richest bass I ever heard, like the deep tones of a fine organ. 
He had, in common with many Fijians, a natural ear for har- 
mony, being able to fit in a bass to any air, and even when 
we sang an English or Scotch ballad he had never heard before 
he could at once join in harmoniously. A marked feature, 
too, of the Fijians' singing is the absolute time they keep, and 
the suddenness with which they stop all together. 

So, in God's great cathedral, under the dome of His sky, we 
worshipped, and felt that it was a Sabbath of Sabbaths. 

We glided peacefully all day, but towards evening it fell 
quite calm and we anchored. After tea we went ashore at a 
place called Buliuni. The tide was out, and we had a long 

Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi's Yacht. 149 

row over shallow water. It was the best view I ever had of 
groAving coral. The water was so clear and calm that we 
could see down beautifully, and it seemed like fairy-land. The 
coral flowers were of every colour and form — there were green 
and blue and scarlet and pink, and some were tall and branch- 
ing, while others were compact, forming cushions and rosettes, 
and among them the gem-like fishes glittered and flashed. 
We had a long scramble among rocks and through a mangrove 
thicket before we reached the village, and were glad to go into 
the chief's house and rest. A pleasant looking pig formed 
part of the group, gathered in quiet comfort round the lamp 
on the floor. Out of respect for us he was turned out, but, 
being one of the family, he was much offended, and made such 
a hulloabaloo at the door that, for the sake of peace, we had 
to beg that he be re-admitted, and he came cheerfully in and 
sat down beside us. This is the only instance I came across 
of Fijians making a pet of one of the lower animals. They 
have cats and dogs of uncertain breeds in their villages, but 
these never seem to receive any notice or attention. 

When the pig had got established, the quiet was again dis- 
turbed by most painful heart-rending shrieks. We enquired 
what it was, and learned that a man was chastising his wife. 
I did not like it at all, but no one seemed in the least con- 
cerned. I never met with this elsewhere, though I came 
across one other instance of cold-bloodedness in Fiji. It was 
at Nukuloa during a meke. We could hear a small child 
crying and crying most pitifully, and no one took the least 
notice, or seemed to mind. We were told it was onh" a child 
that had been left shut up alone. 

The starlight row back was interesting and a little exciting, 
for we grounded several times on coral, and had difficulty in 
getting off again. ^Ye slept on the yacht, and in the morning 
we sailed into Viti Levu Bay, and landed at Nukuloa (black 
sand). There we bade good-bye to our captain and crew, and 
were warmlv welcomed by Ratu Saimoni Dombui. 

Chapter XXIII. 

NuKULOA is a delightfully picturesque town, and it is quite 
undisturbed by modern wood or zinc. The pretty little grass 
houses look like mice creeping about under the trees, and 
peeping out with black eyes from among the rocks along the 
sea shore, and from the steep hill at the head of the bay, which 
is dominated by one of those striking bluffs of rock so charac- 
teristic of Fijian scenery. 

The colouring is unusual, as the sand justifies the name 
Nukuloa (black sand) by being really black, and the rocks, 
wherever exposed on the hill sides, are also very dark. 

Ratu Saimoni laiew we were coming, and he was prepared 
with a grand welcome. My companion had known him long 
before, as he was for six years government provincial scribe 
at Mathuata, when her husband was magistrate there. His 
delight at seeing her was wonderful. He took her hand and 
would hardly let it go ; and he led her with great ceremony to 
the best bedroom, where was an iron bed, covered with many 
beautiful woven mats with gay fringes. The other bedroom 
was given to me, while he, with his wife and little adopted 
daughter, went to sleep elsewhere. The house was built with 
a central room, a bedroom at each side, and a verandah all 

A very elaborate dinner of many courses was prepared for 
us, and two Fijian boys waited. We all sat at table ; but the 
lady of the house looked uneasy, and did not seem accustomed 
to sitting on chairs and using forks and knives, or to eating 
with her lord. She never betrayed any wish to join in the 
conversation, or to learn what we were discussing when we 

152 Islands Far Away. 

were talking English, which Ratu Saimoni could manage pretty 
well. Our entertainment and comfort did not concern her 
either. She left it all to him, and he proved a most anxious 
and attentive host. So much so, that we were quite unhappy 
about all the trouble and expense he put himself to on our 

After dinner we went out for a stroll, and called in at the 
house of the English doctor, who is established here, and has 
a small hospital, and an enclosure in which at that time lepers 
were being gathered together, to be sent for segregation to the 
Makongai Station. 

Tea was brought in, and bread baked by liis wife. We had 
tasted no bread for such a long time that it seemed delicious, 
and was a great treat. Our hostess was so pleased with our 
enjoyment of it that she sent us a present of a loaf, and we 
brought it out at supper, and cutting off a slice or two, offered 
the plate to Ratu Saimoni's wife. To our astonishment she 
helped herself to the loaf and left the slices for the rest of the 
company, evidently tliinking this was the modest thing to do. 
It was a little disappointing to see our precious bread dis- 
appear so suddenly, for she ate it all with the greatest equani- 

The doctor showed us over the hospital. His whole staff, 
nurses and all, are Fijian, and he told us they did very 
well. It is hoped that, by training women as nurses, there will 
be much less mortality among new born infants. There was 
a little baby, an arrival of the day before, lying on a tiny mat 
beside its mother, and gazing out into life with big brown eyes. 
It was a pretty wee thing, with such an intelligent little face 
that it seemed as if it might have run about and talked. The 
mother looked weak, and as if she had come through a trying 
time. A dignified nurse was standing near who, the doctor 
said, had been splendid, and that it had been rather a bad 
case. She could do everytliing, even to the taking of tem- 
peratures, and filling in of charts. 

In the old days, I was told, the Fijian mother fled to the 
forest, erected a light shelter and spread a mat, and there all 
alone she brought forth her young. Then she piled everything 

Visit to Ratu Saimoni Dombui. 


together and set fire to it, and, with her infant, returned to the 
village, obliterating as she passed every trace of her track. 
No one must laiow where her infant first saw the light ; if an 
enemy found the spot, and carried a curse there, woe betide- 
the baby. 

We saw the poor lepers in a carefully railed-in enclosure,, 
several Indians and one Fijian. They seemed to be comfort- 
ably and well cared for, but they were terribly suggestive of 
caged animals as they, very willingly at the doctor's request, 
exhibited themselves, putting their poor maimed arms through 
the bars to show the stumps of the missing fuigers. It was a 
pathetic sight. 

The weather here again was very disappointing, and tha 
rain made it most difficult to secure 
any sketch at all, which was sad in 
such a pretty place. Ratu Saimoni 
let me get an impression of his kind, 
but most peculiar, un-English face, 
and while I painted, he told me all 
about canoe and house building, and 
many other interesting things. 

In spite of the rain, we went for 
a dip in the bathing pool. A stout 
native woman offered to conduct us, 
and we expected it to be close by, but 
it proved to be a long way off, and 
through tall grass and weeds, so that 
we were thoroughly wet before we 

reached it. It was a beautiful place — a large deep pool with a 
clear river flowing through it ; and when for a moment the 
clouds lifted we saw the grand bluff of rock standing up 
above the trees and reflected in the water. 

I covered up my clothes as well as I could under an um- 
brella, but they were already pretty wet, and there was nothing 
dry when I came to put them on again. Our companion was 
much surprised at our bathing gowns. " What do you want 
with a bathing gown when you have got a towellia ? she ex- 
claimed. But as the towellia remained on the bank, we pre- 


J 54 Islands Far Away. 

■f erred having bathing gowns. Tins lovely spot should have 
been visited only by nymphs and naiads, and our friend looked 
very funny, sitting on a rock with her broad stout back towards 
us, performing her ablutions in a business-like manner. I 
noticed great white scars, forming jagged conspicuous marks 
•over her dark shoulder blades, and thought she must have met 
\vith some horrible accident, but was told it would be the 
result of an attack of pleurisy, or some other lung trouble, 
■cured, native fashion, by severe slashing and burning, a remedy 
■corresponding to our blister or poultice. 

There was never any risk of men interfering with us when 
we were bathing. They are very particular. In olden days 
if a man were found looking at a woman bathing, he was 
promptly lynched by her family. They are very modest in 
their ways, which makes it pleasant to be among them. I 
certainly never saw any impropriety all the time I was there. 
Where there are two bathing pools, one is reserved exclusively 
for the women, and one for the men. When there is but one, 
then the men and women bathe at different hours, and, if the 
bath be exposed, there is always a bamboo screen. Often 
•curious little shower-baths* stand up conspicuously in the 
middle of the village, but to enjoy these the people do not 
undress, and the water is rained down over clothes and all. 

Ratu Saimoni arranged a great yangona drinking, and beau- 
tiful meke, for us. It took place in a huge buri, the largest I 
have seen, and there were a good many chiefs there, and people 
came from considerable distances to attend. When our host 
conducted us to the place of assembly, a very considerable 
company was gathered, squatting in a circle all round the 
large hall. Without moving or raising their eyes from the 
ground, they greeted us with a low murmur. This, it seems, 
is a sign of great respect. With much solemnity the drink 
was made, while a venerable old man delivered a prayer, ex- 
pressing gratitude for our presence among them, and offering 
a petition for our safe journey and ultimate happy return to 
our own country. Then the whole assembly chanted ; after 

• These shower baths are not native institutions, but have been instituted by 
the Colonial Government. 

Visit to Ratii Saimoni Dombui. 


which, amid dead silence, the half coconut, a beautiful old 
heirloom in this case, was filled and presented first to me. I 
was glad I had had practice before this very ceremonious 
affair. As it was, I felt a little nervous ; but I acquitted 
myself well, and the company testified their approval by 
gently clapping in unison, and a loud shout of " A Matha " (it 
is dry) when I span it back empty, and it stopped exactly at 
the foot of the cup bearer. 

Then the meke men slipped in, really beautifully got up, 
the head dresses being specially remarkable ; and they per- 
formed a graceful meke for our benefit. 

There was something very pleasant about the whole tiling. 
We were in tune with the people, and liked to be among them ; 
and we felt that to them too our presence was a joy. 


Chapter XXIV. 


The pros and cons of our plans meanwhile were under earnest 
discussion ; and, after much deliberation, it was decided that 
we should coast round as far as Tavua Bay, and from there 
walk up to Ndarivatu. If the weather had been better Ratu 
Saimoni would have liked to send us round in his own yacht. 
As it was, however, it seemed best to take the little coasting 
steamer, Andi Keva, which passed this way, and which stopped 
to take in passengers if it were signalled for. As the time of 
its coming was uncertain, it was necessary to be on the watch 
all the while for its possible arrival, and to have everything 
ready to put on board at a moment's notice. 

We laid in provisions for our tour, and Ratu Saimoni added 
a fme leg of pork, cooked in the savoury native fashion. He 
also mapped out our trip very carefully, and gave us intro- 
ductions to the Buhs (minor officials) in the various villages 
we had to stop at, writing a letter charging them to have 
every care of us, and to see that we were not cheated, or taken 
advantage of in any way, and that we got good honest carriers. 
Then we waited for the boat ; this became rather tiresome, 
and, when the rain cleared a little, I could not resist shpping 
dowii to the shore to finish a sketch, thinking I should see the 
steamer at once, and that when it was hailed it would wait, 
so that I could easily go up to the house, and pack my re- 
maining things without causing any inconvenience. 

I was absorbed in my work when I became aware of some- 
thing behind me, and, looking round, perceived two of the 
Roko's servants quietly waiting with very anxious expressions. 
They immediately said ; " Boat, Missie, quick," and pointed 

Marooned at Sea. i 57 

up to the house, then proceeded promptly to gather my things, 
and tear up the path with them. Concerned though they 
were, they would not speak till I turned and noticed them, as 
it would have been bad manners. 

Sure enough, away on the horizon -line, only just perceptible 
was a funnel of a steamer, and a tiny streak of smoke. I flew 
all the long way up to the house, where I found my companion 
in a fever of excitement. My remaining things were tumbled 
into my box, while the boys waited to pick it up, and Ratu 
Saimoni's voice could be heard from mthout, calling me to 

Then we made all speed down to the beach, where an. old 
war canoe was launched read}^ for us. It took us out to the 
queer little steamer, which was trumpeting its desire for de- 
parture in a rather nerve-racking manner. 

The steamer was dirty and not at all attractive ; and all 


day the rain poured down in torrents, so that we got only 
glimpses of the fine coast scenery. Towards evening we came 
in sight of the gloomy Kauvanclra mountains where all the 
superstitions of the Fijian mythology concentrated themselves. 
Somewhere in their deep recesses their great god, Dengei, is 
supposed even now to be hiding away. He generally takes 
the form of a serpent, so that he did not disappear before the 
missionaries, but promptly became " the old serpent the devil." 
He does not, however, like his loss of pre-eminence, and all 
the other changes and disturbances in Fiji ; and from all 
accounts they seem to have brought on a kind of nervous 
break-down, for he never comes out, or takes any interest in 

158 Islands Far Away. 

anything. He does not even trouble to feed himself, but lets 
an attendant put the food into his nioutb. He has always 
been rather a nervous subject, and was so even in his prime. 
The noise of pottery maldng annoyed him, so he struck off 
mth his foot the portions of hind where it was being made,, 
and they became islands. That accounts for the fact that 
potteries in this neighbourhood were always on islands. The 
roar of the Rakiraki reefs was disturbing, so he ordered 
silence ; and even now, though the surf breaks there, it does 
not make the same roar as elsewhere. The clamour of the 
birds interfered with his sleep in the early morning, and he 
ordered them to go away. To this day, they are said to leave 
the neighbourhood at sunset, and not to return till after 
sunrise the next day. The bats, too, are said to be silent 
here, because he could not stand their clatter, and ordered 
them to stop it. 

When we arrived at our destination, there was a large punt 
anchored about a mile and a half from the shore. The steamer 
stopped alongside the punt, and two Englishmen, and our- 
selves, and our baggage were put on board, besides the mails, 
and some cargo. Then the steamer gave a shrill whistle and 
steamed away, leaving us marooned on the ocean, without any 
certainty at all that a boat from the shore would come to take 
us off before night. 

It was quite impossible for us to make ourselves seen or 
heard — we were too far away ; and scanning the shore in the 
deepening twilight, we could perceive no indications of build- 
ings of an 3^ kind : just a great stretch of mangrove -with no 
apparent opening. Fortunately the rain had ceased, and 
while my companions good humouredly discussed the situa- 
tion, I got out my sketch book, and was soon absorbed in 
studying the mountains, and letting my imagination run riot 
among them. Somewhere hidden in their depths was the 
heaven of long ago ; so difficult to reach, yet so deeply desired, 
that horrible tatooing was willingly borne, and widows sub- 
mitted, and even begged, to be strangled that they might 
reach it. The way was full of pitfalls, and the departed spirit 
had to pass through endless trials and dangers before he was 

Marooned at Sea. 159- 

safe. If his courage failed liim, or if he were overcome, he was 
doomed to eternal unrest, wandering for ever about these 
dreary places, and sometimes making excursions at night to 
the haunts of men, only to fuid them fly from him in terror, 
because there was no more companionship between them.. 
Bachelors had the worst time. The snares that were put in 
their way made it practically impossible for them to reach the 
realms of bliss. A heavy tax on bachelors ! And it was 
specially hard, as, in the days when great chiefs took to them- 
selves some fifty to a hundred wives, many men had to go 

As time went on and the twilight was darkening, we began 
to grow uneasy at the non-appearance of any rescue boat. It 
became necessary to consider what we should do. None of 
us had any matches, so, before it got pitch dark, my com- 
panion lifted the boards of the deck we were standing on, to 
see the possibilities of the hold for sleeping, and she scrambled 
do^vn, and, pulling the packages about, arranged bags of flour 
to form beds. Next, we brought out our provisions to share 
with our fellow travellers, who had no food with them. There 
was moreover nothing to drink. We were just going to tackle 
the ham when we heard the joyful sound of the distant splash 
of oars. So we packed up our things again, and waited, for 
what seemed a long time. We could see nothing, but gradu- 
ally, gradually, the sound drew nearer, and at last a boat 
came alongside. The boat men were much surprised to find 
passengers ; they said they had come out only to fetch the 
flour and the mails, because they expected a rough night, and 
were afraid these would all get wet ; and they hardly knew 
how they could take us, but we insisted, and doubtfully they 
let us get in. The boat leaked considerably, and we were 
such a heavy load for it that there did appear to be some risk 
of swamping ; and, to add to our discomfort, the rain came 
on again and poured steadily do%vn. It seemed a long mile 
and a half in the darkness, with the water soaking up from 
below, and coming down from above ; but at last we found 
ourselves on a sopping little landing stage, on what seemed to 
be the bank of a river, bordered by mangrove swamp. Here 

i6o Islands Far Away. 

we and our luggage were put out, while our fellow travellers 
were taken to a point further on. The boatmen cheered us 
before they went away by telKng us that the mbuli, with whom 
we were to have stayed, was from home : that his house was 
occupied by twenty ladies from Mathuata, and, moreover, 
that it was two miles off. So here we were all by ourselves, 
in this lonely spot, in the pouring rain, at night, encumbered 
by baggage, and with no idea where to go or what to do. 

Chapter XXV. 


" Well, here we are stranded indeed ! '"' exclaimed my com- 
panion. I took it very calmly, however, for I was sure she 
would somehow find means of extricating us from our di- 

After some consideration it was decided, that she should go 
off in search of assistance, while I remained in charge of our 

Sitting on my tiny tin box, an old friend, which from the 
experience of previous travels had proved the best thing to 
hold necessaries, I waited — the splash of the retreating foot- 
steps through the mud grew fainter and fainter, and died 
away in the distance ; then there was silence, 

I felt strangely small in the big universe of silence and 
darkness, knowing nothing of my surroundings, or where I 
was, but my thoughts were busy and kept me company. At 
last after what seemed a very long time I caught the grateful 
sound of voices, and knew that my companion had found 
someone and was coming back for me. She had met a Fijian 
constable, who curiously enough, had served under her 
husband, and had been at Lomaloma when he died ; and he 
remembered her with affection, and was anxious to do any- 
thing he could for her. He suggested opening the court- 
house, and letting us take shelter there till he went in search 
of quarters for us. We left our baggage on the landing stage, 
and proceeded to walk ; but the road was raised and shppery, 
and we had to feel our way along with our umbrellas in the 
dark. I shpped and fell in the mud and twisted my right 
hand painfully, after which the constable assisted me. The 


1 62 Islands Far Away. 

court-house was a spacious native building, new and dry and 
clean, with a pleasant scent of hay, and we were glad to be 
under cover. Tlie man returned after some time, saying that 
it was quite true about the inroad of the Mathuata ladies, and 
the absence of the buli, that moreover, there being some kind 
of general gathering and every place being full, he would 
suggest our remaining for the night in the court-house. It 
seemed the best thing to do, so he fetched a man and sent him 
for our belongings, which he brought bit by bit, sopping wet 
and muddy. 

The kindly constable then brought us boiling water to make 
tea. And, after much needed refreshment, we rolled our- 
selves in our damp blankets, and in our w^et clothes lay down 
on the floor, where we tried to snatch a little sleep, to the 
buzz of myriads of mosquitoes, and the patter of the rain, 
which was coming down in sheets. 

Next morning I was stiff and aching all over from my fall, 
and we were both tired ; but, since there was not much to be 
got by staying here, we determined, as the rain was abating, 
to make the first stage of our journey to Ndarivatu ; so, 
engaging carriers to take our things, we trudged off through 
the thick yellow mud, bound for the mountains, imbedded in 
which lay the Government Rest House. 

We met one of our fellow travellers of the day before, a 
Major — who was greatly shocked at our proposed walk. He, 
too, was going to the rest house, but he was going to ride, 
and he thought we ought certainly to have horses. All the 
way up we expected him to pass us, but he did not. We 
reached Waikumbukumbu, the village where we intended to 
sleep, but the dark windowless house we were to occupy did 
not seem as clean as usual. The people were busy making 
both tapa and mats, and there was a great litter. The in- 
habitants, too, looked very uncivilised, and were more scantily 
dressed than a,ny I had seen before, some big girls even ha\dng 
nothing on at all, though at our entry, they either drew some 
rags about them, or hid away. My companion kept saying, 
" I wish we could go right on up to the top," but it was half- 
past five already, and the sun was on the point of setting ; so 

Ndarivatu Safely Reached. 163 

we decided that it was out of the question, and set about 
preparing the evening meal, which we much needed. I was 
sitting on the floor near the door resting, when I perceived a 
tired man, dragging an unwilhng horse up the hill. This was 

poor Major perfectly worn out. He had walked most 

of the way, pulling the horse after him because it would not 
go. Now his one cry was " Can anyone tell me how to get 
rid of this beast ? " I called assistance, and it was soon dis- 
posed of ; then we invited the weary traveller in to share our 
meal. He wanted the food very much, but he could not 
make liimself comfortable in the Fiji house at all ; his legs 
were in his way when he tried to sit on the floor, and he was 
very ill at ease. We got liim a box, and, sitting there, he 
gradually cheered up, as he watched my companion bustling 
around preparing a very savoury stew, over the blazing wood 
on the stones in the comer of the room. After supper the 
moon rose, and we were much tempted to finish our journey. 
Alone we would not have thought it right to venture at that 

hour, but, as Major also did not like the idea of going 

on by himself, and said he would be very glad of our company, 
we decided to combine our forces and go. The Fijians are so 
afraid of lonely places at night, that our next difficulty was 
to get carriers. The people said we were mad, or we would 
never have thought of going, that it was a very, very long 
walk, and that there were devils about, and ghosts haunting 
the forests. At last, by allomng a number of both men and 
girls to come, and offering good pay, we induced them to 
attend us, and they made a merry party, singing lustily the 
whole time, which effectually kept evil spirits away. 

It was a wonderful walk. The moon was so clear that we 
could see the distant mountains, range upon range, and the 
plain, spreading out below, as we ascended. And, in the 
foreground great aloe-hke plants* with tall flower spikes 
stood out boldly against the silvery distance, and cast a net- 
work of black shadows across our path. Aches and pains and 
fatigues were all forgotten, in the perfect enjoyment of 

* This ' aloe-like ' plaut is Sisal hemp {Fourcroi/a) , and is not indigenous in Fiji. 

164 Islands Far Away. 

beautiful nature. Major on whom scenery had not such 

an invigorating effect, was soon tired and often claimed a 
rest ; that, too, was a pleasure. Sitting by the wayside we 
could enjoy the view at leisure, and it prolonged the time, so 
that it was midnight before we reached our destination. 

Major was expected however, so the Indian who was in 

charge of the Government Rest House was up, and had every- 
thing in waiting to prepare a light, comfortable meal. And, 
while we were enjoying it, he quickly got beds ready for us all. 

We were glad to undress properly, and tuck ourselves up 
dry and warm, for it was cold in the mountains, the ther- 
mometer going down as low as 48° at night. 

We remained four days at the Ndarivatu Rest House and 
it really was a much needed rest. The Chief Justice, Sir 
Charles Major, and his wife, were staying at the Government 
Cottage, and the Commissioner, Mr. Russell, with his wife and 
little girl, lived near by, all cultured people, with much that 
was interesting to impart. I made great friends with the 
little girl, Noel, and when I was sketching she always crept 
up beside me and amused me with her chatter. She was much 
excited at meeting a "real artist," and I had reason to be 
grateful to her, for my colours were running out, and she most 
generously gave me some out of her own little box. I was 
afraid she would miss them, but she seemed so proud to bestow 
them that I gladly accepted. Our house-keeping at the Rest 
House was very entertaining. The arrangements of the 
establishment were, that people should pay half a crown a 

day each, and cater for themselves. Major and we 

were the only guests and we decided to make common cause. 
We were to provide breakfast and lunch, and he was to provide 
dinner. Great was the rivalry between my housekeeper and 
him, each wishing to surpass the other in variety and luxury 
of entertainment. It was amusing to see the pride of the host 
for the time being, when something very special was coming, 
and the crestfallen expression when it proved a failure. The 
possibilities of the place, with its one little shop, were not ex- 
tensive ; but, by dint of much consideration, and long consulta- 
tion with the Indian cook, the results were often astonishing. 

Chapter XXVI. 


On the 27th of August we left Ndarivatu to continue our 
journey across Viti Levu ; and I looked forward to it with 
keen anticipation, as the river part was to be performed in a 
native canoe. 

We had had lovely weather while we were at Ndarivatu ; 
but it showed signs of changing, and heavy skies had suc- 
ceeded sunsliine. As, however, we were told that in this 
neighbourhood it was more often wet than fine, we could not 
put off on that account, especially as I was most anxious to 
see a great gathering which was to take place at Nasongo, 
where the magistrate of the district, who lived at Ndarivatu, 
was holding a yearly general council meeting (Mbose Vaka 
Yasana). All the men had already gone, which caused a 
difficulty about carriers for us. The magistrate, however, 
suggested that we should have boys from the Ndarivatu 
native school. His selection of four lithe, nice looking youths 
was made as a reward for good conduct, and they were greatly 
delighted at the opportunity it gave them of following their 
elders to the meeting. They stepped along merrily with a 
bright swinging gait, making a particularly nice escort for us ; 
and their dress was very pretty — a white cotton shirt rather 
low in the neck with short sleeves, and a sulu to match, both 
trimmed with scarlet braid. 

We spent the night at Na Vai, the most primitive place I 
had ever stayed in, and quite different in character from the 
lowland villages. The houses were round like beehives. This 
shape resists the hurricanes better, and is usual in the moun- 
tains here. They were covered with soft fine grass all over. 

I 66 Islands Far Away. 

and looked as if they were made of chinchilla fur. None of 
them had any windows, and the entrance was so low that it 
was necessary to stoop to go in, while banana leaves hanging 
down represented a door. The chief's house, wliich was 
allotted to us, had no furniture of any kind, not even the usual 
dais. There was nothing in it in fact except the stones forming 
the fire-place, and the mats on the floor. 

There was no oil in the village, and we had nothing with us 
to make light except my little electric flasher ; so we went to 
bed early, if lying doA\7i on the floor without undressing could 
be called going to bed. Unfortunately my pillow had got 
packed away, and, not being able to find it in the dark, I had 
to roll some grass in my waterproof to put under my head. 
The chief was off to Nasongo with all the other men, but an 
old man, his father or grandfather, took charge of us, and was 
very solicitous for our comfort. He was told that we should 
want to start early next morning ; and he promised to fill the 
kettle and have it boiling, that we might get our tea in good 

My head was aching, and I could not sleep ; so I lay watch- 
ing the firelight flickering over the beams and losing itself in 
the high dome of the roof. About two o'clock I had dropped 
off, when I was startled by the rustle of the dry banana leaves 
at the door, and in the dim light I could just perceive a dark 
scantily dressed figure slip in, with something in his hand 
which looked like a weapon. I sat up, and watching, saw him 
go straight to where my companion lay sleeping and stoop 
over her. I turned rather cold, and was distinctly uneasy, 
till I saw him go to the fire, and proceed to poke it with the 
stick he had in his hand. The sound woke her, and she en- 
quired with great indignation what he was doing. It was all 
kindness ; he was so anxious our breakfast should be ready 
in good time that he had come to make up the fire, and put 
on the kettle. He was packed off, being told that it was 
much too soon, and he must not come till five. He had no 
watch, however, and we were so much on his mind that at 
three o'clock he was back again. 

As it was no use trying to sleep we soon got up, and dressed — 

A Night Surprise. 167 

or, perhaps I had better say, shook ourselves. Then we made 
and ate our breakfast by firehght, and while it was still dark 
started on our journey. 

At first we stumbled along, finding our way with some 
difficulty : then dawn was heralded by the twittering, I might 
almost say the singing, of birds, which gave a pleasant home 
feeling to the forest. This seems to be the only hour when 
the native birds do sing, for as soon as the day had fairly begun 
they were silent again. Though we had started about the 
same hour from Namosi we had heard no birds ; but of course 
it was earlier in the season, and probably they had not com- 
menced their spring songs yet. 

All through our walk, we were often startled by a curious 
barking sound, from the depths among the trees, vvliich I 
learned was the voice of a dove, the barking pigeon according 
to the white settlers, or the " thon'ge " of the Fijians ; it was 
much more like a dog than a bird. 

Almost as soon as we set off a light drizzle began, and in- 
creased to a very wetting rain which continued all the rest of 
our walk, blotting out our whole view, and allo^ving us only 
a glimpse now and then of some magnificent peak. We were 
among the highest mountains in Fiji, and it was sad to have 
them curtained off. Walking was difficult, for the road was 
steep, and covered with thick slippery mud, so that it was no 
easy matter to keep our footing ; and both of us had rather 
severe falls, making us feel sticky and dirty all over when we 
entered the to^vn of Nasongo. All along the way we could 
see the deep impressions of horses' hoofs. At some places it 
looked as if the foot had been withdrawn with difficulty ; at 
others, there was a long streak where the horse had slid, and 
nearly fallen. The marks did not suggest a pleasant ride and 
we were glad to be walking. Plenty of bare feet, too, had 
evidently gone that way ; and other paths joined ours all 
bearing footprints showing that the population had gone one 
and all to Nasongo, either walking or riding. 

The walk was a long one, some fifteen miles or so ; and of 
course the difficulty and slipperiness of it made it equivalent 
to far more, but we plodded steadily on. The foliage was 


Islands Far Away. 

very thick, and the greens were very dark in colour, giving a 
gloomy aspect to the landscape, but I daresay that would 
have disappeared if the sun had shone out. 

The rain had almost ceased as we reached Nasongo, one of 
the most exquisitely lovely places I have ever visited, with 
nothing to spoil its perfect harmony and artistic beauty. In 
a grand setting of mountain crags, the 
pretty native houses seem to have fluttered 
down like birds and settled on ever}^ avail- 
able ledge of the rocks, from which it is 
almost impossible to distinguish them, the 
colour is so like. Quantities of " crotons " 
and dracenas, planted romid them, en- 
livened the whole scene with their briUi- 
ant colours, wliile streamlets trickled 
down between them, falling over the 
stones in miniature cascades. 

Ha\ang started so early, it was only a 
quarter-past ten when we arrived ; and 
the magistrate was much surprised, and 
could not understand how we had man- 
aged to get there so soon . He himself had 
ridden the whole way from Ndarivatu the 
day before, so as to open proceedings early 
next morning. We had missed nothing, 
for the council meeting, at which, of 
course, we could not be present, was be- 
ginning in the large council house, and 
the yangona drinking with which it com- 
over. The cup-bearer came hurrying for 
I was giddy and sick with fatigue, but I 
could not disappoint him altogether, so I made a pencil sketch. 
He was a most extraordinary guy. His get-up would have 
been masterly for a clown in a pantomime, but it seemed very 
out of place for a grave coiuicil meeting, and gave one the 
feeling that the savage days were not far off. His nose was 
touched with vermilion, and there were patches of black round 
his eyes and mouth, giving a funny astonished expression ; 



mences, was just 
me to paint him. 

A Night Surprise. 169 

his hair was yellow, decorated with a wonderful cockade of 
cock's feathers and red wool ; his liku (grassy kilt) was magenta 
and blue, and from it a bunch of crimson leaves stuck up over 
his chest ; he had a barbaric necklace on, and bunches of 
green leaves round his arms. Conscious of being exceedingly 
fine, he stood gravely till I drew him, and he was quite pleased 
with my rough pencil portrait, as were all the others who had 
gathered to watch the progress. They are easily satisfied. 

Our arrival just then was not very convenient, when there 
were nineteen hundred strangers assembled in the place, re- 
ceiving hospitality, so that the people themselves were sleeping 
in kitchens and out-houses, and even out of doors in the rain. 
A very pretty little house, however, had been reserved for us, 
the owner and his little boy going elsewhere, while only his 
wife remained with us. We were made very welcome, for the 
house was decorated with flowers and leaves to receive us, 
and fresh leafy bamboos were twined round the ladders that 
led up to it, and among the strands of long dry grass or fibre 
which formed the door. We were very thankful to rest, and 
make ourselves a little clean and tidy, before the magistrate 
sent for us to join him at dinner in the chief's house which he 
was occupying. 

Chapter XXVII. 


While we were dining off the savoury but ungainly Fiji fowl, 
the magistrate told me a little about the huge gathering now 
assembled, and its purpose. The Mbose Vaka Yasana is a 
general provincial council meeting, at which all the chiefs and 
bulls and important people of the whole district meet, to 
discuss local arrangements, such as road making, the building 
and pulling down of houses, water supply, sanitation, etc., and 
any trouble or difficulty. Fiji is divided into eighteen pro- 
vinces, and these provinces are self-governing, managing their 
own affairs. This particular province covers seven hundred 
square miles, and there are five centres at which the Council 
meets in turn, so that it comes to Nasongo only once in five 
years ; and that is quite often enough, for the inhabitants of 
all the rest of the province, nineteen hundred in this case, 
gather, and have to be hospitably entertained and feasted for 
about three days, the entire neighbourhood bringing in 
presents of provisions, so that it must be pretty well drained 
at the end of the time. Hospitality is one of the strongest 
characteristics of the Fijian, and he will do anything, give 
anything, or suffer anything, rather than fail in a single detail. 
In this case a prodigious amount of food was brought in, and 
it was very interesting to watch the process, the women 
bringing offerings, then the men. 

The chief's house stands on a high green platform, ascended 
by notched tree trunks. I went out to look about me, and 
from there I saw the women assembling on another green 

The Mbose Vaka Yasana. 171 

below for the formal delivering over of their gifts, and a won- 
derful concourse they were, in their gayest of gala dresses. 
Some of these gowns must have done duty on such occasions 
for more than half a century. They were the original ridicu- 
lously unsuitable dresses supplied by the first missionaries. 
Wide gowns, which might have been held out by a crinoline, 
flounced up to the top, and with trumpet sleeves. They 
suggested the busy ladies of long ago, gathered in little dorcas 
meetings, plying their needles for the far-away savages, wliile 
one of their number read Jane Austen's " nice new books," 
and Mrs. Jellaby collected money for " top boots and blan- 
kets." Then, there were the latest new pinafores, of every 
gay colour in silk and cotton, with dainty tucks and lace, the 
wearers of which must have been sorry to expose them to the 
showery weather. Now the sun was shining, and it showed 
off to full advantage the ladies' hair, which was the most 
striking part of their whole toilet. It had all been bleached 
with lime, then dyed every colour — ^green, yellow, scarlet, 
magenta, pale brown. The effect in looking down upon all 
these brilliant heads was exceedingly strange. I was watching 
with interest, and I must have looked kind and sympathetic, 
for one of the women, who seemed to hold an important 
position, stepped up and very respectfully shook hands with 
me ; then they all followed, streaming up one ladder and 
down another ; it took a long time, and at the end of it my 
hand ached. I thought I had shaken hands with all the 
women of the place, but during the rest of the time in Nasongo, 
those I had missed kept coming to me, wherever I was, to 
shake hands, not always at very convenient times ; and they 
brought their children too, and even infants in arms had their 
tiny hands held out for me to shake. I stroked some of the 
little heads, and after that all the children's heads had also 
to be stroked. I felt as if I were some kind of dignitarj^ con- 
ferring a blessing. 

When all the women had assembled with their gifts, at a 
signal they started single file, carrying taro, yams, bananas, 
tinned meat, salmon, sardines, butter, ])iscuits and every sort 
of thing, and deposited them in a huge pile in front of the 

172 Islands Far Away. 

council house. Men followed with larger gifts, five cows 
baked whole, several calves, twentj'^-six pigs, etc. These 
were carried on poles by two or more men. Then the yangona 
was brought up with a certain degree of ceremony, a large 
quantity strung on a pole being carried between two men, 
while an old man, squatting on the grass, solemnly gave 
thanks for it. 

I tried to sketch the scene ; but it was almost impossible to 
get any tiling as there were so many people, and they w^ere all 
so interested that they crowded round, and blotted out my 
view. They recognised the tiniest pin-point sketch as soon 
as I began it, and rushed frantically off to tell the individual 
he was being painted, which brought him tearing over to see 
the result. There was no getting on, so I closed my book in 
despair. Next day a man who could speak English brought 
up a native constable to me sajdng " You draw zis man : 
show him hisself." I could not understand what he meant, 
for I had had no opportunity to get a portrait of anyone. 
Then I suddenly bethought myself of my frustrated effort of 
the day before, and produced it, and there, painted in two 
strokes half an inch high, was " zis man." A dark finger 
pointed him out, and there was a smile of satisfaction. 

All day, dresses had been in course of preparation for a 
specially fine meke, but the affairs of state took so long that 
the evening shades were falling before the magistrate left the 
court-house, so it was decided to put it off till night, and have 
it by torch -light. 

After supper I had the opportunity of seeing a Fijian apology 
which was very interesting. All the chiefs and all the mbulis 
of the province are required to be present, and in good time, 
at the council, or to send an adequate excuse. One mbuli 
arrived only at the very end, and not till after he had received 
a special message demanding his presence. After supper, two 
(lark figures crept in, and squatted humbly beside the door, 
the second carrying a tambua (whale's tooth). These were 
the recalcitrant buli and his mata-ni-vanua. A chief never 
offers an apology himself : he alwaj's brings his herald to do 
so for him. 


Islands Far Away. 

The magistrate took no notice at first of the intrusion ; but 
when he turned, the mata-ni-vanua began to talk, with the 
most wheedling expression on his face, and he talked and 
talked, with the tambua strung over his clasped hands. At 
last the magistrate reached forward, and the tambua was 

\(, ,A. 


handed over. Had he not accepted the tambua, it would 
have been a sign that the apology was insufficient, and the 
buli would have been in disgrace, and probably degraded. 

The war dance at night, with the light of the great flaring 
bamboo torches, was very fine, and gave a good impression of 
the old barbaric days. As the torches flared and failed, the 
Avild looking flgures in their savage decorations appeared and 
disappeared, and the war paint and weapons, only half seen, 
looked more terrible than in the full light of day. 

Chapter XXVIII. 


All next day we remained at Nasongo. I should have liked 
to have had a long time there, but I wanted a long time every- 
where, and we had it not to give. My companion poked 
about among the people in quest of my much desired ndari ni 
mbokola (cannibal dish), and at last came back in triumph with 
a very good specimen, which was now being innocently used 
for taro and other vegetables. Cannibalism was practised here 
as late as 1874 when, I was told, there was a great rising, and 
all the Christians were killed off and eaten ; and that it was 
very heroically and effectually put down by a little handful 
of two hundred men, all natives, supplied by Thakombau, and 
commanded by a Major Harding. They found themselves 
faced by a troop of two thousand, whom they fearlesslj^ at- 
tacked and completely routed and defeated. 

There is a sheer precipice above Nasongo, called the Lover's 
Leap because broken-hearted lovers are said to have thrown 
themselves down from it. There was a case not long ago, 
when a man fell in love with another man's wife, and the 
affection was returned. As there was no way of gratifying 
it in this world, they climbed the mountain together, and 
jumped over hand in hand, believing that in this way they 
would be united in the next. The woman was killed, but 
bushes caught the man, and he was rescued, and still lives. 
Suicide by leaping from heights is not uncommon in Fiji, and 
love affairs are the usual cause. 

I tried to get some sketches, in spite of the showery weather 
and the crowds, but it is not possible to obtain any view that 


Islands Far Away. 

gives much idea of the place, as it is so completely in a basin 
with the mountains rising abruptly all round. 

Coming home in the dusk, having lingered rather late 
sketching, I was startled when a swarthy figure, with a bushy 
head of hair, and dressed only in long green fresh grass hung 
round his waist, slipped out from behind a rock, and laid his 
hand on my arm. It was not long before I discovered what 
he wanted, for he looked beseechingly in my face then pointed 
to my sketch book. I opened it and showed him the pictures, 
which he gazed at with intense appreciation and delight. 


In the evening, our host said his tiny son would like to 
perform a meke for us. He looked a shy baby of about three. 
When we signified our interest however, he placed himself ui 
the middle of the fioor, and went through the most extraor- 
dinary performance. His audience was entirely forgotten, 
and he recited the long chants, and went through all the 
elaborate motions of all the figures, with the perfect precision 
of a grown-up man. Even the Fijians present, who could 
understand everything, were amazed. I gave the child a blue 
necklace, with which he was delighted, and when I held it out 

Trooping off with the Crowd. 177 

to him he seized it much as a monkey would have done, and 
with as Httle show of thanks. 

With three men carriers, we set off next morning, August 
30th, for Numbumakita. The people were now trooping 
away in all directions, and we came upon companies of them 
everywhere as we passed along the roads. The women apolo- 
gised to us for taking off their pinafores or overalls, as it was 
so much easier to walk in the sulu only. As for the men, they 
mostly wore nothing but a few flowers and bright leaves, the 
remains of meke dresses, with some gay decorations in their 
hair, and they all carried clubs. The sun had now pierced 
the clouds, and the whole effect among the -wild scenery was 
savage and grand. There was one old man accompanied by 
a little boy, and his tenderness with the child was very pretty. 
He watched over him all the time, and carried him long dis- 
tances when he seemed tired. A very nice chief, and a dear 
little boy with yellow hair decorated with roses, were our 
companions the whole way. It was pleasant for us, as the 
chief took a kind charge of us, which was an advantage among 
such a motley crowd. 

When we arrived at Numbumakita, a " seventh day ad- 
ventist " missionary was in possession of the bull's house, so 
the chief who was in our company arranged about other ac- 
commodation for us. He selected a very large house, and, 
from the number of men congregated in it, I feared it was the 
Mbure-ni-sa, or bachelors' quarters, but they made us very 
welcome, and, though they bore us company till a late hour, 
they all turned out at night and left us the place to ourselves. 

It was formerly the universal custom in Fiji for boys, as 
soon as they reached the age of adolescence, to leave the 
parental roof at night, and sleep in a large mbure set apart for 
the unmarried men. Here, also, the married men generally 
slept during the long period when the wife was suckling her 
child. Women were never admitted to this mbure. The mis- 
sionaries, in trying to establish family life according to our 
ideas, interfered with this custom, so that it is now found 
only in the more remote parts. The morals of the people, 
however, have suffered in consequence. 

178 Islands Far Away. 

A few women came in and joined the company. One was 
nursing a great big boy, who, when he had finished his repast, 
ran away, and began chattering with some of the men. His 
mother told us he was three years' old. The Fijian women 
generally nurse their children for a long time, partly because 
they have no other food adapted to them while they are very 
young. They never have babies in quick succession, as it is 
thought highly improper and wrong, and in former days a 
woman's family punished her husband in a summary manner, 
if a new infant appeared on the scenes sooner than they con- 
sidered right. They say that the reason Englishmen as a rule 
" are such shrimps " is because the families are too numerous, 
and the members too near of an age. 

Our carriers were no sooner in the house, than as usual 
their first thought was their hair. Their loads were thro\\n 
down, and they possessed themselves of the family comb, 
and a scrap of looking-glass which they leant up against the 
wall, and, lying flat down on the floor, they proceeded to work 
away in turns, carefully disentangling and spreading out 
every lock. Fond as the Fijian is of his food, his hair is con- 
sidered first. It was funny to find a looking-glass here, where 
everything was most primitive , but they are everywhere, 
and Fijians are as fond of them as monkeys are. The water 
for our tea, and for boiling our pot, was fetched in bamboo 
pitchers, thick pieces of bamboo some five feet long, wiih. the 
divisions knocked out, which make very good water vessels 
and, when they are brought in full they are set up in rows 
against the wall. 

We were earnestly discussed, and my interpreter, under- 
standing the language was much amused, and told me about 
it afterwards. One point which required a good deal of con- 
sideration was why we should wear shoes. After the matter 
had been well talked over, the decision was come to that it 
was to dance in. 

The mosquitos here were dreadful. The flaring light of the 
torches in the evening perhaps helped to bring them into the 
house. There being no lamps, bamboos were used instead. 
They were picturesque enough, but looked frightfully dan- 

Trooping ofFwith the Crowd. 179 

gerous, crackling all over the mats, in a wood and thatch 
house. My feet got out from under my net at night and I had 
stings all over the soles. The irritation was maddening for 
a day or two. It must have been almost like the touch of the 
nettle-tree (Laportea), which grows in this neighbourhood. 
It is a handsome plant, growing some forty feet or so high, 
with fine large leaves veined with red. I was warned most 
particularly not to touch it, for the sting causes a horrible 
eruption, painful and itchy, which lasts for months. Our 
carriers were discussing a very unpopular Englishman whom 
they had served, and they laughed till the tears ran down, at 
the recollection of seeing him, after a good wash, select some 
of these nice large pliable looking leaves to dry himself, and 
of the yell that resulted. 

A long walk next day, the 31st, brought us to Wairuarua, 
a charmingly situated and charmingly picturesque village, 
with graceful palms, and a lovely background of mountains. 
There was a pretty river, too, with a most tempting bathing 
pool, where we were very glad to refresh ourselves. 

I wished that I had not been so terribly tired and worried 
with my mosquito bites, as I could not paint, and only turned 
sick when I tried, and it seemed such waste to be there, and 
not to be able to fix anything on paper. 

Being very short of clothes on this trip, I had to be my owii 
washerwoman, and, when I went down for a bath in the river 
I often carried a garment or two with me, and sat on a stone 
to wash them. When they were well wrung, and carefully 
spread out, they were generally quite dry enough for wear 
next morning ; and, when the weather was very wet, one 
damp thing more or less did not make much difference. I 
often thought of the very careful airing my clothes get at 
home ; but, in the warm equable climate of Fiji, we can play 
tricks with ourselves which would be madness elsewhere. 
Excepting for headaches, neither of us was ill all the time we 
were there, in spite of there being a good deal of dysentry and 
dengue fever about, but I think never drinking anything but 
boiled water saved us. The thermometer which I carried 
with me kept pretty steadily between eighty and ninety night 


Islands Far Away. 

and day. It seldom went above ninety, and never up to 
anywhere near a hundred. It was not often below eighty 
except in the mountains, and an occasional seventy seemed 
quite cold. It was not necessary to carry any wraps, even 
at sunset, for there are no sudden chills, wliich makes the 
climate safer than that of Kandy in Ceylon, to which I would 
be inclined to compare it. 


Chapter XXIX. 


Mr. Russel had most kindly made our arrangements for us 
on this part of the way, and had ordered that a native canoe 
with men should await us at the nearest navigable point on 
the Rewa to carry us down. Two horrid looking men came 
in in the evening, with hardly anything on. We were told 
these were our men, and our hearts sank, for we felt that it 
would not be at all nice to be away for days alone with them 
on the river. They were very dark, with low foreheads and 
heavy jaws, and a most forbidding expression about their big 
mouths. I was sorry, for it seemed a pity that this choice 
part of our trip should be spoiled by any unpleasantness. 

At da^vn next morning we started for Waisomosomo, where 
our canoe was awaiting us. I wished I could linger to sketch 
the view, it was so beautiful, but we had a long journey before 
us, and it would not do to be benighted on the river. So my 
guide allowed me exactly ten minutes, holding her watch in 
her hand. 

What were ten minutes for a scene like that ! White woolly 
clouds, which had tucked the village up for the night, were 
drifting away to their home in the sky, and showing us glimpses 
of blue mountains, grand in their half revelation ; wliile 
graceful palms stood out bold against the mist where the 
clouds still lay. To try to fix the scene in my memory was 
all I could do. 

Our carriers justified our fears, by being most unpleasant 
companions. My interpreter, who understood their language, 
said they were really nasty, and were trying to make vulgar 
jokes, so we kept very close together. It was no small relief. 

1 82 Islands Far Away. 

when we approached the river, to be met by two other natives 
who told us that they were to be our boatmen, and that these 
men had been engaged only to bring our luggage the seven 
miles to the canoe. 

The boatmen proved all that we could possibly have de- 
sired. They also were very dark, with the rather coarse and 
far from handsome features of the true mountain Fijian ; 
but English gentlemen could not have been pleasanter or more 
refined in their ways ; and, as they were skilled boatmen, and 
very strong, we spent a happy two days, poling doA\Tti the river, 
and shooting the rapids. 

When we reached the river and saw our vessel, I could not 
believe we were to go in it — such a frail primitive affair, and 
so tiny. It did not seem safe, or even possible, for it to take 
us and our belongings, and to stem the whirling rapids, and 
all the dangers of the river. We were told, however, that the 
water was shallow and that a larger boat would be stranded ; 
so, mid an admiring crowd, our things were put on board and 
we stepped in, or rather on, for there is no iji here. The canoe 
consisted of a narrow dug-out of Vesi wood, recently made 
by the boatmen themselves, and a primitive thama or out- 
rigger, tied on with sinnet to bamboo poles, which stretched 
across the boat, and over which were some bits of wood, 
forming a rough little platform. Here our packages were 
placed close together, and we sat back to back upon them. 

The men having carefully ascertained that all was steady 
and trim, we set o& ; but we had to keep very still, and once 
when I had grown stiff and ventured to stretch out my legs, 
it nearly capsized the boat ; the equilibrium was upset, it 
lurched, and the men only just saved it, but they warned me 
that I must be more careful. As for them, they balanced 
themselves with perfect ease on the extreme point, to pole, 
and held their footing firmly, even in tossing over the roughest 
places. The boat was like a feather on the water, dancing 
over the ripples, gliding in the calm parts, and flying over the 
rapids. Sometimes it seemed to be making direct for a rock ; 
but a skilful touch with a pole, and the light craft had turned, 
and was safely making its way round the side. The motion 

184 Islands Far Away. 

is delightful ; it is full of variety, and the spice of excitement 
lends it an added charm. For perfection in travelling, give 
me a canoe on a Fijian river, or an outside car in Ireland. 

The weather was showery ; but what did it matter, what did 
anything matter, on such a boat, in such a scene, with peace 
and quietness and beauty filling one's very soul ! 

We were hospitably entertained that night at Matai Lombau 
by a bachelor magistrate, who gave us his oaati room, while he 
slept on the floor in an empty one. All night the rain fell in 
torrents, and in Fiji it can rain. Not infrequently as much as 
four inches is registered in twenty-four hours, while the average 
in England is onlj'^ twenty-five for a whole year. That it 
does not cause more inconvenience in Fiji is owing to the fact 
that the soil is porous, and the natural drainage of streams and 
rivers remarkably good. 

Hearing the rain pattering down all night, we wondered what 
was to happen in the morning, and the look-out as we sat at 
breakfast was gloomy enough. We had to proceed, however, 
so we walked, or rather slid, down through the yellow mud to 
our canoe, and set off under umbrellas and waterproofs, our 
luggage having been covered with banana leaves to keep it 
dry. We had a good deal of rain all day, but there were 
lovel}^ intervals which we much enjoj^ed. Once our vessel 
had a very narrow shave, and at a point too where we were 
told there had been a recent accident with a shark. The 
heavy rain had increased the current, and the men almost lost 
control at a dangerous point, and the boat was dashing head- 
long for some jagged rocks, when by a supreme effort they 
turned it. We had hardly time to realise our danger ; but , when 
we found ourselves safe, the men breathed freely and, ^v^ping 
the perspiration from their brows, they told us what a near 
thing it had been. 

In the evening we arrived at Viria, and here we had to bid 
our boatmen goodbye. We should have liked to have taken 
them on to Nausori next day ; but this was the end of their 
owii province, and they might not go beyond it. The Fijians 
are not allowed to go out of their province without special 
leave. This old law has been crystallised by the English 

Over Rapids in a Native Canoe. 185 

Government, because it was found to be wise and good : it 
prevents an undue crowding of natives to centres like Suva, 
and keeps them under the control of their own hereditary- 

There is a large banana estate at Viria, where we were Idndly 
entertained by the manager and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. 
We were wet, tired and muddy, and had little opportunity 
of making ourselves respectable to sit at their pretty dinner 
table. Hospitality, however, overcame everything, and we 
were made very welcome, and entertained with much interesting 
conversation. One story which we were told is worth relat- 
ing, as the incident is so amusing, and is said to have taken 
place in the part of Fiji we had just visited. 

An Englishman was going up that way under government 
protection, — a stranger who did not know a word of the lan- 
guage, and who was thoroughly imbued with the tales of the 
old cannibal days. He arrived at one of the primitive moun- 
tain villages, and was at once conducted to the chief's house, 
where the iBre was made up and a huge pot put on. Presently 
some half-naked savage-looking men came in with large 
knives. They showed him the knives, then pointed at the 
pot to indicate that they were all going to eat. Thinldng he 
was then and there to be cut up and cooked, he fled in ^\dld 
excitement. The men ran after him and brought liim back 
but, more frightened than ever he watched his opportunity 
and again fled, and was again pursued. Half mad mth fright 
he jumped into the river, but he could not swim. Diving in 
after him, the natives rescued him, and brought him back 
dripping wet, and in an agony of terror. They offered him 
food, but he was too terrified to eat. The poor good-natured 
natives were at their wit's end what to do next, and, as he was 
under government protection, thej^ felt responsible for liim ; 
so they held a consultation, which ended in fetching a horse, 
putting him on its back, and strapping liim to it. Then they 
led it off to the nearest English magistrate, and delivered liim 
over more dead than alive. 

Mrs. Wilson presented me with a beautiful tambua, and 
was eager that we should remain on a little visit. We had. 

1 86 Islands Far Away. 

however, to hurry back to Suva, to make preparations for 
our trip to the more remote islands, which I was very anxious 
to see. So next morning, in a dowiipour of rain, we set off ; 
and as in such weather it was no use looking out for 
another canoe and men, we descended to the common- 
place, and went in the little launch which plies between 
Viria and Nausori. At Nausori we stayed with Mr. and Mrs. 
Fenner in their most charming house. Mr. Tenner was the 
manager in Fiji for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, 
which owns most of the sugar estates in Viti Levu and Vanua 
Levu. This was the second sugar estate I had stayed at, 
and we could not have been more kindly received and en- 

From Nausori we again took a steam launch, which carried 
us right do\^^l the Rewa, and round into Suva harbour. Thus 
we had followed this wonderful river from its first navigable 
point to its mouth, a distance of about fifty miles. Twenty- 
five miles up it is as much as two hundred yards wide, 
and towards its mouth it is a truly noble stream. When 
we realise that the whole island of Viti Levu is only two hundred 
and fifty miles in circumference, it seems very remarkable that 
there should be such a river, and also two others of not incon- 
siderable size. 

On the 6th of September we found ourselves back at the 
Club Hotel. Great was the excitement at our return. We had 
gone for two nights, but had been away a month. The details 
of our trip and m}^ sketches were eagerly devoured, and we 
found ourselves people of much importance. 

Chapter XXX. 


The Amra, the contract steamer, wliich plies between the 
islands, was to start on the 10th of September, so the next 
four days were very busy. 

The Fiji group is so scattered, and the distances are so great, 
that it is not easy in a limited time to arrange visits to all the 
interesting and beautiful spots. The space between the two 
farthest points is no less than three hundred and seventy 
miles, and, though communication is pretty regular now, it 
takes place in many cases at long intervals, and occupies 

We were anxious to go both to Lambasa on the large island 
of Vanua Levu (Great Land), where we had invitations to 
visit the manager of the sugar mill, Mr. Berry, and his wife, 
and to Lomaloma on the distant island of Vanua Mbalavu. 
My companion was enthusiastic about the beauty of the latter, 
and the opportunities it would afEord for painting, so our idea 
was, to give what time we had to spare to it, and pay only a 
passing visit to Lambasa. This, however, proved impossible 
to arrange, for the Amra went only on alternate trips to 
Lomaloma, and on this trip it went no further than Lambasa ; 
thus the only plan was to wait at Lambasa till the boat called 
a fortnight later, and, in the next journey, to make the round 
of the distant islands, without stopping at any of them. Li 
some ways this was a disappointment ; but it gave me the 
opportunity of seeing more of English colonial life in Fiji, 
which is as individual, and in many ways as interesting, as 
the native life. I had done and seen so much, too, that I was 

1 88 Islands Far Away. 

tired, and to remain quietly for a whole fortnight in a sweet 
peaceful home was an attractive prospect. 

By going away then, we missed a great gathering in Suva 
when all the chiefs of any standing were to meet to discuss 
some important matters connected with native a£fairs.* They 
were already assembling, and it was gratifying to see the 
pleasure of those we knew, when we came across them in the 
town. One day I met Ratu Joni Mandraiwiwi. He spied 
me across the street, and came hurrying over with an expres- 
sion of the most kind delight brightening his grave comite- 
nance. He took my hand, and held it, and would hardly let 
it go, and he said we must be sure to come again to Mbau, 
and ^asit him this time, and see his wife and children as soon 
as they were settled. There was no mistaking the true cor- 
diality and friendship. 

The weather on our trip to Lambasa was very wet with but 
a few fine spells. I should not have seen or accompUshed 
anytliing, on account of the high canvas round the deck, but 
for the good nature of the captain, who invited me to come up 
to the bridge where I was somewhat sheltered, and yet could 
see about me, and sketch. 

We landed for a little while at Levuka, where existed the 
earliest white settlement, and which consequently was at 
first the capital of the British colony. Again in the evening 
we stopped at Somosomo, famous in the old days for its awful 
cannibalism. The rain had cleared, and by moonlight we 
walked up to the house of the chief, but he was unfortunately 
away in Suva. I wish he had been at home as we should have 
been in sympathy, for he is evidently a great gardener, his 
grounds being terraced, and most beautifully laid out like 
those of an English gentleman of good taste. This was the 
only instance of the kind I came across in Fiji ; for, fond as 
the natives are of flowers, they do not seem to think of going 
in for any kind of landscape gardening, and there was no garden 

* This was the Great Council (Mboso vaka Turanga) to which the chief natives 
who arc also officials are periodically summoned to discuss, at the centre of 
Government, all important matters affecting Native Administration — thus co- 
ordinating the views of the Provincial Council (Mbose vaka Yasana), and sub- 
mitting these for the consideration of the Governor as the King's representative. 









190 Islands Far Away. 

at all round any of the chiefs' houses at which I had stayed. 
Late in the evening of the 13th, we anchored at Lambasa on 
Vanua Levu, the second of the two large islands of the Fiji 
group. Though in form it is totally different from Viti Levu, 
being long and narrow instead of somewhat square, measuring 
a hundred miles long by twenty-five wide, it has exactly the 
same circumference, two hundred and fifty miles. 

Here, again, is a considerable river, the Qawa, on the alluvial 
plain of which grows the sugar cane for the Lambasa sugar- 
mill, which is situated on the river farther up. 

At break of day I rose, and watched the golden disc of the 
sun appear from behind a dip in the mountains, casting glow- 
ing colours into the sky, and a trail of light across the water. 
The scene was peacefully beautiful, and I was sorry to leave 
the sea and go away up the river inland. A big red punt, how- 
ever, was being loaded with our belongings, and with cargo 
for the mill and its population, and was being made ready to 
be towed off as early as possible by the little launch in 
which we were to travel. The captain had hoped to accom- 
pany us, and remain at Lambasa till next day ; but a 
wireless message reached him, advising liim of a wreck 
on a reef, and notifying him to come with as little delay 
as possible to render assistance, and, if practicable, to get 
the vessel off the reef and tow it back to Suva. We learned 
afterwards that it proved a very exciting time. The crew 
were saved ; but, when the vessel had just been got off, the 
hawsers broke, and it went back on the reef, and was com- 
pletely wrecked. The cargo was wood, and the Atua picked 
up some of it ; so we saw it when we again travelled in her. 
These reefs are dangerous enough now, what must they have 
been in the old days when none of them were charted ! Sound- 
ing is no help, because of the sudden and great depths. The 
captain told me that when a vessel goes on a reef, the bow 
may be caught on the coral, and at the stern it may be impos- 
sible to find the bottom, the water is so deep. The Lambasa 
manager and his wife got on a reef on their way home from 
their wedding trip. Had the sea been rough they would have 
been wrecked. As it was, the steamer escaped at the next high 

A Remote Wedding. 191 

tide, so little injured that it was able to reach the land in 

Going up the river, dragging the heavy punt, took a long time^ 
and at last the punt grounded and hours were spent trying to 
free it. In the end we had to go on without it, and I do not 
know what happened to it eventually ; but, early as we had 
started, we did not reach the manager's pretty house till the 
afternoon. We found the whole place in a stir, because there 
was to be a wedding, a great event in a secluded island like 
this, where a little community of English people is cut off 
from the rest of the world by a stormy sea, with a somewhat 
uncertain fortnightly service of boats for mails and passengers. 
The distances on the island itself are considerable, and some 
of the stations are very isolated and lonely. Still, everybody 
knows everybody, and everybody is intensely interested in 
everybody. Lambasa, the district round the great mill, 
is the London of the island, and the government station is 
close by, where there are the magistrate and the inspector of 
police, with the gaol and the prisoners, the doctor and the 
wireless operator. Everyone was going to the wedding, which 
was to be six miles from here ; and, as the manager's guests, we 
were specially invited, gaining thus a most novel experience. 

It took place about nine o'clock in the evening, at the house 
of the bride's sister. We trooped down in evening dress from 
all the houses and bungalows on the hills, to the queer little 
railway, which winds about in all directions to carry the sugar 
cane to the mill, and which is much used by the residents for 
getting about, as there are no roads and consequently no 
carriages. The trucks are generally poled by Indians ; but 
there is also a quaint old-fashioned engine which looks as if 
it might have been intimately acquainted with Stevenson, 
and suggests a child's toy. It was ready waiting for us on 
this occasion. There was one covered truck, into which the 
ladies packed themselves like herrings in a barrel, and the 
gentlemen followed in the open sugar trucks. Then we set off 
at a speed which was not alarming. It was a dark evening, 
inclined to rain, so we could catch only glimpses of the sur- 
rounding country by the light our engine cast, and the palms 

192 Islands Far Away. 

and tropical vegetation looked strangely theatrical, mys- 
teriously lit up, and standing out against the darkness beyond. 

At the end of the truck drive there was a hill of somewhat 
slushy, slippery red mud to climb, but no one minded, nor 
did they mind the sprinkling of rain. Those who had pro- 
vided themselves with umbrellas shared them with those who 
had not, and there was much laughter over the reversion of 
artificially curled hair to nature. Our way was lit by Chinese 
lanterns, which looked very pretty hanging among the big- 
leaved trees. 

The verandah of the house was ready for the wedding. It 
was tastefully decorated with palm branches ; and at one end 
was a pretty leafy bower, from the middle of which hung, on 
white ribbons, a wedding bell made of leaves, with a little 
altar and Imeeling stool beneath it, at each side of which stood, 
as still as statues, two young Indian servants in pure white. 
The effect was oriental and very pleasing. 

The missionary was waiting ready for the ceremony ; and 
the bridegroom and best man were there too, but it was some 
time before the bride appeared. She had been very busy all 
day with the preparations ; and I do not think her own toilet, 
or that of her bridesmaid, had occupied her mind as much as 
is usual with brides ; but she looked a nice, bright, practical 
girl, and like'y to prove a good useful wife to the planter who 
was waiting to receive her at the altar. 

One of the guests played the wedding march and the hymns, 
and the missionary gave a rather long tedious address. 
After the ceremony we went in to supper — such a wonderful 
display, and beautifully arranged, the elegant sweets which 
decorated the table, and the lovely cakes and the fruit and 
vegetable salads, all having been made at home. 

Then came the usual speeches and toasts, there being a very 
lavish supply of wine, followed by dancing on the verandah. 
Then the bride and bridegroom went off, smothered in showers 
of coloured paper. 

There was to be more dancing ; but Mrs. Berry proposed 
that we should go home with, her then, as it was already late 
and we were very tired. 

A Remote Wedding. 193 

When we reached the railway, a sharp shower came on. 
There was only one truck ; and in it were sitting the wedding 
pair. We were debating what to do when they heard us, and 
cordially invited us to come in. It seemed a great shame to 
intrude upon them ; but we could not very well stand in the 
rain for several hours till the truck came back, so we gladly 
accepted the invitation. The young couple were going straight 
to their own home, — no wedding trip, and their only holiday 
would be the next day, Sunday. 

I had a pleasant chat with the bride, who was a very nice 
girl, and she expressed a hope that we might meet again. 
They had some time to themselves before they reached the 
end of their journey, for we got out first, near the mill, while 
they went to an isolated spot much further on. 

Chapter XXXI. 


Froji the river, on one of our expeditions, I observed what 
seemed a good point on the bank from which to obtain a view 
of the river itself and of the fhie chain of mountains beyond. 

A sugar cane field skirted the river ; and very early next 
morning I set off to secure a sketch, intending to make my 
way through the field, and thinking that there would be no 
difficulty about it ; but it proved quite an adventure. 

I plunged into the cane, but had gone only a few steps 
when I came to a deep pool which had to be skirted ; and, when 
I looked back, I saw that the tall cane hid everything all round 
leaving no visible landmark. I realised at once, how easy 
it would be to get lost, and to wander backwards and forwards 
and round and round for hours among these bogs and snares ; 
so I put in practice the " patteran " which I had read of in 
George Sorrow's books, as being used by the gipsies to indicate 
to each other where they had gone : — that is to make an 
arrangement of leaves, in passing, at any crossway or corner 
or bend. I gathered cane-leaves as I went, and, tying a knot 
in each, I laid them down as I passed, the point always in the 
direction I had taken. As the cane grew thicker and I had 
to scramble and struggle through it, I let the leaves nearly 
touch each other. 

It was a most difficult expedition, but I was determined to 
succeed. My feet stuck in the mud so that my shoes were 
sometimes sucked off them. The heat was intense, the high 
cane shutting off every breath of air ; and, as I squeezed myself 
through narrow spaces and jumped over bogs, the perspiration 
poured down, and I felt sick and faint. Sometimes I thought 

Struggle Through a Cane-Field. 


I must turn, but then having gone far already, and hating to 
be defeated, I braced myself for a further effort. After an 
hour and a half's struggle I found myself right through the 
field, and my sense of direction had led me exactly to my point 
of view, for there it lay in front of me ; but, alas, between me 
and it was a black morass. My heart sank, but my blood was 
up, and reach my destination I would. Scanning the place, I 

, ^ - ¥ i^ 


perceived sundry bits of thick wood, floating about, which 
could be used as stepping-stones, and, with my heart in my 
mouth, I leaped lightly from one to another. It had to be 
quickly done, without hesitation, or I should have sunk m 
the mud, for the bits of timber were not such as to support 
my weight. 

Safe but exhausted and giddy I dropped prostrate on the 
bank, wondering how I should be able to paint ; and I 
was so thirsty too, that I looked down at the river below, 
feeling as if I could drink it up. I took out my little bottle 

196 Islands Far Away. 

of painting water and examined it longingly. To paint without 
water would be impossible, nor could I do anything till I had 
had a drink ; so I carefully measured off half for each purpose ; 
but it required a great effort to reserve any for my work. 
Somewhat refreshed I began my sketch ; but the journey had 
taken long, and I had to count on plenty of time for going 
back ; so that after all my toil I had but a short while and 
accomplished little. 

My patteran proved a complete success, and quickly and 
easily I threaded my way through all the intricacies of the 
return journey, and found myself up at the house, only a little 
late for lunch. When I related my experiences they were 
received with unbounded astonishment, and one, and another, 
and another, was told how 1 had crossed a ripe cane field alone 
to get a sketch. One of the overseers, who had just been 
testing it the day before to see if it were ready for cutting, 
said it was a specially heavy difficult field to get into, and 
he could not have imagined it possible for a lady to make 
any headway at all, not to speak of going right through it. 

The manager sent a very nice Indian with me in a boat 
next day, to enable me to fuiish the sketch. He hauled me 
up the steep bank of the river and held my umbrella over me 
all the time, so I was in luxury. It took exactly eight minutes 
to reach my point by water. I was not sorry, however, to 
have had my experience of the day before ; it roused my 
imagination, and enabled me vividly to picture real exploration 
through tall reeds, in unknown parts, and gave me at the same 
time an intimate acquaintance with sugar-cane. 

Chapter XXXII. 


DuRESTG my stay at Lambasa I was brought little in contact 
with the natives, but I gained a very favourable impression 
from what I did see. The houses are slightly different from 
elsewhere. The platforms on which they are built are higher, 




probably on account of the liability to floods from the river ; 
and they are smaller than the houses, which project beyond 
all round, giving a most peculiar appearance, as if they were 
set up on little pedestals. The thatch of the walls is very 
thick, the one I measured being over a yard, and outside 
there are no makita leaves covering any of the walls. The 
only opportunity I had of getting sketches was when our 
hostess went to pay some calls by truck, and we accompanied 
her as far as the nearest native village, which was at a con- 


Islands Far Awa 



siderable distance, and waited there till she picked us up on 
her way back. The village was charming, and I thought the 
t5rpe of women more pleasing than elsewhere. I made a 
surreptitious drawing of a very pretty girl wearing an 
" ai tombi," the first I had seen, though I had often heard 
of it. It consists of a lock of hair which is allowed to grow 
long and is done in a number of little plaits which hang down 
over one shoulder in a bunch. It indicates virginity, and was 
at one time universal with pure unmarried girls all over Fiji ; 
but if a girl fell or were married, it was cut off at once. I 
saw a good many other examples of it in Vanua Levu, and the 

girls had a coquettish way of toss- 
ing their heads and making the 
stiff little plaits dance. I carried 
my pencil sketch upside do^vn to 
hide it ; but a peeping head dis- 
covered it, and it was recognised, 
and every one in the village soon 
learned that this particular girl 
had been drawn, and came begging 
to see the result, and when we left 
the village they ran trooping after 
us eager for a sight of the wonder- 
ful portrait, and all instantly saw 
the likeness. It was astonishing 
that these few lines suggested 
anything to them, especially as 
they had never seen anyone draw before. Their artistic per- 
ceptions are in advance of anything I have met elsewhere 
among uneducated people. 

Mrs. Hopldns found in the village an old woman who had 
acted as nurse to her children years before. The meeting was 
most touching. The poor old woman was so dehghted and 
excited that she did not know what to do. The tears ran down 
her cheeks, and she caressed the hem of her former mistress' 
dress, and rubbed her forehead on her hands, looking round at 
me with a pleading, dog-like expression, eloquent in its request 
for sympathy in her great joy. It must have been from ten 


Fijian Affection. 


to fifteen years since they had met. Another old servant 
sought out her old employer at the house, and the meeting was 
quite as striking. She came laden with gifts of eggs and with 
mats of her own making, and, squatting in front of her for- 
mer mistress, she seemed in every motion of her body, and 
every look in her face, to be struggling ^vith an emotion 
beyond all power of expression. I was greatly interested, as 
I had been told that, friendly 
as Fijians may seem, they 
are incapable of any sus- 
tained feeling or affection. 

We went for a picnic up 
the country to the hot 
springs of Mbati-ni-Kama, 
and passed through several 
villages, all clean and pretty. 
Some of them had earthwork 
fortifications round them, 
suggesting the old warlike 
days. The wild tribes in the 
mountain recesses were diffi- 
cult completely to subdue ; 
and it was at Seanganga, on 
this island, as late as 1893, 
that the last instance of 
cannibalism in Fiji occurred. 

The men are very well 
made, and with the girdles of 
long green grass, which in re- 
mote places still often form 

their only dress, they have a most striking appearance, giving 
the impression of fine bronze statues. Powerful as they are, 
however, they leave the hard work to the women. I met a 
strong young fellow stepping jauntily along with liis club over 
his shoulder, while a woman followed, carrying such heavy 
bamboo pitchers of water that she was bending and staggering 
under the weight. I secured a little sketch of him. Having 
left the picnic party to get a drawing of the flowers of the great 




200 Islands Far Away. 

Datura whose huge white trumpets had attracted me on the 
way up, he came and placed himself in front of them, so I 
hurriedly put him in ; then all the natives of the village wanted 
to be drawn, especially an old man with very little on but 
an ugly old hat, a rare possession happily, for a native in 
Fiji. Lastly a pretty, shy boy was brought ; he must have 
been of some importance, every one was so anxious I should 
paint him. Unfortunately only a few minutes elapsed before 
the rest of my party came up and I had to go. It was 
tantalising when I was among such willing models and pretty 
surroundings to have to hurry away. 

The scenery at a little distance from where we were staying 
was very beautiful, and it was tantalising to see it only in 
passing, as we sped through it on sugar trucks on the way to 
some merry picnic ; so I was delighted when a planter kindly 
invited me to come and paint the glorious view from the 
verandah of his house, on a hill up the country, My hostess 
was going to see friends further on, and she dropped me at 
the foot of the hill, promising to pick me up on her way back. 
The planter had been particularly anxious that I should see 
his Indian servant, which puzzled me. As soon as I reached 
the house he said, " Now you must see my boy," and at a 
signal, the most comical little mite I have ever seen appeared 
and stood gravely awaiting his orders. With his tiny white 
jacket and slender little bare legs, he seemed more an elf than 
a child ; but this was an indentured servant, who had come 
from India with his widowed mother a j^ear before, and who 
was actually receiving wages. My host said he had promised 
to increase the one shilling a week, when his servant could no 
longer stand on one of his hands. With that, he held down 
his hand, and the wee man stepped lightly on to it and stood 
firmly till it was raised and extended to arms length : then it 
was gently let down, and he was allowed to step off on to the 
table, where he gravely stood till again lifted on to the floor. 
He was the most uncanny little servant I have ever come 
across, a mere baby four years' old : yet there was nothing of 
the child about him, with his unchanging expression and 
perfect manners. I asked if he were of any use at all. " Oh 

Fijian Affection. 


yes, very useful," I was told. He could dust and set the 
table, but he had to climb up on it to do so ; and he could keep 
the polished floor nice and clean : he was so very near it this 
was easily managed. Then I was told he was a capital little 
messenger, and quickly understood what was wanted. " Now/' 
my host added, " I will just show you how clever he is," and 
addressing the child in Hindustani, he said, " Go and fetch 
this lady's sunshade and bring it to her." He was away a 
long time, and his master wondered what could be keeping 
him. At last he appeared, carrying with difficulty a huge 
carriage umbrella of his master's, which 
he had found somewhere after a good 

The view was very beautiful, but I could 
not resist making this indentured Indian 
servant my subject ; so he and I were 
left alone together, he with a fan, and I 
with my paints. He could not grasp the 
idea of a picture, so he diligently fanned 
me the whole time ; and when I had 
fmished his likeness and showed liim the 
result, there was no change in his ex- 
pression. I hardly think he understood 
it, or took in what I had been doing. 

On a Saturday there was a very elabor- 
ate picnic, for which a most elegant palm 
booth had been erected at Na Quinqi, 
a point on the coast which we reached by 
a long truck drive. The repast was both 
sumptuous and refined. The greatest dehcacy, however, was 
salad made of the heart of a young coconut palm. It is deli- 
cious, but it cannot be often indulged in, as it sacrifices a whole 
tree : and I felt like a Roman Emperor enjoying a savoury of 
peacock's tongues. The ladies' dresses struck me again 
here. They were gracefully and prettily made by their own 
hands, quite fashionable and up to date, but easy and simple, 
without hampering exaggeration , and as they were • of 
wasliing material, oily streaks and marks from our primitive 


202 Islands Far Away. 

travelling equipage were only sources of amusement. At a 
fancy dress ball given by my host and hostess the last night 
we were at Lambasa, the dresses were reall}^ wonderful. They 
displayed an originality and completeness of design one does 
not often meet with wlien professional dressmakers are con- 
cerned. No small ingenuity was required, mth such slight 
and indifferent materials as could be procured in the neigh- 
bourhood, to produce so good an effect. The difficulties induced 
a peasant fellowship, the ladies helping the gentlemen by 
designing and sewing for them, the men, on the other hand, 
making for the ladies such things as harps, stars, shields, and 
bows and arrows. And in all, there was the joy of attain- 
ment which no shop can sell and no money can buy. I often 
think that the restless feverish state of society at home, and 
especially of our women, is caused a good deal by the loss of 
this happy peaceful occupation, everything being obtainable 
without effort or trouble. 

Rapid communication also militates against a restful state of 
mind. Here, where people are so much cut off from the rest of 
the world, they have to settle calmly down to the routine of 
life, and do their duty day by day, helping each other in time 
of difficulty, and joining together in lighthearted pleasure 
when work is done. 

Mrs. Hopkins told me of a curious experience she had with one of her 
servants which is worth recording : — It was her duty to fill the lamps, and to 
save herself the trouble of fetching a can to bring in the oil from the tank 
outside, she carried it in her mouth, extending her cheeks almost to the 
bursting point. She managed neatly to squirt the paraffin into the various 
reservoirs, and seemed quite untroubled by its flavour. 

Chapter XXXIII. 


On September 30th the Amra was in, ready to carry us away 
to the other-end-of -no where, and our peaceful fortnight at 
Lambasa was over. The vessel really arrived the evening 
before, just in time to allow the captain to come up and enjoy 
the fancy dress ball. We had been in dread of its appearance 
all day, for had it come sooner we should have had to go, and 
miss the ball, which would have been sad ; but it all worked 
out well, like everything else in my brightlj^ starred time in 
Far Fiji. 

Even the wreck on the reef, which had hurriedly called the 
Amra away, had done me a good turn, as it had made it neces- 
sary to postpone the victualling of the Wailangilala lighthouse, 
thus giving me the much coveted opportunity of going there, 
and experiencing one of the most interesting episodes in my 
whole trip. 

We went first to Rambi, then to Mbutha Bay, and Somo- 
somo, and on the 1st day of October at midday we reached 

It lies away out at sea, far from every place, surrounded by 
dangerous reefs, where many a vessel has gone to its doom in 
the blue depths — such a blue, dark ultramarine, changing to a 
radiant green where the water lies shallow over pure white 
coral sand. A patch of calm water indicates a sheltered spot, 
and breakers here and there tell of liidden reefs and make 
one shiver. Much need here of a lighthouse ; indeed it would 
be impossible to proceed at night without one, and many of 
the mail steamers pass this way. 

The steamer had to lie to, a considerable distance out, and 

204 Islands Far Away. 

there was a heavy sea on, so that it was not easy to get into 
the rowing boat bound for the island, and the other passengers 
preferred to remain on board. I was of course keen to land, 
and my companion came too. We went straight up to the 
lighthouse, and I was very much surprised when I saw the 
Englishman who looks after it, he is such a fine gentlemanly 
looking fellow, with a pleasant educated voice. He seemed 
quite content and happy ; but it must be a strangely lonely 
life, here among the wild things of nature, on such a 
remote island. For societj^ he has only his Fijian wife 
and a little dark adopted daughter, besides two Indian 
servants and their families, who are regularly changed 
every quarter. For one hour every three months, when 
the mail steamer brings supplies, he converses in his mother 
tongue and gets a breath of outer air. Quantities of 
books and periodicals are sent : they come from all parts 
of the world in all languages, even Japan supplying every 
isolated lighthouse wdth literature. These, and a gramophone, 
are company to him till the boat comes again. For the 
first time I realised that there could be any pleasure, or advan- 
tage obtained, from one of those horrid talking, joking, laugh- 
ing instruments. It was made to prattle for us to hear, and 
I felt that sometimes in a long evening, a hearty English 
guffaw might break the solitude, and give a sense of com- 
panionship, even if it came from a machine. 

I was kindly invited to go over the lighthouse, and would 
have much liked to do so, and to have a little talk with a man 
who interested me so deeply ; but the time was short, and I 
was anxious to obtain a sketch, 

I had selected a view from the shore, but the coral sand was 
white as the driven snow, and in the glare of the sun it was 
blinding, so I had to retreat to the shelter of some trees. 

The trees were new to me, the colouring was new to me, 
every tiling was new and strange, but the birds were strangest 
of all. These wild things had no fear ; they let us stroke them 
and pick them up, and one sat on my shoulder all the time I 
painted, giving a gentle peck to my hair or my ears now and 
then, wdth its long pointed beak, or stretching round to 

2o6 Islands Far Away. 

examine my lips. It remained with me when I went on board, 
and as we neared the next island I threw it up in the air, and 
it flew away and settled on the water close to the shore, swim- 
ming comfortably about on the crest of the waves. 

On the lonely coast of \^aiiua Mbalavu, where dark forbidding 
cliffs, undermined at the base, rise from the deep blue waters, 
we saw the sacred bird of Fiji* flying in pretty curves and 
dipping lightly into the sea. It is a strikingly beautiful 
creature, glistening white, with one long snowyf feather in its 
tail, from which it gets its name, Lawe ndua (one feather). 

There are many stories about it, and it flits gracefully 
through all the mythology of the country. No one dared to 
touch it or harm it. It might at any time have been the 
home of a deity, for when a god wished to travel, his spirit 
entered the bird, and its wings carried him over the sparkling 
sea to where he wished to go. 

Even now it is believed that these birds guide vessels, and 
flying in front, take them safely through shoals and between 
rocks. As I saw them they made a very strong impression ; 
they were so \dvid against the dark cliffs, and in their strange- 
ness the 5^ helped the feeling of extreme remoteness. 

I was glad there were so few passengers on board, so that I 
could find a quiet corner to sit undisturbed, and think, and 
wonder, as I passed these far away islands, and watched the 
wide sea and ever changing sky ; and I was able to drink in 
the sense of loneliness so that I can recall it now : and when 
I close my eyes, I can feel myself sail away like the birds, among 
rainbow hues, in a. warm atmosphere of peace and beauty. 

It v\as not possible on this trip to gain more than a quick 
sketch here and there, and a general mental impression of the 
whole, for when we stopped at Rambi and Mbutha Bay, and 
Somosomo, Mbavatu, Lomaloma, Mango and Thithia, there was 
never long delay, sometimes not even time to land. The halt 
was shorter than usual on account of the terrible hurricane 
of the ])revious January, the same which played such havoc 

* Phaethon a'.tharcuH. 

t There are really two feathers set close together. 

Far, Far Away. 207 

at Mbau. ^ Whole hillsides were devastated, not a coconut 
tree left standing, so that there was but little copra (dried 
coconut), and in some places none at all to be put on board. 
As a rule, the captain told me, he had to stop at more places, 
and at some there was a good long wait ; but, as my time in 
Fiji was drawing to a close, it may have been just as well this 
trip was not prolonged, or I should have missed other things. 
On the 4th of October we reached Suva once more. It was 
known we were on the Amra, so, as soon as the boat was sighted, 
as many of the boys from the Club Hotel as could be spared 
came to the pier, and were waiting to receive and welcome us. 

Chapter XXXIV. 


We came back to Suva to fiiid great excitement in the Wes- 
leyan Missionary circles. It was the time for the autumn 
collection, and to the Fijians the motto, " It is more blessed 
to give than to receive," is not a mere saying, but a li\dng 


In the old days the giving of tribute was always regarded 
as a great happiness. It was an occasion of feasting and was 
looked forward to by the people, who came to give, full of 
joy, dancing and singing, garlanded with flowers, and dressed 
in their best tapa. And in the same spirit they still give 
their subscriptions to the missionaries, all the different pro- 
vinces vieing with each other which will give most, saving up 

Tribute with joy. 209 

for weeks beforehand, and giving so liberally that, for long 
afterwards, they have to deny themselves, sometimes severely. 

There was first a great meke in the Suva lawn tennis and 
recreation grounds, mostly composed of very elaborately 
dressed women, but to my mind it lacked interest. The 
modem surroundings and the missionaries walking about in 
their smooth black clothes, seemed altogether incongruous ; 
but its purpose was served, a little collecting dish in the middle 
of the ground filled up nicely ; one and another danced up to 
it and surreptitiously slipped in a coin, then danced away as 
if afraid of detection , and the same one would go again and 
again, each time putting something in. There must have 
been a nice little sum at the end of the day. 

The great collection, however, took place on Sunday, and 
I went to the Wesleyan church to see it, being anxious to hear 
the singing which I was told would be very fine. 

A large congregation was gathered, the women all in their 
gayest garments, and the men in pure white, and decorated 
with leaves for the great occasion. First there was a short 
address from the missionary, which of course I did not under- 
stand, after which a hymn was announced, and sung in parts 
without instrumental assistance, by a portion of the congre- 
gation, the natives of different pro^nnces singing in turn ; 
then the collecting began. Those who had just sung came 
hurrying up, and popping coins into the plate, hastil}^ retired ; 
then there was again a hymn, and another group came up ; 
and another ; and another. A young Fijian chief of importance 
marshalled the people, and with an insinuating smile brought 
them up, the missionary again addressed the people, then the 
Fijians who had already given, again approached the plate, 
the chief evidently enticing and encouraging them. Again 
and again they came hurrying up getting more and more 
excited, always preceded by the chief, till at last they 
were actually dancing up the aisle, and the chief with his 
garland of leaves, smiling and elated, reminded me of 
" David dancing before the ark of God." I observed some 
come up as many as five times, and each time drop in 
a coin, their faces all the while radiant with delight. A few 

2IO Islands Fnr Away. 

words from the missionary, and a little smiling encourage- 
ment from the chief roused always more and more enthusiasm. 
I learned that no less than £297 were subscribed that day, 
and it must have meant to man 5^ of those present going almost 
Avithout necessaries for some time to come, for they gave all 
they had. 

I was told that the plan pursued was to make one province 
vie with another. " When such and such a province has 
given so much, surely such and such another province will not 
like to be behind." That also is why the provinces are kept 
separate instead of a general collection being made. Then 
the Fijians have a very strong faith in the next world, and 
they believe that liberality here, will make a great difference 
to their position there, so they are anxious to be to the fore 
in gi\nng. 

The Wesleyan church in Fiji has long been self-supporting. 
It now sends some of the money collected to help poor 
missions in other quarters. This arrangement, however, is 
not popular with the Fijians, who are afraid that somehow, 
if the money goes out of the country it will fail to benefit 
their souls. Their religion is more practical than spiritual. 
A very amusing instance of this was told to me, which, 
though I have no way of vouching for its truth, is worth 
relating. A man was fined three shillings for being drunk. 
He paid the money, and asked for a receipt for it, but 
having been told he could not get it he left the court. In the 
evening, however, he was found still standing at the door, and 
as the official came out he again asked for a receipt for the 
three shillings, and was again refused. Next morning, before 
the court was open, he was back waiting and very earnest in 
the same request. When the official asked him why he was 
so keen to have a receipt he said " When on the judgment day 
my turn comes and God says to me, ' You were drunk on such 
and such a day, did you pay your fine ? ' I cannot keep him 
waiting till I go down below to look for you and fetch you up 
to tell him that I did, so I want to have a receipt to show." 

Chapter XXXV. 


Only six more days remained before the Aiua was to carry us 
oft" and away. We had many things to do and much to arrange, 
and the time was all too short ; but Mrs. Hopkins learned that 
old Ratu Tui Dreketi, now in extreme old age, was still alive, 
and she thought it would be very interesting if I could obtain 
a sketch of him, as she said he was the last survivor of the 
chiefs, who in 1875 signed the deed of cession. 

There was also a further interest attaching to this chief, as 
it was from his rage long ago that my companion, in the inci- 
dent already referred to, and her mother and sister, had to 
fly for their lives on a dark night in the rain. She was a child 
then, and he came half drunk to her widowed mother, who was 
living alone with her two little daughters, demanding her 
boat, which she courageously refused to give, thereby rousing 
his rage. In revenge he ordered an attack to be made on her 
house, and swarthy naked figures in fearsome war paint crept 
up at night, to storm it with clubs and spears. The widow 
wdth her two little girls escaped by the back door, in their night 
things, and struggling barefoot in the rain, through the tall 
razor-like grass of the jungle, sought shelter, torn and bleeding, 
in a village some miles off, where kindly natives received and 
comforted them, though there was danger in doing so, and 
wrapping them in native cloth, insisted on vacating their 
bed for them. 

When they returned to their house later on, under police 
protection, they found ever34hing they possessed destroyed 
or burned. It was, however, impossible to bring the chief to 
justice, as no one dared to give evidence against him. 

212 Islands Far Away. 

The old man was still living at Rewa, where he had been a 
powerful cliief, though not distinguished for goodness ; and 
his was another instance of the several cases of great long- 
evity I had come across in Fiji, for he was an old man as my 
companion remembered him. 

We were told that although very frail, he had all his senses 
and was able to converse ; and that, if I would let him be in 
an easy attitude in his own house, he would probably be quit© 
pleased to allow me to sketch him. 

Ratu Joni Mataitini, who was then Roko at Rewa, gave 
us a cordial invitation to come and visit him. This settled 
our plans, especially as Mr. Williams, Mrs. Hopkins' brother, 
offered to take us there and fetch us back in his steam launch ; 
so we decided to give two days to Rewa. 

We set off early on the 12th of October, and it was a delight- 
ful breathing time in the middle of the rush and fag of prosaic 
packing and preparations. 

Rewa is a pretty town and there were more flowers than 
elsewhere. As we walked from the boat to Ratu Joni's house 
they delighted me, not only growing round the houses, but 
climbing up them, and festooning the roofs. 

Ratu Joni met us at the door and greeted us with the sad 
news that poor old Ratu Tui Dreketi had been taken ill and 
lay a-dying. There would be no sketch, I should not even 
see him, but would be shown liis house and that would be all. 
It was a great disappointment and came as a shock, and we 
all felt solemnised and grave. 

Ratu Joni JMataitini had a very nice house wliich he vacated 
for us. Ratu Mbolo, who was delighted to see us, and two 
other chiefs, were staying with him, but they all went else- 

The dining-house from which a savoury smell was proceeding, 
was separate, but with no English innovations ; and we were 
soon called in to a sumptuous dinner, for which, as we were 
expected, elaborate preparations had been made. Ratu Joni's 
pretty, refined-looking wife, and his mother and the other ladies 
of the establishment, did the cooking, brought in the things 
and waited on us, but did not dine with us. I saw them after- 

The Shadow of Death. 213 

wards squatting about on the floor, finishing up the tepid 
scraps we had left, laughing and happy, and perfectly content 
with their lot. In their dignified and cheerful submission to 
their circumstances these women commanded respect and 
esteem, though such arrangements were certainly far from 
being in accordance with our modern idea of things, and 
savoured not a little of the old barbarous days. 

As for us, we were treated, as usual, as if we had been men 
and chiefs ; and we sat on the floor in a ring with our host and 
his other guests. I had not seen such an elaborate mea) 


before, served in Fijian fashion, and it was interesting. There 
were several courses, and everything was beautifully cooked, 
and dished on leaves, the soup being served in half coconut 
shells. Specially delicious was a creamy pickle, made from 
young coconuts and hot peppers. There were no knives and 
forks ; we ate with our fingers, and water in a half coconut 
shell was handed round between each course to rinse our 
hands, and in default of napkins, we dried them on leaves. 

After dinner I saw Tui Dreketi's house and stayed to sketch. 
The door stood open and I peeped in — it was all silent, and 
still, and dark. 

A few native women slipped quietly in and out, but he lay 
still, waiting on the threshold for the great call, when he would 

2 14 Islands Far Away. 

have to answer for what he had done, to One who knew all and 
understood all. 

The old warrior, whose memory could carry him back to 
the old days of the fierce struggle for supremacy between 
Mbau and Rewa, had hung up his club for ever. 

When Thakombau carried off the consecration stone from 
conquered Rewa, Tui Dreketi must have felt it keenly. What 
did it matter now ? The peacocks were perching peacefully on 
the old stone by the ruined temple at Mbau, and only one or 
two people were left who could point out which it was, of the 
many stones whose bloody history is written in sand — and he 
was d}dng — already the consciousness of this world had passed 
from him, and he would know nothing more till he wakened — 
where ? The mystery of life and death pervaded the air and 
hung its dark banner over the house. 

It was almost too much for me, and I was glad when a 
shaggy-haired youth came to fetch me in to tea. 

Chapter XXXVI. 


In the evening there was a yangona-drinking for us, carried 
out in a serious semi-rehgious spirit. A beautiful old yangona 
cup was brought out, fuiely made, and exquisitely polished 
with long use. Ratu Joni said it was an heirloom. I was 
admiring it afterwards, when Ratu Joni put it in my hand and 
said, " It is yours." I said I could not think of taking it, but 
he insisted, saying he had another, and would like me to have 
this one. Next day when I was putting up my things, I 
quietly replaced it where it had been, intending to leave it 
behind; but he brought it to me saying, " You have not got 
your cup." I said I did not like to take it, but he replied, 
*' But I would like you to have it." There was nothing for 
it but to carry it away, and keep it as a memento of the Fijian 
generosity which had struck me so forcibly all along. 

Ratu Joni wanted to show me various correct waj^s of sus- 
pending tambuas, and went to look for some he had, but he 
found only two, with nothing but ordinary strings attached to 
them. " Why," he said, " I used to have fifty." I asked him 
what could have become of the others. " Oh," he said, " You 
know how it is : some one comes and asks for the loan of a 
tambua ; what can you do ? You give it to him, but it never 
comes back again." These tambuas range in value from three 
to five pounds or so ; I have priced them myself in shops 
frequented by Fijians. They are still a necessity for native 
custom, and are getting rare, so many are being carried off 
out of the country. The natives are too free and generous : 
soon they will have none of their interesting old things left. 

After the yangona-drinking, before going to bed, all the 


Islands Far Away. 

chiefs joined together in singing in parts some sweet hymns, 
and I enjoyed once more Ratu Mbolo's rich bass voice. It 
was very pleasant, and our last true Fijian evening. 

Rewa used to be the best place for pottery in Fiji, and as 
no pottery was made in the Pacific, by natives, except in Fiji, 
it was interesting to find works still in existence here ; and, 
although the really beautiful and strange shaped vessels which 
were the glory of the old Fijian pottery are no longer made, the 
work that is done is carried on in the old way. Such a simple 
way 1 Nothing but a heap of water- worn stones picked up on 


the shore, no wheel, nothing else, except a kind of oven in 
the ground to bake the things, much the same as that used for 
cooking. Yet fine vessels are made, wonderfully symmetrical 
and sometimes very large. A lump of clay is taken up, about 
the required size, and turned on one hand, while the other 
hand fashions it with a stone from the heap, the stone being 
selected according to the shape that is required. The neck 
is done after the hand has been withdrawn from inside, by 
rolling the clay into a long worm between the two hands, and 
twisting it spirally round the top, till the desired length is 
attained. Any marking is effected by means of shark's or 
rat's teeth, and a glaze is put on with a hard resin from the 
bread-fruit tree ; and any variety of colour with vegetable 
or mineral dyes. 

Good bye. 217 

I was even more delighted to find a large canoe in process 
of construction, because they are rarely made now. Ratu Joni 
took me to see it. It was very large, designed to hold thirty 
people, and there was to be a little thatched shelter on the plat- 
form. It was pleasant to learn that two more on the same 
lines were also being made in Ovalau. 

Being Sunday, no work was going on ; but Ratu Joni called 
the master carpenter for me to see him, and hear from him a 
few things I wanted to know, telling me he was the master 
canoe builder of Fiji and therefore of the Pacific. He came 
crawling along, dressed in the lustrous dark brown gar- 
ment, given him by Dame Nature, and little else ; and he 
placed himself in front of us, in the humblest of attitudes, with 
his eyes on the ground. He answered my questions, however, 
through the chief, with great intelligence and interest. 

A messenger came to tell us the launch was there to carry 
us back to Suva. 

Before going, I gazed long at the scene to imprint it on my 
memory. There was no disturbing element to spoil this 
perfect picture of a primitive beauty which is passing away 
all too soon. The palms waved in the tropical sun, over the 
unfinished canoe and its quaint builder, and the ripples of the 
incoming tide lapped the bank of the quiet river. Beyond, on 
the other side the brown native houses nestled in a glorious 
bed of coloured leaves and strange looking flowers, while 
the beautiful whole was completed by a graceful group of 
naked children, wet from the river, laughing and revelling in 
the joy of life. 

We were back at the Club Hotel, with the boys crowding 
round to see my pictures : and, having come and gone so often 
it was difficult to realise that this was the last time. 

We were too busy to think : still there was a sense of sadness 
and loss. But it would not be all loss, for the experiences 
gained in Fiji were a rich storehouse, which I should carr\' 
away with me to make lite fuller and better ever after. 

Friends trooped down to see us off, and Ratu Kandavu I^evu 
was there, but the real goodbye came from the Club Hotel 
boys. As many of them as could get away came on board, 

2i8 Islands Far Away. 

and they stayed till the last possible minute. They had 
nothing to say, but their eyes spoke. There was a dog-like 
look of devotion and pathos which I shall never forget. The 
anchor was weighed — I sat alone in the stem — the lights of 
Suva grew paler in the distance — then vanished, and my full 
heart said " God bless Fiji." 

It was on the eighteenth of October that the Atua sailed. 
But I was to have one more glance at Fiji before it was com- 
pletely left behind. We stopped next day at Levuka, on the 
island of Ovalau, and spent several hours there. 

I had not been at all well for some time, and Mrs. Hopkins 
insisted on getting hold of a carriage and making the day one 
of rest and pleasure, and I was very glad, for it was a 
perfectly lovely drive and it has left a most delightful im- 
pression behind. 

The island of Ovalau is beautiful in every way, both as to 
its natural characteristics and its luxuriant and varied foliage. 
On one side, as we drove, we had the sea with its bewildering 
rainbow hues, and on the other, appearing and disappearing 
among the trees, Koro Korotuka Peak, another of those 
strange rocky prominences which I have never seen but in 

We stopped at a pretty village to rest the horse. The 
women were all carrying about huge nets on long poles, and 
seemed to be in a state of expectancy ; when suddenly the 
whole surface of the sea became alive wdth leaping glittering 
fish. There was a great stampede. The women flew off, and 
were soon in the sea, gathered in groups of twos, and threes, 
manipulating the nets. They looked very picturesque and 
graceful in their gay garments, with their brown arms wa\dng 
as they twisted and turned the long poles in the glittering 

The sun was setting as we drove back to our boat, and 
another lovely picture had been added to memory's gallery. 

Chapter XXXVIl. 


On the 18th of October, just as we were starting, the captain 
of the Atua learned by wireless that smoke and steam had 

hopeorNiuafou island 

Lat. I5:'34-'S. 

Lon^. I75°4i: W^ 

2 Sea miles in diameter. 


entrance to lagoon 

•tj.^UonJon S.W. 

been seen rising from Niuafou, Hope Island, indicating some 
great volcanic disturbance ; and, though it was not the usual 
time for the delivery of the mail, he resolved to go that way, 
in case the inhabitants of this strangely isolated island should 
be in distress, and he took the mail with him. 

Swimminp; for the Mail. 221 


I was greatly delighted, being deeply interested in the 
island, and ha^dng been deploring the fact that it was not the 
usual time for the mail boat to call there. 

The island lies in the ocean, north from Tonga, to wliich 
it belongs, and is equi-distant from Fiji and Samoa. It is 
of volcanic origin and must at one time have been one great 
volcano. It consists only of the vast crater, now a brackish 
lake, and of the enclosing crater wall, which rises abruptly 
from the sea. There is no reef, or shore ; the cliffs go 
right down into the depths of the sea, the free ocean waves 
dashing full upon them, and there is no harbour or shelter 
of any kind. 

It is quite impossible for any steamer to call there, or to 
get anywhere near the island, so that mails have to be delivered 
in a very unusual way, indeed I think it is unique. The boat 
stops once a month, half-a-mile out, and hoists a liag ; then a 
dark figure, carrying a bamboo cane to which the mail is 
attached, lets himself over the sea wall and do^vn a sort of 
slide into the sea and swims out to the ship, from which a rope 
is dropped : to this he fixes the mail and it is drawn up. 

In the meantime all the letters for the island, together with 
periodicals, papers, etc., are sealed up in a kerosine tin, which 
is dropped into the sea ; then the man grasps it, and fasten- 
ing it to his cane, swims back with it. 

Before daybreak on the 21st we neared the island. The 
air was laden with the smell of sulphur, but all we could see 
was a volume of steam rising from the side of the crater wall 
next the sea, and projected against the coconut-covered slope. 

Our flag was hoisted, and presently two men were seen 
swimming out. Some fresh meat was tied up in a biscuit tin, 
to reward the second man. This is a great treat, as there is 
no fresh meat on the island and even fish is difiicult to obtain. 
A man has to swim out to get it, with a basket on his back and 
a rod. He remains in the water for hours, slipping the fish 
as he catches them into the basket ; but they are a small supply 
at best and do not go far. 

We learned that no less than thirty craters had been active, 
though several had already subsided ; but fortunately little 

222 Islands Far Away. 

miscliief had been done, and, curiously enough though all thc^ 
activity was outside the wall of the old crater, the lake inside.. 
we were told, had risen a number of inches. 

There have been several eruptions since history began — in 
1853, 1867, and 1886. The one in 1886 was very severe, and 
there was serious loss of life. It broke out on a Sunday, and, 
one of the craters burst in the middle of a church where the 
congregation was assembled. These craters remain on the 
edge of the lake, but inactive, though there have been grumb- 
lings and threatenings now and then. 

It seems extraordinary that any one should be found to 
live on such an island, yet there are over a thousand natives, 
three English traders and storekeepers, and a half-caste 
missionary, and for five years there was one English lady. 
A man who had been engaged in commerce with the island,, 
and who had been there a good deal, came on board the Atua 
at Nukualofa and told me much that was interesting. He said 
that the trade was entirely in copra, and that the coconut trees 
were the finest in the Pacific, and probably in the world ; and 
that it was only these palms which made it worth while to 
live on the island and to carry on trade with it, tlie troubles 
involved being so very great, owdng to the difficulty of ship- 

At the top of the sea wall at Angaha, on the north of the 
island, there is a large shed built, and here, as it is ready, the 
copra is stored. In front of the wall, standing out of the sea. 
is a large flat rock, and a long slide reaches from the shed to 
the rock. When a passing vessel is sighted it is signalled, and 
if it puts in. the sacks of copra are quickly let down the 
slide on to the rock and hurriedly pitched on board. Should 
the wind rise in the middle of the process, the vessel has to 
put out to sea, and the copra has to be drawn up and housed 
in the shed again till the next opportunity. 

The coming and going of the inhabitants is even more difii- 
cult as it has to be managed in much the same way. Ev^ery- 
thing has to be packed ready : then for days, and even weeks 
a watch has to be kept for a chance vessel, and when it does 
come, it is no easy matter to get passengers and their baggage 
into it. 

Swimming for the Mail. 223 

I had the pleasure of meeting the one white lady who had 
lived on the island. Her son, for whom, with a nephew, she 
had been keeping house, had died, and her nephew's health 
had broken down ; so she was leaving, and we took her on 
board at Tonga. 

She brought with her the chief's daughter, to be educated 
at Auckland. The girl was very dark and might have been an 
up-country Fijian. The lady gave me an envelope which had 
actually gone through the kerosine-tin mail. She would 
gladly have told me about the place and her residence there, 
but she was a very bad sailor, so there was no opportunity, 
I think, however, it was not a life to inspire many ideas or 
give much to think about. 

We watched the two men retreating with their meat and 
the letters. They looked very small battling with the waves, 
and it was a relief to catch sight of them climbing safely up 
the slope. 

When the weather is too stormy for swimmers, the mails are 
thrown over all the same. Then, eager watchers scan the 
foot of the sea wall, and the tin when it is washed in is caught 
with hooks on long poles and drawn up. Sometimes, how- 
ever, it drifts away out to sea and is lost altogether. 

The isolation and loneliness of this highly volcanic island 
seem to me terrible. Should there be any serious disturbance 
there is no way of escape — no boat, nothing. And there are no 
means of getting assistance. The inhabitants would have no 
other alternative but to wait, and accept their doom. 

The last news I heard of the island was that the volcanoes J 
saw had not entirely subsided, and that there had been 
several alarming threatenings of trouble, the most serious 
being that the temperature of the lake had risen, which the 
natives considered a portent of mischief. 

I hope, however, that they are wrong and that Niuaf6u will 
soon at least enjoy peace in its solitude. 

Chapter XXXVIII. 


(the road of the loving heart). 

" If I have faltered more or less 
In my great task of happiness ; 
If I have moved among my race 
And shown no glorious morning face ; 
If beams from hapjjy human eyes 
Have moved me not ; if morning skies, 
Books, and my food, and summer rain 
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain, 
Lord thy most pointed pleasure take 
And stab my spirit broad awake." 

The Celestial Surgeon. — Hobekt Louis Stkvexson. 

Our next halt was to be at Samoa (Navigator Islands), Robert 
Louis Stevenson's place of exile, where weakness held him 
prisoner for the last four years of his life, and which, through 
his cheerfulness, became a heaven on earth. 

In his own beautiful words he said, " The only way to heaven 
is forgetfulness of self." He had searched and found that way, 
and had trod it with a cheer}' step, leaving a track of light 

Earl}^ on the 22nd of October we reached Apia, on the island 
of Upolo. On entering the harbour the first thing that struck 
me was the evidence of the awful hurricane of 1889, when six 
American and German men-of-war were wrecked, with much 
loss of life. 

The only other man-of-war in the harbour at the time was 
the English man-of-war Calliope, which was saved by the great 
skill and promptitude of Captain Kane, who managed to put 
on full steam, and steer quickly out into the open sea. 

Ala Loto Alofa. 


The remains of the wrecked vessels still present a sorry 
sight, standing out of the water, gaunt, naked and rusty. 

The next thought was Vailima, Stevenson's home. I was 
scanning the tliickly wooded hills wondering where to look for 
it, when one of the officers came up and pointed it out, a little 
speck among the green just below Vaea, on whose peaceful 
summit the hero hes sleeping " under the wide and starry sky," 
where undisturbed the wild birds sing and nest, because the 
Samoan Chiefs laiew he loved them, and, in gratified and 

fi ii^, . '^ 




affectionate remembrance of him, forbade the use of firearms 
on its summit ever after. 

Samoa is a hot place, and we were nearing the hottest 
season. Still, I was very eager to go ashore, and visit both 
the house and the grave. We were told that the latter would 
be very difficult, that the ascent was long and steep, and that 
few people attempted it now. 

We enquired as soon as we got on shore the way to Vailima, 
and were told it was more than three miles off, and a pull up 
all the way. As to the grave, no one seemed to know exactly 
where it was or how to reach it. People shook their heads 


Islands Far Away. 

and said, "You will never climb all the way up Vaea ; it is a 
long way and very steep and there is no road, — ^no one ever 
goes." At last a youth, who could speak half-a-dozen words 
of English, came forward, and said he knew how to go, and 
could conduct us, but that it would be impossible to walk the 
whole way there and back. The next thing was to find a 
carriage to take us as far as the house, but the prices demanded 
were quite prohibitive. When it seemed almost as if we 
should have to give it up, the boy got hold of a small vehicle, 
the owner of which was willing to drive us up as far as Vailima, 


for a reasonable price if we would walk back. As he was going 
elsewhere he could not wait for us. So we set off at once, 
taking our Samoan guide with us. 

It was a lovely drive. xA.s we passed along the shore, native 
canoes were plying in the dazzling blue sea, their swarthy 
occupants manipulating great nets which stretched from boat 
to boat, making glittering streaks across the water. 

Then our road went up through the most luxuriant foliage 
and passed several native houses and villages. 

The expression of tropical heat was everywhere. The 
houses did not look like houses at all — a circle of posts holding 
up a beautiful roof of beams and thatch, and a floor of close- 
set pebbles, this was all. Between all the posts hung rolled 
up mats which could be let down to give shelter from sun or 

Ala Loto Alofa. 


wind as desired, and a few mats lay on the floor, but there was 
no furniture. Any clothes and the other belongings of the 
people hung from the beams and the posts. The whole effect 
was very strange. The Samoans are a handsome people, and, 
in their slight coverings, had a somewhat classical appearance 



^^ ^' , ^ 


as they sat or lay in graceful attitudes round about the houses, 
or on the mats inside. The floors must be very hard and 
knobbly to lie on at night, for they are made of rounded 
pebbles closely fitted together, and there was no grass or fern 
under the mats as in Fiji, and only little wooden pillows were 
in evidence. 

228 Islands Far Away. 

We saw a good many horsemen, and the Samoans look much 
at home when riding. They ride bareback with an easy grace 
which is very picturesque, and the horses looked shiny and 
well cared for, with flowing mane and tail. 

On the way down we strayed into an enclosure to pick up 
red seeds, when a stately native rode past. He saw us and 
dismounted, and, tying his horse to a tree, approached. I 
thought he was going to warn us that we were trespassing. 
He had, however, come only to help us to collect the bright 
little treasures, and he gathered them very quickly and poured 
them into my painting bag and into my companion's hand- 
kercliief. We felt it a blank not to be able to speak the lan- 
guage, for he and all the natives seemed inclined to be so 
friendly. In the evening, too, when we were very tired, women 
most kindly got us tea and made us come into the cool shade 
of their house to enjoy it. We should very much have liked 
to have been able to converse and to tell them how refreshing 
it had been to aching heads. 

The men seemed to be mostly tattooed. When the sulu 
was lifted as they bestrode their horses, or when the wind 
fluttered it, they appeared to be wearing black lace drawers, 
of a beautiful elaborate pattern, reaching to the laiee, which 
told out clearlj^ against the pure olive of their smooth and 
beautiful skin. 

We could not tell exactly when we entered upon the famous 
Ala Loto Alofa (the Road of the Loving Heart), made with 
their owti hands for Stevenson, by grateful chiefs to whom 
he had been very kind in time of trouble. But, as we neared 
the house, I knew we must be on it ; and I thought of the chiefs 
toiling at this hard manual labour in the hot season, glad to 
feel the ache of their limbs and the perspiration dropping from 
their foreheads, because to build a road to his house them- 
selves was the only way they could think of to express the 
depth of their love and gratitude to their friend. 

We dismissed our carriage and walked up to the pretty 
house. It looked deserted ; but it was pleasant that the sim was 
shining to suggest Stevenson's words . "As the sun lightens the 
world, so let our loving kindness make bright this house of our 

Ala Loto Alofa. 229 

habitation." They are from one of those prayers wliich he de- 
livered in the beautiful little services he held every evening 
up to the last evening of his life, with the assembled "folk of 
many families and nations gathered together in the peace of 
this roof." 

We ventured to ring and ask the servant if we might have 
one look at the house. A German lady* who spoke English 
well, came forward and very kindly took us over a good part 
of it and up on to the verandah ; she also invited us to wander 
at will through the grounds and sketch anything we liked. 
We could not stay long, however, as we were most eager to 
visit the grave, and, looking up the hill from the house, it was 
evidently a formidable undertaking. 

Our next difficulty was that our valiant Samoan guide 
proved to have no idea of the way, and we did not in the least 
know where to fuid the path — ^that wonderful path so quickly 
and so willingly made eighteen years before, to carry the loved 
one up to his last resting-place. We thought we had got it and 
followed a kind of track and scrambled up, but it ended in 
nothing, then we lit on another and tried that, our guide 
always in the rear, but it also disappeared in the same way. 
What were we to do next ? That was the question. Our 
guide sat down and looked as if he would very much like to 
cry, but we had already climbed a good way and were de- 
termined not to be baffled. 

As the grave was on the top we decided that if we ascended 
all the time we must in the end reach it ; so we plunged right 
up through the thicket, squeezing between trees and dragging 
ourselves up with our arms where it was too steep to walk. 
It was hard work in the close heat under the trees. At last 
there was a shout from my fellow traveller ; she had found the 

* Apia and the greater part of the Sanioau Islands had lieeu assigned to 
Germany by the Convention of Nm'ember, 1899, — the German flag being hoisted 
on 1st of March, 1900. Stevenson s house became, as it was at the time of Miss 
King's visit, the residence of the German Governor, Dr. Solf. It is satisfactory 
now to be able to note that the German Samoan Islands M'ere seized by the New 
Zealand Expeditionary Force on 29th August, 1914. 

230 Islands Far Away. 

almost erased track, and in another minute we stood by the 
tomb with these words graven on it : — 

1850. STEVENSON. 1894. 

Under the wide and starry sky, 
Dig the grave and let me lie. 
Glad did I live and gladly die, 
And laid me down with a will. 

This be the verse ycni grave for me ; 
Here he lies where he longed to be : 
Home is the sailor, home from sea, 
And the hunter home from the hill. 

I gazed from the quiet grave on its high perch to the lovely- 
view beyond — the wide stretch of sea, with white breakers 
where the reef lay hidden, and the dome of the azure sky, 
veiled in filmy white clouds, across which one solitary flying- 
fox fluttered silently. 

I sat long, and rested, and thought — " To him that over- 
cometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the 
midst of the Paradise of God." The hero who rested here 
under the " starrj' sky " had overcome, and had fought a very 
difficult battle in life, and been victorious all along the line. 
He had set himself to find the highest happiness and spread 
its light for all to see. " There is no duty we so much under- 
rate as the duty of being happy." " By being happy we sow 
anonymous benefits upon the world, which remain unknown 
even to ourselves, or, when they are disclosed, surprise nobody 
as much as the benefactor."* 

It was a hard, hard fight in his case, for he had to combat 
a natural tendency to depression, besides the constant fiery 
darts of illness, with its pain, and weakness, and baffled hopes ; 
but the fiercer the battle raged around, the more persistently 
he fought. 

Could there have been a greater conquest of mind over 
matter than at Marseilles in 1883, when the dust off the 
street refuse brought on ophthalmia, at a time when he was 
wrestling with hemorrhage from the right lung, so that he had 

* An Apology for Idlers. — Robert Louis Stevensjn. 

Ala Loto Alofa. 231 

to have his right arm in a sUng, and, as if this were not enough, 
sciatica set in with its keen searching pain. Even now, pure 
unselfish love, love for little children, foiled the fiend depres- 
sion and broke the prison bars, so that — 

He went, ' ' sailing far away 
To the pleasant land of play ; 
To the fairy land afar 
Where the little people are." 

And, in The Children's Garden of Verses, he took their little 
hands, and danced with them among the flowers ; and he packed 
not an atom of sadness in his light knapsack : it was all left 

Sing a song of Seasons ! 

Something bright in all ! 
Flowers in the summer, 

Fires in the fall ! 

Where is there another who, in pain and weakness, in a darkened 
room, with the use only of his left hand, could have penned 
these happy little verses, whose silver chimes ring with the 
brightest and purest of melody ? 

No wonder Stevenson is worshipped, and if the worship 
leads others to enlist in his regiment, he will not have lived in 

There was no great difficulty in retracing our steps, for, once 
we had got started on the right track, though much overgrown, 
it was quite perceptible, but the descent was long and very 
steep. It was wonderful to think that the coffin could have 
been carried up all that distance, and one realised more and 
more the strength of the affection which had overcome every 
obstacle, and accomplished it. The secret of all that devotion 
was Stevenson's loving unselfishness. 

Chapter XXXIX. 


We were now bound for the Friendly or Tongan Islands.* 
They present a special feature of interest as being still under 
native rule, though under British protection, and I was very 
anxious to visit them, especially as I learned that King George 
was musical, and had set the Lord's Prayer to music himself, 
and that he had a very fine choir in his own private chapel. 
Sir Charles Major gave me an introduction to him, asking him 
to arrange if possible that I should hear the music. Without 
an introduction it would have been no use hoping to see him, 
as he has a horror of being made a show of by sightseers, and 
when the mail steamer comes in, once a month, he shuts 
himself up in his palace, and will not leave it at all, not even 
to go to church, if it happens to be Sunday. The last time he 
ventured to church when the steamer was there, on coming out 
he found six cameras, waiting to snap-shot him. I was anxious 
to obtain a sketch, but this did not look very promising. If, 
however, I could see him at home it would be interesting, and 
deUghtful if it proved possible to hear the music. 

The king lives at Nukualofa on the island of Tongatabu, 
our last stopping place. 

We came first to Vavau, the northernmost island of this 
group, arriving before sunrise on October 25th, and remaining 

* Captain Cook named the group "The Friendly Islands," on account of his 
experience of the character of the inhabitants. He rediscovered the islands, 
which, as far as is known, had not before been seen by any European, except by 
Tasman and his companions (in 1643). " The Tongan Islands " is the more usual 
name, which was originally used by the sailors and beachcombers who frequented 
this one Island of Tonga, or, more properly, Tongatabu, from about the beginning 
of the nineteenth century. — E. im T. 


The King of the Friendly Isles. 233 

all day. The Vavau harbour is said to be the best in the 
Pacific, and it has been secured by England. It is certainly 
supremely beautiful, and we had a glorious view of it as we 
climbed Talau, an interesting extinct volcano wliich rises 
steeply from the shore. Two merry Tongan boys elected to 
guide us, and took care of us all day. They skipped about 
round us, and on to the ledges of rock, like a pair of goats, 
and were a great entertainment. There was evidence that 
the volcano had not been very long quiet and there are three 
distinct craters, in one of which we lunched. 

Our young guides, who had much enjoyed sharing our lunch,, 
indicated in broken English that they knew a nice way down ; 
and off they set to show us, when, to our astonishment, they 
suddenly disappeared. We followed, and lo and behold, the 
" nice way down " was a narrow rift in the mountain from 
top to bottom, probably caused by the last eruption. Lito 
this our young friends had dropped themselves, and, clinging 
to little ridges, looked up at us with laughing faces, and cor- 
dially invited us to descend. It seemed perfectly impossible 
and most unsuitable for us, and we demurred ; but as they 
were so eager and so determined to help us we gave way, and, 
climbing in, we let our feet down while they placed them for 
us in cracks, and so, step by step, we descended the dark narrow 
fissure clinging with our hands to the sides. I went first with 
one small boy, and my companion followed with the other, and 
she was so directly over my head that, if she had lost her 
footing she would have come tumbling on the top of me. It 
was comparatively cool in the cleft of the mountain, which 
was a comfort on so hot a day, when we were going through 
such vigorous exertion. 

We reached the bottom without mishap, and quite enjoyed 
our curious experience, which felt a good deal like chmbing 
down a chimney. 

In the afternoon the captain took all the passengers for a 
picnic to a beautiful little bay, and on the way we visited a 
remarkable cavern, the startling blues and greens of which 
filled us with wonder. 

At sunrise next day, October 26th, we reached Haapai„ 

2 34 Islands Far Away. 

the middle islands of this group. It did not look very inter- 
esting from the sea, and the same terrible hurricane of the 
previous January, which had so devastated Fiji, had also 
swept the Tongan Islands, so that there was little copra to 
take in, and the captain determined to make his stay as short 
as possible and thus give us more time at Nukualofa. The 
passengers were all warned that there was no time to land. 
I asked, however, if I might go and come back in the launch 
which delivered the mails, just for the pleasure of the trip ; 
and leave was given. Seeing me going, a lady and her 
daughter got in too, but they were tempted into landing, as 
the launch man said there would certainly be a second journey 
when he would bring them back ; but there was none. The 
steamer trumpeted, the anchor was drawn up, and we were 
just starting, when I gave information of the missing ladies ; 
and there they were in the far distance, franticall}^ waving from 
the pier. The kind, good-natured captain was extremely 
annoyed, but by dint of signals some a.rrangement was made 
for getting them off, and after a good deal of delay two 
blushing, shame-faced ladies crept up the ladder into the ship. 
It would have been a nice business for them if they had been 
stranded for a month in Haapai, without money or kit. 

Later in the day we passed among many islands and very 
dangerous-looking reefs. On one of these reefs a steamer lies 
wrecked. The Knight of St. George. It struck me as strangely 
lonely away out there awaiting its gradual dissolution ; but 
its iron framework was strong, and it might last a long time ; 
a year's breakers had already washed over it. yet from a dis- 
tance it seemed quite whole. How many more vessels and 
native canoes, no one knows anything about, must have rmi 
foul of these treacherous reefs, and disappeared in the depths 
below. That lovely blue sea, which looks so charming in the 
sunshine, would have many a sad story to tell. 

The evening of October 26th saw us stepping off the pier 
at Nukualofa, the chief town of Tongatabu. The first thing 
that struck me was the extraordinary dress of the people. 
Over their other clothes, which were very much after the 
Pijian model, only brighter and gayer, every one, male or 

The King of the Friendly Isles. 235 

female, wore a ragged dirty mat, twisted round the waist 
and tied on with a coarse bit of sinnet. Some Tongan ladies, 
evidently of high rank, had joined us at Haapai, and they 
also wore it, and looked as if they were emerging from a 
chrysalis. We learned afterwards that it was national 
mourning, and very striking mourning too, suggestive of the 
" sackcloth and ashes " of Scripture. A young chief called 
Laifoni, closely related to the Kang, had recently died, very 
suddenly. He was a handsome boy of seventeen, and a 
general favourite, full of health and vigour, and fond of 
cricket and other sports, when one day he cut his foot \\dth a 
shell, blood poisoning set in, and in three days he was dead. 

Carrying with us an introduction to the King, we went at 
once to the prime minister, Jione Tubou Mateialona, to whom 
we had brought a letter from a Fijian chief. We were re- 
ceived with the utmost kindness by Mateialona and his w\ie, 
the latter a really charming woman, with the most polite and 
courtly manners ; and, as she can speak a little English, I had 
the treat of being able to converse. The house is of wood and 
furnished with chairs and tables, and altogether more English 
than are those of the Fijian chiefs generally. Our host and 
hostess looked very sad because of Laifoni's death, and through 
an open door we could see a group of women, sitting on the 
ground twining beautiful wreaths and garlands of brilliant 
flowers for the grave. 

Glasses of milk from the young coconut were brought in 
for us. It makes a sweet refreshing and somewhat sparkling 

After a little conversation we expressed our wish to see the 
King, and Mateialona went at once to tell him we were there, 
and brought back the good news that he would be pleased to 
see us next morning at ten o'clock. 

Mateialona insisted on sending us back to the steamer in his 
own funny little carriage, with two small Tongan boys to attend 
to us. 

He had told me that he thought it quite likely that the 
King would take a fancy to me and be quite pleased that I 
should sketch him. So next morning I armed myself with 


Islands Far Awav. 

suitable materials and my accomplished sketches ; and we 
started at nine o'clock, in the first instance bomid for one of 
the many churches on the island, and afterwards for the Palace, 
and our audience with the King. The Prime Minister's little 
carriage was waiting for us at the pier and we stepped in and 
drove to the church, where we were told the singing would be 
best, and as the Tongans are a very musical people I looked 
forward to something fine. 

The whole Nukualofa world was marching in two's and 




three's to church : they are very religious, and everyone goes. 
The national mourning made the effect most remarkable. 
The Tongans are fond of dress, and the coarse old mats tied 
on the top of their smart Sunday clothes, had a very grotesque 
appearance. A maiden, stepping gracefully along with flowers 
coquettislily stuck in her black hair, and a pretty pink or 
white silk dress, looked intensely funny having a hard stiff 
common dirty old mat plastered on the top, with great holes 
in it, and rags trolloping down and trailing in the dust, and 
the man at her side, a young dandy perhaps, or her venerable- 
looking father, looked quite as peculiar, with this bunchy old 
rag over his wliite silk shirt and bright fresh sulu. In church 
the whole congregation were thus attired, and I could not 

The King of the Friendly Isles. 



resist making a sketch on my white glove of a pretty girl with 
a fan, which I afterwards transferred to my sketch book. The 
more ragged the mat the deeper the mourning ; and I saw some 
fascinating young girls slyly enlarging 
their holes with their fuigers during 
the sermon. 

The Tongans are much better look- 
ing than the Fijians. They are lighter 
in colour, their hair is soft and flowing, 
and their noses well-shaped, and not 
short and flat and broad. They carr_y 
themselves with great dignity, and the 
girls have a ready smile, which shows 
a double row of lovely pearly teeth ; 
altogether they are very pleasing. 

The preacher had a charming face, 
and seemed to speak with great earnest- 
ness, but of course we understood 
nothing. One word " of a " occurred 
very often, and we afterwards learned 
it was " love." The singing was good, 
but not better than I have heard in Fiji, 
that there might have been a performance of the King's own 
choir in the evening, and that I should have heard his render- 
ing of the Lord's Prayer to music, and the Halleluiah Chorus, 
the singing of which had so impressed Sir Charles Major ; but 
it was not to be. 

After church the Premier's little carriage was waiting for 
us again and drove us to the Palace. Alas ! The King was in 
bed with influenza, and could not see us, but he sent down 
word that he was very sorry, and would make an effort to 
come down at ten next morning and see us then. It was a 
great disappointment. 

In the afternoon there was a picnic for the passengers, 
but I preferred to be alone. The Tongan children gathered 
about me when I was sketching, and were pleasant company ; 
and at dusk I took a solitary walk, and came upon the cemetery. 
There were no monuments of any kind ; all the graves were 



I was much hoping 

238 Islands Far Away. 

simply beautifully squared earth covered with pure white coral 
sand, which looked like snow. I handled it, and let it pass 
through my fingers : it was made of the prettiest little round 
and starry discs of coral. There was not a weed anywhere. 
Much constant labour must be required to keep such friable 
material perfectly square and clean, but the effect produced is 
a sense of quiet solemn peace. 

I found the new grave where the young chief lay sleeping 
in his white bed — the sleep that knows no waking here ; and I 
recognised the wreaths I had seen being prepared the day 
before. The grave was covered with garlands of gay flowers 
whose rich colours told vividly against the white. 

The purity and freshness suggested the " white garments," 
and the quiet ripple of the sea, the " many waters." It was 
a very striking graveyard. 

We were very doubtful if we should see the King at all on 
Monday, but we were there before the appointed time. The 
Premier and the English Consul were both there to meet us. 
The King they said, was not at all well, but he wanted to see 
us, and was dressing. He did not keep us long waiting ; we 
were soon shown into the throne-room, and formally presented. 

He was covered with orders and medals, and wore a dark 
heavy European-like uniform, which must be oppressive in such 
a climate. He is a big man, six feet four, and broad in pro- 
portion, and his weight is twenty-eight stone. He has a 
dignified kingly presence, and a kind expression in his broad 
dark face. 

After shaking hands with us with his large massive hand, he 
begged us to be seated. He himself did not take the imposing 
looking throne covered in red velvet, but sat on a chair in the 
corner of the room, to be out of the draught. He said he was 
exceedingly sorry not to have been able to see us yesterday, 
but he had been obliged to " conceal himself " in bed all day 
as he was feverish, and he specially regretted not having been 
able to give us a performance of his choir. 

He looked with great interest at my sketches, more par- 
ticularly the portraits, and he said he would have been pleased 
to have sat for me if there had been more time and he had 

The King of the Friendly Isles. 239 

been well. Then he told me he had gone to Auckland and 
been photographed, and " I'll give you an order to my photo- 
grapher for a copy of myself and of the Queen." He went 
and wrote the letter and gave it to me, and he said that if I 
sent him the pictures, he and the Queen would sign them and 
return them to me. It was a most unusual mark of favour. 
I have the pictures duly signed but they are stiff and solemn 
and I am glad I took a good look so as to be able to draw 
a more suggestive likeness myself, afterwards. 

I had a photo with me of my picture, now in the National 
Portrait Gallery, of my mother, with her brothers. Lord Kelvin 
and Professor James Thompson, and I gave it to him. He 
was delighted with it. The Consul told him a little about 
Lord Kelvin's work and what a distinguished man he was. 
He was most interested, and he repeated it all to his prime 
minister in Tongan. Over and over again he laid his hand 
on the picture remarking, " This is mine ; " and when I was 
gathering up my drawings he looked anxiously lest I should 
carry it off by mistake. 

We asked if we might see the Queen and the little princess. 
Her Majesty was immediately called, and appeared very soon 
in a rich, loose white satin robe, handsomely trimmed, carrying 
a magnificent baby, an enormous child, with a marvellously 
intelligent expression for three months' old. I at once asked 
if I might paint the infant princess and permission was joy- 
fully granted. 

My companion took the solid little bundle in her arms, and 
I proceeded there and then to work. The Queen came behind 
me and watched every stroke with the greatest interest, and 
I could hear satisfied little ejaculations as the likeness gradually 
appeared on the paper. The prime minister also watched 
from a little distance. The King divided his time between 
amusing his little daughter and coming to see how the picture 
was getting on, and in sometimes taking the little burden 
himself for a while. He said he had some letters he must get 
off by the mail, and he tried two or three times to go and 
write them, but he was always irresistibly drawn back to the 
throne room and the picture, and once, when it was necessary 


Islands Far Away. 

for the little princess to go to the nurse, the King carried her 
off himself. I never before painted a picture with a king, 
and a Queen and a Prime Minister, looking on. 

The hkeness was considered excellent, and the King wrote 





on my sketch the Httle lady's name and the date both of her 
birth and of the painting of the portrait. I promised to make 
a copy of it for himself as soon as I could, but he begged me 
not to be long, so I painted it on the Atua and posted it from 
Sydney, getting a delighted acknowledgment in return. 

The Kjng we were told was concerned at his stoutness, and 
to keep down his figure he went every week to one of the other 

The King of the Friendly Isles. 241 

islands where, throwing off his uniform, in slight native dress, 
he vigorously dug and planted yams and taro, and all the young 
gallants of the court felt obliged to go with him and follow 
his example, but they did not relish it.* 

* King George Tubou II, died in April, 1918, and has been succeeded by his 
daughter by his first wife. King George's queen, his second wife, also died in 
November, 1918, in the terrible epidemic of influenza which decimated Tonga and 
other of the Pacific Islands at that time. 

Chapter XL. 


The time at Nukualofa passed quickly away. We were to 
sail in the evening of October 2nd for New Zealand, which 
was the first stage of our long voyage home, via Australia 
and the Cape, and I was very busy, for I was eager to secure 
every possible record of the new and strange around me, 
before it was all left behind. 

I wanted to sketch the big Avava trees, peculiar to 
Tonga, and which I was told plaj^ed an interesting part in its 
history. They are so umbrageous that they are like large 
buildings, and under the spreading limbs of one of them the 
council meetings used to be held ; while another was the court- 
house, and place of execution, traitors being hanged from its 
branches. These trees are said to live hundreds of years, and 
they grow to an immense size. Their huge trunks are like 
groined pillars, and, looking up, I felt as if I were in a vast 
cathedral. I was anxious also to get a sketch on the beach 
showing the great bivalve shells* which lie about and are such a 
marked feature on the shore. They are pure white and so large 
and heavy that I could not lift or move them and one of them 
would comfortably make a cliild's bath. When alive these 
shell fish are a serious danger to fishermen or women, wading 
among the rocks at low tide, for they sometimes close on an 
unwary foot and hold it fast till the tide comes up, and the 
poor prisoner is drowned. 

I longed to paint many more things, and see more, and do 

* The shells are of the ''Giant Clam " {Tridacna gigas), the flesh of which is a 
much esteemed food of most of the Pacific Islanders. The presence of these shells 
on the beach at Nukualofa is due to the same cause as the presence of oyster shells 
on many frequented beaches in England. 

244 Islands Far Away. 

more, and learn more, but all the while relentless Father Time 
with his scythe had been steadily cutting off my days one by 
one, and this was the last. I wanted to keep it, but, chng to 
it as I would, he got it too. The Atua's horn sounded, it was 
the " knell of parting day," and we had to go. 

The setting sun lay low behind Nukualofa, and in its dazzling 
light all details were lost, leaving only a vision of tropical 
beauty, too bright to look at. I closed my eyes as we steamed 
away. Quickly the sun sank, and against the crimson glow 
of the sky island after island was projected as we passed. 
Some were large enough to be inhabited, while others were 
just a Httle ring of coconut palms. 

The short tropical twihght soon deepened into night, but 
I sat long gazing into the darlaiess, and thinking of the beau- 
tiful lines in Whittier's Eternal Goodness. 

I know not where His islands lift 
Their fronded palms in air ; 
But this I know, I cannot drift 
Beyond His love and care. 


Ai Tombi. " A tuft of hair on the head, worn by the natives for ornament." 
(Hazlewood.) Now worn only by unmarried girls. 

A Matba. Literally ' it is empty or dry ' ; it is the customary exclamation 
to be made after the cup of ' yangona ' (kava) has been emptied to the 

Audi. Honorific title pertaining to all women of chiefly rank. (c/. Ratu.) 

Avava. Tongan name for the large and beautiful tree [Ficus sp : ?) which 
is a most conspicuous ornament of their landscape. There are not many 
of these trees in the Islands, and more or less historic interest attaches 
to such as exist. 

Beche-de-mer. The trade name for the ' sea-slugs ' ( Holothurians) which 
abound on the reefs round the Fiji and most other Pacific Islands. Much 
business was, and to some extent stUl is, done in these, which are in great 
request in the Chinese market^ for culinary purposes. The term is also 
used for the polyglot language which serves as a lingua franca throughout 
a great part of the South Sea Islands. 

Dengei (more properly Ndengei). The greatest of the so-called ' Gods ' of 
the Fijians. 

Ganga-ni-Lawa. " The Strength of the Law," here used as a proper name. 

Ivi. The Ivi tree { Inocarpus edulis) is the so-called ' Polynesian chestnut ' 
which is of great and varied service to the Fijians, as to other South Sea 
Islanders, and thej nut of which is a valuable source of food. 

Kai Na-lotha. Name of a clan now extinct. 

Kai-si. A, common person, i.e. not a Chief. 

Kerekere. The customary right of a Chief (or superior) to obtain from an 
inferior whatever he asks for. 

King-posts. The main upright posts — or, in the case of the round form 
of mountain house, post — on which the beams rest. (The Fijian's own 
word for King-post is Mbou.) 

Kurilaugi. The local name of a special variety of ' taro ' ( Colocasia anti - 
quorum), an aroid the root of which is a principal food of the Fijians. 

Lali. The hollowed tree-trunk used as a drum by the natives. 

Liku. Originally liku meant the scanty skirt-like dress of a Fijian woman 
only. The word for the corresponding dress of a man appears to be 
sousou-wai : but latterly the word liku is loosely used for the garment 
whether of a woman or man. 

Makita. " The Makita {Parinarium laurinum) is a tree about fifty feet high, 
supplying tough spars for canoes, and having oblong leathery leaves 
formerly used exclusively in thatching heathen temples, but now also for 
common dwelling houses." (Seemann. Flora Vitiensis.) 

246 Glossary. 

Masi. This, properly speaking, is the ' paper mulberry tree ' ( Broussonetia 
papyrijera), the bark of which, specially treated, is made into ' tapa.' 
Tapa, in Fiji, is generally called 'masi,' and the name is especially applied 
to the narrow strip of bark cloth which is worn by the men and boys 
round their waists, the ends being passed between the legs. 

Mata ni vanua. Literally ' the eye of the land,' and thus the herald always 
in attendance on Chiefs, to carry on communication between their lords 
and other persons. 

Mbala-mbala. This is the tree-fern (Alsophila lunulata), the trunk of which 
is much used in house -biiilding, with very decorative effect. 

Mbalawa. See below under Pandanus. 

Mbati. Distinctive name for men of the warrior caste. 

Mbelo. A species of Ibis which is perhaps the commonest wading bird in 
the Islands. 

Mbokola. Human flesh for cannibal feasts. 

Mbose vaka-Turanga. The Great Coimcil of Chiefs, which meets only when 
summoned by the Governor, who is the Great Chief. 

Mbose vaka-Yasana. A ' Provincial Council,' i.e. a local council entrusted 
with the management of the affairs of a Province. 

Mbuli. The provincial officer immediately below the Roko {q.v.) under the 
Colonial system of native administration. 

Mbulumakau. Said to be a word invented soon after the first appearance of 
Europeans in the Islands, to mean homed cattle, whether bulls or cows. 
Probably an incorrect etymology. 

Mbure. A Fijian native house. 

Mbutoni. The Fisherman clan living, when first heard of, at Mbau, but sub- 
sequently, whether of their own accord or not, removed to Lakemba, in 
the Lau group. 

Megass. A name (of West Indian origin ?) for the sugar-cane after the sac- 
charine juice has been extracted. 

Meke. A song accompanied by bodily movement, sometimes merely move- 
ment of the limbs but more often taking the form of dramatic dance, in 
which battles, the doings of animals or of the forces of nature {e.g. of 
winds and waves beating on the reefs), and again sometimes traditional 
incidents in the doings of the clan or of the Chief or principal person in 
whose honour the mekb is performed. (According to Hazlewood ' sere ' 
is the word for a song without any such motion). 

Mynah. The starling-like bird (Gracula) which was introduced from India 
to counteract the attacks of injurious insects on the sugar-cane, but 
which has since multiplied to a troublesome extent in its new home. 

Ndari ni Bokola. The meat dish which was used for hrmian flesh. 

Ndengei {see Dengei). 

Pandanus. The scientific name of the ' scew-pine,' at least two species of 
which (P. caricosus, locally called ' voivoi ' and P. vents, locally called 
' balawa ') are largely used by the Fijians (as also by the natives of other 
Pacific islands) for mat-making and as food. The balawa makes a 
prominent feature in much of the Fijian scenery. 

Glossary. 247 

Rara. Hazlewood well describes this as ' the open space in the middle of a 
town or before the Chief's house. Now-a-days it is generally grass- 

Ratu. Honorific title attributed to all men of chiefly rank. (c./. Andi.) (It 
seems doubtful whether the word ' Roko ' before the English Govern- 
ment gave it an official meaning was not a local equivalent of ' ratu.') 

Roko. Now the distinctive title of the head native official of a Province. 

oa iIKO. I pijian exclamation and counter-exclamation, used as a farewell, 
sa laKO. \ 

Sinnet (the proper Fijian word for which is ' mangi-mangi ') is the coconut 
fibre twisted into string and used largely in house and boat building and 
for innumerable other purposes. 

Sulu. Literally means ' cloth ' but is now almost exclusively used for the 
kilt-like waist-cloth which Fijian men wear wrapped round their loins. 

Takia. The small sort of canoe which is in everyday use. 

Tambua. Now used, practically excliisively, of whales' teeth tised as cere- 
monial offerings. Hazlewood gives ' Tabua, n. the collar-bone, sa sau 
na nona tabua, his collar-bones are prominent, his flesh has fallen away, 
indicative of a bad state of health. From the partial similarity of form 
to the collar-bone, whales' teeth are called tabua. Ivorj^ may also be 
so called.' The practice of giving ceremonial gifts is certainly old and 
well established in Fiji. Before the entry of European and American 
whaling ships into those waters made whales' teeth common, the gift, 
the significance of which was of much greater moment than its intrinsic 
value, probably took the form of a remarkable-looking shell or even a 
curiously shaped stone ; but when whales' teeth and the desire to collect 
whales' teeth came into fashion, these ivories came into almost exclusive 
use for this ceremonial purpose. 

Tapa. Bark-cloth, the proper Fijian name for which is ' masi ' (q.v.) 

Taro. " The Taro, or, as the Fijian language has it, the Dalo, is grown in 
Viti on irrigated or dry ground, perhaps more on the latter than on the 
former. The water is never allowed to become stagnant, but always 
kept in gentle motion. WTien planted on dry ground, generally on land 
just cleared, a tree or two with thick crowns are left standing in every 
field, which, as the natives justly conclude, attracts the moisture, and 
favours the growth of the crop. When the crop is gathered in, the tops 
of the tubers are cut off, and at once replanted. The yoimg leaves may 
be eaten like Spinach ; but, like the root, they require to be well cooked 
in order to destroy the acridity peculiar to Aroideous plants." (Seemann, 
Flora Vitiensis.) See also under Kurilangi. 

Thama. The outrigger of a canoe. 

Thevunga. This is (Amo7ninn Cevuga, Seemann) a tall-growing Ginger-wort, 
the showy crimson and very aromatic flower of which the Fijians make 
great use in the garlands with which they decorate their persons. The 
specific name Cevuga, given to it by Seemann, who first described it, is 
interesting. Seemann made use of its native Fijian name thevunga, 
but, adopting the system of spelling introduced by the Wesleyan mis- 
sionaries, put a C for the Th (which is soft, as in English the) and omitted 
all indication of the A'^ sound before the G, thus unintentionally setting 
a difficult problem for any etymologically-minded botanist. 

Thon'ge The so-called ' Barking Pigeon ' is a species of Carpophagus. 

248 Glossary. 

Tivitivi. " The name of a small square-tailed fish, something of the shape 
of a hatchet, from which hatchets most probably receive their name, 
being called tivi tivi." — (Hazlewood.) 

Tokelau. A name conamonly given to the natives of the Gilbert Islands and 
Line Islands, who have in the past been transferred, or have transferred 
themselves, as temporary labourers to many parts of the Pacific distant 
from their homes. To these migrants is attributed, rightly or wrongly 
the dissemiination of a repulsive skin-disease known as ' Tokelau ring- 

Tui. The title in old days of the Chief of a place, e.g. Tui Mbau, Chief of 
Mbau, or, the early European visitors translated. King of Mbau. 

Undro-undro. Said to have been the personal name of the cannibal fork of 
a notorious Namosi Chief. 

Vakaviti. A very conunon phrase which may be translated ' in Fijian 
fashion ' ; e.g. a Fijian who on returning to the Islands after serving in 
Europe with the Labour Corps put off his uniform and put on his stilu 
would be said to be again dressed vakaviti. 

Vau. The fibre from one or more species of Hibiscus, chiefly H. tiliaceus, 

Vesi. A tree ( Afzelia hijuga) from the wood of which the natives made their 
canoes, headrests, yangona bowls, clubs and almost every other utensil 
which they needed. 

Yinaka. An exclamation of approval, as we say ' Good ! ' 

Wan'ga. A canoe, apparently generally used of a sailing canoe. 

Tangona. The customary drink, called ' kava ' in more piirely Polynesian 
islands, as for instance in Tonga and Samoa. 

E. IM T. 



Ai ToMBi (plait of hair indicating virginity) 

Ala Loto Alofa (the Road of the Loving Heart) 

Alamanda, hedge of . . . 

Amari, Ratu, in war-dress 

Ambition, Fijian lack of 

Amra, Government Contract Steamer 

Anchor of first ship wrecked at Mbau 

Andi, Fijian Lady's title 

Angaha, on Niuafou or Hope Island 

Apology, a Fijian . 

Aquarium at Honolulu 

Aristocracy, Fijian regard for 

Art, Poverty of Native 

Atolls ..... 

Avava trees, peculiar to Tonga 

Atua, sailed in S.S. 

„ taking the mail to Niuafou 


187, 203 

Babies, Fijian ..... 
Baby, King of Tonga's .... 
Bachelor's diffic\alty in reaching heaven . 
,, quarters .... 

Back, Fijian objection to turning his 
Baker, Rev. J., Missionary, killed and eaten 
Ball, fancy dress, at sugar-estate 
Bamboo, Fish -fence made of . 
„ knives and forks of . 

„ screen of, for bathers 

,, as water vessels 

Bananas, cooked green, as vegetables 
Band, Hawaian ..... 
Baskets of coconut palm-leaf 
Bathing pool at Nukuloa 
Beche-de-mer, expedition for, to Fiji 

„ pot for boiling, at Namosi 

Berry, Mr. , Manager of Lambasa sugar-mill 
Birds, scarcity of . 
„ fearlessness of 
„ mynah 

„ on the shore, Picture ot 
„ the sacred bird of Fiji . 

30, 50, 51 






46, 178 










Bread fruit, leaves used as plates . 


,, sliced and toasted 


„ picture of . 


Bridge, Native ...... 

. 79, 86 

,, fall from ...... 


Butterflies, scarcity of . 


Calliope, H.M.S., saved by Captain Kane 
Calvert, Rev. James, arrival at Lakemba 
Cannibal dish .... 

„ family at Namosi 

Cannibalism, account of 

,, practised at Nasongo, 1874 

,, last instance in Fiji 

Canoes ..... 

Canoe-making at Rewa 
Canoe, toy, picture of . 
Canoe, travelling in . . . 

,, commandeered [' kere-kere'd '] by Chief 
Cessionof Fiji (1875) . 
Chants accompanying war dances and yangona drinking 
Cheeks, red, Fijian surprise at 
Chief's house, description of . 

,, superiority to commoners 
Climate ..... 

Club hotel, our quarters 
Coconut, spelling of word 
Coconut salad .... 
Comb, importance of, to natives 
Communal system, ill effect of, on Fijians 
Cook, Captain James, at Sandwich Islands 

,, gave name of Friendly Islands to Tongan group 
Copra (dried coconut) output reduced by hurricane . 
Coral, Iseauty of when growing 
Coral-reef at low tide 
Cow-keeping ordained by Government 
Cox, Mr. and Mrs., of Club Hotel . 
Cross, Rev. William, Missionary 
Crouching attitude as sign of respect 



60, 175 










08, 118 





79, 180 








207, 234 




11, 108 


122, 123 


Dais (of bamboo) as bed 
Dancing at Namosi 

,, at Tamanua 
Datura flowers .... 
Dengei (Ndengei), myths connected with 
Dombui, Ratu Saimoni . 

,, death of ... 

Dracaena leaves .... 
Dreketi, Ratu Tui 
Drum, see Lali .... 
Duncan, Mr., Manager of Tamanua Sugar 








114, 149-155 




57, 101 

33, 36, 80, 107 



Empress of Britain, sailed to Canada in 
Etiquette, stringent among Fijians 
Eye-trouble among Fijians 






Farewell, Fijian form of . . . 

Fenner, Mr., Manager of Nausori Sugar-mill 
Fiji Islands, number of . 

,, discovered by Tongans 

Fingers cut off in sign of mourning 
Fire, children playing with 

„ obtained by friction 
Fire-place, a hollow in house-floor 

,, walking 
Fish, curious tropical 

„ tropic, picture of 
Fishermen of Mbau 
Fishing on reef 
Flies, scarcity of . 
Fork, Cannibal 
Fruit, scarcity of ripe 
Fusi, Kandavu Levu's housekeeper 










7, 18 








113, 130 


Ganga-ni-Lawa, an old cannibal 
Graves, Fijian 
Grave -yard, Tongan 

93, 101 

99, 118, 142 



Haapai (in Tongan Group) touched at. 

Hair dressing ..... 

Hair, differently trimmed according to district 

Hair dyed curious colours 

Hair, our carriers attention to 

Hawaiians ..... 

Hibiscus ..... 

Hope Island (Niuafou) 

Hopkins, Mrs., engaged as guide and companion 

,, her family attacked by Tui Dreketi 
Hospital at Niikuloa 
House-bmlding .... 

Hull Island 

Hunt, Rev. John, Missionary at Viwa 
Hurricane, evidences of in Fiji 

„ at Apia 

„ at Haapai 

Hutson, Hon. Eyre 


. 12, 13 


90, 171 



6, 27, 87 

220, 223 







119, 122, 206 


Indian driver 


33, 112 
. 40, 41 




Indian four-year-old servant 


Indians, Indentured ..... 

42, 43 

,, settling in Fiji .... 


Indians as servants ..... 


Ivi trees, at Na Lotha ..... 


JoNi Mandraiwiwi, Roko Tui 
Joni Mataitini, Ratu 

109, 148, 188 


Kai na-Lotha ...... 

Kandavu Levu, Ratu, first sight of 

„ ,, ,, his departure from Mbau 

,, ,, ,, showing ruined spirit-house 

„ ,, ,, seeing us off 

,, ,, ,, death of 

Kane, Captain of H.M.S. Calliope . 
Kauvandra Mountains . 
Kerekere (old Fijian custom) 
Killing-stone, at Mbau, used as font 
,, at old town of Namosi 

" King-posts " (of Fijian house) 
Knight of St. George, wreck of, on reef 
Koro Korotuka, a peak in Ovalau . 
Kuru-ndua-ndua, his coming of age 
Kurilangi, a vegetable eaten with human flesh 


57, 59 



98, 121 






Laifoni, a Tongan Chief, mourning for 

Lali (wooden drum) 

Lambasa ..... 

Lamentations for death of child 

Lawe ndua, the Tropic, or sacred, bird of 

Lemon, wild trees, abundance of 

Leper segregation camp 

Levuka ..... 

Lomaloma ..... 



57, 69, 101, 148 

187, 190-203 





12, 188, 218 



Majobca ..... 

Major, Sir Charles 

IMakita leaves, as thatch for houses 

Makura, Victoria to Honolulu in S.S. 

Marita's tale .... 

Masi (beaten bark), streamers of 

Matai Lombau, on Rewa River 

Mata-ni-vanua (or herald) 

Mats, number and texture of indicate standing 

„ prepared for coming baby 
Mats worn in Tonga as sign of mourning 

. 49, 75 

164, 232 



66-59, 65 



129, 174 

48, 49 




Mbala-mbala (tree-fern), house-posts of . 
Mbalavu ...... 

Mbati-ni-kama, hot springs 

Mbau, first mention .... 

„ arrival at . 
Mbelo (a wading bird) .... 

Mbenga at low tide .... 

Mbenga, fire-walking at ... 

Mbokola (human flesh) said to be indigestible 
,, special ovens for 
,, never touched with the fingers . 
Mbolo, Ratu ..... 

Mbose vaka-Turanga (Great Council of Chiefs) 
Mbose vaka-Yasana (Provincial Council) 


Mbuliunakau (' bull or cow ') . 

Mbure (Native house), see House-building 

Mbutha Bay, touched at 

Mbutoni (sailors) paying tribute 

McBride, Sir Richard 

Meke, (war dance) 

by torchlight 

children learning 

head-dress, picture of 

Thevunga flowers for . 

suitable dress for boy . 

infant performer 

chants for .... 
Milk, scarce in Fijian villages 
Missionaries ..... 
Missionaries, courage of, respected . 
Missionaries, Native 
Missionary (Mr. Baker) killed and eaten 
Mosquitoes, distressing . 
Mourning mats, at Tonga 
Mynah birds, brought from India . 
„ „ picture of 

120, 139 



134, 1 

192, 208, 







17, 216 



160, 172 






, 71 






Naitonitoni, visit to . 
Na-Lotha, Bachelor's ball at . 

„ the terrible . 
Namosi .... 

Namuamua (Native Doctor's home) 
Na Quinqi, picnic at 
Nasongo .... 
Nausori, on Rewa River 
Na Vai, a mountain village 
Navua massacre . 
Navua River, Mouth of 
Ndengei (the chief Fijian ' God ') 
" Nettle Tree " . 
New Zealand, sailed for 
Niagara .... 

16, 21, 23 

. 62, 64 


80, 88-106 

81, 84, 107 



137, 186 




95, 157, 158 






Niuafou (Hope Island) 

• • • 



Nukviloa, Arrival at 


• • . 


,, Native artist at 




Nukualofa, capital of Tongan Islands 

. 232-4, 242, 


Nuku-wailala, picnic to 







Ono-i-Lau, independently sought 


religious instruction 


Ovens, Native 

• • ■ 


Ovalau, Island of . 




Phoenix Group . 



Phosphorescent lights 


Pig as member of family 


,, baked whole . 


Pillows or headrests 



Pope, Ratu Seniloli 



Pottery making at Rewa Town 


Prayers every evening . 


Prisoners help at picnic 


Privacy, none in Fijian house 


Puddings, Fijian . 


Qawa, River at Lambasa 



Rainfall in Fiji . 

Raiwanga on Navua River 

Rambi Island, touched at 

Rara like an English lawn 

Rat, picture of 

Rats, noisy . 

Rats stealing candles, soap, etc. 

Ratu, Fijian Chief's title, as ' Don ' in Spanish 

Resthouse (Government) at Nandarivatu 

Rewa, consecration stone of . 

Rewa River, size and extent of 

,, visit to 

Ring-worm, peculiar form of . 
Rocky Mountains 
Roko at Rewa 

,, installation of at Mbau 

,, the chief native official 
Roman Catholic Church at Wai-ni-bokasi 

,, Catholicism at Namosi 
Route to Fiji 
Royal Pacific Hotel, Suva 

Rubbish heaps, absence of, from native villages 
Russell, Mr., Governor's Commissioner at Nandarivatu 

212, 214, 217 
17, 134 



Saimoni, see Dombui, Ratu Saimoni. 
Samoa ...... 

Sandwich Islands ..... 

Semi's portrait ..... 

Seanganga, last outbreak of cannibalism at 
Sensitive plant ..... 

Servant four years old .... 

Servants, Fijian ..... 

Servants, Indian ..... 

Servants' devotion .... 

Sewing machine ..... 

Shaddocks ...... 

Shamrock, Ratu Saimoni's canoe 

Shark catching and baking 

Shells (Tridacna), huge on beach at Nukualofa 

Sinnet, string of coconut fibre 

Smith and Harrison, Messrs., first sugar makers in Fiji 

Somosomo ...... 

Spence, Mr. Frank, Magistrate at Naitonitoni 

,, Mrs., good housewife 
Spirit house, construction of . 
Stevenson, Robert Louis 
Stones indicating five people eaten 
Stones, Killing ..... 

Strangling of widows .... 

Sukuna, Ratu, his full name . 

,, ,, information about yangona 

„ ,, his visit to Wroxham 

Sunday, Fijian observance of 
Superstitions ..... 

Surf-riding at Honolulu 
Sutherland, Mr., Native Commissioner 
Suva, arrived at . 
returned to . 




11, 12, 108 



200, 201 




62, 137, 147 

87, 107 




24, 117, 126, 235 
188, 203 
98, 120 
98, 120 

64, 67, 140, 147 

72, 50, 53, 157 



. 9-10 

108, 186, 207, 217 

Tahiti ..... 

Tamanua ..... 

Tambua (whale's tooth) 

Tanoa (" King " at Mbau, Thakombau's predecessor 

Tapa (native cloth) 

Taro, roasted and leaves boiled 

Tatooing ..... 

Thakombau, " King " of Fiji 

,, Andi 

Thama (outrigger) 
Thambia ..... 
Thevunga flowers .... 
Thon'ge, the barking pigeon . 
Tivitivi ..... 

Tokelau ring -worm 
Tombstones as door-steps 
Tongans discover Fiji 
Tongan Islands .... 
„ King, visit to Mbau . 



. 36-43, 107 

141, 174, 185, 215 

120, 140-141 

17, 99, 208 


95, 228 

119, 140, 141 


126-7, 182 












Tongan missions started by Wesleyans 

Torika, Andi, Ratu Pope's wife 

Tropic Bird, see Lawe ndua . 

Tui Vanua Vou, Ratu . 







9, 68 

Vaba (Stevenson's grave) 
Vailima (Stevenson's house) . 
Vanua Levu, arrival at 
Vau-tree fibre to strain yangona 
Vavau, Landed at 
Vuni-mbau .... 
Vermin, not met with . 
Vesi wood for canoe building . 
Victoria, British Columbia 
Viria, on Rewa River 
Viti Levu or " Great Fiji " 
Viwa mission started 






32, 4-4-80 


41, 182 


184, 185 




Wailangilala Lighthouse . 

Waindina River .... 

Wai-ni-mbokasi, halted at 

Wai-rua-rua .... 

Waisomosomo .... 

Wallace, Mrs., her account of deputation to Tanoa 

„ „ description of initiation ceremony 

Wanga ..... 

Warriors, shark's flesh reserved for 

Wesleyans in Fiji 120, 139 

Wife-beating ..... 

WUliams, Mr. Frank, Mrs. Hopkins' brother 
Wilson, Mr., Manager of banana estate at Viria 
Wreaths of flowers .... 

„ „ man wearing, picture of 


. 203 

91, 92, 97, 106 
144, 146 
41, 124-127 
192, 208, 209 
22, 212 
7, 16, 34, 83 


Yangona 69-74, 172 

Yangona bowl . . . . . . . . . 46, 115 

„ carried by two men . . . . . . .172 

drinking .... 74, 103, 131, 154, 168, 215 





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