"Madman, madman, the god will kill you."
"You may shout," answered the priest, "but you will not change me. I am going to worship Jehovah, the God of Papeiha." And with that he threw down the god at the feet of the teachers. One of them ran and brought a saw, and first cut off its head and then sawed it into logs. Some of the Rarotongans rushed away in dread. Others—even some of the newly converted Christians—hid in the bush and peered through the leaves to see what would happen. Papeiha lit a fire; the logs were thrown on; the first Rarotongan idol was burned.
"You will die," cried the priests of the fallen god. But to show that the god was just a log of wood, the teachers took a bunch of bananas, placed them on the ashes where the fire had died down, and roasted them. Then they sat down and ate the bananas.
The watching, awe-struck people looked to see the teachers fall dead, but nothing happened. The islanders then began to wonder whether, after all, the God of Papeiha was not the true God. Within a year they had got together hundreds of their wooden idols, and had burned them in enormous bonfires which flamed on the beach and lighted up the dark background of trees. Those bonfires could be seen far out across the Pacific Ocean, like a beacon light.
To-day the flames of love which Papeiha bravely lighted, through perils by water and club and cannibal feast, have shone right across the ocean, and some of the grandchildren of those very Rarotongans who were cannibals when Papeiha went there, have sailed away, as we shall see later on, to preach Papeiha's gospel of the love of God to the far-off cannibal Papuans on the steaming shores of New Guinea.
[Footnote 16: Pă-pay-ee-hă.]
[Footnote 17: Tay-ee-ay: ta-oo-a: fay-noo-ă: nay-ee.]
[Footnote 18: Va-hee-nay-ee-nō.]
[Footnote 19: Mă-kay-ă.]
[Footnote 20: Tă-pā-ee-roo.]
THE DAYBREAK CALL
John Williams (Date of Incident, 1839)
Two men leaned on the rail of the brig Camden as she swept slowly along the southern side of the Island of Erromanga in the Western Pacific. A steady breeze filled her sails. The sea heaved in long, silky billows. The red glow of the rising sun was changing to the full, clear light of morning.
The men, as they talked, scanned the coast-line closely. There was the grey, stone-covered beach, and, behind the beach, the dense bush and the waving fronds of palms. Behind the palms rose the volcanic hills of the island. The elder man straightened himself and looked keenly to the bay from which a canoe was swiftly gliding.
He was a broad, sturdy man, with thick brown hair over keen watchful eyes. His open look was fearless and winning. His hands, which grasped the rail, had both the strength and the skill of the trained mechanic and the writer. For John Williams could build a ship, make a boat and sail them both against any man in all the Pacific. He could work with his hammer at the forge in the morning, make a table at his joiner's bench in the afternoon, preach a powerful sermon in the evening, and write a chapter of the most thrilling of books on missionary travel through the night. Yet next morning would see him in his ship, with her sails spread, moving out into the open Pacific, bound for a distant island.
"It is strange," Williams was saying to his friend Mr. Cunningham, "but I have not slept all through the night."
How came it that this man, who for over twenty years had faced tempests by sea, who had never flinched before perils from savage men and from fever, on the shores of a hundred islands in the South Seas, should stay awake all night as his ship skirted the strange island of Erromanga?
It was because, having lived for all those years among the coral islands of the brown Polynesians of the Eastern Pacific, he was now sailing to the New Hebrides, where the fierce black cannibal islanders of the Western Pacific slew one another. As he thought of the fierce men of Erromanga he thought of the waving forests of brown hands he had seen, the shouts of "Come back again to us!" that he had heard as he left his own islands. He knew how those people loved him in the Samoan Islands, but he could not rest while others lay far off who had never heard the story of Jesus. "I cannot be content," he said, "within the narrow limits of a single reef."
But the black islanders were wild men who covered their dark faces with soot and painted their lips with flaming red, yet their cruel hearts were blacker than their faces, and their anger more fiery than their scarlet lips. They were treacherous and violent savages who would smash a skull by one blow with a great club; or leaping on a man from behind, would cut through his spine with a single stroke of their tomahawks, and then drag him off to their cannibal oven.
John Williams cared so much for his work of telling the islanders about God their Father, that he lay awake wondering how he could carry it on among these wild people. It never crossed his mind that he should hold back to save himself from danger. It was for this work that he had crossed the world.
"Let down the whale-boat." His voice rang out without a tremor of fear. His eyes were on the canoe in which three black Erromangans were paddling across the bay. As the boat touched the water, he and the crew of four dropped into her, with Captain Morgan and two friends, Harris and Cunningham. The oars dipped and flashed in the morning sun as the whale-boat flew along towards the canoe. When they reached it, Williams spoke in the dialects of his other islands, but none could the three savages in the canoe understand. So he gave them some beads and fish-hooks as a present to show that he was a friend and again his boat shot away toward the beach.
They pulled to a creek where a brook ran down in a lovely valley between two mountains. On the beach stood some Erromangan natives, with their eyes (half fierce, half frightened) looking out under their matted jungle of hair.
Picking up a bucket from the boat, Williams held it out to the chief and made signs to show that he wished for water from the brook. The chief took the bucket, and, turning, ran up the beach and disappeared. For a quarter of an hour they waited; and for half an hour. At last, when the sun was now high in the sky, the chief returned with the water.
Williams drank from the water to show his friendliness. Then his friend, Harris, swinging himself over the side of the boat, waded ashore through the cool, sparkling, shallow water and sat down. The natives ran away, but soon came back with cocoa-nuts and opened them for him to drink.
* * * * *
"See," said Williams, "there are boys playing on the beach; that is a good sign."
"Yes," answered Captain Morgan, "but there are no women, and when the savages mean mischief they send their women away."
Williams now waded ashore and Cunningham followed him. Captain Morgan stopped to throw out the anchor of his little boat and then stepped out and went ashore, leaving his crew of four brown islanders resting on their oars.
Williams and his two companions scrambled up the stony beach over the grey stones and boulders alongside the tumbling brook for over a hundred yards. Turning to the right they were lost to sight from the water-edge. Captain Morgan was just following them when he heard a terrified yell from the crew in the boat.
Williams and his friends had gone into the bush, Harris in front, Cunningham next, and Williams last. Suddenly Harris, who had disappeared in the bush, rushed out followed by yelling savages with clubs. Harris rushed down the bank of the brook, stumbled, and fell in. The water dashed over him, and the Erromangans, with the red fury of slaughter in their eyes, leapt in and beat in his skull with clubs.
Cunningham, with a native at his heels with lifted club, stooped, picked up a great pebble and hurled it full at the savage who was pursuing him. The man was stunned. Turning again, Cunningham leapt safely into the boat.
Williams, leaving the brook, had rushed down the beach to leap into the sea. Reaching the edge of the water, where the beach falls steeply into the sea, he slipped on a pebble and fell into the water.
Cunningham, from the boat, hurled stones at the natives rushing at Williams, who lay prostrate in the water with a savage over him with uplifted club. The club fell, and other Erromangans, rushing in, beat him with their clubs and shot their arrows into him until the ripples of the beach ran red with his blood.
The hero who had carried the flaming torch of peace on earth to the savages on scores of islands across the great Pacific Ocean was dead—the first martyr of Erromanga.
* * * * *
When The Camden sailed back to Samoa, scores of canoes put out to meet her. A brown Samoan guided the first canoe.
"Missi William," he shouted.
"He is dead," came the answer.
The man stood as though stunned. He dropped his paddle; he drooped his head, and great tears welled out from the eyes of this dark islander and ran down his cheeks.
The news spread like wildfire over the islands, and from all directions came the natives crying in multitudes:
"Aue, Williamu, Aue, Tama!" (Alas, Williams, Alas, our Father!)
And the chief Malietoa, coming into the presence of Mrs. Williams, cried:
"Alas, Williamu, Williamu, our father, our father! He has turned his face from us! We shall never see him more! He that brought us the good word of Salvation is gone! O cruel heathen, they know not what they did! How great a man they have destroyed!"
John Williams, the torch-bearer of the Pacific, whom the brown men loved, the great pioneer, who dared death on the grey beach of Erromanga, sounds a morning bugle-call to us, a Reveille to our slumbering camps:
"The daybreak call, Hark how loud and clear I hear it sound; Swift to your places, swift to the head of the army, Pioneers, O Pioneers!"
[Footnote 21: A-oo-ay.]
[Footnote 22: Mă-lee-ay-to-ă.]
[Footnote 23: Walt Whitman.]
KAPIOLANI, THE HEROINE OF HAWAII
(Date of Incident, 1824)
"Pele the all-terrible, the fire goddess, will hurl her thunder and her stones, and will slay you," cried the angry priests of Hawaii. "You no longer pay your sacrifices to her. Once you gave her hundreds of hogs, but now you give nothing. You worship the new God Jehovah. She, the great Pele, will come upon you, she and the Husband of Thunder, with the Fire-Thruster, and the Red-Fire Cloud-Queen, they will destroy you altogether."
The listening Hawaiians shuddered as they saw the shaggy priests calling down the anger of Pele. One of the priests was a gigantic man over six feet five inches high, whose strength was so terrible that he could leap at his victims and break their bones by his embrace.
Away there in the volcanic island in the centre of the greatest ocean in the world—the Pacific Ocean—they had always as children been taught to fear the great goddess.
They were Christians; but they had only been Christians for a short time, and they still trembled at the name of the goddess Pele, who lived up in the mountains in the boiling crater of the fiery volcano, and ruled their island.
Their fathers had told them how she would get angry, and would pour out red-hot rivers of molten stone that would eat up all the trees and people and run hissing into the Pacific Ocean. There to that day was that river of stone—a long tongue of cold, hard lava—stretching down to the shore of the island, and here across the trees on the mountain-top could be seen, even now, the smoke of her anger. Perhaps, after all, Pele was greater than Jehovah—she was certainly terrible—and she was very near!
"If you do not offer fire to her, as you used to do," the priests went on, "she will pour down her fire into the sea and kill all your fish. She will fill up your fishing grounds with the pahoehoe (lava), and you will starve. Great is Pele and greatly to be feared."
The priests were angry because the preaching of the missionaries had led many away from the worship of Pele which, of course, meant fewer hogs for themselves; and now the whole nation on Hawaii, that volcanic island of the seas, seemed to be deserting her.
The people began to waver under the threats, but a brown-faced woman, with strong, fearless eyes that looked out with scorn on Pele priests, was not to be terrified.
"It is Kapiolani, the chieftainess," murmured the people to one another. "She is Christian; will she forsake Jehovah and return to Pele?"
Only four years before this, Kapiolani had—according to the custom of the Hawaiian chieftainesses, married many husbands, and she had given way to drinking habits. Then she had become a Christian, giving up her drinking and sending away all her husbands save one. She had thrown away her idols and now taught the people in their huts the story of Christ.
"Pele is nought," she declared, "I will go to Kilawea, the mountain of the fires where the smoke and stones go up, and Pele shall not touch me. My God, Jehovah, made the mountain and the fires within it too, as He made us all."
So it was noised through the island that Kapiolani, the queenly, would defy Pele the goddess. The priests threatened her with awful torments of fire from the goddess; her people pleaded with her not to dare the fires of Kilawea. But Kapiolani pressed on, and eighty of her people made up their minds to go with her. She climbed the mountain paths, through lovely valleys hung with trees, up and up to where the hard rocky lava-river cut the feet of those who walked upon it.
Day by day they asked her to go back, and always she answered, "If I am destroyed you may believe in Pele; if I live you must all believe in the true God, Jehovah."
As she drew nearer to the crater she saw the great cloud of smoke that came up from the volcano and felt the heat of its awful fires. But she did not draw back.
As she climbed upward she saw by the side of the path low bushes, and on them beautiful red and yellow berries, growing in clusters. The berries were like large currants.
"It is chelo," said the priests, "it is Pele's berry. You must not touch them unless we ask her. She will breathe fire on you."
Kapiolani broke off a branch from one of the bushes regardless of the horrified faces of the priests. And she ate the berries, without stopping to ask the goddess for her permission.
She carried a branch of the berries in her hand. If she had told them what she was going to do they would have been frenzied with fear and horror.
Up she climbed until the full terrors of the boiling crater of Kilawea burst on her sight. Before her an immense gulf yawned in the shape of the crescent moon, eight miles in circumference and over a thousand feet deep. Down in the smoking hollow, hundreds of feet beneath her, a lake of fiery lava rolled in flaming waves against precipices of rock. This ever-moving lake of molten fire is called: "The House of Everlasting Burning." This surging lake was dotted with tiny mountain islets, and, from the tops of their little peaks, pyramids of flame blazed and columns of grey smoke went up. From some of these little islands streams of blazing lava rolled down into the lake of fire. The air was filled with the roar of the furnaces of flame.
Even the fearless Kapiolani stood in awe as she looked. But she did not flinch, though here and there, as she walked, the crust of the lava cracked under her feet and the ground was hot with hidden fire.
She came to the very edge of the crater. To come so far without offering hogs and fish to the fiery goddess was in itself enough to bring a fiery river of molten lava upon her. Kapiolani offered nothing save defiance. Audacity, they thought, could go no further.
Here, a priestess of Pele came, and raising her hands in threat denounced death on the head of Kapiolani if she came further. Kapiolani pulled from her robe a book. In it—for it was her New Testament—she read to the priestess of the one true, loving Father-God.
Then Kapiolani did a thing at which the very limbs of those who watched trembled and shivered. She went to the edge of the crater and stepped over onto a jutting rock and let herself down and down toward the sulphurous burning lake. The ground cracked under her feet and sulphurous steam hissed through crevices in the rock, as though the demons of Pele fumed in their frenzy. Hundreds of staring, wondering eyes followed her, fascinated and yet horrified.
Then she stood on a ledge of rock, and, offering up prayer and praise to the God of all, Who made the volcano and Who made her, she cast the Pele berries into the lake, and sent stone after stone down into the flaming lava. It was the most awful insult that could be offered to Pele! Now surely she would leap up in fiery anger, and, with a hail of burning stones, consume Kapiolani. But nothing happened; and Kapiolani, turning, climbed the steep ascent of the crater edge and at last stood again unharmed among her people. She spoke to her people, telling them again that Jehovah made the fires. She called on them all to sing to His praise and, for the first time, there rang across the crater of Kilawea the song of Christians. The power of the priests was gone, and from that hour the people all over that island who had trembled and hesitated between Pele and Christ turned to the worship of our Lord Jesus, the Son of God the Father Almighty.
[Footnote 24: Pay-lay.]
[Footnote 25: Hah-wye-ee.]
[Footnote 26: Discovered by Captain Cook in 1778. The first Christian missionaries landed in 1819. Now the island is ruled by the United States of America.]
[Footnote 27: Pa-hō-e-hō-e.]
[Footnote 28: Kah-pee-ō-lă-nee. She was high female chief, in her own right, of a large district.]
[Footnote 29: Kil-a-wee-ă. The greatest active volcano in the world.]
[Footnote 30: Chay-lo.]
THE CANOE OF ADVENTURE
(Date of Incident, 1861)
"I know not where His islands lift Their fronded palms in air; I only know I cannot drift Beyond His love and care."
Manihiki Island looked like a tiny anchored canoe far away across the Pacific, as Elikana glanced back from his place at the tiller. He sang, meantime, quietly to himself an air that still rang in his ears, the tune that he and his brother islanders had sung in praise of the Power and Providence of God at the services on Manihiki. For the Christian people of the Penrhyn group of South Sea Islands had come together in April, 1861, for their yearly meeting, paddling from the different quarters in their canoes through the white surge of the breakers that thunder day and night round the island.
Elikana looked ahead to where his own island of Rakahanga grew clearer every moment on the sky-line ahead of them, though each time his craft dropped into the trough of the sea between the green curves of the league-long ocean rollers the island was lost from sight.
He and his six companions were sailing back over the thirty miles between Manihiki and Rakahanga, two of the many little lonely ocean islands that stud the Pacific like stars.
They sailed a strange craft, for it cannot be called raft or canoe or hut. It was all these and yet was neither. Two canoes, forty-eight feet long, sailed side by side. Between the canoes were spars, stretching across from one to the other, lashed to each boat and making a platform between them six feet wide. On this was built a hut, roofed with the beautiful braided leaves of the cocoa-nut palm.
Overhead stretched the infinite sky. Underneath lay thousands of fathoms of blue-green ocean, whose cold, hidden deeps among the mountains and valleys of the awful ocean under-world held strange goblin fish-shapes. And on the surface this hut of leaves and bamboo swung dizzily between sky and ocean on the frail canoes. And in the canoes and the hut were six brown Rakahangan men, two women, and a chubby, dark-eyed child, who sat contented and tired, being lapped to sleep by the swaying waters.
Above them the great sail made of matting of fibre, strained in the breeze that drove them nearer to the haven where they would be. Already they could see the gleam of the Rakahanga beach with the rim of silver where the waves broke into foam. Then the breeze dropped. The fibre-sail flapped uneasily against the mast, while the two little canvas sails hung loosely, as the wind, with little warning, swung round, and smiting them in the face began to drive them back into the ocean again.
Elikana and his friends knew the sea almost like fish, from the time they were babies. And they were little troubled by the turn of the breeze, save that it would delay their homecoming. They tried in vain to make headway. Slowly, but surely they were driven back from land, till they could see that there was no other thing but just to turn about and let her run back to Manihiki. In the canoes were enough cocoa-nuts to feed them for days if need be, and two large calabashes of water.
The swift night fell, but the wind held strong, and one man sat at the tiller while two others baled out the water that leaked into the canoes. They kept a keen watch, expecting to sight Manihiki; but when the dawn flashed out of the sky in the East, where the island should have been, there was neither Manihiki nor any other land at all. They had no chart nor compass; north and south and east and west stretched the wastes of the Pacific for hundreds of leagues. Only here and there in the ocean, and all unseen to them, like little groups of mushrooms on a limitless prairie, lay groups of islets.
They might, indeed, sail for a year without ever sighting any land; and one storm-driven wave of the great ocean could smite their little egg-shell craft to the bottom of the sea.
They gathered together in the hut and with anxious faces talked of what they might do. They knew that far off to the southwest lay the islands of Samoa, and Rarotonga. So they set the bows of their craft southward. Morning grew to blazing noon and fell to evening and night, and nothing did they see save the glittering sparkling waters of the uncharted ocean, cut here and there by the cruel fin of a waiting shark. It was Saturday when they started; and night fell seven times while their wonderful hut-boat crept southward along the water, till the following Friday. Then the wind changed, and, springing up from the south, drove them wearily back once more in their tracks, and then bore them eastward.
For another week they drove before the breeze, feeding on the cocoa-nuts. But the water in the calabashes was gone. Then on the morning of the second Friday, the fourteenth day of their sea-wanderings, just when the sun in mid heaven was blazing its noon-heat upon them and most of the little crew were lying under the shade of the hut and the sail to doze away the hours of tedious hunger, they heard the cry of "Land!" and leaping to their feet gazed ahead at the welcome sight. With sail and paddle they urged the craft on toward the island.
Then night fell, and with it squalls of wind and rain came and buffeted them till they had to forsake the paddles for the bailing-vessels to keep the boat afloat. Taking down the sails they spread them flat to catch the pouring rain, and then poured this precious fresh water—true water of life to them—into their calabashes. But when morning came no land could be seen anywhere. It was as though the island had been a land of enchantment and mirage, and now had faded away. Yet hope sprang in them erect and glad next day when land was sighted again; but the sea and the wind, as though driven by the spirits of contrariness, smote them back.
For two more days they guided the canoe with the tiller and tried to set her in one steady direction. Then, tired and out of heart, after sixteen days of ceaseless and useless effort, they gave it up and let her drift, for the winds and currents to take her where they would.
At night each man stood in his canoe almost starving and parched with thirst, with aching back, stooping to dip the water from the canoe and rising to pour it over the side. For hour after hour, while the calm moon slowly climbed the sky, each slaved at his dull task. Lulled by the heave and fall of the long-backed rollers as they slid under the keels of the canoes, the men nearly dropped asleep where they stood. The quiet waters crooned to them like a mother singing an old lullaby—crooned and called, till a voice deep within them said, "It is better to lie down and sleep and die than to live and fight and starve."
Then a moan from the sleeping child, or a sight of a streaming ray of moonlight on the face of its mother would send that nameless Voice shivering back to its deep hiding-place—and the man would stoop and bail again.
Each evening as it fell saw their anxious eyes looking west and north and south for land, and always there was only the weary waste of waters. And as the sun rose, they hardly dared open their eyes to the unbroken rim of blue-grey that circled them like a steel prison. They saw the thin edge of the moon grow to full blaze and then fade to a corn sickle again as days and nights grew to weeks and a whole month had passed.
Every morning, as the pearl-grey sea turned to pink and then to gleaming blue, they knelt on the raft between the canoes and turned their faces up to their Father in prayer, and never did the sun sink behind the rim of waters without the sound of their voices rising into the limitless sky with thanks for safe-keeping.
Slowly the pile of cocoa-nuts lessened. Each one of them with its sweet milk and flesh was more precious to them than a golden chalice set with rubies. The drops of milk that dripped from them were more than ropes of pearls.
At last eight Sundays had followed one upon another; and now at the end of the day there was only the half of one cocoa-nut remaining. When that was gone—all would be over. So they knelt down under the cloudless sky on an evening calm and beautiful. They were on that invisible line in the Great Pacific where the day ends and begins. Those seven on the tiny craft were, indeed, we cannot but believe, the last worshippers in all the great world-house of God as Sunday drew to its end just where they were. Was it to be the last time that they would pray to God in this life?
Prayer ended; night was falling. Elikana the leader, who had kept their spirits from utterly failing, stood up and gazed out with great anxious eyes before the last light should fail.
"Look, there upon the edge of the sea where the sun sets. Is it—" He could hardly dare to believe that it was not the mirage of his weary brain. But one and another and then all peered out through the swiftly waning light and saw that indeed it was land.
Then a squall of wind sprang up, blowing them away from the land. Was this last hope, by a fine ecstasy of torture, to be dangled before them and then snatched away? But with the danger came the help; with the wind came the rain; cool, sweet, refreshing, life-giving water. Then the squall of wind dropped and changed. They hoisted the one sail that had not blown to tatters, and drove for land.
Yet their most awful danger still lay before them. The roar of the breakers on the cruel coral reef caught their ears. But there was nothing for it but to risk the peril. They were among the breakers which caught and tossed them on like eggshells. The scourge of the surf swept them; a woman, a man—even the child, were torn from them and ground on the ghastly teeth of the coral. Five were swept over with the craft into the still, blue lagoon, and landing they fell prone upon the shore, just breathing and no more, after the giant buffeting of the thundering rollers, following the long, slow starvation of their wonderful journey in the hut on the canoes among "the waters of the wondrous isles."
"Wake: the silver dusk returning Up the beach of darkness brims, And the ship of sunrise burning Strands upon the eastern rims."
Thrown up by the ocean in the darkness like driftwood, Elikana and his companions lay on the grey shore. Against the dim light of the stars and beyond the beach of darkness they could see the fronds of the palms waving. The five survivors were starving, and the green cocoa-nuts hung above them, filled with food and drink. But their bodies, broken and tormented as they were by hunger and the battering breakers, refused even to rise and climb for the food that meant life. So they lay there, as though dead.
* * * * *
Over the ridge of the beach came a man. His pale copper skin shone in the fresh sunlight of the morning. His quick black eyes were caught by the sight of torn clothing hanging on a bush. Moving swiftly down the beach of pounded coral, he saw a man lying with arms thrown out, face downward. Turning the body over Faivaatala found that the man was dead. Taking the body in his arms he staggered with it up the beach, and placed it under the shade of the trees. Returning he found the living five. Their gaunt bodies and the broken craft on the shore told him without words the story of their long drifting over the wilderness of the waters.
Without stopping to waste words in empty sympathy with starving men, Faivaatala ran to the nearest cocoa-nut tree and, climbing it, threw down luscious nuts. Those below quickly knocked off the tops, drank deep draughts of the cool milk and then ate. Coming down again, Faivaatala kindled a fire and soon had some fish grilling for these strange wanderers thrown up on the tiny islet.
They had no time to thank him before he ran off and swiftly paddled to Motutala, the island where he lived, to tell the story of these strange castaways. He came back with other helpers in canoes, and the five getting aboard were swiftly paddled to Motutala.
As the canoes skimmed over the surface of the great lagoon Elikana and his friends could see, spread out in a great semi-circle that stretched to the horizon, the long low coral islets crowned with palms which form part of the Ellice Islands.
The islanders, men, women, and children, ran down the beach to see the newcomers and soon had set apart huts for them and made them welcome. Elikana gathered them round him, and began to tell them about the love of Jesus and the protecting care of God the Father. It all seemed strange to them, but quickly they learned from him, and he began to teach them and their children. This went on for four months, till one day Elikana said: "I must go away and learn more so that I can teach you more."
But they had become so fond of Elikana that they said: "No, you must not leave us," and it was only when he promised to come back with another teacher to help him, that they could bring themselves to part with him. So when a ship came to the island to trade in cocoa-nuts Elikana went aboard and sailed to Samoa to the London Missionary Society's training college there at Malua.
* * * * *
"A ship! A ship!" The cry was taken up through the island, and the people running down the beach saw a large sailing vessel. Boats put down and sculls flashed as sailors pulled swiftly to the shore.
They landed and the people gathered round to see and to hear what they would say.
"Come onto our ship," said these men, who had sailed there from Peru, "and we will show you how you can be rich with many knives and much calico."
But the islanders shook their heads and said they would stay where they were. Then a wicked white man named Tom Rose, who lived on the island and knew how much the people were looking forward to the day when Elikana would come back to teach them, went to the traders and whispered what he knew to them.
So the Peruvian traders, with craft shining in their eyes, turned again to the islanders and said: "If you will come with us, we will take you where you will be taught all that men can know about God."
At this the islanders broke out into glad cries and speaking to one another said: "Let us go and learn these things."
The day came for sailing, and as the sun rose, hundreds of brown feet were running to the beach, children dancing with excitement, women saying "Goodbye" to their husbands—men, who for the first time in all their lives were to leave their tiny islet for the wonderful world beyond the ocean.
So two hundred of them went on board. The sails were hoisted and they went away never to return; sailed away not to learn of Jesus, but to the sting of the lash and the shattering bullet, the bondage of the plantations, and to death at the hands of those merciless beasts of prey, the Peruvian slavers.
* * * * *
Years passed and a little fifty-ton trading vessel came to anchor outside the reef. One man and then another and another got down into the little boat and pulled for the shore. Elikana had returned. The women and children ran down to meet him—but few men were there, for nearly all had gone.
"Where is this one? Where is the other?" cried Elikana, with sad face as he looked around on them.
"Gone, gone," came the answer; "carried away by the man-stealing ships."
Elikana turned to the white missionary who had come with him, to ask what they could do.
"We will leave Joane and his wife here," replied Mr. Murray.
* * * * *
So a teacher from Samoa stayed there and taught the people, while Elikana went to begin work in an island near by.
To-day a white lady missionary has gone to live in the Ellice Islands, and the people are Christians, and no slave-trader can come to snatch them away.
So there sailed over the waters of the wondrous isles first the boat of sunrise and then the ship of darkness, and last of all the ship of the Peace of God. The ship of darkness had seemed for a time to conquer, but her day is now over; and to-day on that beach, as the sunlight brims over the edge of the sea, and a new Lord's Day dawns, you may hear the islanders sing their praise to the Light of the World, Who shines upon them and keeps them safe.
[Footnote 31: Fă-ee-vă tă lā.]
THE ARROWS OF SANTA CRUZ
(Date of Incident—August 15th, 1864)
The brown crew of The Southern Cross breathed freely again as the anchor swung into place and the schooner began to nose her way out into the open Pacific. They were hardened to dangers, but the Island of Tawny Cannibals had strained their nerve, by its hourly perils from club and flying arrow. The men were glad to see their ship's bows plunge freely again through the long-backed rollers.
As they set her course to the Island of Santa Cruz the crew talked together of the men of the island they had left. In his cabin sat a great bronzed bearded man writing a letter to his own people far away on the other side of the world. Here are the very words that he wrote as he told the story of one of the dangers through which they had just passed on the island:
"As I sat on the beach with a crowd about me, most of them suddenly jumped up and ran off. Turning my head I saw a man (from the boat they saw two) coming to me with club uplifted. I remained sitting and held out a few fish-hooks to him, but one or two men jumped up and, seizing him by the waist, forced him off.
"After a few minutes I went back to the boat. I found out that a poor fellow called Moliteum was shot dead two months ago by a white trader for stealing a bit of calico. The wonder was, not that they wanted to avenge the death of their kinsman, but that others should have prevented it. How could they possibly know that I was not one of the wicked set? Yet they did.... The plan of going among the people unarmed makes them regard me as a friend."
Then he says of these men who had just tried to kill him: "The people, though constantly fighting, and cannibals and the rest of it, are to me very attractive."
The ship sailed on till they heard ahead of them the beating of the surf on the reef of Santa Cruz. Behind the silver line of the breakers the waving fronds of her palms came into sight. They put The Southern Cross in, cast anchor, and let a boat down from her side. Into the boat tumbled a British sailor named Pearce, a young twenty-year-old Englishman named Atkin, and three brown South-Sea Island boys from the missionary training college for native teachers on Norfolk Island, and their leader, Bishop Patteson, the white man who, having faced the clubs of savages on a score of islands, never flinched from walking into peril again to lead them to know of "the best Man in the world, Jesus Christ." These brown boys were young helpers of Bishop Patteson. And one of them especially, Fisher Young, would have died for his great white leader gladly. They were like father and son.
The reef, covered at mid-tide with curling waters mottled with the foam of the broken waves, was alive with men; while the beach beyond was black with crowds of the wild islanders who had come down to see the strange visitors from the ship. The four men sculled the boat on to the edge of the reef and then rested on their oars as Patteson swung himself over the side into the cool water. He waded across the reef between the hosts of savages, and in every hand was a club or spear or a six-foot wooden bow with an arrow ready to notch in its bamboo string.
Patteson had come to make friends with them. So he entered a dark wattled house and sat down to talk. The doorway was filled with the faces of wondering men. As he looked on them a strange gleam of longing came into his eyes and a smile of great tenderness softened the strength of his brown face—the longing and the tenderness of a shepherd looking for wandering sheep who are lost on the wild mountains of the world.
Then he rose, left the house, and went back to the boat. The water was now one seething cauldron of men—walking, splashing, swimming. Some, as Patteson climbed into his boat, caught hold of the gunwale and could hardly be made to loosen their hold. The four young fellows in the boat swung their oars and got her under way, but they had made barely half a dozen strokes when, without warning, an arrow whizzed through the air into the boat. A cloud of arrows followed.
Six canoes were now filled with savage Santa Cruzans, who surrounded the boat and joined in the shooting. Patteson, who was in the stern between his boys and the bowmen, had not shipped the rudder, so he held it up, as the boat shot ahead of the canoes, to shield off arrows.
Turning round to see whither his now rudderless boat was being pulled, he saw that they were heading for a little bay in the reef, which would have wrecked their hopes of safety.
"Pull, port oars, pull on steadily," shouted Patteson; and they made for The Southern Cross.
As he called to them he saw Pearce, the young British sailor, lying between the thwarts with the long shaft of an arrow in his chest, and a young Norfolk Islander with an arrow under his left eye. The arrows flew around them in clouds, and suddenly Fisher Young—the nineteen-year-old Polynesian whom he loved as a son—who was pulling stroke, gave a faint scream. He was shot through the left wrist.
"Look out, sir! close to you," cried one of his crew. But the arrows were all around him. All the way to the schooner the canoes skimmed over the water chasing the boat. The four youths, including the wounded, pulled on bravely and steadily. At last they reached the ship and climbed on board, while the canoes—fearing vengeance from the men on the schooner—turned and fled.
Once aboard, Bishop Patteson knelt by the side of Pearce, drew out the arrow which had run more than five inches deep into his chest, and bound up his wound. Turning to Fisher, he found that the arrow had gone through the wrist and had broken off in the wound. Taking hold of the point of the arrow where it stood out on the lower side of the wrist, Patteson pulled it through, though the agony of the boy was very great.
The arrows were wooden-headed and not poisoned. The wounds seemed to be healing, but a few days later Fisher said, "I can't make out what makes my jaws feel so stiff."
Fisher Young was the grandson of fierce, foul Pitcairn Island cannibals, and was himself a brave and pure Christian lad. He had faced death with his master many times on coral reefs, in savage villages, on wild seas and under the clubs of Pacific islanders. Now he was face to face with something more difficult than a swift and dangerous adventure—the slow, dying agony of lockjaw. He grew steadily worse in spite of everything that Patteson could do.
Near to the end he said faintly, "Kiss me; I am very glad I was doing my duty. Tell my father that I was in the path of duty, and he will be so glad. Poor Santa Cruz people!"
He spoke in that way of the people who had killed him. The young brown hero lies to-day, as he would have wished, in the port that was named after the Bishop whom he loved, and who was his hero, Port Patteson.
"I loved him," said Patteson, "as I think I never loved anyone else." Fisher's love to his Bishop had been that of a youth to the hero whom he worships, but Patteson had led that brown islander still further, for he had taught the boy to love the Hero of all heroes, Jesus Christ.
FIVE KNOTS IN A PALM LEAF
The Death of Patteson
(Date of Incident, September 20th, 1871)
The masts of the schooner The Southern Cross swung gently to and fro across the darkening sky as the long, calm rollers of the Pacific slipped past her hull. Her bows spread only a ripple of water as the slight breeze bore her slowly towards the island of Nukapu.
On deck stood a group of men, their brown faces turned to a tall, bearded man. As the light of the setting sun gleamed on his bronze face, it kindled his brave eyes and showed the grave smile that played about the corners of his mouth. They all looked on him with that worship which strong men give to a hero, who can be both brave and kindly. But "he wist not that his face shone" for them.
Patteson read to these young men from a Book; and the words that he read were these: "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' And he knelt down and cried, with a loud voice, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge'; and when he had said this, he fell asleep."
When he had spoken to them strongly on these words and said how it may come to any man who worships Jesus to suffer so, Bishop Patteson and all except the man on watch went to their sleep. The South Sea Island men and the young Englishman who were there remembered all their lives what Patteson had said that evening; partly because these men themselves had seen him brave such a death as Stephen's again and again, and, indeed, they had themselves stood in peril by his side face to face with threatening savages, but even more because of the adventure that came to them on the next day.
At dawn they sighted land, and by eleven o'clock they were so near that they could see, shimmering in the heat of the midsummer sun, the white beach of coral sand and the drooping palms that make all the island of Nukapu green. Looking out under their hands to the island, the men aboard The Southern Cross could see four great canoes, with their sails set, hovering like hawks about the circling reef which lay between them and the island. On the reef the blue waves beat and broke into a gleaming line of cool white foam.
The slight breeze was hardly strong enough to help the ship to make the island. It was as though she knew the danger of that day and would not carry Patteson and his men into the perils that lay hidden behind the beauty of that island of Nukapu.
Patteson knew the danger. He knew that, but a little time before their visit, white men had come in a ship, had let down their boats and rowed to the men of the island, had pretended to make friends, and then, shooting some and capturing others, had sped back to the ship, carrying off the captives to work for them on the island of Fiji. The law of the savages of the islands was "Blood for blood." And to them all white men belonged to one tribe. The peril that lay before Patteson was that they might attack him in revenge for the foul crime of those white traders.
Just before noon the order was given to lower a boat from The Southern Cross. Patteson went down into it, and sat in the stern, while Mr. Atkin (his English helper), Stephen Taroniara, James Minipa, and John Nonono came with him to row. The boat swung toward the reef. Between the reef and the island lay two miles of the blue and glittering lagoon.
By the time the boat reached the reef six canoes full of warriors had come together there. The tide was not high enough to float the boat across the reef. The Nukapuan natives said they would haul the boat up on to the reef, but the Bishop did not think it wise to consent. Then two of the savages said to "Bisipi," as they called the Bishop:
"Will you come into our canoe?"
Without a moment's hesitation, knowing that confidence was the best way to win them, he stepped into the canoe. As he entered they gave him a basket with yams and other fruit in it.
As the tide was low, the Bishop and the savages were obliged to wade over the reef, dragging the canoe across to the deeper lagoon within. The boat's crew of The Southern Cross stopped in the outer sea, drifting on the tide with the other four Nukapu canoes. They watched the Bishop cross the lagoon in the canoe and land far off upon the beach. Then he went from their sight.
The brown men and the white man in the boat were trying to talk to the islanders in the remaining canoes outside the reef, when suddenly a savage jumped up in the nearest canoe, not ten yards from them, and called out in his native language:
"Have you anything like this?"
He drew his bow to his ear and shot a yard arrow. His companions in the other canoes leapt to their feet and sent showers of arrows whizzing at the men in the boat, shouting as they aimed:
"This for New Zealand man, this for Bernu man, this for Motu man."
Pulling away with all their speed, Patteson's men were soon out of range, but an arrow had nailed John Nonono's cap to his head. Stephen lay in the bottom of the boat with six arrows in his chest and shoulders. Mr. Atkin, the white man, had one in his left shoulder.
They reached the ship and were helped on board. The arrow head was drawn out from Mr. Atkin's shoulder, and was found to be made of a sharpened human bone. No sooner was the arrow head out than Mr. Atkin leapt back into the boat, insisting on going back to find Patteson. He alone knew how and where the reef could be crossed on the tide that was now rising.
So they got a boat's crew from the ship, put a beaker full of water and some food in the boat, and pulled toward the reef.
At half-past four the tide was high enough to carry them across, and they rowed over, looking through their glasses anxiously at the white shore which was lined with brown figures. A canoe rowed out towards them bringing another canoe in tow. As the boat went towards the island, one canoe cast off the other, and went back; the second canoe drifted towards them slowly on the still waters of the blue lagoon.
As it came nearer they saw that in the middle of it lay Something motionless, covered with matting. They pulled alongside, leaned over the canoe, and lifted into their boat—the body of Patteson. The empty canoe now drifted away.
A yell went up from the savages on the shore. The boat was pulled towards the ship and then the body lifted up and laid on the deck. It had been rolled in the native matting as a shroud, tied at the head and feet. They unrolled the mat, and there on the face of the dead Bishop was still that wonderful, patient and winning smile, as of one who at the moment when his head was beneath the uplifted club said, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge," and had then fallen asleep.
There was a palm leaf fastened over his breast. In its long leaflets five knots were made. On the body, in the head, the side, and the legs were five wounds. And five men in Fiji were at work in the plantations—men captured from Nukapu by brutal white traders.
It was the vengeance of the savage—the call of "blood for blood"; and the death of Patteson lies surely upon the head of those white traders who carried death and captivity to the white coral shore of Nukapu.
[Footnote 32: Noo-kă-poo.]
[Footnote 33: Midsummer day on the Equator, September 21.]
THE BOY OF THE ADVENTUROUS HEART
Chalmers, the Boy
(Born 1841, martyred 1901)
The rain had poured down in such torrents that even the hardy boys of Inverary in Scotland had been driven indoors. Now the sky had cleared, and the sun was shining again after the great storm. The boys were out again, and a group of them were walking toward the little stream of Aray which tumbled through the glen down to Loch Fyne. But the stream was "little" no longer.
As the boys came near to the place called "The Three Bridges," where a rough wooden bridge crossed the torrent, they walked faster towards the stream, for they could hear it roaring in a perfect flood which shook the timbers of the bridge. The great rainfall was running from the hills through a thousand streamlets into the main torrent.
Suddenly there came a shout and a scream. A boy dashed toward them saying that one of his schoolmates had fallen into the rushing water, and that the full spate of the Aray was carrying him away down to the sea. The boys stood horrified—all except one, who rushed forward, pulling off his jacket as he ran, leapt down the bank to the lower side of the bridge, and, clinging to the timber, held to it with one arm while he stretched out the other as the drowning boy was being carried under the bridge, seized him, and held him tightly with his left hand.
James Chalmers—the boy who had gone to the rescue—though only ten years old, could swim. Letting go of the bridge, while still holding the other boy with one arm, he allowed the current to carry them both down to where the branches hung over the bank to the water's surface. Seizing one of these, he dragged himself and the boy toward the bank, whence he was helped to dry land by his friends.
The boy whom young James Chalmers had saved belonged to a rival school. Often the wild-blooded boys (like their fierce Highland ancestors who fought clan against clan) had attacked the boys of this school and had fought them. James, whose father was a stonemason and whose mother was a Highland lassie born near Loch Lomond, was the leader in these battles, but all the fighting was forgotten when he heard that a boy was in danger of his life, and so he had plunged in as swiftly to save him as he would have done for any boy from his own school.
We do not hear that James was clever at lessons in his school, but when there was anything to be done, he had the quickest hand, the keenest eye, the swiftest mind, and the most daring heart in all the village.
Though he loved the hills and glens and the mountain torrent, James, above everything else, revelled in the sea. One day a little later on, after the rescue of his friend from drowning, James stood on the quay at Inverary gazing across the loch and watching the sails of the fishing boats, when he heard a loud cry.
He looked round. There, on the edge of the quay, stood a mother wringing her hands and calling out that her child had fallen into the water and was drowning. James ran along the quay, and taking off his coat as he dashed to the spot, he dived into the water and, seizing the little child by the dress, drew him ashore. The child seemed dead, but when they laid him on the quayside, and moved his arms, his breath began to come and go again and the colour returned to his cheeks.
Twice Chalmers had saved others from drowning. Three times he himself, as the result of his daring adventures in the sea, was carried home, supposed to be dead by drowning.
At another time he, with two other boys, thrust a tarred herring-box into the sea from the sandy shore between the two rocky points where the western sea came up the narrow Loch Fyne.
"Look at James!" shouted one of the boys to his companions as Chalmers leapt into the box.
It almost turned over, and he swayed and rolled and then steadied as the box swung out from the shore.
The other boys, laughing and shouting, towed him and his boat through the sea as they walked along the shore. Suddenly, as they talked, they staggered forward. The cord had snapped and they fell on the sand, still laughing, but when they stood up again the laughter died on their lips. James was being swiftly carried out by the current to sea—and in a tarred herring-box! He had no paddle, and his hands were of no effect in trying to move the boat toward the shore.
The boys shouted. There came an answering cry from the door of a cottage in the village. A fisherman came swinging down the beach, strode to his boat, took the two boys into it, and taking an oar himself and giving the other to the two boys, they pulled out with the tide. They reached James and rescued him just as the herring-box was sinking. He went home to the little cottage where he lived, and his mother gave him a proper thrashing.
Some of James' schoolfellows used to go on Sundays to a school in Inverary. He made up his mind to join them. The class met in the vestry of the United Presbyterian Church there. After their lesson they went together into the church to hear a closing address. Mr. Meikle, the minister, who was also superintendent of the school, one afternoon took from his pocket a magazine (a copy of the "Presbyterian Record"). From this magazine he read a letter from a brave missionary in the far-off cannibal islands of Fiji. The letter told of the savage life there and of how, already, the story of Jesus was leading the men no longer to drag their victims to the cannibal ovens, nor to pile up the skulls of their enemies so as to show their own bravery. The writer said they were beginning happier lives in which the awful terror of the javelin and the club, and the horror of demons and witches was gone.
When Mr. Meikle had finished reading the magazine he folded it up again and then looked round on all the boys in the school, saying:
"I wonder if there is a boy here this afternoon who will become a missionary, and by and by bring the Gospel to other such cannibals as those?"
Even as the minister said those words, the adventurous heart of young Chalmers leapt in reply as he said to himself, "Yes, God helping me, I will."
He was just a freckled, dark-haired boy with hazel eyes, a boy tingling with the joy of the open air and with the love of the heave and flow of the sea. But when he made up his mind to do a thing, however great the difficulties or dangers, James usually carried it through.
So it came about that some years later in 1866, having been trained and accepted by the London Missionary Society, Chalmers, as a young man, walked across the gangway to a fine new British-built clipper ship. It had been christened John Williams after the great hero missionary who gave up his life on the beach of Erromanga.
This boy, who loved the sea and breathed deep with joy in the face of adventure and peril, had set his face towards the deep, long breakers of the far-off Pacific. He was going to carry to the South Seas the story of the Hero and Saviour Whom he had learnt to love within the sound of the Atlantic breakers that dashed and fretted against the rocks of Western Scotland.
[Footnote 34: See Chapter VII.]
THE SCOUT OF PAPUA
Chalmers, the Friend
(Date of Incident, about 1893)
The quick puffing of the steam launch Miro was the only sound to break the stillness of the mysterious Aivai River. On the launch were three white people—two men and a woman. They were the first who had ever broken the silence of that stream.
They gazed out under the morning sun along the dead level of the Purari delta, for they had left behind them the rolling breakers of the Gulf of Papua in order to explore this dark river. Away to the south rolled the blue waters between this vast island of New Guinea and Northern Australia.
They saw on either bank the wild tangle of twisted mangroves with their roots higher than a man, twined together like writhing serpents. They peered through the thick bush with its green leaves drooping down to the very water's edge. But mostly they looked ahead over the bow of the boat along the green-brown water that lay ahead of them, dappled with sunlight under the trees. For they were facing an unknown district where savage Papuans lived—as wild as hawks. They did not know what adventure might meet them at the next bend of the river.
"Splendid! Splendid!" cried one of the white men, a bearded giant whose flashing eyes and mass of brown hair gave him the look of a lion. "We will make it the white woman's peace. Bravo!" And he turned to Mrs. Abel, whose face lit up with pleasure at his happy excitement.
"No white man has even seen the people of Iala," said Tamate—for that was the native name given to James Chalmers, the Scottish boy who had now gone out to far-off Papua as a missionary. "Iko there"—and he pointed to a stalwart Papuan who stood by the funnel—"is the only one of us who has seen them and can speak their tongue.
"It is dangerous for your wife to go among these people," he went on, turning to Mr. Abel, "but she will help us more than anything else possibly can to make friends." And Mr. Abel nodded, for he knew that when the Papuans mean to fight they send their women and children away; and that when they saw Mrs. Abel they would believe that the white people came as friends and not enemies.
As the steamer carried this scouting party against the swift current up the river toward Iala, Tamate wanted to find how far up the river the village lay. So he beckoned Iko to him. Tamate did not know a word of the dialect which Iko spoke, but he had with him an old wrinkled Papuan, who knew Iko's language, and who looked out with worshipping eyes at the great white man who was his friend. So Tamate, wishing to ask Iko how far away the village of Iala was, spoke first to old Vaaburi, and then Vaaburi asked Iko.
Iko stretched out his dark forefinger, and made them understand that that finger meant the length of their journey to Iala. Then with his other hand he touched his forefinger under the second joint to show how far they had travelled on their journey—not a third of the distance.
Hour after hour went by, as the steamer drove her way through the swiftly running waters of Aivai. And ever Iko pointed further and further up his finger until at last they had reached his claw-like nail. By three o'clock the middle of the nail was reached. The eyes of all looked anxiously ahead. At every curve of the river they strained their sight to see if Iala were in view. How would these savage people welcome the white men and woman in their snorting great canoe that had no paddles, nor oars? There came a sharp bend in the river, and then a long straight reach of water lying between the forest-covered banks. Suddenly Iko called out, and Tamate and Mr. and Mrs. Abel peered ahead.
The great trees of the river nearly met above their heads, and only a narrow strip of sky could be seen.
There in the distance were the houses of Iala, close clustered on both banks of the steaming river. They stood on piles of wood driven into the mud, like houses on stilts, and their high-pointed bamboo roofs stood out over the river like gigantic poke-bonnets.
"Slow," shouted Tamate to the engineer. The Miro slackened speed till she just stemmed the running current and no more.
"It will be a bit of a shock to them," said Tamate to his friends, "to see this launch. We will give them time to get their wits together again."
Looking ahead through their glasses, the white men and Mrs. Abel could see canoes swiftly crossing and re-crossing the river and men rushing about.
"Full speed ahead," cried Tamate again, and then after a few revolutions of the engine, "Go slow. It will never do," he said, "to drop amongst them while they are in that state. They will settle down presently." And then, as he looked up at the sky between the waving branches of the giant trees, "we have got a good two hours' daylight yet," he said.
Life and death to Tamate and his friends hung in the balance, for they were three people unarmed, and here were dark savage warriors in hundreds. Everything depended on his choosing just the right moment for going into the midst of these people. So he watched them closely, knitting his shaggy eyebrows together as he measured their state of mind by their actions. He was the Scout of Christ in Papua, and he must be watchful and note all those things that escape most men but mean so much to trained eyes. Tamate seemed to have a strange gift that made him able, even where other men could tell nothing, to say exactly when it was, and when it was not, possible to go among a wild, untouched tribe.
Now the bewildered Ialan savages had grown quieter. Tamate called to the engineer to drive ahead once more. Slowly the launch forged her way through the running waters and drew nearer and nearer to the centre of Iala.
There on either side stood the houses in long rows stretching up the river, and on the banks hundreds of men stood silent and as still as trees. Their canoes lay half in and half out of the water ready for instant launching. In each canoe stood its crew erect and waiting. All the women and children had been sent away, for these men were out to fight. They did not know whether this strange house upon the water with the smoke coming from its chimney was the work of gods or devils. Still they stood there to face the strange thing and, if need be, to fight.
Brown Iko stood in the bows of the Miro; near him stood Tamate. Then the engine stopped and the anchor was dropped overboard. The savages stood motionless. Not a weapon could be seen. The engineer, hearing the anchor-chain rattle through the hole, blew the steam-whistle in simple high spirits. As the shriek of the whistle echoed under the arches of the trees, with the swiftness of lightning the Ialan warriors swung their long bows from behind their bodies. Without stooping each caught up an arrow that stood between his toes and with one movement fixed it and pulled the bamboo strings of their black bows till the notch of the arrows touched their ears. A hundred arrows were aimed at the hearts of Tamate and Mr. and Mrs. Abel.
Swiftly Iko stood upon the bulwark of the Miro, and shouted just one word at the top of his voice. It was the Ialan word for "Peace." And again he shouted it, and yet again "Peace, Peace!"
Then he cried out "Pouta!" It was the name of the chief of these savages. They had but to let the arrows from their bows and all would have been over. There was silence. What order would Pouta give?
Then from the bank on their right came the sound of an answering voice. In a flash every arrow was taken from its bow, and again not a weapon was to be seen.
Iko then called out again to Pouta, and Tamate told Iko what he was to say to his friend, the savage chief. For some minutes the conversation went on. At last Iko came to the point of asking for a canoe to take them ashore.
Chief Pouta hesitated. Then he gave his command, and a large canoe was launched from the bank into the river and slowly paddled towards the Miro.
As the canoe came towards them, Tamate turned to Mrs. Abel, who had stood there without flinching with all the arrows pointed toward the boat; and he spoke words like these: "Your bravery is our strength. Seeing you makes them believe that we come for peace. You give them greater confidence in us than all our words."
By this time the canoe had paddled alongside the launch. Tamate went over the side first into the canoe, then Mrs. Abel, then Mr. Abel, Iko, and Vaaburi. The canoe pushed off again and paddled toward the landing place, where a crowd of Ialan savages filled every inch of space.
As soon as the bow of the canoe touched the bank, Tamate, without hesitating a second, stepped out with Iko. Together they walked up to the chief Pouta, and Tamate put his arms around him in an embrace of peace.
Pouta, standing on a high place, shouted to all his warriors. But none of the white people knew a word of his meaning.
Look where they would, in every direction, this white woman and the two men were completely surrounded by an unbroken mass of wild and armed savages, who stood gazing upon the strange apparitions in their midst.
Tamate, without a pause, perfectly calm, and showing no signs of fear, spoke to Pouta and his men through old Vaaburi and Iko.
"We have come," he said, "so that we may be friends. We have come without weapons. We have brought with us a woman of our tribe, for we come in peace. We are strangers. But we come with great things to tell. Some day we will come again and will stay with you and will tell you all our message. To-day we come only to make friends."
Then Iko closed his eyes and prayed in the language of the people of Iala.
Turning to his friends when the prayer was over, Tamate said quietly: "Now, we must get aboard as quickly as we possibly can. My plan for a first visit is to come, make friends and get away again swiftly. When we are gone they will talk to one another about us. Next time we come we shall meet friends."
So they walked down through an avenue of armed Papuans to the bank, and got into the canoe again: the paddles flashed as she drove swiftly through the water toward the launch. As they climbed her side, the anchor was weighed, the Miro swung round, her engines started, and, carried down by the swift stream, she slipped past the packed masses of silent men who lined the banks.
It is a great thing to be a pathfinder through a country which no man has penetrated before. But it is a greater thing to do as these missionary-scouts did on their journey up the Aivai and find a path of friendship into savage lives. To do that was the greatest joy in Tamate's life. For he said, when he had spent many years in this work:
"Recall the twenty-one years, give me back all its experiences, give me its shipwrecks, give me its standings in the face of death, give it me surrounded with savages with spears and clubs, give it me back again with spears flying about me, with the club knocking me to the ground, give it me back, and I will still be your missionary."
[Footnote 35: Pa-poo-ă.]
[Footnote 36: A-ee-vă-ee.]
[Footnote 37: Poo-ră-ree.]
[Footnote 38: Ee-ă-lă.]
[Footnote 39: He had spent some sixteen years in the South Sea Island of Rarotonga and had in 1877 become a pioneer among the cannibals of Papua (New Guinea).]
[Footnote 40: Vāā-boo-ree.]
[Footnote 41: Poo-o-tă.]
A SOUTH SEA SAMARITAN
Ruatoka (Date of Incident, about 1878)
It was a dark night and silent. The swish and lapping of the waters on the Port Moresby beach on the southern shore of the immense island of New Guinea, filled the air with a quiet hush of expectation.
In a little white house sat a tall, dark man with his wife. The man was Ruatoka. If you had asked "Who is Ruatoka?" of all the Papuans for miles around Port Moresby, they would have wondered at your ignorance. "Ruatoka," they would have told you, was a "Jesus man." He walked among their villages, and did not fear them when they threatened him with spears and clubs. He gave them medicines when they were ill, and nursed them. He spoke strong words to them which made their hearts turn to water within them when he showed that they did wrong. He often stopped them from fighting.
Ruatoka, with his wife, had sailed from the South Sea Islands with Tamate, who was to them their great hero.
"My fathers of old were heathen, savage men on the island of Mangaia," he would say. "The white men came to them and brought the story of Jesus. Now we are happy. But we, too, must go to the men of New Guinea, just as the white men came to us. To-day the New Guinea Papuans are savage cannibals and heathen. To-morrow they will know Jesus and be as happy as we are."
So Ruatoka had been trained as a teacher and preacher as well as a house-builder and carpenter; and his wife was taught how to teach children as well as good housekeeping.
This was the brown man, Ruatoka, who sat that night in his little house at Port Moresby on the shore behind the great reef of Papua. Suddenly there came a knock at his door. The door opened, and the black, frightened faces of Papuans, with staring eyes, looked at him.
"What is the matter?" he asked.
And they told him that, as they came at sunset along the path from the people of Larogi to Port Moresby, they found by the side of the path a white man. "He was dying," they said. "We were afraid to touch him. If we touched him and he died, his ghost would haunt us for evermore."
Ruatoka stood up at once and reached for his lantern, and turning to the men said:
"Come and guide me to the place."
They said, "No, we are afraid of the demon spirit. It is night. The man will die. We are afraid of the spirits. We will not go."
Ruatoka's father had told him when he was a boy how his own people in the years before had dreaded the spirit-demons of Mangaia, but that he must learn that there were no spirits to be dreaded; that one great Father-Spirit ruled above all, and would take care of His children, and that all those children must love one another.
So Rua, as they called him, knowing that the white man who lay sick by the roadside in the night, though of another colour, was yet a brother, and knowing that no demon spirit could harm him in the dark, lighted his lantern, poured water into a bottle, took a long piece of cloth, folded it up, and started out under the stars.
He walked for mile after mile up steep hills and down into valleys along the path; but nothing did he hear save the cry of a night bird. At last he had gone five miles, and was wondering whether he could ever find the sick man (for the long grass towered up on either side and all was still), when he heard a low moaning. Listening intently he found the direction of the sound, and then moved towards it. He found there, at the side of the path, a white man named Neville, nearly dead. He was moaning with the pain of the fever, yet unconscious.
Taking his bottle, Ruatoka poured a little water down the throat of the man. He then took the long piece of cloth, wound it round Neville, took the two ends in his hands, and stooping, he pulled and strained with all his great strength, until at last Neville lay like a sack upon his shoulders. Staggering along, Ruatoka climbed the hills that rose 300 feet high. Again and again he was bound to rest, for the man on his shoulders was as heavy as Ruatoka himself. He tottered down the hill path, and at last, just as the first light of dawn was breaking over the eastern hills, Ruatoka staggered into his home, laid the sick man upon the only bed he had, and then himself laid down upon the floor, wearied almost to death. There he slept while his wife nursed and tended the fever-stricken Neville back to life.
* * * * *
Over a thousand years before that day Wilfrid had brought life and joy to the starving Saxons of the South coast of England. A hundred years before that day white men, the great-great-grandchildren of those Saxons, had started out in The Duff and, sailing across the world, had taken life and joy in the place of the terror of demons and the death by the club to the men of the Islands of the Seas.
Now Ruatoka, the South Sea islander, having in his heart the same brave spirit of the Good Shepherd—that spirit of the Good Samaritan, of help and preparedness, of courage and of chivalry, had carried life and joy back to the North Sea islander, the Briton who had fallen by the roadside in Papua.
Ruatoka was a brown Greatheart. It was with him as it must be with all brave sons who serve that great Captain, Jesus Christ: he wanted to be in the front of the battle. When the great Tamate was killed and eaten by the cannibals of Goaribari, Ruatoka wrote a letter to a missionary who lived and still lives in Papua. This is the end of the letter:
"Hear my wish. It is a great wish. The remainder of my strength I would spend in the place where Tamate was killed. In that village I would live. In that place where they killed men, Jesus Christ's name and His word I would teach to the people that they may become Jesus' children. My wish is just this. You know it. I have spoken.
[Footnote 42: James Chalmers: see Chapter XIII.]
[Footnote 43: See Chapter II.]
Book Three: THE PATHFINDERS OF AFRICA
THE MAN WHO WOULD GO ON
(Dates born 1813, died 1873)
There was a deathly stillness in the hot African air as two bronzed Scots strode along the narrow forest path.
The one, a young, keen-eyed doctor, glanced quickly through the trees and occasionally turned aside to pick some strange orchid and to slip it into his collecting case. The other strode steadily along with that curious, "resolute forward tread" of his. He was David Livingstone. Behind them came a string of African bearers carrying in bundles on their heads the tents and food of the explorers.
Suddenly, with a crunch, Livingstone's heel went through a white object half hidden in the long grass—a thing like an ostrich's egg. He stooped—and his strong, bronzed face was twisted with mingled sorrow and anger, as, looking into the face of his younger friend, he gritted out between his clenched teeth, "The slave-raiders again!"
It was the whitening skull of an African boy.
For weeks those two Britons had driven their little steamer (the Asthmatic they called her, because of her wheezing engines) up the Zambesi river and were now exploring its tributary the Shire.
Each morning, before they could start the ship's engines, they had been obliged to take poles and push from between the paddles of the wheels the dead bodies of Africans—men, women, and children—slain bodies which had floated down from the villages that the Arab slave-raiders had burned and sacked. Livingstone was out on the long, bloody trail of the slaver, the trail that stretched on and on into the heart of Africa where no white man had ever been.
This negro boy's skull, whitening on the path, was only one more link in the long, sickening shackle-chain of slavery that girdled down-trodden Africa.
The two men strode on. The forest path opened out to a broad clearing. They were in an African village. But no voice was heard and no step broke the horrible silence. It was a village of death. The sun blazed on the charred heaps which now marked the sites of happy African homes; the gardens were desolate and utterly destroyed. The village was wiped out. Those who had submitted were far away, trudging through the forest, under the lash of the slaver; those who had been too old to walk or too brave to be taken without fight were slain.
The heart of Livingstone burned with one great resolve—he would track this foul thing into the very heart of Africa and then blazon its horrors to the whole world.
The two men trudged back to the river bank again. Now, with their brown companions, they took the shallow boat that they had brought on the deck of the Asthmatic, and headed still farther up the Shire river from the Zambesi toward the unknown Highlands of Central Africa.
Facing Spears and Arrows
Only the sing-song chant of the Africans as they swung their paddles, and the frightened shriek of a glittering parrot, broke the stillness as the boat pushed northward against the river current.
The paddles flashed again, and as the boat came round a curve in the river they were faced by a sight that made every man sit, paddle in hand, motionless with horror. The bank facing them in the next curve of the river was black with men. The ranks of savages bristled with spears and arrows. A chief yelled to them to turn back. Then a cloud of arrows flew over the boat.
"Go on," said Livingstone quietly to the Africans. Their paddles took the water and the boat leapt toward the savage semi-circle on the bank. The water was shallower now. Before any one realised what was happening Livingstone had swung over the edge of the boat and, up to his waist in water, was wading ashore with his arms above his head.
"It is peace!" he called out, and waded on toward the barbs of a hundred arrows and spears. The men in the boat sat breathless, waiting to see their leader fall with a score of spears through his body. But the savages on the bank were transfixed with amazement at Livingstone's sheer audacity. Awed by something god-like in this unflinching and unarmed courage, no finger let fly a single arrow.
"You think," he called to the chief, "that I am a slave-raider." For Livingstone knew that he had never in all his wanderings been attacked by Africans save where they had first been infuriated by the cruel raiders.
The chief scowled.
"See," cried Livingstone, baring his arm to show his white skin as he again and again had done when threatened by Africans, "is this the colour of the men who come to make slaves and to kill?"
The savages gazed with astonishment. They had never before seen so white a skin.
"No," Livingstone went on, "this is the skin of the tribe that has heart toward the African."
Almost unconsciously the man had dropped the spear points and arrow heads as he was speaking. The chief listened while Livingstone, who was now on the bank, told the savages how he had come across the great waters from a far-off land with a message of peace and goodwill.
Unarmed and with a dauntless heroism the "white man who would go on" had won a great victory over that tribe. He now passed on in his boat up the river and over rapids toward the wonderful shining Highlands in the heart of Africa.
"Deliverance to the Captives"
Dr. Kirk was recalled to England by the British Government; but Livingstone trudged on in increasing loneliness over mountains and across rivers and lakes, plunging through marshes, racked a score of times with fever, robbed of his medicines, threatened again and again by the guns of the slave-raiding Arabs and the spears and clubs of savage head-hunters, bearing on his bent shoulders the Cross of the negroes' agony—slavery, till at last, alone and on his knees in the dead of night, our Greatheart crossed his last River, into the presence of his Father in heaven.
Yet still, though his body was dead, his spirit would go on. For the life Livingstone lived, the death he died, and the record he wrote of the slave-raiders' horrible cruelties thrilled all Britain to heal that "open sore of the world." Queen Victoria made Dr. Kirk her consul at Zanzibar, and told him to make the Sultan of Zanzibar order all slave-trading through that great market to cease. And to-day, because of David Livingstone, through all the thousands of miles of Africa over which he trod, no man dare lay the shackles of slavery on another. To-day, where Livingstone saw the slave-market in Zanzibar, a grand church stands, built by negro hands, and in that cathedral you may hear the negro clergy reading such words as—
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight,"
and African boys singing in their own tongue words that sum up the whole life of David Livingstone.
"He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, To preach deliverance to the captives."
[Footnote 44: Dr Kirk, now Sir John Kirk, G.C.M.G., who, leaning upon his African ebony stick and gazing with his now dimmed eyes into the glow of the fire, told me many stories of his adventures with Livingstone on his Zambesi journeyings, including this one. See next chapter.]
[Footnote 45: A friend of mine asked a very old African in Matabeleland whether—as a boy—he remembered Dr. Livingstone. "Oh, yes," replied the aged Matabele, "he came into our village out of the bush walking thus," and the old man got up and stumped along, imitating the determined tread of Livingstone, which, after sixty years, was the one thing he remembered.]
THE BLACK PRINCE OF AFRICA
(Dates 1850—the present day)
One day men came running into a village in South Africa to say that a strange man, whose body was covered with clothes and whose face was not black, was walking toward their homes. He was coming from the South.
Never before had such a man been seen in their tribe. So there was great excitement and a mighty chattering went through the round wattle of mud huts with their circular thatched roofs.
The African Chief, Sekhome—who was the head of this Bamangwato tribe and who was also a noted witch-doctor—started out along the southward trail to meet the white man. By his side ran his eldest son. He was a lithe, blithe boy; his chocolate coloured skin shone and the muscles rippled as he trotted along. He was so swift that his name was the name of the antelope that gallops across the veldt. Cama is what the Bamangwato call the antelope. Khama is how we spell the boy's name.
He gazed in wonder as he saw a sturdy man wearing clothes such as he had not seen before—what we call coat and hat, trousers and boots. He looked into the bronzed face of the white man and saw that his eyes and mouth were kind. Together they walked back into the village. Chief Sekhome found that the white man's name was David Livingstone; and that he was a kind doctor who could make boys and men better when they were ill, with medicines out of a black japanned box.
When evening came the boy Khama saw the strange white man open another box and take out a curious thing which seemed to open yet was full of hundreds and hundreds of leaves. Khama had never seen such a thing in his life and he could not understand why Livingstone opened it and kept looking at it for a long time, for he had never seen a book before and did not even know what letters were or what reading was.
It seemed wonderful to him when he heard that that book could speak to Livingstone without making any sound and that it told him about the One Infinite, Holy, Loving God, Who is Father of all men, black or brown or white, and Whose Son, Jesus Christ, came to teach us all to love God and to love one another. For the book was the Bible which Livingstone all through his heroic exploring of Africa read each day.
So Livingstone passed on from the village; but this boy Khama never forgot him, and in time—as we shall see—other white men came and taught Khama himself to read that same book and worship that same God.
The Fight with the Lion
Meanwhile strange adventures came to the growing young Khama. This is the story of some of them:
The leaping flames of a hunting camp-fire threw upon the dark background of thorn trees weird shadows of the men who squatted in a circle on the ground, talking.
The men were all Africans, the picked hunters from the tribe of the Bamangwato. They were out on the spoor of a great lion that had made himself the terror of the tribe. Night after night the lion had leapt among their oxen and had slain the choicest in the chief's herds. Again and again the hunters had gone out on the trail of the ferocious beast; but always they returned empty-handed, though boasting loudly of what they would do when they should face the lion.
"To-morrow, yes, to-morrow," cried a young Bamangwato hunter rolling his eyes, "I will slay tau e bogale—the fierce lion."
The voices of the men rose on the night air as the whole group declared that the beast should ravage their herds no more—the whole group, except one. This young man's tense face and the keen eyes that glowed in the firelight showed his contempt for those who swaggered so much and did so little. He was Khama, the son of Sekhome, the chief. The wild flames gleamed on him as he stood there, full six feet of tireless manhood leaning on his gun, like a superb statue carved in ebony. Those swift, spare limbs of his, that could keep pace with a galloping horse, gave him the right to his name, Khama—the Antelope.
The voices dropped, and the men, rolling themselves in the skins of wild beasts, lay down and slept—all except one, whose eyes watched in the darkness as sleeplessly as the stars. When they were asleep Khama took up his gun and went out into the starry night.
The night passed. As the first flush of dawn paled the stars, and the men around the cold ashes of the fire sat up, they gazed in awed amazement. For they saw, striding toward them, their tall young chieftain; and over his shoulders hung the tawny skin and mane of a full-grown king lion. Alone in the night he had slain the terror of the tribe!
The men who had boasted of what they meant to do and had never performed, never heard Khama—either at that time or later—make any mention of this great feat.
It was no wonder that the great Bamangwato tribe looked at the tall, silent, resolute young chieftain and, comparing him with his crafty father Sekhome and his treacherous, cowardly younger brother Khamane, said, "Khama is our boikanyo—our confidence."
The Fight with the Witch-doctors
The years went by; and that fierce old villain Sekhome plotted and laid ambush against the life of his valiant son, Khama. Men who followed David Livingstone into Africa had come as missionaries to his tribe and had taught him the story of Jesus and given him the knowledge of reading and writing. So Khama had become a Christian, though Sekhome his father was still a heathen witch-doctor. Khama would have nothing to do with the horrible ceremonies by which the boys of the tribe were initiated into manhood; nor would he look on the heathen rain-making incantations, though his father smoked with anger against him. Under a thousand insults and threats of death Khama stood silent, never insulting nor answering again, and always treating with respect his unnatural father.
"You, as the son of a great chief, must marry other wives," said old Sekhome, whose wives could not be numbered. Young Khama firmly refused, for the Word of God which ruled his life told him that he must have but one wife. Sekhome foamed with futile rage.
"You must call in the rain-doctors to make rain," said Sekhome, as the parched earth cracked under the flaming sun. Khama knew that their wild incantations had no power to make rain, but that God alone ruled the heavens. So he refused.
Sekhome now made his last and most fearful attack. He was a witch-doctor and master of the witch-doctors whose ghoulish incantations made the Bamangwato tremble in terror of unseen devils.
One night the persecuted Khama woke at the sound of strange clashing and chanting. Looking out he saw the fitful flame of a fire. Going out from his hut, he saw the lolwapa or court in front of it lit up with weird flames round which the black wizards danced with horns and lions' teeth clashing about their necks, and with manes of beasts' hair waving above their horrible faces. As they danced they cast charms into the fire and chanted loathsome spells and terrible curses on Khama. As a boy he had been taught that these witch-doctors had the power to slay or to smite with foul diseases. He would have been more than human if he had not felt a shiver of nameless dread at this lurid and horrible dance of death.
Yet he never hesitated. He strode forward swiftly, anger and contempt on his face, scattering the witch-doctors from his path and leaping full upon their fire of charms, stamped it out and scattered its embers broadcast. The wizards fled into the darkness of the night.
The Fight with the Kaffir Beer
At last Khama's treacherous old father, Sekhome, died. Khama was acclaimed the supreme chief of all the Bamangwato. He galloped out at the head of his horsemen to pursue Lobengula, the ferocious chief of the Matabele who had struck fear into the Bamangwato for many years. Even Lobengula, who to his dying day carried in his neck a bullet from Khama's gun, said of him, "The Bamangwato are dogs, but Khama is a man."
Khama had now freed his people from the terror of the lion, the tyranny of witch-doctors, and the dread of the Matabele. Yet the deadliest enemy of Khama and the most loathsome tyrant of the Bamangwato was still in power,—the strong drink which degrades the African to unspeakable depths.
Even as Khama charged at the head of his men into the breaking ranks of the Matabele, his younger brother, Khamane, whom he had put in charge of his city in his absence, said to the people: "You may brew beer again now." Many of the people did not obey, but others took the corn of the tribe and brewed beer from it.
At night the cries of beaten women rose, and the weird chants of incantations and of foul unclean dances were heard. Khamane called the older men together around his fire. Pots of beer passed from hand to hand. As the men grew fuddled they became bolder and more boastful. Khamane then spoke to them and said, "Why should Khama rule you? Remember he forbids you to make and to drink beer. He has done away with the dances of the young men. He will not let you make charms or throw enchanted dice or make incantations for rain. He is a Christian. If I ruled you, you should do all these things."
When Khama rode back again into his town he saw men and women lying drunk under the eaves of their huts and others reeling along the road. At night the sounds of chants and drinking dances rose on the air.
His anger was terrible. For once he lost his temper. He seized a burning torch and running to the hut of Khamane set fire to the roof and burned the house down over his drunken brother's head. He ordered all the beer that had been brewed to be seized, and poured it out upon the veldt. He knew that he was fighting a fiercer enemy than the Matabele, a foe that would throttle his tribe and destroy all his people if he did not conquer it. The old men of the tribe muttered against him and plotted his death. He met them face to face. His eyes flashed.