Mary Liddiard, by W.H.G. Kingston.
Mary is the daughter of a missionary somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. It is towards the end of the eighteenth century. Some but not all of the natives on the island have been converted. The author expounds at great length on the central truth of Christianity.
There is an attack by the natives of another island, which Mary and her friends survive by hiding in a cave. Later they are obliged to leave the island by canoe. There is a great storm, but they survive it, being picked up by an English missionary vessel. There is a happy ending, with a great family reunion.
MARY LIDDIARD, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.
A MISSIONARY STATION IN AN ISLAND OF THE PACIFIC DESCRIBED.—THE GIRLS' SCHOOL SUPERINTENDED BY MRS LIDDIARD, HER DAUGHTER MARY, AND LITTLE MAUD.—MARY LIDDIARD'S NARRATIVE.—INTRODUCE TO MY READERS LISELE, THE CHIEF'S DAUGHTER, ONE OF OUR PUPILS.—MY MOTHER EXPLAINS THE GOSPEL TO HER.
"Praise God, from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye heavenly host, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
These words were ascending from the lips of a number of dark skinned girls assembled round a fair haired English lady in a building thickly thatched with the leaves of the sugar cane, beneath the shade of a grove of tall cocoanut trees, in one of the many far off beautiful islands of the wide Pacific. The building, erected by the natives after their own fashion, was the school-house of a missionary station lately established by Mr Liddiard, and the lady was his devoted wife. It stood upon a platform of coral-stone, raised about two feet from the ground, while the roof projected a considerable distance beyond the walls, and was supported by stout posts formed of the bread-fruit tree, tightly bound to the rafters by ropes of sinnet.
After the conclusion of the hymn of praise—a sound unwonted in that long benighted region, whose groves had hitherto echoed only with the shouts and wild laughter of the savage heathens, as they performed their barbarous rites, and the shrieks and groans of their victims—the pupils grouped themselves round Mrs Liddiard on the mats with which the floor was spread.
They were of various ages; some were children, others full grown young women. All kept their eyes fixed on her attentively, as if anxious to understand every word she said. Some were clothed in light cotton dresses, their black hair neatly braided and ornamented with a few sweet scented wild flowers, while others were habited in garments of native cloth, formed from the paper mulberry tree.
By the side of Mrs Liddiard sat, on low stools, two young girls, whose light complexions contrasted with that of their dark skinned sisters. Though she spoke in the native language, the two English girls understood her perfectly, and appeared to be as attentive as their companions, and anxious to set a good example to the rest. One of them, with black hair, called little Maud, who seemed to be about eleven years old, had a grave expression of countenance; the other, Mrs Liddiard's daughter Mary, was very like her mother, with light hair and blue eyes, full of animation and intelligence.
On one side of the house the ground sloped away down to a beach seen between the Pandanus and cocoanut trees, of fine white sand fringing a calm lagoon of the deepest blue, beyond which appeared a long line of foaming breakers, ever dashing against a coral reef, which extended parallel with the coast as far as the eye could reach. On the other side rose the steep sides of a range of rocky and picturesque mountains, clothed to their summits with the richest and densest foliage, numberless creepers climbing up the trees, and hanging from branch to branch, while here and there, amid openings of the forest, several sparkling cascades came rushing down from the far off heights, now falling in sheets of glittering foam, now dashing from ledge to ledge, and at length making their way into the lagoon.
Near the girls' school-house was a building of considerably larger dimensions, and of much greater height, with numerous windows and a porch. It was the mission chapel erected by the native Christians. At a short distance from it was Mr Liddiard's residence, a neat cottage with a broad verandah in front, partaking more of the European style than any of the other edifices.
Under the shade of the trees were numerous huts, inhabited by the converts, who had left their former homes and gathered round their pastor. Among them was a hut somewhat larger than the rest, which had been built by the zealous native teacher Nanari, who had come from a distant island to bring the glad tidings of salvation to the people; and undaunted by the opposition of the heathens, had long laboured alone, until the arrival of Mr Liddiard, under whom he now acted as catechist and assistant.
Notwithstanding the unceasing exertions and prayers of Nanari, aided by his faithful wife, and of Mr and Mrs Liddiard, comparatively few of the natives had as yet been gathered into Christ's fold. The greater part of the island was inhabited by fierce heathens, who still carried on frequent wars against each other; and angry with their countrymen for having abandoned the faith of their forefathers, constantly threatened them and the missionaries with destruction.
In spite of the dangers which surrounded him, Mr Liddiard continued dauntlessly to labour to win souls to Christ, knowing well in whom he trusted; and that although it might not be allowed to him while on earth to see the fruit of his toils, yet that a rich harvest would some day be reaped.
The missionary's life was not an idle one. When not engaged in preaching the gospel or in giving instruction to his converts, he was compelled to work with his hands to obtain his daily food, and he and Nanari, with the young men who had become Christians, were engaged in the taro grounds or in their gardens, attending to the cultivation of the bread-fruit tree, yams, casavas, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables. He had also built his own house, and manufactured his furniture, and had every day some manual work to perform besides being engaged in studying the language and translating the Bible and other works, for the instruction of the natives. Thus, from morning till night, he and his wife were actively employed. Although Mary and little Maud could now give them some assistance in household matters, the young girls themselves required instruction, which also occupied a portion of their time. Maud was not their own child, though they had educated her, for she was friendless and destitute, and they loved her as a daughter.
To return to the school-house I have described. I should say that I was the Mary I have mentioned, the missionary's daughter. I will tell more about little Maud by-and-by. We used to act as assistant teachers to my mother. As soon as the address she had given was over we went among the girls to answer any questions they might put to us, or to help in their tasks.
"Malay," said a girl at the further end of the room, near whom I had seated myself ('Malay' was the name the natives always called me). "I wish to know if your God always sees you."
"Yes, indeed, He does," I answered. "He sees and knows everything I think and say and do."
"Then I would rather not lotu," she said. "Because I don't think that the gods of my people know what they do, or what they think or say, and I am very sure that I shall wish to do many things which might displease them. Not long ago I laughed and jeered at them, and I am sure that they did not find me out."
The term "lotu," I should explain, is used by the natives to signify changing their religion, or becoming Christians.
"But our God, Jehovah, is above all gods. He made the world and all the human race, and He therefore knows everything that you and all heathen people do and say and think. The darkness is no darkness with Him, and the day and night to Him are both alike," I answered. "But come to mother, Lisele, and she will explain the matter to you more clearly than I can do."
Lisele was the daughter of a heathen chief, who was very well disposed towards the Christians; and although he would not lotu himself, he allowed Lisele, who was very intelligent, and possessed an inquiring mind, to attend the school. She was about two years older than I was, and I think any one who had seen her dressed in her costume of native cloth of the finest texture, with a wreath of white flowers in her raven hair, would have thought her very pretty. She was as yet imperfectly instructed in Christian truth, and possessed of high spirits and an independent will—a mere child of nature. It was evidently necessary to treat her with the greatest caution to prevent her running away from us and rejoining her former heathen associates.
Lisele, taking my hand, came and sat down at my mother's feet, and I then put the question that she had asked me. "Yes, indeed, Lisele," said my mother. "Jehovah not only sees all you do, and hears all you say, but knows every thought which is passing through your mind, and if you think anything that is wrong, and utter even a careless word, He is grieved at it. He is so pure and holy that even the bright heavens are not clean in His sight; and were He to treat us as we deserve, when we indulged for a moment in an evil thought, or departed in the slightest degree from the truth, He might justly punish us; but He is merciful, kind, and long-suffering, and thus He allows sinners to continue in life, to give them an opportunity of repenting and turning to Him."
"Then there would be no use for my father and all the chiefs and people whom I know to lotu, for they have done over and over again all sorts of things which you have told me Jehovah hates," remarked Lisele.
"My dear Lisele," said my mother, taking her hand, "Jehovah has said in His holy Book, that He will receive all who turn from their sins and come to Him in the way He has appointed, through faith in His dear Son; and He also tells us that the blood of Jesus His Son 'cleanseth from all sin.' Likewise He says, 'Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.' Believe this blessed promise yourself, Lisele, and tell your father that though Jehovah knows all the murders he has committed, and every crime he has been guilty of, if he will but turn from them and trust to the perfect sacrifice which Christ offered up on Calvary when He was punished, by dying that cruel death on the cross instead of us, then all will be forgiven and blotted out of God's remembrance. 'The blood of Jesus Christ,' I repeat, 'cleanseth from all sin.'"
The Indian girl stood with her eyes open, gazing at my mother, and lost with astonishment at what she had heard.
"But surely we must do something to gain this great favour from God. We must labour and toil for Him. We must pay Him all we have in recompense for the bad things we have done, that have offended Him so much," she exclaimed.
"No! we poor weak creatures have nothing to do. We could do nothing to make amends for the ill we have done, to blot out our sins; and all the wealth we possess could not recompense God, for all things are His. But the debt has been paid for us by Jesus, he became our surety, and when we go to Him, and trust to Him, and pray to Him, as He is now seated at the right hand of God, He acts the part of our advocate, and pleads for us with God, urging that He Himself paid the debt, and, therefore, that we have nothing to pay and nothing to do. God in His mercy has promised a free and full pardon to all who trust to Him. 'Pardon for sin is the gift of God,' and the King who makes the present requires nothing in return but gratitude and love and obedience."
"I think I understand," said Lisele. "If my father was to conquer another tribe who had offended him, and, instead of putting them to death, was to pardon them all, and to give them a country rich in bread-fruit trees and taro grounds, they would be bound to love and serve Him, and give Him the best produce of their lands."
"Exactly," said my mother. "But Jehovah does not require the fruits of the earth, for 'all things are His.' What He wants is the willing obedience of His creatures. He wishes them to obey His laws, to be kind, and merciful, and courteous, and pitiful, to all their fellows, not returning evil for evil, but good for evil, and endeavouring to make known His name and His power and goodness to all those who do not know it. That we may know His will, when Jesus Christ came into the world to die for man, He set us the example we are to follow. Then as our hearts are prone to evil, and Satan is ever going about seeking to mislead us, He has sent His Holy Spirit to instruct our minds, to support us and help us to withstand the deceits of Satan."
"Then I think it must be Satan who makes my people fight with each other, and do all sorts of things that you tell me God's Book says are so wrong," exclaimed Lisele. "I must try and persuade my father to worship Jehovah, and then, perhaps, the Holy Spirit you tell me of will prevent him from spending his life in fighting and killing people. It has always seemed to me a very bad thing to do, and that it would be much better if people would live together in peace, and dance and sing and amuse themselves without the constant fear of being attacked by their enemies and killed."
"Undoubtedly, my dear girl, if anyone turns to Jehovah, trusting to Jesus Christ, and seeks the aid of the Holy Spirit whom He has promised to send, he will be enabled to do His will. God cannot lie. Everything He has promised He will fulfil," answered my mother. "I pray that you will be enabled to explain this matter to the chief, your father."
"Yes! yes! that I will," cried Lisele. "Till this moment I did not understand it. I thought that it must be a very difficult thing to serve Jehovah, and that those who had done anything to offend Him were to toil and work to the end of their days, and even then have very little chance of being received into favour."
"Satan tries to persuade man that such is the case, that he may turn his eyes away from the all-sufficient atonement made by Christ on Calvary, and prevent him from trusting to that, and that alone," said my mother. "Satan hates the atonement, because it is that which destroys his power, and he cares nothing when people try to be good, and try to please God, trusting to themselves, provided they have no faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, in the all-cleansing power of His blood," observed my mother. "If you will reflect, my dear girl, on the fact that God made us and gives us all the blessings we enjoy, and that consequently we owe Him everything, you will see that nothing we do can make amends to Him for the sins we have committed, because if we were to devote every moment of our lives to His service we should only be doing our duty. Then again, a sin which has been committed cannot be undone; so it is written against us in the great book prepared for the day of judgment. God is so pure and holy that even the heavens are not clean in His sight, and He is so just that He cannot forgive sin; we only mock Him when we ask Him to forgive us our sins, if we plead our own merits, because, as I have shown you, we cannot possibly have any merits to plead—all our merits are but as filthy rags, they cannot cover up our vileness and sinfulness. But then Jehovah is all merciful as well as just, and He has, therefore, formed that blessed plan of salvation, the gospel plan, just suited to our wants, by which we can take advantage of the all perfect merits of Jesus Christ, and make them our own—our vileness being covered up by His righteousness, our nakedness clothed with His pure and spotless robes, so that Jehovah does not see our sins; they are put away as far as the east is from the west; they are blotted out of the great book of remembrance. This is done immediately the sinner trusts in the Saviour. It is not to be done. All the work was done on Calvary, when Jesus cried, 'It is finished!' All that God requires is that the sinner should take advantage of that work finished by Jesus, by trusting to Him alone, thus becoming completely qualified for heaven. May God, the Holy Spirit, enable you to understand this truth."
The Indian girl sat down, and for some time appeared lost in thought; then starting up with the impetuous manner which her ardent disposition made her assume, she asked, in her native tongue, "Then if I believe that Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of Jehovah, left the glories of heaven, and became man, and suffered a fearful death on the cross, His precious blood being then shed, and that He suffered this punishment instead of me, and that God's justice is thereby satisfied, am I no longer to fear punishment? Does God no more look at my sins? Am I received into His favour? Oh then how grateful ought I to be to God, how much ought I to love Jehovah's kind Son, how ought I to try to serve and obey and please Him!"
"Yes, indeed, Lisele, if you thus trust in Christ, if you believe that His blood was shed for you, that you are sprinkled with it, you may be assured that God has taken you into favour, that He has blotted out all your sins, and that when you leave this world you will be received into that glorious heaven which He has prepared for all those who love Him."
"Oh, I am sure what you tell me is true," exclaimed the Indian girl, clasping her hands, while a look of joy irradiated her countenance. "I long to know more of that kind and merciful Jesus, and love Him and serve Him. I must go and tell my father all you have said, and get him to come and hear himself about Jehovah. Your religion is just what we want in this country, for nothing else will prevent the people from fighting and murdering each other, which cannot be pleasing to a good God, though our priests tell us that our gods delight in war and in the human sacrifices offered to them, and encourage our warriors to kill and burn their prisoners."
"Our religion is not only suited to the inhabitants of these islands, but to people of all countries, and at all times," said my mother. "It is the only true religion, because it is the only one which God has given to man, and He has sent us the Bible that we may learn what His will is, and He pours out the Holy Spirit that we may understand and be enabled to perform it. And the time will come when 'all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him,'" (Psalm 72 verse 11.)
All the other girls had returned to their homes. Lisele remained, eager to gain more information about the wonderful things she had heard. What a happy thing it would be if boys and girls in Britain were as anxious to obtain spiritual knowledge as was the young savage girl in that Pacific island!
OUR STATION THREATENED BY HEATHEN NATIVES.—LISELE, ACCEPTING THE TRUTH, DESIRES THE CONVERSION OF HER FATHER, AND OBTAINS PERMISSION FROM HER AUNT AND ABELA TO VISIT HIM.—I DESCRIBE OUR VOYAGE, WHEN LITTLE MAUD WAS FOUND.—CONDITION OF THE STATION AT THE TIME WHEN MY NARRATIVE COMMENCES.
Our little Christian settlement was truly an oasis in the wilderness. We were closely beset by heathens, and frequently we could see them assembling on the hill side, performing their savage dances, or threatening our destruction with fierce gestures—shaking their clubs and spears, and shrieking and hooting wildly.
Most of the converts settled round us belonged to the tribe of Masaugu, Lisele's father; for although he himself still remained a heathen, he did not oppose those of his people who wished to lotu, or become Christians.
Among them was Lisele's aunt, the sister of her mother, with whom she resided, and through her influence Lisele had first been induced to attend the school.
On the day I have spoken of, when it was time for Lisele to return to her aunt's house, she invited me to accompany her, which my mother gave me permission to do. She wanted me to assist her in persuading her aunt to allow her to return to her father.
"I have been so long accustomed to speak falsehoods, that if I tell her that I wish to go she will not believe my object," said Lisele. "Besides, she will not think it possible that so fierce a warrior as my father will consent to lotu; but I heard your mother say the other day, that with Jehovah nothing is impossible, and therefore I believe that if I pray that my father's heart may be changed, he will, notwithstanding his fierceness, become a Christian."
"I am very sure that Jehovah will hear your prayers," I remarked, "if you offer them up according to His own appointed way, through Jesus Christ; but still He will take His own good time to bring about what you desire. My father often says we must not expect to have our prayers answered exactly in the way we wish. God knows what is best, and oftentimes He does not accomplish that which we desire; and though we cannot comprehend His reasons, still it is our duty to pray on in faith, without ceasing. Jehovah, too, often allows those He loves to suffer; and though they may complain that the sufferings are very hard to bear, He will assuredly lift them up and support them, for He has said, 'My strength is made perfect in weakness,'" (2 Corinthians 12 verse 9). This conversation lasted till we reached the house of Abela, Lisele's aunt.
Abela was a woman of about forty, her face, though not handsome, and with a serious expression, was mild and pleasing. She was dressed in an ample petticoat, made from the fibres of the hibiscus, while over her shoulders she wore a tippet somewhat resembling a small poncho, which completely shrouded the upper part of her form. Having finished the labours of the day (for although of high rank, she was compelled, like others, to work for her support), she was seated on a mat, with a book open on her knees, from which she was endeavouring to read. Not having long been a convert, she had as yet made but little progress in her studies. She affectionately welcomed her niece and me as we took our seats near her. Lisele then eagerly poured forth what she had been hearing, so rapidly, that I could scarcely follow her.
"It is all true," said Abela, when her niece at length ceased speaking. "I praise Jehovah that you know it."
When, however, Lisele told her of her wish to go back to her father, Abela hesitated. "He will not understand you, my child," she exclaimed, "and perhaps will not allow you to return to people whom he may think so foolish."
"Oh, but I'll pray for him," answered Lisele. "I'll ask Jehovah to help me, and I know He will hear me, so I shall not have to trust to my own strength."
Abela remained silent for some time, and I saw that she was engaged in prayer.
"You shall go, my child," she said at length. "Jehovah will take care of you, and may He prosper your undertaking."
Delighted at having obtained this permission, Lisele returned to spend the evening with us, for my father wished to have an opportunity of speaking to her. He warned her of the opposition she must expect to meet with from her people, and of the dangers she would have to encounter, especially as he knew that she had been sought in marriage by a young heathen chief, who might wish to detain her.
"But now I know the truth. I will never consent to marry one who is a heathen," she answered. "And I do not intend to remain. I will only try to persuade my father to visit you, and then I will return."
Lisele set off the next day, accompanied by two Christian people of her tribe, who promised to protect her from the heathens, and aid her return should it be opposed, even although they might risk their lives in so doing. We were very sorry to lose her, as we feared that efforts would be made to prevent her returning among us.
Maud could not restrain her tears. "I know too well how cruelly these heathens can act," she said. "They will not hesitate to carry her off to some distant island, whence she cannot possibly escape; or, if she offends them by what she says, they may even kill her." Dear Maud had indeed had bitter experience of the barbarities often committed by the savage islanders.
My father had for some years been a missionary in another part of the Pacific, when it was settled that he should occupy the Station where we now were. I was too young at the time to remember much about what occurred, so I can describe only what I have heard. As there was then no missionary vessel to convey us, we embarked on board a whaler, the Christian captain of which undertook to carry us to our destination. He was, however, unable to make a direct passage, as he had in the prosecution of his business first to visit several other places, still, as no other means of getting where we wished to go were likely to occur, my father was glad to embrace the opportunity thus offered. We had been for some time at sea when a fearful storm arose, which compelled us to run before it under bare poles, and carried us a long way out of our course. The vessel received also considerable damage, losing one of her masts and several spars. At length a beautiful island appeared in sight, covered thickly with trees, and directly ahead was seen a commodious harbour. The captain therefore ran into it and came to an anchor, that the damages which the vessel had received might be repaired. He soon found that it was inhabited by numerous savages, who pushed off in their canoes to visit the strange ship. He, however, had so long been acquainted with the treacherous character of the natives of most of the Pacific islands, that he would allow no one to come on board, and he had also boarding-nettings triced up to guard against any sudden attack they might venture to make. We had on board a Sandwich islander, who managed to make himself understood by the natives. Through his means our good captain let them know that he wished to cut down some trees, and that he was ready to pay for permission to do so. The captain then inquired for their chief, and said that if he would come off and receive part of the payment, the remainder would be given after the spars had been brought on board, and as a proof of his good intentions, he sent the chief a present of an axe and a piece of cloth. This had the desired effect; and in a short time an old warrior came alongside in his canoe, and announced himself as the chief of the district. The Sandwich islander then explained what the captain wished, and certain articles which had been agreed on were given to him, he undertaking, while the trees were being cut down and carried off, to keep his people at a distance to prevent the possibility of any dispute arising.
As soon as the chief and his followers had returned to the shore, two boats' crews, well armed, put off, and while one party were engaged in felling the trees, the other remained drawn up to guard against any attack which the natives might treacherously venture to make. The spars having been brought on board, the old chief returned for the promised remainder of the payment. He seemed highly pleased with the transaction.
"I see that you are wise and just people," he observed. "If all whites who come to our shores acted in the same way, we would be their friends; but it has not been always so, and after they have ill-treated and cheated us, we have been tempted to take advantage of their folly and carelessness to revenge ourselves."
This remark induced the captain, through the interpreter, to make inquiries as to what the chief alluded to. At length he learned that some time before a vessel, with white people on board, had come into the harbour to obtain sandal wood; that after the natives had supplied a large quantity, sufficient to fill her, the captain had refused the promised payment; but, in spite of this, that the crew were allowed to go on shore and wander about in small parties, when some of them had quarrelled with the natives and ill-treated them. In consequence the sailors had been set upon, and killed every man of them. A party of warriors then put off for the ship, and pretending they had come to trade, clambered up her sides before the part of the crew who had remained on board had heard of the massacre, or suspected their intentions. The savages thus taking them at a disadvantage, put every person to death, with the exception of a woman and child, who were saved by the intervention of the old chief. The vessel, it appeared, by some accident, caught fire, and had been utterly destroyed.
The captain, on hearing this, made eager inquiries about the poor woman and the child. The former, however, had, he found soon afterwards, died, leaving the little girl in possession of the chief.
Instead of threatening the old chief with the vengeance of his people, as some might have done, he spoke to him gently, saying that he himself had not come there as a judge, or to take vengeance for injuries which other white men might have received, but that we wished to know whether he would be ready to give up the little girl he had under his care. The old man seemed very much struck by this style of address, and confessed that the child was still living with him, but that he was very fond of her, and that when she grew up he hoped that she might become the wife of one of his sons.
This of course made the captain still more anxious to recover her, and he used every argument he could think of to induce the old man to give her up. He told him that, unaccustomed to the mode of life of his people, she would probably die, as her mother had done, and that if he really loved her, he would be anxious for her safety, and that though he had paid him liberally for the trees, he would give him twice the amount of goods if he would, without delay, bring the little girl on board. This last argument seemed to weigh greatly with the chief, and he said he would think about it, and returned on shore, leaving us in doubt, however, what he would do.
Our anxiety about the poor girl was, as may be supposed, very great. The men, on hearing of the matter, came aft, and each one said that he would be ready to contribute some article to induce the chief to give her up. Some even proposed, that should he refuse, to land and compel him to do so by force of arms. The captain thanked them for their zeal, but told them that that was not the way he conceived Christian men should act.
I well remember that evening, when we were assembled to worship God as usual, in the cabin, how my father lifted up his voice in prayer, that the heart of the chief might be moved to restore the little Christian damsel to those who would bring her "up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," and that she might be saved from the fearful fate the old man intended for her. God never fails to listen to the prayers of believers.
The next morning, as we anxiously turned our eyes towards the shore, the chief's canoe was seen coming off.
"Our prayer has been answered," exclaimed my father, who was watching it through a spy-glass. "There is a child by his side."
The sailors sprang into the rigging, and every one on board eagerly watched the approach of the canoe. It was soon alongside, and the little girl we had been looking for was handed up on deck, followed by the old chief. She was dressed in a clean white frock, and her hair was neatly braided, and ornamented with flowers and feathers; but she looked thin and ill, and sadly scared. When my mother approached the gangway she flew towards her, and threw herself into her arms, as if she was sure that she should find in her a loving friend.
"Mamma! mamma!" she exclaimed; but she could utter no other words; and had it not been for those sounds we should have supposed that she had lost the power of speech. My mother could not restrain her tears, as she held the forlorn little creature to her heart.
Such was the way in which we met with little Maud.
Nothing would induce her to leave my mother while the old chief remained on board; and although he and his people might have treated her kindly, they certainly had not won her love.
Having received the promised reward, to which the captain added a few other articles, the chief prepared to take his departure, evidently very well satisfied with the transaction. The captain, however, warned him, that should he venture to attack another vessel he would not escape a severe punishment; but that if he would promise to behave well towards white people in future, they would come and trade with him, and bring him a greater blessing than he could at present comprehend. The captain said this, because he hoped that some day he might be able to convey a missionary to the place, that he might spread the blessings of the gospel among the heathen inhabitants.
After the ship was refitted we put to sea, but she was some time engaged in catching whales, so that our voyage was a very long one. The little girl who had been rescued from the savages was utterly unable to explain anything that had happened to her.
Weeks passed away, and not a word did she utter, and my father and mother began to fear that the hardships she had gone through had deprived her of her senses. For a long time she could not be induced to leave my mother's side, and seemed to mistrust every one else. If separated from her, even for a few moments, she would run back again, and seizing her gown, glance up with an imploring look, as if begging to be protected from some imaginary danger—she would not even trust herself with me, and seemed to fancy that I might hurt her. Possibly she might have been ill-treated by the native children, and was unable to distinguish the difference. Gentle and careful treatment, however, had its due effect on her, and her fears were gradually allayed.
At length one day she, of her own accord, took my hand, and looking into my face said, "Girl not hurt poor Maud." These were the first words we had heard her utter. Until then also we were ignorant of her name.
Putting my arms round her neck I kissed her, and answered, "No indeed I will not hurt you, but I will treat you as a dear sister, and love you very very much."
A faint smile passed over her countenance, as if she comprehended my answer. After that she would remain contentedly with me—still her mind, for some time longer, continued apparently in the same state as at first. My father and mother, however, felt sure that her senses would ultimately be restored. They were not mistaken; but even when she had begun to speak, she made no allusion to the circumstances of the massacre, or her life among the natives, and we forbore to ask her any questions.
When at last we landed here, her alarm at seeing the natives was very great, and my father was afraid that it would cause her mind to relapse into its former state. By doing all we could to re-assure and cheer her, no ill effects occurred. When once we were settled, and she had got accustomed to the scenery, and the appearance of the people, her improvement was more rapid. In course of time her mind and bodily health were perfectly restored. On seeing me at my lessons, she showed a strong wish to join me, and though she had forgotten even her letters, if she had ever known them, she made rapid progress, so that she was soon able to read fluently, when she eagerly perused every book my father would allow her to have from his library. Even then, however, she could give no account of her former life, and we knew no more of little Maud than at first. My father and mother treated her as they would a daughter, while I looked upon her and loved her as a younger sister.
We had now been upwards of three years at the Station. My father had laboured on in faith, as a missionary in all regions must be prepared to do, for as yet only the comparatively small body of Christians as I have mentioned, who had settled round us, had been brought out of heathenism, while the larger number of the population appeared even more hostile to the new faith than at first. Still my father would often say, when he felt himself inclined to despond, "Let us recollect the value of one immortal soul, and all our toils and troubles will appear as nothing." Such was the state of things at the mission station when my history commences.
THE ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC DESCRIBED.—MY MOTHER'S ILLNESS.—NASILE, A MESSENGER FROM LISELE, COMES TO THE SETTLEMENT, FOLLOWED SHORTLY BY LISLETE AND MASAUGU, WHO PROMISES TO LOTU AFTER HE HAS DEFEATED HIS ENEMIES.—MY FATHER WARNS HIM IN VAIN OF THE FEARFUL DANGER HE RUNS BY PUTTING OFF BECOMING A CHRISTIAN.
The vast Pacific—in one of the islands of which the events I am describing occurred—presents a wide and hopeful field for missionary enterprise. It is scattered over with numberless islands—in most cases so clustered together as to form separate groups—some rising in lofty mountains out of the sea, surrounded by coral reefs, beautiful and picturesque in the extreme, while others are elevated but a few feet above the ocean, generally having palm trees growing on them. These latter are known more particularly as coral and lagoon islands. The islands of the character I have last mentioned have been produced by the gradual sinking of the land beneath the ocean, when on its reaching a certain depth, countless millions of coral insects have built their habitations on it, and have continued building till they reached the surface—the new islands consequently keeping the forms of the submerged lands which serve as their foundations. The lagoon islands have been formed by the insects building round the edge of some submerged crater. As the land sank the creatures have continued to build upwards, and thus a ring of coral rock has arisen in the ocean—sometimes complete, at others with a break or opening in it. In other instances the coral insects have built near the shore, and as the land has sunk they have continued to build upwards, but in consequence of requiring the pure salt water, have not advanced towards the land, which, however, still sinking, a wide space of water has appeared between it and the structure raised by them. This is the cause of the numerous encircling reefs which are found around so many of the islands of the Pacific—affording harbours within them, and sheltering the shore from the fury of the waves.
Many of the islands are also of volcanic origin; some contain active volcanoes, and while the land in some instances has sunk, in others it has risen, and is broken into the most curious and fantastic shapes, bringing up also with it the coral rocks which were formed on it while it lay beneath the sea.
Most of these islands are clothed with a varied and rich vegetation. The climate of those at a distance from the equator is generally healthy, but that of others near the line, especially to the westward, is unhealthy in the extreme, so that even the natives of other islands of the same ocean cannot live on them throughout the year.
The eastern groups are inhabited by a brown skinned and generally handsome race, often not darker than Spaniards, and supposed to be descended from a common stock, as in general appearance and language there is a great resemblance.
The groups of the large islands to the westward on either side of the equator are peopled by a black and savage race, in many respects resembling the negroes of Africa, and sunk even still lower in barbarism. Such are the inhabitants of the Fijis, New Caledonia, and New Hebrides, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and others to the northward of them.
When Captain Cook sailed over the Pacific, and till many years afterwards, the people of these beautiful islands were sunk in the grossest idolatry and barbarism.
Towards the end of the last century, when the Christian Churches awoke to their responsibilities for making known the glad tidings of salvation to their heathen fellow-creatures—societies were formed to send missionaries to various parts of the world. A band of twenty-nine missionaries, some of them unhappily untried, were sent out by the London Missionary Society in 1796, to the Pacific islands. They made slow progress, but at length, in 1815, idolatry was overthrown at Tahiti, and the gospel firmly established in that island.
Two years afterwards, the Rev. J. Williams and the Rev. W. Ellis, two of the most distinguished missionaries who have laboured among the islands of the Pacific, arrived at Tahiti. The former took up his abode at Raiatea, one of the Society islands, and afterwards going alone to the island of Rarotonga, though not bred a shipwright, built there, with his own hands, aided only by the natives, a vessel of about seventy tons burden. Having rigged her with sails of matting, he and a native crew returned to Raiatea, and thence he proceeded to Samoa with a large party of missionaries, for the purpose of leaving them at different islands on the way. He sailed in her afterwards over many thousand miles of ocean, visiting missionary stations—the little craft truly performing her duty as the "Messenger of Peace."
She was the first of many missionary vessels which have since been sent out by different societies to the Pacific. Some have been lost, but their places have been supplied by others; indeed it is only by means of such vessels that the now numerous missionary stations scattered throughout that wide ocean, can be properly maintained.
How well might some of the beautiful yachts which float idly on the waters of the Solent, be employed, if their owners, influenced by the love of immortal souls, would hoist the banner of peace at their mast-heads, and go forth to those distant islands, to sail here and there visiting the isolated stations, or conveying fresh missionaries to the numberless groups still in heathen darkness.
I cannot help saying this when I recollect how often, for long months, and even for years together, we were left without a visit from any European Christian, and how eagerly we watched the approach of each sail which appeared in the horizon, hoping that she might bring us news of distant friends, or necessaries of which we stood greatly in need, or still more, that a brother might be on board who might afford counsel and encouragement in the difficulties by which we were surrounded. My dear father often felt the want of the assistance I have spoken of. My mother was indeed a helpmate meet for him, and was a source of comfort and consolation; but especially when the heathens threatened our lives and those of the native converts, oh, how thankful he would have been for the advice and support of an experienced Christian friend.
My mother had for some time been a sufferer from illness, and though she still continued her usual duties, we watched her form grow thinner, and her cheek paler, day by day. My father, strange as it may seem, did not appear to remark the change, but Maud and I, when we were together, could not help speaking about it. Still, as my mother did not complain, we could only hope that, should her anxiety about the condition of the mission decrease by its prospects becoming more promising, her health would improve.
We did all we could to lessen her cares by assisting her in her household duties. Maud and I learned to cook, and we also cleaned and swept out the house and kept it in order, with the help of a native girl, who, though not very expert, was willing to learn and to follow the example we set her.
We were anxiously expecting the return of Lisele, and Maud and I paid frequent visits to Abela, to inquire whether she had received any message from her niece. She shook her head sorrowfully, saying she was afraid that Masaugu was too much wedded to his heathen practices to be induced to abandon them by any arguments Lisele could use, and that he was far more likely to prevent her from returning. This made us very sad, for we had had hopes that Lisele had really become a Christian, and would remain faithful to the truth.
Abela guessed by our looks what was passing in our minds, and she added, "though the chief's heart is very hard, I have been praying that it may be changed, and I know that with Jehovah nothing is impossible."
While we were still seated in the hut, a native arrived whom we knew, from his scanty dress and his wild savage look, to be still a heathen. He brought a message to Abela from her niece, saying that she hoped shortly to return to the settlement, as her father had consented to pay the English missionary a visit.
"I shall rejoice to see her again," said Abela to the native. "And has she spoken to you, my friend, of the true religion?"
"Yes, she has told me that we cannot see the great Jehovah who made the world and all things in it, but that He sees us and knows everything we think of, say, and do; and that He hates all sin, but that He loves the sinner, and wishes all human beings to come and live with Him for ever and ever in the beautiful place He has prepared for them," was the prompt and unexpected answer.
"But has she told you that you are a sinner, and that your sins must be wiped away before you are fit to go to that pure and beautiful heaven she spoke of? Has she told you how you can become fit for heaven, and has she pointed out to you the only way you can go there?" asked Abela.
"Yes, she told me that many things I thought right are very wrong in the sight of Jehovah, and that I cannot undo what I have once done, and that the only way by which those things can be blotted out, is by believing that Jehovah's dear Son came down upon earth and was punished by a cruel death instead of me, and that if I believe this, and trust to Him, I shall be received into that glorious place above the blue sky, which He has prepared for all who love Him," answered the native.
"But do you believe this?" asked Abela. "Do you believe that Jehovah is satisfied that another was punished instead of you, and that He therefore has set you free?"
"I did not understand it, but it seemed very good," answered the native. "I should like to remain and learn more about the matter."
"Oh yes, do remain," exclaimed Abela. "Go not back to worship again the blocks of stone in which our countrymen put their trust. The English missionary will explain matters more clearly to you than I can."
I assured Nasile—for such the native told us was his name—that my father would gladly explain the truth to him, and leaving him in conversation with Abela, we hastened homewards with the satisfactory intelligence.
In a short time we saw a party coming across the hill. At first their appearance caused some consternation, it being supposed that they were heathens intending to attack the village. As they drew nearer, however, Masaugu was distinguished at their head, accompanied by Lisele. The chief was a tall fine man, with ample folds of native cloth round his waist and over his shoulders. My father hastened out to meet him, and welcome him to the Station, and Maud and I followed. As soon as Lisele saw us she ran forward and threw her arms round me, and then embraced Maud, calling us her dear sisters, and telling us how rejoiced she was to come back.
"I was afraid at first that my father would not listen to me," she said. "But I prayed and prayed, and at length, to my joy, he said that he would go and hear more of the strange things I had told him of."
My father at first intended to conduct the chief into the chapel; but though he was willing to go, several of his followers were afraid of entering it, believing that some incantations would be used, and that they might be compelled to lotu against their will. The whole party therefore seated themselves in a shady place outside. Here my father addressed the chief; and he hoped that while speaking to him, what he said might be attended to and understood by many of his followers. Not saying a word about the false gods he worshipped, my father told him of the greatness and power and love and mercy of Jehovah, and explained to him the simple plan of salvation which He has offered to sinful man.
The chief appeared much interested. "I understand," he answered, "that the white man's God is greater and more powerful than my gods, and I am resolved soon to worship Him, as I am sure He can do more for me than they can; but I have some enemies who have offended me, and I am about to set out on an expedition to punish them, and when I have obtained the victory, I will return and do as I have promised."
"Oh! my friend," exclaimed my father, "I should have told you of Satan, who is allowed—we know not why—to go about the world to deceive men, and he it is who has made you resolve to do this. Jehovah does not allow you to say that you will serve Him by-and-by. He requires you and all men to obey Him at once. Satan, on the contrary, ever strives to persuade people to put off serving Jehovah till by-and-by, that he may get them altogether into his own power before they can do so. Thus it is that he deceives men and destroys their souls in all parts of the world, and thus he has done at all times. Jehovah has told us that He will not allow us to punish our enemies, but that we are to love them and do good to them. Oh! let me warn and entreat you not to go on the expedition you propose."
The chief was silent for some time. Lisele and Abela, who had arrived, united with my father in entreating him to remain and hear more of the truth.
"What you say may be very right and good for those who profess to follow Jehovah," he answered at length, "but I have not yet abandoned my gods, and they will, I am sure, help me to gain the victory. What I say is wise, is it not?" he added, turning to his heathen attendants. Of course they all applauded him, and greatly to my fathers grief, he arose to take his departure.
"Remember, oh chief, that I have warned you," said my father. "We cannot pray that you may gain the victory, because Jehovah will give it as He thinks fit; but we will pray that your heart may be changed, and that you may still worship Him whom you now reject."
"Alas! how many act as this poor heathen is doing," said my father, after Masaugu and his companions had gone away. "They believe in God, and yet, blinded by Satan, fancy in their folly that they can safely put off the time to begin serving and obeying Him."
OUR ANXIETIES INCREASE ON THE DEPARTURE OF MASAUGU.—MY FATHER IS SUMMONED TO VISIT A SICK MISSIONARY AT ANOTHER ISLAND, AND WE ARE LEFT UNDER THE CHARGE OF NANARI, THE NATIVE MISSIONARY.—MY MOTHER'S SUDDEN DEATH.—A VESSEL APPEARS OFF THE COAST, AND AT KANARI'S SUGGESTION I SEND OFF A NOTE, WARNING THE CAPTAIN OF THE DANGER TO WHICH HE IS EXPOSED FROM THE NATIVES.
We rejoiced to find that Lisele was allowed to remain with her aunt at the settlement. She had tried, even before her return to the settlement, to persuade her father to abandon his intentions of going to war. The tribe he intended to attack inhabited an island some leagues away to the south, and as we stood on the shore we could see its blue outline rising out of the ocean. Lisele had reminded her father that he had professed to wish us well, and that by going away he would leave us exposed to the attacks of other heathen tribes, who would now venture without hesitation through his territory, to attack us. He replied that they would not dare to do so, as he had threatened them with punishment on his return should they molest them.
"Alas!" said Lisele, who told us this when we went to see her at her aunt's house. "Suppose he is defeated, what protection shall we then have from our enemies?"
"We must trust in Jehovah, my child," said Abela. "Or, if he thinks fit to allow us to be afflicted, we must submit without murmur to His will. We know that we can but suffer here for a short season, and that He has prepared a glorious and happy home for those who love Jesus, and obey His commandments down on earth. Oh yes! since I have known the truth, I have learned to understand that this world is a place of trial, and that we must not look for peace and happiness and rest while we are in it. God indeed made the world beautiful, and intended it to be happy, but Satan persuaded man to sin, and sin has caused man to depart from God, and brought all the disorder and misery and suffering which we see around us. Faith in Jesus Christ can alone remedy all these evils, and I am sure that they will exist till all the world learns to love and obey Him."
These remarks of Abela will show that she had made great advances in Christian knowledge, and was well able to instruct her young niece.
Lisele came back with us to the school, which my mother, although weak and suffering still, insisted on superintending. I think that she herself was not aware how ill she really was.
We used to go down every morning to the sea to bathe in a little sheltered cove, almost surrounded by high rocks, where there was no danger of a visit from a shark. Here my father had built a small hut in which Maud and I might dress. The native girls dispensed with any such accommodation, and while we were content to swim about in the bay, they would boldly strike out a long distance from the land. Even when the wind blew strong on the shore, and the surf came rolling in, they would dash through it, now diving under a huge breaker, now rising to its foaming summit, and playing about as securely as if they were on the dry land.
Two mornings after the chief had paid us a visit we went down as usual to bathe, when we saw a large fleet of canoes, propelled by paddles, gliding over the smooth water of the lagoon towards the passage which communicated with the open sea. On first seeing them we were about to hurry home, fearing that they might be enemies, but Lisele quieted our alarm, by telling us that they were her father's fleet, starting on his proposed expedition. They were curious looking vessels. Each consisted of two long narrow canoes placed side by side, but at some distance from each other, and united by strong beams, on which a platform or stage was erected, thus making one vessel. The rowers sat with long paddles on either side, while on the deck stood the warriors in their war-paint and feathers, and flourishing their lances and whirling their clubs, inciting each other to the deeds of valour, or rather of cruelty, which they intended to perform. Instead of a mast in the centre, there was a triangle with the ends fixed on either side, on which the mat-formed sail extended on a long yard ready to be hoisted.
As they glided by the sound of the wild shouts and shrieks they uttered reached our ears.
"May my poor father be protected," said Lisele to me, as we watched them. "Once I should have thought what we see very fine, and should have sung and clapped my hands with joy. Now that I know how wicked it is to go and fight and kill other human beings, I feel inclined to weep with sorrow."
"We must pray for your father, Lisele," I said, "that God will turn his heart and make him see the crime of warfare."
"Yes, yes; that is my comfort," she answered.
When the canoes reached the outlet from the lagoon the sails were hoisted, and at a rapid rate they glided away over the ocean, while Lisele, Maud, and I, knelt down on the sand and prayed, not that God would give the victory to the chief, but that He would turn his heart and make him to know the truth.
As we were leaving the beach we saw another canoe coming round a headland through the lagoon, which she had entered by a further off passage. Had the strange canoe been a little sooner she would have encountered the fleet, and very likely have been stopped and compelled to accompany the war party. Her appearance caused us some anxiety. If she had heathens on board, they might land and rob us, or cause us even more serious annoyance. We continued to watch her, as we knew that we should have plenty of time to escape and give warning at the village before she could come to shore. At length we discovered a flag flying from the end of her yard, and great was my joy to see that on it was worked a dove with the olive branch of peace—I consequently hoped that a missionary might be on board coming to visit us. We waited therefore for the arrival of the canoe. We could distinguish, however, as she drew near, only natives on her deck. They all were in the dress adopted by Christian converts—in shirts and trousers.
The canoe soon ran up on the beach, when a native stepped on shore with a letter in his hand. He told me that he had been sent by Mr Hilton, a missionary stationed on an island about fifty miles off. Mr Hilton was very ill, and entreated my father to come and see him; for, believing that he should not recover, he was anxious to commit his motherless children to his charge. We accordingly conducted the messenger up to the house.
The letter caused my father much grief and perplexity. He sorrowed to hear of his friend's illness, and felt anxious to go to him, and yet he was unwilling to leave my mother and us for so long a time, when the settlement might possibly be annoyed by heathens. Still he knew that he could with confidence leave the instruction of the people to Nanari, who would also protect my mother and us to the best of his power. He sent for Nanari, and spoke to him on the subject.
"God helping me, I will do all that man can do," answered Nanari. "And nothing shall tempt me to quit the post you have committed to my charge."
My mother, feeling for our poor friend and for the young ones who might soon be deprived of his protection, sacrificing her own wishes, urged my father to go as he was requested. As there was no time to be lost if he would see his friend alive, bidding us a tender, and it seemed to me a peculiarly solemn farewell, he went on board the canoe, which immediately set sail on her return. We accompanied him to the beach, and watched the vessel till she was lost to sight in the distance.
On our return home we found my mother suffering greatly. The agitation of parting from my father had been more than she could bear. Oh, how I longed to recall him! Little could he have known her dangerous state. My father had a knowledge of medicine, and he might have applied remedies of which we were ignorant. Good Abela came up on hearing how ill my mother was, though she could afford us but little assistance. Suddenly, as I gazed at my mother, a fearful conviction came upon me that she was dying. She knew herself that such was the case. I cannot even now bear to dwell upon the sad scene, for sad indeed it was to us, though my mother's heart was lifted up with joy and hope.
"God's will be done, my children," she said, taking Maud's and my hand in hers. "He will care for and protect you though troubles arise which may seem overwhelming."
Abela and Nanari assured her that they would devote themselves to our service, yet the absence of my father must have been a sore trial to her.
During that night she breathed her last, and I was left motherless; so, indeed, was dear Maud, to whom she had been truly a mother.
Then quickly followed the funeral. All the Christians of the settlement stood round the grave, in a beautiful spot which had been set apart for the purpose, at a short distance from the chapel, when Nanari offered up a prayer that God's Holy Spirit would influence the hearts of all present, and enable them to possess the same hope of a joyous resurrection as that in which my mother died, he then addressed the people, urging them to put faith in God's goodness and wisdom, and telling them that though troubles might come, not therefore to suppose that He had forgotten to be gracious, but to go on praying and trusting in Him, till He might think fit to call them out of this world, to be with Him in glory and happiness unspeakable.
Maud and I spent that sad evening with our hands clasped together, often weeping but seldom speaking. My heart bled for my poor father, as I thought of his grief and anguish, when, on his return he would find that my mother had been taken from him.
"Still," said Maud, looking up in my face, "he will know that she is in joy surpassing human understanding, and we cannot tell from what trials and sufferings she may thus have escaped."
With the last thought I was greatly comforted.
As we stood together in the verandah that evening, gazing up into the sky and thinking of the glories now revealed to my mother, we saw a bright star with a long tail of light, such as we had never before beheld. I knew at once from its appearance that it was a comet. Many of the natives had seen it too, and we heard their voices uttering exclamations of surprise and terror. Soon afterwards we saw Lisele approaching. She hesitated, as if unwilling to intrude on our grief, but I called to her, and she came up to us. I told her what I knew about comets, and begged her to try and calm the alarm of her people, and to assure them that it was but a luminous mass, and that it betokened neither good nor evil to the inhabitants of this world, though Jehovah directed its course, as He orders everything else in the universe.
"Ah, but the heathens will not think so," she exclaimed, "and we know not what effect it may have upon their minds. Perhaps they will think it is sent through the incantations of the Christians, and will come in consequence and attack us."
I scarcely thought this possible, but Lisele was positive that it would have a bad effect. She went, however, to tell the Christian natives what I had said, and to assure them that the comet would do them no harm.
Oh, how sad was that night and the next morning, when we looked on the bed on which my mother had slept, and knew that we should never again see her dear face there, so calm and beautiful. We had, however, our duties to perform, and we set about them as we knew she would have desired.
While we were thus engaged Nanari appeared to learn if there was anything he could do for us, saying that the people would bring us all the food we might require, and begging that we would not be anxious on that score. He then told us that a vessel was off the coast, and by going to the front of the house we saw her. We hoped that she might have friends on board coming to visit our Station, or that where my father and Mr Hilton were, as we knew how gladly she would be welcomed there.
As we watched her, we saw at length, to our disappointment, from the course she was steering, that she was not coming to our Station, but was apparently about to enter a harbour further down the coast.
"I would that I could warn those on board of the character of the natives where she is going," said Nanari, when he saw this. "Unless they are on their guard I fear that they may be treated as others have been."
We had only one small canoe at the Station, but Nanari said that if we would write a message he would induce two of the Christian natives to carry it off. I accordingly hastily wrote a note, warning the captain of the vessel against any treachery which might be intended, and with much satisfaction saw the canoe paddle off towards her. The breeze, however, was strong, and it seemed doubtful whether the canoe would reach the stranger before she came to an anchor.
WE RECEIVE THE SAD TIDINGS OF THE MASSACRE OF THE CREW OF THE VESSEL.—I STILL HOPE THAT SOME MAY HAVE ESCAPED, AND LISELE TAKES MEANS TO RESCUE THEM.—SHE SENDS HER COUSIN TOFA, TO MAFOA, THE YOUNG CHIEF TO WHOM HER FATHER HAS BETROTHED HER.—A FEARFUL HURRICANE.—THE HEATHEN NATIVES PREVENTED BY IT FROM ATTACKING THE SETTLEMENT AND SEIZING US.
We could scarcely hope that my father would have had time to return, yet we anxiously looked for his arrival. The canoe with the two natives had been unable to reach the vessel, and information was brought to Lisele that they had been seized and killed by the heathens, who had gone out in chase of them. A bright light was also seen at night in the direction of the harbour in which the vessel was supposed to have anchored; and the next day the dreadful rumour reached us that Nanari's worst apprehensions had been realised, that she had been surprised by the treacherous natives, and that every person on board had been put to death. At first we could not believe so fearful a story, but Lisele assured us that she had no doubt of its truth.
"Is it not possible that some may have escaped?" I exclaimed, when Lisele gave me the account. "Have all the people on board the beautiful vessel, sailing by so proudly the other day, been killed? Should any have escaped could we not take means to let them know that there are Christian friends here who would welcome them? If my father was at home I am sure he would make all effort to rescue the unhappy people."
Lisele replied that although the tribe who had committed the deed were at present at peace with her people, that even should any white man have escaped it would be difficult to get them out of the heathens' hands, but that she would try what could be done. "There is a young chief among them who is more inclined than the rest of the people to be friendly with my father," she observed. "Although he is a brave warrior, he is neither fierce nor cruel; and if, by chance, any of the white men have fallen into his power he may possibly have spared their lives. I will try to send a message to him and ask him to protect them, and to give them up to your father. Yet I fear there is very little probability of any having escaped."
Lisele's answer gave me very little hope that any had escaped the massacre; but I was sure that she would take every means to ascertain the truth. Nanari, when he heard the account, was willing to go himself, but both Abela and Lisele entreated him not to make the attempt—urging that the heathens were so enraged at him for having caused so many people to lotu, that they would be certain, should he venture among them, to put him to death.
He at length was persuaded to abandon his design, and Lisele undertook to send a young relative, who, although a heathen, was attached to her, and would do whatever she desired. Being still a boy he had not accompanied her father, but he was more likely to succeed than anybody she could think of. In the course of the day Tofa, the lad of whom Lisele spoke, made his appearance. He was a fine intelligent-looking youth, and I could not help hoping that through the means of his cousin he might be brought to know the truth. He seemed proud of the mission given to him, though he was well aware of the danger he incurred.
"Tell Mafoa that if he really regards me as he professes, he will act according to my wishes, and treat the white men as friends," said Lisele. Mafoa was the young chief of whom she had spoken, and who, I had no doubt, from this remark, entertained hopes of making her his wife.
Recollecting that should any seamen have escaped, they would have a difficulty in understanding young Tofa, I wrote a short note which I hoped would prove of more service than the last I had sent, mentioning the missionary station, and saying that we and the Christian natives would gladly afford them all the assistance in our power. Several other messages having been given to Tofa, he set off on his expedition; and we kneeling down, offered up a prayer for his success.
Notwithstanding our anxiety, with the assistance of Lisele and Abela, we held school as usual, while Nanari conducted the service in the chapel, and instructed the young men and boys, as was his custom. The night was as calm as the preceding one. The comet could be seen winding its solitary course through the heavens, appearing even brighter than before. After Maud and I had gazed at it for some time we retired to our beds. I heard her sobbing, giving way at length to the sorrow she had restrained in my presence—not that she could have felt my mother's loss more than I did, but I was older, and had endeavoured, though the strife was a hard one, to command my feelings. At length I heard her sobs cease, and I in time forgot my sorrow in sleep.
We were both suddenly awakened by a fearful noise. We started up—all was dark. There came the sound of the wind howling in the trees and falling timber, and the roaring of the sea, as it dashed upon the reef with tremendous force, and rocks crashing down from the mountain heights. A hurricane was raging. We sat up trembling with alarm. My first thought was for my dear father, should he now be at sea returning to us. Then other dreadful sounds, like thunder breaking overhead. Something else terrific besides the hurricane was occurring, it seemed to us, yet we dared not leave the house for fear of being blown away by the wind. After some time we assisted each other to dress, as well as we could, in the dark, for we expected every moment that the roof would be carried off, or the house itself blown down. We remembered several hurricanes, but this appeared more violent than any that had before occurred. We had been protected during former ones, and we knew that the same power would take care of us now. I had proposed lighting the lamp, when Maud observed, should the house be blown down, it might set the thatch on fire, and the whole village would be burnt.
"Let us remain in darkness, for remember God sees us as if it was light, she said. Darkness is no darkness with Him—the day and night to Him are both alike."
I agreed with Maud, and together we knelt down side by side to pray for protection. Although the tempest continued to rage without, our house, built by my father's hands, stood firm. It was, like his own faith, well knit and bound together. He had not forgotten, when erecting it, that such hurricanes were likely to occur, and he had accordingly prepared for them.
So should we go through life, not trembling with the fear of misfortunes, but ready to encounter them should they overtake us.
Hour after hour seemed to pass by as we thus knelt and prayed. Every now and then we could not help starting up, as a more fearful crash than usual sounded in our ears. Still the wished-for daylight did not appear. The truth was, that since the commencement of the storm but a short time only had elapsed, though in our desolation and solitude it had appeared very long.
At length we heard a knocking at the door. I made my way, followed by Maud, to open it, when two figures appeared, and I heard the voices of Nanari and Lisele. During the moment the door was open I observed a bright glare in the sky above the waving and bending trees, but it was only for a moment, as immediately they were inside they closed the door behind them.
"Are you safe, are you uninjured?" they exclaimed. "We could not bear to leave you all alone, and, trusting to Jehovah's protection, we ventured up here, hoping to comfort you."
We thanked them for coming, and I led the way into our sitting-room. "What dreadful event is occurring in addition to the hurricane?" I asked. "Can the forest be on fire?"
"The mountain has burst forth, and is sending up stones and ashes into the air, while hot streams of lava are flowing down its sides," answered Nanari. "Not one but many forests may be burned, but we are in the hands of Jehovah, and should not fear, my daughter."
I inquired whether he thought that the ashes or streams of lava might reach as far as the settlement, he believed that, shut in as we were, by a separate range of hills, that the lava at all events would not run down towards us; though, with regard to the ashes and stones, how far they might be carried, he could not say, and again he added the same consolation he had before offered.
Poor Lisele was in much affliction. Her father might probably be at sea—as I feared mine was—and exposed to the dreadful tempest, and she could not hope that he, having set forth against the warnings of his Christian friends, would be under the protection of Jehovah. "Alas! alas!" she exclaimed, wringing her hands, should he be driven out over the ocean and lost, he will not have known the good and merciful God who would—had he listened to the advice given him—have received him as a son, and taken him to dwell with Him for ever in the glorious country you have told me of beyond the skies.
"We have prayed for your father, and may continue to pray for him, my child," said Nanari. "And Jehovah may still find a way to preserve him from the danger in which he is placed." Thus conversing, and often kneeling down to pray, we passed the hours of darkness.
As dawn approached, the hurricane began to abate; and by the time the sun rose out of the eastern ocean, it had entirely ceased. As we opened the door and gazed forth we had reason to be more than ever thankful that we had escaped destruction. Several tall trees, a short distance from the house, lay torn up by the roots, and huge boughs strewed the ground in every direction. The chapel and school-house had escaped injury; but Nanari, who went out to ascertain whether any of the people had suffered, came back with a sad report. Several of the cottages had been blown down, two people had been killed, and many more injured.
Leaving Maud and Lisele to attend to the house, I accompanied Nanari to visit the sufferers. While receiving instruction as a missionary he had been taught the simple methods to be pursued under such circumstances. Abela, I was thankful to find, had escaped, and she assisted us in bathing and binding up the wounds and setting the limbs of those who had been hurt. There was sorrow for those who had been killed, but it was not such sorrow as the heathen would have shown who have no hope.
"Jehovah is merciful, and has called our brothers to a better and happier land than this," exclaimed those who stood around, preparing to carry the dead to their graves.
We were not aware of it at the time—but we learned afterwards—that on that very night a band of savage heathens were on their way to attack the settlement with the intention of killing Nanari, and carrying off Lisele and us as prisoners. How dreadful would have been our fate had they succeeded, and, unwarned as we were, we should have been taken by surprise without the possibility of escaping.
The volcano continued raging during the day, but the natives, accustomed to see its fires burst forth from time to time, were less alarmed at it than they were at the appearance of the comet. As I watched it, I conceived the hope that a stream of lava, flowing down between us and the more hostile heathen tribes, might prevent them from approaching to attack us.
LISELE AND I FEEL GREAT ANXIETY ON ACCOUNT OF OUR FATHER'S NOT RETURNING.—TOFA ALSO HAS NOT APPEARED.—WE ARE ASSEMBLED IN THE CHAPEL, WHEN TOFA, WITH A WHITE STRANGER, ARRIVES AND WARNS US THAT THE HEATHENS THREATEN AN ATTACK.—TOFA TAKES CHARGE OF HIS COMPANION.—WE FLY TO THE MOUNTAINS, AND WITNESS THE BURNING OF OUR VILLAGE. WE LIE CONCEALED IN A CAVE, WHILE THE SAVAGES SEARCH FOR US.
The hurricane had caused sad damage to the cocoanut groves and plantations in our little settlement, and we had no doubt that it, in addition to the eruption of the volcano, had produced still more destructive effects throughout the island, but I own that my thoughts were far more occupied with my anxiety about my father. In vain we watched for the return of his canoe. No sail appeared in the blue ocean in the direction of the island to which he had gone. Lisele too was overwhelmed with grief at the non-appearance of her father; her only hope was that he had conquered his enemies and remained in possession of their country. Still he would, she thought, before this, have despatched a canoe to announce his victory.
Two days passed away, and we began to look for the return of young Tofa; but on the third day, when he did not come, fears for his safety were added to our other troubles. The chief, indeed, the only refuge from our sorrows, was prayer; how great was the comfort that brought to our hearts none but those who have experienced it can tell.
We continued to attend to our usual duties. Though the younger girls and boys assembled for school, the older people were too much agitated and alarmed to attend to their studies; they were also chiefly employed during the day in repairing the damages caused by the storm.
In the evening, however, they all assembled in the chapel for public prayer. Nanari was addressing them, when the noise of feet was heard without, and directly afterwards Tofa appeared, followed by a young white man. The latter took off his hat when he saw how we were engaged, and stood reverentially at the door for a moment, as if unwilling to interrupt us, though evidently in a state of great agitation.
Tofa, however, influenced by no such feelings, exclaimed loudly, "Fly! fly! and hide yourselves. Your enemies are approaching, and will be here anon. Mafoa tried to prevent them, but he could not prevail."
"My friends!" exclaimed Nanari, "the warning has been sent that you all may seek for safety. For myself, I will remain with the aged and wounded people, who cannot fly; but you, my daughters," turning to Maud and me, "who have been committed to my charge, I must see that you are placed in a secure hiding-place, where the heathens cannot find you."
"We will place ourselves under your guidance," I answered, "but you must also take care that this stranger does not again fall into the hands of the heathens," I added, turning to the young man who was standing at the door, and who appeared to be above the rank of a common sailor. "Tell me," I asked, "are you the only person who has escaped from the vessel, which we heard was burned the other day along the coast?"
"I fear that such is the case, and why my life was spared I cannot tell you," he answered. "I jumped overboard, and was swimming towards the shore, when I was taken up by a canoe, in which was a young chief, who made signs that he would protect me, and faithfully kept his word. I should have remained with him had I not received a note sent, I presume, by you."
This was said in a hurried tone, while Nanari was arranging a plan for our safety.
I told the stranger of the warning we had just received from Tofa of the threatened attack by the heathens, supposing that he might not have understood what the lad might have said to him.
While some of our friends ran off to the huts to obtain provisions, Abela and Lisele taking our hands, told us that we must set off at once to the mountains, till the fury of the heathens had ceased. Three or four of our other friends also prepared to accompany us.
"But what will this stranger do?" I asked. "Surely if the heathens find him when no longer under the protection of Mafoa, they will put him to death."
"He is under my care," exclaimed Tofa. "I promised Mafoa that I would protect him, and I will show them that I am clever enough to hide him away even although the whole tribe come to look for him."
I explained this to the young stranger, and advised him to put himself under Tofa's guidance. Nanari having commended us to the care of Jehovah, we and our friends, not stopping even to obtain anything at the house, hurried off towards the mountains, while Tofa led the stranger by a more direct way up a precipice, which was too steep for us to climb. As we were quitting the chapel, turning my eyes seaward for a moment, I caught sight of several sails dotting the ocean in the far distance. I pointed them out to Lisele.
"They may be my father's canoes," she exclaimed, "and he might arrive in time to protect us."
"Alas! even should they be Masaugu's fleet, they may be too late for that," said Abela. "We must not delay on such a chance; perhaps, too, they may prove more deadly foes than those from whom we fly. Let us hasten on, and we may be able to learn what they are when our charge is in safety."
Thus urged, Lisele no longer hesitated. Night was coming on, but provided we could make our way, the darkness would assist us in eluding our savage foes should they pursue us. The path towards the mountains, at all times difficult, was rendered doubly so by the number of fallen trees across it, thrown down by the hurricane. Sometimes we had to climb over the trunks, at others to creep under the branches.
"The heathens will be less able to discover our tracks," observed Lisele, "than if the path had been open."
"Ah yes! my child," said Abela, "all is ordered for the best."
Now we went on and on, now clambering over wild rocks, now proceeding along a narrow valley, now climbing its steep sides till we reached a height whence we could look back upon our settlement. "Hark!" said Lisele, "what cries are those?" We listened; the Indian girl's quick ear had detected sounds which neither Maud nor I had till then perceived.
"Alas! alas!" she exclaimed, "they are the shouts of the savage heathens as they rush in among those we have left behind, and rage at finding that we have escaped them."
That she was right in her conjecture we had too soon painful evidence. Several bright lights appeared, and presently fierce flames burst forth from amid the trees. The savages had set the houses on fire to revenge themselves on the inhabitants who had for the present escaped their fury. Our friends, not stopping to watch the progress of the flames, hurried us on. Proceeding along a narrow ridge, we once more descended down a ravine thickly covered with trees. The natives knew their way, but so dense was the foliage that to my eyes all appeared dark around. We could hear the roar of a torrent close to us. Now they led us along slippery rocks, tightly holding our hands; now we found ourselves ascending, now descending, steep precipices. At length they stopped, and drawing aside the thick foliage, Abela led us into a small cavern, the front of which appeared to be completely concealed by underwood and numberless creepers with which it was entwined. A portion of the provisions, and some water which had been brought, were placed by our sides.
"Here, my daughters, you will remain safe till the heathens, having searched for you in vain, take their departure," said Abela. "I know this spot well, for before Masaugu's father conquered the territory he now holds, I and my family dwelt in the neighbourhood. I discovered it as a girl when rambling about the mountains with my brothers, who are dead, and no one else is acquainted with it. We ourselves propose to find concealment in different directions, for should the heathens search for us, some may thus have a better prospect of escaping, and the faith of Jehovah will still remain in the land."
Abela and her companions, having carefully allowed the shrubs to regain their natural position, left Maud and me alone, and we soon lost the sound of their footsteps. The cavern was perfectly dry, and sufficient air found its way through the boughs to prevent the atmosphere from feeling close. Some mats had also been left for us, on which we could recline; but, as may be supposed, the fearful events that had occurred, and the grief and anxiety which weighed on our hearts, prevented us for many hours from sleeping. No sound except that of the ceaseless roar and splash of the neighbouring waterfall, reached our ears. While we sat, shrouded in darkness, it was difficult to avoid giving way to despondency. We did not, I need scarcely say, forget to pray, while we had cause to be thankful at having received sufficient warning to escape from the cruel fate which would have overtaken us had we been at the settlement.
At last we slept, and the light of day was making its way through the dense foliage when we awoke. Our cavern, we now found, was even smaller than we had supposed. There was no room to walk about; indeed, it afforded us just space sufficient to lie down at full length. As we peered out between the bushes, we could see the opposite sides of the ravine rising up in a perpendicular precipice directly before us. This gave us an assurance that there was little probability of our being discovered by the savages, even though they might search diligently for us through the mountains. Our friends had left us an ample supply of provisions so that if necessary we might remain many days there without fear of starvation. But what was to be our future lot it was impossible to say.
"It is a great comfort to know that God will decide it for us," said Maud, putting her arms round my neck. "He knows what is best, and He will find a way of escape for those who trust Him, out of all difficulties. See," she added, "I have brought His word to comfort us," and she produced a small Bible from her pocket, which she had thoughtfully put there when leaving the chapel.