it still looks like a strip of pulpy rag. In the final stage the finest grooved side is used, when the tapa is well beaten together, and looks like some closely woven material.

The whole scene was both interesting and striking. The noise was great, for the beating, like most things in the islands, was done to the usual rhythm. The time is meticulously exact, and forty hammers sounding together on hard logs makes no inconsiderable sound. Besides this the inevitable chanting went on all the time. Tou's wife led the voices, which on this occasion produced more of a rhythmic shouting than singing. She is an expert in tapa making we were told, and teaches all the women on Mitiaro. On many islands the art is already dying out. In the Cook Group the cloth is always a pale-brown, and unpatterned. In Samoa beautiful designs cover the surface, sometimes painted on, sometimes printed in the native process in native vegetable dyes.

Behind the women sat their husbands, looking very proud of them; and marvellous to relate, alongside most of the workers lay small babies, fast asleep. It seemed incredible that they could sleep through the noise, and with the unshaded lamp-light flaring in their faces. One sweet brown baby face I particularly noticed; peaceful and placid with fast-closed eyes, within two feet of where its mother's hammer fell (with forty others,

be it remembered) on the hard log, the mother shouting every second with all her might.

Presently the beating stopped. Tou's wife harangued the beaters, and Geoffrey translated a few words of thanks and appreciation from the visitors. A wooden hammer was presented to me, a real treasure, as it was an old one which had been used by several generations of tapa makers. Then we all splashed our way back to the house through the darkness, where we were asked to seat ourselves once more on the semi-circle of chairs.

"The people want," said Geoffrey, "to share their evening prayers with you."

I found this a very touching incident of the day. The people crowded into the verandah, and a good many into the room, overflowing also into the rooms right and left of us. Others squatted out in the marae in spite of the rain.

A hymn began. The ordinary visitor would not know it from the usual song, if merely the style of music were taken into consideration. But one knew at once by the demeanour of the singers. No gesticulation, no cheerful smiles at the guests; all looked straight in front of them and sang steadily.

Suddenly the singing ceased, and the native pastor came quietly forward from the crowd and prayed. Odd words here and there, which I happened to have picked up, indicated the meaning of the prayers, which were nearly all for us, for our

safety, for our prosperous voyage; then there were thanksgivings for our visit, and that we and the islanders had had the joy of meeting. There was dead silence during the prayers, the chiefs by the door bowed their heads; no one even moved. Memories of the old missionaries came into my mind. Of John Williams, that fine fellow who, in the early years of the nineteenth century, brought Christianity to these islands. He landed in the face of opposition, carrying his life in his hands. He won the love and respect of the wild people; in the short space of twelve years he brought cannibalism and tribal fighting practically to an end, and his reward was martyrdom at Eromango. He built on a sure foundation; the peace and contentment found in these simple islanders are surely due to him and the Faith he taught. If only increased contact with the outer world, which must inevitably come, does not rob them of it!

The pastor finished quietly, and singing immediately began again. This time the solemnity was less marked. Some of the crowd in front even began to move their limbs furtively with the usual rhythmic action. Perhaps we were now returning to secular music? Somebody whispered the question to a trader (the only white man in the settlement) who sat amongst

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still, the singing ceased, and the chiefs raised their heads.

The worshippers slipped away, melting silently into the darkness, and Tou spoke to Geoffrey." He says," Geoffrey translated, "that the doings of the evening are over, and you may now all go to bed. Your beds are here," he concluded, waving his hand. We looked round. Behind our chairs Mrs Tou had arranged two mattresses. "These are for the young ladies," explained the interpreter. Your Excellencies' room is there."

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The room looked very nice as far as we could see it through the open door, large and high with an imposing four-post bed at either end, but at the moment it was occupied by about twenty individuals-men, women, and children-sitting on the floor gazing at us as if spellbound. Although it was evidently considered bedtime, no move was made to clear the room, and we felt almost brutal for suggesting that we might now have it to ourselves. Under the gentle persuasion of Geoffrey Henry, the friendly crowd soon disappeared, and half an hour later quietness reigned.

The evening had been full of interest, but it is the night which stands out most in the retrospect of our Mitiaro visit. I lay at rest but wakeful on an amazingly high bed-a vast four-poster of the old type, introduced, of course, by the missionary of the early nineteenth century. Under me


was spread a tevaevae (a cotton neighbouring island of Atiu, quilt ornamented with appliqué where they had made friends. patterns or patchwork), that To the marae, by the chief's household adjunct indispensable orders, were brought the images and dear to the island home, which they and their ancestors gay with colour and spotlessly had worshipped for centuries; clean. The bare walls of the there they were burnt wholesale. room were freshly whitewashed. "Must we even burn TarThe other large four-poster and ianui?" asked asked the Mitiaro a big table were the only other people, astonished, for Tarpieces of furniture. On the ianui, or Great-ears, was a latter stood a dish of peeled special god of whom the king oranges and a great basket was priest. Burn them all," of island shells, offerings of said Romatane; and the people, overnight. In the central room accustomed to obey their chief, where we had had supper, the did so in terror, expecting two girls of the party slept strangulation by the gods in on the mattresses, the rest return for the insult of having of the Influential Followers their images burnt. So, in having been billeted in the one day, as far as one can village. gather, were the superstitions, practices, and beliefs of ages overturned; thereafter was peace, for tribal wars ceased almost immediately, and human sacrifices and other horrors were condemned by the Christian chiefs.

Outside the rain fell noisily, as it can fall only in the tropics. The long branches of the palms crashed together as the wind roared round and through them. Sleep I found impossible, but I was too keenly interested to mind lying wide awake even if I had found it possible to do otherwise. It was at this period that I asked myself doubtfully, "Is this "Is this really myself sleeping in Chief Tou's house on Mitiaro Island in the South Pacific, or am I dreaming it all?"

How peaceful and yet how primitive the island seemed. seemed. And yet only a short hundred years ago, fierce fighting was incessant, ghastly rituals were practised, infanticide and cannibalism were rife.

Here to this village the warrior chief Romatane brought Williams in 1823 from the

Crash! a stronger gust of wind than usual interrupted my meditations, and blew open one of our doors. It opened on to the to the verandah, where, by the light of a struggling moon, I could see many forms dimly lying on the stone floor. The night was warm, and it was motives of privacy rather than fear of cold that suggested I should take action. I climbed down, fastened the door, and ascended once more to my tevaevae. Crash! went the opposite door. More dim forms on the other verandah. "I shall stay where I am," I thought firmly. The wind was

stronger on this side of the house, and swirled into and round the room. Presently the original door burst open once more. I lay watching the fronds of the palms tossing blackly to and fro against the sky. Then on the threshold of one verandah showed the vague form of a large village dog. He paused, with one paw raised, then loped slowly through the room and out at the opposite door. A few minutes later another dog, of a smaller and more bustling type, availed itself of the same short-cut, after which a large cat stole in and lost itself among the shadows. This was too much. I descended once more. Hissing through my set teeth in the usual manner of melodrama, I expelled the cat, then began to grapple with the door-not an easy task-as both it and I were buffeted by the wind.

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As I struggled a low voice penetrated to my ear above the roar, "I am coming to you.' A form uprose and detached itself from the darkness. It was that of the faithful Geoffrey. He fastened the door, not without difficulty, and I retired once more. This time I did sleep, but it seemed only a minute or two till the dawn woke us by flooding the room with light. The wind had entirely dropped, the rain had ceased; peace reigned on the island.

We were all dressed by half


past five, as we had to be over the reef and on board the ship by six. The islanders had mostly scattered overnight, and had not known we were to be off so early, so that we had a quiet leave-taking. The trader, a Dutch priest who had turned up from somewhere, and a score or two of natives, headed by Tou, escorted us to the shore. Shy children edged up to us as we walked down, and pushed little gifts into our hands-a plaited basket, a handful of shells, a flower; smiling and nodding, women threw wreaths round our necks.

The Chief made his farewells, and accepted with quiet dignity our warm thanks for the hospitality of himself and his people. Once more strong arms seized us and carried us to the reef. We entered the boats; a quick command, wild shouting and chanting as the backwash of a big wave bore us seaward, hard pulling to avoid being thrown back by the next on to the reef-and we were clear.

Ten minutes later we were standing on the ship's deck watching tiny figures that waved to us from the lessening shore. We had said good-bye to Mitiaro, and had added yet another charming impression to the store that we had been gathering throughout this delightful cruise-impressions of the kindness and hospitality of a cheerful, friendly, and gener

ous race.




THE month of May was drawing to its close, and from all over Western India cotton was being hurried into Bombay.

Upon the harbour wall of the Edward Docks the three huge sheds that were specially allotted to the coasting steamers of the Western India Steam Navigation Company were, upon the day that had not long dawned, crammed to their doors with goods awaiting clearance.

The wharves that formed the harbour wall itself were piled high with other goods marked for export, and in the narrow cobbled roadway between these temporary ramparts and the bulging sheds a confused medley of native passengers, tikkagharris, bullock carts, handtrucks, and coolies combined to raise such an excruciating din as was surely never heard elsewhere upon this earth.

But that was nothing new to the slim, silk-clad, young Englishman who, by eight o'clock that morning, was standing amidst it all, dodging a bullock's horns here, a gharri's wheel there, and, at intervals, the sweep of a loaded netsling passing close above his head.

He was conversing, or attempting, in a series of shouts, to converse with a small, very thin, eagle-faced Parsee, whose

round black cap was thrust back from a forehead wrinkled with agitation.


"It's all right, Rustomji," he was saying, we shall be able to clear all this stuff in a day or two; but if you go on getting paralysed about it much more, that cap of yours will fall right off into the mud, and you'll be ruined."

The little supercargo smiled deprecatingly. For more years than the Sahib in front of him could count he had battled here with the annual tide of traffic, and he loved the noisy confusion with all his small self. But upon every morning of every busy season of each of those years he had pushed back his cap, declared that never in all his life had he witnessed so complete a breakdown in the Company's service, and announced his determination to resign without another moment's delay. It was his way of getting properly into his stride for the day's work.

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