Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before eBook

George Turner (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before.
to let the canoes slip on quietly, and take up their position in the water in front of the village.  By break of day they rushed into the houses of the unsuspecting people before they had well woke up, chopped off as many heads as they could, rushed with them to their canoes, and decamped before the young men of the place had time to muster or arm.  Often they were scared by the people, who, during war, kept a watch, night and day, at all the principal openings in the reef; but now and then the plot succeeded and there was fearful slaughter.  It was in one of these early morning attacks from the fleet that the young man to whom I have referred had such a narrow escape.  That morning many were wounded, and the heads of thirteen carried off.  One of them was that of a poor old man, who was on his knees at his morning devotions, when off went his head at a blow.  In another house that same morning there was a noble instance of maternal heroism, in a woman who allowed herself to be hacked from head to foot, bending over her son to save his life.  It is considered cowardly to kill a woman, or they would have despatched her at once.  It was the head of her little boy they wanted, but they did not get it.  The poor woman was in a dreadful state, but, to the surprise of all, recovered.

It is now close upon a hundred years since the Samoans had their first serious quarrel with Europeans, and which ended in a fight.  I refer to the massacre at Tutuila of M. de Langle and others belonging to the expedition under the unfortunate La Perouse in 1787, and which branded the people for well-nigh fifty years as a race of treacherous savages whose shores ought not to be approached.  Had the native version of the tale been known, it would have considerably modified the accounts which were published in the voyages of La Perouse.  The origin of the quarrel was not with the party who went on shore in the boats.  A native who was out at the ship was roughly dealt with, for some real or supposed case of pilfering.  He was fired at and mortally wounded, and when taken on shore bleeding and dying, his enraged friends roused all on the spot to seek instant revenge.  Hence the deadly attack on the party in the boats at the beach, in which the stones flew like bullets and ended in the death of M. de Langle, his brother officer, and ten of the crew.  The natives wound up the bodies of the Frenchmen in native cloth and decently buried them, as they were in the habit of burying their own dead.  The only inference which ought to have been drawn from this tragic occurrence was that heathen natives have a keen sense of justice, and that if men will go on the disproportionate principle of a life for a tooth, and shoot a man for a perfect trifle, they must abide by the consequences.  It is almost certain to be avenged, and, alas! it is often the case that vengeance falls not on the guilty, but on some unsuspecting visitor who may subsequently follow.

CHAPTER XVIII.

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Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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