Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader.

Six years previous to the opening of our tale, he had come to Sandy Cove with his wife and child, the latter a girl of six years of age at that time.  In one year death bereaved the missionary of his wife, and, about the same time, war broke out in the island between the chiefs who clung to the idolatrous rites and bloody practises peculiar to the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands, and those chiefs who were inclined to favor Christianity.  This war continued to rage more or less violently for several years, frequently slumbering, sometimes breaking out with sudden violence, like the fitful eruptions of the still unextinct volcanoes in those distant, regions.

During all this period of bloodshed and alarms, the missionary stuck to his post.  The obstinacy of hatred was being gradually overcome by the superior pertinacity of zeal in a good cause, and the invariable practise—­so incomprehensible to the savage mind—­of returning good for evil.  The result was that the Sabbath bell still sent its tinkling sound over the verdant slopes above Sandy Cove, and the hymn of praise still arose, morning and evening, from the little church, which, composed partly of wood, partly of coral rock, had been erected under the eye, and, to a large extent, by the hands, of the missionary.

But false friends within the camp were more dangerous and troublesome to Mr. Mason than avowed enemies without.  Some of the European traders, especially, who settled on the island a few years after the missionary had made it habitable, were the worst foes he had to contend with.

In the same vessel that brought the missionary to the island, there came a widow, Mrs. Stuart, with her son Henry, then a stout lad of thirteen.  The widow was not, however, a member of the missionary’s household.  She came there to settle with her son, who soon built her a rudely-constructed but sufficiently habitable hut, which, in after years, was inclosed, and greatly improved; so that it at last assumed the dimensions of a rambling picturesque cottage, whitewashed, brilliant, and neat in its setting of bright green.

The widow, although not an official assistant to the missionary, was nevertheless a most efficient one.  She taught in his schools, being familiar with the native tongue; and, when the settlement grew in numbers, both of white and black, she became known as the good angel of the place,—­the one who was ever ready with sympathy for the sorrowful, and comfort for the dying.  She was fair and fragile, and had been exceedingly beautiful; but care had stamped his mark deeply in her brow.  Neither care nor time, however, could mar the noble outline of her fine features, or equal the love that beamed in her gentle eyes.

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Gascoyne, The Sandal Wood Trader from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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