The poor natives worked with heart and soul; for love, and the desire to please and be pleased, had been awakened within them. Besides this, the work had for them all the zest of novelty. They wrought at it with somewhat of the feelings of children at play,—pausing frequently in the midst of their toil to gaze in wonder and admiration at the growing edifice, which would have done no little credit to a professional architect and to more skilled workmen.
The white men of the place also lent a willing hand; for although some of them were bad men, yet they were constrained to respect the consistent character and blameless life of the missionary, who not unfrequently experienced the fulfilment of that word: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Besides this, all of them, however unwilling they might be to accept Christianity for themselves, were fully alive to the advantages they derived from its introduction among the natives.
With so many willing hands at work, the little church was soon finished; and, at the time when the events we are describing occurred, there was nothing to be done to it except some trifling arrangements connected with the steeple, and the glazing of the windows. This latter piece of work was, in such a climate, of little importance.
Long before the bell had ceased to toll, the church was full of natives, whose dark, eager faces were turned towards the door, in expectation of the appearance of their pastor. The building was so full that many of the people were content to cluster round the door, or the outside of the unglazed windows. On this particular Sunday there were strangers there, who roused the curiosity and attracted the attention of the congregation. Before Mr. Mason arrived, there was a slight bustle at the door as Captain Montague, with several of his officers and men, entered, and were shown to the missionary’s seat by Master Corrie, who, with his round visage elongated as much as possible, and his found eyes expressing a look of inhuman solemnity, in consequence of his attempt to affect a virtue which he did not possess, performed the duties of doorkeeper. Montague had come on shore to ascertain from Mr. Mason what likelihood there was of an early attack by the natives.
“Where’s Alice?” whispered the boy to Poopy, as the girl entered the church, and seated herself beside a little midshipman, who looked at her with a mingled expression of disgust and contempt, and edged away.
“Got a little headache,—hee! hee!”
“Don’t laugh in church, you monster,” said Corrie, with a frown.
“I’se not larfin,” retorted Poopy, with an injured look.