“Nothing,” answered Hokosa, “save that victory is to the Cross, and to the white man who preaches it, for his magic is greater than our magic. By his command the tempest was stayed, and the boasts we hurled fell back upon our heads and the head of our god to destroy us.”
“Yes,” said the king, “victory is to the Cross, and henceforth the Cross shall be worshipped in this land, or at least no other god shall be worshipped. Let us be going. Come with me, Messenger, Lord of the Lightning.”
THE WISDOM OF THE DEAD
On the morrow Owen baptised the king, many of his councillors, and some twenty others whom he considered fit to receive the rite. Also he despatched his first convert John, with other messengers, on a three months’ journey to the coast, giving them letters acquainting the bishop and others with his marvellous success, and praying that missionaries might be sent to assist him in his labours.
Now day by day the Church grew till it numbered hundreds of souls, and thousands more hovered on its threshold. From dawn to dark Owen toiled, preaching, exhorting, confessing, gathering in his harvest; and from dark to midnight he pored over his translation of the Scriptures, teaching Nodwengo and a few others how to read and write them. But although his efforts were crowned with so signal and extraordinary a triumph, he was well aware of the dangers that threatened the life of the infant Church. Many accepted it indeed, and still more tolerated it; but there remained multitudes who regarded the new religion with suspicion and veiled hatred. Nor was this strange, seeing that the hearts of men are not changed in an hour or their ancient customs easily overset.
On one point, indeed, Owen had to give way. The Amasuka were a polygamous people; all their law and traditions were interwoven with polygamy, and to abolish that institution suddenly and with violence would have brought their social fabric to the ground. Now, as he knew well, the missionary Church declares in effect that no man can be both a Christian and a polygamist; therefore among the followers of that custom the missionary Church makes but little progress. Not without many qualms and hesitations, Owen, having only the Scriptures to consult, came to a compromise with his converts. If a man already married to more than one wife wished to become a Christian, he permitted him to do so upon the condition that he took no more wives; while a man unmarried at the time of his conversion might take one wife only. This decree, liberal as it was, caused great dissatisfaction among both men and women. But it was as nothing compared to the feeling that was evoked by Owen’s preaching against all war not undertaken in self-defence, and against the strict laws which he prevailed upon the king to pass, suppressing the practice of wizardry, and declaring the chief or doctor who caused a man to be “smelt out” and killed upon charges of witchcraft to be guilty of murder.