Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/45

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41
A HISTORY OF FIJI

cooked upon the hillside lay near this stone, as were also the great hollow log-drums, the "publishers of war" whose rolling beat the cannibal call in old days, and one of which now serves to summon worshippers to church.

An interesting trophy of old days was the anchor of the French brig Aimable Josephine which now lies close to the side of the foundation of the temple. This vessel was treacherously cut off at Mbau on the night of July 19, 1834, her captain and most of the crew being murdered. Native wars were waged over the possession of this trophy, the final resting place of which is Mbau.

The corner posts of the house of old Tanoa were still to be seen, and when natives pass these in the night they pluck green leaves and cast them upon the earth, for beneath the ground by the side of each post and embracing it with his arms there stands the skeleton of a victim who was buried alive.

The abutment of the sea wall of Mbau with its made-land, and docks built of large flat stones, is a remarkable example of native engineering, being surpassed only by the canal of the Rewans near Nakelo. Huge canoes, some of them with bows studded with white Cypræa shells, lie stranded here and there. The native houses are scattered over the made-land and along the gentle slope at the base of the hill, leaving the summit barren as of old, although here overlooking the city stands the residence of the Methodist missionary, and the graves of Tanoa and of Thakombau, the latter of whom died in 1883.

But exceeding all in interest was Ratu Epele Nailatikau, high chief of Fiji, son and successor of king Thakombau. Unreconciled to the presence of the white man, his memories harked far back to old days and beams covered with woven sennit, and in its treasures of old days, when his family were great and all-powerful in Fiji. Yet, though shorn of power, no king could have been treated with more respect by those around him than was he.

His house in Mbau was a small one, in no way differing from those of the lesser chiefs, excepting in the richness of its Taviuni tapa screens, and beams covered with woven sennit, and in its treasures of old days; the most notable of which was a well-oiled elephant's tusk beautifully browned and polished, which had lain upon the floor since the days of old Tanoa, who once prized it as the largest piece of "coin" in the world. Only the highest chiefs were permitted to enter his house, and even these dropped their titles and crouched silently against the wall awaiting his invitation ere they spoke.

In his every expression and gesture there was a stately consciousness of his high-born ancestry.

Although over sixty years of age, his finely muscular body still stood erect, with its dark bronze skin softened and smoothed through many a cocoanut-oil massage. Upon ceremonial occasions he blackened his