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"Yes," I said. "He's a vindictive little little beggar. I shouldn't be surprised if he tried to knife me in the back one day. I'll have to look out for him."

John laughed. "Don't you worry, uncle," said he. "He won't kill you. Why! you're the goose that's going to lay a lot of golden eggs. All he'll do, if I know the breed, is to sue you for damages. And when I think of all you've done to him, I shouldn't wonder if you found yourself a financial corpse by the time he's done with you!"

Incredible as it may seemJohn was right! As I told the Judge in Court: I am a plain man, and I do not understand what all this fuss is about. The fellow refused hospitality to strangers in distress; he grossly insulted my niece; and he then threatened to shoot us if we attempted to extricate ourselves from our predicament. In the countries in which I have lived men have been killed for less. I restrained myself, however. I did not even lay one finger upon the man. I merely left him to stew in his own juice. His troubles were all, obviously, of his own making. And then the authorities of this professedly civilised land interfere

and arrest me ! I repeat, I cannot understand it. Nevertheless, as you apparently insist upon it, I will agree to pay for the repairs to the wall and for the loss of the three alleged pedigree pigs. I will pay also for the damage done to the neighbourhood by the pigs which escaped, although the amount of this alleged damage is, to me, staggering. I refuse, however, to buy the man a new night-shirt, nor will I pay him the preposterous "personal damages " which he has the audacity to claim. The man has only himself to blame for treading on my niece's dog, and for drinking all my brandy, and then remaining in a drunken stupor inside the caravan. I won't pay him a cent!


That is the speech I made in Court. It is a good speech, I think, and it is all true, too. And, in spite of what Ann says, I mean to stick to every word of it. But I shall leave this benighted country quickly as I can. It is no place for me, for I am a man who likes to live a quiet life without worries. As I said to Ann, "I've had enough of this insensate civilisation. I was a fool to come home at all; and, as soon as the fatuous laws of this savage land let me, I'm going to clear out. I'm going back to Papua and peace again."

And my niece Ann agrees with me.

"I'm very, very fond of you, uncle," she said, "but I think, perhaps, if I were you — I would."



THE hydrographic survey of Efate and the adjoining isles having been completed, with their surrounding waters, the Dart's orders took her fifty miles farther north in the New Hebrides, where a string of seven small islands and islets, named the Shepherd Group, lie off the south-eastern end of the large island of Epi, and here we began to make a new chart.

Tongoa is the chief and largest island of the group, and Lumbukuti is its capital. There is a fair anchorage off the village; the principal mission station of the group is there, and there is a church and a white trader, at whose store on the beach European goods may be bought.

The missionary (Presbyterian) was a Mr Michelssen, a Norwegian by birth, but he spoke perfect English. He was much beloved and respected, and his word, as we soon discovered, was law, and it was a very kind and sensible law, too.

There are seven islands and islets in the group. Their volcanic origin is so recent that even the indefatigable coral "insect has not yet had time to establish himself round any of their shores. The seafronts of all consist of a deep brown lava rock, or else of


stretches of coal-black pebbles and boulders, which the white surf, washing through them perpetually, combs and keeps tidy. Inland, these islands are lovely beyond description. The bush is nowhere dark, nor matted up as on Efate and the older larger islands, but is open, and easy to make a road through when required. The existing tracks take you everywhere through glades bordered by crotons glowing in every shade of red and pale gold and delicate green, with for background grey-green aloes, dark-green dracenas, and the brown trunks of giant trees, while in every gully there are fairy forests of tall feathery tree-ferns.

Every bough that projects at a sufficient angle to support them is encrusted with orchids of a thousand kinds, most of them in full bloom, amidst ferns and festooning creepers. Here and there through the bush a dark-green banyan has cleared for itself a place in the sun, and stands out in immense contrast to the remaining trees. There was one on a hillside

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cliff about fifty feet high, that showed stark and grey amidst the rich growth of the forest. The great tree possessed six trunks, and from their bases there poured over and down the rock-face an entanglement of white roots, clinging to every crevice, that finally thrust themselves in a bunch into a cave at the foot of the cliff, in order to reach a spring of water that lay at the back of it. The tremendous boughs above, with their glistening closely packed leaves, must have shaded nearly a quarter of an


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So far as white man was concerned, the Shepherd Group was completely a " back-block,' and, except for the missionary, ours were practically the first white faces seen on them. In the preliminary stages of our survey I was told off to visit three islands near Tongoanamed respectively Ewose, Puninga, and Tongariki-in order to put up mark-flags on their sharp summits, and to get at each of them rough angles with a sextant to the other peaks, thus pioneering the field of work for the regular triangulation by theodolite. The islands are separated from one another by about three or four miles in each case, and it was just a day's work to land at each of them and climb to their summits, the first two entailing stiff scrambles up about 1000 feet. Tongariki, which


1600 feet high, was left to the last, as it was possible to sleep there in the mission hut, and

leave the climbing of the peak to the following day. As we reached each isle in turn, the excitement and welcome of the inhabitants was prodigious. When my party of bluejackets and I climbed up the precipitous hillsides we were accompanied by a crowd of guides (in each case the fruit of the missionary letter of introduction with which we had been provided), who would not allow us to carry a single article ourselves, and would have carried us as well if they had been permitted. Scattered through the bush were tiny patches of cultivation―yam, taro, and what not-clinging, as it seemed, by hidden hooks to the preposterous slopes ; and as we went through these hanging gardens we were proudly exhibited to the lucky people who happened to be at work in them. In the case of the less fortunate, through whose yam patch our path did not actually pass, a shouted conversation would take place between them and our guides, and as a result a window would swiftly be cut in the dense tangle of creepers and ferns which obscured us from view, and we would then, deferentially yet firmly, be led to the opening in order to exhibit our (conventionally) "white faces, crimson with exertion and streaming with perspiration, to the wondering natives. At one place where we had halted, partly to get breath and partly for exhibition purposes, I looked over the edge,


and could see, ever so far below, a crowd of six or eight Nicodemuses clustered in a tree in order to get a clearer view. I called the bluejackets to come and look, and our appearance was greeted with shouts of wonder and delight. One of the guides with us went so far as to take off my broadbrimmed hat, so as to show that there was no deception, and that we were the genuine white article. This aroused the most tremendous applause, and one began to feel as royalty must feel when some great public progress is being made and every eye searches their every feature, even though already well known through the cruel eye of the camera. But in our case the curiosity was more pure; the spectators had never had the least hint, such as a photograph gives, of the real appearance of this oftenreported but never hitherto substantiated unnatural white colour in man. It was impossible to be annoyed; the surprise of the natives was too amusing, and, in some obscure manner, gratifying to the vanity. Arrived at the summit, it was necessary to climb a tree in order from its top to get a clear view round the field of the survey. I felt like a murderer as I shinned up, kicking off as I did so wreaths of scented blossom and delicate ferns and mosses. But there was no help for it. The path of Science is never a "primrose path," and if it has to be an orchid" one,

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precariously followed up a tree, with sextant in one hand and dear life in the other, æsthetic feelings must be suppressed, or no angles will be taken.

We reached Tongariki just as the sun disappeared below the horizon, and though the landing-place is on the western side, and faced its final rays, the shadows of coming night were already apparent. As we approached the shore all that we could see from the boat was a steeply sloping beach of large black cobblestones, having a band of smaller pebbles at their foot. A considerable surf was rushing angrily up the beach and rattling down it, rolling the stones in both directions, and turning cobbles into pebbles. Not at all a nice place on which, in fading light, to beach a long and heavy boat filled with men and gear. Not a soul was in sight. Above the beach the island side sloped steeply up, covered with immense trees, now rapidly filling with darkness. At one point was the opening of a bushtrack, and a couple of canoes lay high on the beach in front of it. Evidently this marked the best place to land, so I directed the boat towards it and lay on the oars outside the surf, calling the island call, "Wa-o, Wa-o," as loudly as I could. As if by magic, the deserted beach suddenly became covered with men. I came in as near as I dared and shouted for Tom,"- —a turned labourer from Queensland, now become the mission


ary's deputy, and (lay) curate in charge of Tongariki. Tom thereupon stood out, a splendid figure of a man, wearing a hat of a green old age and a white waistcloth.

I held up my letter of introduction, and he instantly plunged into the surf, swam easily out to the boat, took the letter from the bowman, to whom I had passed it, and then swam ashore again to read it. By this time the crowd on the beach had swelled to about a hundred men, women, and children. Tom looked round commandingly, gave a few instructions, again swam out to the boat where I waited, and before I knew what he was attempting he had scrambled up over the stern, and was squatting behind me on the on the stern grating. He reached out a large wet hand to be shaken, and this done he took charge of me and the boat's crew.

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Altogidder man he put in oar," he commanded. You, you no frighty, me, me take-um boat; all fella man (he indicated the boat's crew) he sit down, he shtop." Obediently they and I sat down and stopped.

Next, with a rush and a splash through the surf, twenty men or more were out swimming alongside the boat, the boat's long anchoring rope was passed out and taken up the beach to be manned by the waiting crowd, and then, with such a howl as I have never since sat in the midst of, the boat and all that was in it-a

good ton and a half of dead weight-was, at Tom's word of command, rushed through the surf, up the steep bank of boulders, past high-water mark, and on to the small plateau above it at the foot of the trees. As soon as it stopped, supported upright on its keel by natives on both sides, we put out our legs over the gunwale landed in a

manner becoming white and Christian gentlemen on the dry land-a fashion very different from that to which we had become accustomed in the islands, namely, in the surf, and wet to the waist.

Then took place the inevitable handshaking, until there were no possible enemies left on either side. It is exhausting, if reassuring. if reassuring. While the ritual was proceeding, a long string of women appeared bearing torches of palm leaves, and under this illumination we collected out of the boat all the various articles needed for the night and for the next day's work, to be carried up to the mission hut that was to be our camp on the airy crest of the hill above us. As on the other islands, we were not permitted to carry a single thing ourselves; theodolite and cookingpots, sextant and axes, provisions and field note-books, bedding and water-breakers, there were carriers for each.

It was nearly a mile to the rest-house, and so strange and picturesque a scene can scarcely be imagined as our advance along the winding path, un

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