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IN 1871 an attempt was made to occupy as mission Wo anchored off Hor's Tisland amongst a number

stations several islands in Torres Straits, as a of -diving boats. the stepping-stone to New Guinea. The men selected Barrier Reef (1,100 miles in length) is a light green. for the work were Loyalty Islanders, a race allied to In many places one can see the coral wonders at the the Papuan. Messrs. Murray and Macfarlane landed bottom. Torres Straits are about eighty miles across teachers on Tauan, Erub, and Tut. Associated with at the narrowest point. The ship-channel of this the Rev. A. W. Murray, the writer spent two months highway of nations is but five miles wide. It is in the latter part of 1872 in strengthening the usual to anchor at sunset, on account of the intricacy mission in Torres Straits, and in inaugurating a of the navigation. The multitudinous islets studding mission on the mainland of New Guinea.

the Straits like so many emeralds, the dreamy It was on September 22nd that we entered the haziness of the atmosphere, and the many marino “Inner Route,” by Curtis's Channel, from the blue marvels, powerfully affect the imagination. KingPacific. On board the John Williams were thirteen fish in hot chase of prey sometimes leaped clean out teachers and their wives, designed for the islands in of the water, three or four being captured at a time. the Straits and for New Guinea. On October 11th we Turtle, fast asleep, often floated past us. Seaanchored at Somerset, and met with a kind reception serpents of many species and beautiful colours from F. Jardine, Esq., the magistrate in charge. wriggled about on the glassy surface. They were This station is occupied by five whites and a number usually six or seven feet in length, and are never of native police. An uninhabited house was assigned eaten by the islanders, as they are supposed to be to Mr. Murray as a residence, this being a convenient poisonous. spot from which to superintend the infant mission. Anxious to obtain the assistance of “ Joe," who as

On the 17th we bade farewell to our friends in interpreter helped to introduce the teachers in 1871, the mission bark and steamed for the Straits proper. I we sailed in our little mission boat on the 17th of


October to the Prince of Wales's Island. We passed hope that they may hereafter prove useful to shipthe rock where Gascoigne's vessel was dragged wrecked mariners. ashore, and all save one woman were massacred. Most of the Straits islands are covered with a valuWhen we saw on Muralug the scene of the more able tree, the Mimusops Kauki, the fruit of which is than ample revenge exacted by the whites, we wished sweet and highly nutritious. In some islands the the gospel had been earlier introduced to these dark inhabitants subsist chiefly on it during one season of places of the earth.

the year. The Mimusops grows on the mainland of One side of the Prince of Wales's Island is the Greater and Lesser Daudai. abandoned to the pearl divers, whose store-ships On the 25th of October we landed on Jervis's Island were lying at anchor. We found Joe inhabiting (Mapuagi), which is much smaller than the islands a hut thatched with the leaves of a cycas. A number we had left. Its aspect is barren, despite a few of these graceful palms, which yield a kind of sago, cocoa-palms. The population, which is about 300, grow near the beach. The island is of great size, are all engaged in pearl-diving, but in consequence but very rocky and barren. Opposite to where we have unwisely ceased to cultivate the soil. They live landed is Hammond's Island, recommended as a in villages, one of which we inspected. These station for the water-police instead of Somerset. islanders have a very sinister expression of counten

With the kind consent of his employer, Joe ac- ance. Not many months since they tried to capture companied us on our missionary voyage. We spent a schooner, but were beaten off. A Scotchman in several days in Mooa (Mua) Pass, a narrow strait charge of the pearl-shelling business was half-dead between Bātu and Mooa, both large islands, but at with dysentery. It was pleasant, some weeks later, the period of our visit burnt up by the sun. We to learn that “under God he owed his life to the landed several times on Mooa, or Banks's Island, to timely aid afforded him by Mr. Murray.” The cause select a site for a mission station. Unfortunately the of the complaint was drinking unboiled the almost water is very bad, and the natives occupy only the putrid water of the island. Suffering greatly from interior and the weather side of the island. These thirst, we were almost driven to drink of the same people are noted for their cruelty to defenceless horrible pool. Throughout the Straits there is great whites, but are themselves fearfully oppressed by difficulty in procuring drinkable water. the men of Bātu (Mulgrave's Island) and their allies, We came upon an armed party in search of "treathe Jervis Islanders. We eventually succeeded in sure-trove." They were unsuccessful; it had been stationing a teacher on Banks's Island. The main dug up and carried away by the shellers. difficulty he will have to contend with is the vagrant We saw a number of recent graves; two forked habits of the natives. We advised him to cross over posts were set up at the head, and two at the feet

. to Bātu to see whether it be possible to do any good Band was neatly piled over the dead, as with the amongst a race who, like the aborigines of Australia, last resting-places of the poor in country churchyards,

, build no houses, and have no fixed place of abode. The top was ornamented with dugong skulls and The motive for this bird-like mode of existence seems ribs ; also some large helmet-shells (Cassis tuberosa). to be this--the Bātu people live on fruits and roots Altogether it was most tastefully done. The body growing spontaneously. "They never plant; so that, only is permanently buried. The head is carefully like tramps, they are compelled to be continually on preserved by the relatives as an object of affection the move.

A white woman, the only survivor from and worship. Three skulls were hung up on one of Gascoigne's ship, was detained here in captivity the posts nearest to the shoulders of the deceased. until her death, which recently occurred. This They first desiccate the body. Eventually the mummy reminded us of the romantic story of Giôm (Mrs. is buried, reserving the skull for worship; but in Thomson), who lived amongst the Prince of Wales's some cases the family suspend the mummy permaIslanders four years and a half ere she effected her nently, as at Erub and Mer. A male mummy was escape.

hanging in the mangroves close to the village to A number of natives paid us a visit. They are enable the relatives to see the deceased whenever so perfectly black, and seemed to be a fierce, intractable inclined. The Torres Straits Islanders hold feasts in

One could sing an English song, learnt pos- honour of the dead, who are supposed spiritually to sibly from a white in charge of a "shelling" station partake of the essence of these offerings. The rascally here, who, finding the heat to be oppressive, goes offerers, after entreating the good offices of the dead about with only a shirt! Throughout the Straits the in consideration of these gifts, eat the food themears of the men are slit so as to hang like ear-drops ; / selves, pretending that the essence is gone. Females strings of "Job's tears” (coix lachrymans) are

(coix lachrymans) are take part in the mourning ceremonies, which are attached. Necklaces of these light-blue seeds are numerous and fantastic, but may not partake of the often worn.

food. They fast and howl, and hide inside their huts, A fine pheasant (Leipoa ocellata), shot on Mooa, until the spirits for the nonce take their departure ! proved excellent eating. A large iguana ran up a Large shells (Cymbia regia) are used for saucepans tree opposite to the landing-place. Several venomous throughout the Straits islands. They have no pottery, serpents were driven out of their hiding-place and like the natives of New Guinea. These shells are killed in clearing a spot of ground for a hut. An supported by stones, the family squatting all round alligator was seen in the freshwater pool about a to watch the stewing of octopi, or other fish. mile distant.

From Cape York (inclusive) to the south-western To us, coming straight from the South Sea Islands, coast of New Guinea, i.e., in all the islands of the it seemed strange to see the large islands of the Straits, the males are absolutely nude, but the Straits without à cocoa-nut-tree on them, and that females wear a sufficient covering of leaves from the under a burning sun where the delicious water fur- waist to the knees. To this there is one bright ex. nished by the young nut would be so acceptable. ception, Murray Island. In sailing up the Inner Route, in the John Williams, One of the teachers volunteered for Jervis's Island. we planted fifty cocoa-nuts on different islets, in the Happily it is exempt from fever and ague. The most


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interesting thing on it is a devil-tree, or ancient ban- Saibai warriors came over frequently to bully the yan, with large shells and dugong bones growing teachers and to rob their plantations. This was in into its trunk or suspended by rope-like tendrils consequence of a hint from Sauai “ that he wished froin lofty branches. Here was supposed to be the to be rid of the driftweed." The idea was to pick a home of a mighty spirit, whose favour it was desir- quarrel with the teachers, as a pretext for murdering able to propitiate by offerings. Under one side of them. These insults were meekly endured. Prothis immense tree is built the house of the shelling videntially at this juncture Lieutenant Chester master.

touched at Tauan and heard of these things. He Touching at Kepara, or Two Brothers, for an at once went over to Saibai and spoke to such purinterpreter (Mamut), we pressed on to Tauan, where pose that the annoyances ceased. we spent a week ashore. Tauan consists of one long Shortly afterwards a child was born to one of the hill, and is nine miles in circumference. The best teachers. A happy thought occurred to the parents water in the Straits is easily obtained here at all —they would name it “Sauai,” after the irate chief. seasons. We found six boats watering, and at the The old man felt flattered. I have often seen him morning service were gratified with the attendance caressing the child most tenderly. Sometimes he of forty Loyalty Islanders who are engaged in the would send his favourite wife with presents of food shelling business. At midday a number of Saibai for the little one. men sailed across the Strait in their splendid canoes The eldest daughter of Sauai was stolen away by (bought on New Guinea), and were nearly all of a party of pearl-divers, who also robbed the plantathem present at the afternoon service.

tions by open day. Of course these marauders were On first stepping ashore on Tauan, I thought the well armed." But,” remarked Sauai to us, “as island abounded with ducks; but the noise proved to soon as the teachers settled here all these depredabe the croaking of frogs, a strange sound to one who tions ceased. Boats water and go away without had spent half his life in Polynesia. After making a stealing an article. My heart is soft towards the visit of inspection to the mainland of New Guinea, teachers, for they are a wall of defence to me and we were left on this rock about four miles from the my people.” low and seemingly interminable coast of Daudai, awaiting the arrival of the “Viking." Sometimes one would sit for hours dreamily gazing at the unknown land, wondering at the secrets hidden in its bosom, and fondly hoping that a brighter day was about to dawn upon that dark country.

One day I unwittingly trod on the head of a whipsnake (Hoplocephalus coronoides) and crushed it. On To another occasion Josaia's wife felt something cold crawling over her naked foot. She instantly leaped aside, and with a stick killed it. It was a whip-snake four feet long. We saw a large iguana, which is reckoned a delicacy by these islanders. A new and beautiful variety of star-fish abounds in the mud-flat facing the village.

We fell in with a magnificent bread-fruit-tree one day, but the lazy natives allow the fruit to drop, in order to save the trouble of climbing. Cocoa-palms are numerous. Everywhere amongst the boulders, which are scattered all over the island in wild confusion, grow thousands of nutmeg-trees. On their fruit the nutmeg-pigeon (Carpophaga luctuosa feeds exclusively. This remarkable bird, which furnished us with several dinners, arrives from New Guinea for the purpose of breeding about the beginning of November, and leaves at the end of the rainy season, when its young are sufficiently strong. It is astonishing that so small a bird should be capable of swallowing the nutmeg entire--the mace being the real nutriment of the bird. At Tut the natives await the annual migration of these birds across the Straits, and kill numbers with sticks and stones. Even birds learn from experience, for of late years the host fly a short distance from the island to avoid their foes.

Sauai is chief of Tauan; his brother lord of Saibai. Clay mounds, from ten to twelve feet high, built The former has six wives, or slaves. Some of them by termites, abound on all the Straits islands. They attended service, but on leaving, instead of going are well buttressed, and are fitted to stand the heavy through the door, would slink off unperceived (as showers of the wet season. The bite of this masonthey imagined) through some distant open casement. ant (the insect is a quarter of an inch long) is disHeathenism invariably degrades woman. One day agreeable. The island is overrun with large brown Sauai's eldest son, about twenty-two years old, crossed grasshoppers. Although anxious to bathe in the over from Saibai. Already he has four wives. inviting fresh-water stream, I could never overcome

On the departure of the missionaries last year, the unpleasant feeling occasioned by seeing the



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