A little after, Laupepa was called below to the captain and the governor. The last addressed him: "This is my own place, a good place, a warm place. My house is not yet finished, but when it is, you shall live in one of my rooms until I can make a house for you." Then he was taken ashore and brought to a tall, iron house. "This house is regulated," said the governor; "there is no fire allowed to burn in it." In one part of this house, weapons of the government were hung up; there was a passage, and on the other side of the passage, fifty criminals were chained together, two and two, by the ankles. The windows were out of reach; and there was only one door, which was opened at six in the morning and shut again at six at night. All day he had his liberty, went to the Baptist Mission, and walked about viewing the negroes, who were "like the sand on the seashore" for number. At six they were called into the house and shut in for the night without beds or lights. "Although they gave me no light," said he, with a smile, "I could see I was in a prison." Good food was given him: biscuits, "tea made with warm water," beef, etc.; all excellent. Once, in their walks, they spied a breadfruit tree bearing in the garden of an English merchant, ran back to the prison to get a shilling, and came and offered to purchase. "I am not going to sell breadfruit to you people," said the merchant; "come and take what you like." Here Malietoa interrupted himself to say it was the only tree bearing in the Cameroons. "The governor had none, or he would have given it to me." On the passage from the Cameroons to Germany, he had great delight to see the cliffs of England. He saw "the rocks shining in the sun, and three hours later was surprised to find them sunk in the heavens." He saw also wharves and immense buildings; perhaps Dover and its castle. In Hamburg, after breakfast, Mr. Weber, who had now finally "ceased from troubling" Samoa, came on board, and carried him ashore "suitably" in a steam launch to "a large house of the government," where he stayed till noon. At noon Weber told him he was going to "the place where ships are anchored that go to Samoa," and led him to "a very magnificent house, with carriages inside and a wonderful roof of glass"; to wit, the railway station. They were benighted on the train, and then went in "something with a house, drawn by horses, which had windows and many decks"; plainly an omnibus. Here (at Bremen or Bremerhaven, I believe) they stayed some while in "a house of five hundred rooms"; then were got on board the Nurnberg (as they understood) for Samoa, anchored in England on a Sunday, were joined en route by the famous Dr. Knappe, passed through "a narrow passage where they went very slow and which was just like a river," and beheld with exhilarated curiosity that Red Sea of which they had learned so much in their Bibles. At last, "at the hour when the fires burn red," they came to a place where was a German man-of-war. Laupepa was called, with one of the boys, on deck, when he found a German officer awaiting him, and a steam launch alongside, and was told he must now leave his brother and go elsewhere. "I cannot go like this," he cried. "You must let me see my brother and the other old men"--a term of courtesy. Knappe, who seems always to have been good-natured, revised his orders, and consented not only to an interview, but to allow Moli to continue to accompany the king. So these two were carried to the man-of-war, and sailed many a day, still supposing themselves bound for Samoa; and lo! she came to a country the like of which they had never dreamed of, and cast anchor in the great lagoon of Jaluit; and upon that narrow land the exiles were set on shore. This was the part of his captivity on which he looked back with the most bitterness. It was the last, for one thing, and he was worn down with the long suspense, and terror, and deception. He could not bear the brackish water; and though "the Germans were still good to him, and gave him beef and biscuit and tea," he suffered from the lack of vegetable food.

Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa Page 24

Robert Louis Stevenson

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book