The same afternoon, the Tamasese boats got in with provisions, having passed to seaward of the lumbering Manono fleet; and from that day on, whether from a high degree of enterprise on the one side or a great lack of capacity on the other, supplies were maintained from the sea with regularity. Thus the spectacle of battle, or at least of riot, at the doors of the German firm was not repeated. But the memory must have hung heavy on the hearts, not of the Germans only, but of all Apia. The Samoans are a gentle race, gentler than any in Europe; we are often enough reminded of the circumstance, not always by their friends. But a mob is a mob, and a drunken mob is a drunken mob, and a drunken mob with weapons in its hands is a drunken mob with weapons in its hands, all the world over: elementary propositions, which some of us upon these islands might do worse than get by rote, but which must have been evident enough to Becker. And I am amazed by the man's constancy, that, even while blows were going at the door of that German firm which he was in Samoa to protect, he should have stuck to his demands. Ten days before, Blacklock had offered to recognise the old territory, including Mulinuu, and Becker had refused, and still in the midst of these "alarums and excursions," he continued to refuse it.

On October 2nd, anchored in Apia bay H.B.M.S. Calliope, Captain Kane, carrying the flag of Rear-Admiral Fairfax, and the gunboat Lizard, Lieutenant-Commander Pelly. It was rumoured the admiral had come to recognise the government of Tamasese, I believe in error. And at least the day for that was quite gone by; and he arrived not to salute the king's accession, but to arbitrate on his remains. A conference of the consuls and commanders met on board the Calliope, October 4th, Fritze alone being absent, although twice invited: the affair touched politics, his consul was to be there; and even if he came to the meeting (so he explained to Fairfax) he would have no voice in its deliberations. The parties were plainly marked out: Blacklock and Leary maintaining their offer of the old neutral territory, and probably willing to expand or to contract it to any conceivable extent, so long as Mulinuu was still included; Knappe offered (if the others liked) to include "the whole eastern end of the island," but quite fixed upon the one point that Mulinuu should be left out; the English willing to meet either view, and singly desirous that Apia should be neutralised. The conclusion was foregone. Becker held a trump card in the consent of Mataafa; Blacklock and Leary stood alone, spoke with all ill grace, and could not long hold out. Becker had his way; and the neutral boundary was chosen just where he desired: across the isthmus, the firm within, Mulinuu without. He did not long enjoy the fruits of victory.

On the 7th, three days after the meeting, one of the Scanlons (well-known and intelligent half-castes) came to Blacklock with a complaint. The Scanlon house stood on the hither side of the Tamasese breastwork, just inside the newly accepted territory, and within easy range of the firm. Armed men, to the number of a hundred, had issued from Mulinuu, had "taken charge" of the house, had pointed a gun at Scanlon's head, and had twice "threatened to kill" his pigs. I hear elsewhere of some effects (Gegenstande) removed. At the best a very pale atrocity, though we shall find the word employed. Germans declare besides that Scanlon was no American subject; they declare the point had been decided by court- martial in 1875; that Blacklock had the decision in the consular archives; and that this was his reason for handing the affair to Leary. It is not necessary to suppose so. It is plain he thought little of the business; thought indeed nothing of it; except in so far as armed men had entered the neutral territory from Mulinuu; and it was on this ground alone, and the implied breach of Becker's engagement at the conference, that he invited Leary's attention to the tale.

Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa Page 41

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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