The Adams arrived in Saluafata on the 26th. On the morrow Leary and Moors landed at the village. It was still occupied by Mataafas, mostly from Manono and Savaii, few in number, high in spirit. The Tamasese pickets were meanwhile within musket range; there was maintained a steady sputtering of shots; and yet a party of Tamasese women were here on a visit to the women of Manono, with whom they sat talking and smoking, under the fire of their own relatives. It was reported that Leary took part in a council of war, and promised to join with his broadside in the next attack. It is certain he did nothing of the sort: equally certain that, in Tamasese circles, he was firmly credited with having done so. And this heightens the extraordinary character of what I have now to tell. Prudence and delicacy alike ought to have forbid the camp of Tamasese to the feet of either Leary or Moors. Moors was the original--there was a time when he had been the only--opponent of the puppet king. Leary had driven him from the seat of government; it was but a week or two since he had threatened to bombard him in his present refuge. Both were in close and daily council with his adversary, and it was no secret that Moors was supplying the latter with food. They were partisans; it lacked but a hair that they should be called belligerents; it were idle to try to deny they were the most dangerous of spies. And yet these two now sailed across the bay and landed inside the Tamasese lines at Salelesi. On the very beach they had another glimpse of the artlessness of Samoan war. Hitherto the Tamasese fleet, being hardy and unencumbered, had made a fool of the huge floating forts upon the other side; and here they were tolling, not to produce another boat on their own pattern in which they had always enjoyed the advantage, but to make a new one the type of their enemies', of which they had now proved the uselessness for months. It came on to rain as the Americans landed; and though none offered to oppose their coming ashore, none invited them to take shelter. They were nowise abashed, entered a house unbidden, and were made welcome with obvious reserve. The rain clearing off, they set forth westward, deeper into the heart of the enemies' position. Three or four young men ran some way before them, doubtless to give warning; and Leary, with his indomitable taste for mischief, kept inquiring as he went after "the high chief" Tamasese. The line of the beach was one continuous breastwork; some thirty odd iron cannon of all sizes and patterns stood mounted in embrasures; plenty grape and canister lay ready; and at every hundred yards or so the German flag was flying. The numbers of the guns and flags I give as I received them, though they test my faith. At the house of Brandeis--a little, weatherboard house, crammed at the time with natives, men, women, and squalling children--Leary and Moors again asked for "the high chief," and, were again assured that he was farther on. A little beyond, the road ran in one place somewhat inland, the two Americans had gone down to the line of the beach to continue their inspection of the breastwork, when Brandeis himself, in his shirt- sleeves and accompanied by several German officers, passed them by the line of the road. The two parties saluted in silence. Beyond Eva Point there was an observable change for the worse in the reception of the Americans; some whom they met began to mutter at Moors; and the adventurers, with tardy but commendable prudence, desisted from their search after the high chief, and began to retrace their steps. On the return, Suatele and some chiefs were drinking kava in a "big house," and called them in to join--their only invitation. But the night was closing, the rain had begun again: they stayed but for civility, and returned on board the Adams, wet and hungry, and I believe delighted with their expedition. It was perhaps the last as it was certainly one of the most extreme examples of that divinity which once hedged the white in Samoa.

Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa Page 51

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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