w. t. pritchard : surf riding in somoa, 1861
But to return
to the Samoans.
So great is their love of the water, that whenever the surf rolls in over the reefs rather more heavily than usual, boys and girls, from five to twenty years of age, are sure to be there, some with boards, others without, sliding along indiscriminately on the curling breakers, and thinking it the best fun in the world.
They swim out to the edge of the reef or shoal where the wave curls up to break into foam, throw themselves forward with a
jump as the breaker takes them, and away they "scud" in the midst of the white sea-foam, shouting and yelling with their loudest voices (which by the way is not the least part of the fun), and jeering each other as the swifter ones pass the slower.
When the breaker is spent, the swimmers are left in smooth water, and all turn again towards the sea, breasting the smaller waves
and quietly sinking down as the larger and stronger ones pass over, or boldly diving through them.
The starting-place reached, away they all go again just as before, and keep at the game until the tide ebbs and leaves the reef bare. When tired of swimming, they take to their paopao, or little canoes, and pass the rest of the morning in them at the same sport, swamping.
cold hand was that of another old woman, who was in the secret, and an
agent also of the Great Spirit.
The chief priestess one day announced that Sisu Alaisa had appeared to her in the night, and warned her that the world was coming to an end ; that Sisu Alaisa himself was coming to dwell in Samoa, that he would be seen riding in on the crest of the waves from the sea off the north-west coast of Savaii, and after terminating the present order of things, would cause food and all
else requisite for life to come down from the skies for his faithful followers, while the unbelievers would be eternally destroyed. Great preparations were made for the expected visit of Sisu Alaisa.
[The visitation did not eventuate]
He [the captain]
stood on the poop by the mainmast, and shouted that he would shoot the
first man that left the vessel before the women were rescued ; but there
was no gun or revolver in his hand or his belt, and men who had been in
California thought lightly of the threat.
A Sandwich Islander, one of the crew, who had been to the diggings, and was
at home in the water, jumped over, and at him the captain threw a marlinspike with a good aim for his head, but which he dodged by simply sinking himself, and away he went on the surf and under it until he reached the smooth water inside the reef.
or, Life in the South Pacific islands.
Chapman and Hall, London, 1866.