All Christian Natives on Dream Tropical Island
[By Cpl. Eric Mitchell, of Mintaro.]
The above writer has sent the following letter to his people, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Mitchell, of Mintaro, which we have pleasure in publishing: —
Dear Mum, Dad and Mavis—Hullo folk, ’tis Sunday evening way out on the briny, I have been at anchor several hours, right beside a dream island which is only very small, but is one of those tropical islands you read about and seldom see. I wrote to you only last night, and posted it this morning just be fore we left T.I.
Had a fair trip to-day, the waves were coming side on to the boat, which made it roll considerably—of course I had a few bad hours, for I don’t think those crays we had last night and again to-day agreed too well with the rolling ship.
After finishing tea we rowed across to the native island which is mainly of sand and covered in tall green coconut palms. A tribe of natives live in this heaven, they are all Christians and very civilised, talking quite good English. Gee, they have a model village, all the houses made from entwined palm leaves.
Big, medium and teeny weeny natives came down to the beach and met us, all very shy but well mannered and clean.
The little kiddies were fine. They have a school of their own, while also in the village is a little church and a well kept cemetery.
BURIAL PLACE OF MISSIONARY’S WIFE.
One of the missionaries’ wives being buried there, but the whites have left since the war.
We were given a few cocoanuts, each little house has their own number of trees, and to-night two natives came across to our boat bartering beads, pearl shell, etc., for tobacco.
Well so much for to-night, another big day to-morrow, but still several day’s off port and posting this, so will add to it later. Goodnight.
Monday evening.—Another day drawing to a close, and once again we are anchored to an island very similar to the one last night, but the natives are more friendly. A peculiar thing but perhaps not so strange after all these days, you see very few native women, they mostly keep in doors. The young lads aged from about 4 to 16 showed us round, they are ‘boska’ kiddies.
After walking and talking with one boy for a while, Tommy, that’s his name, said to me ‘You my friend, I your friend’ and took me by the arm. I got the surprise of my life; you only have to start singing and they all join in.
“PISTOL PACKIN’ MAMA” AND “THANKS MR. ROOSEVELT.”
I was singing something and a little tacker starts on ‘Pistol Packin’ Mama.’ Just before we left to return to the boat we had them sing to us; it was great, although raining, we stopped and listened for half an hour, getting wet through. You should hear them sing ‘Thanks Mr. Roosevelt’; with their twang it was extra.
Some songs of Australia I had never heard; they were patriotic.
Erryl Carrol, our swing fan of the boat, conducted them and finished up teaching them the Cow Cow Boogey. It is raining quite heavily to-night, and we are not leaving until late in the morning, if then. I could stop here for weeks.
Before I forget, they have tin cans tied to the top of coconut trees catching ‘jungle juice.’ Tommy said to me, pointing to a four year old, ‘He’s Piano Sailor, his dad drunk everynight.’ Little Piano said ‘Only sometimes (quite indignantly)—You like jungle juice?’
I told him I had never tried it. They go to church twice a day, morning and night. I must not forget another song they sang ‘She’ll be smokin’ cigarette bumpers when she comes.’
Laugh, but how can you help liking the little beauts. So much for to-night. Cheerio !
Tuesday night—Just sevenish and work again finished. Again we are anchored by a very small island. All sand, no vegetation, about ½ x ¼ mile in size. Went across to it before tea and landed despite quite a swell, and a rocky beach. Thought we would find some turtle eggs, but somebody had beaten us.
MILLIONS OF SEA BIRDS.
We did see a sight though. This small blob of land is the home of millions and millions of sea birds. They just make the sky black when on the wing. They have laid their eggs on the high ground. You find eggs the size of fowls all over the island. We could have gathered hundreds of dozens, but only brought a few dozen back for eating.
Had a glorious swim and also collected some colored coral and shells, which I may send home to litter the place.
Friday, April 7th.—Well we are once again about to pull into above address, so must finish this off and post it. I never wrote the last few evenings for good reason, we made a dash for this coast across open sea, and was I bad.
The last few days took the glamor off the trip for me, but I will have to take the good and the bad together.
Well must draw this to a close, so Cheerio for now folk. I hope to collect some mail here from you, and more in the next few weeks. Hoping you are all well. Love to you all.
All Christian Natives on Dream Tropical Island