Beachcombers sold beche-de-mer, mended muskets, cast bullets for chiefs

At Bau, beach-combers were not allowed to wear European dress; and the first thing the Nairal natives did to the castaways from the Eliza was to take away their clothes and give them loin-cloths of native bark cloth, such as they wore themselves. As a rule, however, these men were exceedingly well treated by the natives, though the majority of them were both dissolute and unscrupulous. Some lived on the bounty of the chiefs, others gathered and cured beche-de-mer, a few engaged in petty trading, most of them, however, mended muskets, cast bullets, told yarns, and hung about at the beck and call of the chiefs. There were, indeed, good men among them, but they were few. Some tired of the life on the beaches, and managed to get away again on visiting ships,

A few took up the beche-de-mer trade Most of them stayed; and the longer they stayed the less fitted they were for any other kind of life. In a last effort to maintain some dignity and prestige, a few took up the beche-de-mer trade; for any runaway sailor with a large pot, and able to muster natives to build his houses and dive for beche-de-mer, could go into the business. “during the ‘thirties, the trade became the principal medium of contact between Fiji and the outside world.


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