These words were ascending from the lips of a number of dark skinned girls assembled round a fair haired English lady in a building thickly thatched with the leaves of the sugar cane, beneath the shade of a grove of tall cocoanut trees, in one of the many far off beautiful islands of the wide Pacific. The building, erected by the natives after their own fashion, was the school-house of a missionary station lately established by Mr Liddiard, and the lady was his devoted wife. It stood upon a platform of coral-stone, raised about two feet from the ground, while the roof projected a considerable distance beyond the walls, and was supported by stout posts formed of the bread-fruit tree, tightly bound to the rafters by ropes of sinnet.
After the conclusion of the hymn of praise—a sound unwonted in that long benighted region, whose groves had hitherto echoed only with the shouts and wild laughter of the savage heathens, as they performed their barbarous rites, and the shrieks and groans of their victims—the pupils grouped themselves round Mrs Liddiard on the mats with which the floor was spread.
They were of various ages; some were children, others full grown young women. All kept their eyes fixed on her attentively, as if anxious to understand every word she said. Some were clothed in light cotton dresses, their black hair neatly braided and ornamented with a few sweet scented wild flowers, while others were habited in garments of native cloth, formed from the paper mulberry tree.