Then came one fine and memorable morning when our cheerful little skipper called us to look at Samarai, at that time called by the hideous name of Dinner Island, towards the anchorage of which we were slowly moving, the while, from every direction, a swarm of canoes paddled furiously towards us, crowded with fuzzy-headed natives, all eager to earn a few sticks of tobacco, by assisting in the discharge of the cargo we carried. The canoes were warned off pending the arrival of a health officer to grant pratique, and that official soon appeared in the person of Mr. R. E. Armit, a well-set-up, soldierly looking man of about fifty years of age. Poor Armit, long since killed by the deadly malaria of the Northern Division.

Mr. Armit was Subcollector of Customs and ???? goodness knows what else at Samarai, and was himself an extraordinary personality. An accomplished linguist, widely read and travelled, I never found4 a subject about which Armit did not know something and usually a very great deal. He, however, did not possess a faculty for making or retaining money, and did possess a particularly caustic tongue and pen, which, when the mood took him, he would exercise even upon his superior officers; hence he was frequently in hot water and never lacked enemies.

Samarai boasted neither wharf nor jetty; our cargo was therefore simply shot over the side into the multitude of canoes and thence ferried to the beach, with such assistance as the ship?s boats could afford.

Dinner Island, or as I shall from now on term it, Samarai, is an island of about fifty acres. The hill, which forms the centre of the island, rises from what was then a malodorous swamp, surrounded by a strip of coral beach. The whole island was a gazetted penal district, and the town consisted of the Residency, a fine roomy bungalow built by the Imperial Government for the then Commissioner, General Sir Peter Scratchley?the first of New Guinea officials to be claimed by malaria?and now the headquarters of the Resident Magistrate for the Eastern Division; a small three-roomed building of native grass and round poles dubbed the Subcollector?s house; a gaol of native material, the roof of which served as a bond store for dutiable goods, and a cemetery: the three latter appeared to be well filled. There was also a small single-roomed galvanized iron building which served as a Custom?s house; in it was employed a clerk, unpaid; he was an affable gentleman of mixed French and Greek parentage, and was at the time awaiting his trial for murder. Two small stores, the one owned by Burns, Philp and Co., of Sydney, and the other by Mr. William Whitten, now the Honble. William Whitten, M.L.C., completed the main buildings.

Mr. Whitten was the son of a Queen?s Messenger, since dead of malaria, and possessed an adventurous disposition which had taken him off to sea as a boy. His first appearance in New Guinea was as one of the personal guard of Sir Peter Scratchley, a body which Sir William MacGregor replaced with his fine native constabulary. Whitten had saved money enough to purchase a small cutter, with which he had begun trading for bêche-de-mer in the Trobriand Islands. While dealing with the natives for that commodity, he had discovered that pearls of a fair quality existed in a small oyster forming one of the staple foods of the natives. Whitten purchased large quantities of the pearls from the natives for almost nothing, and had he only been able to keep his discovery to himself, would have had fortune in his grasp. Unfortunately for him, the sale of his prize in Australia brought down upon him a host of other competitors, and the natives, having discovered that the white man was keenly desirous of obtaining what were to5 them worthless stones, raised their prices higher and higher until there was little to be gained in the trade.