In her narrative of a cruise through the South Pacific, travel
writer Beatrice Grimshaw's initial impressions of Suva echo "first contacts"
between indigenous islanders and European explorers. Although
Grimshaw writes from an early twentieth-century vantage point, aboard
a steamship entering a colonial port town, these men staring back are
unknown and, perhaps, forever unknowable. They remain "strange,"
"dark," and "savage." Their appearance conjures up "horrible" visions
of the likely harm that awaits landing. Yet on clo er reflection, this is
the European capital of Fiji, a "populous and busy town." Fijian "savages"
have become peaceable, nonthreatening wharf l aborer and passive
"spectators" through the transformative reach of imperial tran portation
and trading networks.