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Title: Papuan Pictures
Author: Dauncey, H. M. (Henry Moore)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: TIMA OF DELENA.





(Of Delena, Papua)

With Sixty-Three Illustrations from
Photographs by the Author

London Missionary Society
16, New Bridge Street

_With greetings to the boys and girls whose meetings I had the happiness
to attend in the Old Home Land and in Australia, and the hope that the
memories of those meetings are as bright and lasting to them as they are
to me._

                                                           H. M. DAUNCEY.


    CHAP.                                        PAGE

       I GAMES AND SCHOOL                           1

      II THE CONCEITED YOUTH                       17

     III KEEPING HOUSE                             23


       V THE SORCERER                              44


     VII A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS                    59

    VIII A FEAST AND A DANCE                       72

      IX HOW WE GO                                 79

       X KORONA, A HILLSIDE VILLAGE               112

      XI KABADI                                   123

     XII A CHRISTMAS GATHERING                    144

    XIII DOCTORING                                157

     XIV PEACE-MAKING                             163

      XV SOME PICTURES OF LIFE                    172

     XVI THE AIM                                  183

List of Coloured Plates

                                         TO FACE PAGE
    Tima of Delena                      _Frontispiece_
    Rocking the Cradle                             33
    A Hearth                                       39
    Returning from Fishing                         61

List of Illustrations

                                         TO FACE PAGE
    Delena Children                                 8
    Two Convenient Handles                          8
    “I Protest!”                                    9
    Parent and Child                                9
    Would he Take a Prize?                         24
    Throwing the Spear                             25
    Whip-tops in Season                            25
    Paroparo                                       28
    The Snake Game                                 29
    Delena School Group                            29
    The Cuscus Game                                36
    A Fine Frizzy Head                             37
    A Friend Lends a Hand                          37
    A Tight-laced Dandy                            44
    Bringing in the Firewood                       44
    Bridal Procession                              45
    “Out like a Coal-scuttle Bonnet”               45
    Firing Pots                                    52
    Making Pots                                    52
    Thatchers at Work                              53
    Delena House                                   53
    Dressed up in Paint and Feathers               56
    Cooking Supper                                 56
    The Cradle                                     57
    Waiting for Mother                             72
    The Front Steps                                72
    Papuan Treasures                               73
    Cooking Food under the House                   73
    Miria the Sorcerer                             76
    Delena Church                                  76
    Nara Village and Church                        77
    Queen Koloka                                   77
    Nara Dancers                                   84
    Delena Man at Nara Dance                       84
    Who is He?                                     85
    Round the Rocks                                85
    Breakfast on the Beach                         88
    The Papuan Tailor                              88
    A Long Drink                                   89
    Oa                                             89
    Hisiu Girls in their Best                     104
    Morabi Village                                104
    Bad Walking: Over the Mangrove Roots          105
    Fafoa with her Boy and Papauta                105
    Scramble in Front of Timoteo’s House          120
    A Widower                                     121
    A Crocodile                                   121
    Kopuana School                                136
    Delena Mission House                          136
    Delena District Teachers                      137
    Motumotu Man                                  137
    A Well-oiled Amazon                           152
    Ume and the Crocodile                         152
    Miria Making Fire                             153
    The Blow-pipe                                 153
    The Kaiva-Kuku                                168
    Native Surgery                                168
    Basket-making at Delena                       169
    Smiles                                        169


Games and School

Most visitors begin their Papuan experiences at Port Moresby, but you
begin yours at a smaller place, where I have spent the last seventeen
years. The village is called DELENA, and you can find it on the shore
of Hall Sound. Nothing grand will impress you as you draw near to the
shore, but no matter at what time you land you will find a crowd of
young children running to meet you; no matter what your age, whether you
are man, woman, boy or girl; no matter what the time of day, you will
be greeted with “Good-morning, sir,” and little hands will go up to the
salute, many of them as awkwardly as though the joints belonged to wooden
Dutch dolls. These are the youngsters I want to introduce to you first.

Several things will attract your attention. First, perhaps, that they
have no clothes such as we wear. They do not need them and are content
to be clothed for the most part in mud and sunshine. Neither mud nor
sunshine allows much scope for originality in fashion, but you will
notice that the ordinary originality comes in in the way the hair is
served. Many of the youngsters will have their heads shaved clean. Some
will have two tufts left, one in front and one behind, like convenient
handles to hold on by. Some have a ridge left along the top of the head,
like a cock’s comb. Some have alternate bands of hair and bare scalp, and
some the full bushy head of hair which is so distinctive of the Papuan.

As a rule they keep to the patterns they learnt from their fathers, but
one day in school I saw a stroke of decided originality. A little fellow
came in with a new pattern, and gradually I worked out the bare lines
into the first three letters of the native alphabet, A, E, I, and then
followed this dialogue:—

_Missionary._—“Who cut your hair in that fashion?”

_Boy._—“My big brother.”

_Missionary._—“What did he do it with?”

_Boy._—“A bit of a broken bottle.”

_Missionary._—“Did it hurt?”

_Boy._—“Only a little.”

The letters were not well formed, but there was no doubt about them, and
I wondered if the elder brother thought the younger so thick-headed that
there was a doubt about his getting the letters inside and so made sure
that he should have them outside. Be that as it may, there the letters
were till the hair grew again.

As a rule there is no fuss when a little Papuan comes into the world,
but occasionally his arrival is celebrated with quite royal pomp and
pageantry, and the women of his tribe have their turn at wearing the
family finery, and going in for a big dance. A few years ago I was
fortunate enough to come across one of these celebrations at Maiva.

Some sixty women with wonderful feather head-dresses, gay as the
brightest feathers of tropical birds could make them, and wearing all
kinds of shell ornaments, took part. The central square of the village
had been carpeted with cocoanut fronds to keep down the dust, and provide
a stage. Down this came the women in two parties, chanting, swinging
their grass skirts, and waving in front of them branches of vividly
coloured crotons. At the end where we were standing, the two parties
turned right and left, and then formed figures something like the spokes
of a wheel, and each revolving round the group in the centre, worked
their way back to the other end of the village.

In small parties the women went to the house where the new baby was,
and he was brought out and presented to them. Bowing themselves away
backwards from him they swept the ground with the branches they had in
their hands, chanting all the time, and, so it seemed to me, trying
to sweep the child’s pathway into life clean. (That is just what the
missionary tries to do from the time the child is old enough to come to

Another interesting feature was the by-play of four old women, each of
whom carried something that would be used by the child when he grew up.
One with nets represented hunting and fishing. One, with digging sticks,
told of the time when he would have to take his part in the planting.
What the third was I have forgotten, but of the fourth there could be no
doubt. Her bow and arrows and stone club, and the ornament she carried in
her mouth to make her look savage, all told of war. Right and left she
pretended to shoot the onlookers, and at times it seemed as though she
would let an arrow slip from the string and so start real trouble.

As a baby the little Papuan receives unlimited attention from both father
and mother. One’s ideas of the savage have to be modified when big
men are seen carrying their young children about and fondling them as
tenderly as any white parent could do.

This fondness is, however, carried to excess, and starts the child on the
wrong path. He is allowed to please himself from his very earliest days.
If you ask a father why his child did something that was sure to result
in injury to himself, or trouble to others, the only reply you will get
is, “Ia sibona” or “Ia ura.” Both mean much the same, though in the
first case the expression puts it that it was the child’s own action,
while in the second case there is the direct statement that the child
wished to do it. The father does not interfere with the child’s action,
or thwart its wishes, and so arises one of the greatest defects in the
Papuan character, and most serious obstacles in the way of progress. Of
obedience the Papuan knows nothing, unless there is a big stick, or a
heavy hand, or the fear of the sorcerer, at the back of the command.

From early childhood right on through life the boy gets the best of
it, as far as the amount of work he has to do is concerned. Very soon
the young girls have to fetch water; collect firewood; and nurse their
younger brothers and sisters, while the boys amuse themselves. Most of
their amusements take the form of preparation for what they will have
to do in later life, and they put as much energy into their games as an
English boy would into his cricket or football. During this free and
easy time the Papuan boy is much better off than the dweller in the
crowded street in a big town, and his preparation for adult life is a
more pleasant process than the grind in a factory. He enjoys making and
sailing his model canoe, or building his model house, and shouts with
delight when he has got as far as throwing his toy spear so as to hit
the mark. Usually two parties stand facing each other. From the one a
cocoanut husk is hurled, and as it goes bounding along the members of the
other party try to spear it before it breaks through their ranks. So for
an hour at a time, it is kept up from end to end.

Only two games as far as I have seen are the same as in England, and each
year the time comes round when “Whip tops are in season.” The top is all
wood, and the whip usually a piece of fibrous bark that can be teased out
into something like a cat-o’-nine-tails.

The second game that would be familiar is the swing, but you cannot sit
comfortably in it as you can in those at home. A length of vine hangs
from a slanting cocoanut palm, and on the bottom end is lashed a piece
of stick T fashion, only the T is the wrong way up, like this—⊥. Holding
on to this T you swing as far as the length of the vine will allow. If a
tree can be found at the bend of a river so much the better, for then the
fun is to start from one bank and drop off on the other. If ever you have
the chance to try this, be sure you take a good run to start with, or you
may be left swinging over the river like the pendulum of a big clock, and
have to be hauled back by the laughing onlookers, as I once was.

As before the introduction of schools the Papuan child spent most of his
time in play, I think I had better give you more information as to his

In _Tom Brown’s School Days_ you can read the experience of a new boy
when tossed in a blanket. A Delena boy could tell you something the
same, except that there is no blanket in his case. In the game called
“Paroparo,” or “The Frog,” he is tossed on the arms of two rows of his
companions. Each boy grasps the arms of the one facing him, so forming a
rough gutter at one end of which a small boy is placed face downwards.
Gradually he is jerked forwards till his feet have left the couple who
first held him. They run to the front and are ready to receive the head
of the “Frog” when he has been jerked far enough along. In turn each
couple comes to the front, and so “keeps the pot boiling” till an unlucky
toss, or an intentional one, lands the poor “Frog” out on the sand, and
his place is taken by another.

King of the Castle is suggested by another game, but the name is just
“Eaea” and in playing it the girls are matched against the boys. A party
of girls dig a hole in the sand and in it bury some of the fruit of the
Nipa Palm, and then all sit down in a bunch on top and challenge the
boys. The boys have to dislodge the girls, and dig up and take possession
of the fruit, but as the girls are never out of play, and can struggle
back as often as their strength will allow, it is some time before the
boys capture the fruit and claim their turn at burying it. This is one of
the games, and there are others, which beginning in play often end in a
fight, drawing in the friends and relatives of the players.

The Papuan lack of self-control, unfortunately, often causes a game to
end in a fight, and the reason for the winner only in a contest having a
prize, they cannot understand. At Port Moresby there are three villages,
and many years ago, hoping to add interest to the sports, we pitted the
children of the three villages against each other in a tug-of-war. When
B team was getting the best of the tug the parents of A team lent their
children a hand. The parents of B team then tried to push away those who
were helping A team. That led more to join in, and some good hard knocks
were exchanged, and in the end the tug-of-war became a free fight, and
our sports came to an abrupt end. The promoters had their work cut out to
put a stop to the trouble they had unintentionally raised.

On another occasion when the people of several villages were gathered
at Kerepunu there was a canoe race in which one canoe from each village
took part. Near the end of the race when the Kerepunu crew had lost the
leading place, a man got up from the bottom of their canoe and calmly put
a spear into one of the paddlers in the leading canoe. The loss of one
paddle enabled Kerepunu to again take the lead and win the race. When
spoken to about his conduct the spearman replied, “What right have people
from another village to come and win a race in our waters?”

[Illustration: DELENA CHILDREN.

_See page 1._]


_See page 2._]

[Illustration: “I PROTEST!”

_See page 3._]

[Illustration: PARENT AND CHILD.

_See page 5._]

Contending for a prize seemed quite foreign to the Papuan mind. In the
first regattas at Port Moresby we had to try and introduce the idea.
After four canoes had raced and the prize had been handed to the winners,
those in the other canoes wanted to know where their _payment_ was. We
explained that the winners only received the prize, and were met by the
question, “Why? We have brought our canoe as far as they have, and have
paddled just as far as they have. They finished only a little ahead of
our canoe.” They understand prizes now, but before they reached that
stage those trying to introduce British pastimes had a real difficulty
because the native looked upon the prize as payment for taking part in
the event.

Only a few years ago the Delena people refused to take part in the
Christmas sports, and when pressed for a reason said that the men from a
neighbouring village had carried off most of the prizes the year before,
and they were not going to put up with that as I lived in their village
and belonged to them.

In a country where snakes are so plentiful it is not to be wondered at
that a game takes both its name and its movements from a snake. The big
carpet snake is, at Delena, called Auara, and the girls have a game of
that name. A long string of girls, with arms outstretched, clasp hands,
and then, swinging their grass petticoats to the rhythm, they chant

“Auara ehaina. Auara kaito ehaina.”

Having worked up steam, the first girl, representing the head of the
snake, twists round and passes under the arms of numbers two and three.
Then numbers one and two pass under the arms of three and four, and so on
to the end, the twisting representing the tortuous movements of the snake
as it travels round and up a tree. The rhymes used in this and other
games seem to have little more meaning than some of those repeated during
English games. Very often neither the children nor the adults can give
the meaning of the words used.

Another game takes its name from an animal. The Cuscus is common to
all districts, and you will see in the picture the Papuan idea of
representing its movements along the branch of a tree. The children
cannot, however, come up to the real animal.

One of the most picturesque and exciting games is played in many
districts under different names. In one it represents wasps stealing
raw sago, while in another it is the wind and sea wrecking a _lakatoi._
(_Lakatoi_ is the Motu name of a big trading canoe, or a ship). A dozen
or so girls get together like a Rugby scrum. Away in the distance you can
see boys waving branches and humming to represent the wind. As they come
nearer the sound increases and the branches are waved more vigorously.
The pace increases, and at last with a rush and a shout the branches are
thrown on to the girls. These waves, though they may produce discomfort
(especially if a few stinging ants have been left amongst the leaves),
do not smash up the lakatoi, so the boys themselves commence the attack,
and try to pull the girls apart so as to represent the breaking up of the
lakatoi. Often it is a long job, for the girls can hold their own.

If all work and no play makes a dull boy, all play and no school will not
fill an empty head. Part of the missionary’s aim is to fill the head as
well as change the heart, so we will turn from play to school.

With schools all around you, books at your disposal from the time the
first picture alphabet was put into your hands, and letters and papers
always bringing you fresh news, it will be difficult for you to imagine
a whole country where a few short years ago the people knew nothing of
either writing or reading, and where it is still possible to go into a
village where not a man, woman or child is able to read a word. There are
many such in Papua. News is conveyed by word of mouth, and appointments
made in the same way, with a little mechanical help thrown in. Only a
short time ago I saw a man send word to a friend in another village that
he should expect him to come in six days. He told the boy who was to take
the message and then gave him a piece of string with six knots in it. The
boy started on his journey, and that night before he slept he would bite
off one of the knots. The next night he would bite off another, and the
following morning hand the string, with its four remaining knots, to
the friend to whom the message was sent. He would go through the biting
performance till only two knots remained, and would then know it was time
for him to start to keep his appointment.

This is the old-fashioned way, always used when there were no names to
the days of the week, and no numbers to the days of the month, and no
writing materials, nor any who would have known how to use them even if
they had possessed a whole stationer’s shop full. Now school is changing
all this, and much of the missionary’s time is spent in school.

At Delena school meets in the church, and at once you would notice the
absence of seats and desks. So far we have followed the native custom,
and all the children sit on the floor, but now we are busy making desks
for the seniors from material given by Birmingham friends. As they come
in the boys sit in rows on the one side and the girls on the other. To
form into rows may seem a simple matter to those of you who have been
through a course of drill, but it was long before the children could be
got out of their native habit of squatting down in two compact bunches
one on either side of the church.

Our numbers may be anything between 60 and 100, for except when they are
away with their parents on trading or hunting expeditions, we have now
little difficulty in getting the children to school. We begin sometimes
with a hymn, and always with prayer, and then divide into classes.
We aim mainly at teaching the children to read and write, but add
arithmetic, some geography, and the Catechism and Bible knowledge.

While reading the children are indifferent as to which way they hold
their books. Right way up. Wrong way up. Looking at them from either
right or left side. Neither comes amiss. I could not understand this
till I noticed that the South Sea teachers more often than not hold the
card from which they teach the young children the alphabet, so that it
is the right way up for themselves. Some of the children, therefore,
see the letters the wrong way up, and some get only a side view. As the
child does not always occupy the same position in the class, it comes to
recognize the letter from any angle.

In one respect only is the Papuan scholar ahead of those who have to deal
with the English language. He finds no difficulty in spelling any word in
his language, unless it be one with a lot of H’s in it. It is a different
matter, however, when it comes to writing. You will never find him wrong
with a vowel, but he plays ducks and drakes with the consonants. T’s and
D’s, P’s and B’s, L’s and R’s are interchanged as the fit takes him.
_Vada_ may be all right at the one end of the line, but at the other it
will be _vata._ _Pa_ does duty for _ba._ This does not matter so much in
the language the native knows, but it is a serious difficulty in the way
of teaching him to write English. The pig may loom big in importance in
the eyes of the native, and the bigger he is the better they like him;
but one does not want his name to be written _big_ every time, and it is
decidedly awkward when _hat_ becomes _had_, and _bat_ turns into _bad_.
This careless use of the consonants seems to extend throughout most of
the Islands of the Pacific, so the Papuan is not exceptionally dull or

I remember reading that a chief in the South Seas once saw John Williams
make some marks on a piece of wood, and was then asked to take the piece
of wood to Mrs. Williams. She looked at the wood and then gave the chief
an axe to take to her husband, afterwards throwing away the bit of wood.
The man saw that the piece of wood had procured an axe so he picked it
up, made a hole through it, and hung it round his neck for future use, no
doubt looking forward to an unlimited supply of axes. Similar experience
has produced a peculiar effect upon the Papuan. As soon as he can write
he makes all his requests, even the most trivial, upon a bit of paper,
and seems to think that no letter can be complete without a request for
something. There is a difficulty about the practical application of some
things we teach, but none whatever about writing.

If “multiplication is vexation” to young folks at home, what must it be
in a village where written figures are quite modern? We are fortunate
that the natives in our district have a good system of counting, but I
have never been able to understand why they have words for ten thousand
and a hundred thousand. They never use them in their daily life, and I
cannot see that they ever could have had occasion to use them. Their
counting is done upon their fingers. In school you can see a child adding
away with the help of his fingers, and then if he wants to go beyond ten
he has the advantage over an English child in that he wears no boots and
can make use of his toes, and so can go to twenty without beginning again.

After a time a straightforward sum presents no difficulty, but there is
no practical application as in the case of writing. The boys have never
been taught to think a matter out, but they are beginning to do so, as
the following story shows. Ume had got as far as addition of money, and
could get his sums right nine times out of ten, except the farthings.
Again and again I explained, and one day found out what his difficulty
was. Here is his explanation: “I cannot understand the ways of you white
men. You write one over four, and count it one; one over two and count it
two; three over four and count it three. Why do you not count all _tops_
or all _bottoms_, and then I could get my sums right.” He had thought the
matter out and discovered why he had failed.

Another illustration of their thinking matters out for themselves. I had
just given the English word for fingers, and then giving the native for
toes asked what it was in English. A pause, and then one boy shot out,
“Foot fingers.”

When the lessons are all finished the calling of the register would
interest you if you allowed me to translate some of the names as we read
them out. Kasiri does not seem to be troubled by the fact that his name
means “unripe”; and Ogogame (the orphan) is decidedly out of place for a
boy who has both father and mother living in the village. The cassowary
and the rooster are represented by boys bearing the name of VIO and
KOKO-ROGU. Death (Mate) and life (Mauri) are both lively youngsters, in
fact it would not be easy to decide which is the more alive. Boio, the
equivalent of “lost,” is rather appropriately the name of a girl who is
not at all a regular attendant at school. Place names are rather poorly
represented at present. One girl who was rescued from death by a Samoan
teacher’s wife is called Papauta, after the Samoan girls’ school, and
another girl has to answer to the name of Purari, because she was born
while her father was away with Chalmers, on his first journey to the
river of that name.

As English becomes more known we shall have boys and girls called after
all sorts of things, for in one part and another of the country I know
Smoke, Fishline, Teapot, Tar-brush, London, and Fish-hook.


The Conceited Youth

In early childhood the Papuan is often a charming little being, looking
at you with eyes that can hardly be matched the world over for size and
the beauty of their plum-like bloom. He grows out of this stage all too
early, and in the next thinks only of making himself ornamental. He
certainly is not useful.

Having been allowed his own way when a child he soon considers himself
free from all parental control, and goes his own way. The girls help in
the daily round of the household management, but the youth spends most
of his time in the club house, decorating himself for the afternoon
promenade. Conceited and useless would best describe the male Papuan at
this time of his history, but to make the picture complete we must go
a step further and say that he is constantly getting into trouble and
dragging his parents and relatives into quarrels with others on account
of his misconduct.

After dancing and promenading best part of the night he is always
unwilling to turn out when the others do in the morning. As soon as
he has sufficiently roused himself he begins his preparations for the
day by spreading around him the requisites for his toilet. A strange
assortment. His dress-suit consists of a strip of bark cloth with gay
coloured patterns marked upon it. So simple a suit takes little time or
thought for its proper adjustment. No beauty doctor can, however, spend
more time and care over the face. Cocoanut shells containing various
pigments are brought into use, together with a mirror (this is one of the
few things the youth will work to procure), and lines and dots, triangles
and circles, soon hide the natural colour of the skin. It is not at all
necessary that the two sides of the face should match. One eye may be
surrounded by white or yellow, while the other may look at you out of a
frame of black.

Next comes the dressing of the hair. A friend may lend a hand in combing
this out with a two or three-pronged comb, the youth taking his ease the
while, as you can see in the picture. By the time the process is complete
the youth gazes from under a frizzy mop which it would be hard to match
the whole world over. This must be parted a little way back from the
forehead, so as to allow the feather head ornaments to be adjusted in
the right place and at the correct angle. A bead or shell frontlet must
be placed round the forehead, and then the necklace and armshells; the
anklets and garters (though he has no stockings to keep up) must all
be nicely in position before the final touch is given to the toilet. A
cocoanut is scraped, and the friend, filling his mouth with the soft
white mass, chews it till he has extracted the oil, and then gently blows
it from his lips over the body of the youth who gradually turns round in
front of him, till, like the joint on the old-fashioned spit he is done
all round. Sometimes plain oil does not meet the case, but it is coloured
with red clay and then smeared over the body instead of being blown on.

Now try and imagine what the dandy looks like, and remember that often
you can tell he is coming long before you can see him, for the remains
of former oil dressings are not washed off. The picture will give you an
idea, but unfortunately it lacks the colour. Crude as are many of the
attempts at decoration, the native often shows skill in the way he blends
the colours of his feathers and the artistic way in which he adjusts them
at the correct angle.

Many people are willing to be uncomfortable if they can be in the
fashion, and the Papuan dandy is no exception. The tight lacing he
subjects himself to may be bearable while he is promenading about, but I
have seen him suffer agony from it while trying to row in a boat, and yet
all his suffering would not make him remove his belt.

If the Papuan youth’s life were only devoted to empty show it would be
bad enough, but there is another and darker side. His parents and elders
may care little what he does with his time; nor do they worry about his
education, except in one particular. They never allow him to forget that
he must avenge wrongs inflicted upon his family. Of forgiveness they know
nothing, and the youth as he grows up is taught that for every wrong he
must exact payment.

One of the first cases tried after a Court of Justice had been
established in Papua illustrates this. A young man from a village near
Port Moresby was charged with murdering a woman and two children. He
admitted that he had killed them, but said it was “payment” for the
people of the woman’s tribe having killed his father. He was quite a
small boy at the time, but his uncles had repeatedly told him of the
deed, and that he would not only have to take a life for a life, but if
possible get something on the credit side, and so win a name for himself.
With this in view they taught him to handle the spear and the club,
and when he was a man and proficient, sent him to find his victim. It
mattered nothing to him that the first persons whom he met belonging to
the offending tribe were a woman and two children. He killed them all
three and gloried in his deed of shame. He had however to reckon with our
first Governor (Sir William MacGregor), who, being in the neighbourhood,
had the offender marched off to Port Moresby, and there, during a long
term of imprisonment, he had an opportunity of learning something of the
new order of things introduced under British Government.

It is difficult to believe that this bloodthirstiness dwells in youths
who are so vain, and so easily captivated by bits of finery, and have
such queer ideas of what should be done with English things when they do
get them.

I once took a youth to Sydney. Of course Papuan dress, or want of dress,
would not do there, so I had to fit him out in a suit of clothes. The
garments were not by any means worn out when we returned to Delena, but
for a time they passed from my view. Later Master Poha was strutting
about in the well ventilated vest, while two of his relatives divided the
remainder of the suit between them. I cannot say that either looked fully
clothed, but they were not so conspicuous as the boy at Port Moresby who
used to stalk about in a silk hat.

That hat had a history. A high Government official found that his servant
had packed it amongst his things when he was leaving London, and having
no use for it in Papua, he handed it over to a youth who had taken up
his quarters in the back premises of Government House. That youth was
not only the introducer of a new fashion, the observed of all observers,
but he was the envy of his companions, as he strutted around clothed
in a top hat, and a very broad smile. Of course the hat lost its gloss,
and took on the shape of a concertina, but that did not detract from its
usefulness, and the last I heard of it was that the elder brother of the
owner borrowed it to take on Hiri (the trading expedition), because, as
he put it, “He should be cold without any clothes.”

The Papuan youth, however, with all these faults is a loyal, brave
companion. He can be relied upon when accompanying a white man on a
journey. The tighter the corner the more he shines, and many others as
well as ourselves would have ended their days in Papua long ago had not
our boys stuck to us in time of need.


Keeping House

The Papuan comes of age in fewer years than the white boy. From his
babyhood preparations have been made for starting him in life. His father
having settled that he shall marry the daughter of some friend, begins
to pay the stipulated price for the girl. Now a pig is paid on account,
and if accepted by the girl’s father, as a native who could talk a little
English of a kind told me, “He all same as finger ring.” Next it may be
an armshell, or some feathers. Later on some sago; and so the price is
gradually paid.

When the boy and girl are old enough to start for themselves, the girl’s
father often manages to screw an extra pig or a few additional knives or
axes out of the boy’s family, on the ground that his daughter is either
very good-looking, very strong, or a particularly smart pot maker or
gardener. When there is no chance of a higher price, or before if the
young couple take the matter into their own hands, the marriage takes
place. The couple eat from the same dish and the knot is tied. At first
they do not set up housekeeping on their own account, but usually settle
in the house of the bridegroom’s father. There is no honeymoon, unless
it has been a runaway match, and then the fugitives think it advisable
to stay away long enough for the anger of the old folks to cool down. In
the ordinary course of events the bridegroom at once takes his part in
whatever hunting or fishing or planting may be going on, and the bride
settles in her place in the household and garden work.

Sometimes there is a little more ceremony, and a touch of display. I
remember once at Orokolo seeing a procession going along the beach. It
was unlike anything I had seen before, so I gave chase. It was a long
chase, for all were going at top speed to get over the hot sand as
quickly as possible, and I was only just in time to see the bride, the
chief figure in the procession, and decked out in the finery belonging
to her family, vanishing into the house. Her friends had been carrying
suspended from poles the feathers, armshells, necklaces, and other
ornaments that had been paid as her price. These poles were fastened to
the front of the house she had entered like barbers’ poles in England,
but I doubt if they were left out overnight. Too many of the valuables
might have been missing in the morning.

[Illustration: WOULD HE TAKE A PRIZE?

_See page 4._]

[Illustration: THROWING THE SPEAR.

_See page 5._]

[Illustration: WHIP-TOPS IN SEASON.

_See page 6._]

On another occasion at an inland village, the bridal procession crossed
the river in canoes. This time no ornaments were carried, but nearly all
the people were carrying large sago puddings—round hard balls larger than
a football, and all covered with grated cocoanut, which made them look as
though coated with white sauce or sugar icing.

The houses in which the Papuans live are of all shapes and of all sizes,
and some at least are built in strange places: some in the tops of tall
trees like big birds’-nests; some on piles in the sea like the old lake
dwellings in Europe; some half in the sea and half on land, as though
they were just starting to paddle on the beach; some on platforms over
swamps, and others on the dry land. Oblong buildings are the fashion in
most villages, but in others the ends of the oblong are curved, and in
others again the one end of the house goes up and out like an old coal
scuttle-bonnet. The ridgepole is usually straight, but at the east end of
Papua concave meets with more approval, while in the west the ridgepole
looks like a hog’s back. Small conical houses are to be found inland,
but in only one district do I remember to have seen houses that were
not built upon piles. At Maiva, in the central district, the sides and
ends of the house are carried right down to the ground so as to give
protection from mosquitoes, and the building looks like a hayrick.

Usually the house is only large enough for one family, but in the Fly
River each building is really a street under one roof. The longest
I have measured, though not the longest I have been in, was 360 feet
long by about 60 feet wide. You could enter at either end by means of a
sloping platform, and then at once have to stop till your eyes became
accustomed to the difference between the glare of the sunlight outside
and the semi-darkness inside. Gradually you would make out that you were
standing at one end of what looked like an unusually long cow-shed. The
path ran down the middle, and on either side were stalls. There the
similarity ended, for in each stall was a fireplace, and instead of quiet
cows, painted and feather-bedecked natives could be seen walking about,
and bows and arrows, drums and nets, mats and paddles hung from the posts
and partitions in place of the three-legged stools and milk pails.

No matter how poorly a cowhouse might be lighted, it would not be as dark
as that house at Kiwai. Imagine its 360 feet of length without a single
window, and its roof without one chimney, though the fires in the stalls
were burning wood, and they _did_ smoke. You did not quite need an axe to
cut your way through that atmosphere, but before reaching the far end of
the house I found my pace had quickened, and when once again in the pure
outside air there was the same feeling of relief as when I came up out of
the sea from my only experience of going below in a diving-dress.

Of all the Papuan houses I like those best which are built over the sea
on piles. It is true that to get from one to the next you need to be
something of a Blondin, if you take the high road, which consists of a
single pole. On the other hand, if you are fond of a swim there is your
opportunity all around you. From platform, door or window, you can dive
or tumble in, and when you climb up into the house you want to visit
there is no need to worry about wet clothes. The host has no carpets to
spoil, and the hot sun and a strong sea breeze will soon dry thin cotton

In England men of many trades are required to build a house, and the
materials are gathered from many different places. In Papua each man
builds his own house, with the assistance of his own family and some of
his friends, and gathers the materials from the supply he finds around
him. The forest gives him his timber. The Sago palm or the Nepa palm
supplies his thatch. In place of nails and screws he uses the cane and
vines which he can find in almost any patch of forest, or strips of bark
from many different kinds of trees. On the coast his flooring boards are
made by splitting up the old dug-out canoes, or by the more laborious
process of dividing a tree lengthwise and then adzing each half into a

In some districts the native is not content with just putting his
material together and providing a place to sleep in, but spends much
time and a certain amount of skill and taste upon the decoration of his
house. The best in this way are to be found in the eastern part of Papua,
with elaborately-carved barge boards, or woven mat gables, with patterns
worked out in white cowry shells.

All round Delena the houses lack ornamentation, though they differ in
both plan and details of building. Perhaps the most interesting part of
the work to watch is the putting on of the palm-leaf thatch. When the
framework of the house is up, and the rafters all in position, the place
of the slater’s battens is supplied by either strips of palm bark or
strings of fibre. The palm leaves, doubled across the middle, are then
pushed with one limb on either side of the strip and allowed to lie one
on the other, much like the bits of carpet in the old cottage hearth rug.
In this way a good thatch roof is made which will keep the water out for
four or five years.

Another plan is to sew the palm leaves together and make long sheets of
thatch, but this is not so tidy nor does it make so watertight a roof,
and it needs some repair each year.

[Illustration: PAROPARO.

_See page 7._]

[Illustration: THE SNAKE GAME.

_See page 9._]


_See page 11._]

Even in the most civilized parts of the country at the present time the
stock of tools with which a native starts building his house would be
considered absurdly inadequate by a British workman. A pointed stick
takes the place of a pick and a cocoanut shell a shovel for sinking the
holes for the posts. An axe and a knife are probably the only cutting
tools, and the point of the knife has to serve for boring holes and the
back of the axe for a hammer. Ill equipped as the native may be, he is
ahead of his fathers. They only had stone axes, and to cut down a tree
and adze two planks from it with such a tool was slow work indeed.

When I look at the size of some of his buildings, and see the way he
overcomes his difficulties, and remember his scanty stock of tools and
rough material, I consider him a clever man.

Sometimes the arrangements and calculations of the Old Folks as to the
marriage are all upset by the girl refusing to marry the boy chosen for
her. Then a long time of trouble begins. The boy’s father demands the
return of the payment he has made, but that is not possible. The pigs
have been eaten, and probably some of the neckshells, armshells, and
necklaces have been passed on by the father of the girl in part payment
for a wife for one of his sons. They are not allowed to fight it out now,
so a war of words goes on every night. If the houses are one at either
end of the village it is a war at long range, and there is little chance
for those not interested to sleep, till the combatants are too hoarse to
continue shouting. In the end a compromise is arranged, and _perhaps_ the
young people live happy ever after.

The married women are as a rule very patient, but at times they take
matters into their own hands and free themselves from what they consider
an unusually unfair share of the work. Two illustrations of this come to
my mind. When I started at Delena a young man became my cook and general
factotum. He claimed to be a cook because he could use a tin-opener, and
his other qualifications were about on the same level. Early marriage
being the rule I wondered why he was single and one day asked him. He
said that he had been married, but that his wife was dead. Evidently he
did not wish to go into details; but from another man I heard that the
wife was so tired of her husband’s lazy habits, and of having to do all
the garden work, that one day she cleaned up the garden and then hanged

The other story ends better. At Tupuselei there lived a man who had
great ideas of his personal appearance and his skill as a dancer. He
was afflicted with the idea that if he dressed up in all his paint and
feathers and let people admire him, that was enough to free him from
garden work. His wife did not agree with him, and thought out a way
of giving him a lesson. One evening he came home and did not find her
waiting to give him his meal. Though he called, she did not show up; but
the houses were close enough together for the neighbours to hear, and one
of them answered—

“Your wife has gone to see her father.”

“What about my supper?”

“You will find your wife has left it in the pot on the fire to keep warm.”

In no sweet mood my gentleman removed the banana leaf wrapping from the
top of the pot, and the smell made him wonder what he was going to have
for supper. He certainly was not prepared for the new dish his wife had
concocted. The first thing his wooden fork brought out of the pot was a
bunch of his much-prized feathers. Then followed his pearl shell breast
ornament, his armlets, his necklaces, and all the articles of personal
adornment upon which he had so prided himself, and by way of gravy his
precious paints.

His temper was not improved when he found his neighbours, who were in the
secret, laughing at him, and delivering a farewell message from his wife,
to the effect that she was tired of doing all the work and providing all
the food. If he would not make a garden he had better try to live on his

What became of the man for a time I do not know, but the woman continued
to live with her father at a neighbouring village.

About a year later she found, morning by morning, a fine bunch of
bananas on the verandah of the house, and told her father it was evident
someone wished to marry her. Her father kept watch and found it was the
former husband who was putting the bananas on the verandah, and knowing
his character, asked him from whose garden he had stolen them. With a
meekness quite new to him the husband replied that he had not stolen them
at all. They were grown in his own new garden, the result of his own
work, and he had brought them to show his wife that he had learnt his
lesson, and could, and would, provide food for her and the children, if
she would return to him. She did return to him, and they lived happy ever

John Bunyan tells us that he and his wife started life “as poor as poor
might be, not having as much household stuff as a dish or a spoon betwixt
us both.” The young Papuan couple are not quite so badly off as that,
but few of us would like to set up housekeeping with their scanty stock.
The bride will at least have a few pots, perhaps the result of her own
work, or if she lives in a district where pots are not made, procured
by barter from another district. She will have at least one big spoon,
made by fastening part of a cocoanut shell to the end of a stick, and
perhaps a smaller spoon also cut from cocoanut shell and carved. Her
wardrobe will vary according to the district in which she lives, and
may be as extensive as a few fibre skirts, or as scanty as a length of
parcel string, or be absolutely nothing. Arms and ornaments are what the
bridegroom brings to the common stock, for his clothes are scarcely worth

[Illustration: ROCKING THE CRADLE.

_See page 33._]

In time the cradle is wanted, and the young mother has not been able
to buy one after the English pattern; but fortunately most of the
real wants can be supplied by what grows around the native home, and
the cradle comes from the banana plant. The fibre found in the stump
is cleared of the soft pith that surrounds it, washed clean, and then
twisted into a string as fine and nearly as evenly laid as whip cord; and
the woman does all the twisting by rubbing the fibre between her hand and
her thigh. When she has her string she makes the big bag that serves for
the cradle, dyeing portions of the string as she goes along so as to work
out her pattern. All the work is done without shuttle, mesh, or needle of
any kind, and in the most used pattern there is only one length of string
and only two knots—one at the beginning and one at the end of the work.

It would puzzle an English mother to put her baby comfortably into such
a cradle, and perhaps puzzle her more to rock such a cradle. The picture
will show you how the child is settled, and will make plain the ease with
which it can be rocked. Just a push and away it goes like the pendulum of
a big clock.

A mail cart would be of little use in a country where there are no roads,
but this strange cradle can be used instead of one. When the mother wants
to go to the garden or call upon a friend, all she has to do is to take
the cradle from the rope by which it is suspended, and hang it down her
back with what we may call the handle of the bag over her head. While
the mothers are at work the children are hung up in strange places,
and in walking through a banana plantation in which a number of women
are at work, one might be forgiven for thinking that the plants were
growing cradles with babies inside, instead of bunches of bananas, for
the mothers make use of the shade given by the beautiful broad leaves to
protect the children from the sun.

So far we have remained outside the house and talked about it. Now let
us pay a visit to someone living in an ordinary house in Delena. We will
find out if the owner is at home not by ringing a bell and then asking,
but by standing in front of the house and calling his name. If he is
inside he will answer by asking us to “Come up.” His front steps are
about equal to the ladder in a poor hen roost, and with your boots on you
will have to be careful. The rough poles that answer for the treads of
the steps are far apart, and have no agreement as to angles, and when you
have safely mounted to the last you will only have reached the verandah.
Hobble skirts would never do for such steps. It was a stretch before you
were up, but it will need a stoop, perhaps even you will have to go on
your hands and knees before you can get through the small opening which
does for a doorway.

Inside, as there is neither window nor chimney, and the house may be
full of smoke, it will be well to wait a few minutes before beginning
to explore, or you may knock your head against a spear or a net. As a
rule the most the host can do for you is to spread a small mat on the
floor, and invite you to sit upon it tailor fashion. He may have added
a little to the small stock with which he began married life, but it is
still a very small stock, and shows us how little one can go through
life with. No tables, chairs, bedsteads or cupboards. No long list of
kitchen utensils. No wardrobes stocked with clothes, or bottom drawer
well filled with linen. No shelves lined with books. The floor takes
the place of table, chair and bed. The native pots supply the means of
cooking the native food. A few extra grass skirts for the wife, or an
extra loin cloth for our host, may be hanging from the roof, and in the
corner or stuck in the thatch are the spears, paddles and nets, and a few
pointed sticks for use in the garden. The real valuables, the feathers
and ornaments, are stowed away in a box if our friend is fortunate enough
to possess one, or carefully wrapped up in strips of bark.

That you may know what the Papuan’s treasures are like, and be able to
identify them in the museums, I have been to the village and borrowed
a friend’s store box, and taken a photo of some of the contents. The
feathers are not included, as they are all tied up in bunches, and later
on you will see a picture of the head-dress made up and in wear.

Please now look at the picture and listen to the amateur showman as he
proclaims, “Here, ladies and gentlemen, you have a collection of jewels
from a far-off land.” It is often reported that anything may be bought
from the simple savage for a few beads, a bit of red cloth, or a mirror,
but much as you might wish to purchase this collection, nothing you could
offer would persuade the owner to part with it.

The long necklace running along the bottom of the picture, and a little
way up the sides, is made of dogs’ teeth. Only the canine teeth please
remark, and if all the dogs who contributed to that necklace had their
full compliment of ivory, then nearly forty had to be sacrificed. A man
who does not possess such a necklace will find it impossible to purchase
a wife for his son.

The thin necklace like a border round the picture is called taotao by
the Motu people, but movio by the Maivans, and requires patience in the
making. Each little bead is a small white cowry shell, and each has been
ground flat before it could be sewn on to the string.

The greatest treasures of all are the koios, the one in the centre and
four to the left of the picture. The dark part is a fretwork pattern cut
from real turtle-shell, and then moulded into a white saucer cut from a
large white shell. Do not ever call the man a duffer who can cut a koio
with a boar’s tusk, or a shark’s tooth, or an old nail as his tool. Koios
are only made by the people immediately round Hall Sound.

[Illustration: THE CUSCUS GAME.

_See page 10._]

[Illustration: A FINE FRIZZY HEAD.]

[Illustration: A FRIEND LENDS A HAND.

_See page 18._]

Precious stones increase rapidly in value when the little ones are left
behind. So do the Toeas, or arm shells. A small one may be worth little,
but there is a rush when it is known that one large enough to go up to a
man’s shoulder is on the market. I have known a native who was earning
twelve pounds a year willingly pay £5 for such a Toea.

The half-moon pearl shell is worn on the breast, and no marriage is
complete without one or more of these changing hands.

Above the pearl shell are two nose sticks, both cut from a clam shell and
carefully ground into shape. Some of these are so long and so heavy that
when worn through the septum of the nose an old sailor would be inclined
to suggest that a topping lift might ease the strain, and add to the
comfort of the wearer.

The two large pendants are made from wallaby teeth, and are worn on the
breast on state occasions, with a few dry husks at the end that will
rattle as the wearer walks about.

Seven small turtle-shell ear-rings only are shown, but it is nothing
uncommon for a woman to wear as many as twenty of these in one ear at the
same time.

Such, ladies and gentlemen, are the treasures of my friend Noi of Delena.
You would probably only value them as curios, but to him they are
treasures, and valued as heirlooms.

The Papuans are very conservative if asked to do anything contrary to
the customs of their forefathers, but are not too conservative to adopt
the customs of the white men when by so doing they can lighten the
daily task, or add to their own comfort. They willingly take to steel
tools instead of stone, and think a blanket a great improvement upon
bark cloth, and like rice and bread to be added to their daily menu.
Comparatively few, however, copy any of the household arrangements of the

I remember one who did. He was chief of his village, and his house,
though built of purely native material, was in shape something like my
own, and was divided into two rooms and had home-made doors and windows.
He had even gone so far as to make a table, a chair, and a sofa, and
asked me to sit on the chair when I visited him. One glance, however,
was enough to convince me that I might as well go comfortably to the
floor, as find my way there in a hurry amidst the broken fragments of the

[Illustration: A HEARTH.

_See page 39._]

On the small table were three books which I quickly recognized as the
Motu New Testament, a Hymn book, and the Catechism, and on top of the
books a small bell. A few questions led Tanokari up to telling me he had
been to my house, and seen the books and the bell and the use we made of
them. When he had learnt to read he also bought books and a bell, and
called his friends together at night so that he might have family prayers
with them.

Many others have followed the lead of this chief as far as the books are
concerned, and have learnt to make use of them as he did, but things
sometimes seem strangely mixed. I have seen a native take down his netted
bag, produce his book, and then with the greatest gravity put on a pair
of spectacles and begin to read. His clothing would not have made a
wrapping for a pair of boots, and perhaps the only other European things
in the house were his hatchet and knife.

The hearth is in the centre of the floor, and the fire upon it serves as
the light at night. An open fire in a thatch house suggests danger of the
owner losing house and all his belongings by fire. The only precaution
taken is that of putting earth on the boards where the fire is lighted,
and surrounding all by four pieces of wood.

Fires are not so common as one would expect but when they do take place
the whole village is usually swept away. In nearly every case the fire
originates from the careless leaving about of a fire stick, but at Delena
one Sunday afternoon we had excitement from another cause. An unusual
wave of quarrelsomeness seemed to be passing over the village, and I had
been preaching from the words, “Inai, au momo lahi maragi e haraia.”
As that language is not taught in the English schools, I had better
refer you to James iii. 7, and the latter part of the verse. By way of
illustration I reminded the people that one fire stick would be enough
to start a fire that would burn down the whole village. Less than half
an hour after the service was finished there was a cry of “Fire” and a
general rush to a house where the thatch was alight. Fortunately the
fire was soon extinguished, and then the cause was sought. My sermon had
produced an effect I neither expected nor desired. A little girl wanted
to test the truth of my statement, and her experiment would have resulted
in the destruction of the village but for the timely discovery of what
she was doing.

This story of the little girl has taken us away from the inside of the
house. We will go back to the hearth and notice the way in which the fire
is built. When once it has been started sticks are placed like the spokes
of a wheel, but they are only three in number. They meet in the centre of
the hearth under the pot, and as they burn away have only to be pushed in
a little till they again meet and replenish the fire. Three old cooking
pots, turned the wrong way up, form a rough tripod on which the pot in
use rests, and between them the three pieces of firewood are pushed to
the centre of the hearth.

When first we came to Delena one of my wife’s great annoyances was the
way the natives frequented the kitchen, and their curiosity as to the
contents of the saucepans on the stove. Quite calmly they would walk in
and lift the lid, and ask questions as to what they saw. I am not sure
that they did not sample too, when they had a chance. You of course would
not attempt to satisfy your curiosity in that way in a Papuan house,
but I feel sure you would want to know something about the food, and I
am equally sure you would not always care to share the Papuan’s meal,
no matter how sharp set your appetite might be, for he is not at all
particular as to what he eats.

For the most part his diet is a vegetable one, consisting of yams, sweet
potatoes, taro, bananas, sago, and cocoanuts, but at one time and another
I have seen the native eating and enjoying, not only his beloved pork,
but wallaby, cuscus, rat, dog, snake, iguana, lizard, birds of nearly
every kind, though there are a few he will not eat, shark, crocodile,
the large fruit bat, and maggots as big as one’s thumb, which thrive in
rotten palm stumps. These maggots are a great delicacy, and an old man
once offered me a length of bamboo full and seemed surprised that I did
not jump at the chance of purchasing them. In the Nara district they are
so prized that an intertribal war was kept up for some years because two
villages claimed certain land where the maggots were breeding freely in
decayed sago palms.

The Papuan is not a great eater, and can go for long on very little food
indeed, and then make up for it when he has the opportunity; but one
wonders most at the little he drinks. He may have a green cocoanut after
his meal, if he can get it, or may drink a little of the water the food
was cooked in. At other times he drinks but little, and three or four men
will start off for a day’s hunting with only a cocoanut shell of water
between them. Certainly not more than a quart.


Grandfather and Grandmother

Whatever may be the faults of the Papuan, neglect of the old folks is
not one of them. The grandmother or grandfather is always sure of kind
treatment and a full share of all the good things that may come to the
larder. There is no chimney-corner for him to sit and doze in, but he has
the comfortable corner of the verandah, and spends his time there looking
after his grandchildren and occasionally making or mending the fishing

To deal with him needs a very short chapter indeed. His active part in
the work of life is over, and one is glad to be able to tell of how well
he is looked after in his old age. A long talk with some of these old
men brings home how great has been the change in the life of the native
during the last forty years. They talk proudly of their deeds when they
were strong young men, and cause the rising generation to envy them, but
white grandfathers have been known to do the same, and we think none the
worse of them.


The Sorcerer

If sorcerers could be banished from Papua, nearly all troubles would be
banished with them. There are nominal chiefs in the villages, but their
power is as nothing beside that of the sorcerer. In fact the chief seems
only to have such power as comes from having a fist that can strike a
heavier blow than any one else, or a voice that can be heard above all
others. The sorcerer, on the other hand, is feared by all, and there is
no doubt about his word often carrying death with it.

The Papuan knows nothing of the laws of Nature, and he usually traces
home to the sorcerer the reason for all that happens to himself and
his belongings. The sorcerer is the great trouble of his life, and his
influence is ever present from birth to death. It cannot be dodged, and
so has to be bought off. The power of the sorcerer is hereditary, but
does not always pass to the eldest son. It seems to depend upon the
possession of certain charms, and these may be almost anything from a
stone to a bone.

[Illustration: A TIGHT-LACED DANDY.

_See page 19._]


_See page 23._]


_See page 24._]


_See p. 25._]

With so many to choose from it is difficult to decide which sorcerer
shall be introduced, but perhaps it will be better to take Miria, the
hereditary chief of Delena. He would probably strike you as the most
friendly man in the village, as he is certainly the most vain. After I
had taken his photo once or twice he seemed to think I never took the
camera out for any other purpose, and I had to dodge in all sorts of ways
so as not to offend him and yet save my plates. Smilingly he will readily
admit that there are plenty of sorcerers in the neighbourhood, and that
his father was one with much power. If asked as to his own connexion with
the craft, he will smile still more blandly and tell you that he had a
little to do with it in the past, but that was before he knew better.
Exactly what he would mean by that remark I do not know. Perhaps his idea
of time is vague, for he has only this month returned from serving his
fourth term of imprisonment for sorcery.

My first contact with Miria as a sorcerer was soon after I landed at
Delena. Late one night when all was quiet, a slight cough told me some
one was near, and Miria, as silently as a ghost is supposed to move, came
within the range of the light of my lamp. Sitting down in front of me,
he began to explain that certain bad persons had accused him of having
caused the death of a man by sorcery, and that the police were after him
to take him to prison. Then he began to unwrap the parcel he had taken
from his bag. It contained various smaller parcels, and from these he
produced a bird-of-paradise plume, a small armshell, a very inferior nose
stick, and one or two other bits of native finery. Evidently the greatest
treasure was contained in a carefully wrapped-up matchbox. It was a
shilling, and placing this by the side of the other things at my feet,
Miria said all should be mine if I would tell the police they were not to
take him to prison. I had some difficulty in persuading him that it was
not through ill will that I refused his present, and offered the advice
that he should give himself up, take his punishment like a man, and then
have nothing more to do with sorcery.

The advice as to giving himself up he took, and I heard from the
magistrate that he was an exemplary prisoner, gave no trouble to the
warders, and, much to my surprise, gathered the other prisoners for
prayers each morning and evening during the time of relaxation they were
allowed. I had hopes that Miria would take the other part of the advice
and have nothing more to do with sorcery, but in that I was disappointed.
He had not long been back in the village when there were fresh
complaints, and the police were again on his track. This time he tried to
put out of sight the proof of his guilt, by bringing me a peculiar stone
and asking that I would keep it.

I can remember our conversation, and give you the chief questions and

“Well, Miria, what is this stone you have brought me?”

“Father, it is a great medicine (charm), with such power that any one
looking upon it will die at once.”

“Should I die if I looked at it?” “Yes.”

“Well, I shall not sleep to-night till I have had a look at it. Where did
you get it?”

“From a mountain man with whom I was in prison. He was also there because
he was a sorcerer.”

“Had he the stone with him in prison?”

“No, but we made all the arrangements about it while we were in prison,
and when we were liberated he got the stone from its hiding-place in the
forest, and handed it over to me after I had paid him a big price.”

“Where was it hidden?”

“In a white ants’ nest. The man made a hole in the nest, put the stone
in, and the ants soon built all round it and covered it up, and the man
only knew where to look for it.”

“You really believe the stone has all the power you claim for it?”

“Yes; and I do not want the police to get it.”

“Well, now we will unwrap it and put the matter to the test.”

“You must not look at it. I will not stay to see you look at it.”

With that Miria cleared out of the house and left me to my fate. I looked
at the stone—a queer water-worn piece, weighing about three pounds. I
wondered what was its history, and how many lives it had ended, for there
is no doubt that the natives do die because of the charms. The sorcerer
has made use of his charm and said they will die, and that is enough. Die
they do. However, I did not die as the result of looking at that stone,
nor did any of the many boys and girls who during the next few months,
saw it used as a door stop to my room. When at last I told them what it
was, they were horrified, and gave my room a wide berth till I had put
the stone away.

Parting with the stone did not save Miria. He was accused of having
caused the death of a man at a neighbouring village, and the dead man’s
friends, finding courage in numbers, came in a body and tried to settle
accounts with Miria. I managed to save him from their spears, but in the
end he had to serve another term in prison. When released he promised
amendment, and however much he was suspected while I was in England, he
was allowed to continue at liberty. Whether from love of power, or love
of gain, it is hard to say, but he has fallen again. This time he was
supposed to have made a man very ill, and the magistrate was determined
to take all his charms from him. In the end Miria told where they were
hidden, and there was no little excitement when the police arrived and
began to pull to pieces a small house under the one in which Miria and
his two wives and two families lived. They had to dig as well as pull
down, and then the treasures were found. Up till then all the braver
spirits in the village had lingered round the working party, but when the
parcels were dug up the sight was too much for their nerves. In a few
minutes the only people in the village were the police, the Rarotongan
teacher’s wife, and two young boys who lived with us at the mission. They
told my wife of the strange things the parcels contained, amongst them
being the thigh-bone of Miria’s father, and the hand of his own dead

I do not know if you would think as much as I did of those two boys
Anederea and Aisi remaining to watch the unwrapping of the charms.
Probably not; but I realized how different their outlook had become from
that of their friends and relatives and was thankful to see such a result
of our teaching. All they expressed was disgust that Miria should have
desecrated the bodies of his father and child, and pity for those who
believed such remains possessed the power of life and death.

Whether Miria will ever cease from being a sorcerer I cannot tell, but
sometimes I am sorry for him and think he would like to have done with
the whole business, despite the gain it brings in the shape of payment
for the use of his powers. He finds it difficult to cut himself adrift
from the old life. If people come with presents and he receives them,
then he is accused of accepting payment to practise sorcery. On the other
hand, if he refuses the present, and any one even distantly connected
with those who offered it becomes ill or dies, the trouble is put down
to Miria, and it is reported that he is angry as the present was not of
sufficient value, and the sickness or death has been the result of his

It is not necessary to go very far back in history to find queer
practices used in England in both surgery and medicine, but even that
backward glance is not necessary in Papua. The strange practices are
in use every day. A man is sick and a sorcerer is called in from a
neighbouring village. He brings his outfit with him and, spreading the
strange articles around him, begins to examine his patient. More often
than not he pronounces it a case of a snake or a stone somewhere inside
the patient, but occasionally the cause of the trouble may be as bulky
as a whole wallaby skin. He then looks at the present offered him and
begins manipulations with a view to removing the snake, stone, or wallaby
skin. With various grunts and exclamations, and dives here and there, he
says that it is coming away, but at last in despair he announces that he
cannot manage it. The payment is not enough. Another pig must be added.
If the sick man’s people have not the required pig they borrow one, and
then the sorcerer begins again. “’Tis the little pig as done it.” Away
comes the cause of all the trouble. At least so says the sorcerer, but no
one ever sees it. He is careful to hide it in his blanket, or bark cloth.

The belief the people have in the power of the sorcerer to heal them
may be useful to them, but unfortunately they believe that he can kill
them. At times there is little doubt he uses poisons, and that he has
power over real snakes, but it is a question as to how much the sorcerer
deceives himself as well as the people and just what use he makes of
the snakes. Rarely is any one bitten by a snake without its being put
down to the account of some sorcerer, and many cases can be recalled of
snakes being found in or near a house immediately after the sorcerer has
threatened death, but in only one case can I remember the snake being in
the possession of the man.

The magistrate of the district was making a raid upon the sorcerers, and
though the man escaped he left his “kit” behind him. Amongst other things
were two earthenware pots fitting the one over the other, and forming a
closed vessel. Inside was a human skull, and while the magistrate was
examining this a snake popped out. You may be sure the skull was promptly
dropped and the snake killed, but unfortunately it was not examined to
find out whether it was a poisonous one, and if so whether the fangs had
been extracted.

There are many unsolved mysteries about the sorcerer, but all, Government
officers, missionaries, and natives, vote him a nuisance.

[Illustration: FIRING POTS.]

[Illustration: MAKING POTS.]

[Illustration: THATCHERS AT WORK.

_See page 28._]

[Illustration: DELENA HOUSE.

_See page 28._]


A Sandalwood Church, and an Incident

About a year before I came to Delena sandalwood had been found in the
neighbourhood, and at once traders began to get it cut and to export it
to China. Till then the people had no idea that the wood growing around
them was of any special value. “What has this to do with the Delena
Church?” you may ask, and my reply is “_Dohore_,” the word that has been
used to me so often that I am tired of it, and pass it on to you. It just
means, “Wait a bit. Don’t be in a hurry.”

A very fair church can be built in Papua at a cost of from three to five
pounds, but the trouble is they do not last long, and the one I found
at Delena was in a sadly dilapidated condition when I began to use it.
An expenditure of a couple of pounds would have put the building in
good repair, but Sunday after Sunday we held our services in the shabby
church, which let the rain in on us, and the people had their attention
repeatedly drawn to the fact, and were told what other villages had
done to supply themselves with a good church. They were slow to move,
and nothing had been done when I left for my first holiday, with the
conviction that there was nothing for it but to repair the church at the
expense of the Mission.

Upon landing again at Delena my attention was attracted by a pile of
freshly cut sandalwood stacked just inside the Mission fence. For a
moment I wondered whether my teacher had been doing a little trading on
his own account, or whether a trader had stacked his wood inside our
fence for safety. “Dohore,” said the teacher, “you shall know all about
the wood when you are in the house and I can talk to you.”

South Sea men usually go a long way round when they have a story to tell,
and once in the house Matapo settled himself comfortably and got ready
for a real good time. His story would be too long, so I will condense it.

“You remember,” said he, “that when you went to Thursday Island with
Tamate in the _Mary_ you took Naime and Henao. They saw many strange
and many new things there, and when they returned to Delena they talked
to their friends of what they had seen, and told of the stone church
you took them to on the Sunday (the Quetta Memorial Church, now the
Cathedral). How many times they told of that Church I do not know, but
one evening some of the men came from the village, and said it would be
good if they had a Beritani church in their village like the one Naime
and Henao had seen in Thursday Island. “Such a church,” said Matapo,
“costs a lot of money. It is no good your asking Donisi to build you one
like that. He could not afford it.”

“We have talked of that,” answered the Delena men, “and we think we can
pay for it ourselves.”

“How? You have no money.”

“Just so, but ‘dohore’. We have sandalwood growing on our land. That is
worth money. We can cut it and sell it, and so pay for our church.”

As good as their word they went to work, cut and brought in the wood I
found stacked inside the gate, and asked me to sell it and buy material
for their Beritani church. It realized £72, and to that a friend in
England added £30, and some friends in Sydney a few pounds more.

A concrete building was out of the question, but timber and iron were
bought in Sydney, and the children’s ship, the _John Williams_, helped
by bringing it all to Delena. Before we could build there was pick and
shovel work to do, for the side of the hill had to be cut away to provide
a site, and then we all turned carpenters and builders, and are rather
proud of our work—partly because we think we made a good job of it, but
more because the Delena men and women, and boys and girls—for they all
had a share in it—contributed most of the cost, and that when they had
little, if any, money in the village. The sandalwood they got for that
church would have made them rich for a time, but they handed it over, and
I have never heard one man regret that they did so.


_See page 30._]

[Illustration: COOKING SUPPER.

_See page 31._]

[Illustration: THE CRADLE.

_See page 32._]

Delena having taken the lead Matareu, the teacher at Queen Koloka’s
village, tried to persuade his people to build themselves a new church.
They would not undertake one of “Beritani” material, but began to
collect, oh so slowly, the wood necessary for a new church after the old
style. Plenty of patience is needed, even when you have engaged Papuans
to do a piece of work and can tell them what they are to do each day, but
when they are doing the work as a favour the man in charge wants to be a
regular Job. Little by little the material was gathered, and now and then
a few posts cut the required size, but Matareu and his own boys had to do
most of the work. At last the frame was up and the thatch all ready to
be put on. A day for this was appointed, but when it arrived the men all
wanted to go hunting. Another day was chosen, but when that arrived the
men found that the pigs were in their gardens and it was necessary for
them to go and repair the fences. So it went on till at last Matareu was
fairly tired of the “dohore” and the excuses, and when another appointed
day arrived and the men did not put in an appearance, he and his boys set
to work and before sundown had half the thatch in its place.

Little did he expect the trouble that was in store. Instead of being
pleased when they saw how much had been done the men looked at it, and
then passed sullenly on to their houses, and later on held a meeting in
the club house. Matareu wondered what was the matter, but was not long
in doubt, for along came Keo, the village policeman, evidently with some
weighty message to deliver.

“Who has been putting the thatch on the church?” he asked.

“I have, with the help of my boys,” answered Matareu.

“Why have you done it?”

“Because I was tired of your saying ‘dohore’ so often.”

“You should have waited till we were ready.”

“I waited so long that I was tired. It was always ‘dohore,’ and I was
afraid we should not have the roof on before the rains began.”

“You should have waited. You have done wrong. If these were the dark
days we should take our axes and cut down the church and your house, and
probably kill you.”

“Why? What have I done wrong?”

“You have broken our custom. When we are building a new club house no
one is allowed to touch the thatching till Koloka’s husband has put the
first piece in position. I am glad for your sake that the dark days have
passed. As it is the village men are all very angry.”

Matareu explained to the village assembled that he had offended in
ignorance, but he and his boys had to finish the work themselves. They
could get no more help.

This incident not only illustrates the difficulty there is in getting
work done in Papua, but shows how a man with the best of intentions may
get into trouble with the natives.


A Chapter of Accidents

For the most part a missionary leads a hum-drum life, but at times
excitements come in, and are as welcome as the plums in a sailor’s
“plum-duff” if not too exciting. Most of these incidents occur in
connexion with travelling. In the chapter dealing with visiting our
district I shall tell you how we travel, but the experiences described in
this chapter are chosen from different journeys, some of them in distant
parts of the country.

After four years at Port Moresby I was ordered away so that I might
try and get free from the fever. Communication with Australia was not
frequent, and the first stage, as far as Thursday Island, was made with
Tamate in the _Mary_, the little boat built by the Mission on Murray
Island. Our captain was a character. Formerly a pearl diver, he had been
compelled to give up his occupation owing to diver’s paralysis. His
qualification for the post was his experience of small boats, and never
was a man more sure of himself. Few sailors take ships through the
Torres Straits without having an anxious time, and as we sat on the deck
in the moonlight Tamate remarked, “Well, cap’n, I hope you are not going
to put us on the Portlocks or Eastern Fields”—both dangerous reefs. “No,
Mr. Chalmers,” replied the captain, “I know just where we are. We shall
see the opening in the Barrier Reef at about nine to-morrow morning, if
this wind holds.” With that we went below. It was a tight pack the three
of us in the little cabin, but two out of the three were soon sleeping
soundly. Later on the third, who is now writing this, heard one of
the boys on deck shout “’bout ship,” an unexpected order when we were
supposed to be many miles from any land and on a sea rarely visited by
vessels. That the reason for the order was a solid one there was no room
for doubt, for the next minute crash, and the little _Mary_ trembled all
through, and Number Three was shaken from his shelf-like berth right on
the top of the little captain. Bump, bump, bump, went the _Mary_, and
as soon as the little hatchway would allow we got on deck, there in the
glorious moonlight to have a view of the reef much before the time the
captain had promised. We were right on top of it. In a few minutes both
rudder and false keel had been wrenched off, and left behind, and after
each wave had lifted the little vessel she came down with a crash that
threatened to jump the masts out of her. That she did not go to pieces
was owing to the good sound work that had been put into her on Murray


Well, what were we to do? We were miles from any land. There were nine
all told on board, and the dinghy would carry three in a calm sea. I
admit I had a look at the hatch covers and wondered what sort of a raft
they would make, and what travelling upon it would be like when it was
made. There was nothing we could do that night, and fortunately the tide
was falling, and soon the _Mary_ was resting on her side without that
sickening bumping. Adjusting ourselves to the changed angle of everything
in the cabin, we went to bed, but not before the captain had told us that
we were not far from the spot on the reef where some natives, when out
diving, had found heaps of Spanish coins all of old date, and believed
to have come from a Spanish ship wrecked in trying to get through the
Straits, but so long ago that not a trace of her remained.

Next morning the tide was not high enough to float the _Mary_, so I waded
about the reef with the crew. My eyes were on my feet all the time, not
because I was looking for more Spanish treasure, but because I had been
warned not to tread in one of the giant clams which lay around. I soon
forgot the _Mary_ and her plight, in the delight at what I saw spread
out at my feet. Water as clear as crystal allowed everything to be seen
distinctly. All the colours of the rainbow were represented by both
vegetable and animal kingdoms, but most beautiful of all was the sight
of the open giant clams. The shell could hardly be seen, so completely
was it draped by the waving fringes of the fish. A great bowl of flashing
gems could not have produced a more sparkling effect; but behind all this
beauty lay a cruel strength, for the shell could close with a grip that
nothing could unloose, and the natives told of unfortunate men who had,
while fishing on the reef, put their foot into an open shell, which had
closed upon them and held them till the rising tide ended their agony.

The crew, however, wanted some of the fish to eat and managed to get
them without danger to themselves. Taking a large piece of firewood they
quietly approached the fish. A sudden movement would have caused it to
close, and then nothing could have forced it open. Silently and adroitly
the wood was placed between the two halves of the shell, which instantly
gripped it, but could not close owing to the size of the wood. With
another piece of wood shaped for the purpose the men then cut the live
fish away from its shell, and did their cooking on the _Mary_.

The reef was interesting and the talk of the native crew instructing, but
the question was how were we to get the _Mary_ off and afloat in deep
water again. The morning tide only rose enough to bump her, but in the
afternoon when there was a higher tide, with each wave she lifted and we
managed to punt her right over the reef, and at last she was afloat. Very
few vessels have made the journey over the Great Barrier Reef, though
many have struck it and gone to pieces.

It was a case of Reef to the right of us; Reef to the left of us; while
behind us the Reef we had just left volleyed and thundered. The sun was
down and we had to anchor, or run the risk of again getting on a reef.
All night long the buckets had to be kept going, and the next morning
with part of the crew still at the buckets, the other half managing the
sails and keeping a look-out, and the two missionaries using big oars in
place of the lost rudder, we made for Murray Island. There the _Mary_
was hauled up on the beach, and on the spot where she was built and by
the man who had superintended her building made ready for sea again.
The work took a month to complete. That month on Murray Island cleared
all the fever out of me, and did away with the necessity of the trip to
Australia. Instead I accompanied Chalmers to the Fly river. Three not
easily forgotten months resulted, and the poor _Mary_ came in for more
knocks, and once again lost her rudder, this time by striking a sunken
log in the bed of the river.

One night, under stress of tide and wind she broke her cable and drifted
ashore near Saguane on Kiwai Island, where Chalmers was then forming
his head station for the district. We thought we had taken our last
journey in the _Mary_. She settled down in the mud and sand and no amount
of running out anchors and heaving on the windlass would move her,
though everything possible had been taken out to lighten her. Amongst
other things eighty bags of rice had to be got ashore. It required some
manœuvring to get the Saguane people to carry that rice over the soft
sand and mud. Each bag was supposed to weigh 50 lbs. It may have done,
as it was taken over the side of the vessel, but every hundred yards
through that mud and sand increased the weight, till it was more like 100
lbs. by the time the boat-house was reached. I know one of the carriers
who, after his second journey, considered it his duty to remain in the
boat-house and superintend the stacking of the bags as they were brought

On we worked till the east began to glow, and then feeling it was
hopeless I made my way back to the teacher’s house and lay down for a
sleep, as dead tired as ever in my life. There seemed no time to get
comfortably settled when Chalmers rushed into the house, snatched up as
many of my belongings as he could manage, and calling, “Come along; she
is afloat,” made his way down to the shore. I followed, picking out of
the mud such of my things as Chalmers had dropped. Just at the darkest
moment, when there seemed little hope of the _Mary_ ever floating again,
the wind had come from the land, and supplying that little help which the
anchors required, had given us again the use of our little Mission vessel.

That was my last voyage in the _Mary_. A few years later she went ashore
at the mouth of the Kerema river, and there went to pieces. Years
afterwards when walking along the coast we saw some of her ribs sticking
up through the sand.

On the coast most of our travelling is done in a whale boat, and at
night, to save the glare of the sun. Few experiences could be more
enjoyable than such a journey when the night is fine and the sea calm,
and there are willing boys at the oars or a gentle breeze filling the
sail. No need to think of accidents then. The nights are not all fine,
however, and the sea is not always calm. It can be very angry and rough
and make those anxious who have to land on a surf-beaten coast. Most
people who have lived for any time in Papua have had nasty experiences of
this kind. I will tell you of one at Maiva.

Donisi Hahine and I had started for a journey, and as we expected to be
away nearly a month, we had a boatload of baggage. We left Delena at
night so as to reach Maiva in the early morning when the sea is usually
at its calmest, but rain drove us back, and it was morning before we
again got under way. That made it early afternoon when we were off the
village where we wished to land. The sea looked angry, but not so angry
as on many another time when we had got through safely. There was no
chance of turning back. We had to land, so the rudder was unshipped and
the big steer-oar put in its place, and the boat headed for the shore.
Each roller took us nearer to that first line of white. At last we were
in it and through it, and all seemed going well when old Kone shouted
out, “Help me!” I threw all my weight on the oar, but it was too late to
keep her straight, and the wall of foam on top of which we were riding
gradually swung the boat broadside on and the next moment over she
turned. The last thing I saw before the boiling sea went over us was my
wife vanishing under the boat, and the first when I came to the surface
again was some of the boys pulling her out from under the overturned
boat. Fortunately we were able to get hold of the keel, and so kept

At such times strange thoughts pass through one’s mind, but I doubt if
any of you would ever guess my wife’s first remark, when she got the
water out of her mouth and eyes. It was so unexpected, but as the waves
were jostling us together like so many corks, it was very much to the
point when she called out, “Mind my hatpins.” Before we could mind them
or anything else, another wave was over us; but no sooner had it passed
than away went those hatpins.

Judging from the time my watch stopped we were hanging on to the boat
for nearly two hours. Repeatedly the natives tried to get to us from
the shore, but the sea would not let them. Close in shore was a deep
passage with the water rushing along it like a mill stream, and those who
tried to help us, not making sufficient allowance for the current, were
carried beyond us. The boat would soon have drifted in with us clinging
to the keel, had not the anchor fallen out when she turned over. That
unfortunately kept us where the seas were breaking worst.

At last we lost our hold, and what happened next I hardly know. I can
remember wishing that we had been Papuans with no clothes and no boots to
hold the water and weigh us down, and that after that something struck
me. I gripped it, and found it was an oar, and soon after that touched
bottom. Thanks to the devotion of the boys my wife was ashore before
me, and we were both practically unhurt, but had lost all we had with
us in the boat. Food for a month, clothing, camp gear, camera, magic
lantern—all had gone. While the clothes in which we scrambled ashore
were being washed and dried it was a mercy there were no “snapshotters”
about. Had there been the resulting pictures might have given amusement
to others, but not to ourselves. We had to borrow from the South Sea
teacher and his wife. Apart from their taste in dress not being ours, he
happened to be a very short and a very stout man. I am not. My wife was
a little, but not much, better off. Imagine, if you can, what we looked
like, but do not expect me to give you details.

It was Friday when the accident happened. The journey could not be
continued, as we had lost everything, and it was not till the Monday that
the sea would allow of our damaged boat being launched for the return to
Delena. During those four days we lived the “Simple Life.” Sweet potatoes
and bananas are all very well as a change, but they pall when served
regularly three times a day, and our teacher Paiti from Kivori was a
welcome visitor when he brought us a loaf of bread of his own making and
a little butter. Paiti was from Aitutaki in the South Seas, and few men
can handle a boat like the natives of that Island. We were relieved when
he undertook to see us safely started on the return journey. There was
no luggage to pack, so all ready, and perhaps a bit anxious, we sat in
the boat waiting. Watching each wave as it came in, at last Paiti gave
the word to start. Those at the oars pulled; those in the water pushed;
and with many a shout, and many a splash, and with the boat half swamped,
we found ourselves outside the breakers, with Paiti perched up behind
us handling the steer oar. Would he come on to Delena with us and there
wait an opportunity to return to his village? No sooner was the question
asked than he promptly answered, “Good-bye, my father. I go now”; and
with a header he vanished over the stern. Straight for the breakers he
went with a long steady stroke. Time after time he vanished, but at last
we saw him wade ashore, and signal that all was right, and then we shaped
our course for Delena.

We returned much poorer than we started, but matters would have gone
worse with us than they did but for Kone, Avi, and Aisi. They stuck to my
wife and landed her safely. They perhaps will hardly understand such an
expression of gratitude, but in that spirit I give you their photos. Of
course we showed our gratitude in another way. They were told they could
ask for what they liked. Their request was modest and utilitarian. Each
wanted a bag of rice. He got it and more too.

The third accident took place on shore. All the world over feasting
seems to accompany any special event, whether of rejoicing or regret.
It was near the time of our English furlough, and a farewell gathering
was arranged with the teachers. Their part was well managed and passed
off without any accident. In solemn, slow procession they had marched
round the house, telling us many nice things about ourselves, in a chant
composed in English by one of the Samoan teachers, the chorus of which
ran: “Good-bye, Misi Donisi. Do not forget us when you are far away on
the _Ioane Uiliamu_ (_John Williams_).”

Donisi Hahine had spent much time in making preparations for the farewell
feast, so that the spread might include more than the everlasting boroma
(pig). Stores of tinned provisions that could neither be taken to
England, nor used up before we sailed, were added to the menu. The long
verandah of the teacher’s old house was the dining-room, banana leaves
the cloth, not spread on a table, but down the centre of the verandah.
The food that could not be accommodated on the dishes was piled all down
the middle of the banana leaves, and then the teachers, their wives,
and their children, all as smart as their best clothes and well oiled
hair could make them, sat in two long rows, and at the one end stood
the missionary to offer grace and then make a farewell speech. It was
an important moment, and the children were eyeing the good things in a
way that suggested the question, “How long before we can begin?” Alas!
the house was an old one. The white ants had been busy. The food was
plentiful, and many of the teachers and their wives were decidedly heavy
weights. There was a crack, a crash, and what a transformation scene. In
place of two rows of expectant guests, and a loaded table (or what took
the place of a table) there was a great hole in the verandah floor, and
at the bottom a mass of men, women and children mixed up with broken
crockery and many kinds of food. Fortunately some of the joists held
firm, and one by one those of the party who had not “gone below” withdrew
to a place of safety, while others went to help the fallen and ascertain
the extent of the damage. How so many fell nine feet without there being
broken bones we cannot tell. Only a few scratches had resulted, but what
a mess, and what a disappointment. Best dresses smeared all over food.
Tinned meat and bits of roast pork to be picked from well-combed hair.
A little extra grease did not matter there, for it was soon rubbed in,
but one poor child had received the whole contents of a dish of tinned
salmon outside, when he had intended having some of it inside. While the
people were looking after themselves it was a grand opportunity for the
dogs who had been waiting below for the scraps. Instead of scraps they
helped themselves to the untouched feast, and various joints of pork
and goat vanished into the long grass, where growls of envy as well as
satisfaction told of desires unexpectedly gratified.

We bemoaned the accident, the damage to the house, and the loss of
the provisions, but the dogs, and some of the outsiders who profited
by our misfortune, would not have minded a frequent repetition of the


A Feast and a Dance

Perhaps nothing stands more in the way of the advancement of the Papuan
than his love for feasting and all-night dancing. Nearly every incident
connected with his life, from his entering it to his leaving it, gives
occasion for the feast and the dance, and if the energy put into these
were spread over the year’s work in the garden, the hunting and fishing,
he would rarely know what hunger means, and would be able to put by for a
rainy day.

[Illustration: WAITING FOR MOTHER.

_See page 33._]

[Illustration: THE FRONT STEPS.

_See page 34._]

[Illustration: PAPUAN TREASURES.

_See page 36._]


_See p. 41._]

In some villages informal dances take place nearly every night, but
for these no special preparations are made. A big dance is a more
important matter, and is talked of for months before it comes off.
Invitations are sent out, but not on printed cards. Someone representing
the founder of the feast walks into a village, and in the easy,
no-hurry-to-morrow-will-do style begins to tell that So-and-So is
beginning to gather his food and fatten his pigs. Of course they all
know what that means, and are prepared to see the visitor produce some
betel nuts (the fruit of the areca palm) and hand them round. Each person
receiving a nut accepts it as an invitation. Perhaps the date has not
been fixed, but later on word of that will be passed from village to

I have been present at several of these dances, and have seen as many
as three thousand taking part. That was years ago, and I told many of
you about it when I was in England, so I will deal with the last, the
particulars of which are fresher in my mind.

Nara consists of a group of inland villages, not far from Delena. The
principal village is Oroi, and there reigns Queen Koloka, the only woman
I have known in Papua who is the recognized head of a village. Others may
have plenty to say in the management of affairs through their husbands,
but Koloka is the undoubted head, recognized by both husband and people,
and is strong and wise and rules her people well. We were included in the
invitation to her feast, and as a special inducement were informed that
twenty-three pigs were to be killed.

The Delena people were busy for some days getting their feathers in
order, and furbishing up their ornaments, and then started off ahead of
us. The south-east wind made our progress slow, and the sun was nearly
down when we landed with a three hours’ walk ahead of us. Lamps are great
conveniences, but they do not give much help in showing what is round
your feet on a bush track, and Nara has its full share of snakes. The
last half-mile of the track winds round the side of a hill, and here we
suddenly found ourselves in the dressing-room of the Delena people. It
was a dark night and fires had been lit at intervals, and round these
were grouped the performers and their dressers. Here a wife was painting
the lines and patterns on her husband’s face. There some girls were
having their new grass skirts fitted, and cut away to the right length,
so as to leave enough weight behind to give the required swing. Yonder
one young man was arranging the hair of another, and next him was one
blowing the oil over a companion’s body. Others were tuning the drums,
and along the line went old men and women advising and criticizing.
Tongues were busy as well as hands, and the firelight reflected from the
gay feathers, the well-oiled bodies, and sparkling from the leaves and
branches which met overhead, made a picture one longed to reproduce in

Having traversed the whole length of this strange dressing-room, we
reached the teacher’s house, and had time for an evening meal before the
signal was given for the festivities to begin. The roll of drums could
be heard in all directions, for eight villages were to be represented,
and each had its own forest dressing-room. Then came the shrill call of
a policeman’s whistle (certainly a new importation into a Papuan dance),
and the first party marched in in Indian file, to the accompaniment of
drum-beating and chanting. Their ball-room was an open space that might
have been called the village green if only it had had grass growing upon
it, and here they began to dance with the monotonous swinging of the body
and slow lifting of the feet, distinctive of this district.

In quick succession in marched other groups representing other villages,
till seven lots were in motion at one time. Each group of dancers
supplied its own orchestra, nothing but the drum and the chant, and as
there was no conductor to give the key and the time, seven different
times and seven different keys were going simultaneously. Result—Bedlam,
but happiness for the natives.

The ball-room floor was far from tempting. The village is built round
the top of a hill, formed by an outcrop of stone, and the softer parts
had worn away and left knife-like edges running from end to end of the
village. These may have interfered with the comfort of the dancers,
but certainly did not put an end to their performance. Hour after hour
the same tom, tom, tom of the drums, the same chant made a little more
objectionable as the voices became tired and hoarse. As any dancer became
weary he withdrew without any effect upon the figure such as it was. Two
at least who were present wearied of the monotony and wished they were
back at the Mission House at Delena. Sleep was out of the question, and
at last light began to show at the back of the great mountain range,
and as it became stronger revealed a bedraggled remnant of those who
had started with such energy some ten hours before. They were evidently
tired out, but native custom would not allow them to stop till the
all-important pig-killing had been accomplished, and they were called to
receive their share.

Painfully deliberate were the movements of those in charge. The sun
mounted higher, and the ground got so hot that the dancers were obliged
to put more energy into their movements, like the much-talked-of cat
on hot bricks. When they could bear it no longer their friends brought
banana leaves and refuse from the food, and threw amongst their feet so
as to make a carpet. The dancers never travelled over a great area, but
it was amusing to watch how they now took care not to move off the leaves
so thoughtfully provided for them.

Some of the weary men were, I think, relieved when we asked them to step
out of the dance and let us take their pictures. The village club house
was like a theatrical property shop. Feather head dresses eight and ten
feet high were standing round the walls, hanging from the rafters, and
one even on the roof. We hardly recognized some of our friends under the
paint and feathers. Will any of you, I wonder, recognize an old friend in
an unfamiliar head dress.

[Illustration: MIRIA THE SORCERER.

_See page 45._]

[Illustration: DELENA CHURCH.

_See page 53._]


_See page 46._]

[Illustration: QUEEN KOLOKA.

_See page 73._]

I remember once being told at a bacon-curing factory that three hundred
pigs were often killed before breakfast, and that no unpleasant traces
of the slaughter remained. Dispatch of that kind would not suit the Nara
folk, nor would they care for so few traces of the slaughter. Under the
club house lay the twenty-three pigs, their legs fastened together so
that a pole could be passed through, and each pig carried head down. Much
to the disgust of our boys we left the village as soon as the squealing
of the pigs began, but those who remained behind to receive our share
described how all the due formalities were observed. Koloka’s eldest son,
Naime, is always master of the ceremonies. When all the pigs have been
put in a row no one can lay a hand on them till Naime, with his fighting
stick, has killed his pig by a blow on the side of the head. His cousin
must then kill his and then the village men can kill theirs. Naime must
also take the lead in the cutting up and distribution of the joints. The
women and children are allowed certain small portions, but all that is
considered best is appropriated by the men.

Great preparations had been made for this feast, and what was the
occasion of it all? Five young men were to be invested with the Garter.
Not the elaborately bejewelled Garter so much coveted by those of high
degree, but a neat little pair of string garters made like the macramé
work. Not much to look at, but to the native the sign that the wearer
was now a man, and had a man’s place in the village. Five mothers had
worked the garters for their sons, and when the day arrived, the sons
were taken outside the village, and for once in a way their bodies were
really cleaned and then carefully oiled before the garters were placed
below their knees. They must not be seen, however, till after the feast,
so that the legs are carefully swathed round with strips of bark cloth,
and coated with red clay and oil. These five young men were the centre of
the feast, and they were conscious of it. So fond of praise are they at
such times, that they actually pay for it. As they strut round a friend
will say, “Naime, you do walk grandly. Mine is a wallaby”; and Naime will
later on go and catch the wallaby and give it to the friend who praised
him before others. Another will tell Naime that he handles the drum well,
and mention that he is fond of fish, and Naime is in honour bound to
supply the fish within a reasonable time. One can well understand that
too many friends may at such a time become a serious burden, but it is a
burden that the praise-loving young fellow is quite willing to shoulder.


How we Go

Some years ago the Editor of _News from Afar_ had a series of articles
describing “How We Go” in different lands. Only one of the series dealt
with Papua, and that mainly with a journey in a small cutter. In Delena
district we have no cutter, so every journey must be made either in the
whale boat, or a canoe, or by tramping. After the comfort of fast trains
and trams in England, the labour of a short journey in Papua would be
laughable if it were not so wearisome. To talk of a journey when the
distance to be covered is only some 50 or 60 miles, seems absurd till you
have had experience of it, and then you will measure the distance not by
miles, but by hours or days.

These journeys are necessary because each missionary, in addition to the
head station at which he lives, has charge of villages scattered over a
wide area, where the South Sea and Papuan teachers who help him are doing
their work.

If the journey is to be performed in comfort (and there is no need to
seek discomfort, plenty will come in the ordinary way) careful thought
must be given to the preparation. Much more has to be done than just
pack a portmanteau, for everything that will be needed till the return
must be remembered and packed, or done without, for nothing can be got
on the way. Food is the first consideration, and if we are to be away
three weeks, then it is not safe to start with provision for less than
a month. A time-table may be made out, but that does not say that it is
going to be kept. A tide may be lost, or a strong wind may blow, and then
there is nothing for it but to “dohore,” or more often the real trouble
of Papuan travel causes delay. Carriers cannot be got to take the baggage
on to the next village. How many weeks are lost to travellers in Papua
in the course of a year, from this cause alone, it would be difficult to
estimate. The total would surprise one, and unfortunately no amount of
arrangement will overcome the difficulty. Remembering this it will be
well to be liberal in the estimate of the number of meals that will be
required before we return to the starting-point.

Next comes the provision for paying the carriers and buying native food
for them. A missionary from China once told me of the trouble caused
by the quantity of Chinese cash that had to be carried on a journey. A
big purse indeed would be necessary, but no purse would be any good in
Papua. A good sized box, heavy enough to require two men to carry it,
takes its place. Instead of £ _s._ _d._ it contains an assortment of
barter goods. The real currency is black tobacco, made up in small sticks
going 26 to the pound. For ordinary work three of these constitute a
day’s pay, in the Delena district but do not imagine that the man who
receives the pay smokes it all. As often as not when he has been paid he
says, “Now give me a smoke.” His unbroken sticks of tobacco are like so
many unchanged shillings. They are safe, and can be passed on in payment
for food, but if once broken they are like the coppers—they soon vanish.
One after another his friends will borrow, or beg—it amounts to the same
thing in this case—till there is nothing of the original stick left.

Matches, print, knives, hooks, lines, mirrors, beads, hatchets—all find a
place in the trade box. I have tried soap, but it does not “take.” Some
of the Papuans will receive it as a present, but not as payment for work

Having provided for the inner man, and for paying our way, we next think
of the saucepan, the “billy,” the frying-pan, lamps, bucket, hatchet,
kerosene for the lamps, hammocks and tent if we are going to villages
where we have no teacher, table requisites, and are careful to see that
the mosquito nets are in the bag. Once only did I forget to do this, and
the lesson I learnt has never been forgotten. Beds one can do without,
but not mosquito nets. Rice for the boys must not be overlooked, for it
is not always possible to buy native food.

When all is ready it is a wonderful assortment, beating “Mrs. Brown’s
Luggage,” and so wonderful that even a Waterloo porter would have his
attention arrested, and wonder what it all meant.

Having made our preparations, now where are we going, and how are we
going? The where you will find out as we go along, the how is answered
by the whale boat, over the launching of which there has been so much
shouting. The start is to be made about midnight, and to try not to be
late, the crew are invited to a supper, and are kept about the place till
it is time to load the boat. A wide margin must be allowed for this, or
it will be long after midnight before we get away.

Midnight seems to be a strange time for starting, but it is chosen for
reasons which can, like the sermon, be divided into three heads. Firstly:
to escape the terrible heat of the sun. Secondly: to allow the strong
south-east wind to die down, and make the pulling easier for the boys.
Thirdly: to allow of landing at the end of the first stage early in the
morning, when the sea is at its calmest.

There will be a big gathering to witness the start, but you must not run
away with the idea that the white folks are the centre of interest. The
men who form the crew have mothers and fathers and wives, and all have
come to see them off, much as though they were going to the other side of
the world. Now the start is not so distressing as it was a few years ago,
when all the relatives considered it necessary to hug the members of the
crew, and howl over them as though they had little hope of ever seeing
them again.

As we have no landing-stage the passengers will have to submit to being
carried to the boat, and if they have any respect for their clothes they
will look out that the men who carry them have on some kind of covering,
otherwise they may find themselves smeared with reddish oil. Papuans
would never take a first-class certificate as stevedores. The boat is
large and has plenty of room for all the cargo, but unfortunately the
crew seem to think it necessary to put all the big, awkward things at the
stern where the passengers’ legs ought to go, and the locker is always
full of high-smelling blankets and small bags belonging to the crew. A
certain amount of re-stowing is necessary, and perhaps rearrangement of
the boys at the oars, and then we settle down for the remainder of the
night. We are bound for the Nara and Kabadi villages, but as we are short
of one man in the crew, we call at Geabada. No one lands; but in answer
to our “Coo-e,” Avi the teacher appears. We inform him of our need and
turning round he soon wakes the village and asks for a volunteer. Many
questions have to be answered as to how long we shall be away, where we
are going, and who forms the crew, before a man steps into the boat,
rubbing his eyes as though they were full of sleepy-dust. As soon as he
gets hold of an oar he is all awake, and again we get under way. The
night being dark there is nothing to see, and the boys beguile the time
by telling of experiences they have had at each point as they pass it.
One yarn leads to another, and interesting bits of native history come to
light, especially if there happens to be in the boat an older man who was
with Lawes or Chalmers on their early journeys.

At last light begins to show behind the Owen Stanley range to our left,
and the beauty of the sunrise is often worth the long hours in the boat.
We are in good time, so will land and have a morning cup of tea. Water
is in the boat, and firewood is all around, so there is not much time
lost, and while we are enjoying real “Billy tea” the boys are roasting
bananas in the fire. Had we been smart we might have had turtle eggs for
breakfast, for natives coming along a few hours later found that our fire
was made within a couple of yards of a nest containing a bucketful of

[Illustration: NARA DANCERS.

_See page 75._]


_See page 76._]

[Illustration: WHO IS HE?

_See page 77._]

[Illustration: ROUND THE ROCKS.

_See page 79._]

In less than an hour we have again started, and another hour brings us
off the opening of Namoa Creek. The entrance is so hidden by mangrove
trees that it is well we have on board boys who know it. There is barely
room for the boat to enter, but once inside there is deep water, and the
boat will be safe till we return to her in about three weeks.

Unloading the boat takes less time than loading her, and having seen
that the boys have made her fast at both ends, we get ready for the walk
inland. There are plenty of volunteers to carry the small packages, but
none of them like the look of the boxes. Apportioning the various loads
takes time, but at last it is done, and seeing that the food box and our
clothes have gone ahead of us, we start, leaving what we cannot carry
till we can send men down from Nara.

The road leads away through the forest, and being a government road is
at least six feet wide. It is impossible, however, to make use of the
whole six feet, for natives never walk side by side, and the beaten track
worn just wide enough for their feet winds along like a great snake.
Sweet-potato vines are the only thing I know harder to walk in than one
of these tracks. The rain cuts it deeper and deeper, till it is a gutter
not more than a foot wide, and often deeper than that. One may want
to look about at the trees and the butterflies, but it must never be
forgotten that you must look well where you are going, or a tumble will
be the result.

We have not got as far as that part of the track which was used as the
dressing-room on the night of the Nara dance, when we meet Matareu the
teacher. Some one has gone ahead and told him we are on the way, and he
has come to take us to the house, while the men with him go on to the
creek for the baggage we have left behind. The house is built on the
side of a steep hill, so we enter it at the back, and walking through to
the front verandah have a view we are not likely to forget. We have the
village immediately in front of us, then the green hills and valleys,
and away in the distance mountains rising higher and higher till Mount
Victoria is lost in the clouds. We may be tempted to linger and watch
the play of light and shade over it all, but after a night in the boat
the first need is food, and then a rest. All we shall want, even to the
water, is in the food box, and if we cannot buy some bananas for the
boys then the rice must be opened. If possible however, that is kept as
a reserve. This time there is no need to touch it, for along comes Queen
Koloka with a few of her grandchildren carrying bowls of cooked yarns
and bananas, while she herself has hanging down her back a netted bag
containing a few choice uncooked yams for roasting.

The preparation of the food does not take long, and before we have
finished ours the boys are stretched in all positions, heads resting on
any article of baggage they could get hold of, or on their folded arms,
and sleeping as soundly as on feather beds. After a word or two with
Koloka and having given her a present that will keep her occupied for
some time, we too seek a rest; but the children are inquisitive, and
the dogs are on the prowl for any scraps they can find, so the rest is
disturbed, and before long we get up and have a talk with Matareu and
hear how matters are going in his village.

At Nara it is always a feast or a fast. A feast when it rains, and a fast
soon after the dry season has begun. The people are feeling the pinch
now and consequently spend most of their time in the forest hunting for
food. Of course they take their children with them, and the teacher is
discouraged because of the small attendance at school. Knowing that we
were coming most have remained in the village to-day, but they want to
get away hunting, so we will have school at once. A little fellow takes
a cow-bell and walks round the village ringing it all the time, and when
he has made the complete circuit the big bell hanging at the end of the
house is rung as the final signal, and we go to the neat little church
you can see in the right of the picture, and about which I have told you
in chapter vi. Between forty and fifty children are present, and at the
back of the church are fathers and mothers and uncles and aunts who have
come to see how the youngsters acquit themselves. The strongest points
are reading and the catechism, but some can write fairly. After school
small presents are given to the children, and then they are free to go
and hunt in the bush for all kinds of queer things for supper.

The missionary is wanted to see a sick man at the far end of the village,
and as we go we can notice that the houses differ from those at Delena.
The village is built in sections. Long sheds with open fronts face the
centre, and at the back of these, and at right angles to them, are the
houses proper, each consisting of one room. The long shed is used by
all the occupants of the houses at the back, who belong to one Iduhu or
family. All the buildings look rickety, but as the wood is all very hard
they last well.

The front steps at Delena may be poor, but those at Nara are poorer, and
certainly of lighter build, but they do what no steps in England can.
They serve to close the house and show that the owner is not at home.
Really nothing more than a rough ladder, a little wider at the bottom
than at the top, the owner, when he goes out detaches them and hangs them
across the front of the house. Not much protection, one would think, but
quite as much as a piece of vine tied across is at Delena.


_See page 84._]

[Illustration: THE PAPUAN TAILOR.

_See page 89._]

[Illustration: A LONG DRINK.

_See page 96._]

[Illustration: OA.

_See page 99._]

The Nara men are great hunters and consequently think much of their dogs.
A native dog is quite capable of climbing the ordinary steps into the
house, but his master is thoughtful enough to provide a separate set for
him, with a back so that his feet cannot slip through. It is interesting
to watch a dog going home. He goes away from the house as though he
had no connexion with it; then turns round and starts straight for it,
and as he gets nearer increases his speed. With a rush he starts up the
steep steps, and if fortunate vanishes over the top and into his home. If
unfortunate he just falls back to the ground, and goes through the whole
performance again, only with a little more energy.

In front of one house a man is doing a bit of tailoring on his own
account. His material is neither best broad cloth, nor shoddy, for he
gets it from the bark of a tree. It was too thick for his purpose when he
peeled it from the tree, so he thinned it out by placing it on a log and
beating away with a piece of wood shaped like a plumber’s bossing stick.
We are too late to see that part of the performance, but in time for the
marking of the pattern upon the suit. Aua has filled his mouth with bark
and lime and chewed it till he has a plentiful supply of red saliva.
Then folding the bark cloth he passed the folded edge through his lips,
leaving a dull red stain; then another and another fold till the other
end of the strip is reached and the new suit of clothes is complete. No
visit to the tailor necessary, bark and lime supply all he needs, and
there is no tailor’s bill to follow.

I do not remember seeing the performance that particular afternoon,
but may as well tell you now what goes on when a girl is having a new
dress. The materials are three in number, and can all be found near
the village. The fibre is obtained from the sago palm, and the dye from
a root and some dark mud, boiled together in a cooking-pot. The fibre
is teased out till it looks like lengths of untwisted manilla rope.
Small bunches of this are knotted on to a string, which is to form the
waist-band, and in sufficient numbers to hang like a kilt all round the
girl. For the present no uniformity of length is aimed at, but care is
taken to have panels of red and yellow alternating, and across some of
these panels will be dark stripes. When all is dry the girl has to be
fitted, and this is not done in the privacy of the dressmaker’s room. The
girl mounts a stump or a stone in front of an old relative, with the new
dress hanging in uneven lengths around her. The relative takes a knife,
if she has one; if not, a shell; and if even that cannot be found handy,
then the teeth can be used as scissors, and going all round trims off the
dress till it hangs just right. That means that enough has been taken
off the sides, and enough left on the back to enable the girl, as she
goes along, to swing her tails behind her. Many a sly glance have I seen
directed over the shoulder with a view to finding out whether the effect
was all that could be desired.

If two girls are seen with the same markings on their skirts it may be
taken for granted that they belong to the same family, or are at least
cousins. Each family has its own particular pattern, and woe betide
those who try to infringe the copyright.

The sick man having been attended to, on the way back to Matareu’s house
we notice that big pigs have begun to gather in the village. They have
been away foraging all day, but as it is nearing the time for the evening
meal they have not only put in an appearance, but are loudly demanding
attention. Some go so far as to put their forefeet on the ladders as
though they would mount and help themselves to what they could find. In
Nara wooden troughs much like small canoes are provided, and when the
food is put in some one has to mount guard to see that a stranger does
not get his snout into the wrong trough.

A sure way to gather a crowd at any village is to show the magic lantern,
and word is soon passed round that there will be an exhibition in the
church that evening. Many a strange experience have I had with the

At one village where some twenty years ago they had scarcely seen a white
man, and where a teacher had only been settled for a few months, the
people took some persuading before they would come in to the church after
dark. When the circle of light was thrown upon the sheet a deep gasping
breath was taken by all, and a mixture of a sigh and a shudder was quite
audible. All might have gone well had the operator been content to
proceed quietly from this point, but the spirit of mischief prompted the
desire to see what would be the result of a chromotrope. It was fatal.
No sooner did the coloured rings begin to revolve as though they would
overwhelm the audience, than with one yell men, women and children made
for the doors and windows. Each one was blocked by a struggling mass and
there seemed danger of the building being carried away. For that night
the show was over as far as the village people were concerned.

At Ukaukana, years later, the church was cleared in another way. A
large head of a former chief of the village was thrown upon the sheet,
the operator forgetting for the moment that the man was dead. A great
stillness fell upon the gathering, so noticeable that the operator looked
the other side of the sheet. There were the people with their heads as
low as they could get them without knocking their noses on the floor,
all crawling to the doors as fast as they could. Then the mistake was
recognized, but too late. Naime had a bad name as a sorcerer while still
alive, and the ordinary size for a big well-built man. If he was bad
then, what must he be now when he was many sizes larger. Something of his
power might hang about the enlarged picture, so that people would not
take the risk. Once more the teacher and my own boys formed my audience.

A third experience was of a more exciting kind. At Hula the people were
taking but little interest in the pictures, and to stimulate them two
boys were placed between the lantern and the sheet, and after their
shadows had been recognized by their friends were told to wrestle. All
went well at first, but when the youngsters began to put more energy into
the business one of them got hurt. His friends came to his rescue. Then
the other boy’s friends joined in, and in a moment there was a tangled
mass of sheet, rope, and human beings on the floor, and to save a fire I
snatched up the lantern and made my way out of the building by the back

Nara people are accustomed to the lantern, and there were no accidents
that evening. All the pictures interested them, and they listened to the
description of a set illustrating the life of Moses. At first the natives
do not seem able to see the picture, or fail to connect ideas with it.
Then comes in the use of pictures of their own village and their own
people. They can connect the idea and the picture, and so pass to ideas
conveyed by pictures of things and places they do not know.

It was a relief to find there was to be no dancing on this night, and
that we were able to get a good night’s rest and be ready for the start
the next morning. Carriers had to be engaged and then there was all the
packing up to be done again.

The village we were making for was Ala-ala, and to get there we had to
traverse a long switch-back. Down from the village into the valley;
then up again as high as the village we had left; down again and up
again. In this way some three hours were spent, but as part of the time
we were in a tunnel cut through the forest, it was pleasant. Out on the
grass land the sun gave trouble and the sea breeze was missed. Ala-ala
is but a small village and the teacher an old man who in his younger
days had travelled much with Tamate. His wife’s idea of cleanliness and
Donisi Hahine’s did not at all agree. The one thought that if a piece of
new calico was spread over a pillow or a mat it did not matter what was
underneath. Donisi Hahine wanted to see what was underneath, and then
there was a lot of changing and cleaning before the camp for the night
was arranged.

I think it was the first time a white woman had been in the village, and
the people, and in particular the old women, were anxious to show due
attention, or maybe satisfy their curiosity to the full. Their attention
was overpowering, and would have been more acceptable at a little
increased distance. The small house was decidedly overcrowded that night.
Even the lantern in the village did not completely clear it, and a number
of young babies, probably excited by the unusual gathering, kept up a
chorus all night.

Next morning we went down into a valley, and through what in the wet
season is a swamp, and then a gradual rise till Diumana was reached.

Here the village is fenced, not with a view to safety but to keep the
pigs in and prevent their visiting the gardens, which are on the slopes
around the village. The Mission has its own little fence some distance
from one end of the village, but what between lack of energy and sickness
the teacher has not built much inside that fence. When his house will
be finished it is hard to say, and we spent the night in the little
temporary hut.

There is no church in the village yet, and the services and school are
held in the dubu, or club house. In the old village half a mile away,
this was a large building with elaborately-carved posts, but in the
present village is only a shed raised some seven feet from the ground.
Here preparations were made for school and for the baptism of some
children. Native gear, such as hunting-nets and drums, was soon removed,
and a small table—a very small one—and two boxes introduced by way of
furniture. First the children were examined, and then the service begun,
but before it was half through it was suddenly interrupted. A loud crack,
and ejaculation from the people, and half of them jumped to the ground.
It was evident that the congregation was larger than usual, for the floor
had given way, and there would have been a nasty accident, but for the
prompt action of those who jumped down and held the breaking pieces of
wood in position while the rest of us dismounted as quickly and quietly
as possible. Nothing worse happened than our having to finish the service
on the ground on the shady side of the building instead of under the roof
on the platform.

One great drawback to Diumana is the lack of good water. What there is
has to be brought from a water-hole a long way from the village, and the
only pots the people have are procured from coast villages. By looking
about them they have, however, found a good substitute. Bamboo grows
plentifully in the neighbourhood, and from a well-grown length of this
the divisions at the joints are knocked out, and at once there is a
bucket seven or eight feet long. In the afternoon the girls and women
can be seen returning from the water-hole, each with a couple of these
long buckets carried as a soldier carries his rifle. They are too awkward
for taking into the house so stand outside. To find out how such buckets
were handled I asked for a drink, and was told to squat down as low as I
could, and take the open end of the bamboo and put it to my lips. I did
so, and then the boy who held the other end lifted it. Of course it was
said to be an accident, but boys are boys all the world over, and he who
had the lifting of that other end could not resist the temptation, or
did not try. The result was the same. He lifted just a little too high,
and a little too quickly, with the result that the missionary got plenty
of water outside, but very little inside, much to the amusement of the

The Papuan generally can do with little water inside, and the people
of Diumana, having far to fetch it, manage with a surprisingly small
quantity outside. This makes them unpleasant near neighbours. They take
a bath when they happen to be caught in the rain, or when they visit the

That night for the magic lantern we did not trust the Dubu which had
refused to carry our weight in the afternoon, but hung the sheet at the
side of a house, and feared no fall, for we were as low as we could get
to begin with.

Next day as we were going to a village where for the time being there was
no teacher we did not move our camp. The food box is known to our boys as
“Hari maua kakakaka” from its being painted red, so that we can easily
see if it is with us, and not left behind as on one occasion when at the
end of a long tramp we found ourselves without water or food. This box
provided all we needed for the day, and we were to return to Diumana for
the night.

Less than a mile from Diumana to the right of the track is a beautiful
group of palms. Sago, areca and cocoanut all tower above the surrounding
vegetation. In the order given they might be taken to typify dignity,
slender grace, and real utility. Looking at the sago palm one wonders
how men can approach it near enough to cut it down, so formidable are
the thorns that cover its lower fronds. One by one the workman has to
remove those fronds till he can get to the main stem. Even the thorns
have a use, for long strips of the frond covered with thorns four and
five inches long, are bound to the stem of the areca palm, and present a
surface that none can climb. In this way the owner protects his property.

Oa, the chief of Bokama, good old friend that he is, has heard that
he may expect a visit, and is on the look-out. Down the hill from the
village he comes, dressed, not in his Papuan best, but his real Beritani
Sunday best. A gay waist cloth, and an Oxford mat shirt, and his shock
of hair tied up in a red printed handkerchief. Just a few of his native
adornments give the finishing touches. If you care to try a real Papuan
salutation Oa will oblige you as you are a friend of mine. If you do not
care to try it you had better let me go first, as Oa always expects me
to indulge him. He gives me a good hug and we rub noses, and then taking
my hand he leads me to his Dubu, and calls for his daughter to bring
cocoanuts. When he thinks the delay has been as long as decency demands,
and if he sees no tobacco forthcoming, he will pick up his baubau (bamboo
pipe) and look at it. Of course that is enough and he passes it and the
tobacco over to one of the younger men, and when it is alight has the
first pull himself, and then passes the baubau round as a pipe of peace.

Oa’s Dubu is much like the one that gave way at Diumana, except that
on one side the roof comes down and joins the floor, making a wall. Of
ornamentation there is little except a collection of bones. These attract
attention, and Oa is nothing loth to talk about them. The pigs’ jaws need
little explanation. They are a record of the number killed for the feasts.

Bound to one of the wall plates were much longer jaws, and these we found
belonged to crocodiles which were caught in a way that causes us not a
little surprise. They must belong to a different class from those at the
coast or the men would never venture to take them as they do. There is
no doubt as to the method, for the same account is given at different
villages throughout the district.

The crocodiles are found in the lagoons, and usually sleeping in the mud
at the bottom. The hunter wades in and feels about with his feet till he
touches one of the creatures. That would be enough for most folks, and
they would make for the bank in double quick-time, but not so our hunter.
He stoops down and begins to stroke the crocodile. They say the animal
likes it and remains perfectly still while the hunter introduces a rope
under its legs and round its back, keeping up the stroking all the time
with the other hand. When all is ready he suddenly pulls the rope tight
and then the struggle begins: at one end the crocodile, at the other the
natives; the crocodile lashing with his tail, and the natives pulling for
all they are worth. It is a grand tug-of-war, and if the animal is a big
one it may be some time before he is landed, but that he will be landed
there is little doubt, for the people say that one rarely escapes when
once the ropes have been made fast. Clubs finish the struggle, and then
comes the feast. The flesh looks all right but I have never been able to
bring myself to eat it. When the bones have been picked clean the lower
jaw is added to the collection in the Dubu.

In another part of the Dubu is a collection of lengths of the backbone
of some creature. These, Oa informs us, belonged to large carpet snakes.
They are plentiful in the district and the Nara people consider them a
delicacy. They not only hunt them along the ground but follow the great
beautifully marked creatures into the trees, and I have seen a man
holding on to the tail of one with his teeth while he moved his hands
to get a better grip. Some of the men seem to have no fear in handling
the carpet snake, and one adept hunter, when I expressed surprise at his
allowing a creature at least ten feet long to writhe round him, explained
that it could do him no harm as he had hold of its neck and the tip of
its tail. The head seemed easy of explanation, but not the tail, till
he gave the fuller information that a carpet snake cannot crush a body
unless it has its tail round some solid substance.

One of our boys who had not previously eaten snake, came to us that
evening and said that he had eaten a whole one (it could not have been
a ten-footer), and that it was “Digara bada.” He knew no praise beyond
that, which was his way of saying it was not only fat but all that was
good. Next day he did not seem so sure about it, and since then has not
eaten snake at all.

This might almost be called a Natural History section, for there is still
another animal for you to hear about. It is reported from many districts,
but in Nara one family has adopted it as the family coat of arms, and
carved it on the posts of the Dubu. They call it lolio, and I believe it
is a species of Iguana, a curious climbing reptile. I have seen one which
some white men captured to send to Europe, so I know the animal exists,
but hesitate to accept some of the stories the natives tell about it.
That they dread it there is no doubt, as the following story will show.

Report came to Nara that a lolio had been seen on the bank of a creek,
and a native who was used to a white man’s gun went to look for it, but
when near the creek his courage failed him till he remembered that he had
something more than a spear in his hand. Creeping nervously nearer he
caught sight of the animal, and much relieved called to his friends, “It
is only a crocodile.”

The lolio is reported to steal children and take them up trees, and is
said never to run away from a man. The man runs away from him, but can
find no safety in climbing a big tree, as the lolio can climb better and
quicker than he. The only safety to be got is by climbing a tree just big
enough to bear the man’s weight, but too small for the lolio to grasp, as
he cannot climb if his claws meet at the back of the stem.

It is strange that an animal cunning enough to cover itself with leaves
and lie in wait for its prey, should nearly always make the mistake of
leaving a little of its whip-like tail exposed, and so betray itself. In
two places nearly a hundred miles apart I heard a story of men finding
the lolio so hid, and quietly and securely knotting the tip of the tail
to a tree, and so holding the animal in position while it was killed, in
the one case by arrows and the other by spears.

Having examined Oa’s museum, now look at the building on the other
side of the village. The square one without a verandah, and with steps
with treads like those you are accustomed to, not like the bars in a
hen-roost—that building has a history. The first teacher placed in the
village was a Papuan. He held his services and his little school in the
Dubu, but upon a subsequent visit my attention was drawn to the new
building by all eyes being turned that way when I entered the village. It
was evident the people intended I should see the result of their work.
Without consulting me at all they had built themselves a neat little
church, under the guidance of the young Papuan who was their teacher,
and in that church later on Oa and two of his relatives were baptized,
and some of the children of the village learnt to read. Unfortunately
the village has been without a teacher for some time, but the man from
Diumana visits it for the Sunday services.

Beyond Diumana are two small villages. Lalime and Tubu. These had to be
visited, but as it meant a long tramp in the hottest part of the day,
Donisi Hahine remained in Oa’s Dubu while I was away. Exactly how the
afternoon was spent history does not record, but this much is known. The
old men of the village felt their responsibility, and kept guard in the
Dubu. When one was tired he just lay down where he was and went to sleep,
while others sat up and talked and had a smoke. Owing to the language
difficulty they and their guest could hold little communication except by

It was dark before we reached Diumana and that evening we did not indulge
in the lantern, though the people would have been quite willing to see
the same pictures again.

The next day’s journey was to be a long one, so no time was lost in
the morning in packing and starting. Fresh carriers had been engaged
over night and a home-made palanquin rigged up to give Donisi Hahine
a lift on the way when she required it. We had done a good two hours’
walking when a halt was called for breakfast, and then all hands wanted
to huddle up close to our “red box” and cook their food in our fire. A
rearrangement had to be made before we could have our meal in peace. The
halt was a short one, for we were only at the beginning of the journey.
With regret we left the interesting shady forest road and began the weary
miles along the open beach. The sea breeze was acceptable, but the soft
sand made heavy going, particularly for those carrying the baggage. Rests
became frequent as midday drew near, and no one was sorry when shade
enough was found for the midday halt. Hour after hour along the sand made
us ask, “Is that point the last?” and the sun was getting low before the
boys were able to answer “Yes.” Hisiu was so far beyond that point that
another halt was called for tea.

At the end of a heavy day the Samoan welcome we received from Fareni
and his wife was doubly acceptable. Their one concern was that the
old teacher’s house was unsafe. They were living on a platform with a
roof over it, but without walls, and this they placed at our disposal,
together with their table, and with our boxes for seats and mats for beds
the place was soon furnished. Before the evening meal was over curtains
of cocoanut fronds were hung round, and our camp was comfortable as well
as rather out of the common.


_See page 106._]

[Illustration: MORABI VILLAGE.

_See page 110._]


_See p. 114._]


_See p. 125._]

People in England, whether believers in Christianity or not, pay tribute
to its founder every time they date a letter. The Papuans now acknowledge
Him by making their calculations from His day. The SABATE they call it.
The boys all knew that the next day was Sabate, and that we should not
travel, but remain at Hisiu. Those who had clothes had managed to keep
them fairly clean for that day, and those who had none, borrowed from
those who had, with the result that a small singlet fell to the lot of
the biggest man of the party. Still he was satisfied, and no one was
surprised at his odd appearance.

Soon after six in the morning the people were called to the first service
by a bell which they had purchased for themselves. How different the
surroundings and the gathering from anything to be seen in England:
the walls and the roof of the church supplied by the palm; the floor
made from old canoe boards; the reading-desk by the teacher from
packing-cases; the seat round the wall also from old canoes. Then the
congregation. Our own boys had more clothing than the rest of the
congregation all told. In the first few rows sat the children. Behind
them the adults, and on the seat round the wall the Church members and
those more particularly identified with the Mission. Very few ornaments
were to be seen and none in the hair of the men, for the Papuan having
no hat to take off as a mark of reverence removes his comb when he enters
the church. Of the service little need be said. You could not follow the
words, but the bowing of the head by the natives, and the opening of
the New Testaments, would mark the times of prayer and of reading the
lessons. How often one wishes the Papuans were direct descendants of the
Sweet Singer of Israel; but, alas! they are not even distant relatives,
and most of the Samoans can claim but little closer kinship, and so
cannot help the Papuan much. Tuneful singing cannot be expected from a
people with a range of about three notes, especially when they do not
always use even these three. They will chant a hymn on one note only.
Still they do their best, they are improving; and we always hope for
better times in this as in other respects. In one thing the Papuans do
not fail. Their behaviour is reverent throughout the service, and they
listen to the message given.

During the day there are three services and a Sunday School, all held
in the church; but I was most pleased with the evening gathering at the
teacher’s house. The few Church members, with thirty or forty children
and young people, came to family prayers, and of the young people at
least twenty had their own New Testaments, and took their turn in reading
a verse, and one of the young men offered prayer. Such a scene makes one
realize the change for the better which is taking place. The first time
I went to Hisiu there was no teacher living there; no church; no school;
not a Church member in the place, and not a soul who could tell which way
to hold a book even if he had one.

One advantage of having to stay over the Sunday at a village is the
opportunity for good informal chats with the people, during which much
can be gathered as to their way of looking at the message the Missionary

Two separate conversations that Sunday revealed the fact that they carry
their own ideas of malevolent spirits into their idea of the God whom we
regard as the loving Father. To many of them He seems to be a compound of
the policeman and the magistrate, seeing that due punishment is inflicted
for each given offence.

Rosa came to see us in the afternoon wearing signs of mourning. We
had heard that her husband Veata was dead, but did not know the
circumstances. It was a long story, for she began at the time when her
husband was taken by the teacher to live in his house, and when she, as a
young girl, was nurse to the teacher’s children. She recalled what Faasiu
had taught them and how after they were married Veata expressed a wish
to become a teacher, and how glad she was. Then came the history of the
three years during which they lived with us at Delena, which ended in
the call of the old village life being too strong, and their giving up
the idea of being teachers and returning to their village. At first Veata
boasted of what he had done, but afterwards became ashamed, and very sad.
He knew he had done wrong, but took no steps to put the matter right.

One day on the way to his garden he saw a snake in the track, and as he
could not kill it, got out of its way. It followed him, however, and bit
him twice. His friends, knowing the snake was a deadly one, carried Veata
back to the village, and began the death wail over him, but he asked
them to be quiet and to listen to what he had to say, as he should soon
leave them and they would not hear his voice again. The speech was a
long one for a man under such circumstances, but Veata was in earnest in
his desire that his friends should know that he acknowledged he had done
wrong, “in putting out the light he once had within him.” He looked upon
the ending of his life by snake bite as a just punishment for his having
turned back “after he had put his hand to the plough,” and begged his
friends to listen to the teacher “and follow the light.”

On the same day another widow, a much older woman, came to see us. Her
husband had been west with Tamate, and later had served for a time as a
teacher under Holmes. He too listened to the call of the old life, and
at Hisiu took a leading part in reviving the night dancing. He was an
elderly man, and probably the sitting about after he was hot from the
dancing produced chest troubles. He became ill, and then found that his
right hand was affected with what looked like leprosy. Before long he
was unable to use it at all, and became so ill that it was only with
difficulty that he could get as far as the church. The last time he
attended the service he asked the teacher to let him speak to the people.
His address followed the lines of Veata’s, but near the end, lifting
his maimed hand, he said, “This is the hand that beat the drum to call
you to the dance. Look at it now. God has taken from it the power to
do anything. He has punished me, and I shall not live much longer. God
forgive me, and help you to follow not me but Jesus.”

I heard of these two cases in one day, but often, both before and since,
have wondered at the number of those who having turned back from taking
part in Mission work have died soon after. When the first wild burst is
over, they lose heart and feel there is nothing left to live for, and
that the end is near. When a native gets that idea nothing can save him.
It is sad to think how little they realize the love that can forgive.
Their own idea is vengeance, “An eye for an eye,” and only slowly comes
that of an all-loving and forgiving Father.

The next morning saw us again on the tramp. Canoes ferried us across
the Aroa River, and then on we went along the sand. Mile after mile
with nothing to break the monotony except the great stranded trees that
had been washed out of Galley Reach by the last floods, and a solitary
pelican that would fly on ahead of us, wait till we were nearly up to
him, and then start off again as though to show us the way.

When we got near to Morabi, the village we were making for, the beach was
covered with thousands upon thousands of little round crabs who moved
with the precision of an army. If one got in front of them, and stamped
on the sand, no confusion followed, but the army, as though at the word
of command, turned off and went in another direction. For at least a mile
we walked through these strange little creatures, they opening up a way
by which we might pass and not one of them getting under our feet.

Morabi is on the left as we stand at the mouth of Galley Reach, but away
on the right bank is a spot that will always be of interest to those
connected with the L.M.S. It was there, where the village of Manumanu
stood, that in 1872 the first Christian teachers landed. Sixteen years
later most of the houses had been moved to Morabi, and now there is no
village at Manumanu. Few of those who witnessed that landing are now
alive, but their descendants are the people we are going to see. After
Ieru the Samoan teacher, the first to welcome us is Naime, till lately
as fine a specimen of a man as could be found in the country. He was too
young to have distinct memories of the landing of those first teachers,
but has been good friends with their successors.

The usual round of service, school, doctoring, and talking to the people
having been accomplished, the next thing was to arrange for an experience
which does not often come to the missionary in the more settled
districts, that is, a visit to new ground, and an introduction to new

To mark the event we will deal with it in a new chapter.


Korona, a Hillside Village

For some time people had been coming down from the hills and asking that
a teacher might be sent to live with them. They were suffering severely
from raids by their enemies, and were anxious for peace and protection.
Fortunately there was a Samoan widower, who had no fixed station, and
I told him to visit such villages as he could get at, and try to make
peace. He had taken up his temporary quarters at a village called Korona,
and he and the people were anxious that we should visit them. The road,
they admitted, was a rough one for an English lady to travel, but as they
had gone to the trouble to clear parts of it, so they said, Donisi Hahine
decided to accept the invitation.

To have the help of the rising tide an early start was made on the
Tuesday morning. We were in the boat by four o’clock, while it was yet

People may ascend Snowdon or the Swiss mountains to view the sunrise,
but they could never see one more beautiful or more impressive than
on that particular morning in Galley Reach. All around was the great
expanse of water, so calm that it reflected the clouds. Away on either
side, and right ahead, were the low banks covered without a break by
the fresh bright green of the mangroves. Then when the eyes were lifted
higher came the hills wrapped in mist as in fleecy cotton wool, and
behind them tier above tier rose the peaks and ridges of the Owen Stanley
Range. As the light became stronger the peaks, over 12,000 feet high,
stood out with wonderful distinctness. Then the pale glow turned to gold
and rose, as the sun came up behind the mountains, and as it mounted
higher and higher, the lower peaks on our side of the range were lit up
one after another like so many great electric lights. The white mists
curled further up the range, and though details were lost, the effect was
grandly harmonious.

The change from the dark stillness, broken only by the cry of a bird and
the rattle of the oars in the rowlocks, to the full blaze of the light
was much more rapid than the coming of the daylight at home, and reminded
one that it was not necessary to wait till near midday to feel the sting
of the tropical sun.

Several large rivers flow into Galley Reach as well as a perfect network
of smaller streams and creeks. Into one of these we turned. Then into
a smaller one, and again into a smaller one still. It was wonderful
how the boy in charge knew which of the many openings—all alike—he was
to take. At last the creek so narrowed that the whale boat could go no
further, and the first stage of the journey was over. It was ten o’clock
when we landed under some giant trees, and no time was lost in getting
breakfast for all hands, and taking his with him, one of the teachers
went ahead to try and find carriers to help with the baggage. Our own
boys could manage it well enough on the flat, but when climbing the hills
they would need help.

Strange things were all around us, but strangest of all were some of the
giant trees. Very high, very big round, they had roots which came out
like giant buttresses. By putting roofs on, five or six stables could
have been made at the foot of each tree.

So far there was no sign of any track having been cleared, and a boy had
to go ahead armed with a big knife to cut away the vines. Some of them
were the “wait-a-bit” thorns, and well did they deserve their name, for
if once the thorn was hooked in the clothing then the person wearing that
clothing had to wait till released from the unwelcome grip, or leave a
memento behind him.

Progress was very slow, and it was well after midday before we reached a
clearing on the bank of a rippling stream as clear as crystal, and the
coldest water I have tasted in Papua. Here the Korona people were making
a garden, and Naiti had been fortunate enough to meet some of them and
secure their services to help us to reach their village.

One was tempted to linger at this spot. It would have made an ideal camp
for a summer holiday. We had to pass on, and made use of the native
bridge. One of the large trees that grew on the bank of the stream had
been felled so that it lay from bank to bank, and to save themselves
trouble when doing the work the woodmen had built a staging round the
tree some ten feet from the ground and so got above the greatest girth.

On the other side of the stream the ground began to rise, and in places
gave some stiff climbing. After a time the question arose, “How much
further is the village?” Not far was the answer, and another start
was made. Then the way seemed blocked by fallen trees, but the guide
clambered over them, and following his lead we found ourselves in a
sweet-potato plantation. What the water-lily is to the swimmer that the
sweet-potato is to the walker. How many times one and another of the
party was thrown down, or brought to a standstill, it would be a puzzle
to say. To add to the trouble piles of felled trees continually blocked
the way, and had to be surmounted. Again the question was asked, “Is the
village far?” and again the guide, through an interpreter, answered,
“Just a little.” His idea of “a little further” was like that of an
Irishman who was once my guide in Ireland. The little further was just
an indefinite distance in front. Then again the guide was accustomed
to that kind of travelling. Our party was not, and there was plenty of
grumbling amongst the boys as the sun got low, and there were still no
signs of the village. At last the guide gave a coo-e and from the side
of the next hill came an answer. One more scramble down, and one more
scramble up, and there was the village in sight.

Few of our party had ever seen a stockaded village. It was my first. The
site was well chosen on the crown of a small hill, so that the ground
fell away on all sides. The houses which were on high stumps, almost like
stilts, faced inwards, and the stockading was really a continuation of
the outer walls of the houses right down to the ground, with the spaces
between the houses filled in the same way. The defence would have been
poor against an enemy armed with Sheffield steel, but would hold at bay
one attacking with bows and arrows and clubs, and the only entrance was
a puzzle-like stile at one corner. No need for the defender to say with
brave Horatius, “Now who will stand on either hand and keep the bridge
with me?” One could easily defend it.

Over and through this stile, one at a time, we clambered, and at once
looked for quarters for the night. Any house in the village, or the club
house, would have been placed at our disposal, but—— The people never
wash; never clean their houses; and by both look and smell one would
judge that they never cleaned the centre of the village.

The camp was made on the hill, and to the windward side of the village.
Five poles were soon cut and the home-made calico tent fixed. Supper was
soon over, and no one wanted rocking to sleep that night. All had been on
the move for seventeen hours, to say nothing of the time spent in packing
and getting into the boat at Morabi. God’s own peace seemed to brood over
the hillside, the camp, and the village, and it seemed strange almost
beyond belief, that amidst such surroundings the women and children had
withdrawn into the forest for fear there might be a night attack.

Next morning there was more time and more energy for getting into touch
with the people, but unfortunately that had to be done through an

Sitting by the side of Naiti on the Dubu platform was a little toddler,
who seemed loth to let go his hand. She was too young to do more than
return love for care and affection, or she would have known how much she
owed to Naiti. Her mother had died when she was a few weeks old, and
her father, according to native custom, took the child into the bush
and left it there to die. Fortunately Naiti found her, nearly dead from
starvation and covered with sores, and took her to the village. He
had no wife to tend the child, and no milk to give her, but he had his
gun, and there were birds around. Some of these he shot and made broth
for the little one, in which he soaked pieces of his hard biscuits; not
perhaps according to the latest theories as to how a child should be fed,
and Naiti, big man that he is, was not a dainty little nurse in cap and
apron, but he managed grandly, and showed us the child with pride.

Many of our teachers have rescued little children in this way, but in
most cases by taking them out of the grave of the dead mother, with whom
they were to be buried, and rarely does the father take any notice till
the child is grown enough to be useful and then he claims it. Another of
our teachers found a Korona boy abandoned in the bush because, owing to
a large ulcer on his foot, he was unable to keep up with the party on a

The season was a good one for food, and the people were determined we
should not go hungry while staying with them. Yams, sweet-potatoes,
pumpkins, and sugar cane were brought from the gardens, and piled in
front of the Dubu where we were sitting.

Then the pig was brought. He was a lively customer, and objected to the
manner in which he was handled, and no wonder. It took three men, sitting
on his back, to keep him down, and even then he had the better of it
in the matter of voice. The men could not silence him, and he sadly
interrupted the speech of the chief.

I should have liked to have recorded the whole incident in a picture,
but, alas! my camera was at the bottom of the sea off Maiva, and I can
only deal in words.

When all was ready the chief stepped down from the Dubu, and with the
village people looking on from the verandahs of their houses, and the
pig violently protesting, began his speech. Some natives are very
demonstrative when they talk. They use their whole body, and it was not
difficult to follow part at least of what the old man was saying, though
none of us knew his language. It all had to be translated later on. First
there was the welcome, and then the typical native regret that he and his
people had no food to offer us. They had managed to provide “sisina hona”
(a very little bit). Their idea of little in quantity seemed as elastic
as their idea of the village being near on the previous day, for try
as they would our boys did not manage to get through that “little bit”
during our stay in the village, and had to get the donors themselves to
help them. It was a present, the old man said; but presents are expensive
luxuries in Papua, for they cost two or three times as much as if bought
in the ordinary way. It was so in this case by the time the return
present was completed.

I was expected to kill the pig, but not caring for the job, with due
courtesy I trust, in any case with emphasis, I informed the old man that
I was not in that line of business, and turning to Naiti asked him to be
my deputy. The pig had to be killed in Papuan fashion and Naiti did not
relish the business, so handed it on to Kone.

Then came the explanation as to why we had been asked to visit the
village. Becoming very dramatic the chief received from his wife a small
basket, out of which he took a human skull. This he held in one hand and
a tomahawk in the other. The skull, he said, was that of his brother,
who together with two of his wives and some of his children had been
killed by people living on yonder hill. He showed how the tomahawk fitted
into the holes in the skull and asked me to request the Governor to take
vengeance (payment, he called it) for that murder, and then to send him
a teacher to “teach him and his people peace.” No forgiveness. Revenge
first, and then peace; but it was something that the desire for peace was
there at all.

I felt sad, for I had neither the men nor the money to comply with the
old man’s request. The sadness was the deeper when I remembered that down
on the beach, not many miles below us, was the spot where the Christian
teachers had landed as long ago as 1872, and yet till the arrival of my
wife and myself the previous day, these people had never seen a white
face in their village. Friends in England have since offered to support
a teacher in the village, but dysentery has practically exterminated the
people. The opportunity was lost.


_See page 127._]

[Illustration: A WIDOWER.

_See page 132._]

[Illustration: A CROCODILE.

_See page 134._]

My wife was fortunately outside the village in the camp while this
demonstration took place. It was a day of rest for all after the toil
of the preceding one, and after the feast the boys divided their time
equally between sleep and chewing sugar cane. We explored a little, and
enjoyed the beauty and the stillness of the tropical forest. Had we
known that later on, but a short distance from Korona, the manager of a
rubber plantation would find it necessary to offer so much per head for
snakes killed, and would have to pay for as many as 500 in one month,
it is probable we should not so freely have poked about amongst the
ferns, or pushed our way through the undergrowth. Ignorance was bliss,
and we laid in impressions that will never be effaced. We could hear the
bird-of-paradise calling and were fortunate enough to see some playing
round the top branches of a tree. The brush turkey ran from in front
of us, and overhead flew the hornbill, making a noise like a rusty old
engine, and not a snake did we see in our glimpse of paradise.

The second night was as uneventful as the first, and in the morning
our newly-made friends accompanied us on the first part of the return
journey. There was the same stumbling through the sweet-potato vines,
and attempts to dodge the foot and a half of every sapling which the
natives leave standing when they clear a track. Halts at the same places
for food and rest, and then to our dismay we found the tide low, and not
enough water to float the boat. To wait meant a delay of six hours and an
impossible journey in the dark. It was one of those tight corners which
bring out the best side of the Papuan character. The boys soon settled
that we were not to wait, and went to work with a will. Where the water
was shallow the boat was dragged through the mud. Where driftwood had
blocked the course it was either cut through or torn away. Very slow
progress was made, but it was progress, and all were in hope of soon
reaching deep water, when right across the stream, just under water, was
a big tree. The boat must have passed over it when the tide was higher.
Tired as the boys were, they would not attempt to cut through this, and
to move it was impossible. The only chance was to get the boat over it.
Donisi Hahine sat in lonely state, and all the others took to the water.
Pushing, pulling, straining, shouting, we got the boat on top of the tree
like a well balanced see-saw. Then all the strength was put under the
stern, and with one big lift she was launched into the deep water on the
other side, and we all rushed or swam after her.

Three hours on the river gave us no interest: we were all tired, and
thankful at last to reach Morabi.



The headings of the last four chapters suggest one of the greatest
difficulties that stand in the way of Mission work in Papua. That is the
number of different languages spoken by the people. At Delena both the
Motu and Maiva languages are used. The Nara villages have a language of
their own. Hisiu is an offshoot from Maiva. At Morabi we are amongst the
Motu people again. Korona has a different language, and that of Kabadi is
distinct from either.

Fortunately in all the villages Motu speaking people can be found, as
well as some who know a little English, but unity amongst a people who
have no common language is not to be expected.

The Kabadi villages lie on the flat land between the hills, and the sea,
in Redscar Bay, and are all some distance from the latter. With a guide
they can be approached by way of Galley Reach, and the Apiisi River, but
in fine weather the best way is by entering the Aroa River, which flows
into Redscar Bay. The Samoan boat was ready for us, and the only incident
of the journey was the seeing of a big crocodile on a mud bank near the
spot where we made fast to the bank of the river to have breakfast.

Vanuabaka is at the end of a long creek leading out of the main river.
The houses are scattered about under the tall cocoanuts, which, as you
will see in the picture, appear to be trying to get out of the ground in
which they are growing. This peculiar appearance is probably the result
of the continual sweeping up of the village, and sometimes the people
find it necessary to place wattle fences round the roots and fill in
with the sweepings of the village. Here, unlike Nara, the houses are all
separate, and neighbours are given rather a wide berth. Timoteo’s house
stands near the centre of the village inside a neat fence. His wife, with
true Samoan hospitality, has wreathed vines and flowers not only round
the verandah posts, and along the front of the house, but even round
the posts of the home-made bedstead and over the wall of the small room
devoted to our use.

Magazines and papers are passed from one to another in Papua, but the
final use of many of them is to provide wall-paper for teachers’ houses.
Timoteo’s house is so lined and the effect, if peculiar, is also useful,
for a picture gallery is provided. I might almost have written a library,
for I have found my wife going round the room trying to connect up the
various parts of a serial, and getting on a box to reach those nearer the
roof. On one occasion, so mounted, she managed to take a crochet pattern
from an odd leaf of a ladies’ paper.

Few teachers knew their people better, or entered more into their life,
than did Timoteo. As a boy he came to Kabadi with his father, who was the
first teacher there, and after returning to Samoa for training at Malua,
he succeeded his father, who had died at his post. His case is an example
of what it costs the South Sea men and women to engage in work for Christ
in Papua. His mother, his father, and his stepmother all died in Kabadi.
He and his three children all died there, and his widow returned to her
home _alone_. She wished to remain and carry on the work, and when that
was declared impossible expressed the hope that some day she might again
be able to join us.

At the time of which I am writing both teacher and wife were at their
best, and in the evening after the big gathering on the verandah for
prayers, there was much to talk about. A little girl called Papauta,
after the girls’ school in Samoa, was put forward for inspection. A jolly
little smiling savage she looked, and never before in her short life, had
she been so happy. When her mother died her father took no notice of her,
and Fafoa, Timoteo’s wife, found her crawling about the village fighting
with the pigs for scraps of food. For a time it was doubtful if she would
recover from such neglect, but care won the day, and Papauta is now a
strong, thickset girl who, when Fafoa left for Samoa, came to live with
us at Delena. Her father tried to claim her, but the Government decided
that as the Mission had saved her life, she should live at the Mission
till old enough to start life on her own account.

A sad story of cruelty was introduced by reference to a small enclosure
we had seen under a house opposite to the teacher’s. A man had died and
his relatives instead of comforting and helping his widow, had destroyed
all her plantations and so ill-treated her that she would have died but
for the help of Fafoa. They prevented the poor woman, who was covered
from head to foot with a mixture like lamp-black, from eating anything
but scraps of food. She was ordered not to be seen in the village or any
of the tracks round it, and no one must hear her voice. She was confined
in the little enclosure we had noticed under the house, from cock-crow in
the morning till the village was all quiet at night, and even then she
was only allowed to go on to the verandah of her house. Her well-grown
children were threatened that if they attempted to help their mother they
would be killed.

Why all this trouble and persecution? Simply this: the woman’s husband
had died and his relatives believed that some wrong-doing on her part
had made the spirits angry, and caused them to kill him.

Fafoa feared neither the threats nor the spirits, and at night she fed
the woman and kept her alive till I was able to get the cruelty ended.
Kabadi natives as much as any in this dark country need to learn the
Golden Rule. They certainly know nothing of it till they are taught.

The school the next morning was worth a visit. Timoteo was a success as
a teacher, as at most other things, but not as a singing master. His
classes were well ordered, and more advanced than any others in the
district. Seventy-six children were present, and they began badly, for
they chanted the opening hymn on one note only. That was the weakest
point. The strongest was the adaptation of the kindergarten methods to
the teaching of the alphabet. Suddenly, while we were engaged with the
seniors, all the smaller children rushed out of school and through the
open doors and windows we saw the boys climbing cocoanut palms. There
was a scramble for the fronds they threw down, and soon the children
returned to school each carrying a bundle of the mid-rib they had got
from the fronds. These looked like lengths of fine spring wire. With much
energy they got to work, and when it was their turn to stand in front of
the table, each child had a handful of letters made from the mid-rib,
from which he or she sorted out and held out the particular letter asked
for. With such letters as D or P it was a simple matter, for when once
fixed they remained in the shape desired. S. G. M. and others were more
difficult to manage, for though the pieces of mid-ribs were ready they
had to be fixed or bent into position when held up. The children enjoyed
the work, using their strong teeth in the place of scissors or nippers,
and when the lesson was over the table looked as though basket-makers had
been at work.

Here again one noticed that the position of the scholar in the class
determined not only the angle at which he looked at his book, but in some
cases the angle at which he wrote or printed his capital letters. Some of
them were on their backs, and others leaning to either right or left. One
boy signed his slate with carefully printed capitals—I.K.O.B.O.U.—a full
stop after each letter.

The Sabate was to be spent at Ukaukana, so that we might be in touch with
three villages for the services of the day.

Two hours across a plain as flat as a table top, and through grass in
many places above our heads, brought us to a large banana plantation. At
the right season it would be a grand place for a Sunday school treat, if
the owners did not object. To travellers it was acceptable because it
gave the only bit of shade to be found in the two hours’ walk, and we
lingered long enough to enjoy it and notice that the natives had marked
off each man’s share of the plantation by rows of bright dracena and
coleus. The rich vegetation told that we were not far from the river, and
we were no sooner out of the plantation and through a small village, than
there was the Aroa River at our feet but some twenty feet below us.

Cool and rapid it hurried down to the sea, but when in flood it mounts
that twenty feet of bank in a single night and takes possession of the
village and most of the surrounding flat land. To cross then is out of
the question, and to do so now is a novel experience, but if you trust
yourselves to the natives, and like good girls and boys, do as you are
told, you will be landed safely on the other bank without a ducking.

A canoe, made by hollowing out a tree trunk and roughly shaping the
outside, is waiting tied to the bank by a length of cane. Both ends are
shaped alike, so it is difficult to say which is the stem and which the
stern, but for the time being the end pointing up stream is the stem and
there stands the ferryman. He finds no difficulty in keeping his balance,
nor does the canoe rock while he is alone, but the moment one not to
the manner born puts a foot in the canoe, it seems to become alive and
possessed with the determination to get rid of the stranger by turning
over and throwing him into the water.

There is no outrigger nor any contrivance to keep the craft steady,
except willing hands (far from clean) ready to help you to embark. Before
they let go it will be well if the canoe happens to be wide enough to sit
right down inside, despite the mud and water. If that cannot be managed
then put your walking stick across from gunwale to gunwale and sit as low
as possible on that. No doubt the boys and girls who are watching from
both banks think this a lot of preparation for what they do without a
thought, and the chances are that when they notice the start caused by
the first wobble of the canoe, they will have a good laugh, but to the
novice it is no laughing matter. I can only compare the sensation to that
feeling of utter helplessness experienced during the first attempt to
ride a bicycle.

The signal is given to let go, and then the boy in the bows begins to
punt the canoe up stream as close to the bank as he can keep, till he
thinks he has gone far enough to enable him to reach the proper landing
on the gravel spit on the other side. He then pushes out into the stream
the force of which turns the head of the canoe down towards the sea. His
punting pole will not now reach the bottom, and the canoe is at the mercy
of the current. As soon as he can touch the bottom again with his pole
his action retards the downward rush of the bows and the canoe is brought
alongside the bank with her head up stream again.

Willing hands help the passengers ashore, and if you do not want moments
of anxiety as to the baggage pass on to the teacher’s house at once, for
if you stay to watch you will see some at least of the carriers standing
where you found difficulty in sitting, and with the boxes still on the
poles between them.

The old Naime, whose picture caused such consternation when shown on the
sheet, has been succeeded in the chieftainship by his son, also Naime,
but not half the man his father was, either in size or anything else.

Naime the First always went hunting when he heard I was in the
neighbourhood, so that he might have some fresh wallaby to offer. Naime
the Second has not energy enough for that, so confines his attention to
seeing that his wife cooks a bowl of bananas, and then escorts her to
the teacher’s verandah, and sits down to wait for the return present.
Years ago when talking to old Naime, I asked him why he had not listened
to our message, and why he had not joined the Church. He had always been
on the best of terms with the teachers and often attended the services.
His reply was a bit of good sound advice for a young missionary. He was
still proud of his strength and his success as a hunter, and having duly
dwelt upon these he said “but natugu (he always called me his child),
my inside is old and hard. I cannot receive the new words. Look to my
grandchildren. They are young, and you can teach them.” His son has seen
to it that the old man’s wish has been carried out, and all his children
have been regular attendants at school, and can read and write well.

Memories of Naime crowd one on another. When first I knew him he was
a widower, and every time we met, his vigorous Papuan embrace used to
transfer some of his lamp-black mourning to my clothes. Once we met at
another village, and in great excitement for so dignified a man, he said—

“Natugu, I have a new wife.”

“Yes. That is good.”

“Donisi, do you hear? I have a new wife.”

“Yes, I hear. I have told you that is good.”

“Donisi, I have got the new wife, but I have not got a new Beritani dress
for her.”

“All right, Naime. You have found the wife. I will find the dress for

As soon as possible I sent along a dress made of bright red Turkey twill,
and the next time I went to Ukaukana there was Naime waiting to receive
me, and in the background the new wife (who turned out to be very old and
a cripple) struggling to get into the dress. She could not manage it, so
it fell to the lot of the Missionary not only to provide the dress, but
to act as lady’s maid to the old woman, and show her how she was to get
into it.

Hanging in front of Naime’s house was the under-jaw of a crocodile,
which must have belonged to a big animal, for it was more than three
feet long. One night Naime found this creature carrying off his pig, and
running alongside he killed it with his stone club. On land he knew no
fear, but could never be tempted to trust himself to the sea. Time after
time he promised to visit me at Port Moresby, and once came as far as
Morabi, but as soon as it was a question of getting into the boat, he
pleaded that he was not well and had better return to his village.

Some of our teachers have to complain that the village people will not
help them, but Luteru once got more than he wanted at Naime’s village.
He was a grand gardener, and good teacher, but a poor house builder, and
when he was ready to occupy his new house he found it was leaning on one
side. Either it must be straightened up as it stood, or taken down and
rebuilt. The second course was only to be thought of if the first failed,
so Luteru called his people together and explained what was wanted. Work
of that kind could not be undertaken without a feed and pig-killing. The
day was appointed, and the pig duly killed and eaten, and then the ropes
having been fixed, Ukaukana men showed what they could do. It was a bit
more than was wanted and the last state of that house was worse than
the first. A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull all together, instead
of straightening the house up, pulled it too far, and down it came with
a crash on the other side. Luteru had to rebuild, and in addition to
suffering the loss of his pig, had to put up with unlimited chaff from
his fellow-teachers.

The Sunday was a day of rest and quiet for the carriers but not for the
Missionary, who had to visit three villages and hold services in each. We
began with the village where we were staying, and had a good gathering
at the early morning service. After breakfast Kopuana further up the
river was visited, and the new church seen for the first time, and in the
afternoon Keveona on the other bank of the river. Here the first baptism
in the village took place in the new church, and the evening was occupied
in talking to the people at Ukaukana.

Monday saw the same round for the purpose of examining the schools,
and at each village the boys who accompanied us had a story to tell of
the previous night’s experience. Few nights are ever undisturbed in
any native village, for either the pigs, the dogs, or the children do
their best to prevent rest, but it is not often a crocodile joins in the
fray. That particular night we heard a disturbance under the house, and
upon inquiring were informed that for safety the teacher penned his pig
under the house at night. There was then no need to seek further for
certain troubles which had made us think the house was not very clean.
The disturbance was caused by a crocodile, evidently a true Papuan and
fond of pork, coming up from the river and seeking his breakfast at the
expense of the teacher. The pig being blessed with a big voice gave
warning and the crocodile had to seek his breakfast elsewhere.

The crocodile has, however, taken our thoughts away from the schools we
set out to examine. At one, big things were being attempted. The teachers
had been asked to see that the children committed to memory certain
passages from the New Testament, and one of them, when the ordinary
school work had been gone through, said he was ready to show what his
children could do in that way. It may be well to begin at the beginning
in most things, but when I heard the first child begin to recite the
first chapter of Matthew I thought the choice not the best possible. Six
verses for each child they went through that chapter with all its hard
names, which sounded stranger still in their native form. Chapters two,
three, four, and part of five had been repeated with wonderfully little
prompting before there was any weakness shown. The end of the fifth
chapter could not be reached, and then the teacher explained, “That is
all they can do at present.” He had hoped that they would be able to
reach the end of the book in time, but was advised to discontinue the
attempt to teach the whole book, and confine his attention to certain
chapters and passages indicated. What had been accomplished showed that
the native child had a retentive memory.

At the second school the teacher was making a strong point of English,
and here again the surprise was kept till last. The two biggest boys in
the school, one fast nearing the dandy age, and already smeared red and
wearing feathers, stood up, and turning towards each other, but being
careful not to look at each other, Number One literally growled out—

“Good-morning, my dear.”

“Good-morning, my dear,” replied Number Two in a tone which did not agree
with the endearing words, but suggested, “I will settle this with you
when I get you outside.”

“I hope you are well this morning,” was asked, and answered by, “I am
quite well, thank you”; but the manner implied, “what has that got to do
with you?”

“I hope your father is well this morning” gave the opportunity for an
answer more to the mind of Number Two, for with evident satisfaction he
said, “I have not seen my father this morning.”

When a native meets you his first question is either “Where have you
been?” or “Where are you going?” so naturally the English lesson followed
the same line.

“Where have you been?”

“I have been to Kanosia.”

“What did you go to Kanosia for?”

“I went to buy some kerosene.”

“What did you pay for the kerosene?”

“I paid some bananas.”

[Illustration: KOPUANA SCHOOL.

_See page 136._]


_See page 144._]


_See page 146._]

[Illustration: MOTUMOTU MAN.

_See page 163._]

Each question was typically native. They cannot understand a walk for a
walk’s sake. Amongst the first Government Officials to settle at Port
Moresby was one who took a long walk every afternoon, and as there were
few good tracks, went nearly always in one direction. So puzzled were the
boys that one day they followed him, and upon their return, told with the
greatest wonder that he went half way to Pari (a village eight miles from
Port Moresby) and then turned back. “There was not even a bit of tobacco
as the reason for the long walk.”

The native not only wants to know where you are going, or why you are
going, but what you paid for anything you may have to get, so the teacher
at Kopuana was only helping the boys and girls to express their desires
in English instead of native speech.

A few couples went through the lesson without a stumble, and pronounced
the words correctly, but others failed, and the whole incident was an
illustration of the difficulty of one man teaching English when the
children hear nothing but their own language around them.

At the third village the teacher is a Papuan who for ten years has tried
hard to influence for good a people who do not want to be so influenced.
They prefer their old ways though it was at their own request that a
teacher was sent to live with them. At times they have not only been
indifferent, but violent towards Aihi, and on one occasion would have
probably killed him but for the help of his son who is one of the
strongest young men in the neighbourhood. As it was he was nearly blind
for some weeks owing to one of his assailants trying to gouge out his
eyes. After this I offered to remove him to another village, but he
declined, saying that in time the people would hear his message and learn
what he had to teach.

Aihi’s house and compound are an object lesson, and should show his
fellow-countrymen what one of their own people can do when he sets
his mind on a changed life. Around his house are growing oranges and
bread-fruit, both introduced by the missionary, and illustrating a side
of the work not often thought of at home. The Papuan owes the bread-fruit
to the children’s ship _John Williams_. Sections of the root were packed
in earth by the missionaries in Samoa, and sent by her to us here. The
Samoan teachers knew its value as a food supply and readily planted it
round their houses. The Papuan teachers planted on the strength of our
recommendation and are now reaping the reward, but the advantage does
not stop there. The village people are begging for pieces of the root
and planting for themselves, and so they are being helped in their food
supply, often far from plentiful, by the assistance the British children
give to the _John Williams_. On many voyages her captain might have added
to old Captain Turpie’s description of her cargo as “Missionaries and
Bibles” the words “and bread-fruit trees from Samoa to Papua.”

One more village remained to be visited and then the journey home. At
Matapaila we were rather reminded of Nara, where Queen Koloka ruled. The
Samoan teacher, though a stately old man, was evidently overshadowed
by his wife, who not only told him what to do in the house, but how
to manage school, and what he should preach about on the Sunday and
Wednesday and Friday. He did not object, and between them they had a good
school, though they made the mistake of wanting to keep the young people
they had taught in regular attendance even after they were married. They
did not like the numbers to go down and could not wait till the next
generation had taken the places of those who had gone to the ordinary
work of life.

The best picture of Matapaila could have been obtained at night when it
was too dark to use the camera. The house had two rooms—a small bedroom
and a large sitting-room. After the evening meal a boy took up a bell
like that used by a railway porter (where it had come from I do not know)
and rang it on the verandah till we had to cry for mercy. It was heard
in the last house of the scattered village, and the children and young
people came trooping in, and sat down round the wall. Many of them had
New Testaments which they had bought for themselves, and the teacher had
three to pass round to those who had none of their own. There were two
lamps, the one on the small table at our side, and the other a hurricane
lantern. All this preparation had been made for family prayers, and there
was no doubt about the teacher and his wife being the father and mother
of the village children. Of the hymn we had better say nothing, but the
reading was first class. The room was not well lighted but we could tell
who was reading by the position of the lantern as it was passed round to
give light where it was needed. One of the elder boys offered prayer, and
then all repeated the Lord’s Prayer.

After that some had reasons to give for their absence from school that
day, and others for their desiring to be away the next day, and I did not
once hear, “I had to stay at home to mind the baby.” Hunting, fishing,
gardening and trading seemed to stand in the way of education, and the
youngsters spoke of it all as though they were grown-up men and women,
and could take their full share in it all.

Exactly how the conversation reached it I do not remember, but at last
we were talking of English children and their games. There were not many
we could indulge in in the house, but—I wonder if you will be shocked
when I tell you; I cannot help it if you are—there was one they had never
heard of, but the name of it took their fancy. Two short sticks were
soon procured, and in a few minutes two boys were trussed up and put in
the middle of the room ready for a “cock fight.” All looked very solemn
till one of the party (guess who) gave his best imitation of a cock crow.
Others soon tried and a merry and noisy party was the result. The climax
was reached when one of the “cocks” rolled over and was unable to get
up again. The noise attracted the elder people, who crowded on to the
verandah and blocked the doors and windows, till we began to fear for
the safety of the house. It was not guaranteed to carry more than the
ordinary weight of the district, so the game had to end, and on the best
of good terms the party broke up. The ball had been set rolling however,
and next morning several laughing groups could be seen in different parts
of the village repeating the performance of the previous night.

Without again visiting the river we made our way back to Vanuabaka.
The village is nearly always short of water, and that night a little
incident occurred illustrative of one of the discomforts of travel in
parts of Papua. A bath at the end of the tramp was out of the question.
Water could not be spared for that. In the middle of the night there
was the welcome sound of rain upon the thatch, and soon it began to
drop gently from the eaves. The temptation was great, and the village
was all quiet and dark, so one in the house, taking soap and towel,
slipped out and round to the back to enjoy a shower-bath. Alas! he had
no control of the tap that supplied the water, and no sooner was the
soaping stage completed than the shower was cut off. In vain he waited
for it to be turned on again. At last he had to give up, and as you can
easily imagine, the last state of that man was worse than the first, and
continued so till he could get to the river the next day. The memory of
clothes sticking to a lavishly soaped skin remains vivid.

At Hisiu we were back on the coast, and although we had only been away a
week we were glad to feel again the fresh sea breeze. The shed-like house
again became our quarters, and as school had not been examined during
our first visit part of the next day was devoted to that and to cleaning
up and bandaging a poor fellow who had been badly mauled by a wild pig.
Bandages and dressings were left with the teacher and before long the man
was able to go hunting again.

In the afternoon, as the falling tide offered firm instead of soft sand
to walk upon, we left Hisiu, and had done several miles before the long
shadows warned us that it was time to look out for a camping ground. It
was found on a sand spit at the mouth of a river, and while one half of
the party put up the tent, the other half cooked the supper. Prayers and
a chat round the fire closed the day, and we felt much like children who
hear a ghost story before going to bed, for one of the boys told how a
relative of his had been carried off by a crocodile from the very spot on
which we were camped. However, we suffered from nothing worse than our
thoughts, and even the memory of what he had seen did not prevent the
boy who had told us the story from stretching himself by the fire and
sleeping soundly.

Breakfast with the glories of a tropical sunrise all around, and then on
along the beach, round point after point past the place where we came out
on the way from Diumana to Hisiu, and later on we turned into another
opening in the bush, which after the glare and bright sunlight outside,
was like going into a tunnel. Some two hours of this, and forcing our way
through grass as tall as ourselves, brought us once more to Nara.

The next day we found the boat all safe in the creek, and a strong wind
landed us at home in time to straighten up for the Sabate. The round had
taken two days less than the three weeks we had arranged for.


A Christmas Gathering

How many parts of the world are there where Christmas is not known and
celebrated in one way or another? If there are any, Papua is not one
of them, for Kisimasi is talked about and looked forward to before it
arrives, and long remembered and talked about after it has passed. In
the Mission it is the time for the big gathering of the teachers and
their followers and friends. At other times they have to come to the head
station of their district, but at Kisimasi they come as the guests of the
Missionary, and expect that the gathering shall be something out of the

From beginning to end differences between Christmas in Britain and
Christmas in Papua are very marked. Instead of cold which makes blankets
and good fires necessary, there is heat so great that the host need not
worry if more guests arrive than he has provided accommodation for. They
can all sleep out of doors and be none the worse for the experience.

At home there may be two gatherings—the one for the young folks and the
other for the old folks, but with us the one gathering lasts at least a
week, and includes all ages, from the children in arms to the old men and

A day has been fixed for the arrival of our guests, but some come a day
before the time and some a day after, for half are from the east and half
from the west, and the wind that will help the one lot will hinder the
other. Never mind about when they arrive, so long as we stick to the day
when the festivities are to begin. There will be but few missing then,
and each party as it arrives will make some contribution to the feast:
one a pig; another a goat; another some bananas; yet another some yams or
sweet-potatoes, or cocoanuts.

One canoe-load of our visitors announces its arrival by gun-firing, and
another by beating a tattoo on a hollow log. Others may come quietly to
the beach, but when they begin to unload the pig he lets us know that he
has arrived. Neither the Cook Islanders, nor the Samoans, nor the Papuans
believe in silently adding their contribution to the general stock.
Processions are formed, and everything, even to the poor, long-suffering
pig, is brought and put in front of the Mission house, while the teacher
indulges in a little speech. The year may have been a good one or a bad
one in the matter of food, but the speech always follows one line. It is
an apology for the very little the teacher is able to add to the general

All food is hung on a framework erected for the purpose, and there it
remains till the day of the feast.

Preparations are meanwhile going on inside as well as outside the house.
In the kitchen Donisi Hahine is making piles of cakes, and outside the
boys and girls are gathering stones and firewood for the native cooking.

Christmas morning dawns, and before the sun is over the hill we all
assemble in the church for the Christmas Service. To make all the
teachers feel as homely as possible, part of the service is conducted
in their own language, and three languages at least have to be used.
Emptying the church is slower work than filling it, for there is much
handshaking to be got through and many attempts to express good wishes in
English, to be heard.

Breakfast for all hands comes next, and then the separate little
committees which have been told off to attend to various matters, all get
to work. One lot sees that the boats and canoes are ready for the races;
another attends to the greasing down of the old mast of the _Niue_, which
for many years has been used as our greasy pole; a third see that the
rope is ready for the tug-of-war, and that nothing is left on the course
that would cut the feet of those taking part in the races; others get
ready for the distribution of the food; but the group which is the centre
of attraction is busy killing and cutting up the pigs and goats. This
is simply irresistible to men, women and children. They turn to it as
naturally as water runs down hill.

Gradually the interest moves to another part of the compound where
a teacher with a sheet of paper in his hand is superintending the
apportioning of the food. A delicate matter this, for none must be
overlooked, and the quantity in each heap of food must be in direct
proportion to the number of people who have come in with the teacher who
is to receive it. The foundation of each pile is laid with bananas and
cocoanuts, and on this yams are built up; then some rice and a few ship’s
biscuits, and a joint of raw pork. To finish all off well to the taste of
the Papuan a few sticks of tobacco are added to each pile.

The pork would soon suffer in the heat of the sun, so all hands are
promptly called together, and the Missionary makes the Christmas speech
of welcome, and after that is over a peculiar custom is observed.

A man with a strong voice is chosen, and if he has a dash of the clown
in him so much the better. The teacher walks ahead with his list and
announces the name of the man for whom the pile is intended. The
assistant, cutting capers behind him, smacks the pile with his switch and
calls aloud for So-and-So to come and take possession of the provision
made for him and his boys. Then with another cut at the pile of food he
passes on to the next, while So-and-So’s boys close in behind and see
that nothing is lost of what has fallen to their share.

After this fires are lighted in all parts of the compound and separate
cookings occupy the attention of many of our guests; we, however, will go
and see what all the smoke near the big bread-fruit tree means. There in
the open air the Christmas dinner is being cooked, and the need for the
stones and firewood gathered by the boys and girls is explained. A hole
has been dug in the ground and well lined with stones. On this a bonfire
has been lighted, and now, when nearly burnt out, the ashes are being
raked off, to the accompaniment of much hopping about on the part of the
bare-footed cooks, who are too excited to look for stray cinders and only
find them when they tread upon them.

Vegetables have been scraped and washed and are handy in tubs. First on
top of the hot stones is spread a layer of bread-fruit leaves. Next go
the vegetables to be served like the potatoes baked under the meat at
home, for the joints of pork and goat are piled on top. Already the mass
is beginning to steam, and causing some of those standing by to look
pleasant in anticipation, but none of this steam must be lost, so the
food is covered up with a thick layer of leaves. The earth is shovelled
on to all this and well beaten down, and the Christmas oven looks like a
gigantic mole hill, with little puffs of steam escaping here and there to
suggest what is going on inside. It might be called a self-cooker, for it
requires no attention, and though it may appear a strange way of cooking,
from long experience I can vouch for its being most satisfactory. If
properly heated such an oven turns out well cooked meat, and nicely
browned vegetables.

Leaving the oven to do its work we turn to the sports. The entries for
the various events are all made, and the handicapping all done on the
spot, and whether from shyness, or disinclination to exertion, there
is always a difficulty in getting a start. The prizes are all there
for inspection, and the start is usually obtained by holding up some
particularly tempting article, and announcing that it is the first prize
for the opening event. When once the ball has been set rolling there is
no difficulty. In quick succession follow races for men and for women;
big boys and little boys; for big girls and little tots; for teachers’
wives; three-legged races and jockey races (which cause undersized boys
to be in great demand as jockeys) and wheelbarrow races; sack races, and
hopping races; but the excitement is fast and furious when the tug-of-war
takes place between two well matched teams.

The greasy pole attracts little attention till the small boys have
worked hard for half a day, and have rubbed most of the grease off.
Then there are plenty of competitors for the last few feet, and great
excitement when one gets his hand within a few inches of the flag, just
fails, and comes down with a rush without it; but that is nothing to
the cheer which greets the one who at last gets the flag. He enjoys his
triumph to the full, holding on to the top of the pole, and smiling down
upon those who have probably done much to clear away the grease and
enable him to win the prize.

When tired of the exertion of racing the men turn their attention to
archery and a little spear-throwing. A man looks very warlike with his
long bow and his arrow nearly as long as himself, but judging from the
number of shots they send in before making even an outer, the success of
this method of fighting must depend more upon the cloud of arrows fired,
than upon the aim of any individual man. Perhaps the fact that the arrows
are not feathered may have something to do with this.

Of the Christmas dinner itself I need not write, as it was much like the
one described in the “Chapter of Accidents.” The main difference was that
we had seen to it that there were extra supports under the verandah and
so avoided another accident.

The first part of the day had been well filled, and you must remember
that the thermometer had stood at over 90 in the shade; so there was a
lull in the afternoon, and then the final preparations for the evening

Though the verandah of the Mission house is a big one, it could not
accommodate all who wished to be present, so we had to restrict the
gathering to the teachers and their families, and the Delena Mission

There was no Christmas tree, but its place was taken by a fishpond. Every
fish was named, and a little manœuvring let the man who managed the
inside of the pond know the name of the fisher, and so hook on the fish
he was intended to have. Big parcels sometimes contained only very small
fish, but that only added to the fun.

There were not many Christmas party games we could indulge in, but the
gramophone and the magnetic battery more than met the case. The mystery
of the gramophone was at first awe-inspiring, and the whistling bird
caused many a youngster to look round and close his hands as though he
had a stone to throw. Soon the awe passed and all were laughing over the
“Lancashire Lads’ Trip to London” as though they knew all about it and
could follow the fun; but the “Laughing Song” was the climax, and would
have gone far towards making the reputation of a man who wanted to be a
master of facial expression. At the first laugh they simply looked at
each other, but what looks they were. At the second they began to lose
control of themselves, while at the third all control had vanished, and
the gramophone could not be heard.

An entirely new set of facial contortions was the result of the
introduction of the battery. Some of the children simply set their teeth
tight together and took all that the machine could give them, but some
of the big men writhed and rolled about; bit their lips; opened their
mouths as though to shout; twisted their hands this way and that; stood
first on one leg and then on the other; and finally lay down to it, and
groaned “Vadaeni” (enough). They did not seem to enjoy the experience and
yet were ready later on for a second, but there was no doubt about the
onlookers enjoying it to the full.

Very few could be tempted to put their hands into a bucket of water
connected to one of the handles of the battery, even when a prize was
offered for the man who would get the nail from the bottom of the bucket.

It was ten o’clock before the party broke up. Every hour had been filled
since six in the morning, and no room had been found for the boat and
canoe races. We were all very tired, but very happy, and looked forward
to finishing the programme on the morrow.

[Illustration: A WELL-OILED AMAZON.

_See page 167._]


_See page 172._]

[Illustration: MIRIA MAKING FIRE.

_See page 174._]

[Illustration: THE BLOW-PIPE.

_See page 176._]

The second day was not only devoted to the sports but to the second of
the Christmas feeds. The provisions were not native, so the method of
serving differed from that of the previous day. Under the shadow of the
Mission house mats were spread upon the grass, and round them plates
and all the drinking-vessels we could muster, whilst in the centre,
amidst gay decorations of flowers and leaves, were dishes of cakes and
sandwiches. Decked in all their best the guests arrived, and by close
packing all managed to get a share of the edge of the mats. A curious
restraint seemed to keep most very quiet and prevent them helping
themselves freely, but Paiti, one of the jolliest teachers we ever had,
soon put an end to that by jumping up and stepping into the midst of the
decorations and the dishes. A more energetic waiter was never seen. A
plate was no sooner empty than he filled it again, and the little eager
hands that were stretched out by the children nearly hidden behind their
parents did not escape his notice and soon had something to close upon.
Paiti saw all, and attended to all, while from the outside of the ring
the cups were replenished at a wonderful rate. Some of these people must
have belonged to Dr. Johnson’s tribe, to judge by the amount of tea they
could put out of sight. We had requisitioned every kettle, pot and pan we
could find, but it was a question whether we should not have to make the
announcement “No more.” Fortunately that humiliation was spared us, and
when all the remains of the solids had been packed in handkerchiefs—for
it is etiquette not to leave anything—Paiti made a speech.

Taking his stand in the middle of the mat, he began in English: “My
father and my mother. We very glad you say we come here this day. We
very glad we live one more year. We very glad all man and all woman and
all boy and all girl be no sick——” Then either his memory or his English
failed him and he broke into native speech, thanking us for the spread,
and remarking that we had shown true hospitality in not only providing
all they could eat, but more.

I have written that the gathering lasted a week, but please do not
imagine that the whole of that time was devoted to feasting and sports.
Meetings with the teachers had to be held to arrange for the work of the
new year. Advice and encouragement had to be given, and difficulties
adjusted. Long descriptions of mysterious sicknesses had to be listened
to, and medicine, that idol of the Samoan, concocted to meet each
individual case, and then came the STORE.

The word is printed in capitals to show how large it looms in the eyes of
the teachers and their wives. Fancy how important the word would be if
your mothers and sisters (I do not include your fathers and brothers, for
they may have the same objection to entering a shop as I have) had only
three chances of shopping during the year. How much talking and arranging
would there not be before-hand, so that nothing might be forgotten, and
the necessary things procured first. This is the teacher’s weak point. He
is like a man who wants a suit of clothes covered with gold lace, and is
so intent on the gold lace, that he forgets he has to pay for the cloth
and the making. They all want the special things first, and then begin
to wonder how they are to pay for the food for the next four months.
To adjust matters so that each teacher shall be sure of food, light,
matches, clothes, and other necessaries, and still keep within the limits
of his salary, is not an easy matter, but it is not so trying as having
to get down every piece of print in the store before a teacher’s wife
can decide which colour suits her style of beauty best, or every pair of
trousers before the man can decide whether he wants them dark or light.

A fair allowance of good temper is needed if matters are to go smoothly
till the end of the third day of this kind of thing, in an iron store
almost as hot as a baker’s oven. Still we all survive, and interesting
and happy groups are seen at the bottom of the store steps discussing
each other’s purchases. Despite all attempts to arrange matters
before-hand, there are many supplementary visits with such appeals as
“Please, Donisi, I have forgotten the blue,” or “How am I to sew my new
dress, for I have forgotten the needles?”

By the end of the week all the requests have been attended to, and we
hope all the teachers, if not satisfied, are at least well fitted out
for another four months’ work at their stations, but before they leave we
meet for the Communion of the Lord’s Supper, and then with mutual good
wishes, and plenty of handshaking, we separate.

Most of the parties leave during the night, and signalize their going
by firing guns, or beating their hollow logs of drums. That part of the
performance could be dispensed with, for it usually comes soon after we
have settled down at the conclusion of a very long day.

How much of all this is like your Christmas experiences at home? Not
much; but it is the way we spend our Christmas at Delena.



So far most of the chapters have been devoted to the special events in
connexion with missionary life, but those who need such doctoring as the
missionary can give are like the poor—“always with us.”

At first their demands for attention were persistent but very irregular.
They were made at all times of the day and often at night. Long effort
and the use of a bell have reduced them to uniformity, and now the first
hour after breakfast is devoted to the sick. Perhaps no hour of the day
gives so complete an insight into the peculiarities of the native, and
certainly no hour gives more laughable experiences.

Despite all the dirt their wounds often heal in a wonderful manner.

Now and then a stolid patient is met with who will submit to anything.
Years ago at Port Moresby a man while hunting struck his foot against a
broken tree. The result was a deep, gaping wound with splinters in it.
When we thought all had been removed the man informed us he was sure
there was one piece left. Three had a try to find that piece of wood but
failed, and at last Walker thought he had got hold of it, and began to
pull. For a moment the man said nothing, but then remarked quite quietly,
“Misi Walker, that is the inside of my foot you are trying to pull out.”

Until used to doctoring the native would rather submit to external
treatment than take medicines internally. Once greatly puzzled as to the
non-effect of certain tabloids which had been sent to a sick man daily,
I inquired how he had taken them. He languidly pointed to the roof of
his house, but his action conveyed little information till his wife
produced a dirty bit of rag, and unfolding it, displayed just the number
of tabloids sent for her husband to take. No wonder they had produced no
constitutional change.

The miserable “Ia sibona” often stands in the way of doctoring a child.
The medicine is offered, and the child objects to take it. Any compulsion
is discounted by the parent who calmly remarks, “Ia sibona. He does not
wish to take it”; and there the matter would end if the Missionary would
allow it to do so. Often I have seen not only the mother, but the father,
turn away as though to insist upon the child taking the medicine and a
moment later return the glass or spoon empty, but the child had not
taken the medicine. The parent had swallowed it, perhaps to save trouble,
but perhaps in the belief that as it had not gone out of the family the
effect would be all right.

Payment for medicine and doctoring has always been a sore point with the
people of this district. They do not hesitate to pay their sorcerers
a pig or anything else they may demand for their attention, but seem
surprised when the Missionary suggests that they should contribute to the
food supply for the Mission boys and girls as a return for doctoring. In
early years I have had patients refuse to take medicine I was willing to
give them, because I would not pay them to swallow it. Those days are
gone, and now some few bring a little present of food for the medicine,
but it is generally a very little present.

Not long ago a man was wounded by a stinging ray. The fish had driven
its spine right through his leg. Of course the man could not come to the
Missionary so the Missionary had to go to him and continue his visits for
weeks before the wound was healed. Without other than native help the man
would certainly have died. When the doctoring was all over and the man
able to walk again, his wife paid a visit to Donisi Hahine and made quite
a speech about how her husband’s life had been saved. She should never
forget it, but would remember it every time she looked at the wound.
Then she produced from her “kiapa” a bunch, of bananas such as could be
bought for a stick of tobacco, and put it on the verandah saying it was
her return present for what had been done for her husband. At least she
had been grateful, but one could not help the remark, “if that is the
value she puts upon her husband’s life, then husbands must be cheap in
this part of the world.”

Rarely indeed is there active opposition when medical help is offered,
but occasionally it has shown itself, and could then be traced to
sorcery. A child had been badly burnt but not brought up to have its
wounds dressed, and consequently they got very foul, and the mother
feared the child would die. Then she brought it to me, and when asked
why she had not done so before said the child’s grandmother had objected
because the spirits which dwelt in her round stone were angry, and did
not want the white man to have anything to do with the child.

It is doubtful if in the native mind the idea of doctoring has yet been
separated from that of sorcery. An ulcer may have been eating away the
flesh for months, but if the doctor will put his “muramura” (medicine)
upon it just once that will be enough; and one dose of medicine should
cure an attack of pleurisy even though the patient will sit out in the
rain at night to get cool.

The white man may work the cure, but the native leaning towards sorcery
is again shown in the patient going quietly away to the sorcerer, and
paying a good price to have the restoration to health approved and made
secure. Unfortunately the two systems do not always agree. After months
of attention I had nearly cleared up an ulcer that was eating a man’s
face away. A little more and the cure would have been complete, but the
patient went to the sorcerer for the finishing touches, and weeks later
returned to the village to die, with his face plastered with red clay.

One day some boys breathlessly announced that one of the numerous
Aisis in the village had been badly torn by a wild pig while hunting.
Fortunately the Government Doctor was in the village at the time, and he
took the case in hand, and despite all Aisi’s objections stitched up all
the wounds. For days the patient’s condition was critical, but he had all
the care I could give him and at last was out of danger. For at least
three months his wounds demanded daily attention, and during the whole
of that time I went to the village each day, and used up my whole stock
of lint and bandages. Doctors at home speak of their grateful patients.
Aisi would never qualify for that class. One day we were launching the
boat, or rather trying to, for we wanted just a little more help before
we could get her into the water. Aisi was standing looking on, having
quite recovered from his wounds, and I asked him to help us. I suppose
I ought not to have been hurt by his answer, but it had a sting in it he
little suspected, for looking at me he said, “What payment shall you give
me?”—and that after more than three months attention. It was one of those
times when words do not readily come. I said nothing, but thought the
more, and was relieved that one of the other men turned and reminded Aisi
of what I had done for him.

However, no matter if the Papuan does sometimes connect our medicine with
his sorcery; no matter if he is ungrateful according to our standards,
there is no doubt about the help given him in his time of need. It is a
bit of real practical Christianity he can understand and profit by, and
by its means it is possible to get into close personal touch with him,
and show him something of the spirit of Him who went about doing good to
the unthankful as well as the thankful.



In 1887 the natives of Moviavi made a raid upon the coast village of
Motumotu. Amongst those killed were Tauraki, the Rarotongan teacher at
Motumotu, and his child. Papua was then a British Protectorate and the
Government sent a party to Moviavi to inflict punishment for the raid and
murders. At the end of the next year Chalmers went to live for a time at
Motumotu, and Walker and I went to visit him. Till then there had been
no communication between Moviavi and Motumotu, though Chalmers had been
pleading for peace.

So much by way of introduction. Now for the story. One evening Lahari,
the fighting chief of Motumotu, and in those days one of the finest built
men I had ever seen, came to the house and had a long talk with Tamate
(Chalmers). Not knowing anything of the language we had to wait till
Lahari had gone, and then Tamate told us we were in for a good thing, as
an official “peace making” had been arranged between the two villages,
and we were invited to attend. The Mission teacher had been killed, so
the missionaries must be present at the burying of the hatchet, and join
in the peace. Details had to be arranged, but they would all be arranged
in a few days, and we should be informed when the day had been officially

It was something for new arrivals in the country to have the opportunity
of being present at such a function, and I for one looked forward eagerly
to the day. The notice duly arrived, and early one morning, accompanied
by the peace-loving old chief Hori, we started up the Williams River
in the whale boat. We were to take the “short cut,” and so soon turned
out of the main river into one of the many small streams which drain
the Delta. This narrowed so quickly that before long the boatmen had a
difficulty in keeping their oars clear of the banks, and the wonderful
vegetation, not content with the land, reached out over the stream till
meeting overhead it formed the nave of one of nature’s cathedrals. Sago
palms with fronds forty feet long predominated, but where the ground was
a little dryer cocoanut and areca palms abounded, and underneath them
flourished crotons, hybiscus, pandanus, all wreathed together by vines of
many kinds.

In time the stream became so narrow that rowing was impossible, and the
men taking hold of the trees pulled the boats along, while others made
use of the punting poles which had been put in the boat when we started.
After joining and going down one of the main streams for a time, we
turned into another narrow one on the other side.

So far we had seen nothing to indicate that anything special was
happening, but not long after entering the small stream we noticed fully
armed and painted natives watching us from behind the trees. Their
numbers increased the nearer we got to the village, and instead of hiding
behind the trees they fell in on either bank, and marched along as an
escort and joined the crowd awaiting us at the landing. What a landing
it was. For some distance the boat had been pulled through mud and
not water, and the prospect of getting over the side was anything but
inviting. I suppose the people saw us hesitating, for they got an old
canoe and pushed it out to the boat, and one at a time, in this, we were
dragged to firmer ground.

The procession that was then formed would have been the making of a
Lord Mayor’s Show. The three white men, though evidently the centre of
attraction, were very insignificant in their helmets and soiled white
clothes, but the natives more than made up what was lacking by their
display of paint, feathers and bright-coloured crotons, and the martial
element was supplied by the bows and arrows and clubs. The parrot house
at the Zoo would be peace itself compared with Moviavi at that hour.

First went Tamate with a native holding each hand, and closely followed
by the man who had turned light porter and taken his bag from the boat.
Walker was escorted by two more men, and his bag and umbrella proudly
carried behind him. Donisi came next, and behind him his traps, and all
around a shouting, surging mass of natives. In this way we were conducted
to a shaded platform and there presented with fine new young cocoanuts to
drink, while the people crowded round and examined us and our belongings,
and no doubt expressed their opinions very freely, only we could not
understand them. Tamate was presented with a pig, but as it was small,
and there was no time for killing and eating it then, it was earmarked by
cutting a hole in its ear and tying a strip of red handkerchief through,
and then put out at board till some future time when Tamate might need it.

Soon after Lahari arrived, and evidently there were troublesome points
to be settled, for a long and heated discussion followed, in which no
rules of debate were observed. Each man tried his best to make himself
heard above all the others. When matters had quieted down a little the
procession was reformed and we moved to another village. It seemed as
though we were beating the bounds of the proposed peace.

Early in the afternoon we began to move towards the boat, and though
there had been plenty to interest there had not been the demonstration I
had expected. I did not know what we were to see before sundown. The best
was reserved till last.

Partly walking through the stinking swamp and partly riding on the backs
of well oiled natives we reached the boat, and began the homeward journey.

On the way up in the morning we had seen Moviavi men watching us from
behind the trees, but now we found every vantage point occupied by fully
armed Motumotuans in all their best paint and feathers. The surprise, and
interest, increased when we reached the main stream and found it almost
blocked by canoes full of more people from Motumotu. Two of the largest
were “manned” by Amazons with a uniform of bright-red paint. We decided
to see the matter through, so drew to the bank near Lahari’s canoe.

It seemed as though they had been waiting for our arrival before
beginning the last act. Lahari shouted an order, and in a moment the
scene was one never to be forgotten. Intense excitement prevailed. Drums
sounded all along the line, and conch shells blown lustily added to the
din and shout that greeted the appearance of nine double canoes. Dashing
round the bend, down with the swift current they came, as fast as twenty
pairs of strong arms could drive them through the water. The men at the
paddles were standing to their work, and the platforms between each
pair of canoes were crowded with other men, some drumming for all they
were worth, and others with their arrows drawn to the head, threatening
all sides in turn. After passing the boat they altered their course, and
charged on to the low land at the mouth of the creek leading to Moviavi.
In a moment, as though by magic, the Moviavians swarmed on to the scene,
ready to repel the attacking force. The scene beggars description.

A dangerously realistic sham fight took place, and all semblance of a
peace-making vanished. Hori became anxious and explained that if only
one man let his arrow slip from the bow the fight would be real and not
sham. By means of much shouting and rushing about in company with other
leading men, he managed to restore some sort of order, and more quietly
and more slowly the leading canoes filed past the boat and made their way
up stream.

All told nearly seventy canoes had put in an appearance from Motumotu,
and the crews ranged from twenty to forty. Many had some distinguishing
badge, as in the case of a crew of youths, each of whom had red hybiscus
flowers in the hair, and green and yellow crotons waving from their
armlets, waist-belts, knees and ankles.

[Illustration: THE KAIVA-KUKU.

_See page 180._]

[Illustration: NATIVE SURGERY.

_See page 181._]


_See page 183._]

[Illustration: SMILES.]

The last we saw was a very noisy exchange of Motumotu shell-fish for
Moviavi sago, and it made old Hori more anxious than ever to get his
crowd away and start safely on the homeward journey. Some of his young
men seemed bent on a row, for he heard one telling a Moviavi man, in very
strong language, that his sago was only fit for pigs to eat, and that he
was not a pig.

We were delayed by our anchor getting foul of a log, and before it was
cleared Hori had the satisfaction of seeing the last canoe vanish round
the bend on the homeward way. Whether the crew of Amazons had very
particular friends amongst the men in our boat, or whether they simply
wished to show off before the white men, I know not, but their canoe
flashed past us in grand style. Twelve paddles on either side, rising and
falling with the regularity of a machine, made her travel grandly. Each
stroke seemed almost to lift her out of the water, and our whale boat was
soon left behind.

That we had had a field day there was no mistake, but there had been
little to suggest a peace-making, and as we returned quietly down the
Williams River in the evening, many were the questions Tamate was asked
to put to Hori.

“How long had the two tribes been on unfriendly terms?”

“For six rounds of the seasons,” replied Hori.

“Would the peace be lasting?”

“He did not know, as there were many in both villages who did not want

“Why had there been such a warlike display?”

“Just to show that each was a strong village.”

“Why had the nine canoe-loads of fighting men charged on to the bank at
the mouth of the creek, as though bent on attacking Moviavi, and why had
the Moviavi men pretended to drive them back into the river?”

The idea of peace had originated with Motumotu, and their men wanted to
show the Moviavians that though they had suggested peace they had not
done so because they were unable to attack and pay off old scores. On the
other hand the inland men had to let those from the coast know that if
they did attack they would receive a warm welcome and be repulsed. On a
big scale they had been acting out the small boy’s talk “I am not going
to fight you, but do not think it is because I cannot fight, nor because
I am afraid of you.”

There was one incident which was not referred to till we met at breakfast
the next morning, then Tamate remarked, “Boys, you must remember to be
thankful this morning, for it was just a question whether we were to get
away from Moviavi yesterday with our lives.”

This was news to us. We had seen plenty of excitement, and heard noise
enough to last for a long time, but not a hint that possibly that day
might be our last. You may be sure we were all attention, and that we
wanted the particulars from Tamate.

“Well there is not much to tell,” he said, “and even if they had
killed us I do not think we could have blamed them very much. When
the Government punished them for the raid and murder some of their
people were shot, and all along they had been against peace being
re-established. They refused to have anything to do with yesterday’s
demonstration. Their account was unsettled and they were dissatisfied.

“Do you remember what happened when we were sitting on the platform
drinking cocoanuts? You probably saw, as I did, that Tima (one of the
teachers) jumped up hurriedly and went on to the platform of the big
Dubu in front of us, but you would not understand what he called to me
in Rarotongan. It was a warning to look out, as the men were covering
our party with their arrows, and advice to clear out while he obstructed
their aim by walking about in front of them. Lahari, too, saw what the
men were up to, and hurried us away to the second village. Tima and the
other teachers were all right, as the score was marked up against the
white men, and not against them.”

Tamate is dead, Hori is dead, Lahari is dead, but the peace they all
helped to establish has never been broken, and the last time I was at
Moviavi we stayed in a Samoan teacher’s house and met many of the men at
the service in the church, and heard their children read words of peace
in the school.


Some Pictures of Life


Ume Nou was at one time a teacher at Orokolo, but his wife died and he
returned to his native village of Delena. When the picture was taken
he had not turned scientist and found part of one of those wonderful
creatures with the wonderful long name, that lived so long ago, but was
holding the lower and part of the upper jaw of one of their relations.

Crocodiles are too plentiful for comfort round Delena, and a long chapter
could be written about the people they have carried off. One morning I
saw a great brute snatch away two girls who were bathing in front of the
Mission house, and though after a couple of hours chase the bodies were
recovered, the crocodile got away. Later two of the Mission boys were
fishing at night. There was a rush, a splash, and the one boy saw his
companion snatched from the canoe by a crocodile.

Crab-hunting seems a sport without much danger in it, but one day when
some Delena women were chasing the crabs amongst the mangroves which come
to the water’s edge on one side of the village, they heard one of their
party scream, and turning saw that a crocodile had managed to get hold of
her. The struggle was desperate, but they could do nothing to help and to
their dismay saw their companion carried into the water in a deep hole.

As quickly as possible news was brought to the village, and Ume went out
armed with a shot gun. He could see no trace of either the woman or the
crocodile, but while standing on a log so as to get a better view of the
pool, had a surprise that would have made most men lose their heads.
Right at his feet the head of the crocodile shot up out of the water,
and the wicked-looking jaws made a snap at him. There was no time to
bring the gun to his shoulder, and as he lowered it the muzzle struck the
forehead of the crocodile. Ume pulled the trigger and, I should imagine,
for the first time a big crocodile was killed by No. 4 shot fired from an
ordinary fowling-piece. The discharge blew away the top of the creature’s
head, and that accounts for Ume having only part of the top jaw in his


Think of a cold, raw morning at home and a fire wanted in the kitchen,
but before you can have it, or the cup of tea you are after, two
suitable pieces of wood have to be found, cut into the required shape,
and then the one rubbed on the other till a spark is obtained. The spark
has to be transferred to something that will readily burn, and then blown
into a flame. Slower work this, even, than the flint and steel and the
brimstone match of our ancestors, but it is the way the Papuan has to get
his fire, if his own has gone out, and he cannot beg a fire stick from a

In the picture you can see Miria going through the first stage of the
process, and judging by the tension of the muscles, and the compressed
lips, he finds it none too easy.

The story of the origin of fire varies in different parts of the country,
but as far as I know, man is always indebted to the dog for procuring it.
The Motu people say he got it by swimming out to sea, but at Delena the
story is that he had to go inland for it.

Haiavaha was a great creature with long reaching arms, who lived in the
hills where he jealously guarded the fire. The men living on the coast
knew they could not steal the fire for themselves so called a meeting of
the animals. Who the spokesman was is not known, but he first addressed
himself to the pig—

“Will you go and steal some of Haiavaha’s fire?”

“It is no good my going. You know I always grunt when I find a root fit
to eat as I am walking through the bush.”

“Will you try, wallaby? You can jump well, and when Haiavaha tries to
catch you you can jump over his arms.”

“I cannot go, for he would hear me long before I got near the fire. Each
time I jump I come down with a thud on the ground. I cannot go quietly.”

“Cassowary, can you help us?”

“No, I cannot, for I stand so high that Haiavaha would see my head above
the grass long before I got to the fire.”

As a last hope the spokesman turned to the dog, and appealed to him to
make the attempt.

“I will try,” said the dog, “and I might succeed but for my habit of
crying out. If I find nothing on the way to make me break my resolve to
keep my mouth shut, I hope I shall return with the fire.”

Fortunately he was able to keep his mouth shut, till he opened it to
close upon the end of a fire stick. Then Haiavaha awoke, and out went his
long arms in a wide sweep to the right and then to the left, but the dog
had been too quick, and with a mocking howl (they cannot bark) he shouted
out, “I have your fire. You should not have gone to sleep.”

The people on the coast were of course delighted, and told the dog that
as a reward he should always live with them in their houses and sleep by
the fire. Most seriously they say it must all be true, for to this day
the dog is man’s companion and does always sleep by the fire.


Who knows what led to the invention of the blow-pipe in the old world?
Did our remote ancestors want to hollow out a log to make a drum, in the
days before Sheffield tools were made, and have to invent some means of
doing it?

The Papuan made his drum from the solid log before he had seen steel
tools, and now that he has seen them he still uses his blow-pipe.

The picture shows the drum in the process of making, and the completed

A piece of a particularly hard wood is cut and stood on end, and on top
a few pieces of live charcoal are placed. With the help of the reed
blow-pipe the charcoal is kept glowing, and the fire directed, while a
shell of water is handy in case the burning proceeds more rapidly than is
required in any one direction.

The process is repeated at the other end, and when complete the inside
of the log looks like an hour glass. That accomplished, the shaping of
the outside is a simpler matter, but, before the introduction of steel, a
laborious one, as all the cutting had to be done with stone implements.
Hatchets and knives now expedite matters, but the old native file is
still used. A strip of shark skin is, while wet, stretched round a
piece of wood, and when it has dried and shrunk it looks like an emery
stick, and rasps away the wood in fine style. For the final smoothing
off nature has provided the Papuan with a complete substitute for glass
paper. A long lance-like leaf grows plentifully near the village, and has
a surface equal to No. 1 glass paper and just as useful and lasting.


It was just an ordinary stone about the size of a swede turnip, with
nothing particular in size, shape or colour to distinguish it from many
another in the bed of a mountain stream, but it had held a whole village
in terror, and would have compelled all, men women and children, to spend
at least one night in the bush but for Matareu the teacher.

The village was Groi at Nara, and late one afternoon Poe Ava, wanting
some food, went to his garden, but found some one had been there before
him, and had cleared off with what he and his family had expected to
eat. Poe had no intention of taking that quietly, so hastening back to
the village he began a long oration about the wrong he had suffered, and
wound up with the threat that he knew where to find the sorcery stone
which had belonged to his family for so long, and he would bring it to
the village and call upon its spirit Aikaika. He was the master and
maker of the thunder, and would send it with lightning and rain and
demolish the village, as a punishment for the theft.

Excitement soon reigned in the village. Women gathered food and valuables
into their kiapas (the large netted bag) and got ready to hide in the
bush. The children catching the spirit of fright began to cry, and the
dogs joined in with their dismal howl. They always do when there is any

Queen Koloka carried to Matareu the teacher news of the terrible threat,
but it made little impression on him, and in a few minutes he was in the
village trying to prevent the exodus, and put courage into the people. By
promising that he would go and see the stone he so far succeeded that few
of the people left the village, but that night there was no laughter, and
no children were playing round about the houses.

Poe tried to magnify the size of this terrible stone, as he had the evils
that would follow its introduction into the village. He was sure it was
far too heavy for Matareu to lift, but when he found Matareu determined
to see the matter through, he promised to take him to the hiding-place in
the morning.

When the morning came, of all in the village only one, a young fellow
who had lived with the teacher for some years, had courage enough to
risk seeing the stone. Matareu, Poe and this boy started off, and in
time halted near a big tree. Then exaggeration number one was exploded,
for the stone was found to be small enough to be put into a cracked

“There is the stone,” said Poe, “but you must not touch it, if you do
your hand will shrivel up; but if that boy touches it he will die on the

“We will see,” answered Matareu, and going to the pot he turned the stone
out on the ground.

That was too much for Poe, and he took to his heels, but from a distance
seeing that nothing dreadful happened to Matareu, and hearing him
calling, he returned.

Matareu is a real believer in prayer, and, there under the shadow of the
big tree, with the broken cooking-pot, and the sorcery stone at his feet,
and Poe and the boy standing by, he offered a prayer that light might
come to Poe and that he might know there was but one God, not Aikaika,
but Jehovah.

The stone came to the village, but it was Matareu who carried it. The
people were again ready to run when they saw it in his hand, but he
called that it had done him no harm and would do them none, and with
that sent it bounding over the uneven ground. He was in his element.
Determined to show that the stone was a stone, and nothing more, he
put it in the fire where his food was being cooked, and still nothing
dreadful happened. Later he placed it on the verandah of his house, but
the house remained safe and those in it were not sick, and gradually the
fear of the people wore away, and they would sit on the same verandah
with this representative of Aikaika, but none would touch it.

Matareu’s baby girl succeeded where her father had failed. She had no
fear of the stone, and as it was fairly round she started it rolling
along the boards, until it rolled off the verandah. The little one
followed it to the ground, and her little playmates there joining in,
they rolled that much-feared stone all over the place, and had a grand
time. Their parents called to them to leave the stone alone or it would
hurt them, but their reply was, “It had not hurt Matoakana, and will not
hurt us.”

The little child had led the rising generation at Nara out from the
bondage of fear of the stone and its master the dreaded Aikaika.


What would you say if you saw the original of the above picture doing
the rounds in your town instead of “The Gentleman in Blue?” and yet I
do not know any better description of the Kaiva-Kuku than to say he is
the village policeman. It is his duty to look after the cocoanuts when
they have been gathered and are accumulating in the village for a feast,
and like the policeman at home he has his beat. You could not find him
further east than Hisiu, nor further west than Maipua.

But who is he, or what is he? The who is a man. The what is a big mask.
The “who” gets inside the “what” in the club house so that no one in the
village can identify him. He then struts about armed with his big stick,
and uses it freely if he finds any one stealing cocoanuts. The people
cannot retaliate for the Kaiva-Kuku is sacred, and they do not know who
is inside, and so cannot spot him when he has not got his uniform on.

The women and children are all very frightened when the Kaiva-Kuku
is seen, and the men at Hisiu took advantage of this, and sent the
Kaiva-Kuku out when they saw women and children coming along the beach
from fishing. In their hurried flight the fish was all dropped and Mr.
Kaiva-Kuku picked it up and took it to the club, where the men enjoyed
it; but that was the end of the Kaiva-Kuku at Hisiu, for the Magistrate
ordered the masks to be burnt and no more made.


For most ailments the Papuan uses the old-fashioned remedy of bleeding.
All sorts of pains in all parts of the body are supposed to be relieved
by blood-letting, and the operation was usually performed by slightly
cutting the skin with a shell, but now they have taken a step in advance
and use a piece of glass. For headache, however, another instrument is
used. Tima had been walking in the sun all day, and said his head ached,
and Aisi acted doctor. He made a little bow and arrow, tipping the latter
with a fragment of glass, and then, at very close quarters so that he
did not miss his mark, nor lose hold of his arrow, he repeatedly fired
at Tima’s forehead. In this case not much blood was lost, but I have
heard of cases where half a pint has been withdrawn before the cure was
considered complete.


The Aim

I have tried to make the Papuans real to you by stories of their daily
lives, their vices and their virtues, their many fears and their few
hopes, and want you to understand that they are men and women, and boys
and girls who have their lives to live. They are not “something” to
be laughed at, as many travellers seem to think, or exploited to put
dividends into the pockets of investors in new companies.

I have tried to show you how we are helping the Papuan to live a fuller
and better life than his father did. There is no talk about a finished
article. You cannot make a Christian and a gentleman out of a savage
as you can make a pair of boots, and say as you put them on the shelf,
“There is the finished article worth so much.”

The Papuan may be turned in the right direction, but even then it means a
long stiff climb, with many a backward slip. He needs all the help we can
give him, by preaching, by schools, by industrial training, by constant
watching and advising, even after he has learnt that there is ONE who
came into the world to bring a message and a power that should touch
man’s life at every point.

Some of the men and women I have told you about know this message, and
are trying, as you and I are trying, to live up to their knowledge, but
they deserve your sympathy. It is not an easy matter for them to rise.
I have given you more than one story to show how the call of the old
heathen life is always sounding in their ears and hearts.

To enlist your sympathy and help for those who know a little, and for the
many who remain who have never heard of the message, is the aim of these
Papuan Pictures.

“_Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren,
ye have done it unto Me._”

_Printed by BUTLER & TANNER, Frome and London._

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