Wanderings Among South Sea Savages And in Borneo and the Philippines
By H. Wilfrid Walker Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society With forty-eight plates from photographs by the author and others
London Witherby & Co. 1909
To My brother Charles This record of my wanderings in which he took so deep an interest, is affectionately dedicated.
In a book of this kind it is often the custom to begin by making apologies. In my case I feel it to be a sheer necessity. In the first place what is here printed is for the greater part copied word for word from private letters that I wrote in very simple language in Dayak or Negrito huts, or in the lonely depths of tropical forests, in the far-off islands of the Southern Seas. I purposely made my letters home as concise as possible, so that they could be easily read, and in consequence have left out much that might have been interesting. It is almost unnecessary to mention that when I wrote these letters I had no thought whatever of writing a book. If I had thought of doing so, I might have mentioned more about the customs, ornaments and weapons of the natives and have written about several other subjects in greater detail. As it is, a cursory glance will show that this book has not the slightest pretence of being "scientific." Far from its being so, I have simply related a few of the more interesting incidents, such as would give a general impression of my life among savages, during my wanderings in many parts of the world, extending over nearly a score of years. I should like to have written more about my wanderings in North Borneo, as well as in Samoa and Celebes and various other countries, but the size of the book precludes this. My excuse for publishing this book is that certain of my relatives have begged me to do so. Though I was for the greater part of the time adding to my own collections of birds and butterflies, I have refrained as much as possible from writing on these subjects for fear that they might prove tedious to the general reader. I have also touched but lightly on the general customs of the people, as this book is not for the naturalist or ethnologist, nor have I made any special study of the languages concerned, but have simply jotted down the native words here used exactly as I heard them. As regards the photographs, some of them were taken by myself while others were given me by friends whom I cannot now trace. In a few cases I have no note from whom they were got, though I feel sure they were not from anyone who would object to their publication. In particular, I may mention Messrs. G. R. Lambert, Singapore; John Waters, Suva, Fiji; Kerry & Co., Sydney; and G. O. Manning, New Guinea. To these and all others who have helped me I now tender my heartiest thanks. I have met with so much help and kindness during my wanderings from Government officials and others that if I were here to mention all, the list would be a large one. I shall therefore have to be content with only mentioning the principal names of those in the countries I have here written about.
In Fiji:—Messrs. Sutherland, John Waters, and McOwan.
In New Guinea:—Sir Francis Winter, Mr. C. A. W. Monckton, R.M., The Hon. A. Musgrave, Capt. Barton, Mr. Guy O. Manning, and Dr. Vaughan.
In the Philippines:—Governor Taft, afterwards President of the United States, and Mr. G. d'E. Browne.
In British North Borneo:—Messrs. H. Walker, Richardson, Paul Brietag, F. Durege, J. H. Molyneux, and Dr. Davies.
In Sarawak:—H.H. The Rajah, Sir Charles Brooke, Sir Percy Cunninghame, Dr. Hose, Archdeacon Sharpe, Mr. R. Shelford, and the officials of The Borneo Company, Ltd.
To all of these and many others in other countries I take this opportunity of publicly tendering my cordial thanks for their unfailing kindness and hospitality to a wanderer in strange lands.
H. Wilfrid Walker.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Frontispiece—Belles of Papua. A Chief's Daughter and a Daughter of the People A "Meke-Meke," or Fijian Girls' Dance Interior of a large Fijian Hut A Fijian Mountaineer's House At the Door of a Fijian House A Fijian Girl Spearing Fish in Fiji A Fijian Fisher Girl A Posed Picture of an old-time Cannibal Feast in Fiji Making Fire by Wood Friction An Old ex-Cannibal A Fijian War-Dance Adi Cakobau (pronounced "Andi Thakombau"), the highest Princess in Fiji, at her house at Navuso A Filipino Dwelling A Village Street in the Philippines A River Scene in the Philippines A Negrito Family Negrito Girls (showing Shaved Head at back) A Negrito Shooting Tree Climbing by Negritos A Negrito Dance Arigita and his Wife Three Cape Nelson Kaili-Kailis in War Attire Kaili-Kaili House on the edge of a Precipice "A Great Joke" A Ghastly Relic Cannibal Trophies A Woman and her Baby A Papuan Girl The Author with Kaili-Kaili Followers Wives of Native Armed Police A Papuan Damsel Busimaiwa, the great Mambare Chief, with his Wife and Son (in the Police) A Haunt of the Bird of Paradise The Author starting on an Expedition A New Guinea River Scene Papuan Tree-Houses A Village of the Agai Ambu H. W. Walker, L. Dyke-Acland, and C. A. W. Monckton View of Kuching from the Rajah's Garden Dayaks and Canoes Dayak in War-Coat Dayak Women and Children on the Platform outside a long House Dayaks Catching Fish A Dayak Woman with Mourning Ornaments round waist On a Tobacco Estate On a Bornean River
Life in the Home of a Fijian Prince.
Life in the Home of a Fijian Prince.
Journey to Taviuni—Samoan Songs—Whistling for the Wind—Landing on Koro—Nabuna—Samoans and Fijians Compared—Fijian Dances and Angona Drinking—A Hurricane in the Southern Seas—Arrival at Taviuni—First Impressions of Ratu Lala's Establishment—Character of Ratu Lala—Prohibition of Cricket—Ratu Lala Offended—The Prince's Musical Box.
Among all my wanderings in Fiji I think I may safely say that my two months' stay with Ratu (Prince) Lala, on the island of Taviuni, ranks highest both for interest and enjoyment. As I look back on my life with this great Fijian prince and his people, it all somehow seems unreal and an existence far apart from the commonplace life of civilization. When I was in Suva (the capital) the colonial secretary gave me a letter of introduction to Ratu Lala, and so one morning I sailed from Suva on an Australian steamer, taking with me my jungle outfit and a case of whisky, the latter a present for the Prince,—and a more acceptable present one could not have given him.
After a smooth passage we arrived the same evening at Levuka, on the island of Ovalau. After a stay of a day here, I sailed in a small schooner which carried copra from several of the Outlying islands to Levuka. Her name was the Lurline, and her captain was a Samoan, whilst his crew was made up of two Samoans and four Fijians. The captain seemed to enjoy yelling at his men in the Fijian language, with a strong flavouring of English "swear words," and spoke about the Fijians in terms of utter contempt, calling them "d——d cannibals." The cabin wag a small one with only two bunks, and swarmed with green beetles and cockroaches. Our meals were all taken together on deck, and consisted of yams, ship's biscuit and salt junk.
We had a grand breeze to start with, but toward evening it died down and we lay becalmed. All hands being idle, the Samoans spent the time in singing the catchy songs of Samoa, most of which I was familiar with from my long stay in those islands, and their delight was great when I joined in. About midnight a large whale floated calmly alongside, not forty yards from our little schooner, and we trembled to think what would happen if it was at all inclined to be playful. We whistled all the next day for a breeze, but our efforts were not a success until toward evening, when we were rewarded in a very liberal manner, and arrived after dark at the village of Cawa Lailai,  on the island of Koro. On our landing quite a crowd of wild-looking men and women, all clad only in sulus, met us on the beach. Although it is a large island, there is only one white man on it, and he far away from here, so no doubt I was an interesting object. I put up at the hut of the "Buli" or village chief, and after eating a dish of smoking yams, I was soon asleep, in spite of the mosquitoes. It dawned a lovely morning and I was soon afoot to view my surroundings. It was a beautiful village, surrounded by pretty woods on all sides, and I saw and heard plenty of noisy crimson and green parrots everywhere. I also learnt that a few days previously there had been a wholesale marriage ceremony, when nearly all the young men and women had been joined in matrimony.
Taking a guide with me, I walked across the island till I came to the village of Nabuna,  on the other coast, the Lurline meanwhile sailing around the island. It was a hard walk, up steep hills and down narrow gorges, and then latterly along the coast beneath the shade of the coconuts. Fijian bridges are bad things to cross, being long trunks of trees smoothed off on the surface and sometimes very narrow, and I generally had to negotiate them by sitting astride and working myself along with my hands. In the village of Nabuna lived the wife and four daughters of the Samoan captain. He told me he had had five wives before, and when I asked if they were all dead, he replied that they were still alive, but he had got rid of them as they were no good.
The daughters were all very pretty girls, especially the youngest, a little girl of nine years old. I always think that the little Samoan girls, with their long wavy black hair, are among the prettiest children in the world.
We had an excellent supper of native oysters, freshwater prawns and eels, fish, chicken, and many other native dishes. That evening a big Fijian dance ("meke-meke"), was given in my honour. Two of the captain's daughters took part in it. The girls sit down all the time in a row, and wave their hands and arms about and sing in a low key and in frightful discord. It does not in any way come up to the very pretty "siva-siva" dancing of the Samoans, and the Fiji dance lacks variety. There is a continual accompaniment of beating with sticks on a piece of wood. All the girls decorate themselves with coloured leaves, and their bodies, arms and legs glisten as in Samoa with coconut-oil, really a very clean custom in these hot countries, though it does not look prepossessing. Our two Samoans in the crew were most amusing; they came in dressed up only in leaves, and took off the Fijians to perfection with the addition of numerous extravagant gestures. I laughed till my sides ached, but the Fijians never even smiled. However, our Samoans gave them a bit of Samoan "siva-siva" and plenty of Samoan songs, and it was amusing to see the interest the Fijians took in them. It was, of course, all new to them. I drank plenty of "angona," that evening. It is offered you in a different way in Samoa. In Fiji, the man or girl, who hands you the coconut-shell cup on bended knee, crouches at your feet till you have finished. In Fijian villages a sort of crier or herald goes round the houses every night crying the orders for the next day in a loud resonant voice, and at once all talking ceases in the hut outside which he happens to be.
The next two days it blew a regular hurricane, and the captain dared not venture out to sea, our schooner lying safely at anchor inside the coral reef. I have not space to describe my stay here, but it proved most enjoyable, and the captain's pretty Samoan daughters gave several "meke-mekes" (Fijian dances) in my honour, and plenty of "angona" was indulged in, and what with feasts, native games and first-class fishing inside the coral reef, the time passed all too quickly. I called on the "Buli" or village chief, with the captain. He was a boy of fifteen, and seemed a very bashful youth.
We sailed again about five a.m. on the third morning, as the storm seemed to be dying down and the captain was anxious to get on. We had not gone far, however, before the gale increased in fury until it turned into a regular hurricane. First our foresheet was carried away; this was followed by our staysail, and things began to look serious, in fact, most unpleasantly so. The captain almost seemed to lose his head, and cursed loud and long. He declared that he had been a fool to put out to sea before the storm had gone down, and the Lurline, being an old boat, could not possibly last in such a storm, and added that we should all be drowned. This was not pleasant news, and as the cabin was already half-full of water, and we expected each moment to be our last, I remained on deck for ten weary hours, clinging like grim death to the ropes, while heavy seas dashed over me, raking the little schooner fore and aft.
Toward evening, however, the wind subsided considerably, which enabled us to get into the calm waters of the Somo-somo Channel between the islands of Vanua Levu and Taviuni.
The wreckage was put to rights temporarily, the Samoans, who had previously made up their minds that they were going to be drowned, burst forth into their native songs, and we broke our long fast of twenty-four hours, as we had eaten nothing since the previous evening. It was an experience I am not likely to forget, as it was the worst storm I have ever been in, if I except the terrible typhoon of October, 1903, off Japan, when I was wrecked and treated as a Russian spy. On this occasion a large Japanese fishing fleet was entirely destroyed. I was, of course, soaked to the skin and got badly bruised, and was once all but washed overboard, one of the Fijians catching hold of me in the nick of time. We cast anchor for the night, though we had only a few miles yet to go, but this short distance took us eight or nine hours next day, as this channel is nearly always calm. We had light variable breezes, and tacked repeatedly, but gained ground slowly. These waters seemed full of large turtles, and we passed them in great numbers. We overhauled a large schooner, and on hailing them, the captain, a white man, came on deck. He would hardly believe that we had been all through the storm. He said that he had escaped most of it by getting inside the coral reef round Vanua Levu, but even during the short time he had been out in the storm, he had had to throw the greater part of his cargo overboard. From the way he spoke, he had evidently been drinking, possibly trying to forget his lost cargo.
Before I left Fiji I heard that the Lurline had gone to her last berth. She was driven on to a coral reef in a bad storm off the coast of Taviuni. The captain seemed to stand in much fear of Ratu Lala. He told me many thrilling yarns about him; said he robbed his people badly, and added that he did not think that I would get on well with him, and would soon be anxious to leave.
I landed at the large village of Somo-somo, glad to be safely on terra firma once more. It was a pretty village, with a large mountain torrent dashing over the rocks in the middle of it. The huts were dotted about irregularly on a natural grass lawn, and large trees, clumps of bamboo, coconuts, bread-fruit trees, and bright-coloured "crotons" added a great deal to the picturesqueness of the village. At the back the wooded hills towered up to a height of nearly 4,000 feet, and white streaks amid the mountain woods showed where many a fine waterfall tumbled over rocky precipices.
Ratu Lala lived in a wooden house, built for him (as "Roko" for Taviuni), by the government, on the top of a hill overlooking the village, and thither on landing I at once made my way. I found the Prince slowly recovering from an attack of fever, and lying on a heap of mats (which formed his bed) on the floor of his own private room, which, however, greatly resembled an old curiosity shop. Everything was in great disorder, and piles of London Graphics and other papers littered the ground, and on the tables were piled indiscriminately clocks, flasks, silver cups, fishing rods, guns, musical boxes, and numerous other articles which I discovered later on were presents from high officials and other Europeans, and which he did not know what to do with. Nearly every window in the house had a pane of glass  broken, the floors were devoid of mats or carpets, and in places were rotten and full of holes. This will give some idea of the state of chaos that reigned in the Prince's "palace."
Ratu Lala himself was a tall, broad-shouldered man of about forty, his hair slightly grey, with a bristly moustache and a very long sloping forehead. Though dignified, he wore an extremely fierce expression, so much so that I instinctively felt his subjects had good cause to treat him with the respect and fear that I had heard they gave him. He belongs to the Fijian royal family, and though he does not rank as high as his cousin, Ratu Kandavu Levu, whom I also visited at Bau, he is infinitely more powerful, and owns more territory. His father was evidently a "much married man" since Ratu Lala himself told me that he had had "exactly three hundred wives." But in spite of this he had been a man of prowess, as the Fijians count it, and I received as a present from Ratu Lala a very heavy hardwood war-club that had once belonged to his father, and which, he assured me, had killed a great many people. Ratu Lala also told me that he himself had offered to furnish one hundred warriors to help the British during the last Egyptian war, but that the government had declined his offer. One of the late Governors of Fiji, Sir John Thurston, was once his guardian and, godfather. He was educated for two years in Sydney, Australia, and spoke English well, though in a very thick voice. Not only does he hold sway over the island of Taviuni, but also over some smaller islands and part of the large island of Vanua Levu. He also holds the rank of "Roko" from the government, for which he is well paid.
After reading my letter of introduction he asked me to stay as long as I liked, and he called his head servant and told him to find me a room. This servant's name was Tolu, and as he spoke English fairly well, I soon learned a great deal about Ratu Lala and his people.
Ratu Lala was married to a very high-caste lady who was closely related to the King of Tonga, and several of whose relatives accompanied us on our expeditions. By her he had two small children named Tersi (boy) and Moe (girl), both of whom, during my stay (as will hereafter appear) were sent to school at Suva, amid great lamentations on the part of the women of Ratu Lala's household. Two months before my visit Ratu Lala had lost his eldest daughter (by his Tongan wife). She was twelve years old, and a favourite of his, and her grave was on a bluff below the house, under a kind of tent, hung round with fluttering pieces of "tapa" cloth. Spread over it was a kind of gravel of bright green Stones which he had had brought from a long distance. Little Moe and Tersi were always very interested in watching me skin my birds, and their exclamation of what sounded like "Esa!" ("Oh look!") showed their enjoyment. They were two of the prettiest little children I think I have ever seen, but they did not know a word of English, and called me "Misi Walk." They and their mother always took their meals sitting on mats in the verandah. Ratu Lala had two grown-up daughters by other wives, but they never came to the house, living in an adjoining hut where I often joined them at a game of cards. They were both very stately and beautiful young women, with a haughty bearing which made me imagine that they were filled with a sense of their own importance.
As is well known all over Fiji, Ratu Lala, a few years before my stay with him, had been deported in disgrace for a term of several months, to the island of Viti Levu, where he would be under the paternal eye of the government. This was because he had punished a woman, who had offended him, by pegging her down on an ants' nest, first smearing her all over with honey, so that the ants would the more readily eat her.  She recovered afterwards, but was badly eaten. As regards his punishment, he told me that he greatly enjoyed his exile, as he had splendid fishing, and some of the white people sent him champagne.
His people were terribly afraid of him, and whenever they passed him as he sat on his verandah, they would almost go down on all fours. He told me how on one occasion when he was sitting on the upper verandah of the Club Hotel in Suva with two of his servants squatting near by, the whisky he had drunk had made him feel so sleepy, that he nearly fell into the street below, but his servants dared not lay hands on him to pull him back into safety, as his body was considered sacred by his people, and they dared not touch him. He declared to me that he would have been killed if a white man had not arrived just in time. He was very fond of telling me this story, and always laughed heartily over it. I noticed that Ratu Lala's servants treated me with a great deal of respect, and whenever they passed me in the house they would walk in a crouching attitude, with their heads almost touching the ground.
Ratu Lala's cousin, Ratu Kandavu Levu, is a very enthusiastic cricketer, and has a very good cricket club with a pavilion at his island of Bau. He plays many matches against the white club in Suva, and only last year he took an eleven over to Australia to tour that country. I learned that previous to my visit he had paid a visit to Ratu Lala, and while there had got up a match at Somo-somo in which he induced Ratu Lala to play, but on Ratu Lala being given out first ball for nought, he (Ratu Lala) pulled up the stumps and carried them off the ground, and henceforth forbade any of his people to play the game on the island of Taviuni. I was not aware of this, and as I had brought a bat and ball with me, I got up several games shortly after my arrival. However, one evening all refused to play, but gave no reasons for their refusal, but Tolu told me that his master did not like to have them play. Then I learned the reason, and from that time I noticed a decided coolness on the part of Ratu Lala toward me. The fact, no doubt, is that Ratu Lala being exceptionally keen on sport, this very keenness made him impatient of defeat, or even of any question as to a possible want of success on his part, as I afterwards learnt on our expedition to Ngamia.
I intended upon leaving Taviuni to return to Levuka, and from thence go by cutter to the island of Vanua Levu, and journey up the Wainunu River, plans which I ultimately carried out. Ratu Lala, however, wished me to proceed in his boat straight across to the island of Vanua Levu, and walk across a long stretch of very rough country to the Wainunu River. My only objection was that I had a large and heavy box, which I told Ratu Lala I thought was too large to be carried across country. He at once flew into a violent passion and declared that I spoke as if I considered he was no prince. "For," said he, "if ten of my subjects cannot carry your box I command one hundred to do so, and if one hundred of my subjects cannot carry your box I tell fifteen thousand of my subjects to do so." When I tried to picture fifteen thousand Fijians carrying my wretched box, it was altogether too much for my sense of humour, and I burst forth into a hearty roar of laughter, which so incensed the Prince that he shut himself up in his own room during the few remaining days of my stay.
He had a musical box, which he was very fond of, and he had a man to keep it going at all hours of the day and night. It played four tunes, among them "The Village Blacksmith," "Strolling 'Round the Town," and "Who'll Buy my Herrings" till at times they nearly drove me frantic, especially when I wanted to write or sleep. Night after night the tunes followed each other in regular routine till I thought I should get them on the brain. How he could stand it was a puzzle to me, especially as he had possessed it for many years. I often blessed the European who gave it him, and wished he could take my place.
Whenever a man wished to speak to Ratu Lala he would crouch at his feet and softly clap his hands, and sometimes Ratu Lala would wait several minutes before he deigned to notice him.
My Further Adventures with Ratu Lala.
Fijian Huts—Abundance of Game and Fish—Methods of Capture—A Fijian Practical Joke—Fijian Feasts—Fun after Dinner—A Court Jester in Fiji—Drinking, Dress, and Methods of Mourning—A Bride's Ringlets—Expedition to Vuna—Tersi and Moe Journey to School—Their Love of Sweets—Rough Reception of Visitors to Vuna—Wonderful Fish Caught—Exhibition of Surf-board Swimming by Women—Impressive Midnight Row back to Taviuni—A Fijian Farewell.
In comparison with Samoan huts, the Fijian huts were very comfortable, though they are not half as airy, Samoan huts being very open; but in most of the Fijian huts I visited the only openings were the doors, and, as can be imagined, the interior was rather dark and gloomy. In shape they greatly resembled a haystack, the sides being composed of grass or bunches of leaves, more often the latter. They are generally built on a platform of rocks, with doors upon two or more sides, according to the size of the hut; and a sloping sort of rough plank with notches on it leads from the ground to each door. In the interior, the sides of the walls are often beautifully lined with the stems of reeds, fashioned very neatly, and in some cases in really artistic patterns, and tied together with thin ropes of coconut fibre, dyed various colours, and often ornamented with rows of large white cowry shells. The floor of these huts is much like a springy mattress, being packed to a depth of several feet with palm and other leaves, and on the top are strips of native mats permanently fastened, whereas in Samoa the floor is made up of small pieces of brittle white coral, over which are loose mats, which can be moved at will. In Fijian huts there is always a sort of raised platform at one end of the hut, on which are piles of the best native mats, and, being the guest, I generally got this to myself. The roof inside is very finely thatched, the beams being of "Niu sau," a native palm,  the cross-pieces and main supports being enormous bits of hard wood. The smaller supports of the sides are generally the trunks of tree-ferns. The doors in most of the huts are a strip of native matting or fantastically-painted "tapa" cloth, fastened to two posts a few feet inside the hut. In some huts there are small openings in the walls which answer for windows. The hearth was generally near one of the doors in the centre of the hut, and fire was produced by rubbing a piece of hard wood on a larger piece of soft wood, and working it up and down in a groove till a spark was produced. I have myself successfully employed this method when out shooting green pigeon ("rupe") in the mountains.
With regard to food, I at first fared very well, although we had our meals at all hours, as Ratu Lala was very irregular in his habits. Our chief food was turtle. We had it so often that I soon loathed the taste of it. The turtles, when brought up from the sea were laid on their backs under a tree close by the house, and there the poor brutes were left for days together. Ratu Lala's men often brought in a live wild pig, which they captured with the aid of their dogs. At other times they would run them down and spear them; this was hard and exciting work, as I myself found on several occasions that I went pig hunting. One of the most remarkable things that I saw in Taviuni, from a sporting point of view, was the heart of a wild pig, which, when killed, was found to have lived with the broken point of a wooden spear fully four inches in length buried in the very centre of its heart. It had evidently lived for many years afterwards, and a curious kind of growth had formed round the point.
As for other game, every time I went out in the mountain woods I had splendid sport with the wild chickens or jungle fowl and pigeons, and I would often return with my guide bearing a long pole loaded at both ends with the birds I had shot. The pigeons, which were large birds, settled on the tops of the tallest trees and made a very peculiar kind of growling noise. Many years ago (as Ratu Lala told me) the natives of Taviuni had been in the habit of catching great quantities of pigeons by means of large nets suspended from the trees. The chickens would generally get up like a pheasant, and it was good sport taking a snap shot at an old cock bird on the wing. It was curious to hear them crowing away in the depths of the forest, and at first I kept imagining that I was close to some village. I also obtained some good duck shooting on a lake high up in the mountains, and Ratu Lala described to me what must be a species of apteryx, or wingless bird (like the Kiwi of New Zealand), which he said was found in the mountains and lived in holes in the ground, but I never came across it, though I had many a weary search. Ratu Lala also assured me that the wild chickens were indigenous in Fiji, and were not descended from the domestic fowl. We had plenty of fish, both salt and fresh water, and the mountain streams were full of large fish, which Ratu Lala, who is a keen fisherman, caught with the fly or grasshoppers. He sometimes caught over one hundred in a day, some of them over three pounds in weight. The streams were also full of huge eels and large prawns, and a kind of oyster was abundant in the sea, so what with wild pig, wild chickens, pigeons, turtles, oysters, prawns, crabs, eels, and fish of infinite variety, we fared exceedingly well. Oranges, lemons, limes, large shaddocks, "kavika," and other wild fruits were plentiful everywhere.
During my stay here in August and September the climate was delightful, and it was remarkably cool for the tropics. I often accompanied Ratu Lala on his fishing excursions, and he would often recount to me many of his escapades. On one occasion he told me that he had put a fish-hook through the lip of his jester, a little old man of the name of Stivani, and played him about with rod and reel like a fish, and had made him swim about in the water until he had tired him out, and then he added, "I landed the finest fish I ever got."
I added a good many interesting birds to my collection during my stay here, among them a dove of intense orange colour, one of the most striking birds I have ever seen. Plant life here was exceedingly beautiful and interesting, especially high up in the mountains, palms, pandanus, cycads, crotons, acalyphas, loranths, aroids, freycinetias, ferns and orchids being strongly represented, and among the latter may be mentioned a fine orange dendrobium and a pink calanthe. I found in flower a celebrated creeper, which Ratu Lala had told me to look out for. It had very showy red, white and blue flowers, and in the old days Ratu Lala told me that the Tongan people would come over in their canoes all the way from the Tonga Islands, nearly four hundred miles away, simply to get this flower for their dances, and when gathered, it would last a very long time without fading. I tried to learn the traditions about this flower, but Ratu Lala either did not know of any or else he was not anxious to tell me about them.
The coastal natives, like most South Sea Islanders, were splendid swimmers, but, so far as I was concerned, it was dangerous work bathing in the sea here, as man-eating sharks were very numerous, and during my stay I saw a Fijian carried ashore with both his legs bitten clean off.
Usually, when out on expeditions, we occupied the "Buli's" hut and lived on the fat of the land. At meal times quite a procession of men and women, glistening all over with coconut oil, would enter our hut bearing all sorts of native food, including fish in great variety, yams, octopus, turtle, sucking-pig, chicken, prawns, etc. They were brought in on banana and other large leaves, and we, of course, ate them with our fingers. Good as the food undoubtedly was, I was always glad when the meal was over, as it is very far from comfortable to sit with your legs doubled up under you. Afterwards I could hardly stand up straight, owing to cramp. I found it especially trying in Samoa, where one had to sit in this manner for hours during feasts, "kava"-drinking and "siva-sivas" (dances). Sometimes a glistening damsel would fan us with a large fan made out of the leaf of a fan palm,  which at times got rather in the way. I never got waited on better in my life. Directly I had finished one course a dozen girls were ready to hand me other dishes, and when I wanted a drink a girl immediately handed me a cup made out of the half-shell of a coconut filled with a kind of soup. We generally had an audience of fully fifty people, and when we had finished eating, a wooden bowl of water was handed to us in which to wash our hands. Ratu Lala would generally hand the bowl to me first, and I would wash my hands in silence, but directly he started to wash his hands, everyone present, including chiefs and attendants, would start clapping their hands in even time, then one man would utter a deep and prolonged "Ah-h," when the crowd would all shout together what sounded like "Ai on dwah," followed by more even clapping. I never learned what the words meant. In this respect Ratu Lala was most curiously secretive, and always evaded questions. Whenever he took a drink, a clapping of hands made me aware of the fact.
One day, when they had chanted after a meal as usual, Ratu Lala turned around to me and mimicked the way his jester or clown repeated it, and there was a general laugh. This jester, whose name was Stivani, was a little old man who was also jester to Ratu Lala's father. Ratu Lala had given him the nickname of "Punch," and made him do all sorts of ridiculous things—sing and dance and go through various contortions dressed up in bunches of "croton" leaves. He kept us all much amused, and was the life and soul of our party, but at times I caught the old fellow looking very weary and sad, as if he was tired of his office as jester.
The "angona" root (Piper methysticum) is first generally pounded, but is sometimes grated, and more rarely chewed by young maidens. It is then mixed with water in a large wooden bowl, and the remains of the root drawn out with a bunch of fibrous material. It is then ready for drinking.
On gala and festal occasions the Fijians were wonderfully and fantastically dressed up, their huge heads of hair thickly covered with a red or yellow powder, and they themselves wearing large skirts or "sulus" of coloured "tapa" and pandanus ribbons and necklaces of coloured seeds, shells, and pigs'-tusks. In out-of-the-way parts the "sulus" are still made of "tapa" cloth, and the women sometimes wear small fibrous aprons. They also often wear wild pigs'-tusks round their necks.
I noticed that many Fijian women were tattooed on the hands and arms, and at each corner of the mouth (a deep blue colour). Both men and women gave themselves severe wounds about the body, generally as a sign of grief on the death of some near relative. I once noticed a young girl of sixteen or seventeen with a very bad unhealed wound below one of her breasts, which was self-inflicted. Her father, a chief, had died only a short time previously. They often also cut off the little finger for similar reasons. Like the Samoans, the Fijians often cover their hair with white lime, and the effect of the sun bleaches the hair and changes it from black to a light gold or brown colour.
A marriageable young lady in Fiji would generally have a great quantity of long braided ringlets hanging down on one side of her head. This looked odd, considering that the rest of her hair was erect or frizzly. It was a great insult to have these ringlets cut. I heard of it once being done by a white planter, and great trouble and fighting were the result.
I accompanied Ratu Lala on several expeditions to various parts of the island, and we also visited several smaller islands within his dominions. On these occasions we always took possession of the "Buli's," or village chief's, hut, turning him out, and feeding on all the delicacies the village could produce. After we had practically eaten them out of house and home we would move on and take possession of another village. The inhabitants did not seem to mind this; in fact, they seemed to enjoy our visit, as it was an excuse for big feasts, "meke-mekes" (dances) and "angona" drinking.
One of the most enjoyable expeditions that I made with Ratu Lala was to Vuna, about twenty miles away to the south. A small steamer, the Kia Ora, which made periodical visits to the island to collect the government taxes in copra, arrived one day in the bay. Ratu Lala thought this would be a good opportunity for us to make a fishing expedition to Vuna. We went on board the steamer while our large boat was towed behind.
At the same time Ratu Lala's two little children, Moe and Tersi, started off, in charge of Ratu Lala's Tongan wife and other women, to be educated in Suva. It was the first time they had ever left home, but I agreed with Ratu Lala, that it was time they went, as they did not know a word of English, and, for the matter of that, neither did his Tongan wife. When we all arrived at the beach to get into the boat, we found a large crowd, chiefly women, sitting on the ground, and as Ratu Lala walked past them, they greeted him with a kind of salutation which they chanted as with one voice. I several times asked him what it meant, but he always evaded the question somehow, and seemed too modest to tell me. I came to the conclusion that it ran something like "Hail, most noble prince, live for ever." The next minute all the women started to howl as if at a given signal, and they looked pictures of misery. Several of them waded out into the sea and embraced little Tersi and Moe. This soon set the children crying as well, so that I almost began to fear that the combined tears would sink our boat. Their old grandmother waded out into the sea up to her neck and stayed there, and we could hear her howling long after we had got on board the steamer. When we got into Ratu Lala's boat at Vuna there was another very affecting farewell. Some months later when I returned to Suva, I asked a young chief, Ratu Pope, to show me where they were at school, and I found them at a small kindergarten for the children of the Europeans in Suva.
They seemed quite glad to see their old friend again, and still more so when I promised to bring them some lollies (the term used for sweets in Australasia) that afternoon.
When I returned I witnessed a pretty and interesting sight The two little children were standing out in the school yard while several Fijian men and women of noble families who had been paying the little prince and princess a visit, were just taking their leave. It was a curious sight to see these old people go in turn up to these two little mites and go down on their knees and kiss their little hands reverently in silence. All this homage seemed to bore the small high-born ones, and hardly was the ceremony over when they caught sight of me, and, rushing toward me with cries of "Misi Walk siandra, lollies," they nearly knocked over some of their visitors, who no doubt were greatly scandalized at such undignified behaviour.
To return to our visit to Vuna. Sometime previously, Ratu Lala had warned me that whenever he landed at this place with a visitor it was an old custom for the women to catch the visitor and throw him into the sea from the top of a small rocky cliff. To this I raised serious objections, but arrayed myself in very old thin clothes ready for the fray. However, upon landing, very much on the alert, I was agreeably surprised to find that the women left me alone. Yet in part Ratu Lala's story was true, as he assured me that quite recently he had been forced to put a stop to the custom, as one of his last visitors was a European of much importance who was greatly incensed at such treatment, and complained to the government, who told Ratu Lala that the custom must end.
We came to fish, and fish we did, just off the coral reef, but it would take space to describe even one-half of the curious and beautiful fish we caught. When I took the lead in the number of fish caught, Ratu Lala seemed greatly annoyed, and I was not sorry to let him get ahead, when he was soon in a good temper again. The Fijians generally fished with nets and a many-pronged fish-spear, with which they are very expert, and I saw them do wonderful work with them. They also used long wicker-work traps. Ratu Lala, on the contrary, being half-civilized, used an English rod and reel or line like a white man. Ratu Lala told the women here to give an exhibition of surf-board swimming for my benefit. As they rode into shore on the crest of a wave I many times expected to see them dashed against the rocks which fringed the coast. I had seen the natives in Hawaii perform seventeen years before, but it was tame in comparison to the wonderful performances of these Fijian women on this dangerous rock-girt coast.
A great many "meke-mekes" or dances were got up in our honour, but Ratu Lala detested them, and rarely attended, but preferred staying in the "Buli's" hut, lying on the floor smoking or sleeping. He, however, always begged me to attend them in his place. After a time I found the performances rather wearisome, and not nearly so varied and interesting as the "siva-sivas" in Samoa. There the girls sang in soft, pleasing voices, the words being full of liquid vowels. Here in Fiji the singing was harsh and discordant, as k's and r's abound in the language.
When it came to the ceremony of drinking "angona" I worthily did my part of the performance. Drinking "angona" is a taste not easily acquired, but when one has once got used to it, there is not a more refreshing drink, and I speak from long experience. In Fiji I was often presented with a large "angona" root, but it would be considered exceedingly bad form did you not return it to the giver and tell him to have it at once prepared for himself and his people, you yourself, of course, taking part in the drinking ceremony.
After a stay of several days at Vuna we rowed back by night. It was a perfect, calm night, and with the full moon, was almost as bright as day. We rowed all the way close to shore, passing under the gloomy shade of dense forests or by countless coconuts, the only sound besides the plash of our oars being the cry of water fowl or some night bird, while the light beetles  flashed their green lights against the dark background of the forest, looking much like falling stars. There are certain moments in life that have made a lasting impression on me, and that moonlight row was one of them.
We made several expeditions together that were every bit as interesting and enjoyable as the one to Vuna. On one occasion we visited the north part of the island, as well as Ngamia and other islands. We rowed nearly all the way close into shore and saw plenty of turtles. Ratu Lala started to troll with live bait, as we had come across several women fishing with nets, and on our approach they chanted out a greeting to Ratu Lala, and in return he helped himself to a lot of their fish. Ratu Lala had fully a dozen large fish after his bait, and some he hooked for a few seconds. This only made him the keener, and after leaving the calm Somo-somo Channel, although we encountered a very rough sea, he had the sail hoisted and we travelled at a great rate in and out amongst a lot of rocky islets, shipping any amount of water which soaked us and our baggage, and half-filled the boat. I expected we should be swamped every moment, and from the frightened looks of our crew I knew they expected the same thing. Hence, I was not reassured when Ratu Lala remarked that it was in just such a sea, and in the same place, that he lost his schooner (which the government had given him) and that on that occasion he and all his crew remained in the water for five hours. When I explained that I had no wish to be upset, he said, "I suppose you can swim?" I said "Yes! but I do not wish to lose my gun and other property," to which he replied, "Well, I lost more than that when my schooner went down." I was therefore not a little relieved when he had the sail lowered. He explained that he never liked being beaten, even if he drowned us all, and all this was because I had bet him one shilling (by his own desire) that he would not get a fish. I mention this to show what foolhardy things he was capable of doing, never thinking of the consequences. I could mention many such cases. We at length came to some shallows between a lot of small and most picturesque islands, and as it was low tide, and we could not pass, we, viz., Ratu Lala, myself, and the other chiefs, got out to walk, leaving the boat and crew to come on when they could (they arrived at 4 a.m. the next morning). I was glad to get an opportunity to dry myself, and we started off at a good rate for our destination, but unfortunately we came to a spot where grew a small weed that the Fijians consider a great luxury when cooked, and Ratu Lala and his people stayed here fully two hours, till they had picked all the weed in sight, in spite of the heavy rain. It was amusing to see all these high-caste Fijians and old Stivani, the jester, running to and fro with yells of delight like so many children, all on account of a weed which I myself afterwards failed to enjoy.
On the way I shot three duck, and later, when it was too dark to shoot, we could see the beach between the mangroves and the sea was almost black with them. On the other side of us there was a regular chorus of wild chickens crowing and pigeons "howling" in the woods. After four hours' hard walking we arrived at our destination, Qelani, long after dark, dead tired, and soaked to the skin. We put up at the "Buli's" hut; he was a cousin of Ratu Lala, and was a hideous and sulky-looking fellow, but his hut was one of the finest and neatest I had seen in Fiji. As I literally had not had a mouthful of food since the previous evening, I was glad when about a dozen women entered bearing banana leaves covered with yams, fish, octopus, chickens, etc. We stayed here some days, but we had miserable, wet weather. There was excellent fishing in the stream here, and Ratu Lala especially had very good sport. Many of the fish averaged one-and-a-half pounds and more, but he told me that they often run to five pounds. There were three kinds, and all excellent eating. The commonest was a beautiful silvery fish, and another was of a golden colour with bright red stripes. During the latter part of my stay in Qelani I suffered from a slight attack of dysentery, and it was dull lying ill on the floor of a native hut with no one to talk to, as Ratu Lala always tried to avoid speaking English whenever possible, and would often only reply in monosyllables. It would often seem as if he were annoyed at something, but I found that he did this to all white men, and meant nothing by it. I soon cured myself by eating a lot of raw leaves of some bush plant, also a great quantity of native arrow-root.
In spite of my sickness I managed to shoot a fair number of duck, wild chickens and pigeon, and also a few birds for my collection. One day, in spite of the rain, I was rowed over to Ngamia, which is a wonderfully beautiful island, about three hours from Qelani. It was thickly covered with a fine cycad which grows amongst the rocks overhanging the sea. The natives call it "loga-loga,"  and eat the fruit. I landed and botanized a bit, finding some new and interesting plants, and then rowed on a few miles to call on the only white man on the island, an Australian named Mitchell, who has a large coconut property. He was astonished and pleased to see me, and introduced me to his Fijian wife, and his two pretty half-caste daughters soon got together a good breakfast for me. He seemed glad to see a white man again, and nearly talked my head off, and was full of anecdotes about the fighting they had with the Fijian cannibals in 1876. He told me that in the last great hurricane his house was blown over on to a small island which he owned nearly half-a-mile away.
To describe all the incidents of my long visit would fill a book, but I think I have written enough to show what a very interesting time I spent with this Fijian Prince. It was without doubt one of the most curious experiences of all my travels in different parts of the globe. With all his faults, Ratu Lala was a good fellow, and he certainly was a sportsman. All Fiji knows his failings, otherwise I should not have alluded to them. The old blood of the Fijians ran in his veins, his ancestors were kings who had been used to command and to tyrannise; therefore he could never see any harm in the many stories of his escapades that he told me, and he seemed much offended and surprised when I advised him not to talk about them to other Europeans. When I started off to Levuka I was greatly surprised to see all the women of Somo-somo sitting on the beach waiting to see me depart, and as I walked down alone they greeted me in much the same way as they often greeted Ratu Lala, in a kind of chanting shout that sounded most effective. It was a Fijian farewell!
Among Ex-Cannibals in Fiji.
Among Ex-Cannibals in Fiji.
Journey into the Interior of Great Fiji—A Guide Secured—The Start—Arrival at Navua—Extraction of Sago—Grandeur of Scenery—A Man covered with Monkey-like Hair—A Strangely Coloured Parrot—Wild Lemon and Shaddock Trees—A Tropical "Yosemite Valley"—Handclapping as a Native Form of Salute—Beauty of Namosi—The Visitor inspected by ex-Cannibals—Reversion to Cannibalism only prevented by fear of the Government—A Man who would like to Eat my Parrot "and the White Man too"—The Scene of Former Cannibal Feasts—Revolting Accounts of Cannibalism as Formerly Practised—Sporadic Cases in Recent Years—An Instance of Unconscious Cannibalism by a White—Reception at Villages en route—Masirewa Upset—Descent of Rapids—Dramatic Arrival at Natondre ("Fallen from the Skies").
Toward the end of my stay in the Fijian Islands I determined to make a journey far into the interior of Viti Levu (Great Fiji), the largest island of the great Fijian archipelago. Suva, the chief town in Fiji, and the headquarters of the government, is on this island, but very few Europeans travel far beyond the coast, and my friends in Suva declared that I would have a fit of repentance before I had travelled very far, as the interior of the island is extremely mountainous and rough. After a great deal of trouble I managed to get an interpreter named Masirewa, who came from the small island of Bau. He was a fine-looking fellow, and, like most Fijians, possessed a tremendous mop of hair. His stock of English was limited, and we often misunderstood each other, but he proved a most amusing companion, if only on account of his unlimited "cheek."
I ought here to mention that Fijians vary a great deal, both in colour and language. Fiji is the part of the Pacific where various types meet, viz., Papuan, Malayan, and Polynesian. The mountaineers around Namosi, which I visited, who were all cannibals twenty-five years ago, are much darker in colour than the coast natives, and they are undoubtedly of Papuan origin.
I left Suva with Masirewa on the morning of October 12th, and after a short sea voyage of three or four hours on a small steam launch, we arrived at the village of Navua. I had a letter to Mr. McOwan, the government commissioner for that district. He put me up for the night, and we played several games of tennis, and my stay, though short, was an exceedingly pleasant one. The whites in Fiji are the most hospitable people in the world. They are of the old regime that is dying out fast everywhere.
The next day I set out on my journey into the interior, Masirewa and another Fijian carrying my baggage (which was wrapped up in waterproof cloth) on a long bamboo pole. We followed the course of the Navua River for some distance. In the swamps bordering the river grew quantities of a variety of sago palm (Sagus vitiensis) called by the natives Songo. They extract the sago from the trunk, and the palm always dies after flowering. After passing through about four miles of sugar cane, with small villages of the Indian coolies who work in the cane fields, we left behind us the last traces of civilization. We next came to a very beautiful bit of hilly country, densely wooded on the hills, though bordering the broad gravelly beaches of the river were long stretches of beautiful grassy pastures. Darkness set in as we ascended some thickly wooded hills. The atmosphere was damp and close, and mosquitoes plentiful, and small phosphorescent lumps seemed to wink at us out of the darkness on every side. I had to strike plenty of matches to discover the track, and continually bumped myself against boulders and the trunks of tree-ferns. It was late when we arrived at the village of Nakavu, on the banks of the Navua River, where I was soon asleep on a pile of mats in the hut of the "Buli," or village chief.
The next morning I resumed my journey with Masirewa and two canoe-men in a canoe, and we were punted and hauled over numerous dangerous rapids, at some of which I had to get out. We passed between two steep, rocky cliffs the whole way, and they were densely clothed with tree-ferns and other rank tropical vegetation, the large white sweet-scented datura being very plentiful. The scenery was very beautiful, and numerous waterfalls dashed over the rocky walls with a sullen roar. Ducks were plentiful, but my ammunition being limited, I shot only enough to supply us with food. I felt cramped sitting in a canoe all day, but I enjoyed myself in spite of the continuous and heavy rain.
Late in the afternoon we arrived at the small village of Namuamua, on the right bank of the river, with the village of Beka on the other side. We were given a small hut all to ourselves, and we fared sumptuously on duck and boiled yams. The next morning I was shown a curious but ghastly object, viz., a man covered with hair like a monkey, and I was told that he had never been able to walk. He dragged himself about on his hands and feet, uttering groans and grunts like an animal.
I hired two fresh bearers to carry my baggage, and after we had crossed the river three or four times we passed over some steep and slippery hills for some distance. I managed to shoot a parrot that I had not seen on any of the other islands. It was green, with a black head and yellow breast. The rain came down in torrents, and I got well soaked. We went for miles through woods with small timber, but full of bright crotons, dracaenas, bamboos, and a very sweetscented plant somewhat resembling the frangipani, the flower of which covered the ground. We passed under the shade of sweet-scented wild lemon and shaddock trees, but we got the bad with the good, as a horrible stench came from a small green flowering bush. A beautiful pink and white ground orchid (Calanthe) was plentiful.
We travelled along a steep, narrow strip of land with a river on each side in the valleys below. We met no one until we arrived at the village of Koro Wai-Wai, which is situated on the banks of a good-sized river at the entrance to a magnificent gorge of rocky peaks and precipices. Here we found the "Buli" of Namosi squatting down in a miserable, smoky hut where we rested for a few minutes, and the hut was soon filled with a crowd of natives, all anxious to view the "papalangi" (foreigner). The "Buli" agreed to accompany me to Namosi, although his home was in another village. Continuing our journey, we had hard work climbing over boulders, and along slippery ledges overhanging the foaming river many feet below. Steep precipices rose on each side of us, and the gorge grew more narrow as we proceeded. The scenery was grand, and rather resembled the Yosemite Valley, but had the additional attraction of a wealth of tropical foliage. Steep rocky spires topped by misty clouds towered above us and little openings between rocky walls revealed dark green lanes or vistas of tangled tropical growth which the sun never reached. We met many natives, who sat on their haunches when the "Buli" talked to them, and clapped their hands as we passed. This was out of respect for the "Buli," who was an insignificant looking little bearded man and quite naked except for a small "Sulu."
We soon arrived at Namosi. It is a large town situated between two steep walls of rock, and was by far the prettiest place I had seen in Fiji, and that is saying a good deal. The town is on both banks of the Waiandina River, with large "ivi" and other beautiful trees overhanging the water; brilliant coloured crotons, dracaenas, and other fine plants imparted a wealth of colour to the scene, and many of the grand old trees were heavily laden with ferns and orchids. During many years' wanderings all the world over, I do not think I have ever come across a more beautiful and ideal spot.
The "Buli" was greeted with cries of "m-m-ka-a" in shrill voices by the women, for all the world like the caw of an old crow. I learned that the "Buli" had not been here for some time, but I seemed to be the chief object of interest, and was followed everywhere by an admiring and curious crowd of dark brown, shiny boys and girls, the former just as they were born and the latter wearing a strip of "Sulu." We put up in a chief's house, and after getting through the usual boiled yams, I went on a tour of inspection around the town, but I soon found that I was the one to be inspected. There was a hum of voices in every hut, and doorways were darkened with many heads. Groups of young men, women and children assembled to see the sight, but scampered away if I approached too near. No white man but the government agent had been here for several years, I was told. Thirty-odd years ago they would not have been satisfied to "look only," but would have wished to taste, and many of the present inhabitants would have made chops of me, and were no doubt peering out of their huts to see if I was fat or lean, and wishing for days gone by but not forgotten. Isolated cases of cannibalism still occur in out-of-the-way parts of Fiji, and it is only fear of the government that stops them, otherwise these mountaineers would at once return to cannibalism. Masirewa came out and stood with folded arms among a large crowd talking about me, and no doubt taking all the credit for my appearance, and staring at me as if he had never seen me before, so that I felt much inclined to kick him.
In the evening, as I skinned the parrot I had shot, Masirewa told me how one man had said that he would like to eat the parrot, and that he had replied: "And the white man too." There was a large and very interested crowd around me as I worked, and they were very much astonished when told that the birds in England were different from those in Fiji, and I was inundated with childish questions about England. Masirewa seemed to be trying to pass himself off on these simple mountaineers as a chief, and was clearly beginning to give himself airs, so that when he started to eat with the "Buli" and myself, I had to snub him, and told him sharply to clean my gun and eat afterwards.
I slept the next morning till seven o'clock, and Masirewa told me that the natives could not understand my sleeping so late, and that they thought I was drunk on "angona," of which I had partaken the night before. "Angona" is the same as "kava" in Samoa, and is the national beverage in Fiji. Masirewa now only wore a "sulu" and discarded his singlet. I suppose it was a case of "In Rome do as Rome does," but he certainly looked better in the dark skin he wore at his birth. I was shown the large rock by the river where more than a thousand people had been killed for their cannibal feasts. They were usually prisoners captured in the Rewa district, also a few white men. They were cut open alive and their hearts torn out, and their bodies were then cut up for cooking on the rock, which I noticed was worn quite smooth. Sometimes they would boil a man alive in a huge cauldron.
While staying at Namosi the "Buli" gave me some lessons in throwing native spears, and in using the bow. Whilst practising the latter I narrowly missed, by a few inches, shooting a woman who stepped out suddenly from behind a hut.
I was out most of the day shooting pigeons in the woods close by, accompanied by the "Buli," Masirewa, and several boys. The woods were full of a wonderfully beautiful creeper, a delicate pink and white clerodendron which grew in large bunches; there was also a very pretty hoya (wax flower) scrambling up the trees. We filled ourselves with the juicy pink fruit of the "kavika," or what is generally known as the Malacca or rose-apple. The trees were plentiful in the woods, grew to a large size, and were literally loaded with fruit, the fallen fruit resembling a pink carpet. Another very good fruit was the "wi," a golden fruit about the size of a large mango. I have seen both cultivated in the West Indies.
On my return to the village I had a most interesting interview with these ex-cannibals, one old and two middle-aged men, thanks to Masirewa, my interpreter. He first asked them how they liked human flesh, and they all shouted "Venaka, venaka!" (good). Like the natives of New Guinea, they said it was far better than pig; they also declared that the legs, arms and palms of the hands were the greatest delicacies, and that women and children tasted best. The brains and eyes were especially good. They would never eat a man who had died a natural death. They had eaten white man; he was salty and fat, but he was good, though not so good as "Fiji man." One of them had tasted a certain Mr. ——, and the meat on his legs was very fat. They chopped his feet off above the boots, which they thought were part of him, and they boiled his feet and boots for days, but they did not like the taste of the boots. They often kept some of their prisoners and fattened them up, and when the day came for killing one, it was the women of Namosi's duty to take him down to the large stone by the river, where they cut him open alive and tore his heart out. Lastly, I asked if they would still like to eat man if they got the chance, and they were not afraid of being punished, and there was no hesitation in their reply of "Io" (yes), uttered with one voice like the yelp of a hungry wolf, and it seemed to me that their eyes sparkled. They were certainly a very obliging lot of cannibals.
Cannibalism is, of course, practically extinct now in Fiji, but in recent years I am told that there, have been a few odd cases far back in the mountains. On one occasion a man told his wife to build an oven and that he was going to cook her. This she did, and he then killed, cooked, and ate her. Whilst in Fiji I met an Englishman who in the seventies had tasted human meat at a native feast, he believing it was pig, and at the time he thought it was very good. I was told that in the old days when they wanted to know whether a body was cooked enough they looked to see if the head was loose. If the head fell off it was thought to be "cooked to perfection," but I will not vouch for this story being correct.
I gave the "Buli" a box of matches, and he seemed as pleased as if it was a purse of gold; they light all their fires here by wood friction, Some of the pet pigs around here were very oddly marked with stripes and spots of brown, black and white. Whilst in Fiji I often came across natives far from any village who were being followed by pet pigs, as we in England might be followed by dogs. Masirewa amused me more each day by his cheek and self-assurance. Once I asked him what he said to the chief of the hut we were in, and he replied: "Oh! I tell him Get out, you black fellow.' "
We left Namosi early the next morning, a large crowd seeing us off, and I was sorry to bid farewell to one of the most beautiful spots in this wide world. We passed through the villages of Nailili and Waivaka, where I called at the chiefs' huts and held a kind of "at home" for a few minutes, the people simply swarming in to look at me. The "Buli" of Namosi had sent messengers on in front to give notice of my approach, and at each village they had the inevitable hot yams ready to eat, which Masirewa made the most of. At the entrance to each village there was usually a palisade of bamboo or tree-fern trunks, and here a crowd of girls and children would often be waiting, and on my approach they would set up loud yells and scamper off, till I began to think that I must look a very ferocious kind of "papalangai." At Dellaisakau the natives looked a very wild lot. Some of the men had black patches all over their faces, and some had great masses of hair shaped like a parasol. One or two of the women wore only the old-time small aprons of coconut fibre.
We followed the Waiandina River amid very fine scenery. The sloping hills were covered with woods, and we passed under a canopy of bamboo, the large trumpet flowers of the white datura, tree-ferns, large "ivi," "dakua" and "kavika" trees loaded with ferns and fine orchids in flower. We crossed the river several times, and I was carried across by a huge Fijian whose head and neck were covered with lime. Rain soon set in again, and we literally wallowed in mud and water. I got drenched by the soaking vegetation, so I afterwards waded boldly through rivers and streams, as it was impossible to get any wetter.
At Nasiuvou the whole village turned out to greet me, and I held my usual reception in the chief's hut. The chief seemed very annoyed that I would not stay the night. No doubt he thought that I would prove a great attraction for his people. The banks of the Waiandina River were crowded as I got into a canoe, and Masirewa, in trying to show off with a large paddle, lost his balance and fell into the water, the yells of laughter from the crowd showing that they were not lacking in humour. Masirewa did not like it at all, but I was very glad, as he had been giving himself too many airs. I dismissed my two bearers and took only one canoe man and made Masirewa help him. We went down several rapids at a great pace. It was dangerous but exhilarating, and we had several narrow escapes of being swamped, as the canoe, being a small one, was often half-filled with water. We also had several close shaves from striking rocks and tree trunks. Ducks were plentiful, and I shot one on the wing as we were tearing down a rapid. The scenery was very fine; steep wooded mountains, rocky peaks with odd shapes, steep precipices, fine waterfalls, grand forests, and picturesque villages, and the scenery as we wound among the mountains was most romantic.
Toward evening we arrived at the large town of Nambukaluku, where we disembarked. Except for a few old men and children we found it deserted, and we learned that the "Buli," who is a very important chief, had gone to stay at the village of Natondre for some important ceremonies for a few days, and most of the inhabitants had gone with him. Thither I determined to go, and we set off along a mountain path. The rain was all gone, and it was a lovely, still evening. Suddenly I heard distant yells and shouts and the beating of the "lalis" (hollow wooden drums), and I set off running, leaving Masirewa and my canoe man carrying my baggage far behind, and on turning a sharp corner I came full upon the village of Natondre and a most interesting sight. Hundreds of natives were squatting on the ground of the village square, and about one hundred men with faces black and in full war paint, swinging war clubs, were rushing backward and forward yelling and singing while large wooden drums were beaten. They were dressed in most fantastic style, some only with fibrous strings round their loins, and others with yards of "tapa" cloth wound around them. Several women were jumping about with fibre aprons on, and all had their hair done up in many curious ways and sprinkled with red and yellow powders. Huge piles of mats were heaped in the open square, speeches were made, and the people all responded with a deep "Ah-h" which sounded most effective from the huge multitude. I came up in the growing dusk and stood behind a lot of people squatting down. Suddenly some one looked round and saw me—sensation—whispers of "papalangai" were heard on all sides, and looks of astonishment were cast in my direction. Certainly my entrance to Natondre could not have been more dramatic, and I believe that they almost thought that I had fallen from the skies, which is the literal meaning of the word "papalangai."
Mock War-Scene at the Chief's House.
War Ceremonies and Dances at Natondre Described—The Great Chief of Nambukaluku—The Dances continued—A Fijian Feast—A Native Orator—The Ceremonies concluded—The Journey continued—A Wonderful Fungus—The bark of the rare Golden Dove leads to its Capture—Return to more Civilised Parts—The Author as Guest of a high Fijian Prince and Princess—A souvenir of Seddon—Arrival at Suva.
Masirewa soon arrived and I learned that there were some very important ceremonies in which one tribe was giving presents to another tribe, in settlement of some disputes that had been carried on since the old cannibal fighting days, and as I passed into the "Buli's" hut I noticed that the dancers were unwinding all the "tapa" cloth from around their bodies and throwing it on the piles of mats. I immediately went behind a "tapa" screen where the "Buli" slept, and began to get into dry clothes. This evidently made some of the crowd in the hut angry, as they thought I was lacking in respect to the "Buli" by changing in his private quarters, as in Fiji the very high chiefs are looked upon as sacred. One fellow kept shouting at me in a very impudent way, so when Masirewa came in, I told him about it, and he lectured the crowd and told them that I was a very big chief; this seemed to frighten them. Later on, I found that Masirewa had complained, and the impudent man was brought up before one of the chiefs, who gave him a lecture before myself and a large crowd in the hut I put up in. Masirewa translated for me, how the chief said: "The white man, who is a big chief, has done us honour in visiting our town," and to the man: "You will give us a bad name in all Fiji for our rudeness to the stranger that comes to us." I learned that the man was going to be punished, but as he looked very repentant I said that I did not wish him punished, so he was allowed to sneak out of the hut, the people kicking him and saying angry words as he passed.
I supped with the great "Buli" that evening, and we fared sumptuously on my duck, river oysters and all sorts of native dishes. We were waited upon by two warriors in full war paint, and the "Buli's" young and pretty wife, shining with coconut oil all over her body, sat by me and fanned me. The "Buli" was an aristocratic-looking old fellow with a large nose and a very haughty look. He is a very important chief, but knew no English, and we carried on our conversation through the medium of Masirewa. He spoke in a kind of mumble, with a very thick voice. Once when he had been mumbling worse than usual there was a kind of restrained titter from someone in the crowd at the back. The "Buli" heard it, and slowly turning his head he transfixed the crowd with his piercing gaze for many seconds amid a dead silence. I wondered afterwards if anything ever happened to the unfortunate one who was so easily amused. I learned that besides having an impediment in his speech, the "Buli" was also paralyzed in one leg. I Put up in a different hut, the "Buli" apologizing for his hut being crowded with the influx of visitors.
I watched a "meke-meke" or native dance that evening in which about a dozen girls covered with oil took part. There was a sound of revelry the rest of the night, for there was feasting and dancing in several huts, and discordant chanting and the hum of many voices followed me into my dreams. The next morning I went out shooting pigeons in some thick pathless woods about two miles away, and I also shot some flying foxes which I gave to my companions, as the Fijians consider them a great delicacy, as do many Europeans. These woods were full of pineapples, which in places barred our way. Many of them were ripe, and I found they possessed a fine flavour.
In the afternoon the ceremonies were continued, the "Buli" sending for me to sit by him in the doorway of his hut to watch them. First about forty women with "tapa" cloth wound around their bodies went through various evolutions, swaying their arms about and chanting in their usual discordant manner. They then unwound the "tapa" from their bodies and threw it in a heap on the ground, following this by more manoeuvres. About twenty men came into the square, some with their faces blacked and their bodies stained red with some pigment, and wearing only aprons of coconut strings, with bracelets of leaves on their arms and carved pigs' tusks hanging from their necks. They went through some splendid dancing, falling down on the ground and bouncing up again like india-rubber balls. They sang, or rather chanted, all the time, and so did a kind of chorus of men who beat on wood and bamboo, while the dancers danced round them in circles, and squares, and then bent backward, nearly touching the ground with their heads. As they danced they kept splendid time, with their arms, legs and heads.
Then amid shrill yells and cries from the crowd, another procession approached from the far end of the village in single file. First came several men with spears, which they shook on the ground every now and then, shaking their bodies at the same time in a fierce manner. Behind them in single file came a lot of women, each bearing a. rolled-up mat, which they threw down in a heap. These mats are made from the dried "pandanus" leaf. Then several men appeared bearing enormous Fiji baskets full of large rolls of food wrapped up in leaves, also smaller baskets made of the fresh leaves of the crimson dracaena, also full of food. From the enormous number of baskets, the food supply was enough to feed a large multitude. They were all put down together by the mats.
Then there was dead silence, in which you could almost have heard the proverbial pin drop, and an oldish man stepped forward and stood by the mats and baskets, his body wound round with "tapa" till it stuck out many feet from his body. The crowd broke silence with an ear-piercing yell. He then spoke, and was interrupted from time to time with cries of approval or the reverse, and sometimes loud laughter, while the "Buli," sitting by me, every now and then shouted out, or broke into a childish giggle. Then the speaker uttered a lot of short sentences very fast, and every one present said "Venaka" (good) at the end of each sentence. Then the old man unwound the "tapa" around him and threw it on the mats, as did others.
Silence again, and I began to think all was over, but suddenly there was another shrill sort of yell from the crowd, and from the back of our hut, amid a tremendous uproar from all present and the beating of "lalis" (drums), appeared a procession of about fifty warriors in their usual picturesque get-up, all brandishing large war-clubs. They paraded into the square in very stately fashion, singing in their curious and savage discords, and then went through some grand dances, keeping wonderful time with their clubs and bodies, and from time to time giving forth a loud yell which was really thrilling. They next rushed backward and forward brandishing their clubs and killing an imaginary foe, and then clapped their hands together in even time. Then off came the "tapa" from around them, and the heap was made still larger.
Another yell from the crowd. Then silence, followed by more speaking, and every now and then a deep "Ah-h" from all present, which sounded like distant thunder and was most impressive. Then all the people clapped their hands and chanted a few words in low suppressed voices, and the ceremony, lasting between four or five hours, was over. From time to time a man would approach the "Buli" and fall down on all fours and clap his hands before he could speak. I felt at times as if I was watching a comic opera or a ballet, and there were many amusing incidents. I think honours were fairly easy between the big show and myself, as the people kept whispering and looking around at me the whole time. I never passed a hut without causing excitement, and there would be cries of "papalangai" and a mass of faces would appear at the doors. Wherever I went I was followed at a respectful distance by a crowd of girls and children, but if I turned to retrace my steps there was a panic-stricken rush to get out of my way. On one occasion a little child of about two years old yelled with fright when I passed near it. I was much astonished that a white man should make such a stir in any part of Fiji, but it is only so in very out-of-the-way villages such as these. I was exceedingly lucky to witness these ceremonies, as they were the most important ones that had taken place in Fiji for many years, and few of the old white residents had seen their equal. I was all the more lucky, as I never expected to see them when I started from Suva.
The next morning I said "Samoce"  (good-bye) to the great "Buli," who, though he was a big chief, was not above accepting with evident glee the few shillings I pressed into his hand, and with Masirewa and two fresh bearers continued my journey in the pouring rain. Once we had to swim across a swift and swollen river, then we went over steep hills, down deep gullies, wading through streams and passing all the time through thick forests. We stopped once to feed on wild pineapples, the pink "kavika." and the golden "wi," but Masirewa was a bad bushman and slipped, and stumbled, swore and grumbled, and many times I had to wait till he came up with me. We followed a deep and beautiful gulch for some distance, wading all the way through a shallow stream which flowed over a natural slanting pavement with a smooth surface, and I found it hard to keep my footing. We got a magnificent view from the top of a high hill of the country to the eastward, with large rivers winding among beautiful undulating wooded country as far as the eye could reach. We passed through but one village, named Naqeldreteki, and from here I saw two very fine waterfalls falling side by side over a steep cliff several hundred feet straight drop into the forest below. It was about here that I came across a most beautiful sort of fungus of a bright scarlet and orange, and in the shape of a perfect star.
I heard what I took to be the gruff bark of a dog, when it suddenly dawned upon me that there could not be any dogs here, as we were far from any village. Upon investigation I discovered that it was a bird that was the author of the noise, and I soon brought it down with a load of dust-shot, and to my great delight it proved to be the golden dove, a bird which I had hunted for in vain in the other islands. It was of a very fine metallic golden-yellow colour, and the feathers being long and narrow, gave it a very odd appearance. I could only mutter "venaka, venaka" (good), and in spite of the heavy rain reverently and slowly rolled it up in cotton wool and paper, to the great amusement of my three Fijians. Among the most interesting features of bird life in the Samoan and Fijian Islands were the various members of the dove family, which looked wonderfully brilliant with their metallic greens, and their orange, crimson, purple, yellow, pink, cream and olive green. The latter part of the journey was through bushy country dotted about with many large orchid and fern-laden trees.
We arrived toward dusk at the large village of Serea, on the Wainimala River, which is a branch of the Rewa River, and I put up in the large hut of the "Buli." I began to feel like an ordinary mortal again, as the people here did not exhibit any great surprise on seeing me, no doubt because, being in the Rewa district, they see a few Europeans from time to time. After a change into dry clothes and a supper off one of the large pigeons I had shot en route, I had a large and interested crowd to watch me skin my dove, and there were roars of laughter during the process, especially when Masirewa told them it would be made to look like a real bird with glass eyes. Masirewa at one time spoke sharply to the "Buli" who, I thought, looked a bit annoyed, so I asked Masirewa what he said. "Oh," he said airily, "I told him to keep his pig of a child away from the white chief." Masirewa, was a character, and evidently had no respect for chiefs and princes, etc., as he treated all the "Bulis" as his equals, which was very different from the generally cringing attitude of the Fijians to their chiefs. Even the high and mighty "Buli" of Nabukaluku  seemed to like his cheek. Masirewa liked to show off his English, though no one understood a word, and his favourite way of addressing them when he was annoyed was "You all black devil pigs." Whilst I was skinning my dove, the people brought in a horrible-looking carved figure with staring eyes. It was about five feet high, and they waxed very merry, whenever I looked up at it from my skinning.
I left early next morning in the pouring rain, and found as I passed through Serea that it was quite a town. Quite a large crowd escorted me down the steep banks of the river (Wainimala), and we were soon spinning down stream in a large canoe. We soon joined another river which, together with the Wainimala, formed the Rewa, the largest river in Fiji. The scenery was both varied and picturesque, and once I got the canoe paddled up a little shady creek where there was a very beautiful waterfall, and where I was glad to stretch my legs for a few minutes after being cramped up in the canoe. There were many pretty and quaint villages on the banks, and the people often rushed out of their huts to see us pass. Ducks were plentiful, and I got a fair bag and used up my remaining cartridges, and the rest of the way I had to be content with pointing my gun at them, which was very tantalizing. We arrived about three p.m. at the village of Viria, and I stayed with the "Buli" in his hut almost overhanging the river. In the evening I took a stroll with the "Buli" round the village, and then we sat on a log by the river chatting, with Masirewa acting as interpreter. We continued our journey the next morning, and late in the day we passed large fields of sugarcane. We had returned to civilization once more, and I could not help feeling a pang of regret. We arrived at the village of Navuso about four p.m., and I was the guest of Andi (princess) Cakobau (pronounced Thakombau) and her husband, Ratu (prince) Beni Tanoa. Princess Cakobau is the highest lady of rank in Fiji, and belongs to the royal family. She is very stately and ladylike, and in her younger days was very beautiful. She does not know any English, but she wrote her autograph for me in my note-book to paste on her photograph, as she writes a very good hand. Her husband is also one of the highest chiefs in Fiji, and speaks good English. They proved most hospitable, and presented me with some Fijian fans when I left the next morning, and the Princess gave me a buttonhole of flowers out of her garden. Dick Seddon, the Premier of New Zealand, had once visited them, and I noticed his portrait that he had given them fastened to a post in their hut. I left Navuso by steam launch which called at the large sugar-mills a little lower down, and reached Suva that afternoon, feeling very fit after one of the most enjoyable and interesting expeditions that I ever made.
My Life Among Filipinos and Negritos and a Journey in Search of Bearded Women.
At Home Among Filipinos and Negritos.
Arrival at Florida Blanca—The Schoolmaster's House Kept by Pupils in their Master's Absence—Everyday Scenes at Florida Blanca—A Filipino Sunday—A Visit to the Cock-fighting Ring—A Strange Church Clock and Chimes—Pugnacious Scene at a Funeral—Strained Relations between Filipinos and Americans—My New Servant—Victoriano, an Ex-officer of Aguinaldo's Army, and his Six Wives—I Start for the Mountains—"Free and easy" Progress of my Buffalo-cart—Ascent into the Mountains—Arrival at my Future Abode—Description of my Hut and Food—Our Botanical Surroundings—Meetings with the Negritos—Friendliness and Mirth of the Little People—Negritos may properly be called Pigmies—Their Appearance, Dress, Ornaments and Weapons—An Ingenious Pig-arrow—Extraordinary Fish-traps—Their Rude Barbaric Chanting—Their Chief and His House—Cure of a Malarial Fever and its Embarrassing Results—"Agriculture in the Tropics"—A Hairbreadth Escape—Filipino Blowpipes—A Pigmy Hawk in Pigmyland—The Elusive Pitta—Names of the Birds—A Moth as Scent Producer—Flying Lizards and other kinds—A "Tigre" Scare by Night—Enforced Seclusion of Female Hornbill.
When collecting in the Philippines, I put in most of my time in the Florida Blanca Mountains, in the province of Pampanga, Northern Luzon. I arrived one evening after dark at the good-sized village of Florida Blanca, which is situated a few miles from the foot of the mountain, whose name it shares. I carried a letter to the American schoolmaster, who was the only white man in the district, and had been a soldier in the late war. It seemed to me a curious policy on the part of the American government to turn their soldiers into schoolmasters, especially as in most cases they are very ignorant themselves. I believe, however, the chief object is to teach the young Filipinos English, and so turn them into live American citizens. The Americans are far from popular in the Philippines, and when in Manila I was strongly advised not to wear khaki in the jungle for fear of being taken for an American soldier.
The American's house was dark and still when I arrived at Florida Blanca, but whilst I was wondering what to do, I was surprised to hear a small voice, coming out of a small adjoining house, say in good English (though slowly and with a strong accent), "Thee—master—has—gone—into—thee—mountains—to—kill—deer—and—pigs." This was from one of the American's own pupils, an intelligent little fellow named Camilo. As I learnt that he was not expected back for two or three days, there was nothing left but to make myself as comfortable as possible in his house until his return. Camilo was soon boiling me some water, and I opened some of my provisions, as I had eaten nothing for eight hours. The house was an ordinary Filipino one, raised fully ten feet from the ground and built of native timber, the peaked roof, which had a frame-work of bamboo, being thatched with palm-leaves. The divisions between the rooms were of plaited bamboo work, and the sliding windows were latticed, each division being fitted with pieces of pearl shell. The next morning I was invaded by quite an army of small boys, who, to my surprise, all spoke English very prettily in their slow way and with a quaint accent. I have never come across a more bright and intelligent set of little fellows, all very friendly and not a bit shy, yet most polite and well-mannered. They were manly little fellows, with the faces of cherubs, and they were always smiling. Though the ages of my five little favourites, Camilo, Nicolas, Fernando, Dranquilino and Victorio, ranged only from eleven down to seven (the latter being little smiling-faced Victorio), they did all my errands for me, bought me little rolls of sweetish bread, eggs and fruit, and were most honest. They talked to me as if they had known me all their lives, acted as my guides and showed me all there was to see. They generally followed me in a row, with their arms round each other's neck in a most affectionate way, and I never heard any of them use one angry word amongst themselves. The few days that I spent here, I wandered through the narrow lanes and collected a few birds and butterflies. These lanes were very dusty at the time, and were hemmed in with an uninteresting shrubby growth on each side. The country round Florida Blanca was for the most part covered with rice-fields, which, at the time of my visit, were parched and covered with short stubble, this being the dry season. I was not very successful in my collecting, and looked forward to my visit to the mountains, which I could see in the distance, and which appeared well covered with damp-looking forests. I noticed quantities of white egrets, which settled on the backs of the water buffaloes. I would often pass these water buffaloes with their heads sticking out of a way-side pond of mud and water. They were generally used for drawing the curious wagons of the country, which were rather like those one sees in Mexico, with solid wooden wheels. Generally when I met these water buffaloes out of harness, they were horribly afraid of me and stampeded, at the same time making the most extraordinary noises, something between a squeak and a short blast on a penny trumpet. They are usually stupid-looking brutes, but this showed that they were intelligent enough to distinguish between me and a Filipino. The pigs here had three pieces of wood round their necks fastened together to form a triangle, an excellent idea, as it prevented them from breaking through the fences. The day following my arrival was a Sunday, and the church, a large building of stone and galvanized iron, was almost opposite the American's house. I watched the people going to early mass (the Filipinos are devout Roman Catholics). All the women wore gauzy veils thrown over their heads, white or black were the prevailing colours and sometimes red. I thought they looked very nice in them. I had asked Camilo to boil me some water, but he begged off very politely, as he had to go and put on his cassock and surplice to attend the service in the church, where he sang all alone. When he returned, I asked him to sing to me what he had sung in the church, and he at once complied, singing the "Gloria Patri" in a very clear and sweet voice. After mass was over, the church bell began to toll and an empty lighted bier came out of the church. It was preceded by three acolytes bearing a long cross and two large lighted candlesticks, and followed by a crowd of people. They were no doubt going to call at a house for the corpse. Shortly afterwards an old Filipino priest came out and got into one of the quaint covered buffalo wagons with solid wooden wheels (already mentioned), and drove slowly round by the road. It was hot and sultry, and thunder was pealing far away in the mountains. Under a clump of trees (of a kind of yellow flowering acacia), which grew just outside the large old wooden doors of the church, there was a group of village youths and loafers, and two or three men went past with their fighting cocks under their arms, Sunday afternoon out here being the great day for cock-fighting. There seemed to be a sleepiness in the air quite in keeping with the day of the week, and I was nearly dozing off when little Nicolas came in. I asked him if he knew where the cook-fighting took place, and added, "you savez" (slang for "understand"). His eyes flashed, and he said, "Me no savage," but when I explained that I did not call him a "savage," his eyes, smiled an apology, and he willingly offered to show me the place where the cock-fighting was to be.
On entering the large bamboo shed or theatre where the cock-fighting took place, I was met by the old Presidente of the village, to whom I had brought a letter from Governor Joven (the Governor of the province), whom I had visited at Bacolor on my way hither. He conducted me to a seat on a raised clay platform, and sat next to me most of the time, but as the fighting progressed he got very excited, and had to go down into the ring. I had often witnessed it before in tropical America, but here the left feet of the cocks were armed with large steel spurs shaped like miniature cutlasses, which before the fight began were encased in small leather sheaths. The onlookers worked themselves up into a state of great excitement, and there was a great deal of chaff, mixed with angry words, and plenty of silver "pesos" were exchanged over the results. But it was cruel work, and the crouching spectators were often scattered right and left by the furious birds, whilst on one occasion a too venturesome onlooker received a rather severe gash on his arm.
The church clock here was a thing to wonder at. It had no dial, and struck only about five times a day. When it struck ten there was an interval of over twenty seconds between each stroke until the last two strokes, these coming quickly together, as if it was tired of such slow work! As there was no face to the clock, I was puzzled to know whether to set my watch at the first or last stroke, or to split the difference.
There were a great many funerals during my stay here in December, there being a regular epidemic of cholera and malaria. This was the unhealthy season, and I was told that there were as many deaths in Florida Blanca during the months of December and January as during all the rest of the year put together.
One day I watched from my window a funeral procession on its way from the church to the cemetery. The Padre was not there, and this no doubt accounted for the acrobatic display given by the three men in cassocks and surplices, who led the way, bearing a cross and two candles. They started by playfully kicking each other, and this soon developed into angry words, so that I expected a free fight. One of them tucked his unbuttoned cassock round his neck, and egged the other two on. The coffin followed on a lighted bier, and the string of mourners followed meekly behind, no doubt looking upon this display as nothing out of the common.
The interior of the church was very cold and bare, and there were no seats. I learnt that the American and the Filipino Padre did not hit it off together. There were one or two opposition schools in the village, run by Filipinos, who did their utmost to prevent the children from learning the language of the hated Americanos. The American did not make himself any more popular by pulling down the old street sign-boards bearing Spanish names, and substituting ugly card-board placards marked in ink with fresh names, such as America Street, McKinley Street, and Roosevelt Street; he had also named a street after himself! Later on I learnt that this American schoolmaster was a kind of spy in the American secret police, and that he had to listen outside Filipino houses at night to overhear the conversation of suspected insurgents. I was told this by Victoriano, my Filipino servant in the mountains, who often accompanied the American in his nightly rounds, and was the only man in the secret. This Victoriano, whom I always called Vic for short, was the best servant that I have had during my wanderings in any part of the world. He spoke Spanish and knew a little English, as he had once been a servant to an Englishman near Manila. With my small knowledge of Spanish, and his smattering of English, we hit it off very well together. He acted as gun-bearer, cook, laundry maid, housemaid, interpreter and guide. Later on he told me that he had been an officer in the insurgent Aguinaldo's army, and that he had been imprisoned by the Spaniards for four years on the island of Mindanao for belonging to a revolutionary society. He was a tall, thin fellow of only thirty-two years of age, and yet his present wife in Florida Blanca was his sixth, all the others being dead. I used to chaff him about having poisoned them, which much amused him. After some days the American returned, and he told me of a very good spot in which to collect up in the mountains, so one morning I started off with Vic for a long stay in these mountain forests. We left Florida Blanca before the sun had risen, my luggage being carried in one of the curious buffalo wagons. We soon left the dry rice-fields behind, and for some distance passed over a wide uninteresting plain of tall grass, dotted about with a few trees. After going some distance our two buffaloes were unyoked and allowed to soak in a small pond. This process was repeated every time we came to any water, and this, together with the slow progress of the buffaloes, made the journey longer than I had anticipated. After crossing a fair-sized river, we began a gradual ascent into the mountains. My luggage was then carried for a short distance, and after travelling through some bamboo thickets and crossing a rocky stream, I beheld my future abode. It was a small grass-thatched hut, with a flooring of split bamboo, raised four feet from the ground; up to this we had to climb by means of a single bamboo step. About two-thirds of the hut consisted of a flooring of bamboo, fairly open on all sides but one; this part did as my bedroom, and to get to it I had to crawl through a hole—one could hardly call it a door! It was quite dark inside, but there was just room enough to lie down on the split bamboo floor. All round the hut was a large clearing, planted with maize, belonging to a Filipino, who from time to time lived in another small hut about one hundred yards away. He also owned the one I was living in, and for this I paid him the not very exorbitant sum of one peso (two shillings) a month. Tall gaunt trees rose out of the corn on all sides, and in the early morning they were full of bird-life—parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, pigeons, woodpeckers, gapers and hornbills, etc. A clear rocky stream flowed by the side of the hut, the sound of whose rushing waters by night and day was like music to the ear in this hot and thirsty land, whilst shaded as it was by bamboos and trees, it was a delightful spot to bathe in every morning and evening. I was well pleased with my surroundings, and looked forward to a successful and interesting stay. I fared well though the food was rough, and I subsisted chiefly on rice and papayas, together with pigeons, doves, parrots, and the smaller hornbill, called here "talactic," all of which fell to my gun. The surrounding country in these lower mountains was a mixture of forest and open grass-country, the grass often growing far over my head. The forest, which abounded in clear, rocky streams of cold water, was very luxuriant and beautiful, especially in many of the cool, damp ravines further back in the mountains. But near my camping ground a great deal of the forest seemed to be half smothered with large thickets of bamboo, and consequently the larger trees were rather far apart. There was also a climbing variety of bamboo, which scrambled up to the tops of the largest trees. The undergrowth in places was most luxuriant and consisted of different species of palms, rattans, tree-ferns, pandanus, giant ginger, pipers, pothos, begonias, bananas, caladiums, ferns, selaginellas and lycopodiums, and many variegated plants. Growing on many of the trees were some fine orchids. Chief amongst them may be mentioned a very beautiful "vanda," which grew mostly on trees in the open grass country, and which I witnessed in full bloom during my stay here. They presented a wonderful sight. Out of the large sheaths of fan-like leaves grew two grand flower-spikes, bearing from thirty to forty large white, chocolate and crimson flowers. Of these there were two varieties, and on one large plant I saw fully a dozen flower-spikes. Further back in the mountains I came across some fine species of Phalaenopsis.