Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/222
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.
returned without us, we determined to go back in this canoe, the native who had sold me the net agreeing to put us on board. Although wind and tide were both dead against us, we reached the ship safe and dry, though not without danger, the overloaded canoe leaking to such an extent as to keep a boy constantly bailing. After bath and luncheon we landed near the Mission Station on Stacey Island with our guns, and procured the services of two or three native boys to guide us up the peak, which is about 800 feet high. After a walk of half a mile along the beach we turned sharp up the precipitous side of the cliff, whose ascent was anything but easy. The formation is conglomerate, broken up into the most fantastic shapes, the roots of the trees interlacing with the stones, furnishing facilities for climbing the steep track. Bright plumaged parrots, satin birds, and New Guinea magpies flew about in numbers, and the tracks of wild pigs were everywhere visible. Our route lay up the bed of a stream almost dry at this season. In some places, however, the ascent was so steep that I was under the necessity of giving my gun to a little native boy, whose bare feet enabled him to negotiate the obstacles without the slipping and stumbling incurred by the heavily shod white man. About six hundred feet above the sea level we met a native woman carrying a heavy load of yams on her back in the usual net, secured by a band across her forehead, the weight thus being divided between her spine and her hips. A little higher we skirted the plantation where she had been working, the freshly disturbed earth indicating the spot whence the yams had been taken. Emerging from the thick undergrowth, we came upon a slope covered with coarse grass eight or nine feet high, and in places entirely concealing us from view. After passing another plantation where taro was cultivated and thriving, we came to a rocky place near the summit, and sat down for a rest and smoke. Eastward was another peak about a hundred feet higher, but a shower of rain coming on, we took shelter in a little thicket, and left the ascent of the highest point to some more energetic explorers. The rain soon passed over, and the dispersing clouds disclosed a wonderfully beautiful tropical panorama, forest, sea, and mountains being spread before us in endless variety. To our right,