Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/299

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111
TWO NEW GUINEA STORIES.

He then said that was all. I said, "No, Veata, I want to see the bright burning stone; but never mind just now, will you sell these?" "No." "Then put them up and go and get the other." After a little deliberation and a good deal of muttering, he asked what I should give him if he would sell, and on mentioning a tomahawk, native beads, arm-shells and tobacco, he was satisfied, and I packed my curios away, lest repentance on his part should deprive me of them. I forgot to say that Miria was first consulted, and he was favourable to the sale. We then went out to Miria, and I told him what I wanted. Veata left, and in about an hour returned with a small parcel of crystals. We again retired, and the small crystals were produced. I bought them, and then in great secrecy he brought out a large piece of crystal quartz in a small net, and said that was what I had heard about, and no one must look on it but myself. It was the "death stone," and of which all Maiva was afraid. It was now getting into the small hours of morning, and I wished my friend would go, but he lingered long instructing me, and begging of me not to exhibit these things to Maiva and Motu.

The next morning there was trouble. It was noised all over Maiva I had got these things. My inland friends begged of me to have nothing to do with them, our boat would sink or we should all die, or I might live, but Motu would suffer. No one on board knew where I had them until after leaving Yule, when my stroke asked me, and I told him they were in a box under his seat. During the trip back he never once returned to that oar. In crossing Redscar Bay we had dirty weather and a very dark night. It arose from Veata's stuff—throw it overboard. No, it must not go overboard. I never had a quieter crew, and all were frightened. They begged for a reef to be taken in. I was anxious to get to Redscar Head by morning, and would not consent. They asked to throw some of our food overboard, and to that I also objected, as at Maiva and Delena, they persisted in filling the boat too full. I heard them saying amongst themselves, "What folly to keep these things on board; he is not afraid, but what uf us?"