Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/215

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201
LIFE IN THE SOUTH-SEA ISLANDS.

perhaps children, and one or two teachers, or subordinate lay missionaries, who are generally natives of other and remote islands, A plain wooden house is brought from New Zealand and put up for the missionary and his family, usually with his own hands and those of his brethren, who assemble for the purpose. A church, built in the style of the native houses—of reeds and mats—occasionally at the older stations of coral masonry, and a similar edifice for a school, with the comfortable huts of the teachers and the catechumens, complete the buildings of the station.

The other white men in the group follow the occupations of planters and traders. Attempts, in one case on a large scale, were made some years ago to grow cotton, but without much success, on the Island of Sandwich or Vaté. The cultivation of maize and coffee has been tried with better results on the same island. The staple vegetable product is copra the dried pulp of the cocoanut.

The trader is usually the agent of a mercantile firm, which supplies him with a certain quantity of "trade" goods, and receives in return his copra. He has, as a rule, three or four laborers in his employment. Owing to a singular custom or prejudice, these are rarely natives of the island in which they work. He buys the nuts from his neighbors, and, with the assistance of his laborers, prepares the copra. On the more savage islands, arms and ammunition, as long as their introduction was allowed (and it is doubtful if it has yet been quite stopped), matches, pipes, and tobacco are the things commonly given for nuts. The price varies greatly, according to locality and year; but a pipe, a small fragment of tobacco, or a box of matches is frequently given for a dozen nuts. Every few months a small vessel visits the different stations, bringing goods and supplies of food for the traders and taking away the copra, which, on arrival in Europe, is converted into oil, the refuse being used in the manufacture of cake for cattle.

The New Hebrides natives differ greatly in physical qualities. On Mallicolo there are two distinct races, distinguished by the length and breadth of their skulls. Persons familiar with the group can readily point out an Espiritu-Santo man, a Sandwich man, a Pentecost man, or a Tanna man. The dress differs in nearly every island, and in some is very remarkable, more so on Tanna, on Erromango, on Api, and on Ambrym than would bear public description. The modes of dressing the hair are various. On Tanna it is dyed auburn or nearly gold color with lime, and is gathered into small thin locks which are wound round with a slender filament like thread. On Sandwich the women shave the skull completely. On Espiritu-Santo they shave it, but leave a broad ridge of frizzled hair in the middle from poll to forehead, like the well-known garniture of the head of a clown. I had the good fortune to witness some Santo ladies making their toilet, which was effected by mutual assistance. The person being dressed