Page:Curtis's Botanical Magazine, Volume 73 (1847).djvu/267

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feet, which were tucked up under his hams, started on his errand. He shortly returned carrying a large plant of the Kava (a species of Pepper, Piper metlysticum, L.), under his arm. It appeared just as it had been taken from the ground, the leaves, only, having been removed from the stems, they were about three feet long and ten or twelve in number, an inch in diameter at the base, and tapering toward the end. He brought the plant in a stooping posture, holding it in both his hands, the root towards me, and, having thrown it gently down upon the mat before me, withdrew. After it had lain upon the ground a few seconds, it was removed by the man who brought it, to the opposite end of the hall. A large bowl[1] of wood, having four short thick legs of the same, was taken down from a pillar of the house, against which it hung, and was placed before a young man, I believe the son of the Tue Tonga, the handsomest and the chief person in the assembly, who sat in the centre of the front row of those who filled the space opposite to us. A long bone (?) which I took to be the tooth of a narwhal, was then brought in, with which the root was broken and divided into separate pieces, the man holding the bone in a vertical position and pounding the root, also held upright, with the broad end of it, which done, the bone was taken out again, and the portions of root and stems, about six inches long, were distributed to the persons who sat on each side of the bowl, who, after scraping off the earth which adhered to the roots, and cleaning it well with the fibres of the cocoa-nut husk, broke off portions with their teeth and commenced chewing it. Whilst this part of the operation was performing, I was engaged in conversation with the Chief, and answering his questions. Presently after two men arrived, bearing upon a pole between them two baskets, one of which contained a baked pig and yams, the other, parcels of a kind of jelly made of arrow-root mixed with the juice of sugar-cane: these parcels were tied up in portions of the leaves of Banana, and were about as large as a good-sized pudding; they were about eight or ten in number. The appearance of the dish was not inviting, but upon experiment, being hungry, it was by no means to be despised. The pig was sent to the boat. There was enough, in all, for at least twenty people.

The Kava root being masticated, the young man who presided over the bowl first threw his mouthfull into it: those who were

  1. The bowl, and specimens of the Pepper, or Kava plant, are deposited in the Museum of the Royal Gardens.-ED.