Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/104

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88 Correspondence.

Fruits, and in this case cooking the fruits was practised. The time of exposure of the men to the heat was not taken by a watch, or is not here recorded ; nor is any attempt to ascertain the surface heat mentioned. But other witnesses may have taken more exact records.

A. Lang.

Extract from Letter from Lieut. Vernon H. Haggard, R.N., H.M.S. Royal Arthur, Australian Squadron.

Dated Angnst 24th, 1902, Suva, Viti Levu.

"Yesterday was a most interesting day. Some of us landed at the invitation of the Governor to see a fire-walking ceremony which he had arranged. This fire-walking is done only by a tribe which lives in an island a few miles away, and they very seldom do it. One old inhabitant told me he had never seen it in the thirty-two years he had lived in Fiji ; so we were in luck.

" There is not much in it, but it was a picturesque sight. It was carried out in a disused quarry, shaped something like an amphi- theatre, quite near Government House ; in the centre was the oven, a pit in which a large heap of rounded stones had been heated up over a wood fire since dawn. The charred and glowing logs had been removed from the top so that we could go and inspect the stones and satisfy ourselves that they were hot. They were.

" The first part of the ceremony consisted of spreading the heap of stones to the necessary flatness. This was done by about forty handsome, frizzy-headed Fijians, splendid fellows, naked from the waist up except for a necklace of flowers, and clothed with a bushy skirt of dyed leaves and flowers. They look very well with their glistening brown skins and rippling muscles, and walk with the swing of a Highlander. These men spread the stones with the help of a long pliant creeper as thick as one's arm, which was dragged backwards and forwards across the heap. It was a long business, and took at least an hour.

" When they were at last satisfied their headman gave a shout, and out of a reed-brake on the far side of the quarry the fire- walkers came running in single file. They went on to the stones (with feet bare) and walked round the heap once, when the other men rushed up with armfuls of leaves and branches which they