Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/170

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60
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

the supposed enemy. We watched them with glasses from the ship, displaying much more interest in their proceedings than did the villagers, who were singularly apathetic in the matter. About sundown the party returned without having seen any traces of a foe.

Kaele is a miserable place, and its church, situated about 200 yards from the shore, and adjoining the house of Mr. Hunter, whose knowledge of the Motu language was of great service, had a strong list to the north-west. Early next morning, the 24th, the Captain, myself, and assistant, accompanied by Charley Kidd, went ashore to take a stroll round. The place looked even more desolate by daylight than in the shades of evening, and finding nothing picturesque near the beach but ruins of a tree house, which had a look of having been built to the order of the artist who sketched it to illustrate the proceedings of the Geographical Society of Australia, we penetrated the fringe of mangrove, and crossed a belt of low country covered with salt water grass till we arrived at another strip of mangrove, interspersed with tall forest trees. There were as usual a quantity of birds, and a few wallaby crossed our path, but not within shot. After taking a couple of pictures illustrative of mangrove country, we returned to the ship quite ready for breakfast, but not at all impressed with the quality of the land. At noon we got under weigh again, and at two dropped anchor at Kapa Kapa, about two miles off the beach. The charred ruins of old Kapa Kapa were still discernible away to the east of the ship. This village had been destroyed about two years ago by the Hula natives, who, sparing women and children, massacred three of the men. The others taking flight, sought shelter within the houses of their next neighbours, with the inevitable effect of overcrowding to such an extent as to cause the outbreak of an epidemic which led to the evacuation of the village altogether. The present village is built half over the water, and the other half over dry land, and the number of inhabitants is estimated at about 500.

On the morning of the 25th I sallied out to pick up character sketches, and was so fortunate as to get a splendid group of natives, with a man and woman in deep mourning forming the central objects. This couple,