Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/187

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65
AN EXPEDITION INLAND.

leaves. We found numbers of women at work, and at every cocoa-nut grove we passed we were offered a refreshing drink. The cocoa-nut is very abundant here, and consequently very cheap. Forty young nuts or twenty full grown ones can be purchased for a fig of trade tobacco, a price at which the "three sticks a penny" fraternity might invest to a fabulous profit, could they but get their goods delivered at Epsom. After traversing three or four miles of fertile country, we arrived at the inland villages of Babaga and Kamali. The buildings here differ from the marine dwellings considerably. The piles on which they are built are mostly strong timber up to eighteen inches in diameter, and how with their primitive appliances they manage to move these huge logs is a mystery. I took views of some of these houses, which have two platforms, or rather a large platform and verandah in front, the latter corresponding to the upper story of the structure. The chiefs' houses are further decorated with a fanciful spire at the apex of the gable, sometimes with poles projecting from their sides ornamented with streamers or pennants of bark. The inland people suffer terribly from skin diseases, far more so than the coast tribes, who are by no means exempt, but here, where water is not abundant, two persons out of three are more or less affected. A great mortality must have prevailed lately, as we saw numbers of people in mourning and observed charnel houses and graves in the streets, under the dwellings, and in fact anywhere and everywhere, while the odour of decomposing heaps of vegetable matter rendered the atmosphere anything but savoury, and quickly drove us away. On the outskirts of Kamali we came upon a picturesque dwelling which I photographed, while Dr. Doyle Glanville employed his pencil in sketching a woman in mourning. Kamali being more attractive than the village we had just quitted I remained to get a few studies, while the rest of the party went on ahead. The arrangement was that Sir Peter was to meet a boat at the crossing of the Kemp Welch river and be ferried to the launch which would rejoin the "Governor Blackall" at her fresh anchorage at Kerepunu. I felt some misgivings as to getting sitters, being as I was unable to communicate with the people except by signs, but to my astonishment all the inhabitants turned out, evidently