Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/188

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66
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

with the object of being photographed, and Mr. Chalmers subsequently informed me that such is their vanity that had they but money, a photographic artist in New Guinea would rapidly accumulate a fortune. After an hour's rest I started with my four bearers in pursuit of the rest of the party who had preceded me to Kalo. The road lay through yam plantations and luxuriant groves of cocoa-nut palms, left to grow as they pleased, the native merely collecting the crops. The rapidity with which a Papuan can ascend a palm tree is marvellous. On an indication that a drink would be appreciated, up he goes, and in an incredible short space of time throws down half-a-dozen young nuts just fit for tapping. His method of ascending is to take anything that will spin into a lanyard, such as a bit of rattan, the rib of a cocoa-nut leaf, or even a handful of long grass. This he ties over his feet near the instep, connecting the feet by a pliable link, then by alternate movements of hands and feet he ascends the straight stem of the palm. Arrived underneath the fronds he holds on with one hand, and with the other twists the nut round the stem till it drops. Boys eight or ten years old can do this as well as the men, and I have no doubt the girls are equally agile, though as yet I have not seen them mount a tree. I arrived at Kalo just in time for lunch in the house of Tau the Rarotongan teacher, changing my clothes immediately, a precaution against fever which should always be taken after a fatiguing journey. After a rest and a smoke the General and his party walked to the river bank, where the boat was in waiting to proceed to Kerepunu, while I and my assistant made ourselves comfortable at Tau's house, where we were to spend the night. The Kalo people were in a state of great delight at the presents their chiefs had received from the General, whose visit tended to efface the sanguinary reprisals made by the blue-jackets of H.M.S. "Wolverine" after the murder of ten teachers in the place. We were shown the marks of the bullets in the cocoa-nut trees, and altogether the people seemed to cherish a healthy recollection of the chastisement inflicted upon them, which was severe, the village being surrounded and several men shot before the rest were allowed to escape into the bush. The chief's house was razed to the ground. The