Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/190

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68
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

me some bird of paradise plumes, leaving him a quantity of tobacco for the purpose, and making him a present of print and other articles for himself and wife. He told me that so long as the ship was in sight, the price of all curios was forced up to a fancy value, but that after her departure the beloved "Kuku" would purchase anything at reasonable rates. The commercial ways of savages are very like those of civilized beings to be sure! The tobacco I brought—the best American Raven twist—was too good for the market; anything will do, if black and strong.

On the 29th, although it was still blowing hard, I managed to get some nice groups, and especially one of two women in mourning, keeping watch at a hut erected over the remains of some departed relative; I was obliged to go to leeward for the view, and as photography appeals to the eye and not the nose, I deemed the public had the best of it. Numbers of women sat outside the houses busy making ramis (petticoats) out of strips of fibrous leaves spread out in the sun to dry, and performing certain duties for each other often mentioned by previous travellers. After breakfast we started for Kerepunu, crossing the Kemp Welch river in a native canoe close to where the massacre of the teachers took place. The river is about a hundred yards wide and being shallow at its mouth can only be entered by boats of light draught. Once across the bar there is water enough to float a big ship. About a mile from its mouth the stream bifurcates, the smaller affluent being nearly dry at low water, while the larger is navigable for about fifteen miles, and is supposed to take its rise in the neighbourhood of the Laloki, but on the eastern side of the water shed, running along the back of the Astrolabe range, until it reaches the level land at the back of Hula, The vegetation here is extremely rich, and the luxuriant condition of the native gardens indicates the great fertility of the soil. Dismissing our ferry men with a small present of tobacco, we proceeded with our bearers along the sandy beach. The glare of the sun on the shore and water was oppressive and I was thankful that I had provided myself with a pair of Mr. Gaunt's smoked goggles before leaving Melbourne, as they saved my eyes, not only from the sun's rays but