Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/289

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107
TWO NEW GUINEA STORIES.

will you not die?" "No, Miria, that cannot kill me;" and then I told him of the many charms, fetisches, &c., I had from other places. He was evidently distressed, for after thinking the matter over, he said, "Were there only two Tamates it would be right one to die and one to live; we have only one, and cannot get another." "Miria, do not be alarmed. I can look on all Veata's things and know I will live." "Well, I will ask him."

After some time, Veata and Miria came into the house, and, sitting down in front of me, I asked the former if the latter had spoken to him of what I was anxious to see. Veata looked steadily at me, and said, "My friend Tamate, I would, but I am afraid, very much afraid. No living soul but my sister and me has ever seen those things, and you know very frightened Maiva is." "Veata, friend, do not be afraid, your kohu goods cannot injure me, and I alone will see them." "To-night I will return, and you will see them, and no one but ourselves must be in the house." "Good, friend, now do not deceive me."

He is a man some forty years old, about 5 feet 8 inches in height, well made, with a peculiar anxious expression and dark restless eyes. He would have been killed long ago, but his party is large and influential, and all of them would rally round him, as, apart from relationship, he is the source of food and property to them.

Long droughts will bring large quantities of yams, bananas, sugar cane, betel nut, cocoa nuts, pigs, fish, tobacco, arm-shells, ear, neck, and forehead ornaments.

When one is sick friends will do the same. If death follows he is blamed. When my old friend Oa died, Veata had to leave for some time, until it was shown by his friends that he could not have caused Oa's death, and the blame was then laid on another.

This superstition is the source of constant trouble in the Gulf, and amongst the inland tribes on the Owen Stanley Range. Last year Motu-Motu, on their return from Port Moresby, where they had been trading with arrowroot, attacked Keveri, a district near Cape Possession, and killed three men, themselves losing two. Since then they have threatened to return, but were afraid of the teachers at Maiva, and