Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/193

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Lepers' Island. Tagaro-mbiti.

found two female vui, who said they were hungry. He promised them food and brought it to them—four baskets-full. One of the women was beautiful, the other full of sores. They asked him which he would have, and he answered that he would take them both. Thereupon each gave him a stone full of mana, one to get him ten barrow-pigs, the other for ten sows; and they promised always to help him to get pigs, that he might mount to greatness in the Suqe. These women were vui, whose power lay in pigs; nevertheless, to this day, when the man's wives go down to the beach for their fishing, they find fish caught and lying ready for them. It is well worthy of notice that Merambuto and his fellows are represented not only as to a certain extent mischievous and unfriendly, but also easily deceived and ignorant. This appears clearly in the story of Merambuto and Tagaro-mbiti in the tree, where Merambuto did not know and dreaded as something unknown the conch-shell trumpet, as a Motlav story also represents a vui as afraid of the sound of a drum. On the side of Lepers' Island which is nearest to Araga the story of Suqe is told, and he is represented as always in the wrong, though he shares the work of creation with Tagaro. They two made the land, and the things upon it; when they made the trees the fruit of Tagaro's was good for food, but Suqe's bitter; when they made men, Tagaro said they should walk upright on two legs, Suqe that they should go like pigs; Suqe wanted to have men sleep in the trunks of sago-palms, Tagaro said that they should work and dwell in houses; so they always disagreed, and the word of Tagaro stood. It was Tagaro also who went to Maewo and brought back night in a shell. When he let it out and darkness crept over the sky, men wept and beat their houses. Tagaro is represented also as the father of ten sons, of whom Tagaro-mbiti, the Little, was the last, and exceedingly small. His brothers went out to work, but he stayed at home with a sore on his leg. They planted the leaves of the edible caladium, the top shoot of the banana, the vine of the yam; but when they were gone he took the crown of the caladium, the suckers of the banana, the rind of the yam,