Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/521

This page has been validated.


MELANESIAN FOLK-TALES.




Story of Lata.

(Sta. Cruz.)

BEFORE Lata was born, an eel foretold that he would eat it. After his birth, his father caught the eel, cut off its tail, and gave it to the child to suck. When Lata was two days old, his father and mother went kite-fishing, and left the child covered under a wooden bowl. The parents were blown away out to sea, and the child grew by himself alone under the bowl. When he was grown, he saw the light under the edge of the bowl, threw it off, and came out into the light. Then he made himself toy canoes with larger and larger leaves in succession, till he made one in which he could sail about, and then, seeing a tree, began to cut it down for a real canoe. Every day, as he ceased working, one Ginota came and replaced what he had cut. At last he was unable to do so, because a chip had fallen into Lata's bag; so he waited till Lata came back in the morning, when the rattling of the chip in his bag betrayed him, and the two agreed to work together. The tree was properly shaped and carried down to the village, the various parts and sails made and fitted, and the proper feasts given to the people. When the canoe was launched, Lata's mother cautioned him against certain fish which would jump into it and break it; but these he caught in a net and brought back for her to cook. Next she warned him against a shark, and this he killed with a sharp stake. Then she warned him against a giant clam, and in his next voyage he found his canoe being carried by a current into the jaws of an enormous shell. He saved himself by thrusting an upright