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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/291

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

lowest are the Armidwon, or Kajur, who own nothing; above them are the Leadagedag, to whom they must bring provision, and whom they must obey. Men of the latter class are permitted to own property. The third rank, called the Budag, is composed of the brothers and sous of the king. Over all is the Irod, or king, from whom the Leadagedag receive their commands. The Kajurs are allowed to have but one wife; men of the other classes may have more. The Kajur has the right to take the single wife from a man of lower condition than himself, but the men of the second rank are not permitted to speak with the wife of the king; and if the king goes abroad, leaving his wife at home, all the Leadagedag and the Budag, except the sons of the king, must leave the island. If a woman in the higher ranks is put away by her husband, as may happen if she is childless, she can not be taken in marriage by any one of a lower condition; but a man may marry a woman of a higher rank than his own and be raised to her rank. The food of the islanders is scanty. Young cocoanuts take the place of the drinking water, which is brackish. Cocoa-nuts, pandanus, and bread-fruit form the regular food. Arrow, root, brought from the northern islands, cooked with finely cut cocoa-nut, forms a favorite dish. A kind of conserve is made by roasting the pandanus-fruit over a bed of hot coals and covered with hot sand. In two days the fruit is taken out, sliced, dried in the sun, and pressed into rolls, which can be kept for two years. Another preparation, piru, is made from the bread-fruit. The fruit is cut up, steeped in salt water, and beaten; it is then put away in a shady place and covered with leaves; the soft mass is kneaded on the second day, laid away for a week, and kneaded again, when it is ready for use, and will keep good for five or six months. The principal disease from which the people suffer, and the most fatal one, is a catarrhal cold resembling the glanders in beasts. Europeans are also liable to take it, but they have it in a milder form, and do not die of it. A skin-disease called the gogo is generally prevalent, but is not commonly dangerous. This disease is not due to lack of personal cleanliness, for the natives are so much in the water as to make such a condition rare, and it prevails chiefly with the men, who are most in the water. The guild of the heathen priests consisted chiefly of diviners. God was supposed to appear to them and disclose the future to them. During the interview, which usually lasted for two or three days, they took no food. They never ate or drank out of dishes that had been used, and broke the cups after they had drunken from them. They were supposed to know about the wind and the weather, and the chances of success in enterprises, and were called into the sick and expected to foretell whether they would live or die. Remedies for disease were and are wholly unknown. Warm water, a few leaves, and especially rubbing, which is carefully attended to by the women with conjuring words, are the only medicaments. The friends of the sick man were formerly accustomed to come to him, bringing pandanus leaves, which they would fold together in patterns of equal size; if the last fold came out of the same length with the others, the omen was considered a good one for an impending recovery; if otherwise, the sick man was taker away to a distance, depending on the length of the last fold. These and many other customs have gone or are going out of use, and occur only exceptionally in places where one tenth of the population have been converted to Christianity. Fights are rare; wars are carried on chiefly by one party trying to destroy the cocoa palms or burn the houses of the other. They never come to a battle, but are conducted by siege, and generally end by the besieged party yielding. The worst damage ensues after the war, when, the trees being cut down and the land wasted, a famine of five or six months' duration is nearly certain. The principal occupation of the inhabitants is fishing. To catch the flying-fish a large torch is burned in a dark night upon a fast sailing canoe. The fish fly toward the glimmer and either strike the sail and fall down or are caught by the skillful fisherman with a long-handled net. The yellow-tail fish swims in schools, and is caught with two canoes which, tied together, draw a cord after them on the top of the water, and drive the fish into shallow places, where they are caught with little trouble. It is a curious fact that the fish will occasionally leap over the cord, but will never swim away under it.