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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/650

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

carved chair, large enough for a whole family, stands in each of these compartments facing a blazing wood-fire. The smoke fills the whole house, and escapes only slowly through a small opening in the roof and through the chinks of the planks.

The arrival of the stranger was an interesting topic of conversation, and groups of men and women were seen in eager discussion in our house and on the street which runs in front of the houses. My friend tried to explain to them that I did not intend to interfere with their feasts and usages, and that I did not want anything but to stay some time in their village and to trade with them. His endeavors, however, were unsuccessful, and the chief deemed it necessary to arrange a general council in which the presence of the stranger was to be discussed. In the evening I was told that on the next day a great feast was to be held and that my presence was requested. Of course I felt highly honored and was glad to have so soon an occasion to observe the peculiar feasts and customs of the natives.

Early in the morning all families were astir. The young men went out in their canoes at daybreak and returned about nine o'clock with heavy logs in tow, which were drawn upon the beach, split, and carried into the house in which the feast was to be held. Here men and women were busily engaged in preparations. The compartments were torn down, the frames and screens being taken away. The house was swept, and wood for a large fire piled up in the center of the building. Dried halibut, which is kept in large boxes, and fish-oil, which is preserved in tubes made of dried kelp, were taken from the store-rooms and served in enormous carved wooden dishes which represent the crest animal of the host's family. When everything was prepared, the men assembled. Women are not permitted to partake in the feasts except the eldest daughters of chiefsā€”if the eldest child happens to be a girl. Their faces are painted red and black; they are wrapped up in their best blankets; their hair is carefully arranged and frequently covered with eagle-down. A few old men carry carved sticks, and all sit on mats which are spread at the foot of the platform which encircles the floor of the house. The host and a young man who was hired for the purpose looked after the fire. When all were assembled, one man took up the drum, a large box made of bent wood, which is painted with the host's crest, and began beating the time with his fist. The old men joined him with their dancing-sticks, the rest of the men clapping their hands. Then the singing-master, who instructs daily the old and young men, started the tune, and the chorus joined him after a few bars. When the text of the song is long, he calls out the text of every verse, while the time-beating goes on and the chorus repeats the words, singing. The first song was a war-song:

"Do not fight with daggers; kill your enemies with your arrows. Thus the chief said, and his heart was glad when he had killed his