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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/262

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

in the left hand and occasionally giving a twist to the spindle with the right hand. The people know of no other minerals besides coal and iron pyrites. Their houses accommodate from ten to fifteen persons, and they do not keep pigs under their houses as other sea-coast tribes are in the habit of doing. Their sleeping-hours are peculiar. No bedding is used, but they sleep on mats till about midnight, when they wake up shivering with the cold of these inland mountains. A fire is then lighted on a large, oval-shaped hearth, that is made of clay in the center of each house, and all the inmates, young and old, sit round the fire until dawn in a crouching attitude, telling long-winded stories, sometimes nodding, and sometimes leaning against his or her neighbor with head resting on the knees. Their chants at night-time are doleful and monotonous in tone. For striking a light, the men carry in their waist-belt a small bamboo prettily carved, in which some tinder and a bit of porcelain are kept out of the rain. By holding the tinder and the piece of broken plate in the right hand, and striking it sharp on the side of the bamboo, the tinder is ignited." One of the objects of the expedition was to put a stop to the head-hunting raids between the Murut tribe and their traditional enemies the Peluans, the latter not representing a particular tribe, but the aborigines of the interior generally. "The Muruts are very frank in naming and numbering the heads they had taken; and I found the debit and credit account to be as follows: The Muruts have taken twenty-six heads of Peluans, the Peluans have taken thirty-one heads of Muruts; balance in favor of the Peluans, five heads, and also four Muruts who were wounded in the last affray. Each tribe distrusts the other, and peace can be only made by the Peluans paying a commensurate amount of blood-money in compensation for five heads that stand against them." Word was therefore sent to the Peluans to come down to a parley at an appointed time, with guarantee of safe-conduct. When the chiefs of the two sides had been brought together, "the Murut chiefs commenced taking the oath by chopping at a stick or sapling with great vigor, repeating the words of the oath with a loud voice, until toward the end they appeared quite excited. A Murut chief took the oath and then a Peluan, turn about, and, as each oath takes six or seven minutes to repeat, it took a long time. The following is a précis of the form of oath, each + denoting a chop at the stick, until it is finally chopped into little bits: 'I follow the Government of the British North Borneo Company +. The Sandêwar + and the Peluan + people are now of one mind +. If I kill a Sandêwar" (if a Peluan is swearing) "man + when I go to the water, may I not be able to drink +; when I go to the jungle may I not be able to eat +. May my father die +, may my mother die +, may my house be burned down +, may the paddy not grow