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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/667

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AMONG THE FIJI ISLANDS.

the rest in one or two rows kept walking slowly round them, singing in admirable time, far better than usually in church or school, but quite monotonous as to tune. Their costume was only the simple sulu or waist-cloth, but there were no really beautiful figures among them. Little bonfires were made to light up the performance, and the groups of small children tending these, or improvising torches, which they held with the greatest gravity and patience, was the most picturesque part of the scene. At last, when the young ladies had evidently exhausted their répertoire, and were beginning to repeat themselves, I slipped away, when Sailosi followed and begged me to stay, as he had arranged for a men's dance, and it was just coming on. Accordingly, they arrived and took possession of the ground; and the girls, after walking and chanting round them for a minute or two, as if by way of protest, gave it up and seated themselves among the spectators. It must be admitted that the new performance was a very superior affair. The dancers, fine stalwart fellows, gave first some of those curious combined movements, either simultaneous and in marvelous unison, or sometimes passing down a long line as if to represent the motion of a wave: then there were some capital figures, vigorously and beautifully danced, alternate rows dancing with regular steps in opposite directions, then setting to each other and wheeling round. I should not venture in "Maga," or indeed elsewhere, to hint that it was an improvement on a reel, but it recalled one in many of its features, including the occasional shout.

At Naiserelangi, another town on the north coast, where a half-yearly assemblage of chiefs was sitting, I had the good fortune to see some very picturesque and interesting ceremonies. These consisted of the customary offerings made by the people of the neighborhood to the visitors who had come from other parts of the district. Groups of these—splendid-looking fellows many of them—sat squatting in expectation on a space near the chief's house; while down the various paths leading to the village picturesque files of men and women came streaming on, carrying, either in their hands or on poles slung over their shoulders, bunches of every size of yams, or dalo, or pigs, or turtles. The procession had certainly not been marshaled with a conscious eye to the picturesque, and yet no artist or stage-manager could have produced an effect more perfect as to grouping, form, and color—the long rows of pleasant or stalwart figures ending off with little children, each gravely carrying its little offering, a single fruit, perhaps, or an Qgg; while for background to the picture rose a gently sloping hill-side, half wild, half planted, and crowned by precipice and forest. The bearers came up and deposited their burdens before the party of visitors, some one of these laying his hand on each heap in token of acceptance; and then followed a