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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/668

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

gentle clapping of hands, or of some other naked part, either in unison or a sort of running fire, but in a quiet ceremonious manner, as indicating formal rather than enthusiastic approval. Then the immense heap was divided into portions by a mata ni vanua—a hereditary official combining the duties of herald, embassador, and master of the ceremonies—who then proclaimed the name of the place for which each portion was destined. This is obviously a very delicate, not to say critical, operation, and to perform the division to the general satisfaction requires tact and discrimination of a high order. Finally, the parties representing each of the places named stepped forward and carried off their allotted portions. There is considerable feasting on these occasions, and sometimes, with such vast piles of food, considerable waste. They are enormous eaters, and constantly at it. One morning our share of the offering was brought in—a turtle and a mountain of dalo, then a little later a pig and another vast heap of dalo and yams; and before evening our crew of five had accounted for it all, with the very slight assistance we could give them; but the national vegetables have, of course, very little substance. Sometimes one sees fine-looking poultry and even turkeys, and one often gets very fair fish.

The sea, indeed, in some places, teems with life. You sail through masses of little white jelly-fish, or of a larger brown kind, besides a magnificent species of a rich purple color. Then there are multitudes of a diminutive flying-fish which I have not seen elsewhere. To the usual perils of the deep must here be added the shoals of gar-fish—a creature usually some fifteen inches long, with a long, sharp, bony snout—which at times take to whizzing through the air in all directions. You can not avoid them, for you can not tell from what direction one may be coming, and the snout, if it hit you fair, would go through your face or give a very ugly wound. One of our crew was struck and wounded, but he only threw the fish to the bottom of the boat, and said quietly, "I shall take it out of you for this to-night." A woman in the neighborhood had recently been struck by one in the breast, and died of the wound. A curious sight I saw one day, which I could not understand. Two large fish rose together about a yard from each other, shot straight up into the air, and then, sheering off in opposite directions, fell into the water a long way from each other. I asked what this meant—had they quarreled? "No," said one of the sailors, "it is not that. I have seen it before. It means a fair wind to-morrow." So next day, the wind being the reverse of fair, they put him into the bows to get the benefit of the water as it broke over us—hardly the way to encourage a study of natural phenomena!

The Fijians are a grand-looking race, splendidly made, and well