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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/254

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242
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

he is bade wait while the rest enter. At last comes one to the gate who bids him enter, having first made him undertake, under penalty of death, not to divulge to women, to children, or to the uninitiated, anything of that which he may see or hear within. Entering on this stipulation, he finds the yard crowded with the warriors of his town, who welcome him to their ranks, call him by his new name, and congratulate him on passing all the tests so well. When this social function is over, he is led onward to the door of the house, there to receive his martial equipment. As he enters the door he notices the Duk-duk extinguisher standing in a farther corner, and squatting before it some half-dozen of the most considerable men of his tribe, including the chief. The bow and arrows, the spear, the heavy club, and the short-helved stone axe are then given him by the chief, with a few words of counsel, bidding him use them as a warrior should, and advising him that, if he use them well, he may in time be chosen to sit within the house, while the others are privileged only to use the yard. Then another of the seated figures—he who has that day worn the great Duk-duk mask—arises and chants the mysteries, to which, at proper intervals, the initiated standing near the door respond by an answering chant, which has no meaning that they know; the words are in an unknown tongue, and have been handed down by tradition from they know not whom. From the sound of some of the words even in their mutilated condition, and from the frequent use of the remarkably significant word Saba, it is possible that this refrain preserves a trace of an ancient Polynesian migration over these islands, just as the Derry-down chorus in English is a Druidical remnant.

For the rest, the mysteries, which have very little interest for the white man, are merely a rationalistic rehearsal of a creed of unbelief. Everything which by the uninitiated is held as of particular obligation, is here chanted as something that the initiated must rigidly impress upon the profane, yet which for themselves they may disregard. The tabu is to have no force for them except the great tabu, with a flock of hair on it, and that they must not break through. All others they may transgress, if only they do it slyly, and so as not to raise public scandal among the women and the others who are bound by their provisions. They must teach the uninitiated that there are malign spirits abroad by night, but they themselves need not believe anything so stupid. In a word, they form an association for the purpose of playing upon the innocence and credulity of their fellows, and right bravely do they keep up the imposture. One only belief do they profess, and that is in the spirit of the volcano-fires, and even that is discarded by the inner degree of the Duk-duk, those halfdozen men who sit within the mystic house and dupe the initiates