Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/121

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Florida 'Matambala.'

they whistle and cluck, and all the women in the village shut fast their houses and are much afraid, because they think that they are surely ghosts; and they take the tutu and the gola, and give it to the ghosts outside. Then all the men cry mbuembue, and go down back again to the shore. After that, again, they fix their day for the going up of the ghosts, and they fix the fourth day; and when the fourth day has come, and it is night, then they take again as before the seesee and the buro, and go out again, and go and beat the seesee and whirl the buro, and whistle and cluck; and again they give them the tutu and soisombi mixed with almonds; and then all the men cry mbuembue, and go down again to the beach. The women prepared small holes in the wall of the house, through which to push out the food to the Matambala, a contrivance to prevent them from feeling the hands of the men. When the women hear the whistle they ask, 'Who are you, are you Siko?' and the man whistles in answer and takes the food. Great care was taken lest the men should be seen when the ghosts were believed to be about, and the Matambala were covered, as elsewhere, with a cloak of leaves; but in the daytime they went among the women, gave notice of what the ghosts were going to do, and called attention to what had been done by them.

The downfall of this superstition and imposture has been complete. It had long been undermined by the free admission of Florida boys and young men into the salagoro of the Banks' Islands, and the knowledge acquired there of what ghost mysteries really were. No Matambala celebration had taken place for some years; all the young people knew how the thing was done, though the elders did not give up their belief in Siko, or the notion that there was something supernatural about it. At length, as said before, the man who knew how to sacrifice to Siko became a Christian, the sacred precincts were explored, bull-roarers became the playthings of the boys, and the old men sat and wept over the profanation and their loss of power and privilege[1].

  1. 'I was sorry one day to hear that a lot of Gaeta young men had been