Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/179

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Story of Qat.

put it into his canoe, and sailed over to Vava, where he bought night, qong, from I Qong, Night, who lived there. Others say that he paddled to the foot of the sky, to buy night from Night, and that Night blackened his eyebrows, and showed him sleep that evening, and taught him in the morning how to make the dawn. Qat returned to his brothers with the knowledge of night, and with a fowl and other birds, to give notice of the time for the return of light. So he bade them prepare themselves bed-places; and they platted cocoa-nut fronds and spread them in the house. Then for the first time they saw the sun moving and sinking to the west, and called out to Qat that it was crawling away. 'It will soon be gone,' said he; 'and if you see a change on the face of the earth, that is night.' Then he let go the night. ’What is this coming out of the sea,' they cried, ’and covering the sky?' ’That is night,' said he; 'sit down on both sides of the house, and when you feel something in your eyes, lie down and be quiet.' Presently it was dark, and their eyes began to blink. 'Qat! Qat! what is this? shall we die?' 'Shut your eyes,' said he; ’this is it, go to sleep.' When night had lasted long enough the cock began to crow and the birds to twitter; Qat took a piece of red obsidian and cut the night with it[1]; the light over which the night had spread itself shone forth again, and Oat's brothers awoke. After this he occupied himself again in making things.

According to 'the story told at Lakona, in Santa Maria, Qat and Marawa (another vui who here corresponds to the Supwe of Maewo and Araga) dwelt in their place at Matan, near to the mountain Garat, where the volcanic fires still smoulder. They two made men in this way. Qat cut wood of dracæna-trees into shape; he formed legs, arms, trunks, heads, and added ears and eyes; then he fitted part to part, and six days he worked about it. After this he fixed the time of six days for them to come to life. Three days he hid them away, and

  1. Hence the expressions, o maran me teve, the morning has cut, and o mera ti lamasag, the dawn strikes upon the sky, mera being a common word for red.