Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/183

This page has been validated.
Adventures of Qat.

nutmeg-tree instantly grew so large in the trunk that Qat's arms could never clasp it, and all its boughs and branches equally swelled out. But Qat did not at first discover this, because he was busy setting his snares; his brother who had laid the spell upon the nutmeg-tree ran back, collecting the others as he went into the village; they seized and carried off Ro Lei, dragged down the canoe into the sea, and paddled off at once. The island had already sunk out of their sight when they blew their shell trumpet to let Qat know that they were gone. When he heard it he knew what had happened, and would have followed them, but the size of the swelled branches of the nutmeg-tree made it impossible for him to descend; he tried and tried in vain, and then lifted up his voice and wept. His friend Marawa, the Spider, heard his cries, and came to ask him what was the matter. 'I can't get down,' said he; 'my brothers have played me this trick.' 'Down with you,' said Marawa, whose hair was exceedingly long and loose; and he sent up his hair to Qat, who descended by it and ran into the village. There he found the rollers of his canoe alone remaining, and sought his wife in vain, for his brothers had taken off his wife and his canoe to be their own. Then Qat went inside his house, and took his cock's-tail plume, and his string of the smallest shell-money, his red earth, and his shell hatchet, and asked his mother for his banana fruit. 'They have plucked them all,' she answered, ’except these little ones at the end of the bunch.' 'Pluck them all off,' said Qat. Then he took a cocoa-nut-shell bottle and stowed all his things and his food within it, made himself small and took his seat within it, and bade his mother count three waves, and at the fourth small wave to throw it into the sea. So Qat floated on and on in the bottle till he came up to the canoe in which his brothers were, for they had not yet reached land. Then he floated along before the bow of the canoe, and where he drifted they were forced to follow. By-and-by he took one of his bananas and ate it, and threw the skin into the sea where the canoe would come along. His brothers saw it, and remarked that it was like those