Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/188

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Spirits.

Qasavara, 'do me no harm; take me kindly for one of your household, and I will work for you.' 'No, indeed,' said Qat, 'but I will revenge myself for the mischief you have done me.' So he let go the tip of the casuarina-tree, and the tree sprang back and flipped off Qasavara, and his head knocked against the sky, and he fell back upon the earth; and there he lay at length upon his face, and turned into a stone. And now they offer sacrifices at that stone for valour; if any one desires to be valiant and strong in fighting, he offers at that stone, which they say is Qasavara[1].

The stone apparently is not at Tatgan in Vanua Lava, where it should be; so they say it is in Gaua; but it is agreed that Qat and his brothers took up their abode at Tatgan. It was, however, from Gaua that the story makes Qat to have taken his departure from the world. Where now in the centre of that island is the great lake, the Tas, there was formerly a great plain covered with forest. Qat cut himself a large canoe there out of one of the largest trees. While making it he was often ridiculed by his brothers, and asked how he would ever get so large a canoe to the sea. He answered always that they would see by-and-by. When the canoe was finished he took inside it his wife and brothers, collected the living creatures of the island, even those so small as ants, and shut himself with them inside the canoe, to which he had made a covering. Then came a deluge of rain; the great hollow of the island became full of water, which burst through the surrounding hills where now descends the great waterfall of Gaua. The canoe tore a channel for itself out into the sea and disappeared. The people believed that the best of everything was taken from the islands when Qat so left them, and they looked forward to his return. When for the first time Bishop Patteson and his companions went ashore at Mota, some of the natives now living remember that it was said that Qat and his brothers were returned. Some years after that a small trading vessel ran

  1. As Qasavara fell from heaven the women in their fright held their hands above their heads, but the men held theirs before their breasts; consequently from that time forth men grow bald and the breasts of women protrude.