Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/40

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Introductory.

different habits. At Savo, where without any attempt at domestication they have become private property, they lay in a carefully divided and appropriated patch of sand, and come out of the bush, as the natives say, twice a day to lay and look after their eggs. In the Banks' Islands and the New Hebrides they lay their eggs in the hollow of a decayed tree or in a heap of rubbish they have scratched together. In the Banks' Islands these birds are called malau, as they are maleo in Celebes[1]. The native breed of fowls still abounds in Santa Cruz; the imported fowls seem to have destroyed and replaced them in all the more commonly visited places, though they were common thirty years ago[2]. Crocodiles are abundant in the Solomon Islands and Santa Cruz; they are sometimes seen in the Banks' Islands, and one was lately killed in the Torres Islands; they are known and named in the Northern New Hebrides. The name throughout is the same, vua or via, the Malay buaya, Malagasy voay. The natives of Ysabel maintain that they have four eyes, two for clear water, and two for mud. Snakes are not everywhere abundant; at Mota in the Banks' Islands there are no land snakes, and the natives maintain that if imported they will not live; in Vanua Lava and Saddle Island of the same group, those that live among the root-stems of the huge banyan-trees are said to attain an enormous size. The eels in the Tas of Santa Maria are sometimes more than thirty inches in girth. It is tantalizing to those who suffer so much from mosquitos in the islands now to know that Mendana, who was two months at Santa Cruz,

  1. Mr. Wallace remarks of the maleo of Celebes, that the difference between the sexes is so slight that it is not always possible to distinguish it without dissection. At Savo it is asserted that there is no distinction of sex, all are hens; ara mua pukua na tanotanodika, they know no sexual impropriety.
  2. The rapidity with which imported fowls have replaced the indigenous breed is remarkable. I have no recollection myself of having seen native fowls, out of Santa Cruz, except in Lepers' Island and Florida. Mr. Woodford remarks, as a proof how little native tradition can be depended on, that natives assured him that there were no fowls in the Solomons until white men came. They meant, no doubt, fowls of the kind before them. I am not aware that any new name has come in anywhere in the Solomon Islands, as kokok has in the Banks' Islands, for the new fowls.