Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/418

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Stories.
 

7. The Woman and the Eel. Aurora.

A woman went to lay pandanus leaves to weave mats with in the water, and she laid them there in the evening and went home. In the morning she went to take the leaves from the water; and when she went to take them out, behold, they were turned into an eel. Then she ran back and told it to some men who were engaged in the suqe, and they ran down and tied a cord to the eel and dragged it up to the village. But there was a lame man who could not go with them, and he lay in the gamal, club-house; and by the side of the gamal there was a croton-tree; and as they dragged up that eel it curled its tail round the croton, and the croton was nearly broken, and the lame man saw it. But they dragged hard at the eel and it loosed its tail from the croton, and they brought it into the village, and laid it at the entrance of the gamal. So when they ran off for fire-wood and banana leaves to cook it with, the eel said to the lame man, When they are eating don't you eat; they shall eat by themselves. Consequently the lame man did not eat; but they put the eel to be cooked in the oven of the suqe, and covered in the oven. And when they opened the oven they all took up pieces of the eel, every one of them a piece, and when the great man said to them, Now put them ready, then they all put them ready; and after that he said again, Now let us eat, and they all took a bite at once. But as they bit once their legs turned into eels; and they bit a second time and the bodies of them all turned into eels; and they bit again, and they were all eels; and the great man glided away first, and they all followed him into the water.

    making preparations for their dance and feast, one of their party takes pity on him, unties and delivers him; the two paddle back to Vanua Lava. But when they reach Qat-wuruga's place all has disappeared. When he was captured his father Wetopunpun had gone to the beach and sat there grieving. The Qakea people, seeing him there day after day, paddled over and took him to their place, where there was a famine. There with his charm Soso-punpun he makes gardens full of food to appear. They envy him and he leaves them, and seeks a solitary place, where he sits down by the side of Ro Som with all his possessions round him. A stone there representing him is a place of sacrifice to this day.