Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/425

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Betawerai.
 

11. About Betawerai a Snake. Aurora.

The beginning was in this way; a woman and her child went to strip pandanus leaves for weaving mats, and the boy saw a young snake on the stalk of a leaf and begged his mother to let him have it for he wanted it; his mother forbade him to take it. But he said that he wished for it, and so he laid hold on the little red snake, and took it and put it in the hollow trunk of a tree; and the name of that tree is the uqava; he put it into the hollow of that, and he used to feed it with rats or birds or black lizards, or pig’s flesh, and that snake became extremely large. And one day when he killed a pig he went to give it some; but that snake snatched the pig from him, and ate him up also, and crawled out of the hollow tree, and came into the village and ate up all the people in the place. But there was one pregnant woman who survived; and she dug a pit, and took a thin flat stone and laid it over the pit, and she stayed within it. And she brought forth her children, twins, and they three remained in that pit in the ground. And the snake ate up all the people, and then went and took up its abode on a banyan-tree, and brought forth exceedingly many young ones, and two the chief among them. The name of one of these was Betawerai, and this one was not able to go about, but stayed always on a branch of the banyan. But we call the branch of a big tree like a banyan tawerai, like the flat of the hand, and this was named after that, Betawerai, At the branch. And the other one used to go very far away seeking diligently men or pigs to eat, and his name was Walolo. But one day those two, the children of the woman who had lived in the ground, begged of their mother to make them bows and arrows; and after that they said they would go into the village and seek that snake to shoot it and kill it. But when they had gone and had seen from a distance that banyan where Betawerai and Walolo lived, they saw upon the branches, and on the little twigs, and on the leaves, nothing but snakes on that