Page:The Melanesians Studies in their Anthropology and Folklore.djvu/71

This page has been validated.
iii.]
49
History of Saa.

the two younger had the same name, Ro Ute sen oo'u[1]. The chief was a quiet man; the two youngest, aided by the second, were always fighting and damaging their neighbours' property; all Pauulo Paina's money was spent in paying compensation for their injuries and in making peace, and he told them he must leave them and go away. The neighbouring people, however, determined to make an end of their trouble; they collected, and began to surround the village of Saa as night fell. Before their circle was complete the Saa people learnt their danger, gathered their women and children, and escaped unseen and unheard in the darkness, carrying with them three drums, which remained at the present Saa within the memory of old men yet alive. But when they were clear of the enemy and safe outside their line, they remembered that a bunch of areca-nuts from which Pauulo Paina had already taken some to chew with his betel leaves, and which would furnish means to the enemy of working his death with charms, was left behind. The two Ute agreed that one of them, if he died for it, must go for the nuts to save the elder brother, and the younger of the two took on himself the danger because he was the younger. The circle was now closed round the village, but it was still dark, and the enemy knowing nothing of the escape sat waiting for the dawn to make their onset. The young Ute took his seat among them as one of their party, and after a while said to them that he would steal in and see whether the Saa people were safe in their houses and could be surprised. Thus he passed through to the empty village, climbed the palm with a rope round his feet, gathered all the nuts remaining on the tree, and as he came down so twisted the stem that when his feet touched the ground it split into four, and fell with a crash upon the house. The enemy hearing the sound thought that the Saa people were not yet all asleep, and sat still; Ute managed to pass through them unperceived with his nuts, and joined his friends. Thus they escaped and descended towards the coast;

  1. The two having the same name were the 'Bonito-gutter champions'; the Saa oo'u being the Mota wowut, a fine fellow, a favourite, a hero.

E