CHAPTER 7. On the War-Trail in Cannibal Papua.
Expedition against the Doboduras - We hear reports about a Web-footed Tribe - Landing at the Mouth of the Musa River - A Good Bag - Barigi River Reached - A Flight of Torres Straits Pigeons - A Tropical Night Scene - Brilliant Rues of Tropical Fish - Arrival of Supplies - Prospects of a Stiff Fight - Landing of the Force - Pigs Shot to Prevent them from being Cooked Alive - Novelty of Firearms - A Red Sunrise - Beauty of the Forest - Enemies' War Cry First Heard - Rushing a Village - Revolting Relics of Cannibal Feast - Doboduras eat their Enemies Alive - Method of Extracting the Brains - Extensive Looting - Firing at the Enemies' Scouts - An Exciting Chase - When in Doubt Turn to the Right - Another Village Rushed - Skirmishes with the Enemy - Relics of Cannibalism general in the Villages - Camp Formed at the Largest Village - Capture of Prisoners - An "Object, Lesson" - Carriers ask Leave to Eat one of the Slain - Arigita's Opinion - Cannibal Surroundings at our Supper - Expectation of a Night Attack.
We were three white men, Monckton was the resident magistrate, while Acland and I myself were NON-OFFICIO members of the expedition, being friends of Monckton.
We had been some time at Cape Nelson, where the residency was, a lonely though beautiful spot on the north-east coast of British New Guinea. Whilst here I had made good collections of birds and butterflies, and had made expeditions into the surrounding and little known country, including the mountains at the back, where no white man had yet been. And now (September 17th, 1902) we were off on a government exploring and punitive expedition into the unknown wilds of this fascinating and interesting country.
We three sat on the stern of the large whale boat, while the twenty police and our four boys took turns at the oars. They were fine fellows these Papuan police, and their uniforms suited them well, consisting as they did of a deep blue serge vest, edged with red braid, and a "sulu" or kilt of the same material, which with their bare legs made a sensible costume for the work they had to perform in this rough country. As they pulled cheerfully at their oars they seemed in splendid spirits, for they felt almost sure that they were in for some fighting, and this they dearly love.
Our boys, however, did not look quite so happy, especially my boy Arigita, who was a son of old Giwi, chief of the Kaili-kailis. He - old Giwi - had gone on the previous day with three or four large canoes laden with rice and manned by men of the Kaili-kaili and Arifamu tribes, and we intended taking more canoes and men from the Okeina tribe EN ROUTE.
Our expedition was partly a punitive one, as a tribe named Dobodura had been continually raiding and slaughtering the Notu tribe on the coast, with no other apparent reason than the filling of their own cooking pots.
Although the Notus lived on the coast, little was known of them, though they professed friendship to the government. The Doboduras, on the other hand, were a strong fighting tribe a short way off in the unknown interior, no white men having hitherto penetrated into their country: hence they knew nothing about the white man except by dim report.
After we had settled our account with them we intended going in search of a curious swamp-dwelling tribe, whose feet were reported to be webbed, like those of a duck, and many were the weird and fantastic rumours that reached our ears concerning them.
The sea soon got very "choppy," and up went our sail, and we flew along pretty fast. We had left behind us Mount Victory (a volcano which is always sending forth volumes of dense smoke) some time before, and some time afterward we were joined by a fleet of fourteen large canoes, most of them belonging to the Okeina tribe, but also including the three Kaili-kaili canoes sent off on the previous day.
We all then went on together, and late in the afternoon we landed at a spot near the mouth of the Musa River. We spent the evening shooting, and had splendid sport, our bag consisting of ducks of various species, pigeon, spur-winged plover, curlew, sandpipers, etc. We also saw wallaby, and numerous tracks of cassowary and wild pig. After some supper on the beach, the Kaili-kaili, Arifamu and Okeina carriers, numbering over one hundred, were drawn up in line, and Monckton told them that he did not want so many carriers. If they (the Okeinas) would like to come, he would not give them more than tobacco, and not axes and knives, which he gave to the Kaili-kaili and Arifamu carriers. They unanimously wished to go even without payment, as they were confident that we should have some big fighting, and they, being a fighting tribe, simply wished to go with us for this reason. Monckton sent off the carriers that night, so that they could get a good start of us. It was a bright moonlight night, and it was a picturesque scene when the fleet of canoes started off amidst a regular pandemonium of shouting and chatter. I do not suppose that this quiet spot had ever before witnessed such a sight. We were off next morning before sunrise, and continued our way in a dead calm and a blazing sun.
We soon caught up with our canoes, which had gone on in advance on the previous night. A breeze sprang up and we made good progress under sail, and soon left the canoes far behind. We saw plenty of large crocodiles, and a persevering but much disappointed shark followed us for some distance.