1. The Samoans say that there was a time when their ancestors ate everything raw, and that they owe the luxury of cooked food to one Ti'iti'i, the son of a person called Talanga. This Talanga was high in favour with the earthquake god Mafuie, who lived in a subterranean region where there was fire continually burning. On going to a certain perpendicular rock, and saying, "Rock, divide! I am Talanga; I have come to work!" the rock opened, and let Talanga in; and he went below to his plantation in the land of this god Mafuie. One day Ti'iti'i, the son of Talanga, followed his father, and watched where he entered. The youth, after a time, went up to the rock, and, feigning his father's voice, said, "Rock, divide! I am Talanga; I have come to work!" and was admitted too. His father, who was at work in his plantation, was surprised to see his son there, and begged him not to talk loud, lest the god Mafuie should hear him, and be angry.

Seeing smoke rising, he inquired of his father what it was. His father said it was the fire of Mafuie. "I must go and get some," said the son. "No," said the father; "he will be angry. Don't you know he eats people?" "What do I care for him?" said the daring youth; and off he went, humming a song, towards the smoking furnace.

"Who are you?" said Mafuie.

"I am Ti'iti'i, the son of Talanga. I am come for some fire."

"Take it," said Mafuie.

He went back to his father with some cinders, and the two set to work to bake some taro. They kindled a fire, and were preparing the taro to put on the hot stones, when suddenly the god Mafuie blew up the oven, scattered the stones all about, and put out the fire. "Now," said Talanga, "did not I tell you Mafuie would be angry?" Ti'iti'i went off in a rage to Mafuie, and without any ceremony commenced with, "Why have you broken up our oven, and put out our fire?" Mafuie was indignant at such a tone and language, rushed at him, and there they wrestled with each other. Ti'iti'i got hold of the right arm of Mafuie, grasped it with both hands, and gave it such a wrench that it broke off. He then seized the other arm, and was going to twist it off next when Mafuie declared himself beaten, and implored Ti'iti'i to have mercy, and spare his left arm.

"Do let me have this arm," said he; "I need it to hold Samoa straight and level. Give it to me, and I will let you have my hundred wives."

"No, not for that," said Ti'iti'i.

"Well, then, will you take fire? If you let me have my left arm you shall have fire, and you may ever after this eat cooked food."

"Agreed," said Ti'iti'i; "you keep your arm, and I have fire."

"Go," said Mafuie; "you will find the fire in every wood you cut."

And hence, the story adds, Samoa, ever since the days of Ti'iti'i, has eaten cooked food from the fire which is got from the friction of rubbing one piece of dry wood against another.

The superstitious still have half an idea that Mafuie is down below Samoa somewhere; and that the earth has a long handle there, like a walking-stick, which Mafuie gives a shake now and then. It was common for them to say, when they felt the shock of an earthquake, "Thanks to Ti'iti'i, that Mafuie has only one arm: if he had two, what a shake he would give!"

The natives of Savage Island, 300 miles to the south of Samoa, have a somewhat similar tale about the origin of fire. Instead of Talanga and Ti'iti'i, they give the names of Maui, the father, and Maui, the son. Instead of going through a rock, their entrance was down through a reed bush. And, instead of a stipulation for the fire, they say that the youth Maui, like another Prometheus, stole it, ran up the passage, and before his father could catch him, he had set the bush in flames in all directions. The father tried to put it out, but in vain; and they further add, that ever since the exploit of young Maui, they have had fire and cooked food in Savage Island.

2. The Samoans have their stories of a golden age of intelligence long long ago, when all things material had the power of speech. They not only spoke, but they had evil natures as well, and quarrelled with each other and fought, very much like the races of mankind. We have already referred to the early battles of cosmogony, and to the wars of the rocks and fires and earth and stones. It was the same with the flora and fauna. Or to give it in their own words: "The small stones fought with the grass, the stones were beaten and the grass conquered. The short grass fought with the strong weedy grass, the short grass was beaten and the strong grass conquered. The strong grass fought with the long grass of the bush, the strong grass was beaten and the bush grass conquered. The bush grass fought with the trees, the grass was beaten and the trees conquered. The trees fought with the creepers, the trees were beaten and the creepers conquered - and then began the wars of men." Pity but the wars of men had been as bloodless as those which preceded them!

The principle seems to be that whenever one thing prevails to excess above another thing, or is in any way superior, be it rock, stone, earth, grass, or tree, we are sure to find some tradition of its battle and victory. The old poetic Samoan forefathers who framed these fabulous fights added a deal of circumstance and minuteness to their tales, and all was seriously believed by some of their more prosaic posterity.

3. A story is told of a battle between two trees - a Fijian Banian tree and the Samoan tree called Tatangia (acacia laurifolia ). A report reached Samoa that the trees of Fiji had fought with the Banian tree, and that it had beaten them all. On this the Tatangia and another tree went off from Samoa in two canoes to fight the Fijian champion. They reached Fiji, went on shore, and there stood the Banian tree. "Where is the tree," they inquired, "which has conquered all the trees?" "I am the tree," said the Banian. Then said the Tatangia, "I have come to fight with you." "Very good, let us fight" replied the Banian. They fought. A branch of the Banian tree fell, but Tatangia sprung aside and escaped. Another fell - ditto, ditto - the Tatangia. Then the trunk fell. Tatangia again darted aside and escaped unhurt. On this the Banian tree "buried its eyes in the earth," and owned itself conquered. As many of the towns and districts are spoken of figuratively by the names of trees noted for strength or beauty, the inference as to the real actors in these tree fights is obvious. The present generation, however, will hardly admit that they may describe the wars of men.

The following is a specimen story of a piscatorial fight: - A shark which had its habitat in a cave on the south side of Savaii mustered all the fish in the neighbourhood to go and fight with the great red fish of Manu'a. The Manu'a fish with their red leader met them in the ocean between Tutuila and Manu'a. They fought. The Savaii fish were beaten, and fled pursued by their conquerors. Most of them took refuge under stones and rocks and escaped, but their leader, the shark, fled to his own cave. He was pursued, however, and killed by the red fish of Manu'a. I tell them that the shark, red fish, etc., must have been mere figurative names for chiefs and districts, and the finny troops under them were doubtless living men, but in all these stories the Samoans are rigid literalists, and believe in the very words of the tradition. And yet at the present day they have towns and districts bearing figurative names, distinct from the real names, such as the sword fish, the stinging ray, the dog, the wild boar, the Tongan cock, the frigate bird, etc. And if such creatures had been known of old in Samoa, they would no doubt have had their bear, their lion, and their eagle, and stories too of their battles.

4. We have also accounts of battles fought by the birds on the one side and the fish on the other. The fish and the birds were in the habit of paying friendly visits to each other. The inanga, or small fry of a fresh-water fish, were offended at not being hospitably received on shore by the birds; on the other hand, the birds despised the inanga for being so small. They fought, and the fishes conquered, and it ended in the fish becoming birds and the birds fishes; and hence they say the back-bone of the inanga projects so much. But after that there was another battle, in which the fish were beaten and the birds conquered; and ever since the birds have had their wings, and their supremacy, and the right of going to the sea, or the river, as they please, to pick up the fish which come within their reach.

A battle also between the owl and the serpent is noteworthy. It runs as follows: - There were ten brothers, whose names were Sefulu, Iva, Valu, Fitu, Ono, Lima, Fa, Tolu, Lua, and Tasi, and so named from the ten numerals, which in those days began with Sefulu as 1, and ended with Tasi as 10. These ten brothers went to the forest to cut wood for a large canoe. They came upon an owl and a serpent fighting. Sefulu was walking first, and to him the owl called out; "Sefulu, you come and kill my enemy here, the serpent, and if you do, you shall have a right to the Ifilele and Maota timber trees" [Afzelia bijuga, andDysoxylon Sp.]

"No, let us pass on," said Sefulu, "there are plenty of other trees which will answer our purpose." Then the owl turned to Iva and all the others on to Lua, and implored help in killing the serpent, but each in turn answered as did Sefulu. Tasi, however, replied to the entreaty of the owl, and said, "Yes, I will," and grasping his felling axe, struck out at the serpent and killed it. "Well done, Tasi!" said the owl, "and to keep in remembrance for all time to come your bravery, and respect for me, you shall stand foremost in everything that is numbered. Sefulu who has been first shall now be last, and you who have been last shall always be first." And so it has continued to the present day - the first, Tasi, and the tenth, Sefulu.

5. The appearance or forms of things, as in this latter instance perhaps, have also suggested some other fabulous stories. They say that the rat had wings formerly, and that the large bat or flying fox at that time had no wings. One day the bat said to the rat: "Let me try on your wings for a little, that I may see how I like flying." The rat lent the bat his wings, off flew the bat with the wings, and never came back to return them. And hence the proverb applied to a person who borrows and does not return: "Like the bat with the rat."

Take another illustration. With the exception of the mountain plantain (Musa uranospatha) all the bananas have their bunches of fruit hanging downwards towards the earth, like a bunch of grapes.

The plantain shoots up its bunch of fruit erect towards the heavens. As the reason of this, we are told that of old all the bananas held their heads erect, but they quarrelled with the plantain, fought, were beaten, and, ever since, have hung their heads in token of their defeat, whereas the plantain is erect still, and the symbol of its own victory.

6. They have a number of other fabulous stories referred to in proverbial language in daily use. Take the story of the fowl and the turtle. A fowl made her headquarters over a rock from which a cool spring of fresh water ran out into the adjacent stream. One day a turtle made its appearance. It was enjoying the cool fresh bath, and rising now and then to look about, when it was addressed roughly by the fowl: "Who are you?" "I am a turtle." "Where have you come from?" "From the hot salt sea." "What are you doing here?" "Bathing, and enjoying the fine cool fresh water." "Be off, this is my water." "No, it is mine as much as it is yours." "No, it is mine, and you must be off." "No I won't. I have as much right to be here as you." "Well, then," said the fowl, "let us decide in this way which of us will have it. Let each of us go away, and whoever is first here in the morning shall have the right to the spring." "Let it be so," said the turtle, "I'm off to the briny sea; you go away to the village."

The turtle was back from the sea, up the river, and at the spring, very early in the morning. The fowl thought there was no need to hurry, as she could with one bound on her wings be at the rock; and so she roosted till the sun was rising, and then flew over to the rock, but there was the turtle before her! "You are there, I see," said the fowl. "Yes, I am," replied the turtle, "and the spring is mine." And hence the proverb applied to the lazy and the late: "Here comes the fowl, the turtle is before you!"

7. Here is another of these fabulous stories: - There were three friends, a rat, a snipe, and a crab. They thought they would like to look about them on the sea, and so decided to build a canoe and go out on a short cruise. They did so, and when the canoe was ready off they went. The snipe pulled the first paddle, the crab the second, and the rat steered. A squall came on, and the canoe upset. The snipe flew to the shore, the crab sank and escaped to the bottom, and the rat swam. The rat was soon fatigued, but an octopus came along, and from it the rat implored help. "Come on my back," said the octopus. The rat was only too happy to do so. By-and-by the octopus said: "How heavy you are! my back is getting painful." "Yes," said the rat, "I drank too much salt water when I was swimming there; but bear it a little longer, we shall soon be at the shore."

When the octopus reached the shore off ran the rat into the bush. The octopus felt the pain still, however, and now discovered that the rat had been gnawing at the back of its neck. The octopus was enraged, called all his friends among the owls to assemble, and begged them to pursue and destroy the rat. They did so, caught it, killed it, and ate it, but there was hardly a morsel for each, they were so many. And hence the proverb in exhorting not to return evil for good: - "Do not be like the rat with the octopus, evil will overtake you if you do."

8. Here is a story of Toa and Pale, or Hero and Helper.

The King of Fiji was a savage cannibal, and the people were melting away under him. Toa and Pale were brothers, they wished to escape being killed for the oven, and so fled to the bush and became trees. It was only the day before a party were to go to the woods to search for a straight tree from which to make the keel of a new canoe for the king. They knew this, and so Pale changed himself into a crooked stick overrun with creepers, that he might not be cut by the king's carpenters, and advised Toa to do the same. He declined, however, and preferred standing erect as a handsome straight tree.

The party in search of a keel went to the very place, liked the look of Toa, and decided to cut it down. They cut, and Toa was felled to the ground, but Pale, who was close by, immediately raised him up again. The carpenters were confounded - cut again - but it was just the same. They persevered, and the cutting, falling, and rising again, went on till night fell, when they gave it up. After they left Toa said to Pale, "What a Toa (trouble) I have been to you!" and hence the proverb to this day, when a person or thing has been a trouble to another, he says to the sufferer in a sympathising or apologetic tone: "What a Toa it has been to you!"

9. The following are a few more of these proverbs, but stated more briefly.

(1) "One and yet a thousand," is a common description of a clever man, and equivalent to our own expression: "He is a host in himself."

(2) "Only the appearance of plait." Spoken of a thin worn-out person reduced to a mere shadow. Not a real plaited mat, but only the appearance of one.

(3) "Many footprints." Spoken of a large settlement which makes many at a festival, or night-dance, or public meeting of any kind.

(4) "A single cocoa-nut." Referring to a single nut hanging from a tree. This is said of a man who has no brothers, and who is therefore called the single nut of the family.

(5) "Great and yet small." Applied to a populous place which has no courage. Or a large family, but without one who has any pluck.

(6) "The emptiness of a large basket." A good deal of food seems but little if put in a large basket. Also the population of a large village, if the houses are widely apart, seems small until they really come together.

(7) "The break of a cocoa-nut leaf net." This leaf net is an arrangement for enclosing fish by a long string of cocoa-nut leaves, which, if the leaves break, can be easily tied again. This is spoken of a chief who dies but leaves a number of sons to take his place.

(8) "Afterwards touched." If a family is numerically strong, no one dares to injure them. If, however, a number die, then those who survive are more liable to insult or injury from the neighbourhood. In the event of such ill-usage they throw it back on their injurers: "You dared not touch us before."

(9) "Helping with the burden." As one may run in and stretch out his hand to ease the shoulder of a weak person struggling under a load, so a person who prompts a public speaker in a difficulty is said to help with the burden.

(10) "Covering the dead bird." If a pigeon sees its mate fall dead it will drop down and cover the body with its wings even if it should be killed also. To this the Samoans compare a brother who will rush in among troops after his wounded brother even if he should be killed himself.