CHAPTER 10. The Return From Dobodura.

Horrible Fate of one of our Enemies - Collecting in Cannibal - Haunted Forest - I Shoot a new Kingfisher, and a Bird of Paradise - Natives' Interest in Bird-Stuffing - Return Journey begun - Tree-house in a Notu Village - Peacemaking Ceremonies - Notu Village described - Our Allies sentenced for Cannibalism - Parting with Walsh and Clark.

We decided to return, and sent off a strong body of police in advance to surprise some of the surrounding villages. On the way back we found the man who was brained by one of our carriers still breathing. He was a ghastly sight, with his brains projecting out, and he was being eaten alive by swarms of red ants, which almost hid his body and found their way into his eyes, ears and nose. By the convulsions that from time to time shook the man's body, he was evidently still conscious, but could not possibly have lived for more than a few hours at most, after our thus finding him. New Guinea, like most tropical countries, had its full share of these pests (ants), some species of which actually make webs, and, by way of supplementing the web itself, work leaves in.

Acland, who had been suffering all day long from bad fever, now collapsed and could walk no further, but had to be carried in a hammock. When we got back to our old camping ground, I took an armed guard of police and went in search of birds for my collection, in the adjoining forest, and shot a new kingfisher (TANYSIPTERA) and a bird of paradise (PARADISEA INTERMEDIA). It was rather exciting work, as one went warily through the thick growth, from whence might issue a spear any minute, and I held on to my rifle all the time, except, of course, when I saw a bird, and then I made a quick change to my shotgun, lest I should prove a case of the hunter hunted.

On my return I had a large crowd of carriers around me watching me skin my birds, while Arigita explained everything to them in lordly fashion, only too pleased to get the chance of being listened to, while he expounded to them his superior knowledge. What he told them I, of course, could not tell, but he informed me that when I put the final stitch in the nostrils of the birds, my audience declared that I did this to prevent the birds from breathing and so one day coming to life again. When the wise Arigita asked them how this could be, since they had seen me take out the body and brains, they scoffed at him and said that spirits would come inside the skins so that they could sing again.

Monckton, meanwhile, had made a raid on the native gardens and brought in quite a lot of taro. The police had killed several more Doboduras, and in one place they had quite a fight. Our old man prisoner escaped in the night, although he was handcuffed.

We returned to the coast the next day, as there seemed no chance of our coming to terms with these Doboduras. Our only chance would have been to defeat them in a big engagement. They seemed too frightened of us to stand up for a big fight, but hid themselves in the bush, and were thus hard to get at. We left ten police behind to trap the natives, and, thinking we had left, a few of them returned to the village, and the police shot four more of them and soon caught up with us, bringing in the shields, stone clubs and spears of the slain.

During both these expeditions we had killed a good many of these people, and it ought to be a lesson to them to leave the Notus alone in future, although there is little doubt that the Notus themselves make cannibalistic raids on some of their weaker neighbours. I did not like the looks of the Notus, and they, as well as the Doboduras, have a most repellent type of features, and look capable of any kind of cruelty and treachery. They are very different from the gentle-looking Kaili-kailis.

The sea was very rough, and it was exciting work launching the canoes. One was thrown clean out of the water by a breaker. The majority of the carriers and half the police went round by the beach, but we in the two whaleboats had some exciting moments in the rough sea, though with the sails up we made good progress. We passed two of the canoes partially wrecked, and apparently in great difficulties.

We eventually landed long after dark in Eoro Bay, some distance the other side of the large Notu village, near which we had previously camped. We landed opposite a good-sized village belonging to the Notu tribe, from which all the inhabitants fled on our approach. We wandered about the village with flaming torches, looking out for huts to pass the night in, as it was too late to pitch camp. But unhappily the huts were full of lice, and it was impossible to get any sleep.

I saw here for the first time one of the curious native tree houses. It was high up in a tall pandanus tree, and had a very odd appearance. We spent the whole of the next day in this village, while our carriers brought in and mended their canoes. They, too, had a very rough time of it, but no lives were lost.

During the day I witnessed a very interesting ceremony, which I take the liberty of describing in Monckton's own words, given in his report to the Government. He says: "October 7th. Found that some of the mountain people had been out to Notu and wished to make peace with them. The Notu people had also ascertained that the Dobodura had retreated into the large sago swamp, and were quite certain that they had no danger to fear from them for some time to come. They also said that after the police had departed they would very likely be able to re-establish their ancient friendly relations with the Dobodura. A peace-offering was brought from the mountain people, which the Notu people asked me to receive for them. The ceremony was strange to me, and had several peculiar features. Two minor chiefs came to where I was sitting and sat down. About twenty men then approached and drove their spears into the ground in a circle with the butts all leaning inwards. Many of the spears had a small piece broken off at the butt end. From these spears were then hung clubs, spears and shields, and native masks and fighting ornaments. An old chief then said they had given me their arms. Next they placed cloth, fishing nets and spears and other native ornaments inside the circle, and the same old chief said they had given me their property. After this ten pigs, five male and five female, were brought and placed inside the ring with a quantity of sago and a little other food. Then followed cooking vessels full of cooked food. The old chief then said, 'We have given you all we have as a sign we are now the people of the Government.' I gave them a good return present, and told them that they were at liberty to take any articles they wanted or their pigs back again, but this they absolutely refused to do, saying that it would destroy the effect of what they had done. The female prisoners were now sent back to Dobodura with a message to the Dobodura, that I should return in a few months and make peace with them, should they in the meantime refrain from murdering the coastal people, but should they persist in their raiding I should return and handle them still more severely." In return we gave them presents of axes, knives, beads, tobacco, etc., which were laid down on the top of each pig.

Monckton very kindly presented Acland and myself with all the clubs, native masks, "tapa" cloth and ornaments, and the pigs and other food came in very useful for our police and carriers, as our rice supply was getting low.

This was a very picturesque village, shaded by thousands of coconut and betel nut palms and large spreading trees, among which was a very fine tree, with very beautiful green and yellow variegated leaves (ERYTHRINA sp.). There was also a great variety of DRACAENAS, striped and spotted with green, crimson, white, pink and yellow.

In most of these villages there were many curious kinds of trophies - crossed sticks, standing in the middle of the village, with a centre pole carved and painted in various patterns, and with a fringe of fibre placed near the top. Hanging on these sticks were the skulls and jawbones of men, pigs and crocodiles. I went out in the afternoon with gun and rifle, and saw several wallabies, but could not get a shot at them on account of the tall grass.

In the evening the chiefs of the large Notu village who had in our absence killed and eaten the two runaway carriers, visited us in fear and trembling. Monckton told them they must give up to us the actual murderers and send them up to the residency at Cape Nelson (or Tufi) within the next three weeks. He did not ask for those that ate them. Possibly one hundred or more partook of the feast, and for this they could hardly be blamed, as, being cannibals, it is quite natural that they should eat fresh meat when they got the chance. Indeed, our own carriers could not understand why we would not allow them to eat the bodies of those we had slain.

The next morning we five white men parted company, Walsh and Clark, with the Mambare and their own police, returning to the north, while Monckton, Acland and I went southward again to continue our explorations in another direction.

Our Discovery of Flat-Footed Lake Dwellers.