CHAPTER 9. On the War-Trail Once More.

Further Expedition Planned - Thank-offerings of Notu Chiefs - The Voyage - A Gigantic Flatfish - Negotiating a Difficult Bar - Moat Unhealthy Spot in New Guinea - Hostility of Natives - Precautions at Night - Catching Ground Sharks and a "Groper" - Shark-flesh a Delicacy to the Natives - Wakened by a War Cry - A False Alarm - A Hairbreadth Escape - Between "Devil and Deep Sea" - Dangers of the Goldfield - Two Miners Eaten Alive - Unexpected Visit from a White Man - "Where's that Razor?" - Crime of Cutting Down a Coconut Tree - Walsh's Camp - Torres Straits Pigeons - My Boy an ex-Cannibal - A Probable Trap - Relapse into Cannibalism of our Own Allies - Narrow Escape from a New Guinea Mantrap - Attack on a Village - Second Visit to Dobodura - Toku's Exploit - Interview with our Prisoners - Reasons for Cannibalism - The Night Attack on our Camp and Enemies' Fear of our Rifles described by our Prisoners - Bravery of one of our Carriers - Treatment of a Prisoner.

"Yes," said Monckton on our return to the coast, "we have got to punish those Doboduras at all costs. They are the worst brutes I've come across in New Guinea." And Monckton knew what he was talking about, as he had been a resident magistrate in British New Guinea for many years and had travelled all over the country, and had a wider experience of the cannibals than any man living.

This tribe (as has already been mentioned), when they capture a prisoner, tie him to a post, keep him alive for days, and meanwhile feed on him slowly by cutting out pieces of flesh, and prevent his bleeding to death with a special preparation of their own concoction, and finally, when he is nearly dead, they make a hole in the side of the head and feed on the hot fresh brains.

Both Acland and I myself fully agreed with Monckton, as we were not by any means grateful to the Doboduras for giving us the worst fright of our lives. We had, it is true, killed a good many of them, but we recognised the fact that our force was insufficient to hold its own, much less to punish these brutal tribesmen. So we determined to journey up north and get help from the magistrate of the Northern Division on the Mambare River, before returning to the Dobodura country.

That evening four Notu chiefs came into camp to thank us for killing their enemies, and they brought with them presents of dogs' teeth and shell necklaces, and seemed greatly excited, all talking at once, each trying to out-talk his fellows, and wagged their heads at us in turn. We left very early the next morning in our whaleboat for the Kumusi River, but left all our carriers and stores with most of the police behind in one of the Notu villages to await our return, as we now felt sure that we could trust the Notu tribe.

It was a hot and uneventful voyage. A fish which looked like an enormous sole, but which was larger than the whaleboat, jumped high in the air not many yards away. Toward evening we arrived opposite the bar of the Kumusi River, and we had a very uncomfortable few minutes getting through the breakers into the river, for if we had been upset we should soon have become food for the sharks and crocodiles, which literally swarmed here. We got through the worst part safely, but then stuck fast on a small sand-bank, and one or two good-sized breakers half-filled the boat; but we all jumped out and hauled her off the sand into the deep, calm waters beyond.

After rowing up the river a short distance, we landed at a spot where there was a trader's store, looked after by an Australian named Owen. From here miners go up the river to the gold fields in the Yodda Valley, and cutters are constantly putting in at this store with miners and provisions.

This district has the reputation of being one of the most unhealthy spots in New Guinea, and the natives round here are none too friendly, and hate the government and their police, so that during the last three years, three or four resident magistrates in the locality have either been murdered or have died of fever.

We arranged to have our meals with Owen at the store, and we slept in a rough palm-thatched shed with a raised flooring of split palm-trunks, which was very hard and rough to sleep on, and gave me a sleepless night. We got two of our police to sleep in front of the doorway, as it was more than likely that the natives might attempt to murder us. These precautions may have been justified as, in the middle of the night both Acland and I myself saw two natives peering into the hut.

The next day we sent off a messenger to the northern station for more police, and it was fully a week before they arrived. Meanwhile we spent our time dynamiting and catching fish. We caught some large ground sharks fully four hundred pounds in weight, and also a "gorupa" ("groper"), a very large fish of about three hundred and fifty pounds. This fish is the terror of divers in these parts they fear it more than any shark. Both shark and fish proved most acceptable to our police; they are especially fond of shark.

One morning about five o'clock I was aroused by hearing a shrill war-cry close by. The police rushed up with their rifles and told us we were attacked. It can be imagined it did not take us long to buckle on our revolvers and seize our rifles and run, half-asleep as we were, in the direction of the noise, which was repeated from time to time in a very ferocious manner. On turning a sharp corner by the river, instead of warlike warriors, we beheld about a dozen natives hauling in the sharkline we had left baited in the water the previous evening, with a very large shark at the end of it. Being greatly excited they had from time to time yelled out their war-cry. We felt very foolish at being roused from our slumbers for nothing, but still there was some slight consolation in knowing that even the police were deceived.

Owen, the Australian, not long before had had rather an amusing, and at the same time exciting, adventure with a large crocodile in a swamp close to the store. He noticed it fast asleep in the swamp, and so waded out to it through the mud, making no noise whatever. When within a few yards of the saurian, he threw a double charge of dynamite close up to it, and then turned to fly. He found he could not move, but was stuck firmly in the mud. His struggles and yells for help had meanwhile awoke the crocodile, which came for him with open jaws. It looked as if it was a case of either being blown to pieces by the dynamite or furnishing a meal for the crocodile.

Luckily the fuse was a long one, and the crocodile floundered about a good deal in the mud ere it could reach him. Some friendly natives rushed in and dragged him out just as the crocodile reached him. The crocodile fled in one direction and the dynamite went off in another, but Owen and the natives only just avoided the explosion.

Owen told me that there were about fifty miners in the goldfields of the Yodda Valley, but that most of them were beginning to leave, although there is plenty of gold to be got. The climate is a bad one, and provisions, etc., are very dear, and so gold has to be got in very large quantities to pay. As the miners decrease, there is bound to be trouble with the natives, who are very treacherous. The miners, who are nearly all Australians or New Zealanders, have generally to work in strong bands with their rifles close at hand.

Only a short time ago the two miners, Campion and King (whom I have elsewhere mentioned), while working in the bed of a creek, had just traded with some apparently friendly natives for a pig and some yams, and sat down for a smoke and a rest, thinking that the natives had left, but these cunning cannibals were awaiting just such an opportunity, and were lying hid amidst the thick foliage clothing the steep banks of the creek. Suddenly, making a rush, they got between the miners and their rifles, and speared both in the legs, taking care not to kill them, as the cannibals in this part of New Guinea consider that meat tastes better, be it pig or man, when cooked alive. They then tied them with ropes of rattan to long poles and carried them off to their village, where they were both roasted alive over a slow fire. These facts were gathered from some prisoners afterwards captured by a government force. A strong band of miners also attacked their villages, and gave no quarter.

On the fifth day of our stay here one of our police came rushing up to us excitedly with the information that a whaleboat was in sight, and we knew that a white man would be in it. There was at once a cry from Monckton, "After you with the razor, Acland." Now it had been understood that none of us were to shave during the expedition, and consequently we had grown large crops of beards and whiskers, and looked a veritable trio of cut-throats. However, it appeared that Acland had smuggled away a razor-possibly for all we knew to enable him to captivate some fair Amazon, who might otherwise have thought he was only good for her cooking pot. Half-an-hour later three clean-shaven individuals met a tall unshaven man as he stepped out of his boat on to the beach, and his first remark was, "Oh, I say, (reproachfully) you fellows, where's that razor!" It was Walsh, Assistant Resident Magistrate for the Northern Division, and none of us had met him before.

He and another Englishman, a celebrated trader named Clark (he was an old resident, well-known in New Guinea), with a force of police, were returning from an expedition down the coast, and were at present encamped about sixteen miles south of here, near some small islands known as Mangrove Islands.

Leaving Clark in charge, Walsh had come over with a small cutter, which we promptly hired to carry the extra stores of rice and provisions which we had purchased from Owen. It is astonishing the amount of rice it takes to feed one hundred carriers and twenty-five native police during a six weeks' exploring expedition.

Two days later ten police arrived, sent down at Monckton's request from the Mambare or Northern Station. These, with Walsh's nine, made an addition of nineteen police to our force. A celebrated old Mambare chief named Busimaiwa arrived at the same time, together with many of his tribe, which was friendly to the government. I say celebrated because he was the leader in the murder of the resident magistrate of the Northern Division, the late Mr. - - , together with all his police. But he has since been pardoned by the government. The magistrate and his police were killed through treachery, being unarmed at the time. They were all eaten, but - - 's skull was afterwards recovered. Old Busimaiwa, had a son in our police force.

We were off early the next morning, we four white men and most of the police going in the two whaleboats, while the rest walked along the shore. These latter had to pass through many small villages on the way, but the inhabitants did not wait to find out whether they were friends or foes, and the police found the villages empty.

From the whaleboat I suddenly noticed a tall coconut palm come falling to the ground, and I immediately called Monckton's attention to the fact. He was very much annoyed, as he knew that it was cut down by some of our party, contrary to regulations. According to government laws, to cut down a coconut tree in New Guinea is a crime, and a serious one at that. Even when attacking a hostile village it is strictly forbidden, though one may loot houses, kill pigs, out down betel-nut palms, and even kill the inhabitants. But the coconut-palm is sacred in their eyes.

However, the government has an eye to the future of the country, as, besides being the main article of food in a country whose food supply is limited, the coconut tree means wealth to the country, when it gets more settled and the natives are able to do a large business in copra with the white traders.

That evening, when in camp, we discovered the culprit to be no less a personage than the sergeant of Walsh's police, who was in command of the shore party, his sole excuse for breaking the law being that he thought it too much trouble to climb the tree after the coconuts. When the whole of the police force had been drawn up in line Monckton, as leader of the expedition, cut the red stripes from the blue tunic of the sergeant, and he was reduced to the ranks.

After a rough voyage, there being a good swell on, we arrived at Walsh's camp on the mainland, opposite the Mangrove Islands, and here we found Clark, whom I had met before in Samarai. The camp was situated in the midst of a small native village, and later on the inhabitants and others turned up armed with their stone clubs, spears and shields, and offered to help us. They also wanted us to go and fight their enemies a short way inland from here. Monckton's reply was not over polite. He ended by ordering them at once to clear out of their village, as he had no use for them.

Toward evening we all went pigeon shooting, as thousands of Torres Straits pigeons flock round here at twilight and settle chiefly on the small islands close to the mainland. We had excellent sport. The birds flew overhead, and we shot a great number between us.

Three of us white men were down with fever that evening. As the cutter had not arrived with the rice, etc., from the Kumusi River, we had to remain here the whole of the next day.

Toward evening we again went pigeon shooting, each of us taking possession of a small island, but the birds were not nearly as plentiful as yesterday, and small bags were the result. On these islands were plenty of houses, which we heard were deserted a few weeks ago, owing to the frequent attacks of hungry cannibals on the mainland.

On my island I discovered several very fresh-looking human skulls and bones. My boy, Arigita, regaled me with yarns while we waited for the pigeons. He told me he had often eaten human meat, and expressed the same opinion on the matter as the ex-cannibals I had met in the interior of Fiji had done. I had good reason for suspecting the young rascal of having partaken of human meat since he had been my servant.

I noticed plenty of double red hibiscus bushes on these islands, and I came across a new and curious DRACAENA with extremely short and broad red and green leaves, that was certainly worth introducing into cultivation.

We continued our journey in the whaleboats the next morning, and after going some distance we heard a shout, and saw a man on the beach frantically waving to us, but as he would not venture near enough, we had to go on without finding out what was the matter. Shortly afterward we heard three loud blasts on a conch shell, which is always used to call natives together, but the bush being thick, we could see nothing. I myself believe it was a trap, the man evidently trying to get us ashore, so that his tribe might attack us. However, our shore party, who came along later, saw no sign of any natives.

Towards evening we landed at the spot where we had started inland last time against the Doboduras. Here we determined to camp. We immediately sent down to Notu for our carriers and the rest of the police, who arrived after dark, all seeming delighted and relieved to be with us once more. We learned that after we had left the Notu people killed and ate two runaway carriers from the Kumusi, and after indulging in a great feast, fled and deserted their villages, so our late cannibalistic allies evidently feared retribution at our hands.

These carriers, belonging to the miners in the Kumusi and Mambare districts, are constantly running away, and they then try to work their way down the coast to Samarai, from whence they are shipped. But they never get there, being always killed and eaten on the way. One of our own carriers had died at Notu, but the police had seen to it that he was properly buried. However, it is more than likely that he was dug up after they had left, and eaten.

The cutter arrived early the next morning.. The rice was soon landed, and we started off along the same track as before. We now had over forty police, and although we did not this time have the assistance of the Notus, we had many more carriers.

During this march our police luckily discovered in time some slanting spears set as a man trap, which projected from the tall grass over the narrow track. Such spears are hard to see, especially for anyone travelling at a good speed, and I was told that the points were poisoned. Another trap, common in New Guinea, is to place a fallen tree across the track and dig a deep pit on the other side from which the enemy is expected to come. This pit is filled with sharp upright spears, and then lightly covered over so that a man stepping over the tree, which hides the ground on the other side, will fall into the pit.

After marching for some distance, we came to the end of a bit of forest, from whence we could see the first hostile village. We frightened away several armed scouts. The village appeared to be full of armed men in full war-paint and plumes, so we divided our force into two parties, each cutting round through the forest on both sides of the village, in an endeavour to surprise the enemy. We were only partially successful, as the Doboduras discovered our plans just in time. Though we rushed the village, and a few shots were fired, we only succeeded in capturing two old men and a small boy, who were not able to get away in time. The houses were full of household goods, in spite of our previous raid, when this and other villages were well looted by our people, so we were evidently not expected to return.

We did not stay long here, but soon resumed our march. It was a very hot day, and after walking through the open bits of grass country, it was always pleasant to get into the cool and shady forest, full of delicate ferns, rare palms and orchid-laden trees. We passed on through two other villages, with their gruesome platforms of grinning skulls as the only vestige of humanity.

At length we came to the large village, which is named Dobodura, after the tribe, and in which we had spent such a horrible night on our last visit. The village was full of yelling warriors. Rushing up, we shot several who showed fight. Most of them, however, fled before us. Toku, Monckton's boy, and brother of my boy Arigita, again made use of his master's pea-rifle, but this time he did not meet with any success, and very narrowly escaped getting a spear through him.

A short time before, when Monckton was out on an expedition, Toku was carrying his master's revolver, but happened to lag behind the rest of the party without being noticed, when a man jumped out of the jungle and picked young Toku up in his arms, covering up his mouth so that he could not cry out, and proceeded to carry him off, no doubt intending to have a live roast. But Toku, managing to draw Monckton's revolver, shot him dead right through the head, and Monckton, hearing the shot, turned back, and soon discovered young Toku calmly sitting on his enemy's dead body. But, alas! the hero had to suffer in the hour of his triumph, as Monckton ordered him to be flogged for lagging behind the rear guard of police.

Besides killing several of the Doboduras, we also took several prisoners, both men and women. We rested here, but several of the police, whose fighting blood was now fully roused, went out with some of our armed natives, skirmishing in one or two parties till late, and we could hear shots in all directions. As we found out later, they had slain several more of the enemy, with no loss to themselves.

We chose a splendid camp, with the river (which we were informed was the Tamboga River) on one side.

The forest trees were felled on the other side, forming a strong barrier, very different from our last camp here in the centre of the village, and without any defences at all. We had a most refreshing bathe in the river, but kept our rifles close at hand, as the enemy could have easily speared us from the reeds on the opposite bank.

After supper we interviewed the prisoners, and we now learned the real sequel to our last visit and what a narrow escape we had that night from being all massacred. It appeared that our fighting during the daytime astonished them much, as they could not understand how we could kill at such a distance, rifles being quite new to them. Our fame soon reached a large village much further on, and they said to the Dobodura people: "Ye are all cowards; we will show you that we can destroy these strange people." They started off that night and surrounding our camp on all sides, crept up for a rush; but, luckily for us, our sentries saw some of them and fired. The first shot killed one of them, and others were hit. Then came the blaze of many rifles. This terrified them and they fled. The horrible noise of the rifles and the flashes of fire in the darkness astonished them, but what made them depart for good was seeing one of their men fall at the first shot. It was a very lucky shot, and it probably saved our lives that night. When asked why they raided the Notus, the prisoners said that they were friends until two years ago, when they quarrelled, and had been constantly fighting since. In particular they now blamed the Notus for the late drought, which they said was due to their sorcery, the result being that they were forced to live on sago alone, and to vary this diet were compelled to get human meat.

I was the only one out of five white men not down with fever, but I was glad that we passed a quiet night, with no attack on the camp. In the morning one of our carriers, who ventured less than fifty yards beyond the barrier, received a spear through his left arm and another through his side, and though I am almost afraid to relate it for fear of being thought guilty of exaggeration, the man plucked the spear out of his side in a moment, and, hurling it back, killed his opponent. I ventured outside and proved the truth of the man's story, by finding the Dobodura man transfixed with his own spear. Both our man's wounds were bad ones, but he did not seem to mind them at all, and was for some time surrounded by a crowd of admiring natives.

We started off early in search of a large village of which a prisoner told us, but had not gone far when a man jumped out of the long grass and threw a spear at one of our carriers, only a few paces in front of me. Fortunately he missed him, but only by a few inches. As he was preparing to throw another spear, one of our men, whom he had not noticed, owing to an abrupt bend in the narrow track, which brought him close to the spearman, sprang forward and buried his stone club in the man's head, who sank down without a groan.

It was cloudy, but very close, and we passed through open grass country, bounded on each side by tall forest, in which bird-life seemed plentiful, cockatoos and parrots making a great noise. Birds of paradise were also calling out with their very noticeable and peculiar falsetto cry.

After going some distance we catechized the prisoners, and while an old man declared that there was a large village ahead, the two women prisoners said that the track was only a hunting one and led to the mountains.

The old man evidently wanted to get us away from his village, to enable his tribe to return, but the women, not being so loyal, told us the truth, no doubt because they found the forced marching on a hot day a little too much for them. We sat down for a consultation, but hearing a loud outcry in the rear, I suddenly came across about a dozen of the now indignant police pelting the old man with darts made out of a peculiar kind of grass, which grew around here. The old man, who was handcuffed, hopped high in the air, uttering loud yells every time a dart hit him, so I imagined they hurt, and though I, too, felt much annoyed, I had to put a stop to this cruel sport, when one of the aggrieved policemen cried out to me: "Taubada (master), why you stop him get hurt? This fellow he ki-ki (eat) you if he get chance."