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   Chapter 9 No.9

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont By Louis de Rougemont Characters: 33871

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The children's sports-A terrible ordeal-Queer notions of beauty-How little girls are taught-Domestic quarrels-Telltale footprints-I grow weary-Off on a long cruise-Astounding news-A foreign tongue-Yamba has seen the girls-A remarkable "letter"-A queer notion of decoration-Yamba as "advance agent"-I meet the girls-A distressing interview-Jealousy of the native women.

I was much interested in the children of the blacks, and observed all their interesting ways. It is not too much to say in the case of both boys and girls that they can swim as soon as they can walk. There is no squeamishness whatever on the part of the mothers, who leave their little ones to tumble into rivers, and remain out naked in torrential rains, and generally shift for themselves. From the time the boys are three years old they commence throwing toy spears at one another as a pastime. For this purpose, long dry reeds, obtained from the swamps, are used, and the little fellows practise throwing them at one another from various distances, the only shields allowed being the palms of their own little hands. They never seem to tire of the sport, and acquire amazing dexterity at it. At the age of nine or ten they abandon the reeds and adopt a heavier spear, with a wooden shaft and a point of hard wood or bone. All kinds of interesting competitions are constantly organised to test the boys' skill, the most valued prizes being the approbation of parents and elders.

A small ring of hide, or creeper, is suspended from the branch of a tree, and the competitors have to throw their spears clean through it at a distance of twenty paces. All the chiefs and fighting men of the tribe assemble to witness these competitions, and occasionally some little award is made in the shape of anklets and bangles of small shells, strung together with human hair. The boys are initiated into the ranks of the "men and warriors" when they reach the age of about seventeen.

This initiation ceremony, by the way, is of a very extraordinary character. Many of the details cannot be published here. As a rule, it takes place in the spring, when the mimosa is in bloom, and other tribes come from all parts to eat the nuts and gum. We will say that there are, perhaps, twenty youths to undergo the ordeal, which is conducted far from all camps and quite out of the sight of women and children. The candidate prepares himself by much fasting, giving up meat altogether for at least a week before the initiation ceremony commences. In some cases candidates are despatched on a tramp extending over many days; and such implicit faith is placed in their honour that judges are not even sent with them to see that everything is carried out fairly. They must accomplish this task within a given period, and without partaking of either food or water during the whole time. No matter how great the temptation may be on the route, they conform strictly to the rules of the test, and would as soon think of running themselves through with a spear, as of seeking a water-hole. The inspectors who judge at this amazing examination are, of course, the old and experienced chiefs.

After the fasting comes the ordeal proper. The unfortunate candidate presents himself before one of the examiners, and settles his face into a perfectly stoical expression. He is then stabbed repeatedly on the outside of the thighs and in the arms (never once is an artery cut); and if he remains absolutely statuesque at each stab, he comes through the most trying part of the ordeal with flying colours. A motion of the lips, however, or a mutter-these are altogether fatal. Not even a toe must move in mute agony; nor may even a muscle of the eyelid give an uneasy and involuntary twitch. If the candidate fails in a minor degree, he is promptly put back, to come up again for the next examination; but in the event of his being unable to stand the torture, he is contemptuously told to go and herd with the women-than which there is no more humiliating expression.

While yet the candidate's wounds are streaming with blood, he is required to run with lightning speed for two or three miles and fetch back from a given spot a kind of toy lance planted in the ground. Then, having successfully passed the triple ordeals of fasting, stabbing, and running against time, and without food and water, the candidate, under the eyes of his admiring father, is at length received into the ranks of the bravest warriors, and is allowed to take a wife. At the close of the ceremony, the flow of blood from the candidate's really serious flesh-wounds is stopped by means of spiders' webs, powdered charcoal, and dry clay powder.

With regard to the girls, I am afraid they received but scant consideration.

Judged by our standard, the women were far from handsome. They had very bright eyes, broad, flat noses, low, narrow foreheads, and heavy chins. But there are comely exceptions. And yet at big corroborees on the occasion of a marriage, the men always chanted praises to the virtue and beauty of the bride!

The girl who possessed an exceptionally large and flat nose was considered a great beauty. Talking about noses, it was to me a remarkable fact, that the blacks consider a warrior with a big nose and large distended nostrils a man possessed of great staying power. For one thing, they consider his breathing apparatus exceptionally perfect.

As a general rule (there are exceptions in the case of a very "beautiful" woman), when a woman dies she is not even buried; she simply lies where she has fallen dead, and the camp moves on to another place and never returns to the unholy spot. And it may be mentioned here that the blacks never allude to a dead person by name, as they have a great horror of departed spirits. And so childish and suspicious are they, that they sometimes even cut off the feet of a dead man to prevent his running about and frightening them at inconvenient moments. I used to play upon their fears, going out into the bush after dark, and pretending to commune with the evil spirits. The voice of these latter was produced by means of reed whistles. Once I made myself a huge, hideous mask out of a kangaroo skin, with holes slit in it for the nose, mouth, and eyes. I would don this strange garb in the evenings, and prowl about the vicinity of the camp, holding blazing torches behind the mask, and emitting strange noises-sometimes howling like a wolf and at others shouting aloud in my natural voice. On these occasions the blacks thought I was in my natural element as a spirit. But they never ventured to follow me or attempted to satisfy themselves that I was not fooling them all the while. Yamba, of course, knew the joke, and as a rule helped me to dress for the farce, but she took good care never to tell any one the secret. No doubt had the blacks ever learned that it was all done for effect on my part, the result would have been very serious; but I knew I was pretty secure because of the abnormal superstition prevalent among them.

The women, as I have before hinted, are treated in a horribly cruel manner, judged from our standpoint; but in reality they know not what cruelty is, because they are absolutely ignorant of kindness. They are the beasts of burden, to be felled to the earth with a bludgeon when they err in some trivial respect; and when camp is moved each woman carries virtually the whole household and the entire worldly belongings of the family. Thus it is a common sight to see a woman carrying a load consisting of one or two children and a quantity of miscellaneous implements, such as heavy grindstones, stone hatchets, sewing-bones, yam-sticks, &c. During the shifting of the camp the braves themselves stalk along practically unencumbered, save only for their elaborate shield, three spears (never more), and a stone tomahawk stuck in their belt of woven opossum hair. The men do not smoke, knowing nothing of tobacco, but their principal recreation and relaxation from the incessant hunting consists in the making of their war weapons, which is a very important part of their daily life. They will even fell a whole tree, as has already been explained, to make a single spear shaft. As to the shield, the elaborate carving upon it corresponds closely with the prowess of the owner; and the more laurels he gains, the more intricate and elaborate becomes the carving on his shield. Honour prevents undue pretence.

But we have wandered away from the consideration of the girl-children. The baby girls play with their brothers and participate in their fights until they are perhaps ten years of age. They are then expected to accompany their mothers on the daily excursions in search of roots. When the little girls are first taken out by their mothers they are instructed in the use of the yam-stick, with which the roots are dug up out of the earth. The stick used by the women is generally three feet or four feet long, but the girl novices use a short one about fifteen inches in length. Each woman, as I have said elsewhere, is also provided with a reed basket or net, in which to hold the roots, this being usually woven out of strings of prepared bark; or, failing that, native flax or palm straw.

But the unfortunate wife occasionally makes the acquaintance of the heavy yam-stick in a very unpleasant, not to say serious, manner. Of course, there are domestic rows. We will suppose that the husband has lately paid a great amount of attention to one of his younger wives-a circumstance which naturally gives great offence to one of the older women. This wife, when she has an opportunity and is alone with her husband, commences to sing or chant a plaint-a little thing of quite her own composing.

Into this song she weaves all the abuse which long experience tells her will lash her husband up to boiling-point. The later stanzas complain that the singer has been taken from her own home among a nation of real warriors to live among a gang of skulking cowards, whose hearts, livers, and other vital organs are not at all up to the standard of her people.

The epithets are carefully arranged up a scale until they reach bandy-legged-an utterly unpardonable insult. But there is, beyond this, one other unpublishable remark, which causes the husband to take up the yam-stick and fell the singer with one tremendous blow, which is frequently so serious as to disable her for many days. The other women at once see to their sister, who has incurred the wrath of her lord, and rub her wounds with weird medicaments. The whole shocking business is regarded as quite an ordinary affair; and after the sufferer is able to get about again she bears her husband not the slightest ill-feeling. You see, she has had her say and paid for it.

The girls, as they grow up, are taught to cook according to the native fashion, and are also required to build ovens in the earth or sand; make the fires, build "break-winds," and generally help their mothers in preparing meals. When at length the meal is cooked, the manner of eating it is very peculiar. First of all, the women retire into the background. The lord and master goes and picks out the tit-bits for himself, and then sits down to eat them off a small sheet of bark. More often, however, he simply tears the meat in pieces with his hands. During his meal, the wives and children are collected behind at a respectful distance, awaiting their own share. Then, as the warrior eats, he literally hurls certain oddments over his shoulder, which are promptly pounced upon by the wives and children in waiting. It sometimes happens, however, that a favourite child-a boy invariably, never a girl (it is the girls who are eaten by the parents whenever there are any superfluous children to be got rid of)-will approach his father and be fed with choice morsels from the great man's "plate."

Each tribe has its own particular country over which it roams at pleasure, and the boundaries are defined by trees, hillocks, mountains, rocks, creeks, and water-holes. And from these natural features the tribes occasionally get their names. Outside the tribal boundary-which often incloses a vast area-the blacks never go, except on a friendly visit to a neighbouring camp. Poaching is one of the things punishable with death, and even if any woman is caught hunting for food in another country she is seized and punished. I will tell you later on how even Yamba "put her foot" in it in this way.

The blacks are marvellously clever at tracking a man by his footprints, and a poacher from a neighbouring tribe never escapes their vigilance, even though he succeeds in returning to his own people without being actually captured. So assiduously do these blacks study the footprints of people they know and are friendly with, that they can tell at once whether the trespasser is an enemy or not; and if it be a stranger, a punitive expedition is at once organised against his tribe.

Gradually I came to think that each man's track must have an individuality about it quite as remarkable as the finger-prints investigated by Galton and Bertillon. The blacks could even tell a man's name and many other things about him, solely from his tracks-how, it is of course impossible for me to say. I have often known my blacks to follow a man's track over hard rocks, where even a disturbed leaf proved an infallible clue, yielding a perfectly miraculous amount of information. They will know whether a leaf has been turned over by the wind or by human agency!

But to continue my narrative. Yamba was very anxious that I should stay and make my home among her people, and so, with the assistance of other women, she built me a substantial beehive-shaped hut, fully twenty feet in diameter and ten feet high. She pointed out to me earnestly that I had everything I could possibly wish for, and that I might be a very great man indeed in the country if only I would take a prominent part in the affairs of the tribe. She also mentioned that so great was my prowess and prestige, that if I wished I might take unto myself a whole army of wives!-the number of wives being the sole token of greatness among these people. You see they had to be fed, and that implied many great attributes of skill and strength. Nevertheless, I pined for civilisation, and never let a day go by without scanning the bay and the open sea for a passing sail. The natives told me they had seen ships at various times, and that attempts had even been made to reach them in catamarans, but without success, so far out at sea were the vessels passing.

Gradually, about nine months after my strange return to my Cambridge Gulf home, there came a time when life became so monotonous that I felt I must have a change of some sort, or else go mad. I was on the very best of terms with all my blacks, but their mode of living was repulsive to me. I began to loathe the food, and the horrible cruelty to the women frequently sickened me. Whenever I saw one of these poor patient creatures felled, bleeding, to the earth, I felt myself being worked up into a state of dangerous nervous excitement, and I longed to challenge the brutal assailant as a murderous enemy. Each time, however, I sternly compelled myself to restrain my feelings. At length the spirit of unrest grew so strong that I determined to try a short trip inland in a direction I had never hitherto attempted. I intended to cross the big bay in my dug-out, round Cape Londonderry, and then go south among the beautiful islands down past Admiralty Gulf, which I had previously explored during my residence on the Cape, and where I had found food and water abundant; numerous caves, with mural paintings; quiet seas, and gorgeous vegetation. Yamba willingly consented to accompany me, and one day I set off on the sea once more, my faithful wife by my side, carrying her net full of odds and ends, and I with my bow and arrows, tomahawk, and stiletto; the two latter carried in my belt. I hoped to come across a ship down among the islands, for my natives told me that several had passed while I was away.

At length we started off in our dug-out, the sea being perfectly calm-more particularly in the early morning, when the tide was generally with us. After several days' paddling we got into a narrow passage between a long elevated island and the main, and from there found our way into an inlet, at the head of which appeared masses of wild and rugged rocks. These rocks were, in many places, decorated with a number of crude but striking mural paintings, which were protected from the weather. The drawings I found represented men chiefly. My own contributions consisted of life-size sketches of my wife, myself, and Bruno. I emphasised my long hair, and also reproduced my bow and arrow. This queer "art gallery" was well lighted, and the rock smooth. We found the spot a very suitable one for camping; in fact, ther

e were indications on all sides that the place was frequently used by the natives as a camping-ground. A considerable quantity of bark lay strewn about the ground in sheets, which material my wife told me was used by the natives as bedding. This was the first time I had known the black-fellows to use any material in this way. I also came across traces of a feast-such as empty oyster shells in very large heaps, bones of animals, &c. The waters of the inlet were exceedingly well stocked with fish; and here I saw large crayfish for the first time. I caught and roasted some, and found them very good eating. This inlet might possibly be in the vicinity of Montague Sound, a little to the south of Admiralty Gulf.

We stayed a couple of days in this beautiful spot, and then pushed down south again, always keeping close under shelter of the islands on account of our frail craft. The seas through which we paddled were studded with innumerable islands, some rocky and barren, others covered with magnificent foliage and grass. We landed on several of these, and on one-it might have been Bigges Island-I discovered a high cairn or mound of stones erected on the most prominent point. Yamba told me that this structure was not the work of a native. She explained that the stones were laid too regularly. A closer examination convinced me that the cairn had been built by some European-possibly a castaway-and that at one time it had probably been surmounted by a flag-staff as a signal to passing ships. Food was very plentiful on this island, roots and yams being obtainable in great abundance. Rock wallabies were also plentiful. After leaving this island we continued our journey south, paddling only during the day, and always with the tide, and spending the night on land. By the way, whilst among the islands, I came across, at various times, many sad signs of civilisation, in the form of a lower mast of a ship, and a deck-house, a wicker-basket, empty brandy cases, and other flotsam and jetsam, which, I supposed, had come from various wrecks. After having been absent from my home in Cambridge Gulf, two or three months, I found myself in a large bay, which I now know to be King's Sound. I had come across many tribes of natives on my way down. Some I met were on the islands on which we landed, and others on the mainland. Most of these black-fellows knew me both personally and by repute, many having been present at the great whale feast. The natives at King's Sound recognised me, and gave me a hearty invitation to stay with them at their camp. This I consented to do, and my friends then promised to set all the other tribes along the coast on the look-out for passing vessels, so that I might immediately be informed by smoke-signals when one was in sight. Not long after this came an item of news which thrilled me through and through.

One of the chiefs told me quite casually that at another tribe, some days' journey away, the chief had two white wives. They had, he went on to explain, a skin and hair exactly like my own; but in spite of even this assurance, after the first shock of amazement I felt confident that the captives were Malays. The news of their presence among the tribe in question was a well-known fact all along the coast of King's Sound. My informant had never actually seen the white women, but he was absolutely certain of their existence. He added that the captives had been seized after a fight with some white men, who had come to that coast in a "big catamaran." However, I decided to go and see for myself what manner of women they were. The canoe was beached well above the reach of the tides at Cone Bay, and then, accompanied by Yamba only, I set off overland on my quest. The region of the encampment towards which I now directed my steps lies between the Lennard River and the Fitzroy. The exact spot, as near as I can fix it on the chart, is a place called Derby, at the head of King's Sound. As we advanced the country became very rugged and broken, with numerous creeks intersecting it in every direction. Farther on, however, it developed into a rich, low-lying, park-like region, with water in abundance. To the north-west appeared elevated ranges. I came across many fine specimens of the bottle tree. The blacks encamped at Derby were aware of my coming visit, having had the news forwarded to them by means of the universal smoke-signals.

The camp described by my informant I found to be a mere collection of gunyahs, or break-winds, made of boughs, and I at once presented my "card"-the ubiquite passport stick; which never left me for a moment in all my wanderings. This stick was sent to the chief, who immediately manifested tokens of friendship towards me.

Unfortunately, however, he spoke an entirely different dialect from Yamba's; but by means of the sign language I explained to him that I wished to stay with him for a few "sleeps" (hand held to the side of the head, with fingers for numbers), and partake of his hospitality. To this he readily consented.

Now, I knew enough of the customs of the blacks to realise that, being a stranger among them, they would on request provide me with additional wives during my stay,-entirely as a matter of ceremonial etiquette; and it suddenly occurred to me that I might make very good use of this custom by putting in an immediate demand for the two white women-if they existed. You see, I wanted an interview with them, in the first place, to arrange the best means of getting them away. I confess I was consumed with an intense curiosity to learn their history-even to see them. I wondered if they could tell me anything of the great world now so remote in my mind. As a matter of courtesy, however, I spent the greater part of the day with the chief, for any man who manifests a desire for women's society loses caste immediately; and in the evening, when the fact of my presence among the tribe had become more extensively known, and their curiosity aroused by the stories that Yamba had taken care to circulate, I attended a great corroboree, which lasted nearly the whole of the night. As I was sitting near a big fire, joining in the chanting and festivities, Yamba noiselessly stole to my side, and whispered in my ear that she had found the two white women.

I remember I trembled with excitement at the prospect of meeting them. They were very young, Yamba added, and spoke "my" language-I never said "English," because this word would have conveyed nothing to her; and she also told me that the prisoners were in a dreadful state of misery. It was next explained to me that the girls, according to native custom, were the absolute property of the chief. He was seated not very far away from me, and was certainly one of the most ferocious and repulsive-looking creatures I have ever come across,-even among the blacks. He was over six feet high, and of rather a lighter complexion than his fellows,-almost like a Malay. The top of his head receded in a very curious manner, whilst the mouth and lower part of the face generally protruded like an alligator's, and gave him a truly diabolical appearance. I confess a thrill of horror passed through me, as I realised that two doubtless tenderly reared English girls were in the clutches of this monster. Once I thought I must have been dreaming, and that the memories of some old story-book I had read years ago were filling my mind with some fantastic delusion. For a moment I pictured to myself the feelings of their prosaic British relatives, could they only have known what had become of the long-lost loved ones-a fate more shocking and more fearful than any ever conceived by the writer of fiction. Of course, my readers will understand that much detail about the fate of these poor creatures must be suppressed for obvious reasons. But should any existing relatives turn up, I shall be only too happy to place at their disposal all the information I possess.

Presently, I grasped the whole terrible affair, and realised it as absolute fact! My first impulse was to leap from the corroboree and go and reassure the unhappy victims in person, telling them at the same time that they might count on my assistance to the last. It was not advisable, however, to withdraw suddenly from the festivities, for fear my absence might arouse suspicion.

The only alternative that presented itself was to send a note or message of some kind to them, and so I asked Yamba to bring me a large fleshy leaf of a water-lily, and then, with one of her bone needles, I pricked, in printed English characters, "A friend is near; fear not." Handing this original letter to Yamba, I instructed her to give it to the girls and tell them to hold it up before the fire and read the perforations. This done, I returned to the corroboree, still displaying a feigned enthusiasm for the proceedings, but determined upon a bold and resolute course of action. I must say though, that at that particular moment I was not very sanguine of getting the girls away out of the power of this savage, who had doubtless won them from some of his fellows by more or less fair fighting.

I made my way over to where the chief was squatting, and gazed at him long and steadily. I remember his appearance as though it were but yesterday that we met. I think I have already said he was the most repulsive-looking savage I have ever come across, even among the Australian blacks. The curious raised scars were upon this particular chief both large and numerous. This curious form of decoration, by the way, is a very painful business. The general practice is to make transverse cuts with a sharp shell, or stone knife, on the chest, thighs, and sometimes on the back and shoulders. Ashes and earth are then rubbed into each cut, and the wound is left to close. Next comes an extremely painful gathering and swelling, and a little later the earth that is inside is gradually removed-sometimes with a feather. When the wounds finally heal up, each cicatrice stands out like a raised weal, and of these extraordinary marks the blacks are inordinately proud.

But to return to the chief who owned the girls. I must say that, apart from his awful and obviously stubborn face, he was a magnificently formed savage.

I commenced the conversation with him by saying, I presumed the usual courtesy of providing a wife would be extended to me during my stay. As I anticipated, he readily acquiesced, and I instantly followed up the concession by calmly remarking that I should like to have the two white women who were in the camp sent over to my "little place." To this suggestion he gave a point-blank refusal. I persisted, however, and taunted him with deliberately breaking the inviolable rules of courtesy; and at length he gave me to understand he would think the matter over.

All this time Yamba had been as busy as a showman out West. She had followed with unusual vigour her customary r?le of "advance agent," and had spread most ridiculously exaggerated reports of my supernatural prowess and magical attributes. I controlled the denizens of Spiritland, and could call them up in thousands to torment the blacks. I controlled the elements; and was in short all-powerful.

I must admit that this energetic and systematic "puffing" did a great deal of good, and wherever we went I was looked upon as a sort of wizard, entitled to very great respect, and the best of everything that was going.

For a long time the tribal chief persisted in his opposition to my request for the girls; but as most of his warriors were in my favour (I had given many appalling demonstrations in the bush at night), I knew he would submit sooner or later. The big corroboree lasted all night, and at length, before we separated on the second day, the great man gave way-with exceedingly bad grace. Of course, I did not disturb the girls at that hour, but next day I told Yamba to go and see them and arrange for an interview. She came back pretty soon, and then undertook to guide me to their "abode." The prospect of meeting white people once more-even these two poor unfortunates-threw me into a strange excitement, in the midst of which I quite forgot my own astonishing appearance, which was far more like that of a gaily decorated and gorgeously painted native chief than a civilised European. For it must be remembered that by this time I had long ago discarded all clothing, except an apron of emu feathers, whilst my skin was extremely dark and my hair hung down my back fully three feet, and was built up in a surprising way in times of war and corroboree.

I followed Yamba through the camp, getting more and more excited as we approached the girls' domicile. At length she stopped at the back of a crescent-shaped break-wind of boughs, and a moment later-eager, trembling, and almost speechless-I stood before the two English girls. Looking back now, I remember they presented a truly pitiable spectacle. They were huddled together on the sandy ground, naked, and locked in one another's arms. Before them burned a fire, which was tended by the women. Both looked frightfully emaciated and terrified-so much so, that as I write these words my heart beats faster with horror as I recall the terrible impression they made upon me. As they caught sight of me, they screamed aloud in terror. I retired a little way discomfited, remembering suddenly my own fantastic appearance. Of course, they thought I was another black fellow coming to torture them. All kinds of extraordinary reflections flashed through my mind at that moment. What would people in my beloved France, I wondered-or among my Swiss mountains, or in stately England-think of the fate that had overtaken these girls-a fate that would infallibly read more like extravagant and even offensive fiction than real, heart-rending fact?

I went back and stood before the girls, saying, reassuringly, "Ladies, I am a white man and a friend; and if you will only trust in me I think I can save you."

Their amazement at this little speech knew no bounds, and one of the girls became quite hysterical. I called Yamba, and introduced her as my wife, and they then came forward and clasped me by the hand, crying, shudderingly, "Oh, save us! Take us away from that fearful brute."

I hastily explained to them that it was solely because I had resolved to save them that I had ventured into the camp; but they would have to wait patiently until circumstances favoured my plans for their escape. I did not conceal from them that my being able to take them away at all was extremely problematical; for I could see that to have raised false hopes would have ended in real disaster. Gradually they became quieter and more reasonable-and my position obviously more embarrassing. I quickly told them that, at any rate, so long as I remained in the camp, they need not fear any further visits from the giant chief they dreaded so much, and with this reassurance I walked swiftly away, followed by Yamba.

The laws of native hospitality absolutely forbade any one to interfere with the girls during my stay, so, easy in my mind, I made straight for the extensive swamps which I knew lay a few miles from the camp. In this wild and picturesque place I brought down, with Yamba's assistance, a great number of cockatoos, turkeys, and other wild fowl, which birds were promptly skinned, my wife and I having in view a little amateur tailoring which should render my future interviews with the girls a little less embarrassing. As a matter of fact, I handed over the bird-skins to Yamba, and she, with her bone needles and threads of kangaroo sinews, soon made a couple of extraordinary but most serviceable garments, which we immediately took back to the poor girls, who were shivering with cold and neglect. I at once saw the reason of most of their suffering.

Their own clothing had apparently been lost or destroyed, and the native women, jealous of the attention which the chief was bestowing upon the newcomers, gave them little or no food. Nor did the jealous wives instruct the interlopers in the anointing of their bodies with that peculiar kind of clay which forms so effective a protection alike against the burning heat of the sun, the treacherous cold of the night-winds, and the painful attacks of insects. All the information I could elicit from the girls that evening was the fact that they had been shipwrecked, and had already been captive among the blacks for three and a half months. The elder girl further said that they were not allowed their liberty, because they had on several occasions tried to put an end to their indescribable sufferings by committing suicide. Anything more extraordinary than the costumes we made for the girls you never saw. They were not of elaborate design, being of the shape of a long sack, with holes for the arms and neck; and they afterwards shrank in the most absurd way.

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