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falls on any wound or scratch it produces dangerous and agonising inflammation. The smallest drop squirted into the eye causes intolerable burning pain; and many of the tripang-fishers have their sight seriously injured from this cause. But more noxious by far is the olive-green variety, which is commonly called the leopard, from being marked with orange-coloured spots. When this creature is touched it throws up glutinous filaments like darning-cotton, which not only adhere tenaciously to whatever they touch, but if they come in contact with the human skin, they instantly raise a painful burning blister and cause serious inflammation. Such being the case, it would appear discreet to leave these ugly creatures unmolested; but as they are accounted a great delicacy in China, and fetch from £80 to £100 per ton, the risk is considered worth incurring. Another serious danger of the reef arises from the various voracious sea-eels, which coil themselves up in the interstices of the coral and dart out to seize any prey which comes within reach. I was severely bitten myself one day while incautiously feeling for small fish; but many natives have thus been maimed for life, the loss of a few fingers being a comparative trifle. I heard of one man in the Paumotu Isles who had the whole calf of his leg bitten off by a vaaroa, or long-mouthed eel, a reptile

TOTEM-WORSHIP. 61

which attains a length of eight feet or more, and roams about the reef seeking what it may devour. It was formerly an object of worship, in common with the conger-eel, and bloody vengeance has on more than one occasion been taken by the heathen on such of their Christian neighbours as have presumed to eat this incarnate god. About fifteen years ago, a party of about eighty persons reached Samoa, after drifting over the wide seas for several weeks. They had been driven away from the isle of Fakaofa, where several of their number had been killed in consequence of having eaten conger-eels, which the people of that isle held in reverence. Another fish-deity was the octopus, which in heathen days it would have been sacrilege to eat, but which is now recognised as excellent food. I have never tasted one myself, but I am told that, though it looks so gelatinous, it really is tough and unpalatable. The girls catch delicate young cuttle-fish in the shallows on the reef; but sometimes the tables are turned and they are themselves caught by overgrown monsters, which lie concealed in deep holes in the coral, and throw out long arms covered with suckers, with which they grasp whatever lies within reach and drag it inward. Some of these measure fully six feet across the arms, from tip to tip, and many horrible stories are current among the fishers of their adventures with these hideous devil-fish. So fully do they recognise the possibility of danger, that they rarely go out alone to dive for these, or for clam-shells. The latter have been known to close suddenly, and hold the invader prisoner till he or she was drowned; and the octopii have an unpleasant knack of throwing their arms so as to enfold an enemy, who vainly struggles to extricate himself from their hateful clasp : his arms are held powerless, and sometimes the hideous creature wraps itself round his head, so that death is inevitable unless haply his comrade comes to the rescue. These fishers know the value of pouring oil on the waters as well as the poachers on our own Scottish rivers, or the oyster-fishers at Gibraltar and the Mediterranean generally, so they invariably carry in their canoes a measure of cocoa-nut oil. By sprinkling a few drops on the surface of the water, it becomes so perfectly smooth that they can see right down through its crystal depths, and detect the exact position of the creatures below. So, when a diver remains under water longer than usual, his friend in the canoe thus clears the surface, and, peering into the depths, ascertains what is going on, and, if need be, dives to the rescue. Of course these are not the only dangers encountered by the fishers. There is the ever-abiding

SHARK-CAVES. 63

dread of sharks, especially the awful white shark, which grows to about thirty feet in length, and is so fearless that it is frequently known to attack canoes and drag its victims into the water, either by seizing some carelessly outstretched limb or by overturning the canoe. It is a hideous animal, with gigantic mouth and with broad serrated teeth. I saw an enormous specimen hanging from the bows of a vessel which was lying at anchor in the harbour. Even the small lagoon shark is not a pleasant fellow-swimmer, though it rarely exceeds six feet in length. It ventures into very shallow water, but makes its home in caves in the coral, in company with its kinsman. In all these isles it is considered good food; and in many of the groups (notably the New Hebrides and the Hervey Isles) the bold fishermen actually dive into the shark-caverns, contrive to pass a slip-knot round the tail of one of the sleepers, and instantly rise to the surface, when their companions haul the ugly monster, tail first, into the canoe, hitting him on the head with all possible speed. You can quite understand that this sort of fishing is by no means child’s-play. Sometimes, when a diver has entered a cave, a shark will move so as to prevent his exit, and then his only chance of ever returning to the surface lies in the skill with which he can tickle or stroke the monster, so as to induce it to move aside. Of course he only dares to do this if the creature's tail is towards him. Should it have turned the other way, his fate is almost inevitably sealed, as the slightest movement on his part would reveal his presence and consign him to the shark's maw ; and on the other hand, though he is himself wellnigh amphibious, a delay of a few seconds must cost his life. One of the most unpleasant inmates of these waters is the stingaree or sting-ray, which is a large flat fish, the spine of which is prolonged to a sharp, barbed point, serrated on both sides. The swimmer who unluckily comes in contact with this weapon receives a dangerous wound, as the point probably breaks into his flesh, and works its way inward with every breath he draws. Even the globe-fish is an uncomfortable neighbour. It is the hedgehog of the sea, covered with sharp horny spikes. It possesses the curious faculty of filling itself with air till it becomes a perfect ball, of the consistency of oiled parchment. Verily, those denizens of the deep are strange |

Tuesday, 30th. This morning, after a pleasant breakfast with Mrs Brander, M. Vernier called for me in his ponyphaeton, and we drove to visit Queen Pomare's

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