Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
The other dance that we saw was by a similar party of men, but they were most plainly dressed and we thought they would not be so interesting as the first ones, but we then learnt that they were real wild fellows and cannibals, and had come in only three days before from their distant island, where their usual end-up to this dance was to kill and eat a man. In the present case they had a dog instead! But I think they cast longing eyes on some of us white men who were fat.
The dances were very much like the Boy Scouts’ War Dance, and their songs very like the Eengonyama Chorus. The third dance was on another island called New Britain. Here the dancers were dressed very like our Jack-in-the-Green on May Day. It is a curious thing, too, that their dance comes off only once a year, and that is at the beginning of May.
I wonder whether there is any connection between their man in green and ours.
Only members of a secret brotherhood are allowed to take part in the Duk-Duk dance.
With them the dancer is completely hidden in leaves except his legs, and he wears a kind of extinguisher over his head with a very tall plume at the top of it. The dance is called Duk Duk, and only men of a certain brotherhood are allowed to take part in it.
The brotherhood is a secret one, and the members wear their dress as a disguise. They have secret signs by which they know each other, like the Scouts.
If any outsider were found to be dressing up like them he would be killed and probably eaten. What a pity we can’t do that to “monkey patrols” who dress like Boy Scouts!
The islands of the Pacific spread over a distance twice as big as Europe, and the little dug-out canoes in which the natives do their fishing seldom go far enough to sea to visit other islands.
Nor is it always very safe to pay visits to islands whose owners you don’t know, because so many of them are cannibals, and as likely as not, instead of giving you a dinner when you come to call, they’ll put you in the pot and use you for the dinner for themselves; they, at any rate, will be glad you came; that is, if you are fat and tender. So visiting is not much in fashion.
From not seeing much of each other, it follows that all these islanders speak different languages; but there is one language which most of them use by which they can understand each other when they do meet, and that is “pidgin-English.” It is a curious jargon of English which seems to have grown up of itself, but it is a wonderfully useful one in this part of the world.
For instance, we came over from America to Japan in an American ship of which the crew were