Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

the canoe, with the lid closely fastened down, remained in the house: in the mean time Finow issued orders for a general assembly of all the inhabitants of the island, to take place the ensuing morning before the house, and nobody to be absent under any pretext whatsoever, not even that of illness.

Early the following day all the people, according to Finow's orders, assembled before the house, where there Mas a large supply of provisions and cava for the conclusion of the ceremony. In the mean time the body was conveyed to the Fytóca, where it was deposited, inside the house, without any pomp or form, not within the grave, but on the top of it, that Finow might see the coffin whenever he pleased, and take it away with him whenever he went to a distance.

On this extraordinary occasion, which the caprice of Finow rendered a scene of rejoicing rather than of mourning, after the provisions and cava were shared out, they began the entertainments of wrestling and boxing as usual at festivals. After the men had shown their strength and dexterity in these feats by single engagements, the king gave orders that all the women who resided north of the mooa should arrange themselves on one side, ready to com; bat all the women who resided south of the mooa, who were to arrange themselves on the other. It was not a very rare occurrence for women to fight in pairs on occasions of rejoicing; but a general engagement like this, with about fifteen hundred women on each side, was a thing altogether new, and beyond all precedent, and quite unexpected at a funeral ceremony. The women, however, readily engaged, and kept up the contest, with obstinate bravery, for about an hour, without a foot of ground being lost or gained on either side ; nor would the battle have subsided then, if Finow, seeing the persevering courage of these heroines, had not ordered them to desist, the battle having cost them several sprained ancles and broken arms. They fought with a great deal of steadiness, and gave fair hits, without pulling one another's hair. The men now divided themselves in like manner into two parties, and began a general engagement, which was persisted in a considerable time with much fury, till at length that party which belonged to the side of the island on which Finow dwelt began to give way: instantly he rushed from the house in which he was seated, to reanimate his men by his presence and exertions, which he effected to such a degree, that the opposite party in their turn fell bark, and were completely beaten off the ground. This contest being now ended, the company dispersed, each to his respective home, whilst Finow retired to a small house, which had been built since his daughter's death, near Böóno (the large house on the marly); and there, feeling himself inuch exhausted, he laid down to rest from his fatigue. He had not been long in this posture before he found himself very ill : his respiration became difficult; he turned himself repeatedly from side to side; his lips became purple, and his under jaw seemed convulsed: from time to time he groaned deeply and most horribly: all the by-standers were much affected, the women shed a profusion of tears, and the men were occupied no doubt with the thoughts of what commotion might happen in the event of his death, what blood might be spilt, and what battles won and lost. The king, in the mean while, seemed perfectly sensible of his situation: he attempted to speak, but the power of utterance was almost denied to him; one word alone could be clearly distinguished, fonnooa (land or country); hence it was supposed that he meant to express his anxiety respecting the mischiefs and disturbances that might happen to the country in the

event of his death. After waiting a little time, finding he did not get better, the prince, and a young chief named Voogi, went out to procure one of Finow's children by a female attendant, to sacrifice it to the gods, that their anger might be appeased, and the health of its father restored*. They found the child in a neighbouring house, unconsciously sleeping in its mother's lap : they took it away by force, and retiring with it behind an adjacent Fytóca, strangled it, as quickly as possible, with a band of gnatoo; they then took it, with all speed, before two consecrated houses and a grave, at each place hurrying over a short but appropriate prayer to the god to interfere with the other gods in behalf of Finow, and to accept of this sacrifice as an atonement for his crimes. This being done, they returned to the place where Finow lay, but found him with scarcely any signs of life, speechless and motionless;—his heart, however, could be just felt to beat. In the mean time he had been placed on a sort of hand-barrow, which had been made on purpose, during the time the child was strangled. Fancying there were still some hopes of his recovery, his friends carried him on this bier to different consecrated houses, although he had, almost beyond a doubt, breathed his last, with violent struggles, about ten minutes before. He was first carried to the house dedicated to Táli-y-Toobó, where an appropriate prayer to the god was hurried over as quickly as possible: the corpse (for it was now perhaps nothing more, for there was no pulse at the wrist; and Mr. Mariner, applying his hand to the region of the heart, found it had ceased sensibly to beat) was conveyed to the house of the god Too'i-foo'a-Bolo'too, where a similar prayer was preferred. Not contented with this, they next carried it to the grave of a female chief named Chinitacala, and her spirit was in like manner invoked. Some hope still remained; and his body was carried a mile and a half up the country, on the road towards Felletoa, to the residence of Tooitonga, their great divine chief, at Nioo Lolo. When arrived here, the body was conveyed to Tooitonga's cook-house, and placed over the hole in the ground where the fire is lighted to dress victuals: this was thought to be acceptable to the gods, as being a mark of extreme humiliation, that the great chief of all the Hapai islands, and Vavaoo, should be laid where the meanest class of mankind, the

* For farther particulars respecting this ceremony, see p. 228.

« ForrigeFortsæt »