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CHAPTER XXXII.

THE ARU ISLANDS-SECOND RESIDENCE AT DOBBO.

MAY AND JUNE, 1857.

DOBBO was full to overflowing, and I was obliged to occupy the court-house where the Commissioners hold their sittings. They had now left the island, and I found the situation agreeable, as it was at the end of the village, with a view down the principal street. It was a mere shed, but half of it had a roughly-boarded floor, and by putting up a partition and opening a window I made it a very pleasant abode. In one of the boxes I had left in charge of Herr Warzbergen, a colony of small ants had settled and deposited millions of eggs. It was luckily a fine hot day, and by carrying the box some distance from the house, and placing every article in the sunshine for an hour or two, I got rid of them without damage, as they were fortunately a harmless species.

Dobbo now presented an animated appearance. Five or six new houses had been added to the street; the praus were all brought round to the western side of the point, where they were hauled up on the beach, and were being calked and covered with a thick white lime-plaster for the homeward voyage, making them the brightest and cleanest looking things in the place. Most of the small boats had returned from the "blakang-tana" (back country), as the side of the islands toward New Guinea is called. Piles of firewood were being heaped up behind the houses; sail-makers and carpenters were busy at work; mother-of-pearl shell was being tied up in bundles, and the black and ugly smoked tripang was having a last exposure to the sun before loading. The spare portion of the crews were employed cutting and squaring timber, and boats from Ceram and Goram were constantly unloading their cargoes of sago-cake for the traders' homeward voyage. The fowls, ducks, and goats all looked. fat and thriving on the refuse food of a dense population, and

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SECOND RESIDENCE AT DOBBO.

the Chinamen's pigs were in a state of obesity that foreboded early death. Parrots and lories and cockatoos, of a dozen different kinds, were suspended on bamboo perches at the doors of the houses, with metallic green or white fruit-pigeons which cooed musically at noon and eventide. Young cassowaries, strangly striped with black and brown, wandered about the houses or gambolled with the playfulness of kittens in the hot sunshine, with sometimes a pretty little kangaroo, caught in the Aru forests, but already tame and graceful as a petted fawn.

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Of an evening, there were more signs of life than at the time of my former residence. Tom-toms, jews'-harps, and even fiddles were to be heard, and the melancholy Malay songs sounded not unpleasantly far into the night. Almost every day there was a cock-fight in the street. The spectators make a ring, and after the long steels spurs are tied and the poor animals are set down to gash and kill each other, the excitement is immense. Those who have made bets scream and yell and jump frantically, if they think they are going to win or lose, but in a very few minutes it is all over; there is a hurrah from the winners, the owners seize their cocks, the winning bird is caressed and admired, the loser is generally dead or very badly wounded, and his master may often be seen plucking out his feathers as he walks away, preparing him for the cooking pot while the poor bird is still alive.

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A game at foot-ball, which generally took place at sunset, was, however, much more interesting to me. The ball used is a rather small one, and is made of rattan, hollow, light, and elastic. The player keeps it dancing a little while on his foot, then occasionally on his arm or thigh, till suddenly he gives it a good blow with the hollow of the foot, and sends it flying high in the air. Another player runs to meet it, and at its first bound catches it on his foot and plays in his turn. The ball must never be touched with the hand; but the arm, shoulder, knee, or thigh are used at pleasure to rest the foot. Two or three played very skillfully, keeping the ball continually flying about, but the place was too confined to show off the game to advantage. One evening a quarrel arose from some dispute in the game, and there was

a great row, and it was feared there would be a fight about it-not two men only, but a party of a dozen or twenty on each side, a regular battle with knives and krisses; but after a large amount of talk it passed off quietly, and we heard nothing about it afterward.

Most Europeans, being gifted by nature with a luxuriant growth of hair upon their faces, think it disfigures them, and keep up a continual struggle against her by mowing down every morning the crop which has sprouted up during the preceding twenty-four hours. Now the men of Mongolian race are, naturally, just as many of us want to be. They mostly pass their lives with faces as smooth and beardless as an infant's. But shaving seems an instinct of the human race; for many of these people, having no hair to take off their faces, shave their heads. Others, however, set resolutely to work to force nature to give them a beard. One of the chief cock-fighters at Dobbo was a Javanese, a sort of master of the ceremonies of the ring, who tied on the spurs and acted as backer-up to one of the combatants. This man had succeeded, by assiduous cultivation, in raising a pair of mustaches which were a triumph of art, for they each contained about a dozen hairs more than three inches long, and which, being well greased and twisted, were distinctly visible (when not too far off) as a black thread hanging down on each side of his mouth. But the beard to match was the difficulty, for nature had cruelly refused to give him a rudiment of hair on his chin, and the most talented gardener could not do much if he had nothing to cultivate. But true genius triumphs over difficulties. Although there was no hair proper on the chin, there happened to be, rather on one side of it, a small mole or freckle which contained (as such things frequently do) a few stray hairs. These had been made the most off. They had reached four or five inches in length, and formed another black thread dangling from the left angle of the chin. The owner carried this as if it were something remarkable (as it certainly was); he often felt it affectionately, passed it between his fingers, and was evidently extremely proud of his mustaches and beard!

One of the most surprising things connected with Aru was the excessive cheapness of all articles of European or native

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