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CHAPTER XIX.

THE ORIGIN OF FIRE, AND OTHER STORIES.

1. THE Samoans say that there was a time when their ancestors ate everything raw, and that they owe the luxury of cooked food to one Ti'iti'i, the son of a person called Talanga. This Talanga was high in favour with the earthquake god Mafuie, who lived in a subterranean region where there was fire continually burning. On going to a certain perpendicular rock, and saying, “Rock, divide! I am Talanga; I have come to work!" the rock opened, and let Talanga in; and he went below to his plantation in the land of this god Mafuie. One day Tiiti'i, the son of Talanga, followed his father, and watched where he entered. The youth, after a time, went up to the rock, and, feigning his father's voice, said, "Rock, divide! I am Talanga; I have come to work!" and was admitted too. His father, who was at work in his plantation, was surprised to see his son there, and begged him not to talk loud, lest the god Mafuie should hear him, and be angry.

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Seeing smoke rising, he inquired of his father what it was. His father said it was the fire of Mafuie. "I must go and get some," said the son. "No," said the father; "he will be angry. Don't you know he eats people ?" "What do I care for him?" said the daring youth; and off he went, humming a song, towards the smoking furnace.

"Who are you?" said Mafuie.

"I am Ti'iti'i, the son of Talanga. I am come for some fire."

"Take it," said Mafuie.

He went back to his father with some cinders, and the two set to work to bake some taro. They kindled a fire, and were preparing the taro to put on the hot stones, when suddenly the god Mafuie blew up the oven, scattered the stones all about, and put out the fire. "Now," said Talanga, "did not I tell you Mafuie would be angry?" Tiiti'i went off in a rage to Mafuie, and without any ceremony commenced with, "Why have you broken up our oven, and put out our fire?" Mafuie was indignant at such a tone and language, rushed at him, and there they wrestled with each other. Tiiti'i got hold of the right arm of Mafuie, grasped it with both hands, and gave it such a wrench that it broke off. He then seized the other arm, and was going to twist it off next when Mafuie declared himself beaten, and implored Ti'iti'i to have mercy, and spare his left arm.

"Do let me have this arm," said he; "I need it

to hold Samoa straight and level.
and I will let you have my hundred wives."
"No, not for that," said Ti'iti'i.

Give it to me,

"Well, then, will you take fire? If you let me have my left arm you shall have fire, and you may ever after this eat cooked food."

"Agreed," said Tiitii; "you keep your arm, and I have fire."

"Go," said Mafuie; "you will find the fire in every wood you cut."

And hence, the story adds, Samoa, ever since the days of Ti'iti'i, has eaten cooked food from the fire which is got from the friction of rubbing one piece of dry wood against another.

The superstitious still have half an idea that Mafuie is down below Samoa somewhere; and that the earth has a long handle there, like a walkingstick, which Mafuie gives a shake now and then. It was common for them to say, when they felt the shock of an earthquake, "Thanks to Ti'iti'i, that Mafuie has only one arm: if he had two, what a shake he would give!"

The natives of Savage Island, 300 miles to the south of Samoa, have a somewhat similar tale about the origin of fire. Instead of Talanga and Ti'iti'i, they give the names of Maui, the father, and Maui, the son. Instead of going through a rock, their entrance was down through a reed bush. And, instead of a stipulation for the fire, they say that the

youth Maui, like another Prometheus, stole it, ran up the passage, and before his father could catch him, he had set the bush in flames in all directions. The father tried to put it out, but in vain; and they further add, that ever since the exploit of young Maui, they have had fire and cooked food in Savage Island.

2. The Samoans have their stories of a golden age of intelligence long long ago, when all things material had the power of speech. They not only spoke, but they had evil natures as well, and quarrelled with each other and fought, very much like the races of mankind. We have already referred to the early battles of cosmogony, and to the wars of the rocks and fires and earth and stones. It was the same with the flora and fauna. Or to give it in their own words: "The small stones fought with the grass, the stones were beaten and the grass conquered. The short grass fought with the strong weedy grass, the short grass was beaten and the strong grass conquered. The strong grass fought with the long grass of the bush, the strong grass was beaten and the bush grass conquered. The bush grass fought with the trees, the grass was beaten and the trees conquered. The trees fought with the creepers, the trees were beaten and the creepers conquered-and then began the wars of men." Pity but the wars of men had been as bloodless as those which preceded them!

The principle seems to be that whenever one thing prevails to excess above another thing, or is in any way superior, be it rock, stone, earth, grass, or tree, we are sure to find some tradition of its battle and victory. The old poetic Samoan forefathers who framed these fabulous fights added a deal of circumstance and minuteness to their tales, and all was seriously believed by some of their more prosaic posterity.

3. A story is told of a battle between two treesa Fijian Banian tree and the Samoan tree called Tatangia (acacia_laurifolia). A report reached Samoa that the trees of Fiji had fought with the Banian tree, and that it had beaten them all. On this the Tatangia and another tree went off from Samoa in two canoes to fight the Fijian champion. They reached Fiji, went on shore, and there stood the Banian tree. "Where is the tree," they inquired, "which has conquered all the trees ?" "I am the tree," said the Banian. Then said the Tatangia, “I have come to fight with you." "Very good, let us fight" replied the Banian. They fought. A branch of the Banian tree fell, but Tatangia sprung aside and escaped. Another fell-ditto, ditto-the Tatangia. Then the trunk fell. Tatangia again darted aside and escaped unhurt. On this the Banian tree "buried its eyes in the earth," and owned itself conquered. As many of the towns and districts are spoken of figuratively by the names of trees noted

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