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18 September 1853 — Father Mathieu Gagnière to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Pouebo, New Caledonia

Translated by Peter McConnell, May 2011

Based on the copy, APM ONC 60. Seven sheets folded forming twenty-eight pages, twenty-five written on, with two annotations on the top of the first page. The pages are bound to form a small book.

[p. 1]
[In an unknown hand]
R. P. Gagnière
 [Then another unknown hand] Collection of Caledonian fables
New Caledonia, Pouebo, mission of S(ain)t Austremoine, 18 September 1853.

Letter confidential 
to the very reverend father general of the Marists.

Very Reverend Father,
I am absolutely convinced that in the midst of all your many jobs and all your worries for your fine establishments in France you don’t have left much worry about each of your children scattered in the islands of Oceania. The plaintive cries which you have heard so often make you long more keenly for personal letters from each of them. Your wish is their order, and I had not understood that sufficiently until now. Perhaps several have suggested to you, as if they were the feelings of all the missionaries of Oceania, feelings which were only their own personal ones, with so many contradictions. It is said that some have written: we are damned in Oceania; others have been loud in praise; so much confusion comes from all that. Everything would have been clear had each one spoken and would have spoken only in their own case. So it is likely that you have consequently seen that some have indeed become discouraged and have seen the bad side of their experiences, others have sustained their experiences patiently, others have turned them to their advantage and to the glory of God; and finally a few were happy with the good that their ministry has achieved.
As for me I have sustained the first two years of trials joyfully. The fever at Anatom has not been my most dangerous enemy.
The several months when we thought that the mission station was destroyed did not make me lose my fervour. Whether it was out of idleness or whether because of the number of staff, the devil played his hand in making me experience at times bad thoughts and at other times a longing for the life of the cloister. Helped with advice I recognized the illusion created by the devil. My best defence has been frequent confession and patience. However, because since then I did not have a watchfulness over my eyes and mind, I have never had a complete victory over the devil as I had when I was first full of fervour. Very often the devil has worked on me so nastily that I needed the thought of all my sacred duties to stop me giving in. Then changing tack, sometimes he filled me with the wish to join the Trappists, sometimes making me regret that I did not follow the first attraction I felt towards the cloistered life. There’s the basis of the vile attacks that I have undergone for most of the time that I spent in Futuna and even since my return to New Caledonia. Moreover I admit that those trials have been provoked by me myself and I have only myself to blame. I accuse myself every day of forgetting grace and I am not more faithful on those testing occasions. It is not that the temptations have a specific object and that I have been inclined to seek familiarity with a woman; no, but I am not recollected and dissipation allows in concupiscence which flares up from the slightest things and often from most insignificant things.
In the midst of my humiliations I have always kept, I belief, resignation and sufficient patience. I don’t think that I have given full consent to serious matters and I have accordingly become more humble without being downhearted from that experience.
Besides, far from making temptations arise my ministry can only turn me away from them. I like the natives that I have to deal with. I find studying their language a pleasure; nothing else bothers me except for my daily infidelity and failings. Yet I am quite content not having any attachment to life nor to a job other than the one I have, that is to say that while happily staying as a missionary I have no other natural longing.
Very Reverend Father, see whether you have anything to say or to do for the safety of my soul that is truly threatened, but which is resigned to hardship, rusts in God in times of danger, and allows itself to hope for more serene days. Be so good as to wish me peace and bless me from afar!
As for my temporal welfare, I have only one complaint to make, and that is having clothes and shoes that are too small because I am tall and stout. My rheumatism causes me some troubles but does not cause me major problems.
You also want each one of us to express his opinion on the mission station where he is. I do not stop talking to you about Balade. The factionalism and wars there have put an end to the burst of enthusiasm which our arrival from Futuna caused. The bad attitude of the pagans seems to influence as well the best intentioned Christians. Moreover there is certainly something that has to be done, and after all if the tribe still behaved appallingly we would have to withdraw to be with others and far from injuring the welfare of everybody, that measure would only increase the advantage in the other outposts.
As for Pouépo, the tribe is four times as large as that of Balade; it is less nasty and it is far less turbulent. We have the same number of Christians there as at Balade; it will not be long before being able to count three hundred. The second chief and all his family are quite devoted to us; although he is second in command he is the one to rule the tribe. The first chief, a young man of sixteen or seventeen is also well disposed to us and for Catholicism. We will have to wait for his conversion as he can’t become a Christian for at least a long time. Unfortunately he has four or five wives whom he finds it difficult to send away; furthermore he mixes with Christians and is as one with the second chief. The subjects say: ‘ our chiefs are Christians, what do you want to do with us, their subjects? Our chiefs are going to the fathers.
As for our old people, who are a difficult group because they cling to their customs and to their superstitions. Well I don’t know what omen occurred but everything gave way before us. There is not one of them who dares to say a word very loudly in front of us. Here aren’t any either who really say bad things about us behind our backs. Those who don’t want to come to church are happy keeping their distance and if we reproach them for that action they promise us to come in the future. Although we know well enough he value of their words, yet we accept it because it is always an act of submission on their part which gives us a hold over them and the youth.
We thought we would win by pretending to disdain the children to avoid their being convinced that it was good for children and women to go to catechism. Nobody has any human respect also for sitting around our catechists. Some polygamists even want to join in although we warned them that they would do better saying away.
We have a little apostolic college. It consists of a dozen children whom we have at he house. We feed them with local food which we buy with pipes and tobacco. Their job is to prepare the meals, sweep the house, attend two classes daily. So armed with a little catechism book they go in all directions and each visits a village assigned to them where they teach the others the words of the catechism.
Without getting really involved the two of us see our task going ahead. We are sedentary as in a parish and that contributes to making us being more respected. We take turns in taking our class, week about.
We have been robbed on two occasions; once a woman was killed near us to be eaten. Well do you believe it? Those are the things that helped the mission station the most. When the first theft occurred, our chief had us burn all the houses of the guilty party; on the second occasion four fields of yams were given in compensation. As for the killer, his legs saved his life and he came back only after some months in exile. If a village works on Sundays or does something which displeases us, we say: “that’s OK, such and such a village is bad; it is kanak. We will not buy any of its taros and yams when it comes to sell them. It will not have any more tobacco to smoke. ” Causing them then to keep an eye on one another, they correct one another.
I don’t know really, Reverend Father, whether our mission station should be disdained. If God continues to favour us, this numerous tribe will soon be completely Christian and be like a strong rampart for Catholicism in all New Caledonia. I am not exaggerating because I am reproached for being too conservative rather than emotional.
We are also very hopeful of the mission station planned for Touho. If the governing bodies allow us peace for a few more years, a great leap forward will occur in New Caledonia. You will see without any trouble that our settlements will need to multiply in order to defend one another.
Just a word about my fellow priests. We don’t always get on very well because of the nature of the Reverend Father Rougeyron; but the difference of personality does not have any influence on the mission station. We have only one way of speaking and acting. As for Father Montrouzier, at first I found him wonderful because of his knowledge, good living and enthusiasm. I had on several occasions thought of suggesting to you my wish to have him as our future superior. Some particular matters caused me to change my mind completely. Or vicariate is the only one which has not complained against its superiors; it would have done that sooner had the Reverend Father Montrouzier put his ideas into action and he would have done so because he thought he had to out of enthusiasm. So we had to take the opposite position from our venerable bishop even for the mission station. I did not think it wrong that this dear priest should express his ideas of changing things, but I was astonished that in his capacity as superior at Balade, he would have forced the hand of the Reverend Vigouroux and Forestier in such a way as to tell us at Poébo that they were unanimous at Balade, whereas we thought that the two priests approved certain ideas only with a respectful silence. Father Forestier is a fervent fellow priest, full of ideas but sometimes carried unrestrained by his lively spirit. Moreover he sees and admits often himself that the carrying out of some plans is less rapid than their completion. Father Vigouroux is a capable fellow priest and a real Breton; he behaves quite conciliatory; he makes his decisions calmly ands always seeks the middle path. He goes more slowly but he goes further.
Sometimes we see each other and we greet each other very cordially. We try to eat poultry together from time to time to lift our spirits. I have not noticed any particular trouble in him.
Before he passed away Bishop Douarre recommended making a collection of New Caledonian fables and short stories and to send them to you. I have neglected doing that because I thought they would have no interest for French people. Yet I reflected that it would be better to fulfil the intentions of our dear bishop than thinking too much about a suitable time. So I started straightaway and propose continuing because it is not the number about the quality which is lacking. I am sending you these ones to read and to have read or else you can throw them into the fire if you think that is appropriate. I have collected a much greater number; it is something which helps me study the language and makes me come to grips with the personality of this race.
Do, very Reverend Father accept the humble expression of respect and devotion of your son in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gagnières Marist priest.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam JMJ [=To the greater glory of God. Jesus Mary and Joseph.]

Fable of Uendala and Muéne

NB Uendala is a little bird with a red head similar to a bullfinch; Muéne is an owl.
Uendala was sleeping quietly. Why am I staying like this? I’ll go and wet my feet in the water. So he went to the spring; he dipped his feet in the water, then kept making a furrow as he went downstream. Finally he came to the place where he wanted to plant his taros. When the vegetable patch was made he rested; already his taros were big---
Muéne now comes on the scene. Having come down from the mountain, he noticed that fine patch of taros among which were some of another species which are called uapobo (they are flowery and very white). Muéne then said to Uendala Look here, that is your patch, but don’t touch it because I will come back one day and harvest it. Yes said Uendala from now on it is our patch.
So Muéne went back to the Peiambé rock and stayed there resting. Uendala had his home further down. A long time passed and Uendala harvested his patch, being very hungry. He feasted every day. All the taros were eaten up. The only thing that remained was the species called uapobo. So realizing what he had just done, he said I gathered it for my food there was no longer anybody there. So he tore out the little that remained and cooked it all together. His meal was ready and he ate at his leisure. The only thing left was a single root of uapobo. He ate the outside so that the only thing left was the centre which was very white. However Muéne flew down. He arrived carrying in his talon some polebuak (a red cord which the natives make. It is valuable and should be given in return for a gift which Uendala made of his patch). So where is my vegetable patch? Said Muéne. Oh I harvested it answered Uendala because I was hungry --- You harvested it, you harvested the patch that I wanted!! So he threw his red cord and it struck Uendala on his head and Uendala responded by hurling his piece of taro which hit Muéne also on the head. That is why the Uendala has had since then a red head and Muéne a white head.

The Rat and the Octopus

Once there was a rat. One day he wanted to go sailing. He went away and with his teeth cut down two big sugar canes. He hollowed them out, tied them together and so made a craft in the Caledonian fashion. His sails were already stitched together. There he went launching his boat. Already he was sailing down the river, pushing the bottom of the river with a long pole. He met Kiak (a water fowl). Rat, where are you going? I am going down to he reefs. Wait for me then, I’ll fetch my fishing rod. She went and got her fishing rod and there they were sailing together. On the way they met Konk (the heron) Where are you going? We are going down to the reefs. Wait for me; we’ll go together. The heron raced off, brought back its fishing rod; they set sail. The boat made rapid progress; they were already at their destination. They rolled up the sail and weighed anchor. Go on, said the rat go and get some shellfish; I’ll stay on the ship guarding it. While the two birds went away to fish, the rat who was on guard became hungry on board his sugar cane ship. He began to eat it; and ate the lot. When he had consumed the ship, he went and rested on a stony outcrop. However the incoming tide had already covered the reefs; so now our two birds returned. Rat, where is the ship then? I have eaten it because I was hungry. Friend, you ate it. Well we are reminding you that you don’t have wings to fly away. On saying that the two of them took off and left the rat on the rocky outcrop which was already being washed with water. So he cried and lamented his fate. The octopus heard him. Who is there crying? It’s me, rat. You are crying, well what’s up? I am crying because my two companions have just left me.. Hell, put an end to your sorrow. So he approached the rat and added Come, climb down and sit on my neck. The rat got down from is rock and went and crouched on the octopus’ hood. Then the swimming started. They had already got half way when the rat needed very badly to relieve himself. He relieved himself right in the middle of is benefactor’s hood. Ha ha ha What are you laughing about? I am laughing seeing how quickly we are travelling. The octopus was encouraged and increased his speed. They were almost on the shore. The rat again relieved himself on the hood of the one who was saving his life. Ha ha ha What are you still laughing about then? I am laughing with joy that we are reached he shore. On saying that he leapt onto terra firma turned around to his benefactor and as though to thank him said Oh I say octopus have a look at your hood. You will find there what made me laugh so much. Damn said the octopus, So he chased him. However, the rat reached a hole and congratulated himself very heartily on the success of his trick.
NB. It is in this fable that the native and in particular the New Caledonian, describes himself well. Notice his lack of foresight in that rat which ate his little ship which was the only means of getting him back to shore. He cried when he saw that he was ruined. He didn’t think of anything even less of gratitude when he saw the hope of being saved dawning on him. While playing a trick on the one who saved him, he did not use any fine words as long as he was not out of danger, and when he was on a safe spot he used mockery and insults. That’s the fundamental aspect of New Caledonian gratitude. See too the morality of the country. Nobody takes it into his head to give an unhappy ending to an ungrateful character because it is much better and more interesting for a New Caledonian to see the trick played out to the end. Moreover that is what is usual with them that the bad characters succeed or at least are not punished at the end.

The Sparrowhawk and the Swallow

The former holidayed at Téiap and the other one had a home at Tébélet. One day they prepared their meal together.; when it was prepared they went together to have it in the valley. After the meal the sparrowhawk flew back. The swallow too returned to his property and set a trap in his field of sugar cane. The she went away to rest quietly. She came back to check her trap. She found a rat caught in the trap; and immediately tore it to pieces. She ripped out the liver and threw the rest down. Then she made a stew from that liver with some coconut milk,. The sparrow hawk too prepared its meal. They then called to each other with a cry UU Then each of them brought its dish to the place they were to feast together. The swallow presented her stew to the sparrow hawk. He tasted it Delicious! What did you puts into it, it is so delicious? Oh said the swallow it’s mother’s liver. How come and isn’t she dead? No she is still alive. Well I’ll go then and take my mother’s liver as we’ll. When he got to his mother’s he cried saying Mum I want to eat you. What do you want to eat? I want to eat your liver. No you will not die. Thereupon he hurled himself onto his mother ands ripped out the liver. The poor mother died immediately. As far as he was concerned he began to weep, weeping for his dead mother. --- To give him some satisfaction the swallow said to him, Come tomorrow and you will burn me up in my house. Yet she made preparations; she made a hole in the ground at the foot of the post in the middle of the house. Then she took a gourd which she hollowed out as well and placed it over the hole. When the time came, the sparrowhawk came to carry out the execution. He set fire to the house and already the flames soared into the sky. Then the swallow entered the gourd and then buried herself in the underground hole which she had dug out. The gourd being heated by the fire exploded. Oh Oh Oh well well well done said the sparrowhawk However when the swallow saw that the house had stopped burning and that the fire was out, she then took flight and came and sat on the half burnt pole. Damn Damn said the sparrowhawk how did you do that? Well tomorrow it is your turn to come and burn me in my place. So he went away and prepared. He too put a hollowed out gourd, as he had seen at the swallow’s home, but he did not make an underground hole. When the fire began he dived into the gourd but the gourd was cooked by the fire and him inside.
NB. If these short fables contain any moral, it’s by accident. As far as the narrator is concerned, he doesn’t take any and it even seems to me that the only thing he has done is to amuse by relating some short tricks which are very successful and which are in the taste of this country.

Uek and Uendala

The former was a quite small bird; the latter is the one we spoke of previously.
They lived together. Now one day some fishermen passed by laden with fish without offering any to them. Some time later our two mates each had a shellfish and went down the Tiauat into the mangrove swamps and reached the sea shore. There Uek bent over to the west and Uendala to the east and drank. That done, there was no more salt water in the sea; the two birds had taken the lot away. Yet there was Téa Puma (chief of the tribe of Puma) who was dying from the stench of the sea. So he said: Hurry up, Dangigne ( a faithful servant), run to Téa Muélébé; give him these andietes (pearls which were the currency of the country) so he can discover the sea for us if it is still in his power to do so. Dangigne came and made inquiries. He was told: It isn’t here. He went back and said: It is not there. Hurry up again Tea Puma said to him again, go up to Téa Gomène, if he is still in control of the salt water, because I am dying from the stench of the sea. Dangigne was already crossing the summit of the mountains. He arrived and heard the sound of the waves from the top of a kauri tree. He asked a question and the two birds answered: Yes, we were the ones who took it away. Be so good as to put it back down there, retorted Dadigne, because Téa Puma is dying from the stench of the sea. So they went down and poured out the salt water and the water returned to its healthy state.

Bat and Kula

(Kula is a freshwater crayfish or rather a shrimp. Bat is gudgeon.)
They lived on the shore line. They cleared the ground there and planted then they rested before taking up their work again “I say Bat” said Kula “why don’t we make a fishing net?” “Oh said Bat, let’s be careful, we don’t want to be fishing ourselves” “Well, why don’t we make a fish hook?” “Oh” said Bat again “let’s be careful that we don’t hook ourselves.” “Well” continued Kula “let’s make a waterway.” “Oh” said Bat, “let’s not do anything of the kind. We would be for ever being washed away by the waters.” “Well” said Kula finally “let’s each make a spear.” “Well so be it” said Bat When that was done, they went off into the forest and chopped down some wood for their spears. Kula’s one was the size of a coconut palm; he was very proud of it. As for Bat, his was a more moderate size. There they were standing at the fishing spot a certain distance from each other. Kula used his spear first but he saw that instead of a fish he hit a stone and his spear broke. However Bat was standing here attentively and saw two huge fish coming towards him. His first attempt was expertly done and stopped the first fish; quickly drawing back his spear he caught the second fish too which was completely dead on the end of his spear. So Kula who had pierced only a stone cried out: “Be courageous, my friend Bat, like that. Stop my two fish because I was the one who mortally injured both of them.” “No way” said Bat, “there is only the hole that my spear made.” “What!” Answered Kula, “your spear just slipped into the hole that my spear made. So come on and prepare a meal. I’ll carry the booty ; you go and fetch some wood.” When the meal was prepared, they wanted to empty the large pot, but they needed big leaves to serve as plates. “Oh, run along then, Bat. Run quickly to Puiréné to get some péra leaves to serve as plates, because have a good look to see that those leaves are good ones as when we lived up the mountain because we are eating parémenane today.” While Bat, far too credulous, went away, Kula swallowed the meal; the little he did not gulp down, he trampled underfoot. After that he seized his spear and stabbed the banana palms here and there all around the house, then he walked into the brambles and crouched down bedside the path. However Bat arrived puffed out, and carrying his leaves and called out Kulka, “where are you then?” “Oh Hell” he said in a low voice. “A large number of people came here.” “Was it Téa Puma or was it Téa Muélébé?” “It doesn’t matter but look at the damage. Look at the blood running on my legs. Oh I put up a good fight; I certainly avoided their spears and I had the good luck of being shrewd and valiant. Oh my good friend Bat, make me a fire then so I can go to bed in the house, because I am half dead with this war.” Poor Bat said nothing; he built the fire in the house, and left the pretending patient by the fire and got up to go and fetch he fish bones in the grass to suck them and so sleep with an empty stomach.
The next day the fishing started again and ended in the same fashion. The only change was the change of the name of the fish. Again it was the very humble Bat who was duped. The third day had the same start and the same success for Bat and the same rudeness of Kula. My friend, so go again to Puireené to fetch some péra leaves for our plates.--- He obeyed but as soon as he was out of sight of his companion he come back and hid in the grass and kept an eye on his mate Kula’s behaviour. He saw him leap onto he meal and gobble it down quickly. Then he ran to fetch a mask. He came back, took his spears and appeared to attack Kula. With his first lunge of he spear he injured his fat leg and with the second the injured his thigh. Then Kula dragged himself away and hid as best he could in the bushes. As for Bat this time he ate the rest of the meal leisurely. Then he took off the mask, went and got some péra leaves and returned calling Kula. However, Kulka did not say a word, he doubled his screams and looked about and finally said in a very low voice: “Hell! Don’t utter a word. Our enemies came back as yesterday.” “Are you telling the truth?” “Here, look at the spears wounds then; I am dying from them.” “Were there many of them?” “Oh yes. I scarcely understand how I was able to get away.” Bat smiled; Kula raised his eyes looking at him and saw on his forehead the marks of the mask. “Bat my mate, you are playing tricks on me,. You are the one then who wore the mask because I can see the marks on your forehead.” “Kula my mate, you played tricks on me too because I indeed saw you eating all the meal.” Thereupon the argued, grappled with each other, fell down and rolled into the water and from that day on they have never left it.

The Two Bualops

NB That is the name of the two valleys near Hienghène.
Once there were two Bualops: one called Bualop Penem and the other Bualop Tilut. The lived some distance from each other. They both had a large number of children; those belonging to Bualop Tilut were all very handsome but those of Bualop Penem were all ugly. Your children are all handsome said Bualop Penem to his companion, how does that come about? Oh I drop them into water and leave them there for several days. But do they breathe there? Oh yes they breathe there. I am going to put mine in the water too so they can be like yours. So he went and put his children into the water and left them there.; they lost their breath and died. He returned to get them, thinking that he would find them all handsome, but he found they were all dead. He gazed at them Oh my children he said. They are all dead. Indeed I will find a trick to kill his too. What did he do? He created in the grass and scrub a path which had a thousand bends and ended up near the house of the one whose children were so handsome. When he had done that he went off calling out: Bualop Tilut let’s go and fight the one who has just raped your wife.--- So they went off using the tortuous path and after a thousand bends they arrived at the house but Bualop Tilut did not recognize it as his own. They went in. Who is going to strike? I am the one, said Bualop Tilut, in a hurry to avenge his honour.--- He struck out to the right and to the left; he killed everything within his reach. Immediately afterwards they fled taking the same tortuous path. Finally they reached Bualop Penem’s place and chatted for a long time about the exploit they just achieved. Finally Bulaop Tilut went down to see his children. He found them all swimming in their blood. He recognized his error and his friend’s trick. Hell! He deceived me to make me slaughter my children because he saw they were handsome. I am going to find him so we can fight it out. Well, come on then , let’s fight since you deceived me to have me kill my children. But you were the first, you tricked me into killing my children in the water Did you hope that you would get away with it? You started it and all I did was to follow you. Thereupon the battle started. They used stones and spears; yet they did not injure each other. They came together and grappled. Their energy weakened but neither had the upper hand. Finally Bualop Tilut in his rage thrust his hand down the throat of Bualop Penem and did the same to the other Bualop. The they both fell but nobody let go and they both died. Their country is empty; there is nobody to enjoy the many garden plots they left behind. Alas said the soul of Bualop Penem when flying over; alas my poor planatations that I have left behind. I will build a boat and I will come and look for them. He needed a boat and flew through the sky. But on the way he encountered two iron wood trees. The ship crashed into them and broke; the soul itself fell to the earth and the fall killed it. Such was the wretched fate of that poor Bualop.

Bigne and Iola

They lived together on the Uebuane Rock. There Bigne always served Iola modestly. One day the latter said to his servant I say why don’t we make a fishnet? For you can see we have no food, no puer, no puégat, no taro ,no yams, no fruit, no bat, no ialé. See, we have only some ua and some iélat fruit. Let’s make a fishnet to catch some fish to eat. On saying that, they began to work. Bigne was in charge of the cords and Iola was specifically in charge of the making of the fishnet. When the job was finished, Iola said to his companion.: Bigne stay at the house. You collect some ua and iélat fruit and fetch some leaves for our needs. When your job is done come and wait for me at the house. For my part I will go and use the net. That said he went off. Standing on the Uebuane Rock Uebuane gazed over the sea and saw a shoal of chalos. He hurried and reached them; he caught all the fish in his net. To see him like that you would think he was a man in the middle of a taro patch. He had only to bend down and take all at his ease. There you are, he returned laden with the burden of fish which he threw down looking smug. Bigne he said where is the food you gathered? There you are said Bigne. Damn! Added Iola, you won’t eat today because there are the fish I caught in my net. It is proper that I should eat them myself. Indeed, added Bigne what is the good of my eating? Eat by yourself because you are the elder and you are the chief. Indeed Iola ate the lot by himself ands refused any food to Bigne. In the evening he gave the same orders to his servant. The following day he returned to the fishing with the same success. He arrived near Bigne’s house; Bigne had tied his belt tightly around his stomach. Bigne, where is the food that you gathered? There you are! So let’s go and prepare the meal! Damn! Iola, I haven’t the energy because I am dying of hunger. Ha ha ha learn to put up with it a little! So he went down but his legs were so weak that he was quick to sit down. Hell! Stand up stand up! How can I stand up? How could I do that; I haven’t the energy. So he came and looked after wrapping up the fish. They made the meal. When the fish were cooked, they emptied the pot. So Iola said again: Damn! Are you abstaining from eating again today? Bigne replied: Yes and in fact what’s the point? You eat alone; you are the elder and you are the chief. As for me I will go and sit in the doorway. Yet Iola began to eat, visibly growing bigger as he ate so much. As far as the other fellow was concerned, he really had no more stomach; he became weak and died while his mate was still absorbed in filling his belly. When the meal was finished he cried out: Bigne, come on, hurry up and empty the peelings. Bigne did not answer. So he said: Bigne isn’t answering; what’s up with him? He stood and went to see. He arrived and found him dead. So there was weeping --- But Bigne’s soul taking flight began speaking: Cursed be you because you refused to give me food. O damn Bigne, who is speaking? It’s his soul. So weeping and groans continued. Wile he was standing there for a long time bewailing the events, he did not have any faithful servant to prepare his meal. Yet Bigne’s soul hurried and after a long walk arrived near the soul of his mother and his father (They never put the name of the father before the name of the mother). When he arrived they said to him: You are dead, what happened to you? It was Iola who deprived me of all food and I died of starvation. Hell! This is your place and when he comes down to our place we will beat him. Yet Iola kept crying day and night. His body slimmed visibly because he did not have any more a servant to prepare his meals. On one hand he ate noting, on the other his tears did not stop. He died and their country remained uninhabited; it was nothing but a wasteland.