blood from the pig hunt, added some herbs and leaves into the tube, and held it over the open fire. Presently, the mixture was bubbling nicely. Then they proceeded to shake out the contents into their hands and eat it with great gusto. We had formed a cosy circle around the fire to eat and talk. By signs, we had arrived at names for the major players. I explained that I was Charlie, which they thought was funny. I already mentioned the young men, Tootaroo and Sego. The chief was the Headman. I tried to explain my presence among them. I simulated an aircraft flying in the sky, with engine sputtering, and then crashing to the ground, accompanied by signs of me crashing forward in my cockpit and injuring my head. Enough of my story got through, but to my dismay they all laughed when I pointed to my head. Then, one native took over and retold my story in his native tongue, accompanied by appropriate gestures. Again, they all laughed at the crashed landing and at my injured head. Perhaps they laughed in relief that the mighty-flying machine was indeed vulnerable. It was a pleasant, light-hearted, jovial evening. Sitting around the campfire circle, they served me food on a large banana leaf. Occasionally, a dog tried to run through the circle to grab a morsel of food. They also had a pet cassowary. He was cute, but a pest. The bird circled the group around the fire, came up behind me, and began pecking at my back. I tolerantly pushed him away a couple of times, but he persisted. So I backhanded him with my right hand, knocking him back a bit. My hosts loved that and laughed merrily. Everything seemed congenial and friendly. Then, all the women and children retired to the huts, while we men stayed outside. They gave me a hollowed-out log to sleep in. It was about four feet long and wide enough for even a heavyset person. I lay near the fire in my log, with my right hand comfortingly near my bolstered gun. I was alert to any strange behaviour or action. It became apparent that I had nothing to fear.
Occasionally throughout the night one of the men stirred and replenished the fire. It was obvious that they had to keep the fire burning. The night passed without incident, and the village began to stir at sunrise. It appeared that Sego, his mate, their son, and the chief were planning to go someplace. I made various signs about leaving, hoping to convey the idea that I wished to find a route to go home. Eventually they got the idea and mentioned the names of several places or people. I copied these names on the back of my map. I wrote down the names phonetically and repeated them to Sego. I had heard of Bena Bena somewhere across the mountain range from my suspected location. It evolved that a relay system might be arranged to get me home, and the names I had been given would be locations or contacts along the way. We exchanged signs and ideas for each: “We go, we go, we stop, we go, we go," and so on. Not wanting to waste any more time I said, “We go". Strangely enough, they were ready also. I suspect that Sego, his family, and the chief were returning to their village. Before we left I gave Tootaroo the small field dressing can as a farewell gift. He received it stoically and did not seem impressed. Soon we began an arduous climb. I thought that I was in fair shape, but before long I began to tire. At one point the chief signalled that he wanted my big machete knife. I thought that he intended to leave us for good and replied, "No”. He then disappeared but returned about twenty minutes later with freshly cut stalks of sugar cane. It was delicious and refreshing, and I felt a bit of remorse at not having given him the knife to cut the cane. We went on, and an hour later stopped as Sego pointed out a small pitfall on our path. The pit, covered with light branches and leaves, apparently was intended as a safety measure for the village nearby. We detoured around it and stopped. Again, as on the previous day, the native accompanying me shouted a warning that they were bringing a stranger into the village. In a few minutes we came to the top of a ridge. It was forested, but not as heavily as the lower levels, where I had spent the night at Tootaroo's village. It was about noon and sunny; the temperature was most pleasant. A few natives came out to look me over, and overall the atmosphere was relaxed. Sego cooked some food, unremarkable compared with the feast of the previous night. I ate very little. I thought I would stay with them that afternoon, get another meal, and then leave the first thing in the morning. Except for Sego's little son, the villagers left me alone. The boy, about six, was alert and happy. I tried to amuse him. I took off my shirt to enjoy the sun. Then I cleaned my pistol, using some fibre threads impregnated with lard. I had obtained the greasy fibres at Tootaroo's village by using sign language. Suddenly, my idyllic afternoon came to an abrupt end when Sego came over and led me to meet two new natives.
I felt an impending sense of danger and caution. I tried to act confident and cheerful and indicated by sign language how I hoped to be relayed over the mountains. The obvious leader of the two was called Aidee, and I called the other one Grinny. Apparently, Grinny had ‘cut cards’ earlier in the day to see who got my knife. He must have won, because he grinned all afternoon. Later that afternoon, Sego and Aidee stood toe-to-toe and had a violent verbal argument. Finally, Aidee grabbed two spears and thrust them into the ground. Obviously losing the argument, Sego acquiesced. Standing nearby, I felt compelled to say something. In what I hoped was a light-hearted manner, I asked, “what’s the matter, Sego, did you take his spears" ? But Sego looked crestfallen and turned away. I later concluded that Sego had tried to defend me and lost. As twilight approached, the villagers began to prepare food for dinner.
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