716 OUR ISLANDS AND THEIR PEOPLE.
MORO LAKE HOUSE.
These houses are built on poles driven into shallow places in lakes and along the seashore, and are so constructed for convenience
as well as defense against attack.
dusk. We paid no attention and they assembled about us, squatting down in the attitude of frogs, looking at us with mingled timidity and wonder. To set their fears at rest, we nodded to them and offered them our bottle. They shook their heads silently, and a child among them literally ran up a cocoanut tree and threw down half a dozen cocoanuts. Descending, he borrowed the hideous scimitar which one of his elders wore at his waist and with this he adroitly chopped the tops off the nuts. Then these natural cups of cold milk were offered to us in a childish spirit of friendliness. Perhaps it was the childa s answer to our offer of the bottle. It was saying plainly: a This is what we drink.a
a Noticing how many eyes were bent in wonder on the guitar, I offered it to some of the nearer ones for inspection. It was evidently what they most desired. Each touched the string cautiously, and then handed it to the next that he might also have that privilege. And presently many of them were looking at each other and laughing hysterically. The picture can hardly be fully realized. Especially were the women wonderful in appearance.
They wore the divided skirt (by an excessive exercise of courtesy one may say a skirta ) which our own dress reformers have pleaded for, and in addition there was a very ample cloth cf black, unwashed cotton which was thrown across the back like a shawl, descending to the knees, and sewed together in front up to the waist, leaving only the head and chest uncovered.
Add to this somber and roomy garment a hat shaped like the top of a Chinese pagoda, with dirty fragments
of cloth hanging from the brim, and the picture is complete. These little barefooted women easily suggest the a weird sistersa of Macbeth; and one finds himself thinking that, if they could have entered the village of Salem in the early days of our history, matters would have been made, not at all figuratively, very a warm,a as well as exceedingly uncomfortable, for them.
a On another occasion I spent an hour watching the antics of a four-year-old native boy inside the wall. Our band was giving a concert in the plaza, and he was playing near by in the frenzy of joy which characterizes kittens and lambs in the spring sunshine. He wore the uniform common to babies of high and low degree of all lands, when they are first ushered into the world! But he did not give a thought to that. Every muscle and limb of his dusky little body was responding to the music, and he danced and tumbled and twisted with all the desire, if not the skill, of an expert acrobat. Some one gave him two coppers, which he looked at a moment pensively, and then, clinching his tiny fist, he stiffened his legs, danced on his toes a moment, ran away from us by a lateral movement which ended in a a wagon-wheel,a walked pompously back to us and saluted in a thoroughly military manner, and then as his ear caught the quickened time of the band, he twisted away as if caught by a whirlwinda and all without smiling. It was the ecstatic song of the mockingbird in motion. An old soldier resolved to teach him how to a turn a somerset,a as he put it. The child rebelled mildly against being the creature of any sort of education, but finally submitted to persuasion, which was more than half physical, to being turned over. After completing the revolution and finding himself on his feet unharmed, he caught his breath and attempted to escape. But his self-appointed trainer seized him and repeated the distasteful lesson. Then I noticed that a change had come over the child. He wandered listlessly away by himself, a pathetic little figure, and seemed suddenly to
MORO WATER VILLAGE ON THE SEACOAST.
Passage is effected from house to house by means of pole-ladders, and also, in some instances, by stilts. These villages are usually constructed near fishing grounds, and are reached from the shore by boats and canoes, or by swimming.