flour cakes, but have a slight characteristic flavor which is lost in the refined sago we use in this country. When not wanted for immediate use, they are dried for several days in the sun, and tied up in bundles of twenty. They will then keep for years; they are very hard, and veiy rough and dry; but the people are used to them from infancy, and little children may be seen gnawing at them as con- sago oven.
tentedly as ours with their bread a
and butter. If dipped in water and then toasted, they become almost as good as when fresh baked; and thus treated, they were my daily substitute for bread with my coffee. Soaked and boiled, they make a very good pudding or vegetable, and served well to economize our rice, which is sometimes difficult to get so far east.
It is truly an extraordinary sight to witness a whole tree-trunk, perhaps twenty feet long and four or five in circumference, converted into food with so little labor and preparation. A good-sized tree will produce thirty tomans or bundles of thirty pounds each, and each toman will make sixty cakes of three to the pound. Two of these cakes are as much as a man can eat at one meal, and five are considered a full daya s allowance; so that reckoning a tree to produce 1800 cakes, weighing 600 pounds, it will supply a man with food for a whole year. The labor to produce this is very moderate. Two men will finish a tree in five days, and two women will bake the whole into cakes in five days more; but the raw sago will keep very well, and can be baked as wanted, so that we may estimate that in ten days a man may produce food for the whole year. This is on the supposition that he possesses sago trees of his own, for they are now all private property. If he does not he has to pay about seven-and-six-pence for one; and as labor here is fivepence a day, the total cost of a yeara s food for one man is about twelve shillings. The effect of this cheapness of food is decidedly prejudicial, for the inhabitants of the sago country are never so well off as those where rice is cultivated. Many of the people here