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HOME > Inspiring Novel > The Cruise of the Snark17 > CHAPTER XIII THE STONE-FISHING OF BORA BORA
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 At five in the morning the conches began to blow.  From all along the beach the sounds arose, like the ancient voice of War, calling to the fishermen to arise and prepare to go .  We on the Snark likewise arose, for there could be no sleep in that mad of conches.  Also, we were going stone-fishing, though our preparations were few.  
Tautai-taora is the name for stone-fishing, tautai meaning a “fishing instrument.”  And taora meaning “thrown.”  But tautai-taora, in combination, means “stone-fishing,” for a stone is the instrument that is thrown.  Stone-fishing is in reality a fish-drive, similar in principle to a rabbit-drive or a cattle-drive, though in the latter affairs drivers and driven operate in the same medium, while in the fish-drive the men must be in the air to breathe and the fish are driven through the water.  It does not matter if the water is a hundred feet deep, the men, working on the surface, drive the fish just the same.
This is the way it is done.  The canoes form in line, one hundred to two hundred feet apart.  In the bow of each canoe a man a stone, several pounds in weight, which is attached to a short rope.  He merely the water with the stone, pulls up the stone, and smites again.  He goes on .  In the stern of each canoe another man paddles, driving the canoe ahead and at the same time keeping it in the formation.  The line of canoes advances to meet a second line a mile or two away, the ends of the lines hurrying together to form a circle, the far edge of which is the shore.  The circle begins to contract upon the shore, where the women, in a long row out into the sea, form a fence of legs, which serves to break any rushes of the fish.  At the right moment when the circle is small, a canoe dashes out from shore, dropping overboard a long screen of cocoanut leaves and encircling the circle, thus reinforcing the palisade of legs.  Of course, the fishing is always done inside the reef in the .
“Très jolie,” the said, after explaining by signs and gestures that thousands of fish would be caught of all sizes from minnows to sharks, and that the captured fish would boil up and upon the very sand of the beach.
It is a most successful method of fishing, while its nature is more that of an outing festival, rather than of a , food-getting task.  Such fishing parties take place about once a month at Bora Bora, and it is a custom that has from old time.  The man who originated it is not remembered.  They always did this thing.  But one cannot help wondering about that forgotten of the long ago, into whose mind first flashed this scheme of easy fishing, of huge quantities of fish without hook, or net, or spear.  One thing about him we can know: he was a .  And we can be sure that he was considered feather-brained and by his conservative tribesmen.  His difficulty was much greater than that of the modern inventor, who has to convince in advance only one or two capitalists.  That early inventor had to convince his whole tribe in advance, for without the co-operation of the whole tribe the device could not be tested.  One can well imagine the nightly pow-wow-ings in that island world, when he called his comrades moss-backs, and they called him a fool, a freak, and a crank, and charged him with having come from Kansas.  Heaven alone knows at what cost of grey hairs and expletives he must finally have succeeded in winning over a sufficient number to give his idea a trial.  At any rate, the experiment succeeded.  It stood the test of truth—it worked!  And thereafter, we can be confident, there was no man to be found who did not know all along that it was going to work.
Our good friends, Tehei and Bihaura, who were giving the fishing in our honour, had promised to come for us.  We were down below when the call came from on deck that they were coming.  We dashed up the companionway, to be overwhelmed by the sight of the Polynesian in which we were to ride.  It was a long double canoe, the canoes together by timbers with an of water between, and the whole decorated with flowers and golden grasses.  A dozen flower-crowned Amazons were at the paddles, while at the stern of each canoe was a steersman.  All were garlanded with gold and and orange flowers, while each wore about the a pareu.  There were flowers everywhere, flowers, flowers, flowers, without end.  The whole thing was an orgy of colour.  On the platform forward resting on the bows of the canoes, Tehei and Bihaura were dancing.  All voices were raised in a wild song or greeting.
Three times they circled the Snark before coming alongside to take Charmian and me on board.  Then it was away for the fishing-grounds, a five-mile paddle dead to windward.  “Everybody is jolly in Bora Bora,” is the saying throughout the Society Islands, and we certainly found everybody jolly.  Canoe songs, shark songs, and fishing songs were sung to the dipping of the paddles, all joining in on the swinging choruses.  Once in a while the cry Mao! was raised, whereupon all strained like mad at the paddles.  Mao is shark, and when the deep-sea tigers appear, the natives paddle for dear life for the shore, knowing full well the danger they run of having their canoes overturned and of being .  Of course, in our case there were no sharks, but the cry of mao was used to them to paddle with as much energy as if a shark were really after them.  “Hoé!  Hoé!” was another cry that made us through the water.
On the platform Tehei and Bihaura danced, accompanied by songs and choruses or by hand-clappings.  At other times a musical knocking of the paddles against the sides of the canoes marked the accent.  A young girl dropped her paddle, leaped to the platform, and danced a hula, in the midst of which, still dancing, she swayed and , and on our cheeks the kiss of welcome.  Some of the songs, or himines, were religious, and they were especially beautiful, the deep of the men with the altos and thin sopranos of the women and forming a combination of sound that reminded one of an organ.  In fact, “kanaka organ” is the scoffer’s description of the himine.  On the other hand, some of the chants or were very barbaric, having come down from pre-Christian times.
And so, singing, dancing, paddling, these Polynesians took us to the fishing.  The gendarme, who is the............
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