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Augustus Earle
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827.

One morning, about eleven o’clock, after I had just returned from a long walk, Captain Duke informed me he had heard, from very good authority (though the natives wished it to be kept a profound secret), that in the adjoining village a female slave, named Matowe, had been put to death, and that the people were at that very time preparing her flesh for cooking.  At the same time he reminded me of a circumstance which had taken place the evening before.  Atoi had been paying us a visit, and, when going away, he recognised a girl whom he said was a slave that had run away from him; he immediately seized hold of her, and gave her in charge to some of his people.  The girl had been employed in carrying wood for us; Atoi’s laying claim to her had caused us no alarm for her life, and we had thought no more on the subject; but now, to my surprise and horror, I heard this poor girl was the victim they were preparing for the oven!  Captain Duke and myself were resolved to witness this dreadful scene.  We therefore kept our information as secret as possible, well knowing that if we had manifested our wishes they would have denied the whole affair.  We set out, taking a circuitous route towards the village, and, being well acquainted with the road, we came upon them suddenly, and found them in the midst of their abominable ceremonies.

On a spot of rising ground, just outside the village, we saw a man preparing a native oven, which is done in the following simple manner:—­A hole is made in the ground, and hot stones are put within it, and then all is covered up close.  As we approached, we saw evident signs of the murder which had been perpetrated; bloody mats were strewed around, and a boy was standing by them actually laughing:  he put his finger to his head, and then pointed towards a bush.  I approached the bush, and there discovered a human head.  My feelings of horror may be imagined as I recognised the features of the unfortunate girl I had seen forced from our village the preceding evening!

We ran towards the fire, and there stood a man occupied in a way few would wish to see.  He was preparing the four-quarters of a human body for a feast; the large bones, having been taken out, were thrown aside, and the flesh being compressed, he was in the act of forcing it into the oven.  While we stood transfixed by this terrible sight, a large dog, which lay before the fire, rose up, seized the bloody head, and walked off with it into the bushes, no doubt to hide it there for another meal!  The man completed his task with the most perfect composure, telling us, at the same time, that the repast would not be ready for some hours!

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