AN UNFINISHED TALE.
For a minute or two Methuselah mumbled inarticulately to himself. Then, to their intense discomfiture, he began once more: “In the nineteenth year of the reign of his most gracious majesty, King Charles the Second, I, Nathaniel Cross—”
“Oh, this will never do,” Felix cried. “We haven’t got yet to the secret at all. Muriel, do try to set him right. He must waste no breath. We can’t afford now to let him go all over it.”
Muriel stretched out her hand and soothed the bird gently as before. “Having slain, therefore, my predecessor in the high godship,” she suggested, in the same singsong voice as the parrot’s.
To her immense relief, Methuselah took the hint with charming docility.
“In the high godship,” he went on, mechanically, where he had stopped. “And this here is the manner whereby I obtained it. The Too-Keela-Keela from time to time doth generally appoint any castaway stranger that comes to the island to the post of Korong—that is to say, an annual god or victim. For, as the year doth renew itself at each change of seasons, so do these carribals in their gentilisme believe and hold that the gods of the seasons—to wit, the King of the Rain, the Queen of the Clouds, the Lord of Green Leaves, the King of Fruits, and others—must needs be sleain and renewed at the diverse solstices. Now, it so happened that I, on my arrival in the island, was appointed Korong, and promoted to the post of King of the Rain, having a native woman assigned me as Queen of the Clouds, with whom I might keep company. This woman being, after her kind, enamored of me, and anxious to escape her own fate, to be sleain by my side, did betray to me that secret which they call in their tongue the Great Taboo, and which had been betrayed to herself in turn by a native man, her former lover. For the men are instructed in these things in the mysteries when they coom of age, but not the women.
“And the Great Taboo is this: No man can becoom a Too-Keela-Keela unless he first sleay the man in whom the high god is incarnate for the moment. But in order that he may sleay him, he must also himself be a full Korong, only those persons who are already gods being capable for the highest post in their hierarchy; even as with ourselves, none but he that is a deacon may become a priest, and none but he that is a priest may be made a bishop. For this reason, then, the Too-Keela-Keela prefers to advance a stranger to the post of Korong, seeing that such a person will not have been initiated in the mysteries of the island, and therefore will not be aware of those sundry steps which must needs be taken of him that would inherit the godship.