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George Turner (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about Samoa, A Hundred Years Ago And Long Before.

Next morning some women of the family were sent off with a present of fine mats to fetch a noted priest doctor.  Tuitopetope and his brother, who were sitting on the beach as they passed along, asked where they were going with that bundle of property.  “To fetch a doctor to Puepuemai,” was the reply.  “Leave it here,” said they, “and take us.”  “Lads! you are joking,” said the women.  “No, we are not; we can heal him.”  The women went back to the house to consult again with the friends assembled around the dying man.  All agreed to let the young men come and do what they could.

Tuitopetope and his brother were accordingly sent for.  The chief was very ill, his jaw hanging down, and apparently breathing his last.  They undid the leaf, let the soul into him again, and immediately he brightened up and lived.  It was blazed abroad that Puepuemai was brought to life again by Tuitopetope and his brother, and they gained a wonderful celebrity.  It was supposed they knew everything and could do anything; and so they were sent for by chiefs all over the group to heal the sick and find out the guilty in thieving and other criminalities.

CHAPTER XII.

DEATH AND BURIAL.

Whenever the eye was fixed in death the house became a scene of indescribable lamentation and wailing.  “Oh, my father, why did you not let me die, and you live here still?” “Oh, my brother, why have you run away and left your only brother to be trampled upon?” “Oh, my child, had I known you were going to die!  Of what use is it for me to survive you; would that I had died for you!” These and other doleful cries might have been heard two hundred yards from the house; and they were accompanied by the most frantic expressions of grief, such as rending garments, tearing the hair, thumping the face and eyes, burning the body with small piercing firebrands, beating the head with stones till the blood ran, and this they called an “offering of blood” for the dead.

After an hour or so the more boisterous wailing subsided, and, as in such a climate the corpse must be buried in a few hours, preparations were made without delay.  The body was laid out on a mat, oiled with scented oil, and, to modify the cadaverous look, they tinged the oil for the face with a little turmeric.  The body was then wound up with several folds of native cloth, the chin propped up with a little bundle of the same material, and the face and head left uncovered, while, for some hours longer, the body was surrounded by weeping relatives.  If the person had died of a complaint which carried off some other members of the family, they would probably open the body to “search for the disease.”  Any inflamed substance they happened to find they took away and burned, thinking that this would prevent any other members of the family being affected with the same disease.  This was done when the body was laid in the grave.

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