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Diary (page 7)


A dozen people sat near a big fire: I recognized the leaders that I had seen during the day; on wide leaves of banana trees was placed in the middle of them a pile of smoking meats circled with ignames, taros; the vapor which rose of this food, brought by the breeze, arrived just upon us and I would have wished to be able to hold my breath not to inhale such a revolting smell. I had foreseen it well: our friends gave way to their barbarians feasts and, doubtless, the unfortunate Ponérihouens killed during the day made the expenses of it; the hole in which one had cooked their pulled out limbs with an axe was there; a wild enjoyment reflected in the face of these devils; they ate with both hands. This spectacle was so extraordinary that it stroked me as a dream and I was tempted to go to them to speak to them and touch them. A special point drew all my attention; In front of me and well enlightened with the light of the fire was an old leader with a long white beard, a wrinkled breast, already skinny arms; he did not appear to enjoy the formidable appetite of his young companions; so, instead of a thighbone decorated with a thick layer of meat he contented himself to "grignotter" a head; this one was complete, because, keeping the crane as a trophy they never break it: one had had however the care of burning hair, as for the beard, it had even had no time to grow on the cheeks of the poor deceased and the old devil being working at this face had removed all the fleshy parts of it, the nose, the cheeks; the eyes stayed which half opened, seemed still to be alive.

The old leader took a sharp piece of wood, pushed it successively in two pupils ; one would have it been able to believe that it was to end up with this glance and finish killing this alive head. Not at all it was simply to succeed in emptying the crane and in savoring the contents of it ; he turned several times the sharp wood in this osseous box which he shook on a stone of the fire to bring down mild parts and this operation accomplished, he took them in his claw like skinny hand and put them in his mouth seeming very satisfied with this food.


This first process getting not to extract completely the brains, the old experimented savage put the back of this head in the fire in the place where it was the most violent so that by this intense heat the brains was able to part completely from its internal envelope. This process succeeded perfectly. After some minutes the cannibal took out by the different small openings of the skull the rest his contents. At this moment, I heard next to my ear this snap which is produced by a rifle's battery which one arms. I was so lost in thought that I quivered as moved by a spring but I recognized fast D… who accompanied me; he was near me, its riffle raised and aiming at the old tiger, it was only time, I lifted up quickly the weapon which did not go off, I made peremptorily sign for the sergeant to withdraw.

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