At Mekeo I got my first taste of black-water fever, that 오피알바 strange form of malaria of which the cause is not known; and in which quinine—the sovereign remedy for ordinary malaria—is poison. I have never known black-water outside the Mekeo and Mambare districts in New Guinea; the name describes one symptom, another is a constant retching and vomiting of blood. Basilio and the police did all they possibly could for me, which of course, except for the constant attention, did not amount to much; hour after hour the constabulary relieved one another, holding my head and supporting me during the violent paroxysms of vomiting. One funny little interlude occurred, though. The sorcerers in the gaol inquired the reason of the silence and gloom over the Station, and were told by the warders that I was dying; whereupon they set up a loud chant of joy. The constabulary, sitting in a circle round my bed, heard the chant; several of them got up, went to their rifles, took out the cleaning rods, and paid a visit to the gaol, from whence soon came the wails of suffering sorcerers.

“What can we do?” said Basilio at last; “you die fast.” “Dig my grave under the flagstaff, where I can hear the feet of the men at drill,” I replied. Then appeared Fathers and Vitali, whom Aia in despair had gone to fetch; they brought me white wine and bismuth. “You are in time for the funeral, Father,” I gasped out, “but that is about all.” “Oh, my friend,” said Father Bouellard, “I want but one little second at the end, and your soul is safe; but we are not going to let you die if we can help it; Sister Antoinette is very skilful with medicines, but as she cannot come here, we will take you to the Mission.” The police picked up my camp bed and carried me to the Mission house, where they nursed me back to life. When stronger, the police carried me to the Monastery at Yule Island, where Dr. Seligman, who was then visiting New Guinea with Professor Haddon’s party, came along and completed the cure, and also told me the name of the cheerful complaint from which I had been suffering. I had enteric some months later, but I call that an infantile thing alongside black-water.

After my convalescence, I was had rather badly one night by the Father Superior, who, by the way, was a most charming man, and was afterwards sent as Parish Priest to Thursday Island. The fever had left me very weak and with a terrific appetite, which the good fathers did their best to appease with all they had to offer. Having slept some time, I woke with a horrible sinking feeling in my tum-tum. “Faith,” I thought, “I should like a good stiff whisky and soda.” I made my way to the Father Superior’s room and, rousing him up, explained that I had a dreadful feeling of coldness in my tummy, and inquired if he could give me something to allay it. “Ah,” he said, “I know the very thing for you.” No sooner said than done, and he handed me a tumbler half full of a horrid tonic draught of iron and other beastliness, which I had to drink; then I slunk back to bed. Long afterwards I told Ballantine how I had aroused the worthy priest to get a drink, and received a bolus instead. He meanly told the Mission, for he said that the story was too good for them to miss. “Why, Mr. Monckton,” asked the Father Superior, “why, if you wanted cognac, did you not say cognac?”

When sufficiently recovered, I took passage in one of Burns, Philp’s vessels, the Clara Ethel, which Inman now commanded. At Port Moresby I reported myself to the Government Secretary, told him the tale of my adventures, and praised the priests of the Sacred Heart as a fine lot of men—my predecessor at Mekeo had always quarrelled with them. “I did not know that you were a Roman Catholic,” said Mr. Musgrave, when I had finished. “I am not,” I replied; “I am a Churchman, and a Churchman I’ll die; but if all Roman Catholics were like the members of the Sacred Heart Mission, there soon wouldn’t be any other Church in the world.” Muzzy was a dissenter of some sort, and regarded the Church of Rome with aversion. “Get away and report137 yourself to his Excellency,” he growled. I went over to Government House, and reported myself. Sir William told me to send for my things, and take up my quarters at Government House; then he said, “I had a cough like you once, a liver cough; I got rid of it. Captain Jones got one; he died. You should go away for a change, but I can’t spare you at present; you had better take a trip to Thursday Island in the Merrie England: she is taking the Judge west, and then going on there for coal.”