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DANGERS OF PEARL DIVING.
Miss Beatrice Grimshaw, who has been visiting many parts of the Pacific in the interests of the "Daily Graphic," gives a thrilling account of the danger encoun-
tered by the swimming divers of the Penrhyn Island :— Diving dresses are sometimes used in Penrhyn ; but in such an irregular and risky manner that they are really more dangerous than the ordinary method. The suit is nothing but a helmet and jumper. No boats are worn, no clothing whatever on the legs, and there are no weights to preserve the diver's balance. It sometimes happens—though wonderfully seldom—that the diver trips, falls, and turns upside down, the heavy helmet keeping him head downwards until the air all rushes out under the jumper, and he is miserably suffocated. The air-pump above is often carelessly worked in any case, and there is no recognised system of signals except the jerk that means " Pull up." " They're the most reckless devils on the face of the earth," said a local trudcr. " Once let a man Btrike a good bed of shell, and he won't leave go of it, not for Father Peter. He'll stick down there all day, grabbin' away in twenty fathoms or more till he feels paralysis comin' on " " Paralysis ?" "Yes—they get it, lots of 'em. If you was to go down in twenty fathom— they can do five and twenty, but anything over is touch and go—and stay 'alf the day, you'd come up owling like anything, and not able to move. That's the way it catches them ; and then they must get some one to come and rub they with sea water all night long, and maybe they dies, and maybe they're all right by morning. So then down they goes again, just the same as ever. Sometimes a man'll be pulled up dead at the end of a day. How does that happen ? Well, I allow it's be cause he's been workin' at a big depth all day, and feels all right ; and then, do you see, he'll find sometnin' a bit extra below of him, in holler like, and down he'll go after it ; and the extra fathom or t-.vo does the trick. " Sharks ? Well, I've seen you poppin' at them from the deck of the Duchess, go you know as well as I do how many there are. Did'nt 'it them, even when the fin was up ? That's because you 'aven't greased your bullet, 1 suppose. You want to, if the water isn't to turn it aside. But about the divers ? Oh ! they don't mind sharks, none of them, when they've got the dress on. Sharks is easy scared. You've only got to pull up your jumper a bit,
and the air bubles out and frightens them to lita. If you meet a big sting-ray, it'll run its spine into you, and Rend the dress all to—l mean, spoil the dress, so's the water comes in, and maybe it'll stick the diver too. And the big devilfish is nauty ; he'll 'old you down to a rock ; but you can use your knife on him. The kara muuaa is the worst ; the divers don't like him. He's not as big as a shark, but he's down right wicked, and he's a mouth on him as big as 'alf his body. If an onoo comes along, 'ell bite an arm or leg off of a man anyways, and eat 'im outright is 'c's big enough to do it. Swordfish ? Well, they don't often come into the lagoon ; it's the fishing canoes outside they'll go for. Yes, they'll run a canoe and a man through at a blow easy enough ; but they don't often do it. If you wants a canoe, I'll get you one, and you needn't mind about the swordtish. As like as not they'll never come near you. " About the divin' ?—well, I think the naked divin' is very .near as safe as t!he machine, takin' all things. Wont of it is, if a kara mauaa or an onoo comes along, the diver can't wait his time till it goes. No, he doesn't stab it—not inside the lagoon because there's too many of them there, and the blood would bring a whole pack about. He gets under a ledge of rock, and 'opes it'll go away before ■ his wind gives out. If it doesn't, he gets eat.'' BETWIXT THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP SEA. I thought of my own small amateur ex periences in lagoon diving about other inlands, When I had gone down for a few feet, and then turned and made for the surface as quickly as possible, unable to stand the look of the black, overhanging caves and hollows, filled with wavering mysterious movements that made one's blood run cold. Not Schiller nor Edgar Allen Poe ever conjured up a picture more ghastly than tliat of a Penrhyn diver, caught like a rat in a trap by some huge, tnan-eating shark or fierce kara mauaa, crouching in a cleft of the overhanging coral, under the dark green gloom of a hundred feet of water, with 'bursting lungs and cracking eyeballs, while the threaten ing bulk of Ms terrible enemy looms dark and steady, full in the road to life and air. A minute or moi-e has been spent in the
downward journey, another minute has passed in the agonised wait under the rock. . . . Has he been seen ? . . Will the creature move away now. while there is still time to return ? The diver knows to a second how much time has passed ; the third minute is on its* way ; but one goes up quicker than one comes down, and there is still ltope. . . Two minutes and A-haK ;it is barely possible now, but ■ The sentinel of death glides forward ; his cruel eyes, phosphorescent in the gloom, look rigSh-t into the cleft where the wretched creature is crouching, witli almost twenty seconds of life still left, but now not a shred of hope. A few more beats of the labouring pulse, a gasp from the tortured lungs, a sudden rush of silvery air "bubbles, and the brown limbs collapse down out of the cleft like wreaths of seaweed. The shark has his own.