Part Six: Epilogue
When word got around that I was receiving support from the Ford Mountain Institute to write this book, I received the following letter from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, and to whom I am deeply grateful. The letter, written by Timothy Weiss to Ludwig Werner in 1879, throws further light on the story of Pagunan Masks. The translation is mine.
Nov 18, 1879
It was wonderful hearing from you after so many years. Since my retirement I have been thinking more and more about Nullenesia and your letter rekindles many memories. The eight years I spent with you and your "harem" after I ran away were the happiest of my life. Despite the minor problems you mention, you sound like you're still in good shape for someone who is pushing ninety, or by my calculations, about eighty three lunar years. I enjoyed your tales and gossip, especially the one about the visiting anthropologist. I remembered you always said that Vefis had strange tastes in bed.
I suppose it was inevitable, but I'm sorry to hear the new government is forcing the Pagu to use our twelve month calendar. While I can understand the commercial arguments, I think you're right that it also makes it easier to outlaw the bacchanals which would be a shame. I'm sure the dead would also miss them as these were the days when they were most present. The missionaries have been demanding an end to them since my father's day and I will never forget him ranting against them and moon names.
Remember how I always had the wrong moon name? I'll never forget that incident, my first experience of Pagunan peoweoh followed by one of the worst whippings I ever got. It was right after my ninth birthday and this woman who used to help out mother assumed it was lunar years, which made me a Velnee when actually I was a Hetig. When the natives heard about it I was forever a Velnee. Do you remember when I fell in love with the fisherman's daughter? I used to get sore nuts just thinking about her. She was a Vefi, which would have been fine if I was a Hetig but not as a Velnee.
I remember the first time you took me to a bacchanal, I had just turned thirteen, a year of years by their calendar, and I must have had peoweoh with over a hundred as most had never seen a white boy before. And remember the funny boy with the missing tooth who followed us home after my first Big Wave bacchanal? He wanted peoweoh all the time, we were both compatible, and the women all complained because he exhausted us.
It just came back to me how disappointed I was when you told me I was too old to be a demon child as I was already squirting. I really wished I could have been a demon child, it looked like a lot of fun. I cherish the two demon child masks you sent me years ago. Both my children and grandchildren loved to wear them and go around raising hell. I think the demon child is a great idea. We need something like that in Germany. Children here have absolutely too much respect for authority and adults. With the Prussians under Bismarck running the country I worry about where we're headed.
I am glad you were able to get me initiated even if it was a second rate rite compared to those in the village. It made me feel more Pagu. I remember I could tell the Surgeon was the local thatcher by his voice, and his not very scary mask kept slipping forward, and the other boy couldn't stop giggling.
It's sad, but I think you're right, the Nullenesia we knew will be gone in fifty years. I hate to think of all the changes. I hope they don't log that grove of otonka cedars above the Sacred Pebble Beach where we used to picnic on our hikes, and where according to the legend the story of the Pagu began.
So put on your death mocking mask, I know you have one, and shuffle around at the next No Moon Festival. I figure you've got at least another ten years left.
With my deepest affection,
Eventually the missionaries were able to convert a large majority of the Pagu with the help of the colonial government. The bacchanals were vigorously suppressed and the No Moon festivals were slowly regulated out of existence. The lunar calendar and its prohibitions were condemned as barriers to progress and trade and blamed for the backwardness of the population. A more conventional morality prevailed. They even got the Pagu to spank their children. At first they only pretended to with sound effects to reassure passing pastors. When after some years that ruse was exposed they actually beat them, but never as punishment.
There were no more No Moon performances and no new masks were carved after the first decade of the Twentieth Century. The sad and tragic demise of the Pagu is another story as yet unwritten.