It is probable that nothing in a daily newspaper fascinates the average reader more than a good murder story? When one considers how many books that drip blood are sold yearly, what multitudes of people have crawled shuddering to bed after reading about Marie Roget or the two unfortunates in the Rue Morgue, one must wonder if under the veneer of civilization each person is not an incipient head-hunter. But the conclusion does not necessarily follow. To the average man, if there is such a creature, life is only too mechanical and humdrum. It would be an overdose of ippecac to ask such a man to read nothing but political and church news. When he reads about a murder, he identifies himself with the villain or the victim, he hears the gun crack, and thus he gets his daily thrill.
But the average man knows nothing about murder as it should be done until he has read of the finesse of the Papuans. Papuan children are schooled in the rigid etiquette of "bumping off" their neighbors and no male Papuan may reach his majority without several notches on his spear-handle. The spirit of this spirited people may be gleaned from the words of one who had dispatched a friend on the banks of a river: "He wanted me to carry him across, but he looked very heavy. Rather than be so rude as to refuse him, I killed him".
The unfortunate thing about these good people is that, as their historian, the Lieutenant Governor of Papua, says, they are a "race of kindly killers". Now what is murder, however exquisitely it may be performed, without the accompanying heat of strong passions? Instead of shuddering deliciously the average man, if he were a spectator, would probably laugh and crack a stale joke until he was split by a spear.