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Legends of the Maori

The Professor’s Specimen

page 169

The Professor’s Specimen

HERR GOLDSCHMIDT was a German savant of very deep knowledge, especially in that “proper study of mankind” which is “Man.” The evidences of his erudition were patent to all: large spectacles, immense pipe, guttural English and a few dirty habits. He sought man in his native habitat all over the world, and having collected information upon any particular variety straightway proceeded to Europe and lectured on the same. That was the harvest.

Goldschmidt was seeking information on the origin, habits, manners and customs of the Maori. He appeared at Ohangai in the pursuit of knowledge. The chief, Rangipupu, treated him with every hospitality. Goldschmidt explained that he wanted a specimen of a tattooed native to accompany him home, and offered security for his return. He had seen a very fine specimen lounging about the pa, who said his name was Hikaka. If he could induce him to go he should be quite happy.

Rangipupu said there would be no difficulty as Hikaka was one of his slaves.

Goldschmidt and Hikaka became great friends, and Rangipupu consenting, it was decided that he should visit Europe. Goldschmidt decided to leave Maoriland in about six months’ time, meanwhile he would visit the north in search of arms, mats and ornaments, leaving Hikaka to prepare for his long absence in a strange land. Yes, he was truly a fine specimen, and so thought Rangipai, one of Rangipupu’s wives. She did not like her husband’s slave to leave for so long, and she told him so by moonlight whilst the pa slumbered.

Having procured a fine specimen, Goldschmidt wanted a preserved head well tattooed. Rangipupu said he had carved heads only of relatives—and with these he did not care to part. Goldschmidt was pressing. At length Rangipupu said that probably by the time Goldschmidt returned he might have one, for there was a no-account man beautifully tattooed who was very bad and about to die.

Goldschmidt asked if there was any certainty in the matter as, if he could depend on the one referred to, he would not seek elsewhere.

Rangipupu assured him that the man was as bad as could be and when he died his head should be preserved and ready by the time Goldschmidt returned.

page 170

The savant went to the far north. He collected a large amount of antiquite—curio stuff—-and appeared again at Ohangai. On the evening of his arrival he asked Rangipupu about the head—the one thing remaining to complete his collection.

Rangipupu called to his young men. Presently they appeared, bringing the most beautiful specimen of a carved head that ever that savant had seen.

Goldschmidt peered over his spectacles with delight. He arranged about the price and pulled out his note-book. He made it a rule to get all particulars of such things as age, exploits, rank, and so on.

“Age?” The chief could not tell, but he gave an event contemporary with his birth.

“Good! Now his chief exploits?” asked the Professor.

Rangipupu said the principal exploit of the deceased was adultery, and again adultery.

Goldschmidt said: “So! And his name?”

“Hikaka,” was the reply.

page 171
Rangipai and the Slave.

Rangipai and the Slave.

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