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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968

The Return Of The Triboldies — Part 6

page 7

The Return Of The Triboldies

Part 6

The festival of the "Troppoes" is to be tonight. We are all greatly interested, though for my own part interest is tempered with some measure of disgust at the way they regard our people as a frivolous race of jokesters.

Many of the more responsible among us are perturbed at the number of our people who have publicly declared that this is our ancestral homeland, and who have settled in as entertainers, charging money for their puerile tricks. Others (mostly magicians) are more respectable, performing useful works such as accelerated agriculture. What we find most disturbing is that all concerned seem to charge money for their services. Terrible! It will give our people a reputation as usurers and as clowns . . . in short, the unwanted scum of humanity. This must on no account be permitted to continue!

We are waiting in a large natural amphitheatre, situated in a Troppo worm-farm. Almost all of our people is here: there can be less than two score and ten who are not present. Also there is perhaps twice our number in aboriginals. comprising perhaps half of their total number. I am not happy here—they outnumber us two to one; it only at their indulgence that we stay. It is inconceivable that they should turn on us and massacre us all in our bed; but we have no right in this valley; we are supernumerary to their culture. Sparadrap agrees with me. which is unusual in these times. He is beginning, he says, to think of moving on.

Here there is a lacuna in Ocarina's manuscript.

With a long ballad, concerning the hero Baxobiscum, how he rescued the "Troppoes" from abysses after a giant earthquake had plunged into chasms all but himself. (My spine shivers!) He employed ropes made from creepers, threw oneend into an abyss, and pulled mightily on the other end. His people emerged. After his death, his fellowmen, curiously enough, made an effigy of him in stone, which itself was shattered by another earthquake, and its replacement totally destroyed by yet another earthquake. (A dangerous spot, this.) It is curious that these earthquakes were attributed by the Troppoes to chance (or to their equivalent of it, which they call Fortune). They do not seem to understand that their earthquakes represent abscesses on the left thigh of the earth, caused in all probability by the fleas of the earth, who are the Troppoes (ourselves possibly being the lice, though our magicians are not yet certain of it).

Cantilever has stood up and advised the Troppoes to build their fires on rocks, not on tender pieces of sand, if they wish their earthquakes to cease. The ballad obviously caused in him the same thoughts that grew in my own mind!

Following that thought-provoking piece, there was a long succession of bawdy songs, telling of the triumph of cuckoldry, and other such trivial matters. None of those songs is worth commenting on. These lasted for two days after which the audience retired in order to sleep. Today we assembled once more; the programmes is of adventure and of the exploits of the Troppoes. They, like ourselves, are a lonely people; rarely do they meet one of another race. Therefore it was with a special interest that we listened to a recent poem which represented the Troppo as a beehive, visited by a lone dragonfly in search of its father. A great clamour arose among us upon the completion of this song (in which the dragonfly departed towards noon). Sparadrap is having a hasty meeting with Phenobarbara, that he may better ascertain the truth underlying this tale.

I am told that Phenobarbara has approached the Troppoes concerning the poem of which I have spoken; they answer in riddles, saying. The bee buzzes. Drunken fools! Suddenly our people have become alive with wonder, wanting to meet once more the 881 of us who have been separated. We must take advantage of this opinion to get under way once more; otherwise, I foresee that we may stay here forever, because of permissiveness and leisure. But there can be no comfort in a strange place.

Sparadrap agrees! Himself, myself, Cantilever, and Ottoman are canvassing among our people, saying that the poem shows us it is now time to leave. On all tongues there lies the question: who was the singly dragonfly that came to this valley looking for our ancestral home? Why did he leave the remainder of the other group—purposefully or mistakenly? Perhaps they came to harm, or were attacked by those who long ago drove us from our homeland.

Some do not wish to leave. Cantilever has spoken to many of our people—half wish to stay, he reports. This is terrible! At a time such as this when our racial identity is deeply aroused and so many stay, then how many will wish to continue with our search while forgetfulness overcomes them? A sad day for our people.

Sparadrap announced a meeting today for us all. Sixty were absent: shocking! Peccadillo and Cumulonimbus have not been seen for more than sixteen days. Nenuphar (in whom I am taking a more than fatherly interest) is downhearted at the loss of his brother: he is certain that they will never meet again. At the meeting Sparadrap said that we must continue on our way. Dozens begged refusal; perhaps they can be talked into agreement with us. But what of those who were absent? Sparadrap concluded by setting a day six days from today as the day on which we shall depart. He is pessimistic; resigned to the fact that some will not accompany us. he contents himself with the thought that perhaps when we have found our ancestral home, they will hear of our good fortune, and rejoin us there. Our people are headstrong; it is impossible to persuade them to do what they do not wish to; therefore we leave—at least a hundred of us—in seven days' time.

Now it is beginning to emerge that a number of surreptitious liaisons have been formed. Sparadrap reports that he has been approached by a number of our people wanting to bring with them Troppo women (or men). He reasons as follows: If I do not allow them to bring with them these strangers, then they will not come at all; the numbers of the strangers are not such that our racial identity will be swamped or our long-established customs usurped; therefore the strangers may come. Though for my own part I entertain several reservations, I hold with his reasoning. Ottoman emphatically disagrees, his thesis being that only the pure may come. Otherwise, he argues, we may arrive at our ancestral home only to find none of our people remain, if we are to continue gathering strange tribes along the way.

We are to meet at midnight to argue further on this matter.

We have met. Sparadrap has his way; but Ottoman is hardly on speaking terms with him.