Title: The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Author: Joan Stevens

Publication details: Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1966

Digital publication kindly authorised by: Sylvia Johnston

Part of: New Zealand Texts Collection

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The New Zealand Novel 1860-1965

Thee and Me

Thee and Me. But love, the longing for relationships, and the urge to create will not be stifled. They burst out into Anna's teaching life in that prefab classroom among the falling cabbage-tree leaves where day after day she swims in the turbulent noisy brown-and-white sea of infancy. Maori voices beat about her:

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'Miss Vottot—Seven he's got a knife! He's cutteen my stomat!'...

'My twin she dong me on the boko.' ...

'Twinnie's cryeen. Who donged you, Twinnie?'...

'I teached him and he won't listen.'...

'Aren't you goin' to wead the B'ue Jug, Mitt Wottot?'. ..

'That's why somebodies they tread my sore leg for notheen.

Somebodies.' . . .

Dennis's lost pencil must be found, Wiki wants "a scissor" to cut out "those leg", Matawhero's shirt must be tucked in, kooties combed from little heads, noses wiped. Bundles of tears and toes and fingers must be picked up and soothed, the prefab dinghy must be kept afloat in all temperamental weathers.

Paul Vercoe makes the same appeal to Anna as do the children she teaches, but without the same unchallenged rights. How can he, who thinks that teaching others is "such a waste of time", understand the pulsing flow that goes "between Thee and Me" in the creative joy of Anna's life? "I teached him and he won't listen." Paul, who can strike one child and dishonour another, can find no outlet for himself in the relationships which the school offers, nor is Anna willing to be drained of her reserves to help him. He blows his brains out, and Anna's dinghy goes tossing on.