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Te Rou, or, The Maori at Home

“The Two Brothers.”

The Two Brothers.”

“Now listen, Humpy,” said the young man; “but I am not going to tell you about your uncle.

“Two brothers lived at the head of a river on the West Coast. The younger brother was very good-looking, and the elder was very ugly. The younger page 315 brother was always travelling to see the pretty women of his tribe, who lived here and there on their own land. The ugly one kept at home, and cultivated food; he had plenty all the year round. The younger brother made love to a very pretty woman; and she was to follow him to where he lived with his ugly brother. After all the talk was over, and the feast of atahu given, the young man returned home; his wife was to follow him next day. The young man asked his brother for food for his wife, and those who came with her; this was given. The elder brother did not wash often, but this day his fine brother asked him to do so; but he refused. At mid-day the wife and her attendants arrived; and after eating the food prepared for them, she asked, ‘Who does that storehouse belong to?’

“The husband answered, ‘All are mine; yen old man, who is so dirty, sitting yonder is my workman, and he keeps me in plenty all the year round. You see his head, it has not been combed for years. He would not wash though I asked him.

“She asked, ‘Is he a slave, and where does he come from?’ At the same time she went to the elder brother, and said to him, ‘Won't you wash yourself?’

“He asked, ‘Does the heart ever wash itself?’

“She asked, ‘You are not a slave?’

“He asked, ‘Does the heart ever comb itself?’

“She answered, ‘If it does not you can do so; it would make you a fine man.’

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“The elder brother went and washed himself, returned, and sat down with his brother.

“The new wife asked her husband, ‘Who is that?’

“Her husband answered, ‘It is my brother.’

“‘But where is the old man who went to wash himself?’ she asked.

“‘I am he,’ answered the elder brother; ‘and I am the owner of the three storehouses of food.’

“The wife asked her husband, ‘And where are your storehouses and slaves?’

“The elder brother answered, ‘The food is not yet grown, and the slaves not caught.’

“The woman said to the younger brother, ‘Then I will not be your wife; I will be the wife of your brother, for with him I shall not die of hunger. You have the finger-nails of a girl; he has those of a warrior.’

“The younger brother left that day, and was not heard of for years; but one day he headed a party, and came to attack his people to kill his brother, but he was the first killed. No woman ever loved him after that, but the worms did.”