Te Rou, or, The Maori at Home
Chapter VI. The Night Before The Attack—Pipo's Love-Tale
Chapter VI. The Night Before The Attack—Pipo's Love-Tale.
1 The partially-soft fern is placed on a round stone and beaten with a “paoia,” a piece of wood.
“What do you know about love?” asked a girl of some sixteen summers. “The only love you can talk about is the revenge you hope to obtain for being a slave.”
“You are but a child,” answered Pipo, for that was his name. “When I did fall in love, long ago, it was with one who was a chief's daughter—one who could wear a green-stone hei1 on her breast, and a mako2 in her ear, and the best kaitaka mat3 to flaunt in.”
A girl who had not joined in the noise, nor had even cooked any fern-root for herself, said, “If you ever were in love, tell us the tale; we should like to know how you make love in your part of the Ika-a-Maui.”4
Pipo replied, “It would have been as great as the mountain you see yonder; but your fathers killed and cooked her.”
“Never mind that part of your love,” said another young woman; “tell us how you acted, and what you said.”
“And,” said another, “what kind of a person your lady-love was.”
1 Carved ornament.
2 Shark's tooth.
3 A large mat with a broad border.
4 “The fish of Maui,” New Zealand, which is said to have been fished up by Maui.
“And,” joined in another, “tell us how she refused you, for she was no doubt good-looking. You must have thought that to be taken a slave was a good ending to your rejected offers; and you had your revenge by seeing her cooked and eaten.”
“No,” answered Pipo, “I was not rejected; but your fathers came just as she had consented to become mine, and put hot stones between us.”
“How long did you cry over her?” asked another girl; “I mean over the broken bones, which had once been hers, after all the flesh had been eaten from them. No doubt you collected them all, after the dogs had snarled and battled for them, to keep and cry over.”
“Did you not collect them and put them away in your own land?” asked another female voice.
“I have seen a piece of bone which Pipo has to fasten his mat with on the right shoulder; no doubt, it is one of his lady-love's bones, which he keeps as her love-token.”
“No, it is not,” answered Pipo. “Your tribe must be very ignorant if you think I would touch or carry the bone of one of our people.”
“Who taught you the ancient customs?”
“Do you not know, if any one was to do as you say it would be a kai koiwi,1 and cause his death?”
1 A cause of wasting away of the body—consumption.
“Miro,” answered Pipo, “what makes you so inquisitive? You know nothing about me or my tribe, then why ask about a people who were not brave enough to keep me from the inquisitive sneers of girls like you? I am your slave; but my ancestors were chiefs of rank, and they could command the elements, diseases, and even life and death.”
“Oh!” said Miro, “how true you speak. They were cooked, and therefore chose the death that overtook them. If your fathers were priests, how is it they did not know that our people were so near to you? The gods tell priests of coming events.”
“It may be,” answered Pipo, “that the gods do tell what is in the future; and as such facts are more especially sweet to young women, I wonder if you will tell us what your grandfather has told you about your future husband? Do not look so red. But as you wish to hear of my love for one of my people, tell us first what your priest-grandfather has told you about him who is to be your husband.”
At this moment a voice out in the darkness was heard to say in a clear tone, “Pipo, do not ask her whom she loves.” All the women started with astonishment, and looked round in the direction from whence the voice came. Pipo asked, “Who are you?” but received no answer. One of the young page 69 women said, “It is Heta who is trying to frighten us.” “No,” answered the same voice, “I am who I am; Miro knows me; she dare not ask me who I am.”
“Ah! Miro,” said Pipo, “I must really tell you my love-tale, for you can learn how to act in your own case. I will not sneer at you girls as you have been sneering at me, for you no doubt think yourselves better than Taranaki people; I belong to the Puketapu tribe, who reside near the Hua, at Taranaki. I am the son of a father who has a name in Maori tales of war, and my mother belongs to the Waitara people.
“We lived in a pah near the beach, where the surf is least heavy; the west side of which is washed by the rollers at high water. A little farther inland, and higher up in the clouds, there is another and larger pah, in which a great many people lived—about three times as many as in our pah—a creek came out to the beach to the north of us, which separated us from them. In the summer the young people of the two pahs used to bathe in the mouth of this creek, and no doubt you know that both boys and girls meet among the crowd of bathers. I need not say I was a boy of high rank then, though but a slave now. Among the crowds who joined in bathing there was a girl; she was the best of all, and often, while bathing, I laughed at her, and made sport of her, in love.”
The voice in the dark said, “Yes, in the same way that Miro now does to you.”page 70
Miro jumped up in a rage, and, with a furious gesture, said, “I will not be made the sport of slaves and common people. Is not the daughter of Te Rou more than a thing to be laughed at?”
“Yes,” answered the voice, “if you will tell us the name of the one you love.”
Miro said to a girl, “Go and ask Aramita if Heta is to be allowed to make sport of me. Tell her to keep him with herself, and let him listen to her love-tale, and not come here where we are listening to the tale of a man of another tribe.”
The voice said, “But I am not Heta.”
“Who are you then?” asked the girl who had just been ordered to go to Aramita.
“I am the man loved by Miro,” answered the voice.
This abashed Miro so much that she said, “Go on with your tale, Pipo; it is a slave who interrupts our amusement.”
“Stay here and be kind to Pipo,” continued the voice.
“You know how to talk; talk for yourself,” answered Pipo.
“Stay here,” again said the voice, in answer to Pipo.
Many of the girls now crowded near the fire, saying, “We are afraid there is something in the voice like the voice of a spirit.”
1 The rains at the spring equinox, when the kowhai (Sophora tetraptera v. grandiflora) is in flower.
One of the young girls interrupted him by saying, “But you have never been brave enough, Pipo, to bear the pain of the uhi-a-mata-ora.1 Your face is as unsightly as your calabash.”
“You may laugh,” answered Pipo, “if laughing is your food. I know that I was not baptized with the ceremonies of the goddess of women; and but for one of your sex and the intrusion of your fathers, I should have been tattooed as beautifully as you could wish the face of your beloved to be.”
“Let me mark your face with soot and the water of the poporo,”2 said another girl; “I might fall in love with you, and save you from the death of those who have no wife to weep over them, or a wife to keep their name alive in the world when they are dead.”
Miro, very impatiently, said, “Do not mind that chatterer, Pipo, but tell us your tale.”
Pipo again continued: “Koha's father was of higher rank than our family; he was the chief of Whakarewa, the larger pah; ours was called Pukeariki. As I have told you before, our pah was on the seashore, and our people always took to him the best of fish we caught at sea. Thus we admitted Rangi to be our ariki.3 Koha had an elder sister, Rau, a most beautiful girl.”
1 The tattooing adze.
2 Solanum aviculare.
A voice interrupted him by asking, “Are you a judge of beauty?”
Pipo, who knew the voice came from a girl who was darker than usual, answered, “Yes; I should say that the green-stone in Miro's ear is beautiful; but if it was black, and not clear, it would be ugly.”
This reply caused a loud titter, which so annoyed the young woman, that she jumped up, and, in a pet, kicked the one next to her, and retired into the house in which she usually slept.
1 The open space in a pah.
“Tell us what it is; perhaps we have not heard of it.”
1 The edible fern, Cyathea medullaris.
“The old woman, who saw that he was ignorant, said, ‘Do you ask the name of this fish?’ At the same time she took a guana out of her basket and threw it at him, saying, ‘There, you bird of the forest! Where were you when the sun shines, not to see that fish?’
“The Taupo natives dread lizards more than most tribes; and as the guana came with a slap against his neck, the head and tail meeting round it, he forgot everything, threw up his arms in an agony of fear, dropped the love-token, his mat, and everything he had on, and rushed out of the pah, yelling and screaming in such a manner that he drew the attention of all who were at the feast. I heard his scream, and saw him rush away naked, jumping and yelling down the hill in a direct line for our pah, as if a war party was after him. I thought that Rau had beaten him. page 76 As he ran for the deepest part of the creek, I followed him as fast as I could, fearing that he might be drowned there. I reached it just in time to see him sink and a bubble rise out of his mouth. I thought I heard the word ‘Lizard,’ but could not think of what lizard he meant. The water being very clear, I could see his large, glaring eyes, as large as the paua shell,1 looking up at me from the bottom of the creek. I dived and brought him up. He was so full of water that he would have died, had not my father and some of his men taken him to our pah, where they made a large fire, which they covered with green grass and leaves to make plenty of smoke. Over this they held him with his heels up in the air. After some little time he began to kick; then he sneezed, when a large quantity of water spouted out of his nose and mouth; then he spoke, and the men let him down. He was alive again, but very weak and unable to walk. His eyes still looked like little moons; and he kept starting round every now and then, and putting his hand to his neck, brushing it, and attempting to scratch away something from it.
1 Haliotis Iris.
“She asked me ‘What has become of the owl who said to me, “What is the name of that fish?” when I was preparing to cook a kaweu (guana)?’
“‘Oh! it was with you he got the fright?’
“‘Yes,’ she answered. ‘As he wished to know what fish it was I was preparing, I threw one of the lizards at him, and it wound itself round his neck. He screamed, and left his mat and a piece of flax tied into a love-token. As he did not come back, when I had completed my work I took the love-token and with it tied the tails of the things he called fish. Some of our people thought the token was intended for Rau, which so enraged her father that he ordered it to be hung up in the smoke in a cookhouse, and that food should be offered to it every day.’
“This offering of food is intended to show that the sender is of low degree, and, as such, is not the man to obtain a woman of high rank. I then asked her, ‘When are you going to the south?’
“‘To-morrow,’ she answered.
“I returned to our pah, and finding Ta much better, in conversation I told him all I had heard about the lizards. This seemed to make him quite well; he inquired if the woman who had thrown the lizard at him was also going south. On the morrow we both went to see them leave, and stood among those who waved their garments to the departing people. I saw Koha, and she gave one, but such a look. We stood page 78 gazing till they were out of sight, when Ta said, ‘Oh, Pipo! my heart wants to go with those people to see new lands. You know the proverb, “Follow in the wake of a whale,” which means, if we go with the great chief we shall have some good food. Will you go, Pipo? Let us start’.
“We followed and overtook them on the coast, and remained in their company as they went southward, staying with them wherever they stopped for the night; and with them reached the pah Ketenikau, where we were to remain some days. This pah was built some distance from the beach, and inland of it, towards the great mountain called Taranaki. There was some extent of scrub and fern, and then a forest. Ta soon became very friendly with a young man of the place, called Keko. They often went over all the country, catching eels and birds. There were many creeks winding in all directions through the scrub and fern land; and wherever any creek took a sharp turn where the ground was soft it made a deep hole. At these holes the two friends spent much of their time catching eels. Keko told Ta a great deal of the history and the acts of the chiefs, which led him to inquire about Nehu, the old woman who threw the lizard at him. He found that Keko was related to her. She was his aunt, and was a widow; her husband had been killed and eaten, his people having joined the Waitotara and Whanganui tribes against Taupo. The battle took place at Waitotara, where he fell. He had been a good man, and kept his storehouse full of page 79 food; but one thing he could never do, and that was to induce his wife Nehu to like eels, for whenever she ate of this kind of food she would be ill for days.”
Miro exclaimed, “Oh, she was a wainamu!”
1 Mullet of the North Island. Mugil perusii.
2 Supposed to be one of the coprosmas—doubtful.
4 Native village.
One of the girls asked, “What is a kiore? Is it the common rat?”
1 The incantations said over a new net the first time it is put into the sea.
2 An evil omen.
1 Supposed to be a convolvulus—doubtful.
2 Supposed to be a coprosma—doubtful.
3 A sort of tub.
4 Podocarpus totara.
“While I sat looking at the old lady, I suddenly heard a voice say, ‘Is that you, Nehu?’
“She looked like one just risen from the dead. She answered, ‘Yes. I am here, quite ill. I shall go to where you are.’
“I asked Nehu, ‘Who is it?’
“‘It is my husband Rita.’
“‘Is he here? I never saw him,’ I again asked.
“The voice said, ‘Yes; I am dead, but I am here. You are ill, Nehu, and I have come to cure you.’
“‘O Rita!—is that you, Rita? Come, come!’ cried out Nehu.
“‘No, Nehu; it is you who must come to me,’ said the voice.
“‘Where to, Rita?’ asked Nehu. ‘To the world of spirits? O do not call me there now! If I die here, my friends will not carry my body to our kainga. I shall be buried with the bones of other tribes. O Rita, do not call me now!’
1 Temporary shed.
“‘I will go with you,’ said Ta.
“‘And I also,’ said I.
“The voice said, sternly, ‘Come at once; come, and follow me.’
“Just now two girls, one from our own party and one from the kainga, came near; but they had not heard the spirit speak. Nehu got up, and staggered along the road in the direction from which the voice came. I followed her. The two girls, who wanted to see what the stupid old woman was going to do, followed at a greater distance behind with Ta. The voice said again and again, ‘Follow me,’ leading the way. After going some distance Nehu sat down. She was weak, ill, and tired. The voice kept saying, ‘Come on.’
“The two young women, having come near, heard the voice, and asked, ‘Who is that?’ I answered it was a priest, who had promised to cure Nehu. His orders were, she was to go to a place which he would show to her, and where she would be cured. Nehu again started. Our road led us towards some high scrub.
“The voice again called, ‘Come this way,’ calling her to go to the right of the road, into a patch of high scrub.
“Nehu tried to make her way among the scrub, stood still, coughed two or three times, and exclaimed, ‘I cannot go; there is no road!’
“‘Here I am at the place,’ cried the voice. ‘You have not far to go., Nehu proceeded.
“I heard a cough, a noise of twigs breaking, a page 85 scream, and a splash in the stream, and the voice said, ‘Hi, what, how, stop!’ I was so surprised that I stood still; but Ta rushed to the rescue of his friend.
“The voice said, ‘Let her drink: that is my medicine—let her drink.’
“I then heard a ‘Bub, bub, bub; cough, cough, cough; Ri, Ri; cough; I am dead!’
“‘No,’ said Ta, who had plunged in, and had taken hold of her.
“I went to the bank, followed by the girls, who asked me, ‘Where is the priest who is to cure her?’
“‘Here I am,’ answered the voice from the other side of the creek.
“I said, ‘O Ta, save her! She is unable to swim, she is so ill.’
“‘Let her drink,’ said the voice on the other side of the creek.
“‘Do not hold my arms, Nehu,’ said Ta, ‘or I cannot swim to take you to the other side.’ Again there was a splash, and Ta rose to the surface and said, ‘She will be drowned; I cannot help her; she will hold my arms.’
“‘Come this way,’ said the voice. ‘Do not hold his arms, Nehu.’
“She obeyed the order, and Ta took her to the bank from which the voice came. When they had landed there we heard a most unearthly yell, which so frightened them that Ta let go his hold of Nehu, who fell down in a fit, and he ran away. The girls and myself page 86 immediately jumped back into the road, and ran as fast as we could, leaving Ta to follow.
“The girls were so frightened that they kept screaming all the time. We were yet some distance from the pah, when we met a party of armed men in order of battle, headed by the chief. They had heard the terrible yell, and, thinking we were attacked by some murdering party, had come to our assistance. We told them all we knew, and returned to the settlement, while they went on, accompanied by Ta, to bring Nehu. When we reached the pah all was uproar, our people being the only quiet party. The inhabitants, especially the women, seemed as if they were all mad; some rushing here and there, others crying, while many were tying up the entrances to the pah, all trying to do as much as they could. One old woman of rank was pacing up and down the main road shouting hoarsely—her voice was not unlike the sound of water dashing against the hollow banks of the seashore—and urging the people on to deeds of daring; but no one seemed to notice her. All were talking, and no one listening; so that they did not hear voices in the direction from which we expected the men to come who had gone for Nehu. There was so much confusion when we entered that no one asked the news, nor did we ask them to hear anything we had to say. I had already told the two girls it was the spirit of Nehu's husband who had given the loud yell which had so frightened us; and, besides, we wanted to see the fun of people making so much fuss about nothing, no one page 87 trying to find out the cause of the fright. Soon the men entered the pah, marched into the marae, or open space, and four of them, who carried something on their shoulders, laid it down, stiff and silent. Every-body gathered round to find it was Nehu. A fire was kindled, and she was smoked just in the same way that I had seen our people do to Ta, and it had the same effect.
“The old lady kicked, said some words, opened her eyes, and sighed many times. When they let her down, then, O then, the words that her tongue gave birth to were innumerable. She said she had been to the world of spirits, and had seen all the chiefs who had died since Potiki split the world in two; but she said, with a shudder, ‘It is so cold there! Make a fire!’
“Ta took her to her house, and attended to her until she had recovered, which, like all other good things in this world, took place in three days. One morning after the three days my heart was made dark by Ta informing me the old lady had talked to herself, during her illness, about the day of the great talk which she thought was to take place that day in the great house. He thought the meeting was to learn from the young folk who were their favourites, and the people might take the matter into consideration, and select husbands or wives for each.
“‘If this is true,’ said Ta, ‘why did the gods lead us here? Do they intend to let you see the one you love given to another? The old men are to speak in the evenings; after the evening meal the young people page 88 and parents will speak; then the young girls who are to take husbands, and the young men who may be proposed as husbands at the conclusion.'
“‘We must go,’ said I to Ta. ‘We shall hear the words of all the good-looking girls of this pah. Who knows but you and I may be proposed by some of them, if not by some one else.’
“It was in the early part of the day when Ta told me this, and it caused me to sit and look at the sea and its waves, and then inland at the high mountains in the distance. My heart was as rough as that sea, and my spirit as high as the mountains I saw. I suddenly thought, if Koha were to accept some one of the young men of the kainga, I should hang myself. O how glad I was when I found this thought! I could put myself to sleep, and never see her more. It made my heart jump right up to my chin. I got a cockleshell, and went to see old Nehu, and, after some talk with her, I asked, ‘Do you grow the tihore flax here?’
“She answered, ‘Why?’
“‘Because it is the chief of flax, and is so white when made into fibre.’
“‘Have you been blind since you came here?’ she asked, and, holding up a kaitaka mat which she had made, she said, ‘There—the flax of which that mat is made is tihore. Do you not know, or have you not heard from your people, that we not only make the best mats in this island, but that we make them of the tihore? Go and stand at the door of my hut, look over the palisade of the pah towards the south-east. page 89 Do you not see a line of flax-bushes extending all along the flat, as far as you can see? That is all tihore. At all the settlements on this coast we grow lines of tihore flax on the sea side of our kumara plantations. We have done so for ages, and since our ancestor Turi came here.'
“‘Yes; I see what you say is true. There is your mat.’
“‘Oh no,’ said Nehu; ‘you must take that. I shall also give one to Ta.’
“What an evil omen, I thought, to be compelled to accept a gift from an invalid. I took the mat, however, and went to the flax-bushes, cut as many leaves as I wanted, and took them to my hut. After having spent some time in looking at my new mat, and thinking of Koha, and what evil would come from my accepting it, with my cockle-shell I cut the back of each leaf half through, then holding it with my right hand, with the cut side downwards, I pressed the shell on its upper side, and scraped the shell along the leaf with a steady pull. This took all the green part from the fibre, and left it clean and white, and soon I had a large bundle of it ready for my purpose. I did not beat the fibre as the old women do, but at once began to plait an eight-plait rope. I was determined not to have a common rope. I had just completed my work when Ta came to tell me the people were all gathering in the great marae, the principal open space in the pah, and if I did not go soon, I should not hear the old chiefs speak. I tied my new rope round my waist page 90 —it was a fathom and a half long—oiled my head, and stuck a few hui1 and albatross feathers into my hair, then, putting on the mat which Nehu had given me, I went to the council-house. I joined our party, who sat apart from the people of the kainga. The chiefs were to put certain questions to the young men and women, which had to be answered publicly.
“After some time an old chief arose. He had red eyes, and no eyelashes; only a few hairs remained on his head just above his ears, which were left there by the gods to keep them warm. His legs were like the dried stalks of the thistle, and his voice was like the quacking of ducks. Who he was I did not know. He said, ‘When I was young, ours was a great tribe; we were a very numerous people then. My fathers called a meeting like this to ask me what girl I would have as my wife. I did not know what answer to make.’
“I must tell you girls this old chief paced from the centre of the marae to the palisading of the pah while speaking, and he reached the palisade just as he said the last words, when a voice from outside asked, ‘Had you red-ochre in your eyes at that time?’
“The old chief started with rage, and asked, ‘What slave is that who dares to speak when I am speaking to my people?’
“‘Go on, old man,’ said the voice; ‘tell them the name of the girl who would not have you.’
1 Heteralocha acutirostris, Buller's ‘N. Z. Birds,’ p. 63.
“He then continued: ‘If I find him, he shall be cooked for my guests to eat, after my son has said which girl he will have for his wife.’
“‘What woman would have your idiot son?’ asked the voice.
“‘Your head shall be cooked at once,’ cried out the chief. ‘Hold your tongue!’
“The voice answered, ‘I will; but let your speech be short, or the ducks will laugh, your voice is so like mimicking them. If you speak long, you will become hoarse and be like the kakao, the bird of evil omen, whose voice is made gruff by the hairs of the dead, which stick in his throat. Stay here; have done.’
“The old chief sat down in a perfect fit of desperation, his rage making him quite weak. His eyes had become redder than usual. The brother of the last speaker rose up (I learnt from our people that they were the head chiefs of the tribe), and said, ‘Who can it be who thus dares to interrupt our head chief? Truly, this people must be slaves if they do such evil work. When was it ever heard amongst us in days of old that a child dared to cry, or even a dog howl whilst a chief was speaking? What we have heard to-day will be told of us to all the world, and we shall be called a tribe of slaves!’ Addressing his brother, he said, ‘Why sit down, O my eldest brother? Why listen to the talk of one who is mad? Do you forget that mad old slave who some time since went into the forest, and whom we page 92 thought dead? Do you not know that early this morning he came back, and is now in the pah? Speak, O my elder, and do not let the sons of Turi be spoken of as a tribe of slaves for interrupting a chief while speaking. Why take heed of a madman? Speak, my brother.'
“‘No,’ answered the son of the red-eyed chief; ‘my father shall not speak again. You are older than I am, and I would not have spoken, had I not felt the truth of the proverb which says, “The gods speak by madmen.” If this madman has spoken, he has no sense of his own, and therefore the gods have seen there is no one here who is to be my wife. Let my name be mentioned at some future Pa-kuha1 meeting. Let no one mention my name again in this assembly.'
“The sun had set, and the slaves began to light the hangi fires, the smoke from which, made the pah look like a small burning mountain.
2 Corynocarpus lœvigata, the berry of which, about the size of a plum, is cooked for food.
1 The large meeting-house of the village.
“He said, ‘I am an old man; I heard what you, the chiefs and the boy, have said to-day; and as there are many who will speak to-night, I ought to teach you how to act when you young people speak and make up your minds to take a husband or a wife. Let me tell you girls, if you take husbands from your own people, you will remain in the tribe, and your children will take the place of those who die, thus keeping up your strength.
“‘Those who take husbands from other tribes, rob us of our power; a young man who takes a wife from another tribe, and she by birth is of a higher rank than he, forsakes his own and follows her, and gives his arm to those who soon may be our foes. This we once have felt. I teach you how to act. But if you will do as you like, you then fulfil the proverb, “Children laugh and old men cry.”’
“Nehu jumped up and said, ‘I did not come here to be told of evil done by Rita; he was one of you; he asked me to love him.’ (Here the old woman straightened herself up as erect as she could. She had a new mat round her waist and another over her shoulders, and a few huia and albatross feathers in her head; and tried to look younger than she was.) ‘You all know that on his account I refused one of our own young page 96 chiefs. You know what became of him; then why speak to me? Why blame me because Rita left yours to live with my tribe? I am alone; Rita never had a child. Would he have made your tribe stronger than he has made mine? What is the cause of your talking in this way? Go and talk to him, perhaps he can hear you. I now tell you, since you laugh at me, I will have revenge; and should any man of another tribe ask me to be his wife, I will say yes, and shame you who would not let me cry for Rita. As he was one of you, I will no longer cry for him. He belonged to a people who can think evil of me without a cause. I will have another husband to be revenged.'
“A young man arose, looked up each side of the house, and then at Nehu; he said, ‘Yes, you are right, and I will give you the opportunity of being revenged; I have three wives, but not one of them can or will make mats. Then consent before all the people to be my wife.’
“‘Why should you talk?’ said a young woman who stood up, and shook the long hair from before her face, first with a jerk to the right and then to the left, which sent the hair like a root, of sea-kelp thrown by a wave, and with uplifted hand she continued: ‘We do not want to hear the words of old men and women; you know the proverb, “When the old net is rotten the new one is taken into use.” You who have spoken are covered with the weeds of Tura (grey hairs). Why should we listen to grey-headed women and grey-headed men? Speak, young people, this is our time. Is not page 97 this a meeting at which we are to speak? Men can talk of war when we are not allowed even to whisper. Let them now be silent while we speak.'
“An old woman answered, ‘If you do not tell us more of yourself, we must speak, for we shall have to ask questions.’
“‘Yes, you may tell me whom our son loves,’ answered the former speaker; ‘but do not say that he loves me, for I should have to say no.’
“The son of the red-eyed chief, whose mother had spoken, now arose, and said, ‘Why do you talk about me? I have said I did not wish to have my name mentioned at this atahu meeting.’1
“He sat down by me. I had become amused by the turn which the talk had taken, and, not being in a nice position, I went and sat down in a corner. In my hurry I left my rope behind, and could not return for it, lest my interrupting the speakers by going to and fro should cause me to be spoken of as a slave.
“A young man now said, ‘I don't want to say much; but listen, O people! My liking is for the daughter of Rangi; let me have Rau, and we will live here. She will come and live with us. Am I not of rank equal to hers? Then why should I not ask her to come and live with our people?
“‘No!’ cried the mother of the son of the red-eyed chief, ‘you cannot have her; my son has been long in love with, her, and she shall be his; you may have Koha, the sister, but Rau is my daughter.’
1 Betrothal meeting, same as pa-kuha, ante, p. 92.
“Rau's voice at this moment was heard to utter a loud ‘Ha! ha! ha!’ and I saw the son of the red-eyed chief tremble and hold down his head. After I heard the name of Koha mentioned, my heart dried up, and glowworms fell into my eyes. I still sat and looked at the people, yet I neither saw nor heard them, or the words they said. The first voice I heard was the voice of a girl, which said, ‘Let the talk end, and the old people sit by the sides of the house and allow us, the young people, to have a haka1 now.’ This gave rise to a general commotion. Most of the old people went to their sleeping-houses. I was as busy as any one arranging the kapara lights in two rows, and took an active part with the kai haka.2 The girls sat in a line with a row of lights behind them; the young men formed another line, sitting cross-legged opposite the girls, with a row of lights behind them. We were all similarly dressed, having but one mat round the waist. The haka commenced, and I sat opposite to Koha, who watched my arms as I acted the haka and took the cue for her action. I saw that the son of the red-eyed chief sat opposite to Rau, who did not seem to be pleased.
“In the midst of one of our rangi haka3 Rau suddenly stopped, and said, ‘If I am to act and look at you, I shall act so badly that I shall be ashamed.’
1 A sort of game, consisting of a series of contortions of the body and limbs keeping time to a song or chant.
2 Those who took part in the haka.
3 Haka songs.
“‘Where is my son? asked the wife of the red-eyed chief.
“‘He is asleep in the corner of the house,’ answered a young man.
“His mother called him, but no answer came; she went to the door of the house and called again, and said, “How long you sleep; do not be sulky because the girl laughed at you.'
“As she received no answer, she swallowed the food she had in her mouth, and rubbed her hands to cleanse them from crumbs which might be there, and went in.
“We were all startled by a scream in the house, and, thinking the young chief was murdering his mother, I sprang up, and was one of the first to enter the house. I saw the old woman tearing the hair from her head and making as much noise as ten men attacking a pah at daylight. She had pulled my mat from the young man, who lay at full length with one end of my rope tied to his big toe, and the other end was tied round his throat with a slip-knot. He was quite dead. I knew the rope, but no one knew that it was mine.
“As I went out I met Rau and Koha, who had been to see him. I said to Rau, ‘He died because you laughed last night.’
“She answered, ‘If he was fool enough to kill himself, he might have been idiot enough to kill me if I had been his wife. A tree is blown down by the storm; it has not sense to keep itself erect. A man need not kill himself because he cannot get the wife he wants. Truly these people are cowards.’
“‘We must go home at once,’ I answered, ‘or there will be enough to do to show we are not cowards.’
“The corpse had been brought out and laid on mats in the marae; and all the people of the kainga with one voice joined in the tangi1 for the dead; the father (the red-eyed chief) sat close to the head, and the mother at the feet of the corpse, both gesticulating wildly with their hands, whilst tears streamed down their cheeks.
“In the midst of this the uncle of the dead man (after walking backward and forward for some little time) said, ‘My heart is dead; our bird of sweet song is gone. Who will eat the food I shall get at sea and on the land? Who is to fill his place? He was a man! I shall ask for a girl to be mine to fill his place. Let not my request be refused.’
“Rangi answered, ‘Yes, you are right to cry, but your sorrow is your own. Who brought death to your marae? We came here to see you, O my relations! and you wish to show how brave you are by the act of this your foolish son.’
1 A carved green-stone image worn round the neck, hanging on the breast.
“When we were out of sight of the pah, Rangi called a halt and said, ‘When we may be attacked I know not, but let us be prepared. Let those who can fight divide into two companies; one go behind and one in front; let the women, children, and very old people be in the centre.’
“These orders were obeyed, and we again pushed on as rapidly as possible. By mid-day we had not got over half the distance to our pah; still on we went. I did not wish to die yet, or see my Koha killed. I said to our chief, ‘O Rangi! my feet are the feet of swiftness; let me go and tell our people who live near the creek, and they will come to meet us.’
“‘Yes’ said Rangi, ‘go, O son! and say we shall not die; but we are women, and are not old enough to guard ourselves against our foe. He has been taught the arts of war. Yet we shall not die unavenged. Go, O son! go.’
1 Desmoschœnus spiralis, the seed of which is blown along the sand with great rapidity.
“We had sufficient food to stand a long siege, and collected it all into the pah.
1 A stage erected in a pah, from which outlook is kept for enemies.
1 A dog-skin mat.
2 A small mat.
4 War party.
“Day after day we were taunted and called cowards by the taua; words could not kill. We were at home, had plenty of food and water, and I could look at Koha, and put my tongue out at the taua. I could not wish for more. We knew no kumaras had been left in our plantations, and the fern-root growing near our pah was not the kind of which the natives of the south would eat. Good fern-root grows in the south. We thought they must give up the siege for want of food. Moon came and went, and still moon after moon they sat and looked at us. Day after day we heard them laugh and sing, and were now in want of water. For some time we had been able to get water from the spring on the south-east of our pah. One night a party of us young men went out as usual to bring water, each being fully armed and prepared to fight. The foremost man fell into a rua,1 breaking the calabashes he held in his left hand.
“No sooner had our man fallen than one of our party who was behind, hearing the calabashes break, cried out, ‘Be brave; there are two skulls cracked; charge—on! on! we are many!’
1 An old kumara pit.
“Rau and her father sat together, looking over the palisading at the spring. Rangi saw the young chief Taka walking some little distance from the pah, and he cried in a trembling voice to the enemy, ‘Do you hear? My throat is hoarse from thirst; give me some water.’
“Some of the taua had pity on the old chief, and went and got some water, and were taking it to him; but others (near relations of Kari, the young man who killed himself) broke the calabashes, and nearly caused a fight among themselves.
“Rangi again called to Taka, who had seen the dispute about the water, and asked, ‘What name do your men call you?’page 107
“He answered, ‘I am Taka.’
“Rangi asked, ‘Are you able to calm the surge which heaves with anger on the hidden rocks of Orongo-ta-Kupe?’
“‘Yes,’ answered Taka; ‘my arm the dog dare not bite!’
“‘Live in this world,’ said Rangi; ‘for I and my daughters are now dead for want of water, my thirst is so great. I am not able to say more. Live here; stay in life.’
“Taka, who came to avenge the death of Kari, knew that Rangi was the chief of the pah, and that Rau was his daughter. Her fame had reached his pah. He did not care for Kari, now he had seen Rau, and Kari was not now a man; Kari had become a worm. Kari could no longer speak–why should any fear him? A dead cockatoo cannot bite. Taka took a calabash and filled it at the spring, an act he had not done since he was a boy, and then only because of some childish pet to spite his mother. His men who saw him gave a shout of astonishment, thus drawing the attention of the whole war party to what he was doing. His act was of so strange a character, that all arose silently on their feet and watched his steps as he took the calabash to the spring, filled it, and then ascended the hill towards the palisade where Rau and Rangi stood.
“Our people, who saw Taka coming up, to honour him immediately made opening in the palisading. He was a chief of highest rank. All chiefs of high rank enter a pah by an opening through which no one page 108 else has entered; and also, when a pah submits, the inhabitants make a hole in their palisading to let the conquerors in. Rangi rose and stood up waiting, while Rau and Koha sat one on each side of him.
“Taka entered, and, going up to the old man, he held out the calabash of water, saying, ‘There, O chief of old age! did I not say the dog durst not bite this arm? This water is for you and your daughters.’ He walked a pace or two from them and sat down.
“A slave came forward and poured the water into the old chief's hand, out of which he drank.
“While he was drinking, Taka looked at Rau, and she in turn looked at the chief who had been kind to her father, and who had himself brought water for them.
“When the enemy saw their chief sit down, a whisper of indignation was heard from the lips of many; others exclaiming, ‘Taka loves war, but Rau he loves better. Now has set the sun of war. Why did we come here to be cast aside for the beautiful face of a girl?’
“After the girls had taken some water, Rangi said, ‘You are Taka, my thirst is quenched; and if your anger towards me is assuaged, let me hear the words of a chief ariki. Speak, O leader of the water party! You are young, and perhaps you were sent by the relatives of Kari, who strangled himself because Rau laughed at him. Why should my relatives ask you to come and attack me and my people for the act of a foolish boy? Are there not enough of them to come and talk with page 109 me, without sending for one whose name alone would open the gates of my pah at any time but on such a visit as this? You know that boys will be boys, and girls will be girls; and the waves of the sea will always run away from the wind. Even so, young people will do as they like; and had I attempted to make Rau love Kari, that dead man, she would have run away from my words, as the waves from the wind. Hearken, O Taka! You have seen the inside of my pah; you have come in like a god; the way by which you came in is sacred, and no one shall come in or go out by that way but yourself. You see what I have; I am a man of little property. This is all I shall say to you. Return, O Taka! to your own place.'
“Taka arose and said, ‘O Rangi! I have heard your words about the foolish boy; but I was told you bewitched him, so that he lost his own thoughts, hence he killed himself. And then the rope with which he strangled himself was said to have been made by the gods, for no one knew where it came from, and the plait is unknown. I thought you were an evil man, and had practised sorcery on your relatives. And that great evil, the death of his father; who could make that man fear? who ever heard of his being afraid? Has he not been in battle since he was able to carry a worm to fish for eels? And for him to jump off a cliff was a proof that you were an evil man. I came to punish you. I find you are not the evil man they said you were. I know who bewitched that foolish boy, Kari. Tell me, O daughter of Rangi! what priest you invoked to repeat page 110 his incantations over Kari, to make him so daring and brave?
“Rau jumped up, and, walking a little distance from where she had been sitting with her sister, said, ‘Sit down, O chief! whose name has come over yon mountains and been heard in our marae. You are the birds of fame inland; we of the coast are not birds of fame, hence you speak as you like to us. But, O young chief of fame! we are men and women, who are sons and daughters of men and women, even like yourselves.
“‘You blame us for the death of that stupid boy; you even say that I repeated the sacred incantations of our ancestors to cause his death. You cause me to say great. words. Hearken, then: I would not even have looked on such a man, a gull of the coast; then why should I take pains to repeat incantations to kill him who could cause no annoyance to me? Am I not my own master? Neither my parents nor relatives made me a puhi1 when I was an infant, by promising I should be the wife of one unknown to me. Then why should I kill any man when I can choose for myself? Your words, O chief! are thoughtless words. Return to your place, and tell our relatives, the relatives of Kari, that they are to blame for his death, not me.'
1 One betrothed.
“Immediately after hearing this, Taka's own men came flocking into the pah. They sat down and looked in silent admiration at Rau, who was sitting where she last spoke. I heard some of them say, ‘True, Taka has become the slave of that girl; but she is the only wife he could have: she is as beautiful as the snow-white crane.’
“The tribe of the red-eyed chief left in a rage for their home, and set fire to Taka's camp. When the flames were seen, Taka's tribe rushed down to the camp to save their mats, and wished to follow those who had departed, and punish them for the cowardly act; but Taka commanded his men to return and remain in the pah. After dark, Taka, who had been sitting with his people in the marae, rose and said, ‘Rangi, remain in your kainga, while I, when the sun rises to-morrow, will return to my place. I am ashamed to pass by the tapu where Kari is buried, for his people have insulted me. You see that even my name could not keep their hands from setting fire to my camp where I slept. O Rau! daughter of Rangi, whose fame reached me in my own place, come with me and let me show to my people the woman of whose fame they so often have heard.’
“Rau rose and said, ‘Your name has been known to me for many summers. You shall not go home ashamed. I and some of my people will go with you.’
1 A figurative expression for “Peace is made.”
“Rangi asked, ‘O Rau! do you know the word of Taka? Can you love him?’
“Rau jumped up in a hurry, and answered, ‘O old man! I have spoken. Taka knows what I said. It is for him to ask what I mean, and not for any other man, woman, or child.’
“Taka said, ‘Sufficient is your word, O beautiful bird! who shall sing to my people in the presence of strangers.’
“On the morrow Taka and his people left, accompanied by Rau, now his wife, Koha, Nehu, and myself. Instead of going south to his own place, he went north to visit Waitara. We first called at the Manuhorihi pah; from there we went up the Waitara river into the interior, and reached a pah on the east side of Taranaki Mountains, where some of Taka's relatives lived. While here I told Nehu of my love to Koha; the fight at the water-spring had caused Nehu to like me. She consented that we should return to our people and tell them, that Rangi and the others might know; and Koha agreed to this. We soon left Taka and his friends, and had returned but a short distance towards our home when we were met by a party of Ngapuhi warriors, your fathers, who had been sent by the main body to look for food. They took us prisoners, killing Nehu, Koha, and most of our party. They cooked and ate them. I was made to carry some of Nehu's and Koha's flesh to the main camp, where I had to cook and do such work as I continue to do.”
Miro asked, “Then she was not your wife, Pipo?”page 113
Pipo answered, “No; but I loved her, and she loved me. I hope I shall get revenge to-day for her being killed, and for the insult offered to me, whom your fathers made to carry her mangled corpse.”
When Pipo had finished silence reigned, and all slept till the morrow.