W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso


Two Tales, both historical and true, showing the Overwhelming Power of Shame



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Two Tales, both historical and true, showing the Overwhelming Power of Shame.

6. The Story of Pukoroauahi, his Sister, and his Brother-in-law.


In the olden time there was a chief named Taranuiomatenga; his wife’s name was Puhaureroa, and her brother was called Pukoroauahi. These three lived together at one place. The wife’s brother was very skilful at snaring birds for them to eat, which he continually did, while his sister and her husband remained quietly at home. The husband took good care daily to devour the choice fat birds, leaving for his brother-in-law the less prized and lean ones,—such as hawks and owls, parrots and crows;566 these, too, the young man sat apart to eat by the smouldering brands of the cooking-fires, where his eyes were made sore with the smoke; nevertheless his sister very often managed, when cooking, to hide a nice tit-bit for her brother. One day the brother went to his usual occupation in the woods; on this day to catch, by imitation of their cries, small singing birds—as kotihes567 and [50] koparas568 and kookoos.569 While he was thus engaged he saw a bird, a pigeon (kereru) drinking water; then he went and got some New Zealand flax leaves, and made snares, and laid them cunningly, and soon caught a large number of pigeons, insomuch that he had them in heaps! He then returned to their place of abode, and told his sister to get proper baskets woven to bring home the spoils; saying that he had caught a great number of fine birds. On hearing this his sister was delighted, and when the proper baskets were finished, they went together to the place to gather up the birds. On arriving at the spot, there were the dead birds lying in heaps, looking so nice and tempting, that his sister was again delighted, and danced for joy, singing in her dance this new song,—“Even so, hanging out is thy tongue; snared securely upon his very perch, set for killing! Good, good, very good!” They turned to and collected all the birds which had been killed, and which lay in heaps before her, until they had filled 170 baskets with them. These were all caught by that one stream, and the name of that stream was Pouturu. And their death was cunningly effected thus: the food of the pigeon is the red toromiro570 drupe, and there, just above the water, on a cliffy spot, were plenty of red pebbles; now the birds thought that those red pebbles were toromiro fruits, and so they came together at that spot in great numbers to eat those red pebbles, and when their throats got subsequently dry, through swallowing so many of those pebbles, they rushed to drink and were caught in the snares set by Pukoroauahi. (The names of that peculiar kind of snare are parekauae, and also te whakoau.) Having gathered up their birds they proceeded to carry them off on their backs to their residence, and worked hard all that day until evening; at which time the husband, returning from the woods to his home, saw the big pile of baskets of birds. Immediately he began to be angry with his wife, deeming those birds had been stolen, or surreptitiously killed, by his brother-in-law. At length his wife said to her husband, “Now, if thou wilt not believe me, come along and let us go together, and see the place where they were snared.” So, in the early morning, they went thither together, and reached the water, and there he saw the red pebbles, and the snares, and all the rest of it. Then he knew well that they were not stolen birds from any preserves, and he became overwhelmed with shame. They went back to their home, and the young man said to his sister, “Kindle a separate (tapu=tabooed) fire to roast the birds for my brother-in-law; also, another common cooking fire to roast some for thyself.” So she did so, she roasted the birds for her husband, and when [51] they were fully done she carried them to the place, outside of the house, where her husband was, that he might eat them; and entering she said to him, “O, Sir, arise and sit up; here are the choice birds nicely cooked; rise, and sit up.” But he never moved. When she returned to the side of the fires, she said to her brother, “O, dear Pukoro, he never arose nor moved at all; he must be sleeping soundly.” Now his manner of acting towards her was mostly in an unkind, rough way. Then the sister said to her brother, “Let us two eat our meal.” The brother replied, “Let the preparatory ceremony be first performed.” And these were the words of that ceremony:—“The ceremonial performance of Taranuiomatenga, the ceremonial performance of Pukoroauahi, the ceremonial performance of Puhaureroa, the ceremonial performance is fully done, the ceremonial performance is excellent (or approved); excellent (is the) food first ceremonially prepared, excellent the birds first ceremonially prepared.”571 This being fully done they took their meal, and when they had finished, the woman went again to see how it was with her husband; and, finding him in the same position, she cried out to him, “O, Sir, arise, and sit up.” Then she looked more closely, and saw blood running down on his bed-mat! At this she went up to him to arouse him, and on pulling down the coverings (his loose garments), lo! he was quite dead, having been some time so. She left him in haste, and went out and called to her brother, “Alas! O, Pukoro, the evil thing is dead!” “Of what did he die?” replied the brother. “Of strangulation,” she rejoined; “the troublesome grumbling creature is quite dead.” Then they both took up fire, and set fire to the house in which the body was; and they heard the bursting of his belly in the flames. After this they proceeded to roast and pot in their own fat their birds, filling no less than 70 big calabashes with them. Thenceforth that young man took his sister to be his wife, and in course of time their child was born, and it was named Taporariiroi.

[I should here remark, that although only two or three persons are here spoken of by name—as, also, in most of these stories—there were many others concerned; for, according to New Zealand custom, the slaves and inferior working-men were never mentioned.—W.C.]




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