by JAMES NORMAN HALL
For thirty years James Norman Hall has made his home in the South Seas. Over the years his imagination has continually been challenged by the question of how the Polynesians ever came to these peaceful but remote islands. From his knowledge of the natives and their legends, he has recreated the epic story of the Tongan Clan, who were lovers of peace and who had gone to sea in their great outrigger canoes in search of the Far Lands promised them by Tané, the god they worshiped. After storm and starvation a remnant of the clan uas driven ashore on Kurapo, an island peopled by the Koros, a clan who worshiped war and who would have massacred the survivors were it not for the intervention of their high chief, Vaitangi, who gave the enfeebled strangers sanctuary on the eastern side of the island.
For ten years the Tongans lived in peaceful captivity, building war canoes for the Koros and strictly observing the tabu which kept the two clans apart. Maui, the hero of the
story, the son of Téro, high chief of the Tongans, is growing up to be their young leader.
At festivities attended by Vaitangi and the chiefs and priests of both clans, Maui incurs the hatred of Puaka, high priest of the Koros. Maui further jeopardizes the safety of his people by going to see Hina, the pretty granddaughter of Vaitangi; he breaks the tabu; he violates the temple of Koro; and when he is detected the Koros take blood, revenge. Men are sacrificed for Maui’s misdeed, and for a year the boy is shunned by his own elan.
When the hostility of the Kara warriors reaches the breaking point, their chief sends a warning to the Tongans, who decide to build a fleet of their own in which to escape — eight great canoes which must be built in secrecy and large enough to carry their six hundred people. In the feverish haste of the building, Téaro, their chief, is killed by a falling tree, and Maui, now eighteen, is chosen to succeed his father.
AT Maui’s request, one day only was spent by the chiefs in the solemn service at the marac when he was invested with the sacred robes and the chaplet of red feathers his father had worn.
On the evening of this day, when the ceremonies had been completed, Maui returned with Métua to his father’s dwelling. As they approached it a man stepped out from the deep shade of the trees bordering the path, “o Maui?” he said.
“I am,” Maui replied.
The man then placed in Maui’s hand a small packet wrapped in green leaves. “I was ordered to bring you this,’" lie said. “The sender is known to you.” He then vanished in the darkness along the path leading up the valley.
They entered the house, and Maui stood by a candlenut lamp, examining by its flickering light the parcel he held in his hand. With a glance at Métua he slowly removed the covering of leaves. Within lay a coral pebble, smooth, round, perfectly shaped, and of the color of sunlight. It was enclosed in a net of bark thread, but the meshes of the net were dry and withered and fell to pieces in his hand.
“You recognize it?” ‘Métua asked. Maui nodded, gazing at the pebble in silence, wondcringly, as though scarcely believing it. the same that the priest had told him to hide in a secret place, so long ago.
When they were seated on the mats Métua said: “Maui, sixteen years ago, on the night when we Tongans reached Kurapo, you were at the point of death, and your mother as well. All of this you know; there is no need to repeat the tale. Vahangi’s daughter-in-law took you from your unconscious mother’s arms and fed you at her breast, with Hina, her own infant. It was then I knew that you children were destined for each other. Whether or not that destiny is to be fulfilled it is for you to decide.”
“Hina has sent me this?” said Maui, still gazing at the pebble.
“Who else?” said the priest.
Toward noon on the following day Maui was approaching the small lake hidden amongst the mountains. Six years had passed since he had taken Hina there and guided her into his secret cavern. Never since that day had he returned, but there, he knew, he would find her. Why, he wondered, had she sent for him after so long a time? What message did she wish to bring him? He found it hard to remember that she would no longer be the child whom he had last seen. Never had he forgotten her, but after what had happened when he had broken the tabu set by Vaitangi, he had never expected to see her again. He hurried on, half walking, half running, but as he neared the lake he slackened his pace, halting within the shelter of the forest to look in either direction along the beach of white sand bordering the lake along the eastern side.
All was silent there, save for the faint cries of the seafowl wheeling above the crags on the far side, He drew in his breath sharply as he saw a pair of small footprints leading from the border of the forest across the beach to the placid level of the lake which was shimmering brightly as though someone had disturbed the surface of the water only a moment or two before. The sun had disappeared behind the tallest of the crags to the west. Quickly Maui plunged into the lake. The light which, for so brief a time at that hour of the afternoon, revealed the entrance to the cavern was beginning to fade. Maui dived, and a moment later his head broke water within the deepening gloom of the cavern itself.
For a moment he could see nothing; then, as his eyes became accustomed to the semidarkness, he saw the figure of a girl seated on the low ledge of rock on the opposite side of the pool. The light which came through the opening in the roof, though fading now, fell like the ashes of gold upon her hair and her bare arms and shoulders. She sat with her arms clasped around her updrawn knees, and in the dying light her body seemed to be vanishing into darkness even as he looked at her. He drew himself up beside her, and as though to convince himself that she was real, he laid a hand on her cool wet shoulders. “Hina . . .?” he said.
After a moment of silence the girl replied: “I thought you would never come. I have waited since morning.”
“And I have waited since we were children,” Maui replied.
“Waited? . . . Where? In your father’s house? Did you expect me to come to you there?”
“Hina . . .”
“Do you remember what you told me when we came here together, so long ago? You said: ‘This is my cave. I shouldn’t have brought you here; you’re a Koro.'”
“I remember,” Maui said.
“ But it has been mine since that day.”
“You tell me that you have come here since?”
“Didn’t you know that I would, if only to thank you for the baby terns?”
“I never dreamed of it. How could I have, after what had happened? When your grandfather left our valley for the last time he told my father that we would never see him again, or any of his family.”
“And you believe that he spoke for me as well? Does the daughter of a Tongan high chief have no mind of her own ? Does your sister obey your father in all that she does?”
“Hina, you were only a child then. How could I have guessed that you would ever come here again? I can scarcely believe in you even now, in this darkness. Let us go out, I want to see you.”
“After this long lime!” the girl replied bleakly. “Maui! Maui! I came here six times in four years, hoping to find you; and then no more, until today. I saw that it was useless.”
“Hina, you must believe me! I never thought of your trying to see me again. Why haven’t you sent the pebble before? I would have come the moment I received it.”
“Did you today? I have been waiting for hours.”
“There was a reason why I could not come earlier. Let us go out now. We can’t talk in this darkness.”
“Not yet. What I have to say is better told in the darkness. You know nothing of what has happened in our family?”
“Nothing,” Maui replied. “The messengers Puaka sends us bring only his orders. They are as arrogant as Puaka himself and tell us nothing. We might be living in different lands for anything we have heard. Tell me, first, about your grandfather, and your mother. My mother longs to hear of her welfare.”
“She is dead,” Hina replied, in a desolate voice.
“Dead!” Maui groped for her hand and held it. “Hina! Your mother? Dead?”
After a silence the girl spoke again. As though recalling events that had happened long ago, she told him how Puaka had steadily gained such power over the Koros that only a few of the older chiefs remained loyal to Vaitangi.
“Puaka hated my mother from the time when you Tongans came to Kurapo and she saved your life by feeding you at her breast. Later, when you were found in the temple of Koro, Puaka knew that he could do what he would against your family; that none of the chiefs would dare to stand up against him. But he worked secretly to destroy my mother. We have sorcerers in our clan who obey Puaka in everything — evil men who can kill even members of the high chief’s family when he has lost his power to protect them. So it. was in my mother’s case. Puaka employed two of these men to destroy her slowly so that it would appear that she had died of some unknown and incurable illness. She wasted away until she was no more than a shadow of herself. When death came she was buried with great ceremony, and Puaka himself was one of the mourners. All knew that he was the cause of her death but none dared say a word against him.”
“But . . . Vaitangi, your grandfather?”
“Maui, you would not know my grandfather could you see him now. He is dying of the same cause.”
“You tell me that your grandfather, the high chief, is powerless to resist?”
“Yes. He believes it is Koro’s will that he should die because of his kindness to your people and his long friendship with your father and your priest, Métua. He will do not king to save himself, because he is cominced that nothing can be done. Pifau, it is called, this killing by sorcery. The men who practice it have power greater in this way than that of Puaka himself.”
“But your grandfather still has friends among the chiefs. Can they do nothing to help him?”
“You know nothing of Koro sorcerers if you think that! And now there are only two or three of the older chiefs who remain loyal to my grandfather. Many love him, but tear of Puaka and of Koro rules their lives.”
NEITHER spoke again for some time; then Maui said: “And I am to blame, Hina, do you realize that ? For the death of so many of my own people; for the death of your mother . . .”
“No, Maui!” the girl replied, quickly. “My mother’s death and my grandfather’s would have happened in any case at a later time. Puaka is fifteen years younger than my grandfather, stronger in will, and with heart lilled with evil. With Korn’s help he was bound to gather all the power into his hands, and so he has. . . . Let us go out now. I can stay only a little longer. First put our pebble back in its niche.” Putting a hand on his shoulder, she got to her feet. They were now inVisible to each other. A moment later she said: “I will go tirst. Wait a little. I am all but naked.”
She plunged into the pool, inky black in the darkness, but he saw her slim shadowy body as it passed through the area of dim light coming from the lake. He followed a few moments later, Hina was awaiting him on the beach, dressed in a mantle of dyed bark cloth of a soft and beautiful texture, worn only by the daughters of chiefs, which was gathered over her breasts, leaving her arms and shoulders bare, and reaching to her knees. Maui waded slowly toward her through the shallows and placed his hands on her shoulders, holding her at arm’s length. She looked into his eyes, questioningly.
“Is it the Hina you remembered’”
Maui continued to gaze in wonder and adoration at the slim lovely girl, just blooming into womanhood, who stood before him. Slowly he shook his head. “Not the one I remembered. Not even the one I have dreamed of as she would be now. My little Hina! How could I have guessed that you would be so beautiful.'”
“Didn’t you think I was pretty when we were children ?”
“Yes; but now . . . Hina, do you remember Metua, our priest? He says that we belong to each ot her.”
“ And you It’ll me of this now when it is too late.”
“Too late? . . . Why? . . . Hina, you are not married ?”
She shook her head. “ But I am to be, very soon.”
The girl made no reply. Maui seized her by the arms. “Answer me, Hina! Who is this man?”
At last, without looking up, she replied, in a low desolate voice: “You remember how, when we were children, you defeated Uri at stone throwing? He never forgave you for that. And now, in his turn, with his uncle’s help, he has defeated you.”
Gently he drew her to him and held her close, his cheek pressed against hers. She put her arms around him and clung to him, her face against his breast. “Maui, I am lost! There is nothing I can do. Nothing. My grandfather is a broken old man: broken in spirit, broken in health, broken in will, He consented. He is like a child in Puaka’s hands. Puaka knows that the one thing needed to give him complete control over the Koro Clan, and his nephewafter him, is a marriage between Fri and myself.”
“Darling, that shall never be.”
“Never!” Hina replied. “I will destroy myself first. Let me tell you what I know; it is why I sent for you. The time is near when you Tongans are to be destroyed. Not one of you will be spared. The attack will not come until Puaka returns; l am to be married then. My grandfather is to be kept alive until that time; but before he is destroyed you will be. You are to be taken as the sacrifice offered to Koro on the day of my marriage. Then will follow the attack on the Tongans.''
“You are certain of this?” Maui asked.
“I was told by an old chief who is my grandfather’s friend, lie can do nothing to prevent it, but he wanted me to know.”
“Hina, did your grandfather never tell you what he said to my father when he left our valley for the last time?”
The girl shook her head.
“He foresaw what was to come. He said to my father: ‘Build your ships! Build swiftly ! You have no time to lose!’ That was six years ago. Can you believe that we Tongans have failed to heed that warning?”
Hina drew back and looked up at him as though trying to grasp the truth of his words. “Maui! You are telling me ...”
“That we have been building our ships, by day and by night, from that day to this. The last ship will soon be completed. I was working upon it this morning, which is the reason I was late in meeting you. We have no time to lose. If the war fleet is delayed beyond another moon, Puaka will find nothing but empty dwellings in our valley. Now, Hina, we must make our plans: when and how you are to join me.”
“How can it be?"she said, woefully. “Maui, you must think of your people, not of me, lest all of your plans come to nothing.”
“It can be and it shall be,” he said. Hina was silent as he continued, eagerly and confidently, telling her of the preparations now so nearly at an end. “Soon we shall be able to set the night when we shall leave this land. I will let you know of this as soon as I myself know, and we will then arrange where I am to meet you. It must be on the morning of the day itself so that the Koros will have no suspicion of what we do. I will come for you before dawn and lie hidden in the thickets just above the head wall of your valley . . .”
“No, Maui! Not there! Never again must you come within our lands! Promise that you will not!”
“Then by iho tabu tree. I will wait there, hidden in the fern. Have you servants you can trust."”
’Yes; the man who brought you the pebble; he and his wife, both. They love me as they loved my mother. 11 is wife is the woman to whom you gave the baby terns.”
“Then you see how simple it will he? You will have only to give them an excuse for your absence during the day. When night comes and you fail to return, you will be with us, Hina — with me, looking back at Kurapo as it sinks into the sea.”
“But what will your people say? What will they think when they sec you bringing me, a Koro, amongst them?”
“My darling, do you think they have forgotten what we Tongans owe to your grandfather and to your own mother?" Last night when your servant brought me the pebble, Métua said: I have known since you and Hina were children that you were destined for each other. Whether or not that destiny is to be fulfilled it is for you to decide.’ Hina, do you love me? You have not told me so in words. I want to hear you say it.”
“I loved you when we were children,” she replied, in a low voice. “I had for you then the deep affection of a small sister who had no brothers of her own. Now that 1 am a woman, can you even guess how I love you? . . . Maui, we have so little t ime.”
“When can I see you again? Let it be soon, Hina. I may be able to tell you at the next meeting when we are to go.”
She reflected for a moment. “Let it he twelve days from now. On that day there is to be a service to pray for the success of the war fleet. All of the chiefs will be at the temple during the day and the night as well,”
He held her close, stroking her hair, her bare arms and shoulders, while she clung to him. At last she pushed him back. “Maui, my beloved one, I must go now.”
FIVE of the Tongan ships had been moved on rollers from the sheds and were now shored up on the bank of the river while the last work upon them was under way. Between the masts of the twin-hulled ships, platforms of light purau were built, reaching across the hulls; and upon these platforms, houses that would shelter from twelve to fifteen people were erected. These were to accommodate some of the older people and the wives and small children of the anki. The houses were low, measuring no more than five feet between platform and ridgepole. The roofs were of pandanus leaf thatch securely lashed to the rafters, and over them was a net of tough bark cordage so that the roofs could sustain all but the strongest winds. The hulls, which provided shelter for all the others, could he protected in stormy weal her by stoutly woven mats drawn across them, having loops to be fastened over cleats fixed along the gunwales.
The women had long been at work preparing the provisions for the voyage. I he approximate time when the ships would he ready to sail had been estimated well in advance, and gardens of yams and taro planted accordingly , so that these slow ly growing root vegetables would reach maturity by the time when they would be needed. Pits in the ground, lined with leaves, were filled with breadfruit and covered, to allow the fruit to soften and ferment in the warm earth until it altered to poi, the thick white paste, so rich in nourishment. Breadfruit was prepared in yet another way: it was baked, then rolled thin and reduced to flour. This was packed in long rolls, wrapped in dried leaves, and placed within lengths of bamboo. The yams and taro, now fully matured, were being dug from the gardens some to be baked and packed for sea stores during the early part of the voyage, some to be carried in baskets for use at a later time.
There were no idle women and children as this work went forward. Some were preparing the containers in which the food would be carried: baskets, calabashes, lengths of giant bamboo, and the like. Others were occupied with the food itself. Even the old and feeble did what they could to help, concealing from the others the heaviness in their hearts as they thought of the dangers and hardships of the voyage so near at hand.
Children were scattered in all parts of the valley and along the beaches, gathering pandanus nuts from which was made flour of another kind which formed so important an item of their sea stores. The ships would also carry as many fully matured coconuts as room could be found for. Protected by their dry hard husks, they would provide food of last resort both the meat of the nuts and the spongy yellow utos, which form within the nuts at the time when they’ lire ready to sprout. Also, the children were bringing in the pigs and fowls, which wandered at will in ordinary times. They were enclosed in pens and abundantly fed, that they might be at their fattest when the time for departure came.
All of these preparations were in full progress when Maui returned from his meeting with Hina at the lake. It was late evening. He came home by wav of the ridge enclosing the southern side of the valley where the temple stood. He found Métua seated on a mat under the stars. Maui took his place beside him and told of his meeting with Hina and the news she had brought: of the death of her mother, her betrothal to Uri, and of the woeful condition of Vaitangi, now completely under the will and the power of Puaka.
When he had finished, Métua said: “Let this be kept a secret between us for the present. Say nothing even to your mother until a later time, for it would only grieve her.”
“I shall do as you say,” Maui replied, “but the truth cannot long be hidden.”
“Nor need it be,” said Métua; “only during these last days until our people are safely at sea.”
“And Hina with us?” Maui asked. . . . “Métua, you have the gift of foreknowledge: this is known to all. Tell me, then, what her fate is to be, and mine.”
“Have 1 not told you that you were destined children?” the priest replied. “You have heard the call of your great namesake. Is it not enough to know that you are under divine protection?”
“Forgive me,” Maui said. “I spoke as I did because of the deep anxiety in my mind. Never have I lost the affection for Hina that came in our childhood days; but how was I to know how swiftly this would change? How could I foresee that the old affection would become deep love from the moment when I next saw her? Métua, now that 1 stand in my father’s place, my first duty is to our people. And at the time when we are all but ready to leave this land has come this love for Hina. Am I to think of that, and of our great need for each other? Am I to risk the safety of our people so that Hina may be saved, and thus, perhaps, bring ruin to all our plan!?”
“Hina herself has spoken of this?” Métua asked.
“She has,”Maui replied. “She fears the evil power of Koro . . .”
“And that is not to be doubted,” Métua said, quiet ly.
“She has reminded me of how far his vengeance may carry. More than this: she believes that, if she could come with us, the result will be nothing but greater misery for our people; that there will be those who will lay to her charge all the dangers, misfortunes, and evil chances that we shall have to meet during our voyage eastward.”
“That is true,” the priest replied, gravely.
“Then ... I must give her up?”
“Have I said it? Could you believe it, after what you have already been told?”
Maui peered into his face, dimly revealed under the light of the stars. “Métua, how am I to understand your words? Both your meaning and your purposes are dark to me.”
“Not my purposes — they are Tuné’s,” the priest replied. “Tuné’s purposes with respect to myself are hidden, but I know them as they concern you and Hina. If her life is joined with yours, the union will prove to be the greatest of blessings, not only to yourselves and your children, but to the Tongan Clan for generations to come.”
WHEN twelve days had passed, four of the ships lay moored stem to stern in the river. The masts had been shipped and rigged, the sails were ready to be bent on, the paddles were in their racks, and the great steering oars lay aft beneath the thwarts, ready for use.
Early on the morning of this day Maui set out along the path leading westward across tlie island. He walked rapidly and the sun was not yet two hours high when he reached the tree from which hung the tabu emblem. This was no longer the emblem of Vaitangi: three red lines crossed diagonally with one of blue. The design on the streamer was now that of the priest of Koro: a swastika, an ancient emblem amongst the Koros and chosen by Puaka for that reason.
As Maui stood looking at this emblem, he recalled with a feeling of desolation all that had happened from the day in boyhood when he had broken the tabu set by Vaitangi: ihe horror of the scenes he had witnessed on the night of the return of the Koro war fleet; the terror in his heart when he had found himself in the Koro temple, with the huge figure of the war god facing him, holding him there, powerless to move. He remembered the anguish of the year of his punishment when, by his father’s order, he was shunned by his people, forbidden to speak even to bis mother, and compelled to carry to his father news of the sounding of the great Drum of Koro, announcing the approaching death of another member of the Tongan clan for which he alone was responsible.
As he stood there, engaged in these somber reflections, he heard a slight rustic in the fern and Hina was there beside him. Her face was alight with happiness as he took her in his arms.
“Maui, how sad you look! Let us hurry away from this hateful place.” She glanced at the sun. “The morning is not half finished; we have all the rest of the day to be together. Come quickly! We must not waste any of it!“
“Could you come without risk?" Maui asked.
The girl nodded. “I am safe for the day and most of the night. Only the two old servants of my mother know that 1 have gone, and even they do not know my reason for going. You must promise one thing: we are not to speak, either of us, of what is past or what is to come.”
“But Hina . . .”
She put the palm of her hand across his lips. “For my sake; for both our sakes! Promise?“
“Willingly, gladly, my little Hina, but I have news that you must be told . . .”
“Then tell me later, before we say good-bye. This day is ours. We have so little time . . . that we can be sure of,” she added quickly, as he was about to interrupt. “Let us hurry on to the lake.”
Maui led the way along the fern-covered ridges and the green glades between them until they reached the forest land enclosing the lake on the eastern side. Hina stopped from time to time to gather flowers and the low-hanging blossoms of flowering trees whose delicate fragrance filled the air. When they had reached the wooded lands she gathered sweet-smelling ferns that throve, in the deep cool shade, making a green carpet for the forest floor and hanging in clusters from the mossy trunks of great trees. Her arms were filled with flowers and ferns by the time they reached the lake.
Maui watched longingly as she worked. “Stay where you are,”she said, when he would have come closer. “My servants should be doing this, but how happy I am that we have none. They would hide and watch us, afterward.” She tossed up fern and flowers, mingling and spreading them in a soft couch. “They smell of heaven,” she said. An expression of deep sadness came ox er her face. “The heaven of now,” she added, forlornly. “The heaven of today, and tonight, only.”
“But, my darling, I will tell you what Métua said. He said: ‘Maui, I know Tané’s purposes as they concern you and Hina. If her life is joined with yours, the union will prove to be the greatest of blessings, not only to yourselves, but to the Tongan Clan for generations to come.’”
“But if, Maui; if.”
“You don’t believe?” He strode to where she sat, seized her hands and drew her roughly up and into his arms. He flung her pareu aside and held her fiercely, kissing her lips, her throat. He ran his lips over her smooth shoulders and, bending her back over his arm he kissed her body, her breasts, again and again. She lay limp in his arms, an expression of ecstasy upon her face that fired every drop of his blood. Lifting her as though she had been a child, he carried her toward the couch she had prepared. Hina, seeing what he would do, struggled so fiercely that she broke from his arms and slipped to the ground. She stepped away from him, throwing back her hair as she did so. She was breathing quickly and her eyes flashed with anger.
“Do you think you can handle me as you would a girl of common blood?” she demanded, proudly.
“ But Hina . . .”
“ Have you no sense of the beauty of love? Would you devour it as a hungry man fills his stomach?”
“ Yes, when the hunger is past bearing,” Maui said. “My Hina, forgive me! I thought only of myself; of my need for you. It shall be as you wish it.”
“Now I must fashion my wedding gown,” she said. She had carefully put. aside some of the most beautiful and fragrant of the flowers she had gathered. Breaking off a low-hanging branch of a purau tree, she stripped off’ a long segment of the smooth bark, and with her teeth reduced it to slender threads upon which the flowers were to be strung. She worked swiftly, deftly, choosing as though by instinct the various shapes and colors of flowers to be woven in beautiful and harmonious patterns. She fashioned only two: a charming wreath for her hair, and a necklace to fall over her bosom. The work was soon finished and she hung her ornaments from the branch of a tree, in the deep shade. When she looked again toward the sun it had just disappeared behind the mountain.
“I can go now,” she said. “We shall remain in the cavern only until the light begins to fade. You are to wait here until I call. Turn your back. You are not to look toward the lake until you hear my voice.”
Maui did so. He heard the light splash as Hina entered the water. He turned when she called. “Come now,” she said, and dived toward the entrance to the cavern. On the beach before him lay the little girdle she had worn, decorated with the design of breadfruit leaves.
As Maui entered the cavern Hina was seated on the ledge as before, her hands clasped around her knees, but now the shaft of sunlight coming through the opening in the roof fell directly upon her so that her body was clearly revealed in golden light. As Maui swam toward her she rose and stood awaiting him with her hands clasped behind her head. When he stood before her she laid her hands lightly upon his shoulders.
“This is our wedding chamber,” she said, “and now is the moment of our marriage. ... I, Hina, granddaughter of Vaitangi, take you, Maui, for my husband, for this day and this night, and for the days and nights to come, if our lives are spared. Now speak your turn.”
Then Maui laid his hands upon her shoulders and said: “I, Maui, son of Téaro, take you, Hina, formy beloved wife, for this day and this night and for all the years of our lives, for it is the purpose of Tané that, this marriage shall be a blessing not only to ourselves but to our descendants for generations to come.”
Maui would have slipped his arms around her but Hina prevented him. “This is the place of our marriage, not of our union,” she said. “Get your coral pebble. We are to stay here no longer.“
Maui fetched it and placed it in her outstretched palm. She held it in the shaft of sunlight and it glowed with a golden radiance as though it were a small sun in itself. “It is no common stone,” Hina said, in an awestruck voice.
“It is a gift from Tané himself; it must be,” Maui replied. “It is to be a symbol of our love and of our lives together.”
“You must take it with you, Maui.”
She dived into the pool and passed through the entrance to the lake, Maui following. When they reached the beach, Hina took him by the shoulders and pushed him down. “Sit here until I am ready,” she said. Maui watched as she went into the sun-flecked shade at the upper slope of the beach. Sunlight and shadow dappled her slim naked body, moving caressingly over it as she knelt by the couch she had made, smoothing it with her hands and giving it a few last touches. She sat back on her heels, regarding it for a moment; then rose and went to the tree where she had hung her ornaments of flowers. She pressed the wreath down over her hair, passed the necklace twice around her throat so that it hung just above her bosom. Having donned this simple wedding gown she came into the full sunlight and halted before her lover. In silence she held out her hand and Maui placed the pebble in it. Taking up his clothing, she folded it neatly and carried it up the beach, laying the pebble upon it. Then she returned to him.
“Now you may take me,“ she said.
He lifted her eagerly and carried her up the beach.
“Oh, my Maui! My darling!“ she said in a low voice as he placed her upon the couch.
NEAR midday one of the men on lookout at the high place in the mountains came running down the path to the assembly ground. The people working in the valley, seeing him, and guessing from the speed at which he ran that he brought unusual news, called out to him as he passed; but he gave no heed. He found Tuahu and Rata sitting in the shade before the council house. The man halted before them, breathing hard, “Where is Maui;“ lie asked.
“With the ships,” Tuahu replied. “What has happened? ”
“The war fleet! They arc returning!”
“Send for Maui at once!" Rata said.
Glancing inland, Tuahu saw another man from the lookout on the headland to the north running down the path which led to the valley. “Wait!” he said. The man soon reached them. “The war fleet . . .” “ We know,” Tuahu interrupted. “How many ships;” “Three,” the man replied. “One — Punka’s great ship—has left the others and is headed this way.”
“Send at once for Maui,” Rata repeated.
“No, Rata,” Tuahu said. “We must send him word but beg him to stay where he is.”
“With Puaka himself coming here?”
“For that reason, Tuahu replied. “We can make an excuse for Maui’s absence. Remember this, Puaka doesn‘t know that Téaro is dead. He will ask for him, not Maui.“
“We must decide at once what is to be done,” Rata said. “There is not a moment to lose.”
Nor was there. While the chiefs were talking, Punka‘s ship, the largest of the war fleet, appeared from behind a headland to the northeast, not more than eight miles distant. There was no wind that morning and the men were paddling. Even at that distance the rhythmical flashes of the paddles in the sunlight could be plainly seen. A man was immediately sent to inform Maui, and to urge that he remain there until Later news could be sent.
Rata and the other chiefs were deeply concerned, for there were no more than one hundred people in the Tongan valley at that time, all others being with Maui. ’The chiefs made haste to put on their ceremonial robes, and I he people were ordered to come near the entrance of the valley so that it would appear to have its customary number of inhabitants. And they were to retire gradually inland as far as the assembly ground if it appeared that Puaka would go to the council house. During Punka’s rare visits to the Tongan valley, he had scarcely glanced at any of the ariki save Téaro, Rata, Maui, and Métua. It was therefore hastily and fearfully decided that some of the old men of the raatira class—the yeomen still in the village, should don the robes of the missing chiefs, so that it might appear that the full council of the ariki were present to greet Puaka. ’This was a dangerous subterfuge but the risk had to be taken.
Rata standing in front, the others on either side, they wailed the approach of Puaka’s canoe. It was eighty feet long, with lighting platforms fore and aft and a smaller one amidships where Puaka himself stood in the midst of battle; it was also his honored place during the voyages; and when returning home from the expeditions against their enemies, a small house would be erected on this platform for his comfort. Rut now the platform was bare; the great fighting ship had been battered by wind and sea, and by enemies of the Koros as well. One mast was gone and the gunwales were splintered in places as though hacked by clubs and spears and damaged by stone missiles. Puaka’s battle dress was torn and frayed, and the plumes of his great war helmet were in a sorry state. The ship lacked its full complement of one hundred and twenty fighting men; there were not more than eighty in the vessel, which was brought into the shallows broadside to the beach.
Rata stood at the water’s edge, facing Puaka, who remained seated on his platform.
Rata was about to make a formal address of welcome. “Puaka, high priest, of Koro,” he began, bul the priest interrupted him.
“Héré mai,” he thundered in a harsh voice, making a beckoning gesture, “Haéré mai, outou! − Come, all of you!“ The little company of Tongan chiefs, real and supposed, waded into the water until they stood, shoulder-deep, a short distance from the ship; and Paoto, who was of short stature, was submerged to his neck. Then Puaka rose from his seat and stood regarding them with a hostile glare.
“Where is Téaro?” he demanded, and as no one replied, he repeated, in a voice of thunder, “Where is your high chief? Why has he not come to meet me?”
Then Rata said: “Our high chief has been killed ... in an accident. He fell from a cliff.”
Puaka‘s warriors looked from him to the Tongan chiefs, standing abjectly in the water. The priest’s eyes gleamed balefully as Rata spoke.
“Dead? Good!” he replied, with an evil smile. “Do you know why he is dead, you worshipers of Tané? Because it was the will of Koro that he should die. He has been punished as you shall all be punished. Who now’ stands in his place?”
There was no reply, and, with a black scowl, Puaka said: “Will you answer me? Who is now the leader of your people?”
“Myself,” Rata replied, in a low voice.
“You are now high chief of the Tongans?” Puaka asked. “ You have been appointed in Tearo’s room?”
Rata hesitated and then shook his head. “No; it is Team’s son, Maui. I act for him only, in coming to greet you, and make you welcome.”
“Maui?” replied Puaka, his eyes gleaming with pleasure. “Maui? . . . Then why has he not come to welcome me?”
“He is fishing, at sea,” Rata, replied. “He has been gone since early morning.”
Puaka turned to scan the empty horizon, and the forbidding scowl deepened once more. “Where is your priest?” he then demanded. “Why is he not here?”
“At the temple,” Rata replied, “He does not know that you have come. It w as only a few moments ago that we ourselves saw your ship approaching.”
Puaka said: “Fetch him to me.” Rata glanced at Paoto, who was about to wade ashore to send a messenger for Melon, when Puaka said, “No! Stand where you are!”
The priest reflected for a moment, elbows on his knees, looking at his two huge hands which he clasped and unclasped slowly; then he glanced at Rata.
“I shall stay here no longer,” he said. “Tell this to your priest. Seven days from this day, Maui is to come to me. He is to come alone. If he fails to come, he shall be sent for; and a black day that will be for you worshipers of the god of peace.” Puaka then ordered his paddlers to proceed. Looking back toward Rata, he said: “Stand where you are, you chiefs of the Tongans, until my ship is beyond the pass.”
No greater humiliation could have been offered than that which Puaka had forced upon the chiefs: making them stand shoulder-deep in the lagoon before his ship and keeping them there after his departure. Never before had they suffered such an indignity, but they submitted to it knowing that their fortunes and their lives depended upon the events of the next few days.
It was agreed among the chiefs that the people should not be told that Maui was to go to the Koro valley on the seventh day, lest it increase the fear already in their hearts. As for Maui, he worked day and night upon the hist, ship, Te-Ava-Roa, with the others assigned to this task. One of the twin hulls had been only half shaped and hollowed, nor were the great crossbeams ready which were to bind the hulls together. The men worked in shifts; not a moment was lost; even so, Maui’s hope, that they might sail on the night before he was ordered to meet Puaka, was not to be realized. Meanwhile, at night the beach was thronged with people, men, women, and children, carrying the last of their supplies from the village to the ships. They dared not work by day lest they should receive an unexpected visit from the Koros, nor did they use their canoes by night. All their sea stores were carried from the one valley to the other, the people keeping within the shadow of the trees along the upper slope of the beach. The pigs were led by the children, a tether to their legs and their snouts closed with strips of bark. But the greatest burden they carried in their hearts: fear of discovery before they could leave Kurapo; fear of pursuit if they should succeed in escaping.
Early on the evening of the sixth day Maui called his ships’ captains together. Their faces were grim, for they knew that Maui had been commanded to meet Puaka in the Koro village the following day.
Maui said: “You have worked harder and accomplished more than could have been expected; but Te-Ava-Roa is still unready for sea.”
Ma’o, who was to captain Te-Ava-Roa, said: “Maui, let this be done! Sail, you others who are ready. As you know, there is a hidden cove not a mile from here to the south. I can move my ship there this night, with those who are to go in her. We can lie concealed and complete the work on Te-Ava-Roa. The Koros will have no suspicion that a ship has been left behind. When ready, we can await our chance, slip out in the darkness and follow you.”
There was an immediate protest by the others at Ma’o’s suggestion, and Maui said: “No, Ma’o, we go together and tomorrow night is the time of our going. This you can and must do, you others. Work the night through and the whole of tomorrow and Te-Ava-Roa can be at least fit for sailing. What remains to be done can be done at sea.”
“ What of yourself, Maui?” Faanui asked. “You will go to meet Puaka?”
“I must,” Maui replied. “If I failed to go I would be sent for and everything would be lost.”
“You will never return,” Tavaké said in a heartsick voice.
“That is far from certain,” Maui replied quietly; “but if it should happen so, it will not be the first time that a high chief of the Tongans has been lost. Say no more of this but think only of the safety of our people. In all of our history Tané has never failed to send a favoring wind at the time of our departure from whatever land, nor will he fail us now. Leave well before midnight, so that you may be far beyond the horizon before day comes.“
“And you, Maui?” Marama asked.
“ Ru has my instructions,” Maui replied. “My ship will be the last ship to leave, Ru will wait for me until midnight. If I have not returned by that time he will follow you.”
Ru, Taio’s youngest son, was the steersman and second-in-command of Maui’s ship.
Then this brief meeting ended and the men returned to their work, most of them fearing that they had seen Maui for the last time. Ru remained with him, and they returned to the village and took the path to the temple of Tané. It was full night when they came back there. Ru remained at the priest’s dwelling while Maui went with Métua into the temple grounds. The casket where the sacred stones were kept stood on the altar. The priest took from it the golden coral pebble which Maui had brought from the cavern at the lake, It was now enclosed in a net of strong fiber, the color of t he stone itself. Metua hung it around Maui‘s neck.
“I am to wear it, yonder?” Maui asked.
The priest nodded. “It has lain in the casket with the sacred stones of Tané, which have been handled by our ancestors for more than twenty generations. Maui, the spirit — the mana — of the noblest Tongans has gone into the golden pebble which you wear. Be worthy of them. I know you will.” The priest then embraced him. “Go, now, he said, “and may the grace of Tané go with you.“
Dawn was at hand when Maui reached the place where the path began its steep descent to the valley. There he turned off the main path and followed one less frequented and farther from the river. He was not dressed in the robes of the high chief of the Tongans but in the simple costume of his daily wear, consisting of a mat and a small mantle of white tapa thrown across one shoulder. In stature and build, he might easily have been mistaken for one of Puaka‘s young warriors and was, evidently, so mistaken by those he passed. Maui hoped to roach the dwelling of Vaitangi before his presence in the valley was known, and he succeeded. A servant led him into the large room that occupied the main part of the house.
Maui was shocked at the change that had taken place in the old chief since he had last seen him. The flesh hung loosely on his huge frame, and on his face was the ashy pallor of death. His eyes, deeply sunk in their sockets, stared dully at the mat before him. He was not aware of Maui s presence until the latter said, “ Vaitangi, I have come to greet you. I am maui, son of Téaro.”
The old man glanced up, and a barely perceptible frown wrinkled the withered skin of his brow, but he gave no sign of recognition. Seeing that the effort was hopeless, Maui beckoned to the servant who had ushered him into the room. “Send word to Puaka that Maui, high chief of the Tongans, is awaiting him here,” he said. The servant hesitated, gave him a frightened look, and departed.
Maui vainly questioned the women servants who stood in a distant part of the room; they merely stared without replying. Two left the room, but one remained. Maui took this woman by the shoulder and demanded, sternly: Mill you tell me where Hina is? No one shall know that you have spoken.”
In a low voice scarcely above a whisper, the woman replied: “At the House of the Virgins. She may come presently. Then she too followed the others, leaving Maui alone with the old chief.
He went to the door and looked out on the assembly ground. which was thronged with people, for the sports and games in honor of Uri’s coming marriage were already in progress. The chiefs were seated in a pavilion on the opposite side of the ground, watching the contestants. A moment later Maui saw Puaka come from the place and stride toward Yaitangi’s dwelling, the people making way before him. lie was followed by his nephew Uri.
As Puaka entered he halted to gaze at Maui. He made a bow of mock courtesy. “ Welcome to the son of Téaro, high chief of the Tongans, he said. “ You should have let me know when to expect you so that you might have been received with ceremony.’
Maui made no reply.
“My nephew has come to greet you as well,” Puaka said. “He has not forgotten your boyhood friendship.”
Uri was now in his twenty-first year. He was of about Maui’s height, but heavier in build, He regarded his old enemy with the same look of insolent pride as that shown at the time of their first meeting. He turned to his uncle. “Is he to stand before us as though in the presence of equals?” he asked.
“Kneel to my nephew!” Puaka commanded.
Maui stood with his arms folded, looking full into Uri‘s face.
“Did you hear me? Kneel!” the priest repeated; and, as Maui made no motion to obey, Puaka struck him a blow in the chest that, sent him sprawling. Maui was no match in strength for the giant priest of Koro, but his spirit was unconquerable, He got to his feet, and, as he still refused to kneel, Puaka struck him a second time, on the head, a
blow that knocked him senseless.
(To be concluded)