Alfred A Grace.

Tales of a dying race online

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pointed to Panapa ' tried to stop the lot of 'em.'

6 The deuce you did !'

4 We did ; and the Maori got hit. Let some of your
men help me to carry him to the boat.'

' You were the men that fired on the cutter's people ?'

* They fired on us. I'll explain fully when the doctor
has seen this man.'

' MacDougall, you're wanted here,' called the officer,
and a man who was bending over Scuppers came up the
beach.

4 That one's done for,' he said, pointing back at Scuppers.
' The bullet severed the brachial artery died in about
three minutes. H'm ' he had hold of Panapa's arm * I



THE SKIPPER OF THE GOOD INTENT 163

shall need a hand here. Hold his arm so, my man.'
Demorest held it. ' That's it, just it.'

The doctor put a pad of lint to the palm, and another
to the back of the wounded hand, which he bandaged up
tight and put comfortably in a sling.
6 Now get him to the boat,' he said.
' We came down the coast to look for two men named
Layard and Demorest,' said the officer. ' They're thought
to be collared by Maoris. We stopped the cutter for
news, but the beggar turned and bolted. Do you know
anything of them ?'

6 I'm one of the men,' said Demorest. ' Layard was
murdered at Awatapu yesterday, but that man' he
pointed to Panapa, whom the tars were supporting to the
boat ' that Maori saved me.'

' The deuce he did ! You'd better come aboard too,'
said the officer, looking at the torn and muck-stained
clothes of Demorest. ' I'll give you a clean rig-out.'
They walked down the beach together.
'But what had this fellow to do with it?' the officer
asked, pausing by Scuppers' body.

' He was accessory before and after the fact.'
' Did you hit him ?'
' Yes. He hit the Maori.'

' Well, he got his deserts. You saved us the trouble ol
dealing with him had we caught him. All that's left is
to bury him.'

*****
They were seated in the sick-bay Demorest and the
doctor. Panapa lay in a clean white cot, a thing he had
never done before.

'No,' said the doctor, 'there's not the least danger to
the arm, but the hand '11 go stiff. See here ! The bullet



164 TALES OF A DYING RACE

struck the back of the hand here, and came through there,
mushrooming against the barrel. Of course, that has
messed things up a bit, but he'll be all right in a week or
two, bless you ! He's a fine fellow ! He proved himself a
brick to you. 1

6 1 think I have a smoke, boss,' said Panapa.

' All right, my man, I've no objection it'll ease the
action of the heart ; but, mind you, no wai piro. You
mustn't touch that."*

' Oh no ! I no trinkee t'e wai piro ! I trinkee t'e tea.
My korry !' The lighted pipe was between his teeth. 4 1
t'ink t'e pakeha toctor clever feller ; but t'e topacca that
best. T'e pakeha pring two good thing to the Maori : he
pring a werry good JcaraJcia, and he pring plenty good
topacca. My korry !'

And the wreaths of smoke circled up to the cabin
ceiling.



THE KING'S NGERENGERE

KAREPA waded to the further side of the river and stuck a
bit of dry stick upright in the bank. Then he turned and
smiled. Karepa's smile was something to remember.

' That my tuaahuj he said. ' Now I makee t'e karakia
to frighten away t'e bad taipo all of fern. I show you
the old tikanga of fe Maori.'

Hot, tired and thirsty, after travelling through ten miles
of ' bush,' Karepa, Henderson and I had struck the coach-
road where it fords the Wai Totara River.

Naturally, we bathed. The water barely reached our
waists, but we lay down in it, wallowed in it, and splashed
it over our bodies. The last action must have given
Karepa his idea.

Putting on an expression of mock gravity, he muttered
an incantation. Then he tossed the water over his left
shoulder, and said :

' You go on you go to Hauraki.'

Then he repeated another incantation, tossed water over
his right shoulder, and said :

' You go to the Mokau ; you 'top there.'

His third incantation was longer than the others. With
both hands he tossed water over his head.

' Now you clear out altogetter,' he said. ' You go to
allasame t'e pakeha call hell !'

It was quaint to notice Henderson's paper-white skin



166 TALES OF A DYING RACE

contrasting with the dark walnut of Karepa. But the
Maori suddenly sat down and covered himself with water.
When he reappeared he said :

' That right. Now the makutu, or the ngerengere, or
what you call, all gone. I feel a werry good man. That
the old Maori tikanga. We use him plenty time.'

He climbed up the bank and put on his clothes, whilst
we remained in the water.

6 1 had enough,' he said. c Now I go makee t'e haiS

' Good man !' called Henderson as he, too, waded across
the stream. ' I'm peckish as well. Come out of that, you
wretched second-rate journalist, and feed.'

There was bread, two pigeons which Karepa had shot in
the * bush,' hard-boiled eggs, and tea. We sat under a big
totara, and ate.

' That business of Karepa's in the river,' said Hender-
son, ' reminds me of Tawhiao's ngerengere. My Gad ! it
was a circus !'

' Hand the billy over here.'

' He was the Maori King, you know some pumpkins,
I can tell you ! and went to England to see Queen
Wikitoria about some land trouble.

' There was the King ; a chief called Patara ; another,
Te Wheoro, who could speak a little English. I forget
the third but, any way the King had a bad time.

' Kimberley was Colonial Secretary. He told the King
to go back and put his trouble before the Government here
it was nothing to do with Downing Street. The King
couldn't see Wikitoria on any account, not if he presented
fifty greenstone mere and a hundred kiwi mats.

6 Tawhiao couldn't understand. He knew that Wiki-
toria was a big rangatira, but so was he. He wasn't eaten
up with pride, but he thought they might have a korero



THE KING'S NGERENGERE 167

together. But it was no go. The British Government is
dunderheaded. Are you listening ?'

' Yes. It's first-rate ; but when are we coming to the
yarn ?'

' Yarn be blowed ! this is the yarn. Pass me some
bread no, not with your fingers. Here, take my sheath-
knife. 1

' There you are. Fire away !'

' The King put it all down to occult influences which
were working against him ; he became pouri ; he thought
he had ngerengere.

' Of all the awful things in this life, ngerengere about
takes the cake. Talk of the bubonic plague '

' Hold on T said Karepa. ' I makee t'e talk. I know
when Tawhiao went to see Wikitoria. You think it
pecause his mana no good. That not it. The King
break his tapu aboard a ship, and then ewerryt'ing go
wrong wit 1 him. Never mind Governor, Premier, Sec'e-
tary. They think they keep Tawhiao off from Wikitoria,
but all fe Governor and Premier in Noo Seelan 1 and
Ingarangi not stop the King, if his tapu all right.

' But how was it broken T

' I make-a-talk, 1 said Karepa, with half a pigeon in one
hand and his pannikin in the other. ' On board a ship
were all sort plenty waiter-men taurekareka, ewerryone
to bring food for the King and t'e chiefs. These men
not see t'e mana belonga Tawhiao ; they not see the
proper tikanga to use wit" so bik man ; they not see how
werry tapu he was. They pring his kai, potato, chop,
allasame as to ewerrypody on board a-that ship.

4 One stooard was werry bad man worse of all. He
stand pehind when t'e King eat. He play t'e tewil. But,
worse of all, he carry t'e kai pehind the King, and put it



168 TALES OF A DYING RACE

ofer his shoulder. He touch Tawhiao ; the ship gif a bik
roll he spill t'e kai ofer the King. That make Tawhiao
feel bad he know all about it an 1 when he get to Inga-
rangi, he no got a bit of tapu left. Ewerryt'ing go wrong
wit 1 him.'

' Have it how you like this is my yarn,' said Hender-
son. ' The old boy came down to me in his distress. I
was living in a little village, twenty miles out of London.
He said he was ngerengere leprous. But I couldn't see
anything wrong with him. When I told him so, he
pointed to his eyebrows, and said they had come out.
That was a sign the disease was working.'

6 1 don' know,' said Karepa. ' I t'ink he tell you some-
thin' make-a-talk.'

' Anyhow, that's what he said.'

' I know. He tell you, and you say : " Ah, that good
talk." But he no tell t'e trut'. He no tell t'e pdkeha
too much. 1

' Am I going to tell the yarn, or are you going to take
it in hand yourself?'

' I tell t'e Tcauwhau t'e good old talk. I tell t'e korero
pono t'e true talk ; I talk of Maui, Ngahue, all t'e bik
men ; I no talkee t'e lie, t'e Jcorero taraC The old man's
eyes twinkled. ' You makee t'e talk, makee t'e finish. I
smokee t'e pipe.'

6 Right,' said Henderson, taking his plug from his
pocket and throwing it across to Karepa. ' It's a bargain
you don't open your mouth till I've done.'

' That it. You makee t'e talk, I makee t'e smoke. I
like that way.'

Henderson paused, to test the old man's words, and
Karepa filled his pipe in perfect silence.

' Our housemaid called herself Themia ; the cook was



THE KING'S NGERENGERE 169

plain Jane. Both were callow country girls, with a whole-
some horror of black men.

' I explained to them the nature of our expected
visitors. " In the country where I come from,"" I said,
" the natives are a very superior people. They have been
called the noblest savages in the world. It's true they
sometimes tattoo their faces, and some folks object to the
habit. But you needn't be frightened ; these that are
coming here are the King and three of the biggest chiefs.
Of course you'll treat them just as if they were white
people, like you and me.

' The girls left the room as if they'd been sentenced to
five years each, and had a confab in the kitchen.'

' But how about the wisdom of taking a prospective
leper into your family ?'

' I never mentioned that. I didn't know it till he
arrived, and then I thought the old boy's superstitions had
misled him.

6 1 met them at the railway-station. There was no
sensation. First came the King and I, then two of the
chiefs, and last the third chief and the interpreter who
had piloted them down. They were dressed a la pakeha,
in the height of the fashion black coats and tall hats.

* When we turned into the High Street we were joined
by three small school- children, two boozers from the Swan
Inn, the butcher's boy, old Mr. Tracey the grocer, who
took an interest in missions to the heathen, Miss De Vine,
daughter of the Lord of the Manor, in her pony-carriage,
and half a dozen dogs.

'The King stopped at Ibbotson's clothing-shop ; he
wanted to buy something, he said. Like a well-bred
Maori, he took no notice of the stir he was causing, but
walked straight into the shop and took off his coat.



170 TALES OF A DYING RACE

' He wanted a woollen vest. But he was hard to please,
and the whole shop had to be turned upside down before
he was suited. He chose a thick white jersey, tried it on
over his waistcoat, and paid down his money like a white
man.

' Now, the old chief who had come along behind was a
devil. The humour of the situation seemed to tickle him,
and while we were in the shop he pukanad at the crowd
outside. You know what that is. It seemed pretty
funny to him and the interpreter, but one young girl had
hysterics and Miss De Vine's horse shied. 1

Karepa, who was following the yarn, recognised the word
puJcana, and gave a performance by way of illustration.
He rolled his eyes till only the whites of them showed ; he
lolled his tongue with the air of a semi-idiot ; he danced
a few unmeaning steps ; then he rushed upon us with an
unearthly howl, and snatched at us with his long bony
hands.

' Yes,' said Henderson, ' that was something like it, but
he had more tattoo than you. He looked ever such a
demon.'

Karepa sat down, relit his pipe, and remarked :

< That frighten Ve pakeha, I t'ink.'

' ' It made the village constable want to arrest the old
chief there and then, but I took the fellow aside. " Look
here, Coster,' 1 I said, " be lenient. The man doesn't mean
anything ; that's a form of greeting in his country "
which is quite true ; Karepa will bear me out. " I'll be
responsible for him ; I'll see he behaves." I put half a
crown into Coster's hand. "Be lenient," I said "be
lenient."

' The effect was magical.

Stand back there!"' cried Coster, with a majestic wave



4 U



THE KING'S NGERENGERE 171

of his hand the one that held the half-crown ; "give the
gentleman room. Jimmy Philmore " to the butchers boy
" now you go on. They've been waiting for that there
sirloin at the doctor's this 'arf-hour. Stand out of the
way there an' let these gen'lemen pass."

' We marched off triumphant, the King carrying the
jersey over his arm, and half the village following.

' Euphemia opened the front-door. She never said any-
thing, but she looked as if she was witnessing a scene in
" Deadwood Dick tortured by Indians," or " The Apache
Squaw," or " The King of the Cannibals."

' We had dinner, but it was a tame affair. The King
wouldn't eat, and the chiefs didn't seem to have much
appetite, but the man who had done the pukana business
drank any quantity of beer.

' That night we had a circus.

4 Before sundown the King got me to take him to the
river. " What he wants," said the interpreter, " is a bit of
running water with a pebble bottom where he can do his
ablutions, and say his karakia and put up a tuaahu"

' The difficulty was that all the streams around there
had mud bottoms. But I took them to a place where the
river had been gravelled for a ford. That suited fine.

* We sat in the smoking-room till midnight.

' The King hardly spoke at all. He simply said that
when he had done the proper karakia he would get rid of his
disease. " But," I said to the interpreter, " I see nothing
wrong with him. I know a few of the symptoms brown-
ish spots, swelling of the lobes of the ears. He has nothing
of that sort. What if his eyebrows are coming out ?"

6 "I diagnose the case as one of megrims," said the
interpreter. " He's got a sort of melancholy, a sort of
home-sickness, and he don't know what it is. Naturally



172 TALES OF A DYING RACE

he believes it must be a touch of the evil-eye, but he says
it's ngerengere. That's a Maori way. A Maori's very
secret about his superstitions. He'll be all right when he's
put up his altar and said his prayers." '

' That's what the interpreter said ?' It was I who spoke.
6 It's about as clear as mud ; but go on.'

' You're darned complimentary.'

' It was the interpreter I was referring to. You're clear
enough, of course.'

Here Henderson seemed to be rapt in meditation ; but
after due thought he said :

' Oh, well, all right. At midnight the King got up and
asked the chiefs to follow him. They all went out. The
interpreter and I weren't asked to go we weren't wanted.

( But I went down to the gate to see 'em off. They were
as gloomy as a funeral.

' They hadn't gone a hundred yards when a figure rose
from the ditch on the other side of the road, where the
elm-trees grew.

' It was Coster he'd been watching the house.

'"I'm not comfor'ble about them furriners o' yours,
Muster Henderson," he says. " They're arter suthin'. I'm
not easy."

' There was no sense in explaining Coster would never
understand about karakia, or makutu, or ngerengere.

6 " Come in and have a drink," I said.

' " Nary a drop," he says. " Dooty's dooty, and my
dooty's to see what them black chaps is up to. I left 'em
in your charge, an' you let 'em off of the chain like this !
I'm disapp'inted, Muster Henderson, most disapp'inted.
But I wish you good-night."

4 " Hold on, Coster !" I said. " I'll come with you. I
know exactly where they've gone."



THE KING'S NGERENGERE 173

6 The Maoris went by the road, but we cut across the
fields and got to the ford first. We crossed by a foot-
bridge, and hid behind some bushes on the further side.
Five minutes later the Maoris came down to the river, and
did a lot of subdued talking on the other side. Then the
three chiefs retired behind a hedge, and the King was left
alone.

' The old boy put his tall hat on the grass, took off his
clothes, and got into the water.

'There was a polled willow growing on our side of
the river, and he waded across to this and pulled off two
or three wands, and stuck them into the bank. Then he
got back into the river and began his karakia.

4 It was the weirdest sort of picnic, with Coster's teeth
chattering with fright and the King saying his mournful
prayers in the water, and the three chiefs ready to stoush
us if they knew we were there.

6 But the first karakia was got through safely, and the
King splashed the water about, as Karepa did. Then he
began to karakia again. Altogether, he dismissed the evil
spirits to about seven places, and then he got right down
into the water.

'After that he went back to the other bank, and
put on the new jersey and the rest of his clothes. The
chiefs came down to him, and without a word they all
walked off.

6 " Come, Coster, 11 I said, " that finishes the programme.
I must get back in time to let them in."

4 " And this, 11 said Coster, recovered from his fright now
that the Maoris had gone, "is the mumbo-jumbo nonsense
that is to keep a man out of his bed arter midnight an 1
in a Christian country, too. An 1 a genleman like you
countenances such goings on. Fm disapp'inted !"



174 TALES OF A DYING RACE

' And no doubt he was. I left him without giving him
a further tip that was what he was looking out for and
got back in time to open the front-door for the King, just
as if nothing had happened. The old boy nearly shook nvy
hand off.

' I said, " You've had a good time ?" but he wouldn't
speak. I offered him some supper, but he shook his head.
I took him up to his bedroom, but he wouldn't sleep in
anything half so comfortable.

He went down into the smoking-room with never a
word, pushed the table into a corner, and motioned me to
go away. Evidently, if he spoke he would break the
spell.

'Next morning Euphemia got up at half-past six, as
usual. One of the first things she did was to go into the
smoking-room to let out the fumes of the previous night's
tobacco. The room was dark, but she made her way to
the French window without accident, and opened it wide.
In rushed the cool air as she stood contemplating the
morning. Then she turned to go into the kitchen for her
early cup of tea.

' She'd got into the middle of the smoking-room, when
she saw under the table something which made her pause.
The King, naked but for the tablecloth round his middle,
was kneeling on the floor beneath the table, from under
which he poked his diabolical, tattooed face. The girl
gave a frightened squeak and stood trembling.

' The King got up, and said in his own lingo that he
felt much better, that he was quite cured, thanks to her
and me and everyone in the house. He laid a kindly
hand on her arm.

' She screamed with all her might, and bolted from the
room.



THE KING'S NGERENGERE 175

' Hearing the noise, I hurried downstairs, and found
Euphemia fainting on the bottom step.

' When I went to the King, he was sitting on the top
of the table, chuckling to himself as he sorted out his
pakeha clothes. He was quite cured, he said, and would
always thank me for showing him a suitable place where
he could set up his tuaahu and perform his rites. The
ngerengere was all gone.

' But the servants took it in bad part. They voted the
whole business disreputable. " We're accustomed to live
respectable," said the cook, "and not along of black
persons that walk about naked, and sleep naked under
tables. You may call such folks Kings, you may call
'em the Emperor of Chiny, the Sultan of Turkey, or what
you likes we call 'em ^eathen savages"

4 Euphemia was indignation personified. " I never come
here to be laid hands on," she said. " When I do forget
myself, I 'ope it won't be with such as 'im. I should 'ope
not. I didn't take your money to be drove into hysterics
by savages with carved faces. You may be accustomed to
such you comes from where such goings-on is common.
I give you a month's warning."

' It was the end of our domestic comfort. Never a girl
would come near us, we lost caste in the village, and a sort
of social boycott set in. But we had the consolation of
knowing that the King's ngerengere was quite cured ; I,
personally, had the satisfaction of having witnessed the
only occult Maori rite performed in England.'

Karepa was awake again, and sat smoking.

' All that tapu too much bother,' he said. ' I take t'e
tapu off all my picaninny. I take it off all my taonga,
cup, plate, knife, mat, ewerryt'ing. I make it allasame as
the pakeha. Too much t'e tapu too much t'e karakia.



176 TALES OF A DYING RACE

The man wit 1 t'e mdkutu, wit 1 fe spell, no frighten me
now ; I allasame as fe pakeha." 1

Henderson took out his flask and offered me a ' nip.'

' Thanks, 1 I said ; ' but if we are going to camp here
for the night, isn't it time we pitched the tent? You,
Karepa, being a man with no tapu and no mana to speak
of, may take the tomahawk and cut some tent-poles. 1

The Maori laughed.

4 That werry good way to make the Maori work, 1 he
said ; ' but I fe pakeha now I want tfe utu, t'e pay.
You gif me t'e wai piro too, and I cut fe tent-pole. 1

But without waiting to get his 'nip, 1 he disappeared,
smiling, into the ' bush. 1



PUTANGITANGI AND THE MAERO

HOROWHENUA loved hunting, but he loved Putangitangi
more. Putangi 1 loved Horo', but not as she loved her
own personal adornment. She was young and merry, and
longed for boars' tusks, which Horowhenua must procure,
or well, PutangT had many other admirers to whom she
might apply.

So Horo' gladly hunted.

With dogs and spear he went bravely from the pa, and
the deep and tangled forest swallowed him up; and
PutangT went to bathe with a company of girls.

*****

Horo's was a great hunting. By the afternoon he had
killed three huge tuskers, and, with his dogs, lay panting
in a little fern-clad gully beside the last and biggest boar
he had slain.

' Hah !' he said, apostrophizing this latest victim of his
prowess, you thought yourself strong you thought you
could rip me with your tusks. And now you lie dead ;
your tusks will be made into cloak-pins by PutangT, and
we will roast you at the kauta fire. My fleet foot, my
sharp spear, my strong arm '

But a rustling amongst the trees behind him broke off
his vaunting.

For one brief moment Horo 1 thought another boar

12



178 TALES OF A DYING RACE

threatened him, but the apprehension was almost instantly
changed into a deep and thrilling dread.

Imagine a monster with head, body, and legs like a
Maori's, with arms eight or ten feet long, bristling with
sharp and deadly talons half as long again, and you
possess some impression of the Macro. Imagine this
awful creature rushing unexpectedly upon you from the
depth of the silent forest, and you can realize Horowhenua's
terror.

The hunter became the hunted. Down the gully Horo'
fled ; after him, with claws extended, sped the Maero.
But a man who can outrun wild-pigs is not easily over-
taken. The overhanging boughs and tangled undergrowth
caught the Macro's long arms and impeded his course ;
but his stride was long, and Hero' was tired with much
hunting. Thrice the terror of the woods was close upon
the Maori, thrice the outstretched talons almost had him
in their grasp, but each time Horo' dodged, and eluded
capture.

At last the rippling of a creek was heard. Horo'
rushed madly on, sprang into the water, and gained the
further bank. But the Maero paused. Down the left
bank sped the Maori, and the Maero followed along the
right, all in the twilight, till night fell. Then Horo'
doubled on his track, struck into the forest, and escaped.



By the pale light of the moon a terror-stricken Maori
entered the pa^ and beside the red light of the kauta fire
told his weird tale of how nearly he had been caught by
the dreaded Maero.

Putangi 1 listened, lost in admiration for her lover's
bravery and melting with sympathy for the terrors he had



PUTANGITANGI AND THE MAERO 179

suffered. She would forego the desired tusks ; she would
marry him when he pleased. You can imagine how soon
that was. So Horo' quickly had such comfort as effectually
drove away the haunting nightmare of the awful monster
of the forest. But there was no honeymoon.

Next day a band of toi went to hunt the Macro, Horo 1
at their head.

Now, PutangT was inquisitive, as all brides should be,
and desired to see the dead carcase of the horrible brute
which had nearly deprived her of her husband. Therefore,
contrary to all instructions, she stealthily followed close on


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