Ahuahu mentioned to Ahu that he wanted to know how Hi’ilei his old friend and fellow fisherman from the Gannet Island village was faring. Ahu was not sure that she wanted to go back to that village even just to visit but she wanted him to go despite her feeling that they had used them both unfairly. She had no desire to see her cousins and aunts as they represented her unhappy childhood after she had lost her parents.
Ahu was indeed very happy now at Black Sands and loved Hoata like a sister. Their babies who were of the same age were well over a year old and were tottering around on their own two feet, and under everybody elses.
Kamaka’s elder daughter Hatiti had now been promised in marriage to a young man in the village and this had upset Hinewai who also wanted to be married. Hatiti was the most sensible daughter and quieter when she and Hinewai were apart. Hoata their step mother tried to talk to both girls about being good wives when they were married but Hinewai would make jokes all the time, saying what her husband would be like rather that how she would be.
Ahu would hear all the problems from Hoata when they were alone and wondered whether her daughters when she had them would be the same. She hoped she would be pregnant again soon as she looked at Tangaroa happily walking away from her in his unsteady steps.
Ahuahu went up to Gannet Island alone despite Hinewai having asked if she could go too. “Go get yourself a boyfriend” he said as he glared at her. Hinewai grinned a cheeky smile but turned away and thought perhaps Ahuahu might want a second wife soon if Ahu was to be pregnant again. She yearned for a real boyfriend or to be promised in marriage but no family wanted her as she was so silly.
When Ahuahu arrived at their former village it seemed very much the same and he paid his respects at the chiefs house, telling him he was there to see to see Hi’ilei. The chief nodded and said he would find Hi’ilei in his house. He approached Hi’ilei’s house and called out a greeting. Kiri, Hi’ilei wife came to the door and greeted him and rubbed noses.
“Enter, Hi’ilei is inside” she said.
“What? Is he not fishing?” Ahuahu responded.
Kiri, turned and shook her head sadly “He cannot fish any more” she whispered, then as they entered the house. “Hi’ilei, it is Ahuahu to see you.”
Hi’ilei looked up from his mat on the floor. He nodded with little enthusiasm and Ahuahu could see he was but a shadow of his former self and his eyes were dull. Clearly he would not get his usual punch on the arm nor would they be joking about who was the best fisherman.
“Sit, sit down’” Hi’ilei said. Ahuahu kneeled down beside him and then turned and offered a bead necklet to Kiri.
“Ahu, wishes to be remembered to you.” Kiri, with tears in her eyes, took the necklet, thanked him and turned away. “I shall be a little while, talk while I am gone.” She said as she left the hut.
Hi’ilei explained that he had tried to go fishing but his broken shoulder joint did not let him paddle strongly enough so he had to give it up. Ahuahu noticed that Hi’ilei had grown fatter and was much more languid. He was not as boisterous as in the old days, and seemed to tire easily and their conversation lapsed into silence often. As the day wore on Ahuahu signalled that he should get back to Black Sands. Normally as a welcome guest there would be protests and he would be offered to stay the night. But no offer came. Hi’ilei merely yawned and nodded.
As Ahuahu was leaving Hi’ilei said sadly, “You saved my life, do not think I am ungrateful, but it may have been better had I died at Rocky Outcrop and my children and people in the village would remember me with honour.”
Ahuahu returned sadly from the village to trek his way back through the forest to Black Sands. The light was fading and as he pushed his way through the undergrowth there was a snorting sound closely by followed by a squeal as a strange animal burst out of the bushes and headed for him. Standing his ground he raised his machete high and brought it down on the back of the neck of the animal as it attacked him. The animal squealed and collapsed at his feet. Ahuahu made sure it was dead and examined it closely. It was an animal he had never seen before, fat and good for eating he thought. It was a female and her teats showed that she had cubs.
He cut down some branches and tied the carcase with bark strips to the bier he had fashioned then dragged it through the wood. Just before he arrived back at his village he heard a squeaking sound and looking behind him saw some of the creature’s litter following her scent. He laughed for the first time that day. The village can have a feast and raise some more of these creatures for days to come he thought.
Ahu heard a commotion in the village. She raced out to see a crowd gathered around Ahuahu. The elders of the village poked at the corpse and agreed they would have a fine Hangi the next day. Meanwhile the children of the village including Hinewai were chasing the baby animals trying to catch one.
Ahu walked up to Ahuahu and they rubbed noses. She had a smile of love all over her face. “I thought you were a fisherman, where are its fins?”
Hangi – feast
Note: The creature was a pig – European explorers often released animals on islands in case future visitors needed to survive long periods before being rescued in event of shipwreck