The work on rebuilding the Black Sands village was now complete and despite the moans from the men that they had further to travel to get to their boats and go fishing they were secretly happy they were away from their wives for longer and the wives were happy that that their men were not always pestering them.
Ahu however was very happy; she had her little girl Hekehoru to look after and often she would be able to enjoy her by herself as Ahuahu would often take Tangaroa in the boat with him fishing. She knew she was probably the happiest woman in the village where she could enjoy her busy life during the day and also enjoy her husband at night.
Ahu and Hoata continued to do their work together tending the vegetable plot and one morning Hoata suggested they go up to see Hinewai at the Big River as they hadn’t heard from her for months. Even if they started early it would take them all day to walk there and give them time to get back home by evening, so they decided to go the following day.
Hoata had suggested to Hatiti that she come also to see her sister but she was not inclined to which Hoata thought was jealousy that Hinewai had married into a family with great wealth. Ahu however could see that she was in love with the rugged Kaihutu and liked working at the Hot Springs with him. Hatiti also took Ahu aside and put her hand on her tummy and just looked at her and then said “I have everything now I am happy here.”
Ahuahu was pleased that he would look after Tangaroa the next day and was glad he did not have to go to see Hinewai. Kamaka also agreed to take his and Hoata’s little boy Paikea who would play with Tangaroa.
The two women left soon after dawn and made their way at the foot of the escarpment where there was a track that avoided the forested area. It was not too warm and the women talked of many things. They ate the fruit they had taken with them and drank at the fast flowing streams they had to cross. Ahu’s baby Hekehoru slept nearly all the way in her sling with just a brief spell awake while she was fed at Ahu’s breast. Ahu handed her to Hoata while she washed at the nearby stream. When she returned Hoata was holding the baby with tenderness and looking up at Ahu said, “Why cannot I have another one?”
“Doesn’t Kamaka not want you all the time?”
“Not all the time.” There was a pause then she went on “Well not at all really”
“Does he comb your hair?” Again Hoata shook her head. Ahu then talked to her what she would do describing how she and Ahuahu would just touch gently and whisper to each other and pretend to bite the other one until they both would be so relaxed they just melted together.
“Won’t he think that strange?” asked Hoata.
“Not if you talk of vegetables, and of seeing a kiwi or how fast Paikea can run.”
Hoata laughed “I should come and listen at you hut but I would probably burst out laughing.”
With that the two women got up and continued their way to the big river. Their way took them over a large rounded hill and when they got to the top they saw the view below them and were amazed. It was a vista so vast that they could imagine that the whole world was spread out before them. From their vantage point they could see the silvery thread of the river and the clumps of trees and the little hillocks like islands standing up on the plain and the could the smoke of fires from the villages dotted about beneath them and they like the gods, looked down and counted the actions of the vulnerable people below.
The two women gasped at the sight and wondered how to tell their husbands who would surely think what they saw was a figment of their imagination.
“And Hinewai lives here?” said Ahu.
Hoata nodded. “We did not come this way when Hinewai was married. It is as though we have discovered some great secret. Let us get down into valley quickly before the gods see us trespassing in their domain."
As they made their way down the women agreed not to tell their husbands in case they had committed a tapu. They found Hinewai’s village set close to the river under some tall trees and were directed to her house.
“Hinewai!” Hoata called and they heard a movement in the hut. Hinewai came out to meet them her face lowered but Ahu could see at once that she had been beaten. Her face was bruised and she had been crying.
Hoata went up to her and greeted her warmly.
“I have brought Ahu who has never been this far south. She has a present for you.”
Hinewai continued to look down but murmured thanks to them both.
“Come inside” she finally said.
They all went inside. She told them that her husband was cruel and knew that all he had to do was go complaining to his parents and they would always take his side.
“I so wanted to be married, but being so I have lost everything. I have lost my family, I have lost my sister and I lost my baby when he beat me so badly. And still he beats me.”
Ahu and Hoata were silent. Ahu cried and Hoata’s face was grim.
“He should not beat you if you are with child when you are so vulnerable,” said Hoata. “Can you not talk to the parents?”
“They think he can do no wrong. “ Hinewai wailed.
At this Ahu kneeling beside her gave her the present. “I gave one like this to Hatiti and you should have one too. It is a tiki of the god Tangaroa. But rather than keeping it, why don’t you give it to Tui? It sounds like he is still a little boy at heart.”
“You were so strong Hinewai,” said Hoata, “perhaps you must not show that with him, and then he might not hurt you.”
Hinewai turned to Ahu and then said, “All I wanted was to be loved, as you are loved by Ahuahu.”
After the women had rested and eaten a little food they returned to the Black Springs village wondering what they could say to their husbands.