Hatiti’s recovery was very slow. She wouldn’t discuss the marriage to her promised husband Tui. Tui was quite young still and his parents had thought that Hatiti although young too was adult and sensible enough to be a good wife for him. Tui’s family came from a inland settlement even further south than the Hot Springs, it was close to a wide and fast flowing river with much fresh water fish to be caught in fish traps and hand held nets.
Word was sent to the Black Sands village which was now being rebuilt on the hill close to the hot springs that Tui’s father wanted to pay his respects to Kamaka and to see if Hatiti had recovered from her ordeal.
The visit did not go well. Hatiti was quite listless when she was presented to Maranu the father and Iorangi the mother. She kept putting her hand up to her neck to hide the scars and she showed none of the vitality they had admired in her before.
Hinewai however was polite and respectfully bowed her head to them when she was introduced. Kamaka sat down with them to eat and drink and to discuss the marriage. It was Iorangi that whispered to her husband “Hatiti is not the same girl we met before, she has not recovered. If Tui is to marry it would be better for him to marry the healthy sister.”
Maranu merely nodded and then turned to Kamaka and said “I am sorry that Hatiti has not yet recovered from her injuries. We are anxious that Tui be married soon. Do you think that she will be well by the next full moon?”
Kamaka could see that he was being pressured so that any negative response would be an insult. He rubbed his hands together staring down at them as though he were counting the days to that event. Although he knew it was less than ten.
“Maranu my friend,” Kamaka replied, “Time will heal Hatiti but if you want a healthy wife for Tui your son before the next full moon, you may consider Hatiti’s sister Hinewai, as she too is ready for marriage. She could be the strong wife you want for him.” At this point he shook his head a little. “Already there are others who have noticed her, but she is younger.” Then he looked at Iorangi, “All she needs a mother’s guidance.”
Kamaka then shook his head again and went on. “But Hatiti may not be fully recovered for three moons even if Rangi smiles upon her. I would prefer it that you wait till then.” This was not to rule her out or to renege on the agreement but to show he was still true to his word.
Maranu turned just slightly to see Iorangi’s face. She was looking down at the mat on the floor but nodded her agreement. Maranu following her advice turned back and smiling he leaned forward to Kamaka. “Tui will marry Hinewai” He smiled broadly and held Kamaka by the shoulders and rubbed noses with him. Iorangi with her head still bowed, smiled also.
Hinewai was called in, and told of the arrangement. Although it would have been best just to nod her head in acceptance, she smiled broadly too and spoke more to the mother rather than the father saying “I will try to make your son Tui happy.”
Luckily they did not notice her lack of respect to the father as Tui’s parents were now thinking that they had somehow won the marriage arrangement.
News quickly passed around the village. Ahu and Ahuahu were astounded but glad too that Hinewai would no longer be a nuisance to all the married men in the village. Ahu decided to visit Hatiti and took her a little Tiki necklet carved out of hardwood for her. Hoata was there and looked a little confused with the change of arrangements with Kamaka’s two daughters by his first wife.
“Ahu has come to talk to you Hatiti” Hoata said.
As she took Ahu in to see her, Hatiti looked up and smiled at Ahu. “So you have heard that I am not to be wed now. I am glad. Ahuahu rescuing me has made me want to be married to a strong man not a little boy.”
Ahu went over to her and showed her the tiki while Hoata went outside to attend to her little boy Paikea who had started crying.
“I will be better soon but I did not want to show it before the arrangements had been made today,” Hatiti went on.
Smiling Ahu put her finger to her lips, “Do not tell anyone else, or else they will think that you are a little schemer.”
“Secretly my father is pleased.” Hatiti went on. “He thought I was dead and now he has two teeth missing because of that. That showed me he loved me and I want to hold on to that love a little longer.”
Ahu nodded, smoothing her hands over her round belly, “Let’s hope I have a daughter for Ahuahu.”
“Even if it is a boy, he has a daughter in me, as he rescued me.”
Tears came to Ahu’s eyes, “Now I can love you as a daughter too. I was jealous when I saw you being held so close by him when he brought you home. Then I learned that he tended you in your nakedness. A wife always fears her man will look over his shoulder to admire a younger girl.”
“It would be strong man to love a girl, covered with mud and blood and vomit even if she was naked, but he treated me tenderly as though I was his daughter and I will respect him for that for ever.” Hatiti said.
When Hoata returned, Hatiti indicated that she would like to sit outside rather than being stuck inside moping. “I want to see the new village being built” she added fingering her tiki now hanging from her neck from a piece of string made from woven flax.