Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/443

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297
A MUCH-MARRIED PROPHET

"Yes, Rua speaks little English, not very well," he answered me.

I told him what I wanted, and he explained it to the prophet. In reply, Rua said he would meet me at that corner at five o'clock that day. I thought then that I should have no difficulty in persuading him to talk. But I did not know Rua.

At five I was at the corner, but Rua was not there. "Just like a Polynesian," I concluded, thinking of appointments with Tahitians the year before. Presently I spied the red socks at the other end of the street, and with them was a red hair-ribbon. It was Rua with one of his wives—she displaying a long gold chain necklace—walking leisurely up the thoroughfare. At my corner they sauntered into a store.

Apparently the prophet had not seen me, and presuming that the two wished to shop there, I resolved to let them do so before reminding Rua of his appointment. Fifteen minutes' waiting made me impatient and suspicious, and I entered the store to find him doing nothing, so far as I could see.

When Rua saw me, he raised his eyes and asked the storekeeper, who for the moment acted as my interpreter, what I wanted. On this being explained to him, the prophet replied that he was too busy to see me unless I had business to transact with him. There were many land titles to be adjusted, said he, and he could not spare me any of his time unless money were involved. This was discouraging, but there was more to come, and it