Page:Picturesque New Zealand, 1913.djvu/468

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PICTURESQUE NEW ZEALAND

fearing that if I did I should not get near him again. Telling him I had seen Kaihau, I asked, "How do you like the real estate business?"

His Majesty did not evade the question. It was plain he was not dodging the issue when he replied: "Me don't like it. Me rather be in Waahi. In Auckland too much tired. Too much walk around. Me like bed."

O ingenuous king!

Mahuta, I learned, was a popular ruler. "Do many people come to see you?" I asked him. Throwing up his hands, he replied: "Yes, many people. Sometimes big meetings in Waahi. Then all houses full and tents all around. Two thousand hundred men come."

As the King and I conversed, we were standing near a large fern-trunk building. To the immediate right was the village bell, hanging in a dead forked tree and overhung in turn by a cluster of corn. Toward this building the King moved, saying "Come have tea." Stepping across the threshold, we entered a large smoke-blackened room with a rough earth floor. In the centre a fire burned, and around it was a collection of pots and kettles. We were in the royal kitchen.

Four or five native women were present, some of whom were smoking pipes, and I observed a boy five or six years of age wearing only an undershirt. First giving the women some orders, Mahuta motioned me to follow him into a roughly boarded room at the other end of the building. This was the dining-room, furnished with ordinary tables, benches, and chairs. Here Mahuta