The Legend of Maui and the Jawbone

Maui returned to his parents, and remained for some time with them, and whilst he was there he remarked that some of their people daily carried away a present of food for some person; at length,

surprised at this, he one day asked them: 'Who is that you are taking that present of food to?’

And the people who were going with it answered him: 'It is for your ancestress, for Muri-ranga-whenua.'

He asked again: 'Where does she dwell?'

They answered: 'Yonder.'

Thereupon he says: 'That will do; leave here the present of food, I will carry it to her myself.'

From that time the daily presents of food for his ancestress were carried by Maui himself; but he never took and gave them to her that she might eat them, but he quietly laid them by on one side, and this he did for many days.

At last, Muri-ranga-whenua suspected that something wrong was going on, and the next time he came along the path carrying the present of food, the old chieftainess sniffed and sniffed until she thought she smelt something coming, and she was very much exasperated, and her stomach began to distend itself, that she might be ready to devour Maui as soon as he came there.

Then she turned to the southward, and smelt and sniffed, but not a scent of anything reached her; then she turned round from the south to the north, by the east, with her nose up in the air sniffing and smelling to every point as she turned slowly round, but she could not detect the slightest scent of a human being, and almost thought that she must have been mistaken; but she made one more trial, and sniffed the breeze towards the westward.

Ah! then the scent of a man came plainly to her, so she called aloud: 'I know from the smell wafted here to me by the breeze that somebody is close to me', and Maui murmured assent.

Thus the old woman knew that be was a descendant of hers, and her stomach, which was quite large and distended immediately began to shrink, and contract itself again. If the smell of Maui had not been carried to her by the western breeze, undoubtedly she would have eaten him up.

When the stomach of Muri-ranga-whenua had quietly sunk down to its usual size, her voice was again heard saying: 'Art thou Maui?’

He answered: 'Even so.'

Then she asked him: 'Wherefore has thou served thine old ancestress in this deceitful way?’

Maui answered: 'I was anxious that thy jaw-bone, by which the great enchantments can be wrought, should be given to me.'

She answered: 'Take it, it has been reserved for thee.'

Maui took it, and having done so returned to the place where he and his brothers dwelt.

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