CLEMATIS (PICCANINNIES BY ISABEL MAUD PEACOCKE)
f course fashions change, and no one need be surprised to find that crimson kilts were soon “out,” while the Piccaninny girls were to be seen walking about in pretty little white, frilly petticoats made out of clematis blossoms, and sun hats of the same flowers.
The hats were rather silly, because the Piccaninnies lived so deep in the Bush that the sun couldn’t hurt them, but then fashions are absurd. (Look at the ladies who wear fur coats in hot climates!)
The boys made no change because their kind of fashion doesn’t change, except sometimes you take great pains to iron the crease out of them, and other times you iron it in most carefull-ee.
For some reason the boys didn’t like the girls’ change of frocks. Of course, they said, the girls would never play with them now, but the girls said oh yes, they would. The boys said:
But the girls said, as brave as could be:
And the boys answered:
“Let’s see you then!”
So they all ran off and collected puriri berries, big purply red ones, rather squashy. Then the boys all yelled in chorus:
Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!
Tenei te tangata puhuru huru
Na na nei i tiki mai—
whaka whiti te ra! Upane! Upane! Upane!
kaupani whiti te ra!
which means something very warlike, and the girls answered shrilly:
Ka whawhai tonu! Ake! Ake! Ake!
They said that because they had heard that someone had said that sometime about something, and it means “we will fight for ever and ever.”
But they didn’t! At the very first volley the berries stained their dainty frocks, and the girls fled, screaming angrily:
And the boys grinning delightedly, and rolling their black eyes, thumped their little brown heels on the ground, and beat their little bare, brown knees and chanted all together:
“Akarana Mototapu Rangitoto Ra!“
And of course you all know what that means! You don’t? Well, I’m not quite sure myself, because I couldn’t find it in the dictionary (so careless of Mr. Webster!) but it really doesn’t matter.
Enjoy other stories by Isabelle Maud Peacocke