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Adams, Memoirs of Arii TaimaiIndigenous Histories
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Chapter II


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Chapter II (continued)

human; the other half was fish, or shark-god; and he swam from the ocean, through the reef, into the Vaihiria river, where he came ashore, and introduced himself as Vari mataauhoe. The chiefess received him with the hospitality which was common to the legends of most oriental races, and Vari mataauhoe took up his residence with Hototu; but after their intimacy had lasted some time, one day, when they were together, Hototu's dog came into the house and showed his affection for his mistress by licking her face, or, as we should now say, kissing her, although in those days the word was unknown, for Polynesians never kissed each other, but only touched noses as an affectionate greeting. At this, the man-shark fell into a mood of reflection, and, after turning the subject in his mind, decided that the fault was so grave as to require him, as a person of refinement, to abandon Hototu: "You have been untrue to your husband with me," he told her; "you may be untrue to me with the dog."

Men have in all times been ingenious in their reasons for deserting women when tired of them, but, even in the South Seas and at that early day, this pretext must have been thought at least unusual, since it was preserved in legend. Unusual or not, it was enough for the man-shark, who walked off to the river, and turning into a fish again, swam out to sea. As he went on his way, or wherever he belonged, he met the canoe of the husband, Te manutunuu, returning from the Pau-motus, and stopped for a conversation with him. Te manutunuu, regretting to have lost the pleasure of a visit from so distinguished a guest, and obeying the rules of the somewhat excessive generosity which marked the island manners, invited Vari mataauhoe to return, but the man-shark civilly declined, giving as his excuse the reason that Hototu was too fond of dogs.

Perhaps this legend is as old as India and belongs to the common stock of world-myths; but, whatever its origin, its form seems to show that the natives looked on Vaiari as the source of their aristocracy. Not only did the Marae and Maro-ura of Punaauia claim descent from Vaiari, but Papara also followed closely, for when Vari mataauhoe was about leaving Hototu, he said to her: "You will bear me a child; if

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© Derived from the revised Paris edition of 1901 page 13, 2004
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