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No. 62 (March 1968)
– 59 –
 

Late that same afternoon when everyone had finished the evening meal and the Minister and his wife were sitting out in the cool on the side verandah, Rau came towards them with a sugar sack thrown over his back, grasping firmly the top, which was tied with a piece of flax.

His face was just one big smile from ear to ear as he came up to the Minister and placed the sack at his feet.

‘Well, Rau, my lad, where have you been all this afternoon since before tea-time and what have you in this sack?’ he was asked.

‘I catch the big tuna for you—he sings, I catch the singing tuna for you, eh?’ Rau almost shouted, by way of explanation.

Rau called any kind of eels tuna, and as he spoke he pulled a long brownish eel with black spots on it out of the sack. It tried to wriggle out of Rau's firm grasp, so he then put it back ino the sack and twisted the piece of flax round the top again. Even then the eel twisted inside the sack, so the Minister's wife moved her chair further away.

‘But Rau, I don't understand. There are no singing eels, or at least I haven't heard of any in our rivers. You must be making a mistake, boy.’

‘No, Minita, he the singing tuna all right, eh? I know,’ insisted Rau.

‘Very well, but how do you know, Rau?’ asked the Minister's wife, who was looking on bewildered.

‘Well, see, I get the sack, see this one, eh, and I put in the bait and some stone and I tie the long string to the sack and I wait a long time, see, and then my tuna he go in the sack and swallow the bait, yes, he swallow it all at one time and I pull the string and pull up the sack before he jump out and the tuna he inside, see eh!’ Rau explained grinning broadly.

They listened quietly to Rau's little speech and then the Minister said, ‘Yes, that is very clever of you Rau, but it does not explain how you know it is a singing eel.’

‘Oh, yes, you see I'—then Rau hesitated as he looked from one to another and then went on—‘Yes, you see he will sing soon because’—and with another big grin, he went on—‘you see, Minita I put the canary who sings you told me to bury, in the sack, yes, and the tuna he swallow him all up, eh, therefore now he the singing tuna, see, eh!

Poor Rau was only a very simple little boy as you may guess, but he was a very clever eel-catcher, don't you think?