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[This story is adapted from M.Titifanua and C.M. Churchward, 1995, Tales of a Lonely Island, Institute for Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific (pp. 86-91).]


There was a woman named Kirkirsasa. This woman lived at Tarkei (a part of Maftoa), and both her armpits were completely covered with tattoo-marks--they were quite black with it.

Now this woman had some maid-servants living with her, who used to wait on her at all times. The clothes which these maids wore were just pandanus leaf skirts. One day Kirkirsasa said to two of these maid-servants of hers, "You two girls take our two sets of coconut-shell cups to Faniua, to get some sea-water [with which] to fill our green coconuts; for we put the stoppers in them yesterday but have not yet filled them with salt water."

To this the two maids replied, "All right, madam."

So they turned round and took the two sets of cups, and went off with them. They went on until they reached Faniua. But, instead of getting the sea-water they just went for a stroll at the foot of the hill. Presently they went round the point, and went on a little way towards the small beach, when suddenly they heard something snoring at the foot of the big rock above it. And when they looked, they saw something lying there--a great monster, with his mouth as wide open as it could be, and his teeth fiery-red like red-hot coals of coconut shells. And when they saw what [this huge fellow] was like, it came into their minds at once that it was only giants that were in the habit of behaving in this way. So the two girls discussed the situation for a while, and then decided that they would pelt the monster's teeth [with stones]. Accordingly, each of them proceeded to pick up a stone, which they then threw at the teeth of the giant. This they kept on doing until the giant awoke. On waking, the giant sat up, and the two girls ran. The giant called out to them, but the girls just glanced round and ran on; and, just as their leaf skirts flew out behind them, the giant got up and chased after them.

Presently Kirkirsasa saw the two girls that had gone to fetch sea-water coming along out of breath, exhausted with running, and she exclaimed, "What-ever has happened to you? Is it anything much?"

"O madam," answered the two girls, "it is the most awful thing we have seen in our lives."

"So you have brought disaster upon us, have you?" responded the woman.

"Don't be angry, madam," pleaded the girls; "but a tremendous thing is about to come upon us. We didn't do the work that we went to do, but did something different instead. We woke something up at the foot of the hill--a giant we believe it was, and we think he is just about to appear now. We were in front, and he was behind chasing us."

"You are tiresome and cowardly," said Kirkirsasa. "However, just seat yourselves down there, and if the giant comes he will eat you. We people are forbidden to do anything to the giant. But don't run away like this."

Before long there was a great clattering noise, and they all turned round, and in came the giant! Sitting down, he at once exclaimed, "Wait till I have rested, and then I'll have my vengeance on you, you [bad] children. Who in the world told you to pelt my teeth with stones?"

Kirkirsasa, however, approached the giant with the words: "Good afternoon, sir! And, if you should feel so inclined, just sit down and rest for a few moments, while I dance to you. Wait till that is over, and then eat my two girls, (if you are really going to eat them) after that."

"Dance away!" said the giant, "and let us have a look."

So the woman stood in front of the giant, and began:

"Slap the armpits before the king,
With a ho! hi! hey!
Raise arms, lower them, dance and sing,
With a ho! hi! hey!"

Thus Kirkirsasa sang her song, dancing all the time. As she danced, she lifted her arms out, first this way and then that way, slapping her tattooed armpits, and extending both arms at once, and jumping up and down, this way and that way, and raising her arms to reveal her tattoo marks. The giant almost went into a fit with laughing, and whichever way the woman bent over, the giant bent over in the same direction.

As soon as the woman stopped, the giant said, "I say, the markings that I saw in your armpits, what did you do to make them like that?"

"So you like them, do you?" said the woman.

"Oh yes," replied the giant; "[so much so that] if you can make my armpits exactly like yours, then I will not eat these two maids of yours."

To this the woman responded: "Oh, it will be quite easy for me to make your armpits resemble mine, if you really desire it."

"Then will you be kind enough to do it?" said the giant, "so that I may not eat your two maids."

So the woman then told her people to light up a fire-hole, and then to tell her as soon as the stones were red hot; and in the meantime she would talk with the giant.

As soon as the stones were red hot, a man came and told Kirkirsasa, who then said to the giant, "Now then! come along to have your armpits tattooed."

So the giant went along, and the woman said, "lie down here between these two posts, that we may tattoo your armpits."

So the giant lay down, and immediately the women-folk brought a roll of sennit, surrounded the giant, and bound him to the posts [in the center of the house, making his legs and arms quite fast. That done, the woman told [them] to fetch a red hot stone. So one of the men brought a red hot stone and gave it to the woman, and the woman inserted it into one of the giant's armpits. Immediately the giant began to yell. But the woman said, "Don't yell for nothing! you see, if you behave like this, the tattooing will not show properly."

But the giant exclaimed: "By and by, when I get free, I will eat up the whole lot of you."

To which the women replied: "But how will you get free? When a person is bound fast, how shall he escape?"

In the meantime each member of the company present [brought] a red hot stone, and some inserted them into the giant's armpits, others rubbed them on his stomach, while others rubbed them into his eyes and nose. And so it went on until the giant was dead.

As soon as the giant was dead, the woman began to scold her two maid-servants, and to warn all her household, never to do such a thing as this again; lest a big calamity should come upon them and they should not be able to contrive [a way of escape]. True, they had got off this time, but they must never do such a thing in future.

The two maids, on their part, proceeded to apologize to Kirkirsasa, confessing that it was all due to their disobedience.

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