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Piccaninnies   By: (1881-1973)

Book cover

First Page:

[Illustration: "They made strings of the scarlet nikau berries, and hung them round their necks."]

PICCANINNIES

BY

ISABEL MAUD PEACOCKE

Author of "Songs of the Happy Isles." "My Friend Phil." "Robin of the Round House." "The Bonny Books of Humorous Verse," etc.

Illustrated by TREVOR LLOYD

WHITCOMBE & TOMBS LIMITED

Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington, N.Z. Melbourne and London

DEDICATED

TO

MY LITTLE GOD DAUGHTER

JOAN LUSK

TE KUITI, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

If your heart is pure, and your eyes are clear, And you come the one right day of the year, And eat of the fruit of the Magic Tree The wee Bush Folk you will surely see.

In the green and woody places, Thickets shady, sunlit spaces, Have you never heard us calling, When the golden eve is falling When the noon day sun is beaming When the silver moon is gleaming? Have you never seen us dancing Through the mossy tree boles glancing? Have you never caught us gliding Through the tall ferns? laughing hiding? We are here, we are there We are everywhere; Swinging on the tree tops, floating in the air; Hush! Hush! Hush! Creep into the Bush, You will find us everywhere.

If you would see, First bathe your eyes, In dew that lies On the bracken tree.

If you would hear Our elfin mirth To Mother Earth Lay down your ear.

A many have come with their bright eyes clear, And their young hearts pure, but alas! Oh dear! They've made a mistake in the day of the year.

Piccaninnies

I.

CHRISTMAS TREE. ( Pohutukawa ).

Long ago the Piccaninnies didn't have a rag to their backs except a huia feather which they wore in their hair. They were the jolliest, tubbiest, brownest babies you ever saw with tiny nubbly knobs on their shoulders, as if they had started to grow wings and then changed their minds about it, and little furry pointed ears, as all wild creatures have. Only these were not wild, but very, very shy.

Where did they live? Oh, just anywhere all about; among the fern, in the long grass, down on the sands, in all the places babies love to roll about in.

And then People began to come about, so tiresome! They began to make houses, sell things in shops, tear about in big boxes on wheels, and send great, clattering, shrieking, puffing monsters rushing through the country, dropping smoke and cinders like anything. There was such a clatter and a chatter, such gabbling and babbling, such hammering and banging and laughing and crying, and hurry and scurry and rush that it was enough to drive one crazy. There was such a fuss , the Piccaninnies simply couldn't stand it, and they fled to the Bush. Well, wouldn't you, with all that going on?

And there they lived a long time. What fun they had swinging on the giant fern leaves, climbing the trees, chasing the fantails, riding the kiwis, who are very good natured, though shy, and teasing the great, sleepy round eyed morepork, who is so stupid and owlish in the daytime.

And then People came into the Bush! Did you ever!

The Piccaninnies took to the trees altogether then, and no wonder!

II.

And then one day some one in a picnic party left a scrap of paper blowing about you know the horrid way picnic parties have! and a Piccaninny found it.

[Illustration: "To be sure they were looking at the pictures upside down, but that made no real difference."]

As luck would have it, it was a girl Piccaninny; had it been a boy he would simply have torn it up and made paper darts with it to throw at the other boys, and no harm would have been done. But girls are different!

[Illustration: "Teasing the great, sleepy, round eyed morepork."]

She smoothed it out and looked at it carefully, and then she called the other girls to look at it. And soon there was such a clattering and chattering that the boys came racing that way to see if the girls had found anything good to eat... Continue reading book >>




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