The Woman Who Knew Her Child
Two women called Tane and Bea were traveling through the forest. Each of them had a baby son, and the two sons were alike as a pair of eggs. They came to a river. They were crossing the river in a canoe when the canoe sank. They both reached the shore, but only one of the babies was saved. The two women argued.
“He is mine!” Tane declared. “Give him to me!”
“Do I not know my own son?” cried Bea. “Such foolishness you talk!”
“Oh, for shame! You steal my child!”
They could not agree, so they went to a Wise Man. The Wise Man listened, and then said:
“It seems to me that the child belongs to both of you. Therefore it must be cut in half with a knife, and you will each receive a portion. Which half do you each want?”
Tane was silent, but Bea was big-eyed with anger.
“Would you kill the child?” she protested. “He belongs to me, but rather than see him killed I will give him whole to Tane.”
“Ha!” said the Wise Man. “Here we have a thing: one can begin to see the truth. Only she who was not the mother of the child could bear to have him cut in half. Tane is not the mother. The child belongs to Bea, who would rather lose him whole and alive then possess half of him dead.”