Rupe and Hina were brother and sister, but they loved each other with a love greater than that of most brothers and sisters. So close was the bond between them that they were scarcely happy except when together.
One day Hina fell into the sea and was carried out by the tide. Fortunately she wore a magic girdle. This protected her from death, but she went floating out over the horizon, miles away from her home and parents and beloved brother. Nobody had seen her fall. When she was missed there was a grief-stricken search. No trace of her could be found.
“She must be dead,” her friends whispered. Rupe overheard them. “She is not dead,” he cried. “Something in my heart tells me she is not dead. I go to find her.”
He set off, travelling from one end of the land to the other, seeking her. For months, for over a year, he sought her fruitlessly. In the meantime she was floating, drifting through the sea, upborne by the waves, saved by the magic girdle from every death that threatened her. In her slow progress little seaweed tendrils clasped themselves about her, pink-tipped barnacles attached themselves to her.
For many months she floated on, till at last she was thrown up by the surf on the sandy beach of a little island. There she lay, helpless and unconscious from her long voyage in the water. The people of the island found her, took her in, gently scraped off the sea-things that still clung to her, and showed her every kindness. After a while the king heard of her, and was so charmed with her sweetness and beauty that he took her to live in his royal home. So a year passed by.
Just at this time Rupe gave up seeking for her on the land. “I will go to Rehua,” he said. Repeating a powerful spell, he changed himself into a pigeon. He had a long, weary flight before him to the highest Sky-land, for this was where Rehua lived. Rehua was the greatest of all Sky-fairies. He knew everything; he would surely know where Rina was.
Soaring bravely, Rupe mounted higher and higher, his love for his sister upholding his tiring wings. Up he went, through the great sun-filled spaces, till he reached the first Sky-land. From that to the second, the third, the fourth, on to the tenth. At last he stood before Rehua!
“Murmurs concerning you have risen to me from a little island in the sea,” was Rehua’s answer to the question Rupe put to him. He pointed out the island in the world that lay so far below. Back to the earth, straight as a stone in his course for the little island, Rupe took his downward flight. Alighting at Hina’s dwelling-place, he flew to her window-sill. There he waited to be seen by her.
Some of the king’s servants saw him. “See! A pigeon on the sill,” they said. One brought a spear and tried to spear him, but Rupe turned the spear aside with his bill, so that it broke on the wood of the window-sill. Another brought a noose and tried to snare him, but each time he turned his head aside and the noose fell away. ” Magic!” cried the servants. “A magic bird! We cannot harm him.”
They told Hina of the magic visitor. “Leave the bird alone while I look at it,” she said. Long and earnestly she looked. “It is my brother! ” she cried at last. “It is Rupe.”
Taking again his natural shape, Rupe embraced his long-lost sister, telling her the story of his weary search for her. In return, she told him of her strange voyage and her life on this far island, where king and people were all kindness to her.
“Come with me to the tenth Sky-land, where Rehua lives,” said Rupe. “There is brightness such as never glows on this low earth. There is beauty, there is joy. There we may live together all our lives.”
“I will come,” said Rina. By spells Rupe changed their shapes to those of pigeons. Together they flew through the upper sunlit spaces till they reached the tenth Sky-land. There, with Rehua, they spent together their happy days.