A Secret Word

From Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s  ‘The Wanderings of a Spiritualist‘ (1921)

It is said that the Tahungas, or priests, have much hereditary knowledge
of an occult sort. Their oracles were famous, and I have already quoted
an example of their séances. A student of Maori lore told me the
following interesting story. He was a student of Maori words, and on one
occasion a Maori chief let slip an unusual word, let us say “buru,” and
then seemed confused and refused to answer when the Englishman asked the
meaning. The latter took it to a friend, a Tohunga, who seemed much
surprised and disturbed, and said it was a word of which a paheka or
white man should know nothing. Not to be beaten, my informant took it to
an old and wise chief who owed him a return for some favours. This chief
was also much exercised in mind when he heard the word, and walked up
and down in agitation. Finally he said, “Friend, we are both Christians.
You remember the chapter in the Bible where Jacob wrestled with an
angel. Well, this word ‘buru’ represents that for which they were
wrestling.” He would say no more and there it had perforce to be left.

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