Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Distant Homes; or the Graham Family in New Zealand

Chapter XXVIII

page 196

Chapter XXVIII.

The Last Chapter—A Letter from Tom—The Volunteer Corps—Conclusion.

A letter from Tom was the most welcome new year's gift that 1861 brought, the more so, too, that in it he told them George was to leave during March, at least two months sooner than they expected; that he himself was, too, in for examination upon the 2nd of December, and felt sure he was quite safe to pass.

The prospect of hearing by the February mail took Captain Graham down to Lyttelton to wait its arrival, and be ready to start home with the news. The mail came, and with it a short note. It contained a little bit of blue cloth, and the words,

Thomas Graham,: H.M.S.

He had been apointed to one of the ships that were lying off Taranaki, and you may fancy the delighted shout that welcomed the intelligence.

Poor Mrs. Graham could scarcely believe it possible, and did not know how sufficiently to express her thanks to page 197 God for this mark of his kindness and mercy. Tom had evidently been too happy to write, as what little there was of it was all ups and downs, and scarcely legible.

Aps begged leave to have the bit of blue cloth stitched in his cap, saying he would wear it as his badge until Tom came home; and then, very proud of what he considered his loyalty, walked off to tell his friend Wilson, and spread the news far and near, that Tom was coming to be in a ship that was protecting the English at Taranaki.

The news from the seat of war was much better. A battle had been fought upon the 23rd of January, in which the natives had been again beaten. Volunteers were enrolling themselves in every district, just as they have been doing in England; and all the time Captain Graham was at Lyttleton and Christehurch, the towns were resounding with drums and fifes, the voices of drill sergeants, and the firing of rifles. Prizes were shot for everywhere; ladies presented colours and bugles; the old men and women looked proudly at their sons marching past in their pretty dresses, and the children ran after them, shouting and hurrahing in true English style.

One of the settlers near the farm came over to propose they should form a corps; and Captain Graham should take the management; but the distances from one farm to another were so great, and the consequent loss of time would be so much, that they were obliged to give up the idea, much to Aps's disappointment, who had made up his mind to play the big drum, and in the secret of his own heart was rather undecided whether it would not be better page 198 to be a bugler, and perhaps lead his company on to victory, like the little boy his father told him of at the storming of the Redan, and who, when the men were checked for a minute by the fearful fire, ran forward, mounted the wall, and blew the advance.

During the months that were to pass before George's arrival, a gentleman came from Christchurch to perform duty in the church. He was a kind, good man, and took a great fancy to Aps, whom he soon persuaded to learn his lessons—a performance Master Appy had resolutely refused todo heretofore; and his mamma and papa, thinking there was time enough, had not pressed him, leaving that to George, knowing he would, as a comparative stranger, have more influence with his little brother. Great, therefore, was their surprise and delight to see how tractable the wild little fellow became with his new friend and self-constituted tutor, and how quietly he sat poring over his books during the morning.

The natives, too, had reason to be thankful for this good man's sojourn at the farm; for having lived for many years as a missionary in the midst of them, and miles away from any English settlement, he had a way of dealing with them that seemed to win them over at once, and those who had as yet refused to give up their old superstitions and religion, now came forward and asked to be baptised.

My story is now drawing to a close. I have told you the principal occurrences that happened to my friends the Grahams during three years in New Zealand; and, as I have brought these events up to within a few months of the present day, I must perforce finish my account.

page 199

I had a letter from Lucy last mail, which she filled with accounts of the reception they were preparing for her brothers, who were to go out together, and are by this time, I trust, safe at the farm. As, moreover, Sir George Grey, has gone back to take his old place as Governor, to administer justice to the mistaken natives, it is to be hoped that Lucy's fears of Tom having to fight so very soon will prove visionary, and some way be found by which all chance of any future outbreak will be at an end, and peace and good-will may reign through the length and breadth of our precious colony of New Zealand.

The End.

page break