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Distant Homes; or the Graham Family in New Zealand

Chapter III

page 18

Chapter III.

Arrival in Blind Bay—First Sight of Nelson—The Colonial Servant—Lucy disappointed.

The point of land Tom saw was close by Cape Farewell, and very shortly they were near enough, with the help of good telescopes, to see the sand hills & bare flats green forests and hills; then they skirted along past a peninsula called Sandy Point, which forms a portion of the shore of Massacre Bay, the place I mentioned before as the scene of Tassman's fight with the natives, and at last entered the splendid bay, at the extreme point of which Nelson stands, which is known by two names, that of Blind Bay and Tasman Bay.

The town lay snugly ensconced upon the sunny shore, perfectly sheltered on all sides, and gay with gardens full of fruit and flowers. There happened to be a number of ships in port when our party arrived; and altogether it had such a busy, home-look about it, that the children were quite disappointed, and looked in vain for a native. Nor was the delusion dispelled when, after landing, which they did in the midst of a great bustle of people, all expecting, or pretending to expect friends, they proceeded to a comfortable hotel, leaving Captain Graham and Tom to settle any arrangements which might have to be made about their things.

page 19

A very smart waiting-maid attended upon them, and quite horrified Lucy by sitting down upon the sofa while her Mamma was asking what they could have to eat; however, seeing Lucy's shocked face, the woman laughed good-naturedly, and said:—

“You don't let your servants sit down in England, miss; but you aint in England now, and servants are not known here. We only take situations to attend upon people, and expect to be treated like one of the family.”

“How funny, Mamma,” exclaimed Lucy, as soon as the woman left the room; “only think! if old Mary heard such a thing, what would she say?”

“I am afraid to guess, Lucy; but one comfort is, we shall be better off, and can help ourselves. I have heard your uncle, who is in Canada, say, that there the servants are far worse, and only call themselves ‘Helps'—actually insisting upon eating with you, and treating you just like one of themselves.”

“Oh, how horrid! I should never like that, I know,” said Lucy; “but here is Papa coming, and we'll hear all the news. Oh, Papa,” she cried, as he entered, “What have you seen? I've seen a servant who sat down on the sofa, and didn't say ‘Ma'am’ to Mamma.”

“And I've seen Hoky Poky,” said Tom, mysteriously. “Oh, you needn't laugh—haven't I, Papa?”

But Captain Graham was too deeply engaged in what was evidently rather an unpleasant consultation with Mrs. Graham, so Tom's question remained unanswered.

“No, Miss Lucy,” he went on, turning to his sister; “it's quite true; I've seen the great Cannibal King,—the mighty man-eater, who gobbled up half-a-dozen of his page 20 enemies last summer, and has grown so fat, that he can only hop upon one leg at a time, having to give them turn about, in case of tiring both at once.”

“Oh! you goose, Tom, do tell us quickly whom you have seen.”

“Hoky Poky, King Wankum Wum”


“Indeed I have; and he sent his compliments to you, and wants to know if you'll be one of his fifty wives.”

Lucy laughed so loud that her father turned round to ask what was the matter; and on hearing, corroborated Tom's story so far, that they had really seen a New Zealand chief, and that he was going to be their fellow-traveller to the Canterbury settlement, the captain of the ship having agreed with Captain Graham to take them round, and thus save a great deal of trouble in unloading, particularly as the principal number of the passengers were going to Canterbury.

It appears that emigrants very often make a great mistake in not choosing a ship going to the very settlement they intend to make their home, as there are only a few steamers that carry passengers from one province to another; and these, taking the mail, are obliged to start at a particular day: thus, if any time is lost in unpacking, the travellers must remain behind, and, perhaps, have to wait a fortnight or month for the next boat.

A land journey is both troublesome and expensive, besides in many parts almost impossible, from there being no roads, and deep rivers to ford: and although, in reading books of travel, in which are pretty descriptions of the page 21 beautiful flowers, fruits, and strange sights to be met with in bush-travelling, one is tempted to wish to go, and rough it, like the writer; yet, if we really were obliged to cut, climb, and toil our way through a dense jungle, over almost bottomless swamps, up steep precipitous mountains, or worse, across roaring torrents, such as the rivers in New Zealand generally are, I think most of us would wish ourselves safe and sound upon a good turnpike road again—even a rough country road would be a most delightful exchange.

Captain Graham and Tom were to set off almost directly, to make the overland journey, which would occupy about a week, leaving the others to wait for the ship, which could not possibly leave for about ten days. This would enable Captain Graham to have a temporary house ready for his family on their arrival.

Tom was in ecstasies at the prospect of his journey, and talked so enthusiastically of its delights, that Lucy thought herself very unkindly treated, because her father laughed at her entreaty to be allowed to go with him, boldly asserting, she was quite as strong and able to ride or walk as Tom, and, though younger, she was sure she could make the journey as well as he could.

Mrs. Graham would have allowed her daughter to go, on the same principle that grocers allow their shop-boys to eat everything they like for the first fortnight, knowing that, long before the time is past, the apprentice will be so completely sickened of “sugar and spice,” that he will dislike the very sight of them for the future. Thus, Mrs. Graham thought, if Lucy was allowed, at her own request, to face all the difficulties, privations, and dangers of a bush page 22 journey, she would all the more willingly trust to the experience and advice of older people and more competent judges, besides finding out that girls were really not so well calculated to face trials of this kind as boys—a fact Lucy was continually asserting, much to Tom's disgust, who retorted rather unjustly, I must say, by telling her girls were only meant to make shirts and puddings, and that he thought the Indians were quite right, who made the women work, while they hunted and fought.

I do not mean to say that Tom thought this in his heart; but Lucy provoked him sadly, and made him say a great many things derogatory to girls.