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Distant Homes; or the Graham Family in New Zealand

Chapter VI

page 36

Chapter VI.

Voyage to the Canterbury Settlement—Lucy's Mortification—Hot-water Lake of Rotamahana—Arrival at Lyttelton.

When they were once more running pleasantly before the breeze, and the air had resumed its usual feeling, Lucy began to think how silly she had been, and to hope her Mamma or Beatrice would not tell Tom, from whom she would get a great teasing, it always having been a favourite boast with her that she would never lose her presence of mind in danger. She had never experienced anything to try her before, and now she had the mortification to know she had completely failed. It was no consolation to be told by Beatrice that every one was frightened, and she herself as much as any one; Lucy could quite believe it, but it did not blot out her own failing; she knew she had screamed, and was terribly vexed and ashamed when the captain, meeting her towards evening, patted her kindly on the shoulder, and said:—

“Well, little Missy; have you got over your fright? I think that shriek of yours was nearly as loud as the thunder.”

Lucy crimsoned all over, and then, bursting into tears, ran off, leaving the good man quite alarmed; so much so, indeed, that he went off to Mrs. Graham and told her what page 37 had happened, apologizing, and saying he did not mean anything, and was afraid he knew nothing of how to speak to young ladies.

Vexed at this display of Lucy's temper, Mrs. Graham determined to make her explain it all herself to the captain, so, hastened down to her cabin, where, as she expected, she found her daughter crying and very angry.

“Why, Loo, what's the matter?” she asked, sitting down by her. “Are you not well? or have you hurt yourself, dear?”

“Oh, dear! oh dear! it's Tom, Mamma.”

“Tom! Loo? What do you mean by, ‘It's Tom?’”

“Tom will laugh at me! Oh! oh!” sobbed Lucy. “I used to boast so; and I always said, if anything happened, and however frightened I was, I would not lose my presence of mind; and now I've done it, and Tom will tease me, and call me a fine lady.”

“You silly child, to cry about such nonsense,” said her Mamma. “What will it signify, if Tom does tease you; it will be a lesson never to boast. Every one was afraid. No one need be ashamed of feeling fear at such a time; though I must say I was not pleased with you for making such a fuss, and not trying to remain quiet, and trust in God. You will, I hope, never forget last night, dear Loo; and next time you are in danger or fear, control your feelings and keep your wits about you, which you will only do by trusting in Him who says, that, ‘every hair of your head is numbered.’ And now, dry your eyes, and come and beg the captain's pardon for running away just now, when he spoke to you. Poor man! he is quite distressed, and came to tell me all about it.”

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“Did he, really?” exclaimed Lucy, looking up. “What did he think?”

“He said he did not understand young ladies.”

“Oil, how nice of him; to think of his saying so to you. But what am I to say; I cannot go and tell him why I cried.”

“Why not?”

“Oh Mamma! and make him think me a goose, to be frightened of Tom's teasing.”

Her mother laughed.

“Come, come, Loo; wipe your eyes—they are red enough, I am sure—and just go and tell the captain exactly why you cried; it will make him understand ‘young ladies’ a little better for the future.”

So Lucy bathed her eyes, smoothed her hair, and went on deck, to look for the captain. She soon found him, and going up to him, with a deep blush, said:—

“I was very silly to cry, captain. I hope you will forgive me; but I was afraid Tom would tease me.”

The kind-hearted sailor took hold of the little girl's outstretched hand, and said he did not think her at all silly. Of course she had a right to cry, if she chose; and if Tom teased her, she had only to go to him, and he would put him in irons, or mast-head him, whichever he liked.

Then Lucy began laughing, and had to explain. Tom was her brother, and very soon told the Captain all about him—how brave and kind he was; how he made fun out of anything, and teased her for being a girl; altogether amusing the Captain very much, but leaving him more perplexed than ever as to the nature of young ladies, or why they should wish to be boys, his own experience of boy hood having been anything but pleasant.

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One of the passengers, who had joined the ship at Nelson, had been travelling all over the North Island; and Lucy was never tired of listening to his descriptions of what he had seen. She was most astonished by hearing that there were lakes and springs of boiling water in the interior of the island. One lake, called “Rotomahana,” is entirely supplied by boiling springs, which rise up from the bottom of the lake. There are several islands, on which natives live. The rocks are filled here and there with little fountains of hot water, and from the crevices steam is continually jetting out. Where the water passes down the face of a rock or steep bank, it deposits a white sediment, and gradually forms a series of steps, mostly as white and clear as alabaster, but sometimes tinged with pink, green, or yellow.

The water has the power of petrifying anything placed in or above it; and trees, leaves, or seeds which fall in, become encrusted with the same white substance as that which forms the steps. The natives cook all their food at these springs, and are very fond of bathing in them.

One thing Lucy was secretly delighted to hear corroborated by this gentleman—and that was, there being no dangerous wild animals in the country. It seemed that when New Zealand was discovered, dogs and rats were the only animals existing. The Governor of Botany Bay landed three pigs as a present; and the natives, who had seen pictures and heard the English sailors talk of horses, immediately made up their minds that the poor little pigs were horses. Two chiefs mounted a couple, and rode them until they died: the third escaped into the woods; but, having been seen in a burial-ground, was instantly killed page 40 for committing what, according to the native idea, is sacrilege.

The gentleman had a large portfolio of drawings, with likenesses of a number of chiefs, and told Lucy a great many curious stories of the way he got them to sit for their portraits. One old man would not be persuaded, under any inducement; and resolutely held out, saying he would be sure to die if the white man put his image upon a book. At last a plan was hit upon. The traveller laid his watch upon the ground, and showed the chief how its wheels kept moving. The old man was very much alarmed, and asked if it was a spirit. The traveller said “No,” but that it would stop moving if it was angry; so when the man persisted in declining to sit for his portrait, the traveller stopped the watch. This was quite sufficient: the astonished man immediately sat down, saying he would do anything if the watch would only breathe again.

The second day of their voyage they passed Cloudy Bay, once celebrated as a great gathering place for whalers, and now more so, as the harbour of the fertile Wairan plains, and Picton, the capital of Marlboro'; from thence they had a fair and rapid passage to Lyttelton, or, as it is called on some maps “Port Victoria;” and, on the following morning, came in sight of the entrance to the harbour—a view which, lighted up as it was by the early sun, was bright and cheering enough to satisfy any emigrant. Upon one side lay a steep headland, named “Gaodley Head,” and the other an equally high one, called “Adderley Head.” Passing between these, they entered the harbour, and saw the houses and docks at Lyttelton. Inland, rose a low bank and hills behind, which was the mountain range, page 41 tipped with snow. It is between the hills and the mountains that the plains lie, and where Christchurch is situated.

As they neared the quay, which was crowded with people, they saw a little boat dart out, and soon recognized Captain Graham and Tom, who greeted them with a loud cheer, which, reaching the ears of the crowd on shore, was taken up and repeated, lasting all the time the anchor was being lowered.

Captain Graham and Tom clambered up the side, much to Aps’ delight, who began to cry directly he saw his father, and beg to be taken to him.

Captain Graham had taken rooms at the Mitre Hotel; so they felt just as comfortable as if they had come back to England, the polite waiters and chamber-maid running about, bowing, and saying “Yes, sir,” just as they did at home.

When they had told their own adventures, they insisted upon hearing a full account of the overland route; and so I think the best way will be to follow Tom and his father from the day of their departure from Nelson.