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The Adventures of Kimble Bent

Chapter XIII — The Killing of Kane

page 134

Chapter XIII
The Killing of Kane

Bent and Kane brought before Titokowaru—Kane's flight— Captured by the Hauhaus—A traitor's end.

When the renegade Charles Kane, or “Kingi,” fled from the Turuturu-Mokai fight after receiving his bullet-wound, he made his way to the Turanga-réré village, and announced that he would not return to Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu. The Maoris, however, took him back to Te Ngutu, and he and Kimble Bent were brought before Titokowaru, who was sitting in the Wharé-kura. Bent now appears, from his own account, to have wearied of his terrible life amongst the Hauhaus.

The war-chief fiercely questioned “Kingi,” whom he suspected of an intention to return to the European camps.

Then turning to “Ringiringi,” he said:

“E Ringi, speak! Do you ever think of leaving us and running away to the pakehas?”

Bent confessed that he now desired to return to the men of his own colour, adding “But I will never take arms against you.”

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Titokowaru glared at his white man, then he went to the door of the council-house and called to the people in the marae to enter.

When they were all in the big wharé, Titokowaru ordered them to close the door and the sliding-window.

In the gloom of the praying-house the people sat in terrible silence, and the white men trembled for their heads.

Titokowaru, fearfully stern and menacing, addressed the pakehas.

Whakarongo mai! Listen to me. If you persist in saying that you wish to return to the white men, it will be your death! I will kill you both with my tomahawk, now, in this house, unless you promise that you will never leave the Maoris! I will slay you, and your bodies will be cooked in the hangi!”

“Ringiringi,” in real fear of his life, made answer that he would remain with the Hauhaus if Titoko would protect him, for he dreaded some of the chief's fiercer followers. “Kingi,” too, hastened to give the required promise—a promise which he, unlike his fellow-pakeha, broke at the first opportunity.

When the people had left the Wharé-kura, Titoko spoke to “Ringiringi” in a more friendly and reassuring tone, saying that he wished the pakeha to remain with him in the pa, and that, in order to assure his life against the wilder spirits in the tribes page 136 gathered under his command, he would tapu him, as Te Ua had done two years before. For his tapu, he explained, was a far more effective and binding one than that of the Opunake prophet; a spell that no man dared break on pain of death.

Not many days later the Irish traitor “Kingi” deserted from the pa, taking with him a watch, a revolver, and some clothing which he had “commandeered” from the natives.

For some little time nothing was heard of him. At length the warriors of the Tekau-ma-rua, while out scouting one day in the direction of Turangaréré, discovered on the track leading to the settlement a note addressed to the white soldiers' commander at Waihi, stating that the writer (Kane) and Bent were at Te Ngutu-o-te-Manu, awaiting a favourable opportunity to tomahawk Titokowaru, cut off his head, and bring it in to the Government camp. Kane was evidently clearing the way for his return to civilisation, and this note—which he had left in a spot where he hoped the white troops would come across it—was obviously intended to serve as a palliative in some measure of his military offences.

The deserter's letter was brought to the “Bird's-Beak” pa, where it was translated by an English-speaking Maori. “Ringiringi,” questioned, disclaimed any knowledge of it, and as to the incriminating reference to himself, he assured Titokowaru that “Kingi” was lying.

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Titokowaru immediately despatched the white man and four armed Maoris after “Kingi.” They found him at Te Paka village; he disappeared that evening, but was later caught by a party of seven Maoris and confined in a raupo hut at Te Paka.

They killed him there that night.

Bent was lying half-asleep in a wharé in the settlement when the seven Maoris, who had brought “Kingi” in, entered, in an intensely excited state, sat down, and asked him if he had heard of the judgment on his fellow-white. Then one of them said, “Kingi is dead.”

Another man, leaning forward until his passionate face almost touched Bent's, exclaimed:

“Ringi, had you done as Kingi has done, we would not have killed you in the ordinary way. Your fate would have been burning alive in the oven on the marae!”

Then the seven, after a conversation between themselves in a strange language the white man could not understand, listen as he would—the Maoris sometimes improvise a secret tongue, by eliding certain syllables in words and adding new ones—the executioners rose and left the wharé.

It was not until next day that “Ringiringi” learned the details of the deserter's end.

“Kingi,” after being given a meal, was left alone in his hut, but was watched through crevices in the wall until he sank to sleep, fatigued with his page 138 enforced tramp. He lay with a blanket partly drawn over his head. One of the Hauhaus, a man named Patumutu (“The Finishing Stroke”), stole quietly into the wharé, and attempted to deal him a fatal blow with a sharp bill-hook. The blow, however, only gashed his nose, and he leaped up and grappled with his assailant.

The Maoris outside, hearing the noise of the scuffle, rushed in. An old man—Uru-anini of the Puketapu —seized the white man by the leg, brought him down, and dealt him a terrible blow with an axe as he lay on the floor.

The other Hauhaus completed the work with their tomahawks, and the dead body of the renegade Irishman, cut almost to pieces, was dragged out and thrown into a disused potato-pit on the out-skirts of the village.