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Nation Making, a story of New Zealand

'The Chief's Revenge

'The Chief's Revenge.

'A year or two after the battle I have just described, the Chief Wahanui learnt that a Chieftainess of the defeated tribe had made a song, scornfully depicting him as a scheming slave, fit only to fight page 164with women or slaves. In another of the constant tribal wars, which rendered the life of the Maories in those old days, a constant misery of fear or slaughter, it so happened, that this woman was made prisoner, and brought before Wahanui. Without ceremony he ordered an oven to be constructed on the spot, and a large fire lighted.

'"Now," said the infuriated Chief, "sing thy song once more, and for the last time."

'Knowing well her doom, she met her fate bravely, as became the daughter of a Chief of old renown. On the instant, she began her song, and with bitter irony and fearless scorn, she chanted forth her song, with every epithet and taunt, which could sting and enrage her captor.

'Seizing her in his gigantic grip, he held her bodily over the burning fagots, until she was literally roasted to death in his hands.'

Shocked at the horrible cruelty of this ferocious old savage, we could not help comparing the Maories of our own day, with those of the olden time, who, notwithstanding their faults, are infinitely less savage and bloodthirsty than their ancestors.

It was now late in the third day of our detention. The rain had ceased. The dark cloud canopy was at last breaking, the stars began to shine out fitfully, and notwithstanding the pleasure the storytelling of the last two days had given us, we all joyfully looked forward to resume our journey on the morrow.

page 165

The President therefore announced the dissolution of the 'Runanga Club,' and for the last time, we rolled our blankets around us in the 'carved house' of the Maories.

Next morning we found the wind round to the south, a clear frosty atmosphere, a sky of intense blue, without a cloud, and though the distant roar of many a torrent warned us of perils on the way, we gladly resumed our journey in the midst of the usual greetings from the assembled tribe,

'Depart to your houses in peace,' responded to by us, as we rode away, 'Remain at your village in safety.'