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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXIX. Whippy's 'twitches,' or kindness kills

page 199

Chapter XXIX. Whippy's 'twitches,' or kindness kills.

Let us go back a step; to the concert, which, in spite of the non-appearance of Mr. Morgan and Miss Clara Banitza, was carried through with fair success. Some of the young men had good voices and sang well. Others recited pieces, such as Horatius at the Bridge, the Spanish Armada, and tender poems from Mrs. Hemans' collection—all done well, and given with real expression.

Scotty at length noticed the continued absence of Harold Morpeth, and went outside to look for him. A bushy shrub stood at one corner of the building; Scotty went behind it and watched the people coming and going, yet unseen himself.

As he stood there, a sharp voice came through the shrub; it riveted his attention.

'Has any one left?'

'Not as I knows; they all like it inside.'

page 200

'Do they?' said in a sneering tone. 'What about that big feller?'


'That big sailor chap as is staying with the Lintons. He's slipt off. He'll give—if you play false I'll—'


'You know; a bit o' lead will settle your account sharp. Look here! Either find that big feller, and settle him yourself; or—'

'How can I?'

'Go. We'll give you two minutes. If he gits off it'll all be up—all along of you!'

'Settle him!' as applied to Harold Morpeth, alarmed Scotty, and stirred him to action, as he saw the fellow move off to 'look-up,' or 'settle' his friend at once.

'Harold's life is in danger!' he murmured, 'and I'll overhaul that rascal at all hazards and find out his mission.' He picked up a thick stick, and hurried after the informer Whippy, who was slipping away to the orange plantation, hoping to find Harold Morpeth all ready for the start.

'Stand!' cried Scotty, coming upon the man suddenly, 'hands down! or I'll fire!' pointing his stick out like a gun—which, in the gloom, answered well.

'All right, sir,' replied Whippy; 'lower your gun; I've something important to tell you.'

The news, added to the fact that Harold Morpeth had gone off alone—to confront a gang-—excited Scotty beyond bounds. He leaped on the other horse, pulling the pistols out of the holsters.

'If you really want to save Mr. Morgan, and the page 201 Lintons from robbery, go into the house by the front, and give the alarm;' so saying, Scotty rode off to warn the servants at Mr. Linton's, send out scouts, and go to Harold's assistance.

The rescue party convoying Clara Banitza and Harold Morpeth started homewards through the wild, irregular forest, which at that time existed in almost its primitive wildness.

There were native Australians on horseback riding like monkeys; settlers who had jumped on their horses helter-skelter without attention to toilette, whose appearance was as wild and rough as that of the very bushrangers they had ridden to capture or drive off. Behind all came Clara, with Scotty on one side and Harold on the other.

'This beats all the romance I ever heard of,' said Scotty, addressing Miss Banitza.

'How so, Mr. Scott?'

'Going to a concert lands Harold in a plot Getting out of the plot, he finds you pursued by robbers. Then that rescue—it's wonderful. And you knew each other, and—' Scotty hesitated.

'We're old friends, don't you see?' said Harold Morpeth,' and extremely delighted to meet again.'

Scotty looked at Harold and then at Clara; he saw there was some mystery about this friendship, and he was silent.

Foxwell had been bound with cords, according to all the skill of cunning bushmen; he was led by two mounted men, each one holding the end of a cord that was fastened round Foxwell's neck.

The whole party was riding along in the best of spirits, page 202 and the forest resounded with the sounds of laughter and merry conversation. Foxwell and his guards had, however, fallen behind—he had made some excuse for a halt.

As Foxwell's guards set forward again, two men appeared from behind a bush as by magic They threw themselves so suddenly on the mounted men that they were dismounted instantly, before they could get at their pistols.

The main party suddenly discovered Foxwell and his guards were missing. Loud coo-eys filled the air, but to no purpose. Some of the party rode back to ascertain the cause. The poor guards were found gagged, tied together, and nearly insensible.

Foxwell had escaped!

Boisterous shouts, hurrahs, and other noisy demonstrations of joy announced to the Lintons that Scotty's party had been successful. These were answered by Mr. Linton and his retainers while the party was approaching.

As the party rode up to the house there stood Mr. Morgan, pale and somewhat shaky, yet ready and happy to welcome Miss Banitza, who kissed the old man affectionately, and wept for joy.

Clara Banitza led Harold to Mr. Morgan, saying, 'Thank God, a very old, very dear friend came at the right moment—and saved me.'

'You are indeed fortunate,' said Mr. Morgan, addressing Harold Morpeth, 'to have rescued so charming a young lady, to have found so dear a friend. May God bless you!' He saw at a glance what had escaped other eyes.

The whole party, after refreshment, sat resting and page 203 chatting; when Mr. Linton brought forward Whippy—as one of Foxwell's gang—to give his information to Mr. Morgan, as magistrate.

'Let some one take down his deposition,' said Mr. Morgan.

'What's your name?' asked the magistrate.

'Joe Brown, sir—but, [gap — reason: damage] I've heaps o' names. They used to call me Whippy in New Zealand.'

'Do you know him, Mr. Morpeth? It is said he knows you.'

'Let me go on, sir,' said Whippy. 'I ought to expect no mercy, for I've bin as bad as the rest. I don't ask for it. Only I like you to know as how I put myself in Mr. Falconer's hands to save you.'

'Why, my good man?'

'Because of my boy—it was all along of your kindness to him.'

'To your boy! explain yourself.'

'Mr. Falconer, yonder, giv me the first twitch at heart—he helped me once instead of turning on me. And you, sir, some time ago, you helped me, when I was going to be lashed and put in irons unjustly—that giv me another twitch. Then you and Daddy found me in gaol, and my boy growing up to be a villain like myself. Daddy took him to live with him. And last night the last twitch—did it. I saw my boy, a fine big feller, a good honest man, and treated by all of you like a friend.

'I've done. I'm a villain, but I couldn't stand agin that. I'm yours. I tried to save you, sir; if I succeeded, I'm happy. Do with me what you like now!'