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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXXIII. The Last of the Nga-Ti-Tama Chiefs

page 221

Chapter XXXIII. The Last of the Nga-Ti-Tama Chiefs.

In an open space in front of one of the angles of the incompleted pah, the Maoris of the war-party cowered down beside their kits of boiled potatoes, with which they had fern-root and morsels of dried shark, and began to eat; it was meal-time.

Dog's-ear stepped out from behind the tree which had screened him, and stood before his enemies.

'Rangitane, friends!' he cried out, 'I'm hungry—I'm tired—I'm alive!'

A dozen muskets were pointed at him at once - a silence, however, fell on all.

'E Taringa Kuri claims hospitality of Pakihure,' said he; 'take me to him.'

Some warriors advanced to conduct him. They turned on him—seized him—he was a helpless prisoner as he stood before Pakihure.

'Why come you here?' asked Pakihure, with glaring page 222 eyes; 'you're a Pakeha spy; He Kuri Koe!' Now, to call the chief 'a dog,' was most insulting.

'I came to make peace.'

'Peace! You, that struck down my relative, Waka-nui—you, that joined our worst enemies—you, that want to bind my hands and give me to the Pakeha!'

Pakihure bounded out into the open, and ran up and down, working himself into a rage, and speaking as he ran:—'We are not Pakeha. We cling to our own country. "Don't divide the crayfish;" we won't have our land divided.' But you! Oh, the false, lying Kakas! They go to the Pakeha; they sell the land, the land of the Maori; and then creep out to us covered by lies to speak false—to deceive us—to take us—to take our lives!

'"The road to Hawaike is cut off!"' he roared out; 'you die!'

Said Rangitoto, another chief, with fierce words and gestures:—'Rangitane, have we not been the prey of Waikatos, Ngatitoa, and their allies—of all? Do you not remember the bones of those who fell by hundreds? Who slew Waka-nui? Who slew him, E Tauringa Kuri?' addressing Dog's-ear. 'Oh! the killing! oh! the eating!'

A shudder passed through Dog's-ear. His sins of the past confronted him; now it was the ghost of a chief he had killed, and—eaten!

'Rangitane!' cried Dog's-ear, drawing himself up to his full height, and confronting his enemies unflinchingly. 'You reproach me with the death of Waka-nui! Alas for it! I would die thrice to the undoing of that death—but it cannot be. You, O Pakihure, demand utu for his blood. Good; I will die! My heart is heavy to page 223 think of the wrong I have done—I have said it! Take my life if you will, but oh, listen, Maoris of this fair land of Aotea. Who made this land, think you, Tangaloa, Maui? No. The great Atua, the God who made all lands, Aotea and Peritani; who made Maori and Pakeha. God made us of one family—we are His! Let, then, our hands join together in peace. Let us throw the club aside and be brethren—Maori and Pakeha. It is the Spirit of Evil who makes us love evil, hatred, and war; which end in ruin, suffering, and death! My last word is this,' said Dog's-ear, holding up his right hand and pointing heavenward, 'the God over all made heaven and earth, the sea, and all living beings; and think you He will let this His fair earth be deluged with human blood, when He made us to love one another? No. Those who smite with the club shall themselves be smitten—and there shall be none to help!'

With a yell of rage the Maoris leaped in the air, and their pent-up passion found vent in a fierce war-dance.

This finished with a wild, fierce, long-drawn cry for revenge.

Pakihure seized a gun and fired!

Dog's-ear fell forward, and his life's-blood welled out over the soil!

But now cries and shouts fill the air on all sides. The Rangitane find themselves nearly surrounded by armed foes. A deafening crash of musketry echoed far and wide, and the Rangitane Maoris bounded into the forest to hide—their pah not being completed—as Dog's-ear's whole party, with Harold Morpeth and the armed settlers, burst upon the scene.

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A cry of despair—piercing and touching—burst from the Nga-ti-tama, as they rushed forward and lifted up the dying chief. His eye brightened, and the old chief smiled, as Harold Morpeth caught him in his arms.

'Raromi!' he whispered, 'it is good—let there be peace!'

Harold put all his skill in practice to staunch the flow of blood and save his adopted father—but the ball had sped too surely; nothing could be done.

'Pakihure demanded utu,' said Dog's-ear, slowly. 'I've paid it. Let them go in peace.'

'You have paid away your life,' said Raromi, 'to save us—to bring us peace. The great God alone can reward you.'

At this moment Pakihure was brought before Dog's-ear, wounded and a prisoner.

'Listen, Maori and Pakeha,' said Dog's-ear, with a last effort; 'and listen, Pakihure. I've shed much blood in the past, and it cries aloud for payment I would give a dozen lives to undo the evil of it. I cannot. I bow to the great God—and die. But Pakihure shall go free! Let him take what he will from my whare; it is just. Feed him, clothe him, and send him home in peace. For the great God over all—is a God of peace.'

Dog's-ear fell back in Raromi's arms—dead.

Pakihure returned home in peace, and saw no more the face of Te Rauparaha, the fierce maker of war. There was peace.