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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)

Part Xiii. — The Queen'S Earrings

Part Xiii.
The Queen'S Earrings.

This afternoon,” said the schoolmaster to a class of fifteen earnest students of geography, “we shall draw a sketch map of the North Island of New Zealand and put in from memory the principal towns and rivers.”

Fourteen pupils began laboriously to trace a rocky pattern which they trusted would, when completed, bear at least a passing resemblance to the contours of the coast line of Te-Ika-A-Maui. The fifteenth pencil was held by a little girl at the bottom of the class. She had bright chestnut hair and sticky fingers and she reduced the windswept vastness of the Ninety-mile Beach, the bush-clad shores of Kawhia Harbour, the azure sweep of North Taranaki Bight, to a wavering line of imposing blackness. Cape Egmont swelled in a bulbous curve, there was a puncture in the paper at Castlecliff and a rubber-smudge near Kapiti Island.

From the puncture at Castlecliff a line of surprising delicacy ran inland. At the end of this line was drawn a railway station with a signal in the “off” position, and then with sleepers, and all complete, a railway ran to where about an inch above the fortieth degree of latitude, appeared a house and a figure on horseback. This map earned a detention for its creator on the score of its unconventionality. But she was, after all, only emulating the old-fashioned cartographer who loved to embellish his chart with ships and mermaids and such romantic legends as “Here be whales.”

If Mary Lenzie, for that was the little girl's name, could have been induced to write such a legend upon her map, her journey's end would have been inscribed “Here be the Queene's Jewelles.” For it is a fact that this point, if you can find it on an orthodox atlas, is where the Queen's Earrings may be found. They lie in a wooden casket beneath the hearthstone of a farmhouse on the eastern slope of a fertile valley. The casket, which is of Maori origin, dates from about 1850, but the earrings, two exquisite fire opals set in whorls of beaten gold, are much older than that, for their story goes back to a day in May, 1568, when Mary Stuart fled from the Battle of Langside.

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