The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 8 (November 1, 1938)
The Magic Island — Chapter VII. — Kingi, The Kiwi
Early next morning Sammy crept into the children's bedroom.
“Wake up! Wake up!” he said. “It's morning!” He went over to each bed and shook Barbara and Michael vigorously by the shoulder.
“Ya-a-a-ah!” yawned Michael as he sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. “Good-morning, Sammy.”
“Good-morning,” answered Sammy.
“Is it really morning?” asked Barbara as she jumped out of bed. “I've had a lovely sleep.”
“Breakfast is ready,” said Sammy, “but first of all I will bring you leaves of water so that you can wash yourselves.”
He darted out of the room and soon returned carrying two curved leaves filled with water. Barbara and Michael washed and then dried themselves on thick leathery leaves which Sammy was holding in his teeth.
Barbara found that there was a comb in the pocket of her coat. The children combed their hair, then they put on their overcoats, and carried their scarves and berets in their hands.
“Now for breakfast,” said Sammy, and he led the way into the other room. All the other sphenodons were up and were sitting at the table breakfasting.
“Here you are,” said Mrs. Sphenodon. “Sit here.” And she moved two toadstools up to the table.
The children sat down and Mrs. Sphenodon placed before them their breakfast, which consisted of thin slices of bread, stewed mushrooms and sweet nectar to drink. The rest of the family were having baked spiders for breakfast. “I'm glad we're not having that,” Barbara whispered to Michael as she eyed the spiders in disgust. But the sphenodons seemed to be enjoying their meal.
Throughout the meal, Albert and Henry kept up a ceaseless chatter. “So you come from New Zealand,” said Albert, “That's where our ancestors came from years and years ago. Father and Mother came from New Zealand. Annie, Baby John and I were born on this island. The rest of the family are New Zealanders.”
“What made you come to this island?” asked Michael of Mr. Sphenodon.
“Oh, we just grew tired of the bush in the North Island of New Zealand. We wanted adventure. We had heard about this island from the goblins as they often come backwards and forwards to New Zealand. One day when they were leaving in a boat, we all hid in the boat and here we are.”
“How long have you been here?” asked Barbara.
“I really cannot say,” answered Mr. Sphenodon gruffly. “A few thousand sun-downs and sun-ups.”
“Sun-downs and sun-ups!” exclaimed Barbara in a puzzled tone. “You must mean a few thousand days?”
“Not necessarily,” answered Mr. Sphenodon, “The sun doesn't shine every day.” It was just then that a baked spider went down the wrong way, and Mr. Sphenodon spluttered and coughed in an effort to dislodge the irritating morsel.
“That will teach you not to eat so quickly in future,” Mrs. Sphenodon said squeakily. “You do gulp down your food so.”
“Have you nearly finished,” said Sammy, “for we mustn't waste too much time.”
“I've finished,” said Michael.
“And so have I,” answered Barbara.
“I want you to meet a friend of ours. He said he would come and help us. He may be waiting outside,” said Sammy.
After thanking Mrs. Sphenodon for her very kind hospitality, Barbara and Michael followed Sammy, Albert and Henry out of the room and down the little passage into the open. Outside, as the early morning air was a little chilly, the children put on their scarves and berets.
It was a beautiful morning. The mist in the valley below was just lifting.
“Oh, it's lovely here!” exclaimed Barbara. They stood on the edge of the hill and looked down to the valley below.
“Your friend is not here yet,” said Michael.
“Oh, he won't be long,” answered Sammy.
“What are those white buildings over there?” asked Barbara, pointing to a group of buildings in the distance.
“Those buildings,” replied Sammy, “are where the goblins live. And that very big white building with the tower is the palace of the King goblin. It is built of coloured shells.”
“Oh, look!” exclaimed Michael, “What is that coming up the hill? It looks like a big bird!”
“It is a bird only he doesn't fly,” replied Sammy; “It's my friend, Kingi the Kiwi.”
“A kiwi!” exclaimed Barbara. “They come from New Zealand, too. I've seen pictures of them in books, but I've never seen a real live one. Our teacher says that long ago the kiwi was really the giant moa.”
“Poor Kingi,” said Sammy, “he is the only one left on this island, now. His father and mother died when he was small and he had to fend for himself.
The kiwi came nearer. Before many minutes were over, he had reached the top of the hill. Though he was not very big, to the children being small he looked an immense size. He had a long beak, strong whiskers and very strong legs and feet. The kiwi looked down at them.
“I hope I am not very late,” he said in a deep voice.
“Not at all, Kingi,” answered Sammy.
“These are the little mortal boy and girl, Barbara and Michael, whom I told you about late last night.”
“How do you do,” said Kingi, and he held out his foot to be shaken.
“How do you do, Mr. Kiwi,” said Barbara and Michael, and in turn they shook the foot.
“Please don't call me Mr. Kiwi,” said Kingi; “Call me Kingi. I like it ever so much better.”
“All right Mr.—I mean Kingi,” said Barbara.
“Hadn't we better start on our journey to the palace?” asked Kingi.
“Yes,” replied Sammy, “but first of all we shall have to think out what we are going to do when we get there. How are we going to rescue Tiny Toes, Dimples and Peter. Peter's a friend of Barbara and Michael, Kingi. He has also been taken prisoner by the goblins.”
“I suggest,” said Kingi, “that you arm yourselves with long pointed sticks and that we start off and see what we are going to do when we reach the palace.”
“Yes, perhaps that would be better,” agreed Sammy on reflection. “I've got some pointed sticks inside our place. I'll go in and get them.” He darted inside the hole and returned in a few minutes, holding five long pointed sticks. “If the goblins come we can give them a poke with these,” he said.
He gave one each to his brothers and the children and kept one for himself.
They started off down the hill. The sphenodons carried the sticks between their teeth for they could get long very much quicker walking on four legs than on two. Kingi went first and Barbara and Michael found it very difficult to keep pace with him, he was walking so very quickly. They reached the bottom of the hill and Kingi stopped and said to the children, “I will give you a ride, if you like to jump on my back.”
“Thank you very much,” replied Barbara, “but we are very tiny and I don't know how we can get onto your back.”
“We will help you,” said Sammy. Quickly, the sphenodons jumped on top of each other. “Now,” said Sammy, “you can climb on top of us and then on to Kingi's back.”
Barbara and Michael climbed slowly up the sphenodon's backs, and they were soon sitting astride Kingi.
“Quite safe?” asked Kingi, “Hang on tightly. Away we go!”
The way to the Palace lay through a dark wood. Barbara and Michael became frightened and clung tightly to Kingi's back.
As they went into the interior of the wood, it became darker than ever and they could hardly see to go on.
Suddenly there was a noise like a clock being wound up, and a tree moved out from the side of the path, and folding two great branches, like arms, across its trunk, it leered at them, and said, “You can go no further.”
Kingi stopped. “Oh,” he said, “and who's going to stop us?”
“I am,” said the tree,” “like this.” It bent its branches as if to pick Kingi up. But Kingi was too quick. Like lightning he turned his back on the tree, shot out one of his powerful legs and caught the tree right in the middle of its trunk. The tree gave a groan, threw up its branches and collapsed on the path.
“That's that!” exclaimed Kingi, as he hopped over the fallen tree.
“Ooh!” cried Michael, “You are clever, Kingi! Is he dead?”
“No, I don't think so,” replied Kingi, “only winded, but he won't forget it in a hurry.”
“Perhaps,” said Barbara, “he's a guardian of the Palace.”
“Yes, I think he is,” answered Kingi.
“Oh, I'm scared!” exclaimed Barbara.
“Never be frightened when you are with me,” boasted Kingi.
They had reached the edge of the wood and it became lighter. Before them was a high white gate and a wall made of coloured shells.
“This,” said Kingi, “is the entrance to the Palace.”
With his foot he tried the gate, but found it was locked. “Someone will have to jump over the wall. Perhaps, you sphenodons could climb on top of each other like you did before, and then Barbara and Michael can reach the top of the wall,” he said.
The sphenodons quickly did Kingi's bidding and Barbara and Michael were soon standing on top of Sammy. By stretching a little, Michael could just reach the top of the wall.
“Give me a heave, Barbara,” he said. Barbara gave him a push and soon he was standing on top of the wall. He bent down and took hold of Barbara's arms and pulled her up.
“Is there anyone in the courtyard?” asked Kingi.
“No,” answered Michael.
As silently as possible, the children dropped on to the grass of the courtyard below. Michael quickly ran to the gate. It was bolted on the inside. He pulled out the bolt and swung open the gate.
The kiwi and the sphenodns did not appear.
The children went outside and looked up and down the path. Michael turned to Barbara in dismay. “What are we going to do now? Oh, where have Kingi and the sphenodons gone!”
(To be continued.)page 40