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Check to Your King

Chapter Thirteen — Fiat Justitia

Chapter Thirteen
Fiat Justitia

On the whole, I think that, with the exception of the little Nukahivan epic, this next step shows more real flair than anything else he had done. To be sure, the Court-room wasn't much – a good-sized barn, haunted in summer weather by that strong stench of dried shark and eel which is the poignant result of gathering too many natives together into an enclosed space.

There, in December 1837, himself seated on the Bench with a violet gown draped over his shoulders, Charles presided at the page 110 first trial by jury ever held in New Zealand. His jurymen consisted of four white settlers and four leading lights among the natives, all as respectable as he could possibly get, and all pledged to meet fortnightly for the trial of minor crimes; once monthly, in Supreme Court, for consideration of major errors. All the natives from miles around, sweating under their best blankets, came to look on. So did the white settlers, most of them with a forbidding look in their eye. What did that matter? Justice, my girl, off with those bandages and mufflers!

You will remember that in New Zealand there was no such thing as law. Mr. Busby pursued the tail-lights of vanishing British criminals and homicidal maniacs, club-law kings bullied and swaggered. Where many another marooned monarch would have been down in the taverns, weeping himself maudlin on the bosom of any low fellow agreeable to listen to him, Charles preferred to act as bear-leader to Justice herself.

You may be a little disappointed in the criminal. A native, caught stealing twenty bars of soap… one can't make much of an impression with that. But it was better to begin with small offences. The Maoris were very impulsive. Charles didn't want to get them into the way of hanging one another for every little thing. On the other hand, if his Court took their fancy, it was hard to see how his worst enemies could deny him a step in the proper direction. The first man to introduce trial by jury, and with whites and natives on a footing of equality… surely that was a feather in a king's cap?

Gravely His Honour – the prisoner at the bar having been found guilty – sentences him to the punishment of working three weeks without payment on the construction of public roads; and further declares that he shall be known hereafter as “Soap-Stealer”. Little Ted Davis interprets with religious zeal. The mahogany faces of the jurors break into toothy grins. After the trial His Honour whisks his violet gown from the Bench, and shakes hands with his jurymen, tall and imposing in their blankets. The inevitable fig of negro-head is doled out among the natives. Maori rangatira, quite impressed, promise that in future jury trial shall be observed at stated intervals for all manner of transgressions: grand and petty larceny, breaking and entering, sabotage, arson, rapine, seduction, disregard for property, intemperance and riot, murder, armed revolution, high treason, fracture of by-laws – when the King has made them.…

A track runs from the Court-room uphill to the house, down to the waterfront, through that part of the de Thierry estates page 111 which is known as the Long Bush. It is still a shiny little track, with no depth of wear to its raw surface. On either side hang the yellow grasses, brown fern and scrubby bushes. One can see how it could be as easily wiped out as an old promise, leaving no trace.

It is hard, all the same (watching the Sovereign Chief remove the judicial gown from his shoulders) to believe that a man could do so much and leave standing so little.

* * * *

Manuka, its slender stakes and pungent little leaves thick-massed for fencing, had been cut into great piles, bound together with flax lashings for stockades, enclosing the main residence and the settlers' huts. The slim naked slips of thousands of fruit-trees, as disconsolate as small girls caught out of their petticoats, showed on the slope behind the house. The men had put plough to the soil, and already several acres were broken up and dressed, ready to take wheat and potatoes in season. The womenfolk were busy over a flower-patch, where dozens of seed-packets, optimistically labelled with the high names and titles of pansies, double balsam, wax-lilies, and gillyflowers, had been introduced to their new soil.

The house was built in straggling formation, with a central blockhouse, where valuables and the comfortable furniture brought over from Sydney were installed – His Majesty's State Apartments – and on either side a boarded wing; one for the stores, kitchen, and dairy purposes: one where the boys had their sleeping-quarters. For the present Charles shared these rougher quarters with his sons, leaving the centre block for the women. The east wing faced the path most readily accessible from the valleys, and, after nightfall, was not a restful place. Moths, continued to flutter around its window-panes. A number of the deserters, attracted by tales of those stores brought over from Sydney, finding Lieutenant McDonnell's promises of employment more comprehensive before than after their exit, had taken to the bush as outlaws, and were perpetually requiring, after dusk, to be scared off with charges of buckshot.

The central house, however was comfortable. Cases of books; the writing-desk, of beautifully grained teak; Emily's American rocking-chair, like a portly throne on the verandah, where, as she hoped, rambling roses would make a pretty canopy in a year's time. On the little round table, close at hand, always waited the long frosted glasses, filled with Margaret's inevitable lemonade. That lemonade!… The grimaces with which it was received by some of the stout villains used to burning their gizzards out with page 112 rum and arrack! As soon as Charles could manage it, there was to be a piano again. Meanwhile, they contented themselves with the gilt Irish harp, whose music was soft and cool enough… water-nymph music, in these hot evenings, when the arguments of the day seemed suddenly as overwhelming as a landslide, everything booming together in slippery confusion.…

Music… that gentlier on the spirit lies
Than tired eyelids upon tired eyes.

The young man Shelley had written that. He had known what it is to be weary, though he was beloved of the gods, and died very young.

As regards the white settlers, the King of Mount Isabel's castle made small progress. One suspects that he argued too much. Here and there he won a friend by sheer persistence. A tough old fireeater of the name of Jellico lived just beyond his boundaries, and had gone about breathing threatenings and slaughter, swearing that if this Baron, begad, trespassed upon his properties, then he, begad, would let him have a charge of shot in the pantaloons. This was too much for the dignity of the Sovereign Chief. Over the boundaries he strode, head in the air. He discovered Mr. Jellico, fortunately unarmed at the time. They conversed together. In the end, they shook hands like long-lost brothers, and Mr. Jellico came home to supper.

In Sydney, the newspapers continued to take an interest in the movements of the Baron de Thierry… some, of course, declared they were not movements, but machinations. These Charles ignored, but with the friendly he was delighted to unbosom himself. The teak writing-desk comes into play. On December 17th, for milords of the Sydney Gazette, was concluded the first letter to the outer world from Mount Isabel.

The Wesleyan missionaries had purchased a portion of my lands over me, and Mr. Russell and Mr. White had also purchased, in full knowledge of my previous claims.… Nene (now called Thomas Walker) at length agreed to give me possession of a district, part of which had been repurchased by Captain Young, who acceded to the arrangement on condition of receiving £100 to withdraw his pretensions.

[Note added by Robin Hyde:]

(This, by the way, Charles, not having the cash in his pockets at the time, paid off in negro-head tobacco, a fact out of which the historians have had some fun. But no doubt Captain Young turned his profit.)

page 113

In my absence from Mr. McDonnell's place, he began the most diabolical tissue of false representations, and seduced the greater part of my emigrants from me. He offered to find them in provisions for twelve months, to build them good residences, to give them lands and furnish them with oxen to plough them.… Each individual was to have repaid me his passage money and that of his wife and childen if he left my employ before the expiration of twelve months, but McDonnell told them that they might snap their fingers at me, for there was no law in New Zealand. He employed my boat-builder to repair his boats, my painter in repainting his long-boats, my tailor in making clothes, and without permission or compunction appropriated to his service all those I had brought at such heavy cost for my own.… Thanks to this plausible man, I have been left without carpenters to build my houses, without blacksmiths to work the iron I had brought with me, and am reduced to the necessity of employing my farming men as carpenters. McDonnell's aim was the frustration of my expedition, but he has failed. I have a few men remaining who are faithful, and have already gained the confidence and affection of the natives, whom I treat in all respects as white men. I have a sufficiency of labourers. My white farming men have already broken up and dressed several acres, ready now to receive corn and potatoes. I have cleared a road upwards of a mile long, and have made other smaller roads. We have a house and outbuildings. I have sunk a deep well and given to this previously wild place an appearance of civilisation.…

Good as my opinion has always been of the New Zealanders, it is greatly improved by a closer connection with them. They are mere children, it is true, but they are gifted with kind and friendly feelings and I find them both intelligent and trustworthy, and that they are willing to work cannot be better illustrated than by the great portion of labour which in a few weeks has been done on this place.

The greatest bar to their improvement is the blanket, which they prefer to other garments because they are poor and unprotected, and it serves them for clothing by day and covering by night. If properly paid and receiving a fair remuneration for their labours, they would soon be supplied with coverings for the night, and proper clothing for their persons. It is their incessant aim, and I find that those who possess a few articles of dress wear them until they no longer hold together.

The country abounds with natural resources. The timber is magnificent, and I am surrounded by thousands of acres ready for page 114 the plough. On my own lands, I have shell for lime, abundance of fine timber, stone enough to erect houses for centuries to come, fine gravel for roads, river sand for mortar, clay for bricks and earthenware, potters' clay, abundance of clear and delicious water. ….

Crusoe signed his long letter Charles, Baron de Thierry, Sovereign Chief. The “King of Nukahiva” could keep for the moment.

Gloaming drew on, a veil of gossamer over the valleys. Below, like the lances of an army, rose trees strangely turbaned and tufted with great bushes of parasites, some burning-flowered, some lolling out green tongues.

All Canaan there; queer dark Canaan, difficult of understanding to any white man. Some of the Maoris delighted in pointing out the exact districts that should, under the original deed, have been his own. But now, as dusk spread softly into the crevices of that deep-cut world, vapour thickened until it streamed densely as an aquamarine fluid, he had a picture of encampments in other virgin forests.

Here were camps springing mushroom-like, and strange men in leather and steel rested among them. He knew that the words shouted by one and another were in the Latin tongue, and that the inky darkness spreading north was the woodland of Gaul… forests to subdue and colonise. Where they passed, a presence stayed behind them; Rome, the unconquerable.

There were rough log-cabins, their interiors glowing with the sappy fires of green spruce, maple, and hickory. The skins of deer and black bear sprawled on the floors. Long-legged, taciturn men smoked their great corncob pipes here, stretching their limbs in firelight. He saw the settlers of the Canadian and North American wilds, the pioneers, whose valour had touched his imagination often enough in childhood.

Now a last green cloud swam in the blackness. That was a lake in the desert, a mirage lake, and the bewildered caravans would never find it. Those men had set out to find a legendary city. (Many names, many names has she borne since the beginning of time.) There was a story of old and half-forgotten beauty somewhere beyond the dunes, of loveliness struggling, pitiful and deserted, against the inroads of the tiny sands. But to that city would the seekers never come, and the green lake would shimmer and die away, and an unfriendly sun shine in fierce pride and anger over their bones, distinguishing not between seeker and injurious conqueror, page 115 between dreamer and blind braggart. Useless, useless.… Yet God knows whether it is ever useless to seek and to be lost.

“From Mount Isabel I could view almost the whole of the lands that should have been my own. I could not behold these broad, wild-looking acres without a deep and heartfelt regret that I could not bring to them the air of comfort and civilisation which I had planned for wherever my authority should extend.… The chiefs from distant parts came to me for advice, and made me offers of vast tracts of land, which I might have secured but for my unforunate paucity of means. The six months which first elapsed after my arrival had placed me in so favourable a position as to make it certain that if money should arrive, as I still expected it would, I might in little time have become possessed of a power which very little effort would have consolidated.”

Poor Charles!… Put your trust in princes, if you must; they are at least capricious, and therefore subject to a decent whim like the rest of us. But to have reposed your faith in financiers!

The Maori passion for tobacco proved a terrible nuisance to the de Thierrys. (At that time, for a fig of negro-head, sixty figs going to the pound, unscrupulous whites were rooking the natives for eighty-pound kits of kumaras, the Maori sweet potato.) A wretch from a passing schooner got hold of a chief in the district, persuaded him to pay heavily for three sacks of “tobacco seed”. Three valleys were assiduously planted by the natives, and, as the infernal luck would have it, one bordered on Mount Isabel. Springtime, up came the plant, leagues of it… not tobacco, but rank dock. To get rid of it meant burning acres of timber. What would you say to a fellow like that sea-captain? And the trouble is that sort don't even know that they are dogs. If you asked them they would admit that they found themselves very amusing.

In Kororareka, Benjamin Spar, old sailor, ship-owner, and proud possessor also of a celebrated grog-shop and native brothel, sat down and with many oaths and mis-spellings wrote a letter threatening to make war over the Baron de Thierry's bones. Charles says he most likely wrote it in a fit of the horrors. At home, what with the deserters and the satellites of the opposition, things remain in a state to make one jump. Margaret Neilsen develops a periodic crise de nerfs, when, unless she is propped in an arm-chair and comforted, she goes about all day long with a vinegar poultice over the jumping tic in her cheek. Our Charles sleeps – so he says – with an open keg of gunpowder under his bed, and a pistol beneath the pillow. How lucky that he was a non-smoker! Nevertheless, one wonders whether the Baroness page 116 would not have preferred the risk of marauders to that of being blown up. There's an open-air shooting gallery behind the house, and Charles writes, in his naïve way, “As none of the natives could equal what I could do with a pistol, it was easy to make an impression.”

The brown sheep of the fold are not only the most interesting, but the most affable. Mount Isabel becomes a Maori meeting-place. In summer evenings, with the cleared ring of hill-top smouldering under moonlight crisp as a fern-fire, one goes out to find a circle of squatting natives around the flagstaff. (A flag in its own right has enormous mana* among the Maori people.) Charles, as a conversationalist and raconteur, is not bad, but he can't equal the gesticulations and fire of the Maori orator. The chiefs have so prodigious a vehemence, so fine an impartiality. One grey-haired man, tears in his eyes, describes Charles as his father, protector, and king. Up leaps another, flourishing his feather-tufted spear, and with extraordinary force denounces Charles as an invader. Both accept the inevitable negro-head tobacco afterwards without the faintest show of ill-feeling.

What does one know, in actual fact, about the dark races of the world? A number of generalisations; about the Maori (though there are excellent books on the subject, few of them read), little or nothing. It is said that the race is picturesque. Anyone with a conscience must sooner or later develop a dread of that word.

Thus, when a distinguished visitor to New Zealand today asks for particulars about the Maori race, the odds are ten to one that he will get an oration. The Maoris will be superlative in valour, poesy, beauty, loyalty, wit, and insensate adoration for the pakeha's ways and works. Nobody offers a hint of criticism. The distinguished visitor may later be surprised that he sees so little of the race, or that those whom he does meet often live in habitations both wretched and slovenly.

Always these encomiums; they are a surface of glass, firm, slippery and chill, distorting everything. But apart from the habit of intemperate praise, the white man contributes very little to the Maori race of today. There are a few authors and old-timers, a few surveyors and station-owners, who have a genuine knowledge of and regard for the people they are talking about. But in the seats of the mighty there are few who can call themselves the Maoris' devoted and practical-minded friends.

What were they really like? What were the essentials in their little manual?

page 117

For the most part, in youth, everyone agrees that they were good to look upon; at their best, kingly. A tall race, the hair ranging in colour from the red of some districts to the shining black of the north; sometimes with thin, chiselled features, sometimes much thicker of lip and nostril. In the north, the most feared and warlike tribe were the Ngapuhis, living up beyond the great forests of kauri trees, and led once by Shunghie in battle. The remnants of them live on like ghosts.

The blue tattooing covering the lips and chin of women, the full face of the male, was used only on the features of persons of high rank. It was not a disfigurement, but an added distinction. And these tall people, especially the men, were capable of growing old with a dignity which still looks darkly out from the paint of a few ancient portraits. They wore pieces of mako tooth in the lobe of the ear, or greenstone carved into queer little amulets, some of which, the hei-tikis, were in the shape of the human embryo, and a potent charm against the spirits of stillborn children.

They were superstitious, cunning, terrible in revenge, holding it just to wipe out a whole tribe as payment for a single death; patience itself, in waiting their opportunity for this revenge, or utu; impressionable to the point of being fickle; capable not only of great fortitude, but of acts of chivalry which no white race could better.

They respected their word when it was given to an honest man. But they had a shrewd instinct for the cheat; once having detected him, they stung him like a swarm of mosquitoes. Early New Zealand history resounds with the bellowings of white biters bit.

For a long time they did not seem to take the pakeha overlord-ship of the land very seriously. They liked the rum and arrack, the white man's weapons, the rough fellowship of the sailing-ships. But one feels that many of them had a strong idea that all this would vanish away as suddenly as it began. They traded their lands, parting with them, as it were, only for the moment.

In these land-bargains, whites found them most unscrupulous. Great was the roaring of gentlemen who bought enormous holdings for nothing, receiving, duly, the deed adorned with the vendor's “moko”, the tattooing upon his buttock. Unluckily, scores and scores of exactly similar deeds, adorned with exactly similar mokos, might be furnished by the owner of the same brown and brazen buttock. Discovering their plight, the white buyers would comb the length and breadth of the land for their beguilers, but Buttock had gone a-hunting.

Sometimes it was worse than that. Land might be sold to the page 118 one person, the deed sweetly water-tight. Immediately then, up would pop the heads of scores of others who claimed to possess a share in the land, and wanted a purchase-price themselves. If the chief vendor went about a bargain with a white buyer properly, he could conciliate the tribe and see to it that the ground was clear for its new tenants. This, however, he frequently omitted to do. My own theory is that he got a good deal of innocent pleasure watching them fight it out. The classic example is that quoted by F. E. Maning, when everything on a land-transfer was held up because an important Maori claimed that the land belonged to his ancestor. But, as it turned out, the ancestor was a large green lizard, said to have lived in a cave on the property.

In business, then, 'ware land-sales… as Charles had already discovered to his sorrow. In the Arts, about the time when John Keats was dying like a rat, the Maoris were maintaining tribal poets and poetesses of distinction as something between fetishes and pets. Far from there being any snobbish prejudice against authorship, great chieftains themselves – Te Rauparaha, for instance – composed famous and bloody-minded epics.

There was no written language, but an amazing and priest-taught skill in memorising history, legend, and poesy. There were musical instruments, some carved from the thigh-bones of gentlemen who had previously been disposed of by way of the cannibal oven. There was double value in this idea; firstly, the practical Maoris were getting the use of the bone article, and secondly, they were dealing a terrible insult to the relatives and friends of the person eaten. They made a business of insulting one another, like the Scottish clansmen, who are, indeed, their nearest white analogy.

Cannibalism, when the de Thierrys arrived, was at a much less forbidding strength than during Shunghie's wars a few years before. It was still practised in isolated cases, and on various warlike pretexts rose to popularity now and again. Nevertheless, that impressionable and sensitive regard of the Maoris for the white man's custom was forcing the cannibal feast into disgrace and desuetude. Less than ten years after Charles landed in New Zealand, a young chief named Hone Heke had a little war on in the north. The Maoris were successful in one encounter with the whites, and after the affray the body of an English captain was found to have disappeared completely. Instantly the papers – the colony then sported two regular papers – raised a terrific howl of cannibalism. A few days later the captain's body was found where the Maoris had buried it, with all honour and dignity. The news-papers page 119 observed a journalistic maxim of today: “Never apologise. Never explain.”

The influence of white man over brown has always been boundless. Those tall savages at Mount Isabel, curling up in their red blankets and pining for waistcoats and breeches á la mode… they have, today, a parallel in the little island of Puka-Puka. It is very touching. You won't believe a word of it, but that makes it none the less true.

Puka-Puka achieved two things: pants and cricket. When the depression came, the tiny export trade, which, after all, was nothing but bananas and coconuts, dwindled away. The natives wore their European clothes until, piece by piece, the rags fell from their backs….

That was the end of the cricketing fixtures. The Puka-Puka islanders were not merely naked, but ashamed. They mourned their condition more sonorously than did Adam, led by the ear out of Paradise.

Happily, the island mind soon forgets. The sunshine continued to glow, beneficent, unperturbed, in that little isle whose bananas the great world would not buy. Arriving at Puka-Puka a year ago, a white voyager who knows the locale found them merrily pitching the leather up the crease again, their old straw mats back in place, bronze nudity disporting itself everywhere. The scene, he says, was one of an idyllic charm. Puka-Puka had gone back to Nature. What a good thing nobody would buy those wretched bananas!

Among the Maoris, unfortunately, such a consummation was impossible. Their beautiful mats, flax, feather, and dog-skin went to the moth and the museum. They had blankets; and they coveted breeches, which in the end brought them nothing but trouble.

Shunghie had left behind him a mighty tradition. One day to Mount Isabel came two young chieftains, his sons. Learning that Charles possessed their father's famous battle mere, they begged for a sight of it. Charles brought out the exquisitely polished weapon, its stone smooth as jade, but of darker green. He had an immediate instance of the reverence in which such relics were held. Shunghie's sons dissolved into tears and prolonged lamentations. An old man, near-blind, near-naked, tohunga of their tribe, fingered the greenstone softly, and raised his shrivelled hands as if in blessing, repeating the weapon's sacred names. That night great flax-kits of Kumaras and fresh fish were left outside the door. Ten years later, Shunghie's sons approached Charles and begged to be allowed to purchase the mere “Of course I gave it to them,” page 120 writes Charles, who at that time was in a state of bewilderment as to where his next week's rent could be coming from.

In the house at night, an oil-lamp, a mere tin pannikin, its contents bubbling and sizzling like a witch's cauldron, shared the honours with that oddest of their possessions, the little Sévres nymph. Her tiny porcelain breasts rose from their fichu of pale chiffon. The light of the candles held in her raised hands had flickered in the New York room where Isabel was born. Now they lighted a besieged peace in the wilderness. The damsel, nevertheless, maintained her porcelain air of remoteness. She was born to it.

A native who drifted in one day for tobacco brought with him a great flaxen kit of provisions. (The Maori way of cooking is fascinating. Earth-ovens are scooped out and lined with red-hot stones, over which green fern is layered. Your wild pigeon (kuku), pork, or sweet kumara, beds itself on the fern; flax matting is drawn over the whole and dinner steams slowly and deliciously).

Richard and George de Thierry – Richard now seventeen, his brother two years younger – went exploring in the kit. Later, their father discovered them lying green-faced among the manuka, overwhelmed by violent fits of retching.

Inside the kit were the hacked and bloody arms and breasts of a native woman. The Maori, when Charles remonstrated with him seemed to have no understanding of the rebuke. Charles stared at the phlegmatic brown face. It did not look particularly repulsive, brutal, or bloodthirsty. Customs of a country.… “What a farce it is,” he thought, “to teach psalms and texts to these men! Civilisation…what they need first is civilisation.”

The boys hung together like a brace of young gun-dogs. Cannibalism is not a topic to be discussed at table, with white women living under the dubious protection of under twenty settlers, and savages on every hand. But there was a little crusade established between them.

On a day when they had been out shooting pigeons in the Long Bush, they came on a shouting mob of natives down at Herd's Point. (Named after that same old Captain Herd of the ship Providence, mentioned in Charles's famous deed.) The man tied at the stake, whilst native women prepared green fern and stones, they recognised as a Maori who had visited Mount Isabel.

There are fairy-tales, many of them so obviously for children that you laugh at them, and don't turn a hair going down the dark corridor afterwards. The guzzling witch in the cake and candy house was of that breed. There was a beautiful queen ogress, with deep red hair . . she could be rather petrifying, page 121 because it was so easy to understand how one might be taken in by her. She was not merely like a normal person, but like a lovely and fascinating person.

The women and children, running about picking up stones and pieces of fern, were precisely the same as those who sat round the flagstaff in the evenings, and sang as though there were nothing but music inside them.

The bound man, then ? There must be something extraordinary about him. Richard called to him in Maori. He was quite conscious, and muttered a few words in reply.

Richard unslung his new musket, and stepped forward, over the borderland into one of those violent, highly coloured fairy-tales. He didn't in the least know his way about, and his eyes filled with nervous tears. A tall, finely tattooed native lounged some way apart. Richard, with a desperate gesture, shoved his musket into the chief's hand, and pointed at the bound man. Everything went spinning round before his eyes. He wanted to laugh, and cry out, “Oh, stop it, Margaret, we're not babies!” But when he looked up, the face wasn't that of Margaret, who looked rather like a solemn and faithful old horse, but the face of the ogre. He couldn't understand what its lips were saying. The ogre squinted down the barrel of his gun, said tersely, “Good,” and then pointed imperiously to George, who, his musket held between shaking hands, stood on the outskirts of the circle.

George said, “You're a fool,” between stiff lips, as he unslung his musket and passed it over. The ogre handed Richard a sheath-knife. He stepped forward, his knees shaking, and a black mist surging before his eyes. He knelt down by the bound man, who lay still as if he were already dead. The knife took a frightful time to cut through the stiff thongs, and at any moment Richard expected the crash of axe or mere on his head. The man on the ground had little bright beads of blood pointing the ends of his fingers where the tightness of the bonds had forced the blood down and burst his skin. It was the ogre-place, and Richard, sawing with the knife, couldn't wake up.

The man stared at him with cloudy eyes. Then, as if something had looked out from behind a mist, a glance came, brightened, and passed. Richard thought, “Those were a man's eyes,” and then became confused over his thought. The knots gave. He tripped over a stone in rising, and went sprawling to the ground again, spraining his ankle. He wanted badly to crook his arm over his face and cry, but dared not. George walked behind him stolidly, as they forced their way out of the circle. The women and children page 122 started to scream and chatter, in the most horrible high voices. Ogre-land… when they had seemed to be getting on so well, when they had joined in games with the enormous Maori tops, which fly up higher than the roofs of houses. He wondered if George were terribly annoyed at losing his new musket; and his foot throbbed.

He looked back, after a hundred yards' limping progress, along the steep way, red-carpeted with the myriad fallen stamens of the pohutukawa. The crowd at Herd's Point were out of sight, but the man bought with two muskets was following them, limping as sorely as Richard. Those bonds must have hurt.

Suddenly Richard's heart sang. He didn't look back again, but for the moment he felt that nobody in the world, white or native, would ever have the power to laugh at the de Thierrys again.

* Prestige