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For Peregrine (his very bones growing sore under these repeated shocks) peacocks on his green lawns, oaks and sycamores spreading their branches about the mellowing beauty of his house had no more comfort. A shadow lay on that house, cast by his own daughter, by Nick Flower, whose very name brought a rush of blood to the head, by Darien. Darien, most graceless of all ungrateful women, had so constantly stayed John's hand that the pick of his flocks and herds had never gone to Canterbury with Jerry … and now Jerry was marching out with Brian and there was naught of good upon the earth.

“His Omnipotence appears somewhat deflated,” said Jermyn, coming back for the war to find Major Henry saving his soul with his old thumbed copies of Swift and Voltaire while his religions stood dusty on the shelves, missing Tiffany. The wolfhounds were long gone since the Major could no more exercise them. And his moustachios were going too. Stout old cock, always making the best of it, thought Jermyn.

“Missed you infernally, boy. Always do. Peregrine was never any company. Goin' to lead the papers again, eh?” said the Major, who never ceased hoping that some day Jermyn would astonish the world. But Jermyn, sniffing gratefully round the little room so scented of the wild life, said he had come to smell the flax and fern again.

“And to hear the news. Unloose the flood-gates, you old scandal-monger,” said Jermyn, getting out his pipe.

The Major could only talk of the regiments swarming in. New faces, yet the same old glorious regiments; the Die-Hards, the Royal Irish, the Black Cuffs, and many page 340 more, said Major Henry, savouring them on his tongue. Field artillery, too, and cavalry. A naval squadron. England, it appeared, was going to make short work of all this nonsense now…. “Yet how she do seem to hate doin' it, boy. I dunno why.”

“She says she'll soon have all the colonies demanding troops for every storm in a tea-cup. I don't blame her. She can't understand the position,” said Jermyn, wondering if anybody in the world ever would, and presently going up and down Auckland to hear what folk were saying.

Lucilla, riding out with Emily to the farm, had plenty to say about the new regiments. “La! The quizzes. The shocking fops … ogling a girl so she daren't go out,” cried Lucilla, trying all Tiffany's hats and bonnets on her black head. Since Tiffy never came to town now it was wicked to leave them in their boxes. “Aunt Darien always said I would be fascinating in the right clothes,” declared Lucilla, prinking. “I suppose you couldn't lend me this saffron bonnet, Tiffy? It is still quite modish.”

Tiffany could. Lucilla had Caroline's bright colouring and lack of humour, along with all the little tricks taught by Darien. So perhaps she would be popular, thought Tiffany; a little pitying and superior to Lucilla, who set store by such things, and trying to stay herself on the philosophies in Major Henry's books.

But neither philosophers nor saints seemed to have experienced just what Tiffany had … and being men how could they? There should be a philosophy written for women, who needed it so much; who were taught so little and yet expected to keep their house in better order than men ever did. A ramshackle old world, thought Tiffany, trying valiantly to laugh at it, at herself who had built so fine a man out of nothing. Of nothing, she repeated daily, conscious that only incessant scorn would keep Dick Sackville dead.

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Yet he wouldn't be quite dead, for so often she waked in the night to hear his laugh, to see his merry eyes peering with the moon through the window-pane….

“I must work hard. That's the only thing,” thought Tiffany, who certainly never learned that from the philosophers. Sally's beliefs in patience and Eternity were too tender for this fierce Tiffany who had bitten her arms into bruises in her childish tempers, who stung her soul now with contempt of herself and all mankind, who sought so hungrily for immortal reasons since mortal ones did not help.

Sturdy Sir John could not help; he was busy with setting Maoris to plough the brown furrows and murder Tane's trees, he giving himself to his Herefords, his Clydesdales, which Tiffany helped him gentle to the rein. “Lord, I wish I didn't have to sell this chap,” said John, grooming the shining barrel of some upstanding monster with legs as hairy as Esau's hands. But he would sell them all so that Caroline and the girls might be decked, and he'd never wonder why. A good beast of burden was Sir John.

No help for Tiffany now from a Darien who had taken many-chinned merino rams for her gods and worshipped them exultantly. No passionate seekings for the divine in Darien, down on her knees before the wide fireplace, giving lambs suck from a bottle with a rag. “Monstrous lucky my baby did die in Tasmania,” said Darien. “She couldn't have had the title, and just think how she would have been in the way now.”

This was so exactly Darien that Tiffany could not but laugh, holding another wriggling little body to another bottle. But the laugh had an edge to it that brought Darien's eyes sharply on the intent face in the firelight. She'll never be so handsome again. The next man will have to love her for the other things, she thought, saying: “You're well out of all that business, you know, Tiffy; but I'll probably scratch Flower's eyes out when I see him.”

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“I deserved it,” said Tiffany curtly.

“Well, I think you did. But I didn't. I nearly married him that night, Tiffy.”

“Married Nick Flower!”

Darien winced. That proud Lovel blood of Tiffy's. She said hastily:

“Why not? He's a Lovel too … partly.”

So Tiffany heard that story, and felt a queer understanding of Nick Flower who had been so hurt too. But he had hit back, as a man can. And in hitting papa, as he would so naturally wish to, it wouldn't concern Flower that he had hit women also. Women matter so little, thought Tiffany, going out to this tremendous bush anciently remembering its youth, making all mankind so small even to blessed extinction. Perhaps I'm really a pagan, thought Tiffany, getting so much comfort from the bush.

Jermyn and Sally rode out one day to bring the news; Sally in a blue habit and wide hat with blue feather, looking almost as gay as Jermyn, whose new checked riding-suit made such an elegant macaroni of him. They both look so young, thought Tiffany, feeling taken by experience into an elder world. To them Dick was no more than a troubling name. They had never had laughing eyes come to mock them in the night.

“What did you do to Lucilla, Darien?” asked Jermyn. “She's out to charm the town and her sisters can't abide her.”

“That's my saffron bonnet,” said Tiffany, laughing, making tea while Darien clattered cups and saucers on to the table. Jermyn wrinkled his eyes at Tiffy's laugh. Tragic creatures, women. So seldom may they get comfortably drunk and ease their stuffed bosoms. It would do the nut-brown maid no end of good to go on a real jag.

But since even he could not advise that, he talked of promenades on Wynyard Pier, in the Gardens; of Caro- page 343 line outdoing herself with musicales; of Sophia running out of tracts and hymn-books and coming to Major Henry.

“‘I saw such a nice lieutenant who looked as if a prayer-book might help him if you have a spare one,’ said Sophia. So old Henry said the fellow probably read French and gave her a Rabelais in the original. Sophia took it in all good faith, and her stock has certainly gone up at the barracks now.”

“Poor Sophy,” said Tiffany, somewhat indignant at silly Sophy being made the sport of men. But it was her own fault, as it had been Tiffany's fault. Oh, why don't someone explain to us what life is, she thought.

John came in to read the last letter from Linda. Governor Grey had generously found time to present Canterbury with several pairs of silver-grey rabbits which would, if allowed to breed, make good shooting. So there had been a public holiday with flags and fireworks in Christ-church, with all the big sheep-owners riding in, and so many calling at Durdans on the way home that Linda had to make up six beds on the floor.

“If only I had some Canterbury land for the animals, dang it,” said John.

“They would be safer,” said Jermyn. That was true enough, with the Waikato so near that a fleet of warcanoes might cross the portages and attack Auckland any night now, and Grey demanding of all Auckland Maoris that they should take the oath of allegiance or leave the town. So they had left in a body and, having been so long town-fed and town-degraded, had gone to stealing from the near-by settlers, killing beasts, burning cottages…. Sally feared John's farm was not safe. But neither was Auckland nor any place else. So she rode away with Jermyn, happy that dear Tiffy looked better, that Jermyn was apparently beginning to believe in Eternity at last and seldom hurt her now.

New Zealand was receiving all the hurt that man could page 344 give, and all the long patient labour of twenty years going up in smoke, all the crops trampled where men fought and ravished. It was a racial war now, with the Maoris intent on sweeping their dear land clear of the pakeha, and the English wanting to be done with the horrid business and go home.