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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XII. Falconer Draws on the Future

page 76

Chapter XII. Falconer Draws on the Future.

Dog's-Ear had become the firm friend of Falconer; for the latter visited the chief in his pah after Noble's death, and made over to him blankets, tools, and other objects of great value to a Maori, as a legacy from the man whom Dog's-ear had saved and befriended.

Thus it was Dog's-ear, charmed by such a fine, good-looking fellow, by his generosity and good-nature, declared his friendship for Falconer, and vowed he would be friends with him for ever—he and his followers, the Nga-ti-tama.

This friendship—the open expression of it—lost Dog's-ear a partizan.

Wetekina, the fierce, fiery young chief, who had fled from near Lake Taupo because of a murder he had committed there, had attached himself to Dog's-ear with one or two adherents, truculent savages like himself, and he hoped to get power and fame under Te Rauparaha.

page 77

Dog's-ear's saving Noble and Bill Worsall—the former from Wetekina's savage fury, as already narrated—had estranged this young chief at once; and now Dog's-ear's avowed friendship for the hated Pakeha made Wetekina furious. He deserted Dog's-ear, and made for the forest, and two adherents with him.

Wetekina, the fiery savage—for that he really was—now became the leader of a much-dreaded band, few in number, but terrible on account of their intense hatred to Europeans. This band roamed the forests on the Tina-kore hills, about Karori, and amongst the glens between Port Nic. and Porirua.

One of Wetekina's band had given the blow which had laid Falconer low. Luckily the blow was given by a mere, and not by a tomahawk. The blow, too, as Falconer turned his head, fell upon the brow, and here Falconer's stout caprim took off half its force, and saved his life.

The law of necessity had forced Mrs. Norris to study the treatment of wounds as a part of bush education. Add to this a certain natural skill in that direction, and Falconer's speedy recovery is easily understood.

As soon as the invalid was about again, two serious problems had to be solved:—

Falconer had to get his living—but how?

And Mrs. Norris, alone in the world, had to get hers.

'I'm off to-day, 'said Falconer, at last; 'I must get to work.'

'True, lad; and I must be off, too; I—'

'No, no, Mrs. Norris, stay here. This cottage and page 78ground are mine. I shall live here. But I shall want you to stay and take care of the place; and me, too.'

'Dost mean it, lad?'

'I do. You can help me very much, and I shall be able to help you; so we can work for each other.'

'Let it be so, then, 'added Mrs. Norris. 'I can't help feeling like a mother to thee, lad. And perhaps an old woman's advice you might accept.'

'I will accept it; and act upon it.'

'You'll have a sharp fight of it at first, lad. You'll have to master yourself; that's hard work. And then the lads down yonder will be dead set against you. But fight it out on this line, as Paul did, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."'

Those words struck the young man forcibly. He never forgot them.

Mrs. Norris was looking out for Falconer when he came home in the evening. She had on her best gimped cap. 'I feel as if it was Will coming home,' said she; 'and I must make things cheerful for him; he'll have enough to do to fight his way along on the beach, or my name is not Norris.'

'Good evening, Mrs. Norris; how do you like our mansion?'

'I'll tell you by-and-by; but come to table, you're tired and hungry, I can see.'

The room looked quite cheerful. A big log blazed up the chimney, and threw a ruddy glare over the modest apartment; and the table, covered by a dazzling white cloth and smoking viands, bore evidence of Widow page 79Norris's desire to make Falconer comfortable. The old well-known chair was near the fire, and a pair of old slippers lay underneath.

'Mrs. Norris is a treasure,' thought Falconer, as he sat and ate like a man who is in downright need of a hearty meal.

'I've been all day, 'said Falconer, at length, 'on a couple of ship biscuits and a morsel of "junk."' 'Hard at work, eh?'

'Not all the day, no; and yet I've got a good job, in spite of the Bar gang;' and Falconer laughed heartily, as he used to do.

'You were right, Mrs. Norris, I've had a warm time of it. The fellows on the beach are all dead set against me.'

'They're nothing, lad; only don't anger them.'

'I'll tell you my adventures. After box-hauling about all the morning, I went in the afternoon to Mr. Soames, who sends boats off to bring cargo ashore. I asked him for work—in his boats—telling him how I was placed.

'"I shall be happy to give you a job in one of the boats," said he, "but you know the fellows I employ; if they take a set against you, you'll have to leave—at once."

'"No harm shall come to you," said I, "through me. If the lads won't have me, I'll go and dig potatoes."

'"Black Charlie has escaped," said he, "but I'm obliged to use sailors from the beach, so look out! for most of them are his friends."

'At the last moment, when the boat left the bit of page 80wooden jetty, I jumped aboard. But I jumped into a hornets' nest.

'The wind blew fresh, and we scudded off under small sail; but the men jeered at me, and tried to enrage me.

'" What is it you want? " said I; "what do you want me to do? "

'" If you're not out of this, sharp," said Harry Brown, "we'll just pitch you overboard."

'"We're close along side, lads," was my reply. "Let me get aboard, and I'll trouble you no more."

'Five minutes later, I was engaged by the captain of the ship to break out cargo at eight shillings a day for a fortnight or so.'

'You've got into the line of duty, lad, 'said Mrs. Norris; 'now go ahead, and trust in God.'

The next evening, tired as he was, Falconer, in an abstracted mood, took his pen, and began to write and figure.

'I have it! 'he cried, jumping up.

'What is it? 'asked Mrs. Norris.

'I've been thinking of the future—drawing out my plans.'

'That's good. Only don't live on it; live on the work of to-day.'

'This is just the country to do something good in by-and-by. But I want to strike in now, and be ready for it. Instead of being a common sailor, I want to employ them, and help them and myself, too.'


'At first to build a craft of fifteen or twenty tons, and page 81trade in her up the Straits. We shall have a fine trade here, one of these days, with Sydney; not in oil and flax, but in potatoes, onions, sawn-timber, and English goods for settlers and natives.

'I must get Scotty to work with me; and then, perhaps, we shall get old Nivens to work for us; he's a good shipwright.'

'You must keep him sober, then.'

'We must first catch him, Mrs. Norris; and then keep him. He's a good workman, but no one can use him. We will try him; yes, and we'll win him too.

'Let me see; suppose I say a craft of fourteen tons. Carvel built—hard-wood frame and top-sides—pine planking. She must be decked, of course, and have well-raised combings, and a sliding scuttle aft. She must have a straight stem and stern, and the rudder must be hung outside—like a billy-boy. Then for rig, we'll have fore-and-aft schooner rig; with a gaff top-sail aft, and a main-staysail on occasions.'

'You've fixed on that, then?' asked Mrs. Norris.

'Yes. This is the first step. Scotty and myself must work her at first. We will sell our cargoes for ready money to the people who work that Sydney schooner, the Alert.

'I like the idea, lad; and it will take you away from the rough lot on the beach, who are now, I fear, dead set against you.'

Scotty was charmed with the idea. The compact was made between them at once—they were partners.

'If Nivens will not only work himself, but direct us,' said Scotty, 'we can both help at off-times. You one page 82day and I another. Your land here will keep us going. With pigs, fowls, and what kakas and pigeons we can knock over, we shall live cheaply.8

'You shall be admiral, old boy,' he continued; 'and I'll be chief mate, cook, and crew.'

'We must lay her down,' said Scotty, 'at Kai-wara-wara, which is not far off; and back in the woods there, we can easily get what wood we want. I'll try and draw out the ship's plans; I'm rather good at designing—Nivens will be a check upon me.' 'You're worth your weight in gold, Scotty.' 'I know it, Falconer, only I've never been able to put my valuable self in the market. Now you have done it for me. Yours is one of the finest ideas out. This trade with Sydney will be first-rate. They grow few potatoes there; it is too hot. And their wood is too hard; our soft pine woods will sell famously one of these days.'

'When we're ready,' said Falconer, 'we must go back in the woods at Kai-wara-wara and see what wood we can find to suit us.'

'Capital idea,' added Scotty. 'We'll take our guns and some food, and get a few kakas and pigeons.'

8 The New Zealand pigeon, or Kereru, was abundant during the early years of colonisation, and was readily hunted due to their plump nature. However, since 1922 they have been protected from hunting (“Large forest birds” https://www.teara.govt.nz/en/large-forest-birds/page-4. Hunting native birds is a recurring scene within the novel, so much that Chapter XV is called Death Amongst The Kakas.