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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXIV. Storm-Tossed, but Safe

page 163

Chapter XXIV. Storm-Tossed, but Safe.

The brigantine Alert lay alongside the wharf in Darling Harbour. And not a few people walked down to the wharf, to see the two heroes who had fought night and day against hunger and thirst, the howling wind and the raging sea, in a kind of ship's long-boat, who had been rescued at literally the last moment. But no heroes were seen—not as the imagination had painted them—for the simple reason they were hard at work, one at the winch and the other in the hold.

'This is one of the men, sir,' said the captain of the Alert to an elderly gentleman who stood on deck looking about him.

'Good morning, young man,' said the owner, speaking to Scotty; 'I'm very glad indeed to hear of your wonderful escape. You can rest and live on board until you feel in good trim again.'

'Thank you, very much,' was the reply. 'We've lost all our belongings—but here we are, hearty and strong page 164again, and ready for work. Falconer!' he cried out, 'come up a moment.

'I have just thanked Mr. Morgan, the owner.' continued Scotty, 'for his kindness—'

'But allow me,' added Falconer, 'on my part, to say, if it had not been for the promptitude and kindness of your people, Mr. Morgan, we should have perished.'

'Thank God you are safe,' added Mr. Morgan; 'but where is the Maori chief?'

Dog's-ear was called aft, and with much native dignity and grace he spoke of the kindness of the Pakeha.

'You know, my lads,' said the owner, 'my trade is with New Zealand, and hence I am greatly interested in all that happens there. I have had several chiefs with me at times. I like to entertain them.'

'If I may ask a favour,' said Falconer, 'it is this: will you kindly put Dog's-ear to lodge somewhere with trustworthy people? We will work for him and keep him.'

'I will take him,' replied Mr. Morgan. 'He is my guest. No destitute Maori shall ever pass my door.'

But the chief hung back.

'No, Raromi,' said he; 'you work, Dog's-ear work too.'

'Raromi! Who is that?' asked Mr. Morgan.

'I,' replied Falconer. 'Dog's-ear has, so to speak, adopted me—that is my Maori name.

'Listen, Dog's-ear,' said Falconer. 'This English chief loves you, and will treat you as a friend. Go with him. Let it not be said the Pakeha has no heart, no hospitality.'

'I have a favour to ask, my young friends,' said page 165Mr. Morgan when leaving; 'come up and spend the evening at my house to-morrow. I shall be very glad to see you—very glad indeed,'

Mr. Morgan, very kindly, had made arrangements by which Falconer and Scotty were to call at his office. And the chief clerk had been directed to supply them with money and clothes until they could do something for themselves.

'This is the very merchant I thought of going to for help,' said Falconer, 'if we had reached here in the Kaha-wai. Everybody speaks well of him in New Zealand.'

'Why not now, then?'

'How can I treat with him as a merchant when I come as a beggar?'

'Let us have a talk with the chief clerk; we'll see if he thinks we can be trusted with goods to trade with on our own account.'

Falconer had been directed, as he and Scotty left the Alert, to ask for Mr. Jarvey.

'Jarvey!' muttered he to himself—'surely I know that name well enough.'

At length the two friends stood in Mr. Jarvey's own room, before Mr. Jarvey himself.

'Glad to see you, young men—very glad,' said Mr. Jarvey. 'Mr. Morgan has spoken to me about you; now what can I do for you?'

'You are very kind,' replied Falconer. 'I purpose to borrow just money enough from time to time to fit us out again—for we've lost everything—and we will repay it by our daily labour at the wharf.'

'That's good—honourable. While you do that you page 166may—Good gracious!' suddenly exclaimed Mr. Jarvey, whose eyes were fixed on Falconer; 'why—'

'Don't be alarmed,' said Falconer, laughing; 'the young man you knew at Liverpool is not the same you now see—at least, I hope not.'

'Why, it's Harold—Harold Morpeth! 'gasped Mr. Jarvey.

He rushed forward, seized Falconer's hand, and wrung it again and again. This was to gain time. For the good man's eyes had so dimmed his spectacles he could see no more through them.

'Oh! what a joyful day! To think I've found my dear old master's own boy!' cried Mr. Jarvey. 'How delighted he would have been to see such a big, splendid fellow! God bless you, Mr. Harold!'

Mr. Jarvey was now obliged to wipe his spectacles—and take breath.

'Here is my best friend and companion,' said Falconer, presenting Scotty—'a right, true, good fellow.'

'If it wouldn't make him vain,' added Scotty, looking at Mr. Jarvey, 'I would tell you there isn't a finer, braver fellow going than Falconer.'

'Falconer!' said Mr. Jarvey, looking mystified.

'Let me explain my identity,' added Falconer. 'When I came out here beggared, and, as I thought, disgraced, wanting to hide myself from the world, I took another name—my mother's. I have always been called by that name.'

'Oh, dear, how glad I am—thank God—oh, what a joyful day! What can I do?'

The dear old faithful servant of the Morpeth family page 167was so overjoyed, that what with getting out of breath, and what with blowing his glasses and then taking them off to wipe them, he was fully occupied.

'How stupid I am!' he cried out, suddenly. 'You must be hungry. Here! boy, boy, put out something to eat and drink at once in my little room.

'Now come, my dear young friends, and eat and drink; and don't mind me, for my poor old heart works out through my eyes, and I can see nothing but the dear, dear boy of my poor old master, whom God bless for ever and ever, Amen!'

'May I ask how you happened to come here, Mr. Jarvey?'

'It was like this, Harold. When the firm ceased—'

'Was ruined!'

'When it was wound up, Harold, and I could do no more, I thought of Sydney. I had a relative here, and through him I came to Mr. Morgan, and became his chief clerk. And here I hope to end my days.'

'You're just the brave, earnest, good man you ever were, Mr. Jarvey,' said Falconer. 'It was you who always forgave me yonder when I should have been exposed, and sheltered me when I should have been punished.'

'Say no more—say no more—my dear boy. My poor old heart dances for joy. I'm fit for nothing—I can do no more to-day. Come along, I'll fit you both out at once; come along home with me at once, and—'

'No! no! I've got to work for my living—and hard, just now. I'm tired, and I must go aboard the Alert, to begin work early to-morrow,'

page 168

'I too,' said Scotty.

So taking some money, and giving a receipt for it, the two young men left, greatly, it must be confessed, to Mr. Jarvey's astonishment, and perhaps vexation.

A couple of hours later the office boy handed Mr. Morgan a letter, at his private residence at Woolloomoloo. It was from Mr. Jarvey.

The letter was as follows:—

'Dear Mr. Morgan,

'I am delighted beyond measure to give you my report respecting the young men you sent to me to-day. They are fine fellows, and you may admit them to your family circle with the utmost confidence.

'Try and imagine my joy when I say I discovered the elder to be Mr. Harold Morpeth, only son of the eminent merchant, of whose goodness and generosity to me I cannot speak too highly.

'Formerly he was rather wild—warm-tempered—but frank and open. He disappeared—after that sad event—and now he turns up from New Zealand with his friend, Mr. Scott, who is a nice fellow also, and an educated man, too, I am sure.

'My old heart danced for joy to-day when those fine fellows refused all aid but what they needed for the moment, declaring they would repay the money advanced by their daily labour on board the Alert. In fact, they refused my offers of a general fit-out, and went on board the schooner to be ready to begin work to-morrow morning.

page 169

'I said not a word respecting the letter from Liverpool. The joy of breaking the good news to such a worthy young fellow I leave to you, sir; but I shall be overjoyed indeed if I am made the means of helping Mr. Harold Morpeth at such a critical point in his history.

'Your faithful servant,

'W. Morgan, Esq.'

'H. Jarvey.'