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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXVI. Noble Thoughts, Nobly Worked Out

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Chapter XXVI. Noble Thoughts, Nobly Worked Out.

Mr. Linton called himself a sailor when speaking to Harold Morpeth, and those who knew his chequered career knew this well. But he had given up ploughing the mighty ocean, and had taken to ploughing dry land instead, which yielded apparently much more profit with much less adventure. He was now a farmer—as well as merchant; and though crops, according to English ideas, did not much occupy his thoughts, cattle, cattle-rearing, and 'wool-growing' did; and in this direction he was considered a successful man.

'What beautiful orange trees!' exclaimed Harold Morpeth. This expression of surprise was sudden and natural. And it happened thus:—

Mr. Linton had taken his guests to see his fruit garden; and, turning round a clump of trees, the three found themselves amidst rows of beautiful orange trees in full fruit. So Harold's exclamation was natural page 176and true, for few trees excel the orange in beauty, whether as regards flowers, foliage, or fruit.

'That reminds me,' added Mr. Linton, in connection with Harold's remark, 'we must visit Orange Farm, where I can promise you luscious fruits of alt kinds. Besides, I long to introduce you to dear old Daddy, who will be so glad to see you.'

'I am anxious to meet him,' said Harold Morpeth; 'everybody seems to sound his praises.'

'He is a relative, I suppose?'

'Oh no; only we adopted each other in times past—and the tie strengthens each year.

'When Mrs. Linton begins to speak about Daddy she can never leave off. But, now, let us look at the stock-yard, and then home to dinner—for we dine early in these parts.

'I can shew you some of the longest-stapled wool in the colony,' said the host, after dinner, 'if you will come and see some of my merinos.'

'Won't you join us, Mr. Morpeth?'

'I will, presently; I want to rig your son's boat first

'Now, Master Frank, the first thing is the mast' Harold had taken the boy's boat to rig, and sat beside the window opening on to a verandah, and Mrs. Linton sat on the other side at work.

Harold and Mrs. Linton sat and chatted together with the frankness belonging to honest, open colonial life. The very air of the Colonies seems to beget frankness, as that of England begets reserve.

The young man learnt that musical parties were constantly being arranged by Daddy, and that a young page 177lady of great musical ability came out constantly to direct these musical soirées.

The conversation was interrupted by Mr. Linton, who brought a light trap to the door, and who called out for Morpeth.

'I'll drive our friends over at once to Daddy's,' said the host, speaking to his wife. 'I will come back for you by-and-by.'

The trap had hardly stopped in front of the house at Orange Farm, when the owner appeared on the raised verandah which ran round it.

'Why, Linton, you are early! But I am very glad to see you. A hearty welcome to your friends too; the more the merrier.'

This was Daddy, whose heartiness of manner and cordial welcome made the young men feel at ease at once.

'I have brought some friends, Daddy, who have just arrived from New Zealand, who have passed through much hardship and danger. We thought a few days out here would do them good.'

'My dear young friends,' said the old man, with another warm grasp of the hand, 'I hope we shall be able to cheer you up. It does an old man good also to live again in the society of young, buoyant lives.'

'Let me say, Mr. Crips,' added Harold, 'I am delighted to make your acquaintance; for I have heard so much about you from Mr. Linton that—'

'I know him, I know him,' replied Mr. Crips; 'he's always trying to excite my vanity, but I tell him I'm too old—too old.

'But come inside, my friends.'

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'Excuse me just now, Daddy; we want to see your gardens first.'

Passing to the rear of the house, through clumps of shrubs, by little artistic nooks and rustic harbours, tastefully designed and covered by creeping plants and orchids, the party came to a well-laid out plantation, which took Harold Morpeth and Scotty by surprise.

'This is charming!' burst from the visitors.

'Is it not?' added Mr. Linton. 'And this is Daddy's own creation and work.'

'Not so fast, my son,' said Mr. Crips; 'you forget my boys; it is more their work than mine.'

The most sunny side, taking up half the plantation, was occupied by rows of fine orange trees; the other half was filled by vigorous and healthy fruit trees, apricots, peaches, and apples in full bearing, and laden with fruit.

One or two plants in a corner, having immense leaves, took Scotty's notice at once.

'They're bananas, Scotty, I can see,' replied Harold to his friend's enquiry; 'but you must go amongst the islands to the north for them; the natives use those leaves as umbrellas, as plates, and to clean their fingers with.'

'Plates!' echoed Scotty.

'Yes; a chief in those islands would have his yam or taro served up on a bit of banana leaf; and, after eating his meal, in which fingers take the place of knives and forks, an attendant would give him a piece of the juicy leafstalk to clean his fingers with.'

Returning home, the party passed a group of young page 179men and lads picking fruit, to whom Mr. Crips gave a few encouraging words.

'They are my boys' explained Mr. Crips, when still within hearing of the fruit-gatherers.

'Indeed! you have a large family,' said Scotty.

'About a dozen!' replied Mr. Crips, with a merry twinkle in his eyes.

'Daddy is mystifying you,' explained Mr. Linton. 'The fact is, this farm is Daddy's pet idea—and a good one.'

'Let me leave you a moment, my young friends,' said Daddy; 'you will rejoin me at the house.'

'This farm,' continued Mr. Linton, 'was taken by Daddy, with the clear intention of taking a number of outcast boys—sons of outcast fathers—to train them up usefully; that is, to give them fitting occupation and trades, and surround them by fitting companions and kind friends.

'He works with them, and teaches them to love work. He says, and says most truly, that idleness begets vice, and vice ruin; and that idleness often comes from want of instruction and discipline. Daddy undertakes to remedy these defects, and turn his lads into useful, honourable members of society.

'So the dear old man works with them, lives with them, and lives for them; and he not only gets them to work hard and well, but to love good, honest work—and love him, which they do most thoroughly. Out of the profits Daddy puts aside a certain sum each year, for each young man who comes up to the mark, to give him a start in life.

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'As they all work together, so they live together most happily; but Daddy is the moving, guiding, holy influence that pervades the community. He seems to reach men's souls, and gives to each the powerful attraction of a bright, happy, noble life.'

As the party neared the house they passed several small workshops. In one a lad was trying to put a heel to a shoe. Daddy was shewing him.

'You see now, don't you?' said he.

'I do, Daddy; I'll never let the heel get down like that again.'

'I want them to be all-round men,' said Daddy, joining the party. 'At least, let them start from the German standpoint, and each have a trade; each have the power of life in his hands, the power to gain his own living, and, if need be, help the really indigent.'

Tea and supper came together—as at sea. A long table was spread bountifully as in a baron's hall, Daddy taking the upper end. He stood up and said grace reverently, and then some five-and-twenty persons sat down, with good appetites waiting on each, for the evening meal.

After supper, Scotty and Harold Morpeth felt somewhat isolated. Mr. Linton had gone for his wife, and all the young men were occupied getting ready for a soirée.

'I generally take a quiet stroll in the woods to my look-out,' said Mr. Crips, joining his guests;' would you like to accompany me?'

'With great pleasure,' was the reply.

After leaving Orange Farm, and skirting a bit of forest of huge gum trees, Mr. Crips led them through a wild tangle of blue-gums and clumps of sweet-smelling page 181wattle. At length the ground rose, and, after some distance, their path led to the top of a small hill.

This was the ' look-out;' and the view from it filled the young men with unbounded delight

'Is it not a beautiful view?' asked Mr. Crips, as each gazed round in silence.

'It is more than beautiful,' replied Morpeth.

'Generally, at the close of each day, I climb slowly to this spot,' said the old man. 'Here I seem to feel the true, refreshing inspiration of Nature. It leads me to God, and I bow and worship Him. Yes, my thoughts go out in unconscious prayer, but they mostly end in very definite aspirations. So God speaks to me, and refreshes me, and I go down again, as I trust, a better man.

'My young friends, let an old man, whose race is drawing to a close, advise you to get into the inner circle of God's paternal love; sit at His feet to learn wisdom; and then Nature becomes His ante-chamber, where you may worship Him, and go back again to daily life brave, strong, earnest, and patient.'

In silence they watched the fleeting shades of departing sunlight, the shadows on the upper waters of the Parramatta River, the rich tints colouring wood and dell, farm and homestead; then with quiet joy at heart the young men returned home, deeply impressed by the silent influence of Daddy's life, which spoke even more strongly than his words.