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Raromi, or, The Maori Chief's Heir

Chapter XXX. Home, Sweet Home

page 204

Chapter XXX. Home, Sweet Home.

Some three months later a smart, swift, topsail schooner swept round the outer edge of Barrett's Reef, ran close-hauled through the entrance between the Reef and Pencarrow Head, and stood boldly into the harbour with a smart breeze. Tacking off Ngahauranga, the schooner ran quickly to an anchorage off Port Nic. and dropped anchor.

'What a beautiful spot!' exclaimed a lady standing aft, who, looking through a telescope, swept the picturesque western shore, the heights above it, and the straggling town, which, though poor in itself, was set in a rich framework of wild scenery.

'Let me give you a hearty welcome to Port Nic., Clara,' said her husband, Harold Morpeth—'a place of failure and defeat in the past.'

'But now, Harold?'

'Your presence, Clara, and the bright hope born of faith, gild the scene. I look at it with different eyes. I page 205 see only its beauty—and yours. I can never forget, however, what a terrible fall—'

'Listen, Harold: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; … though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand."'

The two stood a minute in silence, looking thoughtfully at the bright scene before them.

'Look there'—Harold stopped, and begging the glass, turned it towards the upper, higher part of the scene—under the hills.

'What do you see, Harold?'

'Our cottage has been touched by some fairy's wand. It is so changed I hardly knew it again.'

'Can I make it out, do you think?'

'Try, Clara. There, that's the direction.'

Clara looked long and hard; then handing the glass back, she said, with sparkling eyes: 'What a sweet nest! I'm enchanted with it!'

When Mr. Morgan and Clara returned to Sydney after their startling adventure on the road, Harold Morpeth returned with them. Scotty remained at Rose Farm for the wool-dipping. Harold at once, in perfect confidence, explained to Mr. Morgan his relations to Clara in the past—when they exchanged vows—also, his subsequent life, with all its faults, sins, and failings; adding the confession of his sincere, deep repentance.

Mr. Morgan was deeply affected by the recital of so much error, of so much suffering, and of such a painful awakening to a sense of duty and honour. Yet this page 206 endeared the young man to him. He induced Harold to stay at Sydney for the final remittance from his lawyer, Mr. Bowster, during which interval he bestowed upon Harold the accumulated wisdom of years of hard toil and trying experience.

During this time Harold and Clara were much together. They were mostly at Mr. Morgan's house. For Mr. Morgan was now Clara's trustee, and looked after the small income which was once in Noble's hands.

It so happened at last that Clara and Harold—knowing themselves, and each knowing the other—were married. Clara was married from Mr. Morgan's house; the merchant gave her away, and furnished a sumptuous wedding breakfast.

The next day he handed over a nice topsail schooner to Harold Morpeth—another Kahawai, for so she was named—on easy terms, that he might bring his capital into full play at once, and start with a good chance of success, without losing time.

'But how can I take you to our wilds—amongst wild men—in New Zealand?' asked Harold, one day, when seeking to obtain Clara's views.

'I'm ready to go with you, dear.'

'No doubt, Clara; but have you thought of hardship, of hard living, of dangerous natives?'

'Harold, dear, I have never wavered an instant in my love to you; and now I want you to know the reality, the depth of it. It will be sweet to work with you, and sweet to face and endure all that may happen—but always by your side.'

page 207

Clara was earnest and thorough, and Harold knew this; and knowing Clara's innermost desires he hesitated no more. Thus they joined their lives together as well as their fortunes, and, embarking on board the Kahawai, went off to New Zealand.

Harold Morpeth had not left Nivens and Mrs. Norris in doubt as to his fate. A trader had carried to Port Nic. details of the wonderful escape of the two sailors and Dog's-ear; and the shipwright and the widow had many a lively discussion together as to whether the fourteen-ton Kahawai was safe or not to go to sea with.

'It seems to me like flying in the face of Providence,' said Mrs. Norris, when she first attacked Nivens about the safety of the little craft.

'I don't know nothin' about flyin',' said the shipwright, sharply; 'and as to the face o' Providence, I never seed it—never. But I can tell you what I have seen. I've seen a whaleboat—an open boat, mind—as got blown away from the ship arter a whale, and was more 'an a week at sea, runnin' afore half a gale o' wind; and yet made one of the coker-nut islands in the Pacific'

'What did the men live on?' asked the widow, with a parting shot.

'Live on? Why, young fellers full o' blood and blue veins can live on the smell of a horn button for a week, they can!'

The widow was silent. Nivens' last joke was too much for her.

As Harold and Clara drew near their own little cottage under the hills, both were astonished and page 208 delighted. For Nivens had gone to work with a will, and had added two small weather-boarded wings to the central part, over which stood a light, pretty verandah.

Completing his work, Nivens with considerable taste had introduced in front of the wings clumps of laurels and evergreens, and had trained sweet flowering creepers up the front of the verandah, so that Harold, equally with his wife, was astonished and delighted at the altered condition of his home.

'For the first time, after so long, I feel as if I had reached home!' exclaimed Harold Morpeth.

'I'm so glad to hear that,' added Clara. 'Here, dear Harold, let us make home what it should be to each other, and to others—a centre of light, joy, and happiness.'

'We will, with God's blessing. We'll try to take up life even on its higher level, and see not only what good we can get out of it, but what good we can do with it.'

So they came home.