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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XVIII. Miss Munroe a la Florence Nightingale

page 77

Chapter XVIII. Miss Munroe a la Florence Nightingale.

While Miss Munroe was away, I said to Andrews:—

"Pull some branches, like a good fellow, over the dead bodies. I would not like her to see them if it tan be avoided."

Miss Jessie soon returned with a bottle of the Highland whisky that her father had recommended so highly earlier in the evening. I needed no pressing to take a stiff dose, and felt much benefitted for it.

What induced you to come here, Miss Munroe? I thought ladies were too timid to venture into the midst of fighting and bloodshed.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I felt so uneasy that I gave dad no peace until he had consented to follow in the buggy. Poor dad never dreamt that I intended going with him. While he was fussing about, I quietly took my seat in the buggy. You should have heard him storm! He soon calmed down, however, when he saw that I was determined to keep my seat. But you must excuse me, she added abruptly, "I must deserve dad's good, opinion and see if I can be of any use to some of the other poor wounded fellows"

page 78

She then went over to her father, who was helping Doctor Gill. After a few minutes Mr. Munroe came over to me and grasped my hand cordially.

"Well! my boy, I am sorry to hear you have been hurt. I have been helping the doctor, and would have come to you sooner, but I saw that Jessie was attending to you. By jove! the girl took me by storm—took complete possession of the buggy, and came in spite of me! Fortunately her mother had gone to bed before you left the house, otherwise she would have found it a difficult matter to be here to-night, bless her heart; it may be all for the best. There she is now? bathing a bullet wound in a man's leg. I thought she could not bear the sight of blood. Some of the men that were badly wounded might have been dead now but for the whisky she has forced them to drink."

"How many have been killed, Mr. Munroe?"

"I believe there are ten killed and seven wounded—three of the latter seriously. Doctor Gill has just sent for two or three carts to take them home."

"Have you heard anything about the German's family?"

"Yes, no use in going there now, as the rebels have decamped. Two men who have been to the house, informed the doctor that the old man and his wife are lying dead in front of the gate. The dead body of a young woman was hanging out of one of the lower windows—one of his daughters, I suppose, from the description."

"Where is the other daughter?"

"I do nut know. She has probably made her escape or has been carried away a prisoner—we will know more soon. It is page 79nearly daylight now, and the sooner we are out of this the better. Can you walk now?" he added kindly.

With his assistance I got on to my feet, and felt much better, but rather shaky. Just then three carts and a van arrived from the township. I hinted to Mr. Munroe the advisableness of withdrawing his daughter for awhile until the carts had received their sad burden. "All right," he answered, "I will come back when they are ready to start."

All the men had returned about this time excepting three, and for the next few minutes we were busy putting the wounded and dead into the carts. I was pleased to find that Captain Wilson had recovered his senses, though unable to sit up. We made him as comfortable as possible in the van, and Andrews, who was slightly disabled, sat with him in case his services might be required.

Mr. Munroe wanted to give me a seat in his buggy, but as my arm felt comfortable I preferred walking.

Our melancholy cavalcade arrived at Wairuara in about an hour. A large number of the townspeople lined the streets, and expressed great sympathy for the disastrous and unexpected reverse which we had suffered. The most absurd rumours had been circulated in regard to the surprise. Many of the people believed that our detachment had been completely cut in pieces. Some of the young women [sic: woman] that had sweethearts in our ranks were overjoyed on seeing that they had escaped uninjured, but there were others whose grief at the loss of their loved ones was very painful to witness.

A cottage next to our quarters was immediately fitted up as a temporary hospital, and Doctor Gill soon had his hands full. Miss Munroe preferred her assistance as a nurse, and two other page 80young ladies followed her example. As Miss Munroe had been a member of an ambulance class for some time, the doctor found her a great acquisition.

My arm became extremely painful in the course of the next few days, and the doctor jokingly threatened to take it off, unless I gave it complete rest. Under these circumstances, I accepted Mr. Munroe's invitation to spend the greater part of my time at his house.