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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XX. The Power of Love

page 85

Chapter XX. The Power of Love.

Miss Munroe was just leaving the hospital when I arrived, so I turned back and escorted her home. I inquired after Captain Wilson's condition, and she said that he was now quiet from extreme weakness. The day before he was very violent, and tore the bandages off his head. Two men, besides the nurse, had to watch him constantly.

"Do you think he will ever get better, Miss Munroe?"

"Well, I don't know; he has had every kind of nourishment, but it seems to do him no good. I believe he is dying," she added gravely.

"Perhaps some one else could cure him," I said.

"I don't think so—no one in this part of the country at least, and it is too late to send elsewhere."

"Do you know the Maori girl Zada?"

"Yes, by repute. I have never seen her?"

"What is your opinion of her?"

"I think very highly of the girl," she answered, "I have often wished that I could be her friend. The misdeeds of her page 86terrible father, Te Pehi, should not be laid to her charge. I think everyone in Wairuara is under a heavy obligation to her, on account of the information she gave about the rebel attack. Besides, Captain Wilson has also told me about the four men that she liberated."

"Well, Miss Munroe, this Zada whom you admire so much, has offered to restore Captain Wilson to sound health again. Do you think it safe to let her try?"

"Oh I'm so glad to hear this. I have often heard that some of the Maoris are very clever, and are possessed of some secret medicines of their own. As for being safe, I have the best possible reason for thinking that your Captain will be in good hands."

"Why should he be safer in her hands than in anybody else's?" I queried with an amused smile. "Very likely she will poison him."

"No, no, I don't think that. My father told me——"she hesitated and looked on the ground, "that—she—is—in love with him; now you know."

"Yes." I answered, smiling at her blushes, "I think that is the best guarantee we could have."

I then explained to her about my meeting with Zada in the forest, and my conversation with Doctor Gill, his opinion of the offer, and my promised meeting with the Maori maiden. By this time we had reached the house, and descried the doctor walking quickly towards us. I was about to take my leave when Miss Munroe said:

"Stop a moment, Mr. Douglas, would you have any objection to my going with you to meet your dusky friend? I page 87have often wished to see her, and you can give me an introduction. I have heard that she is pretty, is that true?"

"Yes, she has a strange kind of wild beauty that many would admire"

"Don't you?"

"No; I prefer beauty like"—here I hesitated and gazed at her significantly—"She is rather too dark for my taste."

She blushed with confusion at my implied compliment, and told me to go inside while she spoke with the doctor. "You will find my new album and scrap book on the table."

Miss Munroe returned in about ten minutes, and we started to keep my appointment.

Zada was standing beside a large tree when we approached, and I was glad to note that she had evidently taken some pains with her dress, as her appearance was improved considerably. She had with her a small jar, and a bundle of herbs was in her hand. She gave me an anxious inquiring look when I came up, and then glanced at my companion.

"Well Zada, I have managed to get you the required permission.

This lady is Miss Munroe, and she wishes to be your friend. She will take you to Captain Wilson, and I trust your efforts to cure him will be successful."

Zada took Miss Munroe's hand, kissed it, and murmured, "kanui taku aroha wahine," (great is my love for you, lady) in a low tone.

"Have you come prepared Zada?" I asked.

page 88

"Yes, Zada thought you would grant her request, so she brought her medicines."

"Come with me then," said Miss Munroe, taking her hand, "We will first go to my house, and then to the hospital."

As we walked along I could not help contrasting the two girls. One tall, suple, and queenlike in motion, with dark well formed features, black eyes, hair as black as the raven's wing, and picturesque costume that showed the beautiful outline of her limbs. The other nearly as tall; her skin of a creamy tint that set off the delicate colouring of her cheeks, ripling golden hair that would became rough, eyes of a dark blue colour, in whose dreamy depths there was a world of tenderness. There was a graceful air of refinement about her that education and birth can alone implant, which would have forced a stranger's attention anywhere.