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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XXII. Piggy and the Amputated Leg

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Chapter XXII. Piggy and the Amputated Leg.

After I had finished my work, I went to see Miss Munroe, as I had promised, and found her in the garden.

"I was expecting you Mr. Douglas. I have already heard that you are one of the company that is going out to rescue Miss Hirch, and I am sorry dad is not here to see you before you go. He has been away since morning looking after some cattle When do you march?"

"At nine o'clock to-morrow morning."

"I consider it a shame to put you on duty with such a bad arm," she answered, plucking a rose impatiently and scratching her finger with a thorn. "But how silly I am," she continued with a forced attempt to smile.

I bound her finger with a slip off my sling, and thought it best to change the subject by asking after Zada.

"I took her home first and induced her to eat something, after which I tried to make her wear one of my spare dresses, but she told me 'what did for the forest, must do for the page 94pakehas,' still I must say that her present dress is very becoming."

"Did you then take her to see Captain Wilson?"

"Yes; she was all impatience to go. Captain Wilson was unconscious when we entered, and after bidding the nurse to get some warm water and fresh bandages, Zada made a sign for her to leave the room. I was on the point of going also, as I thought she wished to be left alone with the patient, but she asked me in her quaint way to remain."

"How did she prepare the herbs?" I asked.

"She first made a poultice with them, and then sprinkled a dark powder on it, which she took from a small bag concealed in her bosom. Then she removed the dressing and bandages from the Captain's head, and substituted one poultice. She next poured about a tablespoonful of a green liquid into a glass, humming at the same time a low monotonous chant. After she had finished the chant, or karakia (incantation) I believe it was, she gave the dose to the Captain. The whole affair seemed so weird that it made me almost shiver. On asking her when the patient would feel the effects of the treatment she answered, 'this time to-morrow, if the Great Spirit wills it.' Strange is it not?"

"Yes, very; but 1 have usually found that most of their wonderful cures have been effected after a somewhat similar display of mystery. Is Zada still at the hospital?"

"Yes, she gave me to understand that she would watch by him alone, until this time to-morrow, and would eat nothing during the interval. So I compromised matters by saying that page 95the nurse would be in the next room if she should require assistance. I am going to make some jelly for her and will leave it outside the door this evening."

"Strange girl," I said, "I believe she will succeed in saving his life. I am sure she believes it herself. Do you think Doctor Gill will now leave the matter in her hands, and on the conditions you have mentioned?"

"Yes, I told him all about it, and he said that it was 'Hobson's choice.' So you intend risking your life among those savages for the sake of this German girl? If the wound mortities through over-exertion you will probably have to get your arm amputated, and what will you do then? Besides what good can you do with one hand?"

Very little I know, Miss Munroe, but as Captain Snell wished me to go, I could not very well refuse."

"You must think highly of this Arline Hirch. I suppose you have known her for some time?

"I have never seen her, Miss Munroe." I answered. "Doctor Gill has told me something about her family, and from which I conclude that they have been singularly unfortunate, and I for one will do what little I can to rescue the surviving daughter."

"You plead you case so well Mr. Douglas, that I now think you are quite right in going. There's the tea bell! come inside."

Mr. Munroe had just returned, and greeted me warmly. When we were seated at the table, he inquired:

"Did you hear of the scheme between Jessie and Doctor Gill?"

page 96

"No," I answered, "I suppose it must be something good."

"Well, yes, good may come of it. Jessie and the Doctor have arranged to form an ambulance class for ladies and gentlemen. Any of your men that are so inclined can join. Lectures will be given in the School of Arts hall, and some of us old fogies here will find funds for prizes and certificates. What do you think of it?

"Just the thing," I answered, "everyone would find it very useful to possess a general knowledge of first aid to the wounded. Many valuable lives are lost while waiting for the Doctor. I remember an instance," I continued, "when we were stationed in an isolated place some distance from Wanganui. One of our men had his leg badly shattered by a rifle ball, just below the knee cap. The poor fellow knew quite well that unless his leg was amputated at once there was no hope for him. I offered to do it if he would take the risk, and he consented. We placed him on a high bed, and did the job neatly. The leg was taken off at the knee, and placed at the foot of the bed. But the most curious part of it is that just when we had almost finished dressing the stump, the man began to revive, and as we did not wish him to see the limb, I quietly put it in the corner of the room out of his sight. While we were completing the dressing, a large half-wild boar that was in the habit of roaming about, looked in at the door, attracted, I suppose, by the scent of blood. The brute saw the leg, and seizing it was off in a moment. The alarm was quickly raised, and a minute or two later the whole garrison were out in hot pursuit, and after a most exciting chase succeeded in shooting the boar, but the leg was never recovered.