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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XXIII. The New Zealand Wild Boar

page 97

Chapter XXIII. The New Zealand Wild Boar.

Miss Munroe was horrified at my story, but her father burst into a hearty fit of laughter, and for a few moments was unable to speak.

"Did the unfortunate man recover?" presently inquired Miss Munroe.

"Oh yes; he was sent to his home in Victoria, and has since become a wealthy squatter."

"Your story reminds me, 'remarked the old gentleman,' that some wild boars were seen the other day about five miles from here—a most unusual thing, as they seldom venture so near the township."

"Is the wild pig indigenous to New Zealand" I inquired.

"No, I think not, Douglas. The best authorities say that they are the descendants of some that were left here by Captain Cook when he first landed on these shores. They are easily distinguished from the domestic pig by their length of snout and a general lanky appearance. There is no lack of food for them in this country, the prolific roots of the wild fern offering a never failing supply. The boars are particularly dangerous when page 98aroused, and I have heard of dogs (they are chiefly hunted by dogs) being ripped almost in two by their formidable tusks."

"Has anyone ever been killed about here in a conflict with them?" I asked.

"Yes, only three months ago a man was gored to death by a wild boar. Two Germans were out shooting tuis (parson birds) when they accidentally stumbled across one of these animals having an afternoon's nap. They were only armed with fowling pieces, and one of them very foolishly fired at the animal, the small shot scarcely penetrating its hide. It served however, to rouse the ire of the boar who instantly rushed on the man, and before he could get away had pinned him to the ground. It gored him dreadfully, and when some time afterwards his companion descended from a tree in which he had taken refuge he found his friend quite dead. The body was frightfully cut up, and the face was disfigured almost beyond recognition. By the way, did Jessie ever tell you of her narrow escape from being killed by a wild boar?" continued Mr. Munroe. I assure you, Douglas, it was the narrowest shave I ever saw in my life."

"No, indeed," I returned much interested, "she has never said anything to me about it. Is it possible, I said, turning to Miss Munroe, "that you have been through such a trying experience."

"I am afraid, Mr. Douglas, that father is exaggerating what really did occur," was the answer, given with a slight blush.

"Ha, ha! Jess," broke in her father, with a merry twinkle in his eye, "so you are too modest to relate your own doughty deeds, eh? Well, I will just tell it in spite of you. You see, Douglas, Jessie had arranged with me to go into the forest on a shooting page 99expedition after Maori hens. I had been giving her some lessons at firing at a fixed mark, but she got ambitious, and was very desirous of trying her hand at wild fowl, so I had at last consented to let her accompany me on one of my usual trips. We rode some distance out of Wairuara to a favourite spot of mine where we dismounted, leaving the horses in charge of a Maori boy who followed us. Have you ever noticed a mountain a few miles from here with a great rent down its centre and huge boulders scattered about in all directions?"

"Yes, I believe I have, Mr. Munroe. I think that is the place where we felt a rather heavy shock of earthquake the other day."