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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XXIV. Miss Munroe's Thrilling Experiences

page 100

Chapter XXIV. Miss Munroe's Thrilling Experiences.

"Yes, it is the same, for I have since heard of the great danger you were in from the falling rocks. Well, down that great crack or rent there is a narrow opening just wide enough for a man to crawl through, the cliff on both sides rising abruptly hundreds of feet in the air. About two hundred yards from this pass was a small swamp where we expected to find our game. We had arranged to fire from different sides, and after a good deal of scrambling I got into position. We were both armed with fowling pieces, while I had a Colt's navy revolver in my belt, as it is an extremely useful weapon on occasions of this kind. The swamps were swarming with game, the hens running backwards and forwards in the greatest trepidation. We had been engaged for some time keeping up a continual cross-fire, when I was greatly startled to see a huge boar rise suddenly out of the soft mud and reeds where he had been basking. A ferocious appearance he presented as grunting savagely he looked around in search of an enemy. I fired both barrels at him in quick succession, chiefly to draw his attention away from Jessie as I knew the shot could take no serious effect owing to the distance. Almost at the same moment Jessie fired, and the brute evidently badly hurt made over to the spot where she lay page 101concealed. Needless to say I was greatly alarmed for her safety, and shouting out at the top of my voice for her to run up the passage, I hastily prepared to go to her assistance. But Jess, you tell what followed," said her father.

"Very well," she answered with a slight blush. "On hearing dad call out I turned and ran up the passage as quick as I could, but soon found that the boar was fast overtaking me. I could hear it's heavy breathing, and feeling that my only safety lay in killing it outright or effectually disabling it, I turned suddenly and faced the infuriated animal. I shall never forget the horror of that situation. A shudder went through me at the sight of its frothy mouth and long tusks, but I felt that everything depended on my coolness, and levelling my gun as steadily as I could I aimed at his muzzle and pulled the trigger. The shot, however, only partially disabled him, checking for a moment his further progress. Recovering quickly the boar was preparing for another rush when I fired a second shot at a distance of about ten yards, which hit him full in the chest. Everything seemed a blank after that, and I remembered nothing more until I saw dear old dad bending over me."

"I should think so," said Mr. Munroe with a husky ring in his voice as he looked fondly at his daughter. "After I called out, I ran round, jumping over holes and sliding down rocks in the most reckless fashion. I wonder now that I did not get killed; I certainly could not repeat the feat without a serious accident. When I got into the passage I was horrified to see Jessie stretched out on her back with her gun still tightly grasped in her right hand, while a few feet away was the boar lying in a perfect pool of blood. I feared the worst as I rushed up to Jessie, but was overjoyed to find that she was only in a page 102faint. I quickly brought her round with a good nip of whisky, and found that beyond being a bit shaken by the fright, she had not met with any serious injury. She gradually recovered after a little rest, when I congratulated her on killing the largest boar that had ever been seen in this part of the country. We then proceeded to where we had left our horses, and sent the boy to pick up the Maori hens that we had shot. In the meantime we refreshed ourselves with the contents of our luncheon basket, which had been well stocked by Jessie the night previous. The boy soon returned with fifty-two birds across his horse—not a bad morning's work by any means! I directed him to return to the township as speedily as possible to secure assistance to carry the boar home, and some time later a cart made its appearance, into which the boar, after some little difficulty, owing to its enormous bulk was eventually transferred. When we got into Wairuara it was viewed by a great number of friends who could hardly credit that Jessie, single-handed, had vanquished such a formidable foe."

"Indeed, I think she deserves great praise for her courage, Mr. Munroe," I said. "It required no ordinary courage to perform such a deed, and I cannot refrain from expressing my admiration of her valorous conduct."

"Not at all," he replied. "In a new country like this everyone, irrespective of sexes, is liable to dangers of this kind, and there should be a certain preparation for the unexpected. At the same time, however, I consider that my little lass did her duty well. There are many heroes and heroines about us in every station of life who only require special circumstances to show the latent courage that is in them."

page 103

"Very true," I replied. "Without a fair opportunity a man is often branded as a coward, who, when the proper test is applied, emerges from the ordeal with flying colours. But I perceive that it is late, so I will now wish you good night. I suppose I will not see you for some days as there is no telling how long we will be away, but I hope to find Captain Wilson fully recovered on my return."

Father and daughter both wished me a cordial good-bye, and the latter murmured something about taking care of my arm.