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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XXXII. Captain Wilson Recovers

page 132

Chapter XXXII. Captain Wilson Recovers.

We reached Wairuara about dusk, and were welcomed by a large number of the townspeople who were watching for us. Though our expedition had been successful in every way, quite a gloom was cast over our return by the loss of some of our brave comrades who were all more or less intimately known to the townspeople. Miss Hirch was taken care of by some of her German friends, and many were the expressions of sympathy that greeted her appearance.

After tea when everything was quiet, I went to Mr. Munroe's, as a messenger had brought me an invitation from the old gentleman. Both father and daughter gave me a most cordial welcome, and asked a thousand questions about the rescue of Arline Hirch and the state of my arm.

"Before answering your questions, dear friends, would you tell me if Captain Wilson is still living?"

"I am thankful to say," said Miss Munroe, "that he is now out of danger. That strange girl Zada has snatched him from death's door with her wonderful medicines. She adhered. page 133strictly to her previously expressed intention of keeping every body out the sick room for at least twenty-four hours, and refused to eat anything herself during that time. You may be sure I was at the door when the time had expired with something tempting, for I knew the poor girl was famished. When I entered the passage I heard the door being unlocked. I cannot imagine how Zada could have guessed the time so well, as there was no watch or clock in the room. Opening the door quietly, I saw Zada standing by the bed looking at her patient with a tender expression in her beautiful eyes. Captain Wilson was sleeping calmly, and I felt convinced upon the restful expression on his face that the crisis was passed."

"Can you come into the next room with me," I whispered.

"Yes," she answered, "Zada can leave the pakeha rangatira now, he needs her no more. Tino tanqata! tion tangata!" (best of men, best of men), she murmured with tears in her eyes as I drew her gently out of the room. I was quite overcome by the intensity of her emotion, and with considerable difficulty perauaded her to take something to eat.

"Has the Captain been very bad, Zada," I asked after we had been silent for some minute.

"Yes, he has been very near 'te whenua o te po,' (land of darkness) but the Great Spirit has lifted the darkness from him. A deep sleep has come upon him, and life has now returned."

"Has he spoken or recognised you?" I asked.

"No; Zada will go to the forest now, before he wakes. Give him no medicine, only chicken water (broth) at first. The forest leaves must be taken off his head at sunset, and your good doctor can do the rest."

page 134

"She poured what was left in the jar over the fire and prepared to leave the room."

"Zada," I said, "I want you to come to my house until tomorrow at least, just to please me. I will leave you there to partake of some much needed rest, and then I will return here, as I would like to be near the Captain when he wakes. The nurse is in the next room, and will see to him in the meantime."

"Zada thanks the pakeha girl, and is grateful for her offer, but if you want to see the good Captain wake, you must soon return."

"I then hurried her here, and after she had taken a cup of cocoa, I persuaded her to take some rest. I was afraid she might leave the house during my absence, as she is such a wild creature, so I first made her promise to remain until my return. I then returned to the Captain's bed side, and the nurse told me that he had given several signs of waking during my absence. I told her that I would relieve her for an hour, and she took the opportunity of running home to see her family."