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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XXXIX. Zada's Hatred of the Pakehas Explained

page 160

Chapter XXXIX. Zada's Hatred of the Pakehas Explained.

Zada has related to me something regarding the pakehas cruelty, which accounts in a measure for her bitterness against the English," resumed Miss Munroe. "She felt keenly the death of her tutor, and gradually her books were entirely neglected. About this time a band of lawless men—beach combers, I think they were called—landed on the coast, and being well armed, they drove the Maoris from their kainges and compelled them to return to the mountains. They pillaged the villages and cruelly treated every Maori who fell into their hands. Another party surprised and took a village, and butchered all with the exception of a few young girls. These they took captives, and carried them off in their boats. Some days after the dead bodies of two beautiful girls were found on the rocks horribly mutilated. Their companions were never heard of, and it was surmised that they met a similar fate. These atrocities, in addition to many others that were committed without the slightest provocation against the natives, was chiefly responsible for the bitter hatred which Zada felt for the white people."

"No wonder, poor girl," said the Captain, "scoundrels of the type described have been the indirect cause of preventing the page 161speedy colonisation of this country, and have hindered and harrassed the work of the missionaries to an incalcuable degree."

"Did Zada say anything about her father?" I queried.

"Yes, he was kind enough to her in his own rough way, and she assisted him in many ways in his operations against the whites. Recently her opinions have somewhat changed, and she has done all that was possible to frustrate his projects against the Europeans. Once when going on an expedition against some pakeha settlers, her father was astonished to find that all his gunpowder was wet. You know some of her good deeds here. Since the discovery by her father of the change in her views, her life has not altogether been a bed of roses. To make matters worse Te Pehi wants her to marry one of his sub-chiefs named Kiapo. She treated the offer with scorn, which so enraged her father and would-be lover, that they swore to be revenged. Somebody has informed Kiapo that Zada has formed an attachment with a pakeha, and he has threatened to shoot the man that comes between him and the object of his affections This latter information was brought to Zada by her handmaiden Hema, a few days ago, and its receipt has caused her a good deal of anxiety."

I gave Captain Wilson a meaning glance and remarked—

"I suppose Zada will stay with you for the present?"

"I sincerely hope so," answered Miss Munroe.

"Although she has offended her people, she still possesses a good deal of authority over them in virtue of her descent. She showed me a peculiar short carved rod that she carries under her dress. It is supposed to confer mysic powers on the page 162owner. You will remember the remarkable effect it had on the Maoris some time ago when she waved it over their heads."

Captain Wilson fell into a brown study, and the conversation began to flag, when I gently reminded him of the doctor's instructions regarding his medicine, and we soon after took our leave. On our way back he suddenly said:—

"You see, Douglas, in spite of all my efforts I had no chance of thanking Zada to day; in fact I did not utter a word while she was in the room."

"Never mind, Captain," I replied.

"I think Miss Munroe has said all that was required, and I am sure Zada's answer from those eloquent dark eyes of her's must have convinced you that you are not indifferent to her."

"I trust you are right, but do you think I was imprudent?"

"On the contrary you did quite right. For the present, however, you ought to treat her as an esteemed friend, and by this means you will be able to observe her better. Afterwards you can make up your mind what to do."

"Quite right, Douglas," he answered brightening up, "you always seem to set matters right. I will take your advice and not worry her with sentiment at present. Heigh-ho! this is a strange world! l suppose you know Captain Snell will be away all day to-morrow slaughtering the wild ducks."

"Yes, so he told me; I have arranged to go with him on his next expedition, as I think my arm will be well enough by that time."