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Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter XLVIII. Lieutenant Lovelock receives his "Conge."

page 198

Chapter XLVIII. Lieutenant Lovelock receives his "Conge."

"'You scroundrel; unhand my daughter this instant,' cried out dad in a stern voice. 'What do you mean by this outrage?'

'I have just made your daughter an offer of marriage,' said the Lieutenant, quite coolly, adjusting his eyeglass.

'Nice way to go about it, I never saw the girl so frightened before; I suppose she has refused you. Why do you not take your congé like a gentleman and go. I might add that you would have saved yourself much mortification if you had mentioned your intentions to me, and to save further trouble I will inform you that my lass is engaged to a gentleman who has received my full consent to the marriage.'

'The devil!' answered the Lieutenant, white with rage. 'And may I ask who he is?' with a sneer.

'Shall I tell him, my lass?' said dad, turning to me.

'No, I will tell him,' I answered, putting on a bold front to the enemy, although I was inwardly quaking. 'Mr. Lovelock, I am engaged to Mr. Douglas, with my father's permission.'

page 199

The Lieutenant's face turned deadly pale and he tried to speak, but the words were choked in their utterance. He swore to be revenged on you until at length dad, losing all patience, ordered him out of the house. As he was leaving he sneeringly remarked, that he hoped to get an invitation to the wedding, as he would like to be present at such a happy event.

'You impudent cad,' roared father. 'Don't dare to come here again or I will get you kicked out by the servants'"

"All this accounts for his black looks when I returned from patrol duty," I remarked slowly.

"You must be careful Lance, dear. A vindictive man like that may try and do you an injury, and then what would Jessie do? He, however, I think, is a coward at heart, and I really do not think he could put his words into deeds."

"No doubt he feels much grieved Jessie," I answered, "so under the circumstances I will put up with a great deal from him. The world is governed by jealousy, some call it love and some ambition, but when all is said and done and all philosophy is exhausted, the motive for all wordly effort is discovered to be jealousy—jealousy of possession, and is this not the mother of ambition—even the ambition of love?"

"I suppose there is something in your reasoning Lance, but I don't quite understand it."

"Neither do I," said Mr. Munroe, from behind our chairs.

"Now dad," cried Jessie, in some confusion, "I don't think it's fair to steal in on us like that."

"But my dear," said the old gentleman, "If you had not been so much engaged you would have heard me crossing the page 200room. I couldn't help hearing Douglas lecturing you on the mother of ambition. Who is she, Douglas? I am compelled to wear light boots on account of a pet corn, but I suppose I will have to tie a little bell to my coat to let you know when I am coming. Well Lance, my boy," he continued, "has my lass told you of the row last night?"

"She has told me of an unpleasant scene with Lieutenant Lovelock, sir."

"Unpleasant! I should think it was! Why, he frightened the lass out of her wits, but she plucked up courage afterwards, and spoke to him pretty freely. He talked a good deal about his connections in the old country, said he had brilliant prospects, and that he was heir to a title and a large fortune. But you know, Douglas, that 'not always knightly spurs are worn the brightest by the better born.' Much more he told me, but his extreme egotism and overbearing manner became so insufferable that I could hardly restrain the temptation of laying hands on him and forcibly ejecting him from the house. But enough of him. I was going to ask you to join me in a day's shooting—that is, if you'd care to come. I have a splendid spare gun and no lack of ammunition, and as the patrols report no rebels about you should have no difficulty in getting off."

"Thanks, Mr. Munroe, I am sure I am much obliged; but I have had so little practice lately that I am afraid——"

"Nonsense, man, nonsense; you'll do it all right. If you take Hoani, I will get my boy to follow with a pack horse. He can take the grub, and carry back whatever we may slaughter. I will go round to Doctor Gill, or Koti-roa, as nearly all his friends call him now, as he may like to come also. Try and be here at seven o'clock in the morning. We will breakfast together and start as soon as possible afterwards."

page 201

"Dad, don't you think you could make room for poor little me in your party?" said Jessie coaxingly.

"Nonsense lass, girls are awkard in shooting parties," said her father testily.

"You didn't always think so dad," she said, with a pout, "you know I can shoot fairly, and Zada can take care of mother."

"Was ever a father bothered with such a lass?" said Mr. Munroe with a groan.

Jessie gave me an appealing look, and I felt prompted to say something.

"I really don't think she would be much in the way Mr. Munroe. She knows how to handle a gun, and I think she can be depended on not to shoot any of us."

"Of course you will back her up Douglas. Very well Jessie, you had better tell the boy to get your pony ready early. Better tell him now, and see also about the provisions. As you are riding, perhaps I had better arrange to have a mount for each of us. But I am forgetting about Doctor Gill, ladies always upset 'the best laid plans o' mice and men,' I must now run round to the surgery. Good night."