Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Ngamihi; or The Maori Chief's Daughter

Chapter LVIII. After the Murderers

page 253

Chapter LVIII. After the Murderers.

I Need not describe the grief of all who had known Zada on hearing of her untimely end, and the mourning throughout the township. Next morning a hundred men had volunteered to assist in hunting down Kiapo and his band. Taipua, who was deeply affected by the tragedy, swore to avenge Zada's death, and suggested many plans to Captain Snell, and it was by his advice that Te Tangemorana and Te Rangewhenua were sent out at once to track the murderers, commencing from the scene of the murder, and arrangements were made for the trackers to communicate with Captain Snell in different places when they had any news. Hoani and Ngahoia were to act as guides for our men, who were to leave a little later. Zada's funeral was to take place at four in the afternoon of the following day, and we all hoped that ere she was laid in the tomb Kaipo would be a prisoner in our hands. The civilians were organized as quickly as possible, and sent out in different directions. Our men, including Captain Wilson—although he was on sick leave, could not rest inactive—soon followed. After searching about for some time, Te Rangewhenua suddenly made his appearance running from a clump of suple jacks. When he had recovered his breath he informed Captain Snell that he had page 254tracked Kiapo and some of his band to a narrow cave in a mountain about a mile off. The cave had two openings, one on each side of the mountain, so that the greatest caution would have to be observed in approaching it. Just then Te Tangemoana came up and reported that he also had tracked the Maoris to the same cave, but from a different direction.

"Mr. Lovelock," said Captain Snell, turning to the Lieutenant, "you will please take twenty-five men and go to one end of the cave; Te Tangemoana will lead you. We will go to to the other with Te Rangewhenua as our guide, and I daresay a way will be found to drive these scoundrels out. Shoot the wretches down as opportunity offers. An example must be made this time if possible."

"If you have no objection Captain Snell, I will go with the Lieutenant, as he is almost a stranger to the forest here, and I may be able to give him some assistance," said Captain Wilson.

"Vewy glad of your company I'm shaw," said the Lieutenant with a bow.

"Very well, gentlemen, that is settled," answered Captain Snell, "so we will part company at once. Be careful Te Tangemoana,," he continued, "a great deal depends on you."

"I'll be careful sir. Kiapo very bad Maori, and deserves to have pakeha soldiers kill him," answered the guide in a hard voice.

"How long will it take our two parties to reach the cave?" inquired Capiain Snell.

"A little over an hour, sir," answered the guide. "Lieutenant Lovelock's men will get there first if we go to the end on the page 255right hand side; but your road is very rough in some places; Te Rangewhenua knows it well."

"What dou you think of the proposals, Wilson?" asked Captain Snell, offering his flask to the Captain.

"I think both parties ought to be in position before the enemy becomes aware of our presence," was the decisive reply.

"Yes, that would be the better plan," said Captain Snell, "I think," said he turning to Lovelock, "we ought to be certain that our parties are in position before operations are commenced, so we will say an hour and a half from this time. Whoever arrives at the cave first will lie in ambush until that time expires, unless something unforseen occurs. Proceed with caution and make as little noise as possible."

Our parties then separated, and we soon found that we had some very rough climbing to do before we could reach our destination—over deep chasms, on trunks of trees, and round huge boulders, which had been hurled there from some volcanic centre. Although our march was hurried, I could not help admiring the beautiful variety of flowers which grew everywhere among the rocks where it was possible for anything to grow. The poisonous wharangi filled the air with its deadly perfume, while greats flocks of gaily plumaged birds made the place lively with their vocal music.

As we were making our way through a ravine, I caught sight of a Maori woman, and though it was only for a moment I page 256felt sure, that it was Hema from a certain peculiarity in her walk. When I mentioned the circumstance to Captain Snell, he said that I must have been mistaken.

"I called at Mr. Munroe's house early this morning," he continued, "and I saw the Maori maid Hema crouched at the bedroom door of her dead mistress. Miss Jessie told me that they could not move her, so that I hardly think it is her."

"It does appear somewhat strange Captain," I answered, "but for all that I am certain that I was not deceived."

At length we came to a mountain standing by itself, from which Te Rangewhenua pointed out the entrance of the cave almost concealed by creepers. As the time we had agreed on with Lieutenant Lovelock had expired, Captain Snell led us to it without delay. We were soon drawn up in front, and the guide pointed out the marks of footprints leading into it.

"Do you think it advisable to attack them at once, Te Rangewhenua?" asked the Captain.

Not yet, Rangatira," he answered, "every one of your men would be shot down from the inside. I think it would be best to drive them out."

"How can we manage that, my man, unless we go in?" said the Captain, glancing quickly at the guide.

Te Rangewhenua looked about for a, moment and picked up a small feather. Holding it up at the entrance of the cave he let it go, when it floated into the darkness beyond showing that there was a strong draught of air from our side.

"We can smoke them out Captain," said our guide with a grin. "They won't come this way, but will all make for the other end, when they will be intercepted by our other party."

page 257

"Very good idea indeed," said Captain Snell, grimly. "Sergeant, take half a dozen men and light a good fire at the entrance, and block it up completely. Hoani and Ngahoia, you know the best kind of wood to make a good smoke; look sharp lads."

We soon had a good fire blazing, and the men found a quantity of green timber and leaves with which they replenished it. As the draught inwards was very strong, all the smoke drifted into the cave.

"I think we may as well get round to the other side before the Maoris come out, Douglas," said the Captain, "as it is no use stopping here. Connor will see that the fire is kept up, and Ngahoia and a couple of others can help him. I do not think Kiapo and his crew will attempt to come out this way, so that the rest of the men can join us, as they will be of more use with Lovelock than remaining inactive here. Keep a sharp look out, Connor, and if anything unforseen happens despatch Ngahoia for assistance."

We started immediately for the other side, but were much hampered by the uneveness of the track and ruggedness of the country, which interfered considerably with anything like quick progress. After about half-an-hour's hard work, we came upon Lieutenant Lovelock, with his men drawn up at the mouth of the cave, from which a dense volume of smoke—almost blinding in its intensity—was issuing.

The wharangi is a plant of the creeper species, growing in the forests and swamps which at certain periods of the year blosssoms into flower, from which the wild bee extracts a poisonous juice. This is conveyed to the general hive, the honey of which is fatal to those who eat of it. Numbers of Maoris have in this way met their death, and the feeling that is produced on the victim is similar to that of a snakebite. The native remedy in the early stages of the poison is to souse the patient in water, failing which old rags or such like, is burnt under the the nose, so as to cause vomiting. The plant, fortunately, is not common, and is only found in certain parts of New Zealand.