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Sketches of Early Colonisation in New Zealand and its Phases of Contact with the Maori Race

A Hazardous Enterprise. — Sagacity of the Horse

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A Hazardous Enterprise.
Sagacity of the Horse.

Amongst the scattered out-settlers occupying portions of those extensive districts bordering on the Great Puhoi Run, was one family whom I shall name Waller.

Mr. Waller had formerly been a storekeeper, carryig on business in the city, where he had accumulated a comfortable competency, which placed him above the hard drudgery of bush life, enabling him to employ such labour as the requirements of his farm necessitated.

The family was composed of father mother, three sons, and two daughters—the latter being the younger branch.

Mr. Waller's intention in taking to agricultural pursuits, was first, to bring his extensive holding of two thousand five hundred acres into first class cultivation, then to divide it equally amongst his sons, and settle them thereon.

Mr. Waller was no Neophyte in farming for, during his youger [sic] days, he had been brought up to agriculture in Scotland, a country famed for its industy [sic] and prosperity in such pursuits, in the face of adverse climatic difficulties.

The sons of "the land o' cakes," have every reason to be proud of the land of their nativity, for it has produced some of the most enterprising and successful breeders of prize stock and exhibitors in all classes, at the leading Agicultural Societies' Shows throughout the Colony, as witness the names of manv [sic] successful competitors.

Mr. Waller was well and ably supported in all his undertakings by his worthy and respected wife.

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Herself, the daughter of a Scotch farmer, and brought up in the knowledge of all household and other details pertaining to such, whilst her domestic family responsibilities received all the care, attention, and supervision a devoted wife and fond mother could bestow.

In their children, this affectionate couple were exceedingly blessed, the sons being sturdy industrious young men, and fond of their home, the very pick of New Zealand's hardy settlers, and such that any Colony might well feel proud of pos essing.

They were also a considerable help to the father, relieving him of much of the general supervision of the farm, and altogether preparing themselves for their future responsibilities.

The daughters were both physically and mentally all that fond and affectionate parents could desire, being tall and erect in person, laughing blue-eyed, fair haired, dimpled both on cheek and chin; but it was, whilst animated, that their happy lively spirits shone out in every feature of their handsome faces, the unfailing index of the mind.

The fond and indulgent parents had not been neglectful of the education of their children, for they were all afforded the best the Colony was then capable of producing.

As an estimate of the domestic training of these worthy girls, when repeating here the oft expressed sentiment of their fond and wise Scotch mother—

"That it is the ambition of my heart to bring up my girls to the knowledge and use of a needle, and to shine either in the kitchen or drawing-room, so that when they became settled in life, and got homes of their own, they should be honoured and revered by their husbands for wisdom and their domestic vitues."

Amen! say all sensible people to that wise sentiment, and would that a few more such discreet mothers were to be found following in the footsteps of this prudent Scotch housewife; for, if there were, then, and only then, would there be found fewer miserable homes and less unhappiness to be found scattered broadcast.

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It was Christmas Day, that one of all others held so sacred and yet so joyful by all Christendom, when, as children, we are taught peace and good fellowship towards our fellow men.

On the evening of that day I received a note from Miss Violet Waller, the youger of the sisters, requesting me to visit them at my earliest convenience, as she had a communication to make, and favour to solicit, which, she doubted not, I would be only too ready to acceed to.

Her name Violet was a most happy and appropriate one, for she was, indeed, a sweet interesting girl, the pride and joy of the family, and beloved by all who were in any way connected with her.

Early the next morning I had made all the necessary arrangements to proceed to Mr. Waller's farm, distant about seven miles from the station, being anxious to hear what the communication was,—but the request—well, that goes by saying, that it was already granted, and this the little tease knew right well beforehand.

So mounting my horse and proceeding, I arrived at my destination in due time, where I was received with all the courtesy and attention engendered of long and intimate friendship, being pressed to stay all night, but this I could not comply with, having promised to be home again early in the afternoon.

At a convenient interval Miss Violet informed me— "That New Year's Day being her sister Florence's birthday, and the one whereon her sister would become of age, she, Violet, was anxious to secure the largest and finest collection of wild blooms possible,"

"That she had often heard, but never seen, the display of such to be found at Deep Pool," (a celebrated spot for wild flowers, being situated in the Maori country, some twenty-five miles to the westward of the farm), "where she wished me to proceed to procure them."

She stated—"That she had made the request of me' from the fact that I was one of the very few whites who had been there, and who knew the country sufficiently well to procure them for her."

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Also—"That with these blooms she intended to decorate the house and dress the tables, it being the desire of the family to honour the occasion by inviting intimate friends and neighbours to partake of the hospitalities of an open house."

She further told me, with a roguish twinkle of the eye and merry laugh—" That she 'expected me, in particular,' to be the one to do them honour and succeed in the good old Scotch custom of 'first fitten' of the house on New Year's morn, and that neither her sister nor herself would 'take no' for an answer."

To refuse this most fascinating girl was impossible, she constituting herself judge and jury all in one, and deciding the case offhand.

Here, it was, that this most bewitching girl broke in with a verse selected from one of her many very pretty Scotch melodies, rendered in a full rich soprano, with charming naviette

"He promised he'd bring me a basket of posies,
A garland of lillies, a garland of roses,
A little straw hat to set off the blue ribbon,
That ties up my bonnie brown hair."

"He promised he'd bring me a bunch of blue ribbons,
To tie up my bonnie brown hair."

Who could refuse such a request? It, most certainly, is not to be found in the composition of impressionable young manhood to resist such a charm!

I most willingly acquiesced in all that she requested and promised that her wishes should be fulfilled to the letter.

After spending a most enjoyable day with this good and worthy family, I returned home, well pleased with my visit, but, intending soon to prepare for the fulfilment of my promise.

The adventure I had undertaken (which would take all daylight to accomplish fully), was not, at any time, devoid of a certain amount of risk, but this one in par-page 101ticular, was very near resulting fatally to myself, but, for the unexpected arrival of help, and that indeed from a quarter little anticipated, as the sequel of this story will show.

The first portion of the third day after my return from Mr. Waller's was spent in the usual routine of home station life, but the latter part was taken up in preparation for my adventure, as such I anticipated it would be, and rightly so, as it afterwards turned out.

The ride, was an arduous one, of over fifty miles (both ways inclusive), over very rough country, with no road but a native track to traverse, and as I did not wish to push my horse too much, I decided to leave home by break of dawn, thereby securing as many hours of day-light as might be required for the accomplishment of my purpose.

As the golden flecks of the great life-giving orb of day began to tip the horizon next morning, I was in the saddle, my haversacks full of provender for both man and horse, but indeed little anticipating the serious danger that was so soon about to encompass me, or of the one who was destined to befriend me whilst in deadly peril of my life.

Deep Pool, Kopua Repo (Deep Swamp), the former being the European name (or indeed I should rather say pools, for there were several of them), was a succession of long, narrow, deep lagoons, which filled the bottom of a gorge from bank to bank, and extended tortuously from the sea back into the Wai Mana Ranges for nearly two miles.

A most remarkable feature about these lagoons was that each one seemed independent of its neighbour having no perceptible communication either way, but' curiously enough, always full, even in the driest weather;

These lagoons were, in many places, intersected by limestone bars, varying from four to twelve feet across at top, but none were to be found more than from two to four feet out of the water, any one of which afforded an excellent roadway from one side of the lagoon to the other.

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Some of these limestone bars shelved away gradually on both sides, into deep water, apparently with an incline of one in six.

Each lagoon, as it extended back into the range, rose in height in succession, until there must hare been, at least, one hundred feet difference between the upper and lower one.

This latter one, being always awash with the sea, was brackish, and at spring tides flooded, whilst upon the upper and steep rocky banks of which, the Pohutukawa, the "New Zealand Christmas tree," luxuriated.

Another strange feature about these lagoons was in the fact, that, although a considerable river, the Wai Mana, flowed into the head waters of the upper one, it appeared to make no difference in the water-level, no matter how heavy the volume might be; nor was an outlet anywhere to be found, in this one, or in any other, throughout their whole course, although the natural outlet of the river was through this chain of lagoons.

This was the wonder and surprise of all beholders.

The Maoris had a strange superstitious dread of this locality, and shunned it like poison.

No inducements would make any of them come near it, or even to look upon its placid waters, stating—"That it had been made tapu (sacred) many long years ago, therefore it was forbidden ground."

They called these pools by the terribly sugestive name of Te Taipo's Haki Hani or (The Devil's Neck Water), stating that—" In one of these pools there was to be found a haukominga (whirlpool), in which dwelt a ferocious Taniwha (water monster), who seized men and carried them beneath the water to its cave, there to be devoured at its leisure."

They also stated that—"Many years ago there was a Kainga (village), in existence, not far away from this place.

"That on the occasion of the assembling of the tribe for the purpose of holding a Runanga (Council), followed afterwards by a hakari (feast of peace) in honour thereof, several women and children went to the locality of these pools to gather wild flowers, sweet smelling shrubs, and berries, for decoration purposes, the place having long been celebrated for such.

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"The day being excessively hot and opressive, which fatigued some of them so much, that they decided to bathe in the cool waters of one of the pools, and were contentedly disporting themselves therein, when suddenly, the terrible Taniwha seized all "who were in the water, and carried them off, despite their frantic struggles to escape.

"This disaster was witnessed by a few who fortunately remained upon the banks, but who were themselves so spell-bound by horror that they could offer no effectual help to the anfortunate victims, whilst, at the same time, the terrible roaring made by the enraged Taniwha could be distinctly heard above the wild shrieks of despair of the doomed, although itself was invisible to mortal eyes.

"Upon the return of the remainder to the village, and reporting the calamity which they had seen taking place at the pool, it caused such consternation and terror throughout the tribe, that they immediately left the neighbourhood, forming a new village miles away, having ever since shunned the place as tapu (sacred)."

Such was the strange story, as told of these pools, by a very old Maori, who seemed to be the most conversant with all the particulars about them.

Upon being asked to point out the particular pool where this disaster had occurred, he refused, but being pressed, and further induced by offer of reward, he stated that—

"It was so many years ago since it happened (indeed long before he was born), that it had passed out of memory and was now forgotten."

These simple minded and superstitious people little considered that this apparently supernatural occurrence might easily and reasonably be explained away.

Now as these pools were the natural outlet for the volume of a considerable river, which flowed into the head waters of the uppermost of them, although it did not appear to make any difference in the height of the waters they contained; nevertheless, that water which was flowing in continually must escape somewhere.

Again, as all these pools were exceedingly deep, and apparently seperated from each other by limestone bars, it is only reasonable to suppose that there must have been a subterraneous passage for the water right down to the sea.

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If this were so, and no doubt it was, there must, of necessity, be a considerable under-current, but not necessarily perceptible on the surface.

Nevertheless, should that current catch anything upon the surface, it might draw it beneath, retaining and carrying it along in the wild rush of water, which would account for the Maori supposition of a whirlpool.

Now the Maori, as a race, being in a sense almost amphibious, delighting in aquatic exercises, the day being sultry and the water cool, were disporting themselves to their heart's delight by jumping, diving, and chasing each other in deep water, whereupon they unfortunately came within the power of this undercurrent, were sucked under, and then carried away to their doom.

This, no doubt, was the cause of their frantic struggles to escape, as witnessed by those upon the banks of the lagoon, but the roaring of the Taniwha must have been the creation of overheated, excited, and horror-struck imaginations of those who witnessed the heart-rending calamity.

The tops of the foot-hills on either side of the chain of lagoons, or rather undiscernible stream, for they were nothing else (being a continuation of the Wai Mana River), were broad and flat, moving away towards the ranges with a gentle aclivity, but, during their course, winding in or out in most tortuous fashion, whilst the banks on either side of the chain of lagoons sloped away abruptly for over two hundred feet to the edge of the water.

These banks were clothed with a most varied assortmeut of forest timber, amongst which were to be seen the Rimu, with its beautiful green tesselated foliage, hanging in graceful festoons; the Totara, whose unique fringe-like appeance formed a strange contrast amidst its surroundings; here, also, were to be seen the Puriri, laden with its red and pink cherry-like berries; whilst the graceful Triri, whose large, fleshy, dark olive-green leaf, and egg-plum-like purple berry (being one of many such of the forest berries, forming the food of the wild pigeon), were, one and all, conspicuously beautiful.

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But the most noticeable to the eye, of all, were the Akas and Ratas (kings of the forest), whose gigantic heads and lofty limbs far over-topped all other timbers; and last but most certainly not the least lovely on that account were the Pohutukawas (New Zealand's Christmas Tree), these three mentioned, being at that season, adorned with most lovely scarlet flowers, which formed a lively and striking contrast to the usual dark green of the foliage.

Throughout the whole were interspersed, here and there, Nikau Palms, Cabbage Trees, and graceful Black and Silver Tree-ferns, in all their primeval loveliness, one and all combining to form a most lovely setting to this belt of forest scenery.

Heavy forests from the ranges extended down the centre of these foot-hills to their base, the towering giants of which, with successive growths of lesser size, being everywhere interlaced by an innumerable network of creepers, whilst the sombre and dense vegetation beneath and packed closely together, formed a labyrinthian and almost impenetrable jungle.

The peculiar feature of this landscape was, that between the forest on the centre of the hill and the timber-clothed banks of the lagoons, there was a glade-like opening, of considerable width and about a mile in length, in which was situated Nature's most lovely garden.

It was about nine in the morning when I found myself approaching Deep Pool, the country through, which I had hitherto ridden not calling for any further remark from me other than saying that it presented the usual appearance of undulating open fern or ti-tree scrub land, with here and there a shallow swamp, and two small rivers, that crossed the track, none of which offered any great impediment to my horse, who was used to such work, and took to it kindly.

Still the ride, although lonely, was enjoyable; nevertheless I felt pleased at finding the first portion of my undertaking had succeeded thus far.

The proximity of Deep Pool made itself apparent in the number and variety of flowers now to be seen scattered about, with the sweet fragrance perceptible in the air, and increasing as I approached closer to the Pool.

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Although I had visited Deep Pool upon two former occasions, and was greatly impressed with the beauty of all I witnessed, I was by no means prepared for the scene of surpassing loveliness that now broke upon my astonished vision.

Here was a veritable garden of nature, in all its pristine loveliness, spread out before my enraptured gaze.

Flowers and flowering shrubs, in infinite variety, and of all the colours of the rainbow, here luxuriated unmolested.

No vandal foot had as yet trod this flowery solitude, to desecrate or rob it of its beauty.

The atmosphere was redolent of the sweet fragrance of flower and shrub, and turn which way you would, the eye was ever met by some bewitching scene of beauty and delight.

As I drew rein, I sat in my saddle for a few minutes contemplating this fairyland of nature, my bosom heaving as I inhaled with delight the fragrant odours diffused around, whilst deep in reverie of how or when this paradise of flowers was planted.

Oh! but had I then the rare genins and facile brush of a Piguenit to have placed on canvas this most fascinating picture of nature's handiwork!

Having enjoyed this magnificent prospect for a few minutes, I dismounted, then proceeded to take off my horse his saddle and bridle preparatory to giving him his allowance of oats, afterwards turning him loose to browse at will, well knowing that the intelligent creature would not attempt to roam far out of sight.

Afterwards I set about lighting a fire and preparing my morning meal, which the cravings of nature admonished me were necessary after my morning's long ride.

Having partaken of a hearty meal, which the exercise of the morning had sharpened considerably, I considered it time to set about the object of my journey.

This, at first sight, might appear easy of accomplishment, seeing the great profusion and variety of flowers and shrubs which lay scattered around, but the task indeed was not so easy as one would suppose, from the fact that, where all were so lovely, it was difficult to select the best.

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I secured some large bunches of Clematis (many of the bushes around being festooned by this lovely white-flowered creeper), so as to form a garland, and afterwards to work some of the most showy of the flowers within the wreath.

It would be tedious, indeed, to describe the names of all the lovely flowers thus woven in, but it must be sufficient to state that the dark blues, scarlets, and yellows, each and all with their varying shades and tints, formed a most conspicuous and lovely contrast to the dark green and white groundwork of the garland, which can be better imagined than described.

The selection and arrangement of these flowers, which was part at least of my mission, I had accomplished satisfactorily, but others, and those the most rare and prized of all, would be attended with some risk and danger in securing.

My task, which had hitherto been comparatively easy, was now to be replaced by one of an exceedingly arduous and dangerous nature, requiring no inconsiderable amount of dexterity in climbing the tall timbers to procure their flowery foliage—the Ratas and Akas especially so, from their attaining, in many cases, to a great height, engendering considerable risk in procuring their lovely scarlet blooms.

The Hinau and Kaikomako were both highly prized— the first for its exceedingly pretty bell-shaped fragrant flowers, whilst the latter particularly so, for the sweet-smelling perfume of its tiny fairy-like white blooms, it being Maoriland's rival in odour at least of the far-famed Daphny Alba Indica, and it is from the wood of this same tree that the natives cause fire by friction.

Two varieties of the Kowai, yellow and white, were to be found here, whose very pretty pendant blossoms formed a remarkable feature of the forest flowers.

The Mountain Ash, with its purple, and the Forest Laurel, snow-white, both having very showy wax-like berries, which formed a lovely contrast amidst their flowery setting.

To complete the striking appearance of my rather bulky bouquets, I was anxious to secure some specimens of that incomparable lovely flowering tree-shrub, the Kowai-ngutu-kaka—two other varieties of which, although page 108extremely rare, were to be found here, but not in any great profusion, nevertheless after some hunting up, I was successful in my quest.

The object of my visit to this lovely flower garden of nature must have been incomplete had I failed in securing specimens of that most charming of Maoriland's many Christmas trees, the famed Pohutukawa, for which this locality had long been celebrated.

I now set about this labour of pleasure without loss of time, and having secured several very fine specimens, was about to return with my prizes, when I espied from my leafy perch, a large tree growing upon the banks of the principal lagoon, whose massive limbs spread far over the pool, which was adorned with a profusion of lovely scarlet blossoms.

Determining to secure some of these splendid blooms I descended to the ground, and moving over to this tree to examine it, was gratified upon finding it easy of ascent.

Moving upwards and outwards along its massive limbs, I was soon busily engaged selecting those most suitable from amidst its profusion of blooms.

Having secured a considerable sized bunch, being then suspended amidst the branches and far over the pool, the waters of which were at least twenty feet deep beneath, I deemed it advisable, for safety, to deposit my prize upon terra firma.

After doing this, I was foolishly induced to ascend again, by seeing some remarkably handsome flowers, but higher up amongst the foliage than I had as yet been.

This, as it turned out, was the height of folly, for I should have been quite content with what I had got, and ought not to have tempted danger too much; but I was destined to reap the reward of my foolhardiness.

Passing along the limb and dangerously far out amongst the branches, all unconscious of the risk I was incurring as the branches swayed beneath my weight, but deep in meditation of the pleasure I was about to afford others, and, like many another overgrown boy, pleasantly anticipating rewards from a pair of bewitching eyes, which, it is needless for me to state, had a most fascinating influence over all my actions then.

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I had secured my prize and was about returning, when—O, horror! Crack, crack, and lo! the branch gave way beneath my weight.

My arms instinctively flew out whilst I convulsively clutched at the intervening branches as I shot like an arrow towards the water, and twice I caught them but they were not strong enough to support my weight.

In my last despairing struggle I clutched a small branch which, however, bent beneath my weight until I was immersed in the water up to my waist

Here I bobbed up and down with every sway of the limb, in mental dread that any instant the branch might break under my weight as others had before, and leave me to battle with the water for life.

Now, as I was utterly helpless, being unable to swim, the water of great depth and piercingly cold, my position and feelings may be better surmised than described.

Ah! reader, no pen could describe the agony of soul I suffered during those few minutes, with one foot on the threshold of life, the other on that of death, expecting and watching momentarily the last and final struggle.

With all the advantages of youth, robust health, and worldly prospects before me, when just about to drink from the chalice of young man's happiness, with all the world before me, so bright, so fair, so happy, with many fond and affectionate faces to cheer and encourage me upon life's busy pathway

But, alas! in a moment, the ground is cut from under my feet, and I am precipitated into the unknown, that awful unknown, from whence none ever return.

Ah! dear reader, life is sweet, very sweet indeed, for so I felt it then.

With no friendly arm to support me in my dire necessity, no kindly voice to breathe forth comfort or hope, my brain on fire with the agony of my thoughts, and death (the respecter of none), with uplifted arm, ready to strike, staring me in the eyes, it was then, aye! then, that the teachings of my angel mother came upper-most in my thoughts, when, as a child at her knee, I was taught to place my hope and trust in the Great Creator of all things, and when in trouble or need to flee to Him for safety and protection.

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This happy and comforting reflection had a decidedly quieting influence upon my mind, enabling me to consider calmly my critical position, and the best means of extricating myself out of my serious dilemma, but whatever action I took must be done promptly.

Ah! happy thought, there was my horse!

Like a drowning man grasping at a straw, so did I in this case, for although I was apparently alone, I was not really so, so long as my noble Aotea was within hearing, for the sagacious creature had shown his affection for me on several occasions before, and I doubted not would do so again.

By this time the small limb which had thus far supported me in the water began to show signs of weakness, for, as I sank deeper, the bough perceptibly bending more and more with my continuous weight, necessitating my taking a fresh grip, further up the branch, to keep me from sinking beneath the water, and each time I did so still further weakened my last thread of safety.

In this emergency I whistled loudly several times to my horse, and at last had the satisfaction of hearing him neigh in reply.

To approach where I was in the water, and that through a belt of New Zealand virgin forest was a feat few horses could accomplish without the help of man, and this, anyone acquainted with such, can well understand the difficulties there to be met with.

Certainly Aotea had the benefit of remarkable activity, with the advantage also of his course being down hill, where weight would tell in pushing himself through many obstacles.

I kept on calling him, but no doubt my voice must have displayed something of the terror I felt as my position became more deperate.

My horse answered me all the time, but his neighing became more wild and excited as he approached closer.

Crash upon crash I could hear as he broke or forced his way through the dense undergrowth of kareao (supple-jack), tataramoa (native bramble), and entangling vines, intent on one object, and that to come at the call of his master.

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Ah! what a noble example of faithful attachment this poor dumb creature thus sets to reasoning humanity, for at the call of duty, he risks his life to obey!

By this time I had become gradually immersed to the shoulders, and was still sinking, leaving but a couple of inches and the water would be entering my mouth, and it being intensely cold, 1 was almost numb from its effect.

My position had now become very desperate indeed; my last straw gradually breaking in my grasp, and expecting it every instant to snap asunder and leave me to my fate.

In my despair I called once more to my faithful horse, and was immediately anwered by a wild scream (such as only a horse gives utterance to when under the influence of agony, fear, or great excitement), but the next instant—oh, horror! my frail support gave way, and I was left to flounder in the deep waters of the pool.

"Heaven help me," I instinctively cried, but great gulps of water dashed down my throat, almost choaking me, and stopping further utterance.

Down, down, I sank, how deep I know not, but my ears commenced to buzz like a beehive, whilst my eyelids seemed as if glued, and stars shone before my mental vision, which was also accompanied by a heavy compression about the chest and throat.

Consciousness had not entirely left me, for, struggling desperately, I became aware of rising to the surface, there to experience a strange stinging pain in the neck, whilst the next instant my head and shoulders were lifted high above the water,

Instinctively I threw out my hands which touched something hairy, whereon I frantically clutched it, thereby supporting my head well out of the water.

The pain in my neck now ceased, but instead the warm muzzle of my horse was thrust into my face and kept there rubbing and rubbing, whilst at the same time the devoted creature gave utterance to a soft whinnie of joy.

In this manner was I thus supported until I had sufficiently recovered to direct my faithful companion to a landing-place, which he did upon the bar at the head of page 112the lagoon; but, before doing so, I had shifted ray hold to his wither, and from there clung by his side, which permitted him the better to swim.

Upon our landing, I, with great difficulty, crawled to the top of the bar (being almost helpless from the effects of my sudden immersion in the bitterly cold water of the pool), where I sat down upon the rocks for a short time to rest and recover.

After resting I tried to relieve myself of the water which had poured down my throat and was causing me much pain.

This I accomplished in part by adopting the Maori practice of lying across a rock upon my stomach, face downwards, then striking myself sharply several times in the side, which caused me to sicken, thereby to discharge the water, and gave relief.

All this time my horse kept close by, watching intently my every movement, whilst every now and then he would rub his head or muzzle against my body as if to let me know he was there.

Having by now considerably recovered, I rose to my feet and proceeded up the hill by an old disused Maori pathway, closely followed by my intelligent companion, and sought out my last camping place, for there I had left our provisions with the horse trappings.

Setting about making a fire (plenty of fuel being scattered close around), I took off some of my outer garments and spread them upon stakes close to the fire to dry.

Considering it now time to prepare a meal, not having partaken of anything since morning, the day being far advanced, and feeling rather hungry after my exertions and exposure, I procured some water in the "billy," and set about preparing hot coffee, nevertheless I was not neglectful of my faithful companion's necessities, for he received an ample portion of corn which he ate with evident satisfaction.

Spreading out my provisions and sitting down close to the fire, so as to dry the rest of my clothes, I was soon employed "fortifying the inner man," which the cravings of nature so peremptorily demanded, after which I felt so much refreshed and strengthened as to be almost another man.

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Having time now to carefully examine the state of my horse and see how he had fared after breaking his way through the dense bush in response to my call, I found that he had sustained a few deep cuts and several severe scratches about the chest and fore-quarters with a small but deep stake-wound just beneath the girth, from the latter of which the blood was still oozing; but, having washed and cleansed them carefully, I afterwards used the Maori remedy for cuts and wounds by applying the juice of the koro ono (a species of New Zealand pig-nut), which had the effect of sealing up and healing the wounds whilst it also kept off the flies, after performing which I was satisfied that he would be all right again in a few days.

As evening had now far advanced, and preferring to return home by daylight (although it would have been perfectly safe to trust to the sagacity of my horse to find his way in the dark), I elected to camp out all night, having plenty of provisions for companion and self, the night being fine and the locality pleasant and safe, with the prospect of a night's refreshing sleep, I commenced preparations for this by gathering together such fuel as might be required.

The only drawback to camping out in the bush at night might be found in the swarms of mosquitos infesting it, but this plague could in a measure be obviated by lying close to the ground to leeward of the fire, the smoke of which would help to keep them away.

Putting on my clothes again, which had by this time become dry and comfortable, I moved around to gather up the forest flowers and berries which I had hung upon the bushes for that purpose, and carried them back to camp, there to arrange them in convenient boquets and wreaths, which operation I performed at leisure and to my entire satisfaction.

Darkness having now set in, I replenished the fire for the night, and whistling to my horse, who came at call, taking up his position close by, I lay down to seek that repose nature demanded after so arduous and critical a day's experience.

Deep in meditation of the day's peculiar adventure, whilst fervidly returning heart-felt thanks to the Great Creator for my timely rescue from so great peril, my page 114musing train of thoughts fetching back in pleasant reverie a short poem written by "M. S. Wright," as applicable to my surroundings, which reads as follows:—

"The lilies of the field had charms for Him
Whose human eyes looked out upon the world,
His power divine created, and therein
Sets His own thoughts of tenderness and grace,
That we might read and know Him.

"But what thoughts are His?
Who made these living gems, these forms of grace,
These daily miracles of growth and life;
Life out of Death;
Beauty from buried dust;
Change infinite, and sweetness without end!"

Tossing uneasily upon my grassy couch, too tired as yet to sleep, the calm stillness of the night only being broken now and then by the chirp or call of the night birds, and the occasional husky cry of the Ruru (the familiar "More-pork" of the colonists), whilst now and then might be heard in the distance the dull "thud" of some mighty giant of the forest coming to the ground through age and decay, pointing the train of thoughts to the wondrous works of the Almighty's handiwork, that man formed in the image of himself, is born into life, grows up, flourishes, and in the fullness of time, like the forest giants, is cut down by senile decay, and becomes of the earth from which he sprang.

Nature, at last, exerted her sway, and I fell into a fretful doze, my dreams being of a mixed order of tree-climbing, battling with water, and bewitching eyes, nevertheless I slept far into the morning, the sun having risen high in the heavens upon opening my eyes, where-upon, springing to my feet, I was no little surprised at Finding that I had slept so long and soundly.

Having now seen to the necessities of my horse first, I afterwards set about preparing my morning meal, preparatory to returning homewards, and partook of a most hearty repast, the sharp air of the mountain, no doubt, having increased my appetite.

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Extinguishing the fire and seeing all secure from danger in that direction, I gathered those treasures together which were the cause of so much risk and danger to secure, and saddling my horse, I set out upon my homeward journey, heart-thankful that it had not been attended with more direful consequences.

After an uneventful ride I at last arrived safely home, where, explaining the reason for not returning the night before, parading my trophies, and relating the startling adventure experienced, with the timely rescue by my noble Aotea, all of which caused mingled feelings of surprise, wonder, and admiration.

But there was none amongst all those present so loud and enthusiastic in praise of the horse as my old Irish friend Mick Mullen, who, upon Aotea being placed in his charge, with special instructions to look carefully after his welfare, declared—

"That he wud most cartainly do that same, for tha pur baste wur a jewel that ony wan moight be proud aff, an he wus worth his tay ony day, he wur thin, the pur crather!"

It was New Year's Eve, that season of the year, above all others, kept so joyous and happy by all trueborn Scots, whereon friends or relatives, in keeping up the old time honoured custom of the "the first fittin," with whisky-bottle and glasses under arm, oaten cake or short-bread in hand, deemed it an honour and privilege to be the first to cross their friend or neighbour's threshold as the clock struck twelve, midnight (which ushered in the New Year's Morn), to touch glasses, drink, and eat together, to the mutual honour, prosperity, and lasting friendship of all.

This is, indeed, a noble old custom and aspiration, and one worthy of emulation by other nationalities.

The writer though not a Scotchman himself, can call to memory many occasions throughout his varied experiences whereon he has been an active participator in these joyful and happy reunions of frendship, but he can not recall an instance whereon he was received with such unbounded, open-armed, and sincere friendship as he experienced upon the occasion he is about to relate, which has left its impression deeply engraven upon his memory, though many years have elapsed since then.

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Being desirous of fulfilling my premise to the letter, having secured a bottle of genuine "Glen Dhu," with oaten cake and trophies complete, I timed my departure from the station so that I should arrive at the hospitable happy home of the Waller's just as the clock would strike the hour of twelve midnight.

During the ride, my heart throbbed violently in anticipation of the pleasure I was likely to afford others—but to one more particularly, from whom, in my wild young dreams I anticipated much, "building castles in the air," and picturing, in my fervid imagination, a perfect elysium of happiness in store.

I think I should not be invidious in stating that we (Aotea and self) presented a most unique pair, and one never, if ever before introducing themselves on the occasion of a "first fittin."

As my attached and faithful horse had performed such singularly important services to myself in the accomplishment of my task, I was desirous that he, also, should receive his fair share of appreciation for such distinguished services.

Upon approaching the house, we presented a most peculiar appearance, Aotea being decorated with the large wreath of wild flowers around his neck, having also, several large and remarkably handsome bouquets suspended from his shoulders, whilst I, also, carried in my hands a small but pretty chaplet, with several sweet smelling bouquets, as special tributes for the ladies.

By my watch it wanted but a few minutes to twelve, but I looked around furtively, and with jealous eyes trying to pierce the gloom to see whether or not there were others about bent upon a like mission to myself, but felt somewhat relieved upon finding we were alone.

I now advanced boldly, as lights were seen shining in several of the windows, Aotea mounting upon the verandah, where his firm footfall acted the part of knocker, which brought many of the household to the door to enquire the meaning of such unusual and peculiar intrusion at that time of night.

Having dismounted, I advanced into the doorway, and presented my tributes accompanied with a few well-chosen and complimentary remarks.

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The head of the house now advanced, and seizing both my hands within his own broad palms, at the same time exclaiming—

"Welcome, welcome chiel! Come ben the huse, the now, an ha a wee drappie whusky for ould Scotia's sake an frenship!"

Whilst the good lady herself, in the fullness of her maternal heart, clasped me to her breast, declaring with enthusiastic warmth that "I was a bonnie gude bairn."

It is needless to say that my faithful companion followed my every footstep like a spaniel dog, which was in no way resented by these good simple people, who looked upon it as a most excellent joke, and one quite appropriate to the occation.

But they had yet to learn the very importat part he played in procuring all those handsome flowers and berries, or, of how he had saved me when in deadly peril of my life.

In due time I had to relate fully all my strange adventures at Deep Pool, which created no little surprise, much comment, and admiration.

Great was the praise my noble horse received for his remarkable intelligence and attachment, whilst both the young ladies declared that he was deserving of some badge of distinction,—Miss Violet, in particular, stating that she would prepare such, which she did shortly after, tying it upon Aotea's neck, where it remained long afterwards to bear testimony to his remarkable and noble virtues.

Great indeed was the admiration called forth by the display of wild blooms and berries from all who witnessed them, and they were many, as neighbours and friends for miles around had been invited to partake of the hospitality of that festive home.

Amongst all those assembled none received more marked attention than myself, the place of honour being always reserved, and which I was expected to fill.

The good old lady, herself, never tirring in sounding my praise to all new arrivals, or of recapitulating the extraordinary experiences I had encountered, whilst the old gentleman, also, every now and then, as if to lend zest to her statements, would utter, in a broad Scotch dialect—"Weel noo he's a braw laddie."

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A merry happy union of friends and neighbours was this festal New Year's Day, but the happiest and most joyous of them all was Miss Violet Waller, who played and sang the sweetest and most plaintive of Scotland's touching melodies, to the admiration and applause of all present.

Warm, indeed, was her admiration and appreciation of my services, nor had I any cause to complain of not having been rewarded.

So ended one of the most remarkable New Year events it has ever been my lot to experience, and one the pleasant ending of which has left an indelible effect upon my memory.

About a week after that event I led an equestrian picnic party to Deep Pool, comprising some fifteen couples, made up from amongst the guests then assembled, who spent a most enjoyable time amidst the delights of that most charming locality, and for long afterwards was the praise of this beautiful garden of nature heard amidst the homes of the scattered out-settlers.