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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1935


page 20


Golden bay! The warm rain from the sea, the white sand of the road crunching beneath my feet, and the mind at rest. The sea gently laps against the beach, and the patter of the rain on the water adds to the calmness of the morning, with the green forest covering the cloud-topped hills to the left, and far to the south the snow coming down from the peaks of the mountains to the bare brown foothills.

Like all great days, that day also came to an end, and as I lay under the friendly darkness of the roof, happy in the knowledge that nearby my fellow-men were talking by the warmth of the fire, I had for the background of my thoughts the booming of the waves as they rolled in from the Tasman and beat in useless fury on the rocky cliffs of Cape Farewell. Above the monotone of the night came the shrill call of a weka as he raised his beak to the wan stars, and cried out in anguish that the night could be so sad and beautiful.

The scene changes. This cold, clear winter's day has been full of interest. I have broken off the icicles that hang from the steep banks of the road; I have leaned over a bridge in the shade of a patch of bush, watching the spray of a tiny waterfall freeze into drops of ice; 1 have joked with a group of roadmen warming their hands by a huge log fire; and all the time the peaks of the mountains have been coming nearer round the bends of the winding road. The approaching night suddenly makes me shiver, as though someone is looking down on me from the shadow of the hills, and I suddenly look round over my shoulder. There, above the shades of the valley, is a snowy peak, lit up by the dying glow of the sunset. Does all beauty make the heart ache like this? I turned and tramped onwards into the solitude of the night.

Nelson now lay behind me, and I was in Marlborough once again. Three times during the morning I had dived into the river, that wound its way from one shaded pool to another, and now, in the warmth of the summer's afternoon, the world was very peaceful as I lay in the long grass, looking up at the sky and listening to the song of the cicadas and the chatter of the girls picking blackberries. But there were many miles to go, and soon after the cheery "Good-byes" had been spoken I began the long climb up through the bush, resting occasionally to gaze through the trees at the distaint Rai. Look Out Peak at last, and there beneath me lay the bush-clad reaches of Tennyson Inlet, and far beyond the brown hills of the grazing country. Memories came flocking to my mind as I recalled the months I had spent climbing those hills, calling to the dogs, cursing the sheep, cutting the scented manuka, and singing all the day. When I finished the descent to the Sound the sun had gone, but in the hushed twilight the tall trees were more majestic than ever, and their beauty was almost oppressive; and then in the darkness the barking of the dogs, and the welcoming voices, and sleep.

A hundred miles to the south of the Marlborough Sounds lies Laikoura. After coming down the banks of the sombre Clarence River in the morning I had tramped down the wild coast during the day. along the road cut out of the grey rock, with the immense caves ending in blackness, and on into the open country, with its quiet dairy farms. Evening was near, and as I turned round to count the miles behind me, I saw to the northwest the Kaikoura Mountains, with Tapuaenuku towering over all, but the whole snowy range was covered with a hazy glory that filled the heart with peace and drove away all weariness.

It was spring when I reached Christchurch, and all the trees were in bloom. As I lay in bed, memories of these scenes came back unbidden, and many another—Arthur's Pass, Rotoiti, D'Urville Island, was there no end to them? The pink cherry tree outside lost its brightness as a cloud covered the sun, and a blue-clad nurse came in and closed the window. I had come to the end of the chapter.

—D. R. C.