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Hine-Ra, or The Maori Scout: A Romance of the New Zealand War.

Chapter XXIV. — The Abduction

Chapter XXIV.
The Abduction.

Meanwhile, the successes of the British arms, and, to no little extent, the influence, persuasion, and promises of Richard Burnett, had at length induced Marutuahua and his tribe to come over to the English, and declare for, as it was called, the cause of peace and order.

Rehua, incited by his ferocious brother, Titokiti, and the Arikis of the Patea tribe, had professed himself in favor of the Hau-Haus, although he had not as yet absolutely entered upon open warfare. Still the pyre was ready, and it only needed the application of a spark to set alight the blazing fire of war along the west coast, as it already was in the interior and to the eastward.

The Waimates still remained strictly neutral, refusing absolutely to join either one side or the other, and thus, to some extent, aiding the British by acting as a kind of barrier to active operations by either party on their extensive stretch of territory.

It was not to be expected, however, that the bitter feud between Te Namas and the Pateas, who hated each other with an intensity of hate and jealousy, should, under this fresh development, long remain smouldering, the more especially as the Hau-Hau leaders, anxious to precipitate matters, desired nothing better than to involve their enemies Te Namas in war.

It was easily done. With a diabolical cunning, they laid their plans so that, while they themselves appeared to take no part in it, and, in fact, were understood to have withdrawn their forces from the neighborhood, Marutuahua was induced to enter into a war of retaliation.

Oh! it was a cunningly devised scheme, as will be seen, and possessed all the elements of that supreme deviltry for which they, and the notorious Te Kooti, were so celebrated, and which the whites so often found out to their cost.

Parties of the Pateas, under cover of night, landed at various points on Te Nama coast, killing, burning, and destroying the outlying crops. They did not attempt to attack the pah; the time page 112 was not ripe for that, neither was it part of their deeply laid plan; but after doing all the mischief they could, they retreated to their canoes, and were soon out of reach of pursuit.

Burning with rage, and intent on vengeance, the astute Marutuahua lost his head, and allowed himself to be drawn into the trap. Hastily summoning his forces together, preparations were made for a raid on the Pateas. The usual preliminaries were gone through. The war dance was performed, the Ngeri was chanted, and the war canoes launched with the accompanying barbaric ceremonies. All the fighting men of the tribe were placed under arms, and soon the flotilla put off to sea, bent on inflicting a condign punishment on the marauding Pateas. The pah, left in charge of the old men, and the women and children of the tribe, was practically defenceless should a powerful enemy attack it. But that was not likely, for nearly the entire northern line as far as the Waimate territory was in the hands of the British.

But, likely or unlikely, it was done.

The Patea stronghold was attacked by the infuriated Namas, and, after fierce fighting, with considerable loss on both sides, Rehua, who was, after all, only a catspaw in the hands of Hepanaia and Kereopa, was obliged to retreat, leaving his pah to the mercy of the invaders. It was a victory for the latter, no doubt, but at what a cost?

Scarcely had Te Nama canoes got out of sight, when their weak fortress was suddenly attacked by a large body of Hau-Hau warriors, who appeared almost to spring out of the earth. They had—guided by the gigantic savage Tainui, who had been captured by the Hau-Haus, and also had, partly by threats, partly by promises of great reward, been induced to turn renegade, and to guide the invaders by a tract of almost impassable swamp and thick bush—passed through the British lines unnoticed. The fight, such as it was, was short, sharp, and decisive. The murderous mere and spear made quick work with the almost defenceless garrison. Men, women and children were ruthlessly slain, and, although a few prisoners were taken, bound and helpless, and a few escaped into the bush, nearly the whole of the inhabitants of the pah were left weltering in their gore.

But Tainui had a personal purpose to serve; revenge on the hated pakeha rival who had stolen from him, as he thought, the heart of the beautiful Hine-Ra, and love, if the bestial passion which inflamed his breast could be dignified by the name of love, for the girl herself. He had stipulated at the outset that she should be his prize as a reward for his services, although he knew well enough that the Hau-Hau leaders were as likely as not to refuse to keep their agreement.

Still he was no less cunning than ferocious, and had determined that, at all hazards, she should be his. Consequently, when the raid was made, he went straight for the whare where he knew she page 113 was. He found the whare already attacked by two savages, one of whom she had shot down with the small rifle which had been given her, and the use of which had been taught her by Frank Burnett, and the other of whom had seized her by the wrist and lifted his mere to brain her. One blow from the greenstone axe of Tainui, and her assailant fell dead at her feet, with his skull cloven in twain.

True, her life was saved, but for what a fate was she reserved! To become the victim of the brutal passion of a being like that. Better death.

He, however, succeeded in inducing her to believe that he was there to protect her and to return her to her father, and in persuading her, while the Hau-Haus were intent on slaughter and plunder, to escape with him into the bush, and to remain concealed in a spot about half a mile distant, until he could return and conduct her to a place of still greater safety.

In the melee his absence with her was not noticed, and by the time he got back to the village the work of murder and spoliation was well nigh over. Half the whares were in flames, and the Hau-Hau leaders, having perpetrated their diabolical purpose, were busy marshalling their warriors for a rapid retreat back into their fastnesses beyond the reach of pursuit.

But Tainui had no intention of accompanying them, for the present, at all events. That would do when he had secured Hine-Ra, and he therefore lay perdu until they had gone. He knew that in the hurry much valuable spoil must have been overlooked and left behind, and some of that his natural cupidity made him determined to have.

No sooner, therefore, had the Hau-Haus quitted the scene of murder and rapine than he emerged from his hiding place, and speedily loaded himself with spoil, which he concealed in a suitable spot, ready for removal at a convenient time. He made a second journey, and a third; but, on approaching the village a fourth time, his footsteps were arrested by hearing voices, and at the same moment seeing two forms run rapidly up the open slope that led to the pah.

Too well he knew who they were, the Maori scout, Hake Hori, and the young Pakeha, Paranaki, his rival.

Not a moment was to be lost. He must convey Hine-Ra to a secure hiding place at once, for he knew that their first search would be for her. What more likely, however, than that they would follow in the track of the marauding party; still it was necessary to make all safe.

Crouching, or rather lying down, he quickly glided through the thick fern and undergrowth noiselessly as a serpent.

Soon he reached the spot where he had left Hine-Ra. With his natural cunning he had concocted a story calculated to induce her to accompany him further away from the village. But should she page 114 suspect his intentions and refuse to go? Well, then he must use force, and he had prepared for that too. He had cut some flax, and rapidly twisted it into a rude aho or rope, with which he could easily bind her hand and foot, and so render her powerless to resist.

“Quick, Hine,” he said when he rejoined her, “we must leave this place, and go further into the bush. The Hau-Haus have missed you and are in search. Come.”

But she had, even in her terror and misery, had time to think, and was, even at the moment when he arrived, preparing to fly from him. She knew that he had not been in the pah for some time. He must therefore have come with the attacking party, probably have guided them thither. She knew too that he was treacherous and pitiless, and she knew—none better—for a woman's knowledge of such things is intuitive, that if he had not absolutely persecuted her with his unwelcome attentions, it was only through fear of a speedy and condign punishment by her father and brother, and, ah! her lover. Was there anything more likely than that this was a trap to get her into his power?

Therefore she replied, “Whither would you take me? No, I will not go.”

“But, Hine-Ra,” he said, “the Hau-Haus will surely find you here, and—–”

“I care not, I tell you; I will not leave this spot—with you.”

There was an angry glitter in his eyes as he answered, “But I say you shall, you must.”

“You say,” she retorted scornfully. “Know you to whom you say ‘must?’ I am Hine-Ra, the Rangitira Wahine of Te Nama, and I command you to leave me.”

The lurking devil in his nature broke out at this. “You will not come!” he cried, “but you shall. Look you, Hine-Ra, I have loved you long with a love of an intensity that that pale-faced boy has no conception of. I hate him, and would have killed him if I could. You shall be mine, mine, if only to revenge myself on him. You have scorned me, I know it, and now you are mine, body and soul. Mine. Ha! ha! ha!” and he laughed in villainous triumph.

With a gasping sob, she turned to fly the spot, but he was too quick for her. With a deftness acquired by practice, and despite her struggles, he seized her, and in a few seconds had her bound round the ankles and wrists, and at his mercy. Then throwing her over his shoulder, as if to his bulk and strength the weight of her delicate form had been of no account, he strode through the tangled bush at a swift lope, regardless of her screams and pitiful cries for help, and headed for the thick forest at the base of the mountains.

“Help! help!” she shrieked. “Father! Matariki! Paranaki! Paranaki! Oh, my love, where are you?” In her struggles the bonds broke from her wrists, and, redoubling her cries, she beat her hands on the villain's head and neck in an agony of terror.

But all in vain, the dense forest drowned her voice. Alas! alas! page 115 there was none to help. She was borne rapidly onward by her ruthless captor, and, moaning “Lost! lost! lost!” she at length swooned from sheer exhaustion.