Hine-Ra, or The Maori Scout: A Romance of the New Zealand War.
Chapter XXVI. — And last
A bright sunny day and a blue sky in Auckland, six months later. There is an unwonted stir in the neighborhood of St. Paul's cathedral, and all the rank and fashion of the city have congregated within the walls of the sacred edifice, for to-day the gallant (and wealthy) Captain Francis Burnett, —th Regiment, only son of Richard Burnett, Esq., P.M., is to lead to the hymeneal altar Hine-Ra, daughter of the Rangitira Marutuahua no Te Nama.
It is a very imposing affiar indeed, for the whole of the officers in garrison, headed by the commander-in-chief himself, in all thier bravery of scarlet and gold, have assembled to do honor to the ceremony, and the bishop himself, aided by the Rev. Charles Chasuble and the Rev. Herbert Hood, is to perform it. There are other notables there, of course—ministers, secretaries, heads of departments, and the like; but their black coats are of no account page 124 as against the brilliant scarlet and gold of the army, and the blue and gold of the navy.
Mr. Burnett looks a little less bilious than usual, and the chief and Matariki, and some other chiefs of friendly tribes, look somewhat ill at ease in their unwonted European finery, and are especially nervous about their white gloves.
The bridegroom looks very handsome, albeit a little flurried, in his regimentals, and the bride—ah! the bride—well, she looks simply lovely.
It is necessary, I suppose, to describe her dress, for the benefit of the ladies. Well, I don't quite know myself; but this is how Madame Elise, the fashionable milliner, gushes over it, and, as she made it, I suppose she ought to know. All I know about it is that old Marutuahua grumbled most confoundedly when he had to pay for it, but that's no matter. However, “the bride, who looked really charming, was attired in a very pretty dress of white ivory satin, embroidered with fern leaves, broad white satin sash, and trimmed with orange blossom, lilies of the valley, jessamine and Edelweiss lace; veil, wreath, and pretty bouquet completing the toilet. She was attended by six bridesmaids, all of whom wore pretty dresses of blue tarlatan, with flounces of lace, the first four wearing lily wreaths and net veils, and the two smallest wearing a soft feathery head-dress, and carrying lovely baskets of ferns and flowers.”
As I have said, that is how Madame Elise described it, and to make sure I cut it out of the next day's newspaper myself.
The wedding breakfast was given at the residence of the bridegroom's father, and the happy couple departed on their honeymoon trip to Sydney the same afternoon amidst the customary shower of rice and old slippers. I believe that is the usual way to describe these matters.
The war is at an end. The Hau-Haus have been thoroughly defeated, and are completely demoralised. Hepanaia and Kereopa are both killed, so is Kawiti. Te Kooti has fled, no man knows whither. The disaffected tribes have returned to their allegiance—for the time—and white-winged peace broods over the land.
The feud between Te Namas and the Pateas has been patched up, Rehua having, in the face of the turn affairs have taken, been only too glad to get off with a severe wigging at the hands of the British authorities, and paying a heavy indemnity as compensation for the injuries sustained by Marutuahua at his hands, and forfeiting all claim to the disputed territory.
His turbulent brother, Titokiti, not so easily managed, has left the neighborhood, and with a handful of other disaffected spirits, chiefly mauvais sujets from the Uriwera, Ngapuhi, and Upper Patea tribes, keeps up a little insurrection of his own, directed mostly against the peaceable friendlies about the head of the Wanganui River, where, amid the fastnesses of that wild mountainous region, he has taken page 125 up his abode, and whence he can, almost with impunity, descend on the river flats, clear off with his spoil, and disappear, safe, practically, from pursuit for the present.
Marutuahua has entered into a treaty, offensive and defensive, with his neighbors, the Waimates, and when, as is not unlikely, the alliance is cemented by the marriage of Matariki with the princess of that tribe, Te Nama will become the most powerful on the coast.
Matutira, the witch, and her familiar, Katipo, are alive still, and continue to inhabit the mysterious cavern, now more mysterious than ever.
And that reminds me. A little way back I described Frank Burnett as “the wealthy.” Out of evil frequently comes good, and so was it in this case. The explosion in the cavern shattered the rocky walls and roof as stated. But it did more, for on one side the whole of the wall was literally seamed with gold. As it was within his territory, the old chief claimed it, and, what is more, got it; but, as he divided it equally between his son, his daughter, and his prospective son-in-law, a considerable portion came to Frank.
In a quiet corner of the quiet cemetery at Opunake is a granite column, broken off in the middle, and on the base is cut in black letters the name of “John Hall, the Maori Scout.” “After life's fitful fever he sleeps well.”
Pull the string, Mr. Showman, and let us see one more picture.
Five years have come and gone. The scene is in a quiet and quaint little village nestling at the foot of the Cheshire side of the Derbyshire hills. It is a pretty place, this out of the way village, shadowed on one side by the great pine-clad mount known as Tegg's Ness, and on the other by the solemn Langley Wood, and watered by the babbling Bollin River, speeding its way to the distant Mersey.
Sloping up from the river is a spacious stretch of wooded park land, and, crowning an eminence, a quaint and many-gabled mansion known to the residents as “The Hall.”
From an open doorway emerges a tall, well-set and handsome gentleman, and following him a foreign-looking lady of startling grace and matronly loveliness. With her are two children, a boy and a girl—there was a baby, but that is with the angels. They have come that sweet soft spring morning to take a last look at the fair English landscape around, to be seen by them no more, for today they will be speeding as fast as steam can carry them to catch the outgoing mail steamer for the Antipodes. three years have they spent on English soil, and have got to know and love the country well.
But there is another land far away they love better, a land of mountains, of lakes, of rushing rivers, of gloomy forests, of shining ice peaks.
They gaze on the familiar scene until their eyes fill with tears.page 126
“Darling,” says the lady in a low, soft voice, “this is very beautiful, but—–”
“Sweet one,” is the reply, spoken in her own musical tongue, which he uses only in moments of tender feeling, “I know your thought. It is also mine. Yes, it is very beautiful, but it is not home. No, it is not home. My heart yearns in unison with yours for ‘our ain countree.’ Thither will we go, and there, please heaven, will we remain until
the end.”page breakpage break