Chapter 148380669

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter TitleBIRDS OF A FEATHER.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article148380669
Full Date1893-09-09
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count2916
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA : 1877 - 1927)
Trove TitleMaoriland Ho! Nature's Enchanting Wonder Isle. A Weird and Entrancing Romance
article text

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mam.}

IAORILAND HO!

N aturc s Enchanting

Wonder Isle.

A Weird and Entrancing

Romance.,

SI' ATH.i WESTBUItr.

CHAPTER I.

MRUS OP A FKA.THER.

/ Hail! Tjmd of the Maori! Hail! land

Uiujuslic poults, deep vnlloyo, wondrouB sylvau gladus, and fairy dolls.

Hero from a lodge of the mighty Ton - pariro (mountain of fire) wc stand and

look forth upon a panorama that has not .Us eijual in the (Southern Hemisphere, bonder, cloud-liko, looms the Huuna llunqe ; to the left, gigantic Egmont, raising its snow-covered apex through the skies. Tauranga nestles away utider the Icq of Mekehi, and seems no bigger than

a patch of grey glinting athwart the dark

coast line.

The sun is sotting on as fine a da; as ever shono over the valleys and streams of the "Waikato. Lake Taupo gleams like a huge shield of burnished gold, while on its waters a large canoe shoots swiftly from To Huuna l'oint, bearing northwards for » promontory known as the Devil's

Gr'P

1 lie occupants of the boat consist of six stalwart Maorics, who propel the lony shapely vessel at a tremendous rate, and churning up the water into turbulent surges with their paddles as they shoot swiftly onward. In the stern of the canoe ib seated a man wrapped up from head to toe in a thick toga of mica flax, with tags of the sauto material to fasten the garment more closely to his person. One glance at this personage is sufficient to satisfy ono that lie is not a Maori. Although the evening is warm and most of the native oarsinen are almost nude, yet he sits shivering in his warm cloak. Looking full at him you see he has the frame of a giant, bub Uib powerful body and limbs have been terribly enfeebled by some fell disease, from which he has evidently not yet recovered. For the rest he is a

florid faced man in the prime of life with , daik hair, his bushy eyebrows forming a , thick line across his nose; wide mouth,

with strong teeth and resolute jaw, on |

which there is an old scar three inches lopg, complete the rough photograph.

For several wiles the six Maories bend to their work, chanting a low monotonous song the while, each paddle dipping with the regularity of the pbton of a steam

engine.

By aud bye the water becomes less cleat, for the canoe Is approaching a small inlet between tall brown cliffs, and here a luxuriant vegetation of native and swamp plants border the channel, forming a

natural landing place.

With the one Maori word Copi (good) the passenger rises from the stern and directs the rowers until the boat is made fast to a stairway hewn in the face of the

cliff.

"Where is Kitil" he asks, stepping ashore and turning to a Maori who has been watching the approaoh of the

canoe.

The native places his hand to his mouth aud makes a peculiar noUe, which is im mediately answered far above them on

the cliff.

"Kid is - there, waiting for the

Master," responded the Maori in good

English.

Tho big man waves his hand to the rowers. " Uctutti to L'ukehiua," he aays. "If I want you I will send word."

Wrapping the toga more closely round him tho gigantic figure slowly ascends the /stair, while the Maories return across the

lake.

Waiting on the high ridge above stood Kiti, the Maori relerred to. He was a tUick-sct savage with a most villainous oast of countenance. A doubled-barrelled gan was slupg across his broad shoulders,

ku9 he held a saddled horse by the

bridle,

" Ah, my Rood rcli, punctualaa usual," criod the bis nian as his gnzo fell upon the native. "What news, Kiti? Are all

the buysweUV"

Tho Maori showed his glistening teeth like a wolf hound ere he replied in broken

English.

" The PakehaB are well-all save cap laiu. No see him-gone away."

"Gone away. Where?"

** JJnn't know. Paul Bar jew, he eay, petYiapsl Come, it is late. J bare

jsjioVen."

?f " Humph t Is the horse for me ?"

f "Yes. Bar jo w, lie say you sick-can't

walk. Mount, let us go."

" llave we far to go, good Kiti ?"

"No. One, three-live miles, that's ail, Master lilacU. You no too ill toridey"

said the Maori.

*' Too ill to ride ? Certainly not, or to walk either for the mattor o£ thai," re turned the big follow, laughing. "It would take mom than a paltry attack of swamp fever to double Sydney Black up, iny lad, Now lead the way."

Tho Maories assisted the speaker into tho saddle, then led the way through the fast deepening twilight down the brow of tlio ridge to the more even plateau below. It was evident by tho manner in which Kiti and his i native companion got over the ground that thoy knew well the coun try over which they wero travelling.

At best tho Maori' is not a talkative creature, and Sydney Black's guides were no exception to tho rule. Beyond an occasional grunt of satisfaction or other

wise Kiti opened not his mouth during

: the journey.

Evening had deepened into night when ascending the fern clad summit of a high peak the Maories halted, and signified to the horseman that they had for the time lioing reached the end o£ thoir journey. While Kiti was tethering tho horse his eoiursde made a fire, and began to unstrap a canvas wallet at his sida preparatory to partaking their evening moal.

"We hero llrat," said Kiti, in answer

to a (juostion from Black, "Wait! Paul

Barjowsoon come."

"Are you certain thiB is tho Bpot

agreed upon, Kiti ?"

"Yes. I have spoken," said the sav

ftgo briefly.

Sydney Black sat down by tho fire and waited. Ho was interested for a time by watching his two companions dovour thoir tea, but his thoughts soon took wing. Tlio dancing flames and tho Maories squatted munching their yams and dried fish wero not before thiB man's vibion. Apioluro of a more Btirring kind had evidently

possession of him, for anon his head aauk) down upon his broust while his thoughts j

found voice in low muttered sentences.

"So, Bully Black, shanty keeper,

sharper, rogue aed ragabctri,

Iiete you nre nfter ten years, in the Titoti Valiey, not one pound the better for it. You might have got away with £6000 in your job but for that cursed attack of tpyhoid fever.

" Who would have thought that a man like me would have blabbed out his card secrcts and other tiling ob he lay, out of his mind, and with a gaping pnek of minors standing round him listening to every delirious word. No wonder they wrecked my shanty and drummed me off the field, for I've had everp mother's son of 'em, inoro or less, and will have 'an again yet - whew 1 stouo broko and with no more strength in my big carense than a baby. What's thnt, Kiti?"

Tho dreamer was suddenly recalled to his surroundingH by tho distant sound of lioofs upon tho hard road below.

Kiti held up his thumb. " It i8 I'aul Bnrjew," ho eaid, briefly.

The sounds drew nearer-tho even

regular strokcB of trained horses, and presently three men, splendidly mounted, rose within the radius of (ho bluzkg pine logs.

Catching sight of tlio wayfarer by the fire the foremost of the twain brought his rillo round to hiB hands in an instant.

lvTlirow up your hands" ho cried, gruffly "Come, up with them, or I'll let daylight into that clay o( yours."

Instead of complying with the peremp tory demand Sydney Black burst out laughing.

" Put up your pepper box, Barjew," Iio cried, rising to hi& feet. " What I is dog going to rob dog 1 Ecod, you're a

nice fellow not to know an old friend.

Sydney Black was unawered by a roar of laughter from the three men, who dis mounted and came forward into tho glow of Ihe blazing kauri pine fire.

"Egad, there's nothing like keeping one's hand in, you know," eaid the fore raoBtof the three, advancing and shaking the giant by the hand. Let me present you to two of tho gamest follows out. This is " Red Duffy " who shot that old miser Peter White, on the Putca last De cember, and this is Jack Tusk, of Tara nakia ; you've heard of them both before, so shake hands, and we'll have some whisky while the Maories rub down the

nags.

The speaker was a tall, woll-made, and handsome fellow about twenty-seven. His face was as dark as that of a gipsy without being swarthy ; tho skin was Eoft and clear, and of that creamy smooth ness one BEOS in tho people of Southern Spain. Paul Barjew, however, was not of the Spanish race. He had Maori blood in his veins, his father being a Polish Jew, and his mother an unfortunate half caste Maori girl of great beKuty.

In disposition the outlaw was morally depraved and wicked, and though ho had courage it was of the wild beaBt order, which uses its strength to read and des

troy.

His two companions, " Red Duffy " and "Jake Task " by name, wera both young men, but tliey were old in crime ; nnd, indeed at the time of this story, there were abundant opportunities for the depraved and lawless section of the community to perpetrate their evil deeds with impunity.

No one was better posted in this respect tliau a certain Jocelyn Vanborough, bet

ter known in the criminal records of New

Zealand as Captain Vauborough. Tiiis man, well educated, and with the ap pearauce and manners of a gentleman was convicted early in his career, but escapod orison, and afterwards fled to the fastnesses of the Waikalo ; here he organised a band of marauders, which

subsequently became the terror of that j

part of the country. It is needless to

add that most of the rebel Maori tribes were friendly to the captain and his com panions, and often {rendered them valu able services,

'. And so you are going to join the fold again, eh ?" cried Barjew to Black when this party had duly tasted the cob tents of a flask of whisky. " Why, you have been nearly two years in the Titori Valley, keeping a shanty-playing poker every night-and drugging your cus tomers-you lucky dop. You must have a pot of money, comrade.

" I haven't ten pounds in the world, Barjew," responded Black, with an

oath. ]

" Bosh, old man. The Titori Valley is one of the best goldfields in the Northern Island, as every one knows. The cap tain expects you to fill his exchequer, I can tell you ; which, by the way, is vary low juBt atprecent."

"See here," cried the giant, his thick eyebrows meeting in an ominous frown over his face. "Tiiose devils down yonder found out while I was down with the fever that I was not what they call "

''The dean potato," suggested Bar jew.

"Just so, comrade. I had a thousand pounds worth of stock in the place, with fifteen hundred more pounds in hard cash hid awav under the bed in my tent."

" We'll r

" Well, one morning two hundred dig gers, headed by a fellow from whom I had previously won some money, carried mo out on my stretcher to a lonely nully, and there left me, They burnt my stock, and burnt the money bid under the floor."

" Egad, it would have been better to have spent it!"

" Aye," cried the giant through his clenched toeth, and at the same time opening and closing his long fingers con vulsively. " Aye 1 but I'll have tuine of them for it yet, mind that."

True it was that this hardened scoun

drel, hand and glove with Captain Van borough, had taken up his abode in the golden valley of Titori ostensibly ns store Keeper, but in reality as spy, gold thief, card sharper, or anything that would bring gain without working for it. Not a lucky digger loaving oump- not a valu able convoy on its way thither-the latest news oft the gold esoort-or the where abouts of the police force in the district but secretly found its way to the bush robber and his men, by meant of the ex shanty keepor. The diggers on the field were slow to discover the true character of ttydnoy Black, but once discovered the rough and ready juetioe of the diggers WBB both swift and euro.

'. R>gue> nover thrive, thoy say," cried Bed Duffy with a laugh.

" Stuff man ; you are a living lie to the adsgo," responded liarjow, lighting a cigar. " You manage to thrivo woll enough, though there's not a greater rogue between this and the Barrier than yoursolf Duff. I will say so much in

your favor."

j°. lftUKhod, and Rod Duffy lifted hiB broad wide-awako in acknow ledgment of the compliment.

Thu flnsk of liquor being finished, Bar jew oroso and beckoned Black out of ear shot of the others.

" 1 want to ask whero you have left Nita V" he said, fixing his bold black eyes steadfastly upon the face of the other.

" Don't you know," answered Blaok,

in a low tone.

" ?° ' how should I ? Tell me where youh»re Ulster,", . ~

0 4 ;; '

«W-.

" Humnti; don't, you know that tlio child has boon witli Miulame Dentone for

tlieso four years past

" That's tho school at Havelock (

" H'os " said Black, at tho same time ho shivered with ft Buddcn tremor. " Before I foil ill I wrote to this woman, asking Iter to send Nita over"to,tlla Titori Valley for a holiday. Madame complied with my request at,01100. Iho cirl with n Maori woman for her com panion started by conch; when near Pinefalla, at Fembanlr, the turnout bo cnino unmanageable. There was au upset, and my daughter was hurt.

" Hurt 1 killed ? cried the lialf-caBte with a fierce imprecation. .

.' Not t!i»t," continued Black, quietly. "The poor child las received a sevore knock on llin lioad-coiisussion, I think they call it."' . .

Paul Barlow (.'ripped tho giant by the arm, which nude tho leg follow wince. " How lung is it since this accident hap pcno<l V" ho asked impatiently.

" Five weeks ago while 1 was ill at tho valley." . ,

" And whoro is slio now ? questioned the otl>'>r in a hoarse voice.

" At Pini-falls Station. It was the nearest habitation about the peak ridge at Fernbank, so Nita was taken there, mid it doing very well I believe uuderthe

circumstances."

"Oh, so you have nob seen lier

then V"

41 No ; but from a tcusty sourco I know every detail of tho mishap, and lliat the child is recovering." , t.

" I'm glad to hear that," replied Bar jew, under his breath. 11 Who is your

truBty nows-wtidor V

.. Hanga, tho Maori ; ho is employed in Major We'.ilon's household."

" M»jor Weldon," repealed the outlaw,

in tho greatest surprise. " Is Nita under

/its roof ?"

" Aye, under tho wing <>f my fine brother-in-law, bust liiin. l»«th lie and his little dream who iho nursling is to whom they have given shelter," cried

Black, with gleaming eyes.

Bar jew iftiscd his hands abovo Ins head -"Oh ! irony of fate," he cried. "Who shall say the jade is Mind ! So your daughter has fouud shelter beneath Tom

Woldon'a roof."

" Aye, I ti ll you, and see here, Bar jew, t'jis is about the best thing that could hare happened after all," rejoined Black, quickly. "Men like you and I rare ly do anything without a motive. My idea is that Nita shall remain where she

is."

" Indeed ! Then you mean to break your promise to me ?" responded the

other, passionately.

" Not .so, Barjew. Nita shall be your wife. Our bond is to that effect," an

swered Black. But you must curb your I impatience yet awhile ; the girl is too young. Besides, she inny not recover from her accident. Let us wait. You know tho proverb-4 everything cometh to him who waits.' Meanwhile, I have j much to say to you rrsp< cting other mat- j tcrs which are of moment to us all. I have papers about mo which I must place in the hands of Vanborough without de lay. Pray, 1-t us start ; it is late."

Paul Barjew agrees with the sugges tion of his companion, and the party started forward to the Patea Itiver.

By and bye he spurred his horse up to one of tho Maori, s, aud enquired in a low tone, " how far is it to Piuefalls, Ivanga ?" .

The man t urned round. " It is thirty miles from Tonga's Peak," he snid.

.' Hy the Range ?"

" Ves ; there is no other way,"

" Good. Hare a cigar, Ranga f"

Tonga's Peak was many miles distant on the sea coast, but it was the haven to which the travellers were wending.