Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Doing and Daring - A New Zealand Story
Author: Stredder, Eleanor
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Doing and Daring - A New Zealand Story" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Illustration: Cover]



[Illustration: THE OLD CHIEF.  Page 81.]



                     [Illustration: Pre-title page]



                            DOING AND DARING

                          A New Zealand Story


                                   BY

                            ELEANOR STREDDER

       _Author of "Lost in the Wilds," "The Merchant’s Children,"
                        "Jack and his Ostrich,"
                                 etc._



                   "Who counts his brother’s welfare
                          As sacred as his own,
                    And loves, forgives, and pities,
                           He serveth Me alone.
                     I note each gracious purpose,
                        Each kindly word and deed;
                      Are ye not all my children!
                       Shall not the Father heed?"
                                 WHITTIER.



                           T. NELSON AND SONS
                   _London, Edinburgh, and New York_
                                  1899



                               *Contents*

      I. IN THE MOUNTAIN GORGE
     II. THE WHARE BY THE LAKE
    III. A RIDE THROUGH THE BUSH
     IV. THE NEW HOME
      V. POSTING A LETTER
     VI. MIDNIGHT ALARMS
    VII. THE RAIN OF MUD
   VIII. A RAGING SEA
     IX. NOTHING TO EAT
      X. THE MAORI BOY
     XI. WIDESPREAD DESOLATION
    XII. EDWIN’S DISCOVERY
   XIII. FEEDING THE HUNGRY
    XIV. RAIN AND FLOOD
     XV. WHO HAS BEEN HERE?
    XVI. LOSS AND SUSPICION
   XVII. EDWIN IN DANGER
  XVIII. WHERO TO THE RESCUE
    XIX. MET AT LAST
     XX. JUST IN TIME
    XXI. THE VALLEY FARM



                          *DOING AND DARING.*


                              *CHAPTER I.*

                        *IN THE MOUNTAIN GORGE.*


It was a glorious autumn day, when the New Zealand bush was at its
loveliest—as enchanting as if it truly were the fairy ground of the
Southern Ocean; yet so unlike every European forest that weariness
seemed banished by its ceaseless variety. Here the intertwining branches
of majestic trees, with leaves of varied hue, shut out the sky, and
seemed to roof the summer road which wound its devious track towards the
hills; there a rich fern-clad valley, from which the murmuring sound of
falling water broke like music on the ear.  Onwards still a little
farther, and an overgrown creek, gently wandering between steep banks of
rich dark fern and graceful palm, came suddenly out of the greenwood
into an open space, bounded by a wall of rock, rent by a darkling chasm,
where the waters of the creek, tumbling over boulder stone and fallen
tree, broadened to a rushing river.  Along its verge the road continued,
a mere wheel-track cut in the rock, making it a perilous crossing, as
the driver of the weekly mail knew full well.

His heavy, lumbering coach was making its way towards it at that moment,
floundering through the two feet deep of mud which New Zealanders call a
bush road.  The five poor horses could only walk, and found that hard
work, while the passengers had enough to do to keep their seats.

Fortunately the coach was already lightened of a part of its load, some
fares with which it started having reached their destination at the last
stopping-place.  The seven remaining consisted of a rough,
jolly-looking, good-humoured fellow, bound for the surveyors’ camp among
the hills; an old identity, as New Zealanders call a colonist who has
been so long resident in the land of his adoption that he has completely
identified himself with it; and a newly-arrived settler with his four
children, journeying to take possession of a government allotment in the
Waikato district.

With the first two passengers long familiarity with the discomforts of
bush travelling had grown to indifference; but to Mr. Lee and his family
the experience was a trying one, as the coach swayed heavily to this
side and that, backwards and forwards, up and down, like a boat on a
rough sea.  More than once Mr. Lee’s little girls were precipitated into
the arms of their _vis-à-vis_, or bumped backwards with such violence a
breakage seemed inevitable; but which would suffer the most, the coach
or its passengers, was an open question.

Any English-made vehicle with springs must have been smashed to pieces;
but the New Zealand mail had been constructed to suit the exigencies of
the country. With its frame of iron and sides of leather, it could
resist an amount of wear and tear perfectly incredible to Mr. Lee.  He
sat with an arm round each of his daughters, vainly trying to keep them
erect in their places.  Their two brothers bobbed recklessly from corner
to corner, thinking nothing of the bruises in their ever-increasing
merriment when the edge of Erne’s broad-brimmed straw hat went dash into
the navvy’s eyes, or Audrey’s gray dust-cloak got entangled in the
buckles of the old identity’s travelling-bag.

Audrey, with a due regard for the proprieties, began a blushing apology.

"My dear child," exclaimed the portly old gentleman, "you speak as if I
did not know you could not help it."

The words were scarcely uttered, when the whole weight of his sixteen
stone went crushing on to little Cuthbert, who emerged from the jolly
squeeze with a battered hat and an altogether flattened appearance. Then
came an unexpected breathing-space.  The coachman stopped to leave a
parcel at the roadman’s hut, nestling beneath the shelter of the rocks
by the entrance of the gorge.

New Zealand roads are under the care of the government, who station men
at intervals all along their route to keep them in order.  The special
duty of this individual was to see that no other traffic entered the
gorge when the coach was passing through it.  Whilst he exchanged
greetings with the coachman, the poor passengers with one accord gave a
stretch and a yawn as they drew themselves into a more comfortable
position.

On again with renewed jolts between the towering walls of rock, with a
rush of water by their side drowning the rumble of the wheels.  The view
was grand beyond description, but no rail or fence protected the edge of
the stream.

Mr. Lee was leaning out of the window, watching anxiously the narrow
foot of road between them and destruction, when, with a sudden lurch,
over went the coach to the other side.

"A wheel off," groaned the old identity, as he knocked heads with the
navvy, and became painfully conscious of a struggling heap of arms and
legs encumbering his feet.

[Illustration: AN AWKWARD PLIGHT.]

Audrey clung to the door-handle, and felt herself slowly elevating.  Mr.
Lee, with one arm resting on the window-frame, contrived to hang on.  As
the coach lodged against the wall of rock, he scrambled out.  Happily
the window owned no glass, and the leathern blind was up.  The driver
was flung from his seat, and the horses were kicking.  His first thought
was to seize the reins, for fear the frightened five should drag them
over the brink.  The shaft-horse was down, but as the driver tumbled to
his feet, he cut the harness to set the others free; earnestly exhorting
the passengers to keep where they were until he could extricate his
horses.

But Edwin, the eldest boy, had already followed the example of his
father.  He had wriggled himself out of the window, and was dropping to
the ground down the back of the coach, which completely blocked the
narrow road.

His father and the coachman both shouted to him to fetch the roadman to
their help.  It was not far to the hut at the entrance of the gorge, and
the boy, who had been reckoned a first-rate scout on the cricket-field,
ran off with the speed of a hare.  The navvy’s stentorian "coo"—the
recognized call for assistance—was echoing along the rocky wall as he
went.  The roadman had heard it, and had left his dinner to listen.  He
saw the panting boy, and came to meet him.

"Coach upset," gasped Edwin.

"Here, lad, take my post till I come back; let nobody come this way.
I’ll be up with poor coachee in no time.  Anybody hurt?"

But without waiting for a reply the man set off. Edwin sank into the bed
of fern that clustered round the opening of the chasm, feeling as if all
the breath had been shaken out of him.  There he sat looking queer for
an hour or more, hearing nothing, seeing nothing but the dancing leaves,
the swaying boughs, the ripple of the waters.  Only once a big brown rat
came out of the underwood and looked at him.  The absence of all animal
life in the forest struck him: even the birds sing only in the most
retired recesses. An ever-increasing army of sand-flies were doing their
utmost to drive him from his position.  Unable at last to endure their
stings, he sprang up, trying to rid himself of his tormentors by a shake
and a dance, when he perceived a solitary horseman coming towards him,
not by the coach-road, but straight across the open glade.

The man was standing in his stirrups, and seemed to guide his horse by a
gentle shake of the rein. On he rode straight as an arrow, making
nothing of the many impediments in his path.  Edwin saw him dash across
the creek, plunge through the all but impenetrable tangle of a wild
flax-bush, whose tough and fibrous leaves were nine feet long at least,
leap over a giant boulder some storm had hurled from the rocks above,
and rein in his steed with easy grace at the door of the roadman’s
shanty.  Then Edwin noticed that the man, whose perfect command of his
horse had already won his boyish admiration, had a big mouth and a dusky
skin, that his cheeks were furrowed with wavy lines encircling each
other.

IN THE MOUNTAIN GORGE.  15

"A living tattoo," thought Edwin.  The sight of those curiously drawn
lines was enough to proclaim a native.

Some Maori chief, the boy was inclined to believe by his good
English-made saddle.  The tall black hat he wore might have been
imported from Bond Street at the beginning of the season, barring the
sea-bird’s feathers stuck upright in the band.  His legs were bare.  A
striped Austrian blanket was thrown over one shoulder and carefully
draped about him.  A snowy shirt sleeve was rolled back from the dusky
arm he had raised to attract Edwin’s attention.  A striped silk scarf,
which might have belonged to some English lady, was loosely knotted
round his neck, with the ends flying behind him.  A scarlet coat, which
had lost its sleeves, completed his grotesque appearance.

"Goo’-mornin’," he shouted.  "Coach gone by yet?"

"The coach is upset on that narrow road," answered Edwin, pointing to
the ravine, "and no one can pass this way."

"Smashed?" asked the stranger in tolerable English, brushing away the
ever-ready tears of the Maori as he sprang to the ground, expecting to
find the treasure he had commissioned the coachman to purchase for him
was already broken into a thousand pieces.  Then Edwin remembered the
coachman had left a parcel at the hut as they passed; and they both went
inside to look for it.  They found it laid on the bed at the back of the
hut—a large, flat parcel, two feet square.

The address was printed on it in letters half-an-inch high: "Nga-Hepé,
Rota Pah."

"That’s me!" cried the stranger, the tears of apprehension changing into
bursts of joyous laughter as he seized it lovingly, and seemed to
consider for a moment how he was to carry it away.  A shadow passed over
his face; some sudden recollection changed his purpose.  He laid his
hand persuasively on Edwin’s shoulder, saying, "Hepé too rich, Nga-Hepé
too rich; the rana will come.  Hide it, keep it safe till Nga-Hepé comes
again to fetch it."

Edwin explained why he was waiting there.  He had only scrambled out of
the fallen coach to call the roadman, and would soon be gone.

"You pakeha [white man] fresh from Ingarangi land? you Lee?" exclaimed
the Maori, taking a letter from the breast-pocket of his sleeveless
coat, as Edwin’s surprised "Yes" confirmed his conjecture.

The boy took the letter from him, and recognized at once the bold black
hand of a friend of his father’s whose house was to be their next
halting-place. The letter was addressed to Mr. Lee, to be left in the
care of the coachman.

Meanwhile, the roadman had reached the scene of the overturn just as the
navvy had succeeded in getting the door of the coach open.  Audrey and
Effie were hoisted from the arms of one rough man to another, and seated
on a ledge of rock a few feet from the ground, where Mr. Lee, who was
still busy with the horses, could see the torn gray cloak and waving
handkerchief hastening to assure him they were unhurt.

Poor little Cuthbert was crying on the ground. His nose was bleeding
from a blow received from one of the numerous packages which had flown
out from unseen corners in the suddenness of the shock.

"Mr. Bowen," said the navvy, "now is your turn."

But to extricate the stout old gentleman, who had somehow lamed himself
in the general fall, was a far more difficult matter.

The driver, who scarcely expected to get through a journey without some
disaster, was a host in himself.  He got hold of the despairing
traveller by one arm, the roadman grasped the other, assuring him, in
contradiction to his many assertions, that his climbing days were not
all over; the navvy gave a leg up from within, and in spite of slips and
bruises they had him seated on the bank at last, puffing and panting
from the exertion.  "Now, old chap," added the roadman, with rough
hospitality, "take these poor children back to my hut; and have a rest,
and make yourself at home with such tucker as you can find, while we get
the coach righted."

"We will all come down and help you with the tucker when our work is
done," laughed the navvy, as the three set to their task with a will,
and began to heave up the coach with cautious care.  The many
ejaculatory remarks which reached the ears of Audrey and Mr. Bowen
filled them with dismay.

"Have a care, or she’ll be over into the water," said one.

"No, she won’t," retorted another; "but who on earth can fix this wheel
on again so that it will keep? Look here, the iron has snapped
underneath.  What is to be done?"

"We have not far to go," put in the coachman. "I’ll make it hold that
distance, you’ll see."

A wild-flax bush was never far to seek.  A few of its tough, fibrous
leaves supplied him with excellent rope of nature’s own making.

Mr. Bowen watched the trio binding up the splintered axle, and tying
back the iron frame-work of the coach, where it had snapped, with a
rough and ready skill which seemed to promise success.  Still he foresaw
some hours would go over the attempt, and even then it might end in
failure.

He was too much hurt to offer them any assistance, but he called to
Cuthbert to find him a stick from the many bushes and trees springing
out of every crack and crevice in the rocky sides of the gorge, that he
might take the children to the roadman’s hut.  They arrived just as
Nga-Hepé was shouting a "Goo’-mornin’" to Edwin.  In fact, the Maori had
jumped on his horse, and was cantering off, when Mr. Bowen stopped him
with the question,—

"Any of your people about here with a canoe? I’ll pay them well to row
me through this gorge," he added.

"The coach is so broken," said Audrey aside to her brother, "we are
afraid they cannot mend it safely."

"Never mind," returned Edwin cheerily; "we cannot be far from Mr.
Hirpington’s.  This man has brought a letter from him.  Where is
father?"

"Taking care of the horses; and we cannot get at him," she replied.

Mr. Bowen heard what they were saying, and caught at the good news—not
far from Hirpington’s, where the Lees were to stop.  "How far?" he
turned to the Maori.

"Not an hour’s ride from the Rota Pah, or lake village, where the Maori
lived."  The quickest way to reach the ford, he asserted, was to take a
short cut through the bush, as he had done.

Mr. Bowen thought he would rather by far trust himself to native
guidance than enter the coach again.  But there were no more horses to
be had, for the coachman’s team was out of reach, as the broken-down
vehicle still blocked the path.

Nga-Hepé promised, as soon as he got to his home, to row down stream and
fetch them all to Mr. Hirpington’s in his canoe.  Meanwhile, Edwin had
rushed off to his father with the letter.  It was to tell Mr. Lee the
heavy luggage he had sent on by packet had been brought up from the
coast all right.

"You could get a ride behind Hirpington’s messenger," said the men to
Edwin, "and beg him to come to our help."  The Maori readily assented.

They were soon ascending the hilly steep and winding through a leafy
labyrinth of shadowy arcades, where ferns and creepers trailed their
luxuriant foliage over rotting tree trunks.  Deeper and deeper they went
into the hoary, silent bush, where song of bird or ring of axe is
listened for in vain.  All was still, as if under a spell.  Edwin looked
up with something akin to awe at the giant height of mossy pines, or
peered into secluded nooks where the sun-shafts darted fitfully over
vivid shades of glossy green, revealing exquisite forms of unimagined
ferns, "wasting their sweetness on the desert air."  Amid his native
fastnesses the Maori grew eloquent, pointing out each conical hill,
where his forefathers had raised the wall and dug the ditch.  Over every
trace of these ancient fortifications Maori tradition had its fearsome
story to repeat.  Here was the awful war-feast of the victor; there an
unyielding handful were cut to pieces by the foe.

How Edwin listened, catching something of the eager glow of his excited
companion, looking every inch—as he knew himself to be—the lord of the
soil, the last surviving son of the mighty Hepé, whose name had struck
terror from shore to shore.

As the Maori turned in his saddle, and darted suspicious glances from
side to side, it seemed to Edwin some expectation of a lurking danger
was rousing the warrior spirit within him.

They had gained the highest ridge of the wall of rock, and before them
gloomed a dark descent.  Its craggy sides were riven and disrupted,
where cone and chasm told the same startling story, that here, in the
forgotten long ago, the lava had poured its stream of molten fire
through rending rocks and heaving craters.  But now a maddened river was
hissing and boiling along the channels they had hollowed.  It was
leaping, with fierce, impatient swoop, over a blackened mass of
downfallen rock, scooping for itself a caldron, from which, with
redoubled hiss and roar, it darted headlong, rolling over on itself, and
then, as if in weariness, spreading and broadening to the kiss of the
sun, until it slept like a tranquil lake in the heart of the hills.  For
the droughts of summer had broadened the muddy reaches, which now seemed
to surround the giant boulders until they almost spanned the junction.

Where the stream left the basin a mass of huge logs chained together,
forming what New Zealanders call a "boom," was cast across it, waiting
for the winter floods to help them to start once more on their downward
swim to the broader waters of the Waikato, of which this shrunken stream
would then become a tributary.

On the banks of the lake, or rota—to give it the Maori name—Edwin looked
down upon the high-peaked roofs of a native village nestling behind its
protecting wall.

As the wind drove back the light vapoury cloudlets which hovered over
the huts and whares (as the better class of Maori dwellings are styled),
Edwin saw a wooden bridge spanning the running ditch which guarded the
entrance.

His ears were deafened by a strange sound, as if hoarsely echoing
fog-horns were answering each other from the limestone cliffs, when a
cart-load of burly natives crossed their path.  As the wheels rattled
over the primitive drawbridge, a noisy greeting was shouted out to the
advancing horseman—a greeting which seemed comprised in a single word
the English boy instinctively construed "Beware."  But the warning, if
it were a warning, ended in a hearty laugh, which made itself heard
above the shrill whistling from the jets of steam, sputtering and
spouting from every fissure in the rocky path Nga-Hepé was descending,
until another blast from those mysterious fog-horns drowned every other
noise.

With a creepy sense of fear he would have been loath to own, Edwin
looked ahead for some sign of the ford which was his destination; for he
knew that his father’s friend, Mr. Hirpington, held the onerous post of
ford-master under the English Government in that weird, wild land of
wonder, the hill-country of the north New Zealand isle.



                             *CHAPTER II.*

                        *THE WHARE BY THE LAKE.*


A deep fellow-feeling for his wild, high-spirited guide was growing in
Edwin’s mind as they rode onward.  Nga-Hepé glanced over his shoulder
more than once to satisfy himself as to the effect the Maori’s warning
had had upon his young companion.

Edwin returned the hasty inspection with a look of careless coolness, as
he said to himself, "Whatever this means, I have nothing to do with it."
Not a word was spoken, but the flash of indignant scorn in Nga-Hepé’s
brilliant eyes told Edwin that he was setting it at defiance.

On he spurred towards the weather-beaten walls, which had braved so many
a mountain gale.

A faint, curling column of steamy vapour was rising from the hot waters
which fed the moat, and wafted towards them a most unpleasant smell of
sulphur, which Edwin was ready to denounce as odious.  To the Maori it
was dear as native air: better than the breath of sweet-brier and roses.

Beyond the bridge Edwin could see a pathway made of shells, as white and
glistening as if it were a road of porcelain.  It led to the central
whare, the council-hall of the tribe and the home of its chief. Through
the light haze of steam which veiled everything Edwin could distinguish
its carved front, and the tall post beside it, ending in a kind of
figure-head with gaping mouth, and a blood-red tongue hanging out of it
like a weary dog’s.  This was the flagstaff. The cart had stopped beside
it, and its recent occupants were now seated on the steps of the whare,
laughing over the big letters of a printed poster which they were
exhibiting to their companions.

"Nothing very alarming in that," thought Edwin, as Nga-Hepé gave his
bridle-rein a haughty shake and entered the village.  He threaded his
way between the huts of mat and reeds, and the wood-built whares, each
in its little garden.  Here and there great bunches of home-grown
tobacco were drying under a little roof of thatch; behind another hut a
dead pig was hanging; a little further on, a group of naked children
were tumbling about and bathing in a steaming pool; beside another
tent-shaped hut there was a huge pile of potatoes, while a rush basket
of fish lay by many a whare door.

In this grotesque and novel scene Edwin almost forgot his errand, and
half believed he had misunderstood the hint of danger, as he watched the
native women cooking white-bait over a hole in the ground, and saw the
hot springs shooting up into the air, hissing and boiling in so strange
a fashion the English boy was fairly dazed.

Almost all the women were smoking, and many of them managed to keep a
baby riding on their backs as they turned their fish or gossiped with
their neighbours.  Edwin could not take his eyes off the sputtering
mud-holes doing duty as kitchen fires until they drew near to the
tattooed groups of burly men waiting for their supper on the steps of
the central whare.  Then many a dusky brow was lifted, and more than one
cautionary glance was bestowed upon his companion, whilst others saw him
pass them with a scowl.

Nga-Hepé met it with a laugh.  A Maori scorns to lose his temper, come
what may.  As he leaped the steaming ditch and left the village by a gap
in the decaying wall, he turned to Edwin, observing, with a pride which
bordered on satisfaction: "The son of Hepé is known by all men to be
rich and powerful, therefore the chief has spoken against him."

"Much you care for the chief," retorted Edwin.

"I am not of his tribe," answered Nga-Hepé.  "I come of the Ureweras,
the noblest and purest of our race.  Our dead men rest upon the sacred
hills where the Maori chiefs lie buried.  When a child of Hepé dies," he
went on, pointing to the mountain range, "the thunder rolls and the
lightning flashes along those giant hills, that all men may know his
hour has come.  No matter where the Hepé lay concealed, men always knew
when danger threatened him.  They always said such and such a chief is
dying, because the thunder and lightning are in such a place.  Look up!
the sky is calm and still. The hills are silent; Mount Tarawera rears
its threefold crest above them all in its own majestic grandeur.  Well,
I know no real danger menaces me to-night."

"I trust you are right, Nga-Hepé, but—" began Edwin quickly.  The Maori
turned his head away; he could admit no "buts," and the English boy made
vain endeavours to argue the question.

A noisy, boisterous jabbering arose from the village as the crowd
outside the grand whare hailed the decision of the elders holding
council within.  Dogs, pigs, and boys added their voices to the general
acclamation, and drowned Edwin’s so completely he gave up in despair;
and after all he thought, "Can any one wonder at Nga-Hepé clinging to
the old superstitions of his race?  In the wild grandeur of a spot like
this it seems in keeping."

So he said no more.  They crossed the broken ground.  Before them
gleamed the waters of the lake, upon whose bank Nga-Hepé’s house was
standing—the old ancestral whare, the dwelling-place of the Hepés
generation after generation.  Its well-thatched roof was higher than any
of the roofs in the pah, and more pointed.  The wood of which this whare
was built was carved into idol figures and grinning monsters, now black
and shining with excessive age.

The garden around it was better cultivated, and the ample store of roots
and grain in the smaller whare behind it told of the wealth of its
owner. Horses and pigs were snorting and squealing beneath the hoary
trees, overshadowing the mud-hole and the geyser spring, by which the
Maori loves to make his home.  The canoe was riding on the lake, the
lovely lake, as clear and blue as the sky it mirrored.

The sight of it recalled Edwin to his purpose, and he once more
questioned Nga-Hepé as to the whereabouts of the ford.

"Enter and eat," said the Maori, alighting at his low-browed door.

The gable end of the roof projected over it like a porch, and Edwin
paused under its shadow to take in the unfamiliar surroundings.  Beneath
the broad eaves huge bundles of native flax and tobacco were drying.  In
the centre of the long room within there was a blazing fire of crackling
wood.  But its cheerful welcome seemed to contend with a sense of
desertion which pervaded the place.

Nga-Hepé called in vain for his accustomed attendant to take his horse.
No one answered his summons. He shouted; no answer.  The wooden walls of
the neighbouring pah faintly echoed back his words.  All his men were
gone.  He muttered something in his own tongue, which Edwin could not
understand, as he led the way into the long room.  In so grand a whare
this room was divided into separate stalls, like a well-built stable.
An abundance of native mats strewed the floor.

The Maori’s eyes fell upon the corner where his greenstone club, the
treasured heirloom of many generations, leaned against an English rifle,
and on the boar’s tusks fixed in the wall at intervals, where his spears
and fishing-rods were ranged in order.  By their side hung a curious
medley of English apparel. The sweeping feathers of a broad felt hat
drooped above a gaudy table-cloth, which by its many creases seemed to
have done duty on the person of its owner. Edwin’s merriment was excited
by the number of scent-bottles, the beautiful cut-glass carafe, and many
other expensive articles suspended about the room—all bearing a silent
testimony to the wealth of which Nga-Hepé had spoken.  Two happy-looking
children, each wearing a brightly-coloured handkerchief folded across
their tiny shoulders in true Maori fashion, were grinding at a
barrel-organ.  One fat little knee served as a pillow for a tangle of
rough black hair, which a closer inspection showed him was the head of a
sleeping boy.

Nga-Hepé’s wife, wearing a cloak of flowered silk, with a baby slung in
a shawl at her back, and a short pipe in her mouth, met him with soft
words of pleading remonstrance which Edwin could not understand.

Her husband patted her fondly on the arm, touched the baby’s laughing
lips, and seated himself on the floor by the fire, inviting Edwin to
join him.

The sleeping boy gave a great yawn, and starting to his feet, seemed to
add his entreaties to his mother’s. He held a book in his hand—a
geography, with coloured maps—which he had evidently been studying; but
he dropped it in despair, as his father only called for his supper.

"Help us to persuade him," he whispered to Edwin in English; "he may
listen to a pakeha.  Tell him it is better to go away."

"Why?" asked Edwin.

"Why!" repeated the boy excitedly; "because the chief is threatening him
with a muru.  He will send a band of men to eat up all the food, and
carry off everything we have that can be carried away; but they will
only come when father is at home."

"A bag of talk!" interrupted Nga-Hepé.  "Shall it be said the son of the
warrior sneaks off and hides himself at the first threat?"

"But," urged Edwin, "you promised to row back for Mr. Bowen."

"Yes, and I will.  I will eat, and then I go," persisted Nga-Hepé, as
his wife stamped impatiently.

Two or three women ran in with the supper which they had been cooking in
a smaller whare in the background.  They placed the large dishes on the
floor: native potatoes—more resembling yams in their sweetness than
their English namesakes—boiled thistles, and the ancient Maori delicacy,
salted shark.

They all began to eat, taking the potatoes in their hands, when a wild
cry rang through the air—a cry to strike terror to any heart.  It was
the first note of the Maori war-song, caught up and repeated by a dozen
powerful voices, until it became a deafening yell. Hepé’s wife tore
frantically at her long dark hair.

The Maori rose to his feet with an inborn dignity, and grasped the
greenstone club, taking pride in the prestige of such a punishment.
Turning to Edwin he said: "When the ferns are on fire the sparks fall
far and wide.  Take the horse—it is yours; I give it to you.  It is the
last gift I shall have it in my power to make for many a day to come.
There lies your path through the bush; once on the open road again the
ford-house will be in sight, and Whero shall be your guide.  Tell the
old pakeha the canoe is mine no more."

The woman snatched up the children and rushed away with them, uttering a
wailing cry.

Edwin knew he had no alternative, but he did not like the feeling of
running away in the moment of peril.

"Can’t I help you, though I am only a boy?" he asked.

"Yes," answered Hepé’s wife, as she almost pushed him out of the door in
her desperation; "take this."

She lifted up a heavy bag from the corner of the whare, and put it into
his hands.  Whero had untied the horse, and was pointing to the distant
pah, from which the yells proceeded.

A band of armed men, brandishing clubs and spears, were leading off the
war-dance.  Their numbers were swelling.  The word of fear went round
from lip to lip, "The tana is coming!"

The tana is the band of armed men sent by the chief to carry out this
act of savage despotism.  They had been on the watch for Nga-Hepé.  They
had seen him riding through the pah.  All hope of getting him out of the
way was over.

Father and mother joined in the last despairing desire to send off
Whero, their little lord and first-born, of whom the Maoris make so
much, and treat with so much deference.  They never dreamed of ordering
him to go.  A freeborn Maori brooks no control even in childhood.  But
their earnest entreaties prevailed.  He got up before Edwin.  He would
not ride behind him, not he, to save his life.  He yielded for the sake
of the horse he loved so well.  He thought he might get it back from the
young pakeha, but who could wrest it from the grasp of the tana? Perhaps
Nga-Hepé shared the hope.  The noble horse was dear to father and son.

"Oh, I am so sorry for you!" said Edwin as he guessed the truth; "and so
will father be, I’m sure."  He stopped in sudden silence as another
terrific yell echoed back by lake and tree.

He felt the good horse quiver as they plunged into the safe shelter of
the bush, leaving Hepé leaning on his club on the threshold of his
whare.

Edwin’s first care now was to get to Mr. Hirpington’s as fast as he
could.  But his desire to press on met with no sympathy from his
companion, who knew not how to leave the spot until his father’s fate
was decided.  He had backed the horse into the darkest shadow of the
trees, and here he wanted to lie in ambush and watch; for the advancing
warriors were surrounding the devoted whare, and the shrieking women
were flying from it into the bush.

How could Edwin stop him when Whero would turn back to meet his mother?
The rendezvous of the fugitives was a tall karaka tree—a forest king
rearing its giant stem full seventy feet above the mossy turf.  A
climbing plant, ablaze with scarlet flowers, had wreathed itself among
the branches, and hung in long festoons which swept the ground.  The
panting women flung themselves down, and dropped their heavy burdens at
its root; for all had snatched up the nearest thing which came to hand
as they ran out. One had wrapped the child she carried in a fishing-net;
another drew from beneath the folds of the English counterpane she was
wearing the long knife that had been lying on the floor by the dish of
shark; while Whero’s mother, shaking her wealth of uncombed hair about
her like a natural veil, concealed in her arms a ponderous axe.

The big black horse gave a loving whinny as he recognized their
footsteps, and turning of his own accord, cantered up to them as they
began to raise the death-wail—doing tangi as they call it—over the
outcast children crying for the untasted supper, on which the invaders
were feasting.

"May it choke the pigs!" muttered Whero, raising himself in the stirrups
and catching at the nearest bough, he gave it a shake, which sent a
shower of the karaka nuts tumbling down upon the little black heads and
fighting fists.  The women stopped their wail to crack and eat.  The
horse bent down his head to claim a share, and the children scrambled to
their feet to scoop the sweet kernel from the opened shell.  The hungry
boys were forced to join them, and Edwin found to his surprise that leaf
and nut alike were good and wholesome food.  They ate in silence and
fear, as the wild woods rang with the shouts of triumph and derision as
the rough work of confiscation went forward in the whare.

With the much-needed food Edwin’s energy was returning.  He gave back
the bag to Whero’s mother, assuring her if her son would only guide him
to the road he could find his own way to the ford.

"Let us all go farther into the bush," said the oldest woman of the
group, "before the tana comes out. The bush they cannot take from us,
and all we need the most the bush will provide."

The weight of the bag he had carried convinced Edwin it was full of
money.

Whero’s mother was looking about for a place where she could hide it; so
they wandered on until the sun shone brightly between the opening trees,
and they stepped out upon an unexpected clearing.

"The road! the road!" cried Whero, pointing to the gleam of water in the
distance, and the dark roof of the house by the ford, half buried in the
white blossom of the acacia grove beside it.

"All right!" exclaimed Edwin joyfully.  "You need go no farther."

He took the bridle from Whero, and turned the horse’s head towards the
ford, loath to say farewell to his strange companions.  As he went at a
steady trot along the road, he could not keep from looking back.  He saw
they were burying the bag of treasure where two white pines grew near
together, and the wild strawberries about their roots were ripening in
the sun.  The road, a mere clearing in the forest, lay straight before
him.  As Nga-Hepé had said, an hour’s ride brought him to Mr.
Hirpington’s door.

The house was large and low, built entirely of corrugated iron.  It was
the only spot of ugliness in the whole landscape.  A grassy bank higher
than Edwin’s head surrounded the home enclosure, and lovely white-winged
pigeons were hovering over the yellow gorse, which formed an
impenetrable wall on the top of the bank.  A gate stood open, and by its
side some rough steps cut in the rock led down to the riverbed, through
a tangle of reeds and bulrushes.  Like most New Zealand rivers, the bed
was ten times wider than the stream, and the stretch of mud on either
side increased the difficulties of the crossing.

Edwin rode up to the gate and dismounted, drew the bridle through the
ring in the post, and entered a delightful garden, where peach and
almond and cherry trees brought back a thought of home.  The ground was
terraced towards the house, which was built on a jutting rock, to be out
of the reach of winter floods. Honeysuckle and fuchsia, which Edwin had
only known in their dwarfed condition in England, rose before him as
stately trees, tall as an English elm, eclipsing all the white and gold
of the acacias and laburnums, which sheltered the end of the house.

The owner, spade in hand, was at work among his flower-beds.  His dress
was as rough as the navvy’s, and Edwin, who had studied Mr. Hirpington’s
photograph so often, asked himself if this man, so brown and brawny and
broad, could be his father’s friend?

"Please, I’m Edwin Lee," said the boy bluntly. "Is Mr. Hirpington at
home?"

The spade was thrown aside, and a hand all smeared with garden mould
grasped his own, and a genial voice exclaimed, "Yes, Hirpington is here,
bidding you heartily welcome!  But how came you, my lad, to forerun the
coach?"

Then Edwin poured into sympathetic ears the tale of their disaster,
adding earnestly, "I thought I had better come on with your messenger,
and tell you what had happened."

"Coach with a wheel off in the gorge!" shouted Mr. Hirpington to a chum
in-doors, and Edwin knew he had found the friend in need, whose value no
one can estimate like a colonist.

Before Edwin could explain why Nga-Hepé had failed in his promise to
return with his canoe, Mr. Hirpington was down the boating-stairs,
loosening his own "tub," as he called it, from its moorings. To the
Maori’s peril he lent but half an ear.  "No use our interfering there,"
he said.  "I’m off to your father."

A head appeared at a window overlooking the bed of rushes, and two men
came out of the house door, and assisted him to push the boat into the
water. The window above was thrown open, and a hastily-filled basket was
handed down.  Then a kind, motherly voice told Edwin to come in-doors.

The room he entered was large and faultlessly clean, serving the
threefold purpose of kitchen, dining-room, and office.  The desk by the
window, the gun in the corner, the rows of plates above the dresser,
scarcely seemed to encroach on each other, or make the long dining-table
look ashamed of their company.

Mrs. Hirpington, who was expecting the "coach to sleep" under her roof
that night, was preparing her meat for the spit at the other end of the
room.  The pipes and newspaper, which had been hastily thrown down at
the sound of Mr. Hirpington’s summons, showed Edwin where the men had
been resting after their day’s work.  They were, as he guessed, employés
on the road, which was always requiring mending and clearing, while Mr.
Hirpington was their superintendent, as well as ford-keeper.

His wife, in a homely cotton dress of her own making, turned to Edwin
with the well-bred manner of an English lady and the hearty hospitality
of a colonist.

"Not a word about being in the way, my dear; the trouble is a pleasure.
We shall have you all here, a merry party, before long.  There are worse
disasters than this at sea."  She smiled as she delayed the roast, and
placed a chop on the grill for Edwin’s benefit.

The cozy sense of comfort which stole over him was so delightful, as he
stretched himself on the sofa on the other side of the fire, it made him
think the more of the homeless wanderers in the bush, and he began to
describe to Mrs. Hirpington the strange scene he had witnessed.

A band of armed men marching out of the village filled her with
apprehension.  She ran to the window overlooking the river to see if the
boat had pushed off, and called to the men remaining behind—for the ford
was never left—to know if the other roadmen had yet come in.

"They are late," she said.  "They must have heard the coachman’s ’coo,’
and are before us with their help.  They have gone down to the gorge.
You may rest easy about your father."

But she could not rest easy.  She looked to the loading of the guns, put
the bar in the gate herself, and held a long conference with Dunter over
the alarming intelligence.

But the man knew more of Maori ways than she did, and understood it
better.  "I’ll not be saying," he answered, "but what it will be wise in
us to keep good watch until they have all dispersed.  Still, with Hepé’s
goods to carry off and divide, they will not be thinking of interfering
with us.  Maybe you’ll have Nga-Hepé’s folk begging shelter as the night
draws on."

"I hope not," she retorted quickly.  "Give them anything they ask for,
but don’t be tempted to open the gate.  Tell them the coach is coming,
and the house is full."

A blaze of fire far down the river called everybody into the garden.
Some one was signalling.  But Dunter was afraid to leave Mrs.
Hirpington, and Mrs. Hirpington was equally afraid to be left.

A great horror fell upon Edwin.  "Can it be father?" he exclaimed.

Dunter grasped the twisted trunk of the giant honeysuckle, and swung
himself on to the roof of the house to reconnoitre.  Edwin was up beside
him in a moment.

"Oh, it is nothing," laughed the man—"nothing but some chance traveller
waiting by the roadside for the expected coach, and, growing impatient,
has set a light to the dry branches of a ti tree to make sure of
stopping the coach."

But the wind had carried the flames beyond the tree, and the fire was
spreading in the bush.

"It will burn itself out," said Dunter carelessly; "no harm in that."

But surely the coach was coming!

Edwin looked earnestly along the line which the bush road had made
through the depths of the forest. He could see clearly to a considerable
distance.  The fire was not far from the two white pines where he had
parted from his dusky companions, and soon he saw them rushing into the
open to escape from the burning fern.  On they ran towards the ford,
scared by the advancing fire.  How was Mrs. Hirpington to refuse to open
her gates and take them in?  Women and children—it could not be done.

Edwin was pleading at her elbow.

"I saw it all, Mrs. Hirpington; I know how it happened.  Nga-Hepé gave
me his horse, that I might escape in safety to you."

"Well, well," she answered, resigning herself to the inevitable.  "If
you will go out and meet them and bring them here, Dunter shall clear
the barn to receive them."

Edwin slid down the rough stem of the honeysuckle and let himself out,
and ran along the road for about half-a-mile, waving his hat and calling
to the fugitives to come on, to come to the ford.

The gray-haired woman in the counterpane, now begrimed with mud and
smoke, was the first to meet him.

She shouted back joyfully, "The good wahini [woman] at the ford has sent
to fetch us.  She hear the cry of the child.  Good! good!"

But the invitation met with no response from Whero and his mother.

"Shall it be said by morning light Nga-Hepé’s wife was sleeping in the
Ingarangi [English] bed, and he a dead man lying on the floor of his
forefathers’ whare, with none to do tangi above him!" she exclaimed,
tearing fresh handfuls from her long dark hair in her fury.

"Oh to be bigger and stronger," groaned Whero, "that I might play my
game with the greenstone club! but my turn will come."

The blaze of passion in the boy’s star-like eyes recalled his mother to
calmness.  "What are you," she asked, "but an angry child to court the
blow of the warrior’s club that would end your days?  A man can bide his
hour.  Go with the Ingarangi, boy."

"Yes, go," urged her companion.

A bright thought struck the gray-haired woman, and she whispered to
Edwin, "Get him away; get him safe to the Ingarangi school.  Nothing can
reach him there.  He loves their learning; it will make him a mightier
man than his fathers have ever been. If he stays with us, we can’t hold
him back.  He will never rest till he gets himself killed."

"Ah, but my Whero will go back with the Ingarangi boy and beg a blanket
to keep the babies from the cold night wind," added his mother
coaxingly.

"Come along," said Edwin, linking his arm in Whero’s and setting off
with a run.  "Now tell me all you want—blankets, and what else?"

But the boy had turned sullen, and would not speak.  He put his hands
before his face and sobbed as if his heart would break.

"Where is the horse?" he asked abruptly, as they reached Mrs.
Hirpington’s gate.

"In there," said Edwin, pointing to the stable.

The Maori boy sprang over the bar which Dunter had fixed across the
entrance to keep the horse in, and threw his arms round the neck of his
black favourite, crying more passionately than ever.

"He is really yours," put in Edwin, trying to console him.  "I do not
want to keep the horse when you can take him back.  Indeed, I am not
sure my father will let me keep him."

But he was speaking to deaf ears; so he left Whero hugging his
four-footed friend, and went in-doors for the blankets.  Mrs. Hirpington
was very ready to send them; but when Edwin returned to the stable, he
found poor Whero fast asleep.

"Just like those Maoris," laughed Dunter.  "They drop off whatever they
are doing; it makes no difference.  But remember, my man, there is a
good old saying, ’Let sleeping dogs lie.’"

So, instead of waking Whero, they gently closed the stable-door; and
Edwin went off alone with the blankets on his shoulder.  He found
Nga-Hepé’s wife still seated by the roadside rocking her baby, with her
two bigger children asleep beside her.  One dark head was resting on her
knee, the other nestling close against her shoulder.  Edwin unfolded one
of the blankets he was bringing and wrapped it round her, carefully
covering up the little sleepers.  Her companions had not been idle.  To
the Maori the resources of the bush are all but inexhaustible.  They
were making a bed of freshly-gathered fern, and twisting a perfect cable
from the fibrous flax-leaves.  This they tied from tree to tree, and
flung another blanket across it, making a tent over the unfortunate
mother. Then they crept behind her, under the blanket, keeping their
impromptu tent in shape with their own backs.

"Goo’-night," they whispered, "goo’ boy.  Go bush a’ right."

But Edwin lingered another moment to tell the disconsolate mother how he
had left Whero sleeping by the horse.

"Wake up—no find us—then he go school," she said, wrinkling the patch of
tattoo on her lip and chin with the ghost of a smile.



                             *CHAPTER III.*

                       *A RIDE THROUGH THE BUSH.*


The fire by the white pines had died away, but a cloud of smoke rose
from the midst of the trees and obscured the view.  A faint rumbling
sound and the dull thud of horses’ feet reached Edwin from time to time
as he ran back to the ford.

A lantern was swinging in the acacia tree.  The white gate was flung
open, and Dunter, with his hand to his ear, stood listening to the
far-off echo.

A splash of oars among the rushes, and the shock of a boat against the
stairs, recalled him to the house. Edwin ran joyfully down the steps,
and gave a hand to Mr. Bowen.

"We are not all here now," the old gentleman said.  "Your father stuck
by the coach, and he would have his daughters with him, afraid of an
open boat on a night like this."

Then Edwin felt a hand in the dark, which he knew was Cuthbert’s; and
heard Mr. Hirpington’s cheery voice exclaiming, "Which is home
first—boat or coach?"

"Hard to say," answered Dunter, as the coach drove down the road at a
rapid pace, followed by a party of roadmen with pickaxe on shoulder,
coming on with hasty strides and a resolute air about them, very unusual
in men returning from a hard day’s labour.

The coach drew up, and Mr. Lee was the first to alight.  He looked
sharply round, evidently counting heads.

"All here, all right," answered Mr. Hirpington. "Safe, safe at home, as
I hope you will all feel it," he added, in his heartiest tones.

There was no exact reply.  His men gathered round him, exclaiming, "We
heard the war-cry from the Rota Pah.  There’s mischief in the wind
to-night. So we turned our steps the other way and waited for the coach,
and all came on together."

"It is a row among the Maoris themselves," put in Dunter, "as that lad
can tell you."

The man looked sceptical.  A new chum, as fresh arrivals from the mother
country are always termed, and a youngster to boot, what could he know?

Mr. Hirpington stepped out from the midst of the group and laid his hand
on Mr. Lee’s shoulder, who was bending down to ask Edwin what all this
meant, and drew him aside.

"I trust, old friend," he said, "I have not blundered on your behalf,
but all the heavy luggage you sent on by packet arrived last week, and
I, not knowing how to take care of it, telegraphed to headquarters for
permission to put it in the old school-house until you could build your
own.  I thought to do you a service; but if our dusky neighbours have
taken offence, that is the cause, I fear."

Mr. Lee made a sign to his children to go in-doors. Edwin led his
sisters up the terrace-steps, and came back to his father.  The coach
was drawn inside the gate, and the bar was replaced.  The driver was
attending to his horses; but all the others were holding earnest council
under the acacia tree, where the lantern was still swinging.

"But I do not understand about this old schoolhouse," Mr. Lee was
saying; "where is it?"

"Over the river," answered several voices.  "The government built it for
the Maoris before the last disturbance, when the Hau-Hau [pronounced
_How How_] tribe turned against us, and went back to their old
superstitions, and banded together to sell us no more land.  It was then
the school was shut up, but the house was left; and now we are growing
friendly again," added Mr. Hirpington, "I thought all was right."

"So it is," interposed Mr. Bowen, confidently. "My sheep-run comes up
very near to the King country, as they like to call their district, and
I want no better neighbours than the Maoris."

Then Edwin spoke out.  "Father, I can tell you something about it.  Do
listen."

They did listen, one and all, with troubled, anxious faces.  "This
tana," they said, "may not disperse without doing more mischief.  Carry
on their work of confiscation at the old school-house, perhaps."

"No, no; no fear of that," argued Mr. Bowen and the coachman, who knew
the Maoris best.

"I’ll run no risk of losing all my ploughs and spades," persisted Mr.
Lee.  "How far off is the place?"

"Not five miles across country," returned his friend. "I have left it in
the care of a gang of rabbiters, who have set up their tents just
outside the garden wall—safe enough, as it seemed, when I left."

"Lend me a horse and a guide," said Mr. Lee, "and I’ll push on
to-night."

The children, of course, were to be left at the ford; but Edwin wanted
to go with his father.  Dunter and another man were getting ready to
accompany him.

"Father," whispered Edwin, "there is the black horse; you can take him.
Come and have a look at him."

He raised the heavy wooden latch of the stable-door, and glanced round
for Whero.  There was the hole in the straw where he had been sleeping,
but the boy was gone.

"He must have stolen out as we drove in," remarked the coachman, who was
filling the manger with corn for his horses.

The man had far more sympathy with Nga-Hepé in his trouble than any of
the others.  He leaned against the side of the manger, talking to Edwin
about him.  When Mr. Lee looked in he stooped down to examine the horse,
feeling its legs, and the height of its shoulder.  On such a congenial
subject the coachman could not help giving an opinion. Edwin heard, with
considerable satisfaction, that the horse was a beauty.

"But I do not like this business at all, and if I had had any idea Mr.
Hirpington’s messenger was a native, you should never have gone with
him, Edwin," Mr. Lee began, in a very decided tone.  "However," he
added, "I’ll buy this horse, I don’t mind doing that; but as to taking
presents from the natives, it is out of the question.  I will not begin
it."

"But, father," put in Edwin, "there is nobody here to buy the horse of;
there is nobody to take the money."

"I’ll take the money for Nga-Hepé," said the coachman.  "I will make
that all right.  You saw how it was as we came along.  The farmers and
the natives are on the watch for my coming, and they load me with all
sorts of commissions.  You would laugh at the things these Maoris get me
to bring them from the towns I pass through.  I don’t mind the bother of
it, because they will take no end of trouble in return, and help me at
every pinch.  I ought to carry Nga-Hepé ten pounds."

Mr. Lee thought that cheap for so good a horse, and turned to the half
light at the open door to count out the money.

"But I shall not take him away with me to-night. I will not be seen
riding a Maori’s horse if Hirpington can lend me another," persisted Mr.
Lee.

Then Mr. Bowen limped up to the stable-door, and Edwin slipped out,
looking for Whero behind the farm buildings and round by the back of the
house.  But the Maori boy was nowhere to be seen.  The coachman was
right after all.  Mr. Hirpington went indoors and called to Edwin to
join him.  He had the satisfaction of making the boy go over the ground
again.  But there was nothing more to tell, and Edwin was dismissed to
his supper with an exhortation to be careful, like a good brother, not
to frighten his sisters.

He crossed over and leaned against the back of Audrey’s chair, simply
observing, "Father is going on to-night."

"Well?" she returned eagerly.

"It won’t be either well or fountain here," he retorted, "but a boiling
geyser.  I’ve seen one in the distance already."

"Isn’t he doing it nicely?" whispered Effie, nodding. "They told him to
turn a dark lantern on us.  We heard—Audrey and I."

"Oh yes," smiled her sister; "every word can be heard in these New
Zealand houses, and no one ever seems to remember that.  I give you fair
warning."

"It is a rare field for the little long-eared pitchers people are so
fond of talking about—present representatives, self and Cuthbert.  We of
course must expect to fill our curiosity a drop at a time; but you must
have been snapped up in a crab-shell if you mean to keep Audrey in the
dark," retorted Effie.

"Cuthbert!  Cuthbert!" called Edwin, "here is a buzzing bee about to
sting me.  Come and catch it, if you can."

Cuthbert ran round and began to tickle his sister in spite of Audrey’s
horrified "My dear!"

The other men came in, and a look from Mr. Lee recalled the young ones
to order.  But the grave faces, the low words so briefly interchanged
among them, the business-like air with which the supper was got through,
in the shortest possible time, kept Audrey in a flutter of alarm, which
she did her best to conceal.  But Mr. Bowen detected the nervous tremor
in her hand as she passed his cup of coffee, and tried to reassure her
with the welcome intelligence that he had just discovered they were
going to be neighbours.  What were five-and-twenty miles in the
colonies?

"A very long way off," thought the despondent Audrey.

At a sign from Mr. Lee, Mrs. Hirpington conducted the girls to one of
the tiny bedrooms which ran along the back of the house, where the
"coach habitually slept."  As the door closed behind her motherly
good-night, Effie seized upon her sister, exclaiming,—

"What are we in for now?"

"Sleep and silence," returned Audrey; "for we might as well disclose our
secret feelings in the market-place as within these iron walls."

"I always thought you were cousin-german to the discreet princess; but
if you reduce us to dummies, you will make us into eaves-droppers as
well, and we used to think that was something baddish," retorted Effie.

"You need not let it trouble your conscience to-night, for we cannot
help hearing as long as we are awake; therefore I vote for sleep,"
replied her sister.

But sleep was effectually banished, for every sound on the other side of
the thin sheet of corrugated iron which divided them from their
neighbours seemed increased by its resonance.

They knew when Mr. Lee drove off.  They knew that a party of men were
keeping watch all night by the kitchen fire.  But when the wind rose,
and a cold, pelting rain swept across the river, and thundered on the
metal roof with a noise which could only be out-rivalled by the iron
hail of a bombardment, every other sound was drowned, and they did not
hear what the coachman was saying to Edwin as they parted for the night.
So it was possible even in that house of corrugated iron not always to
let the left hand know what the right was doing.  Only a few words
passed between them.

"You are a kind-hearted lad.  Will you come across to the stables and
help me in the morning?  I must be up before the dawn."

There was an earnestness in the coachman’s request which Edwin could not
refuse.

With the first faint peep of gray, before the morning stars had faded,
the coachman was at Edwin’s door.  The boy answered the low-breathed
summons without waking his little brother, and the two were soon
standing on the terraced path outside the house in the fresh, clear,
bracing air of a New Zealand morning, to which a touch of frost had been
superadded.  They saw it sparkling on the leaves of the stately
heliotropes, which shaded the path and waved their clustering flowers
above the coachman’s head as they swayed in the rising breeze.  He
opened the gate in the hedge of scarlet geraniums, which divided the
garden from the stable-yard, and went out with Edwin, carrying the sweet
perfume of the heliotropes with them.  Even the horses were all asleep.

"Yes, it is early," remarked Edwin’s companion. "The coach does not
start until six.  I have got old time by the forelock, and I’ve a mind
to go over to the Rota Pah, if you can show me the way."

"I think I can find it," returned Edwin, with a confidence that was yet
on the lee side of certainty.

"Ay, then we’ll take the black horse.  If we give him the rein, he will
lead us to his old master’s door. It is easy work getting lost in the
bush, but I never yet turned my back on a chum in trouble.  Once a chum
always a chum with us.  Many’s the time Nga-Hepé’s stood my friend among
these wild hills, and I want to see him after last night’s rough
handling. That is levelling down with a vengeance."

The coachman paused, well aware his companions would blame him for
interfering in such a business, and very probably his employers also, if
it ever reached their ears.  So he led the horse out quietly, and
saddled him on the road.  The ground was white with frost.  The moon and
stars were gradually paling and fading slowly out of sight.  The forest
was still enwrapped in stately gloom, but the distant hills were already
catching the first faint tinge of rosy light.

Edwin got up behind the coachman, as he had behind Nga-Hepé.  They gave
the horse its head, and rode briskly on, trusting to its sagacity to
guide them safely across the bush with all its dangers—dangers such as
Edwin never even imagined.  But the coachman knew that one unwary step
might mean death to all three.  For the great white leaves of the deadly
puka-puka shone here and there, conspicuous in the general blue-green
hue of the varying foliage; a poison quickly fatal to the horse, but a
poison which he loves. The difficulty of getting out of the thicket,
where it was growing so freely, without suffering the horse to crop a
single leaf kept them from talking.

"If I had known that beastly white-leaved thing was growing here, I
would not have dared to have brought him, unless I had tied up his head
in a net," grumbled the coachman, making another desperate effort to
leave the puka-puka behind by changing his course.  They struggled out
of the thicket, only to get themselves tied up in a detestable
supple-jack—a creeper possessing the power to cling which we faintly
perceive in scratch-grass, but in the supple-jack this power is
intensified and multiplied until it ties together everything which comes
within its reach, making it the traveller’s plague and another terrible
foe to a horse, a riderless horse especially, who soon gets so tied up
and fettered that he cannot extricate himself, and dies.  By mutual help
they broke away from the supple-jack, and stumbled upon a mud-hole.  But
here the good horse started back of his own accord, and saved them all
from a morning header in its awful depths.  For the mud was seething,
hissing, boiling like some witch’s caldron—a horrid, bluish mud, leaving
a yellow crust round the edge of the hole, and sending up a sulphurous
smell, which set Edwin coughing.  The coachman alighted, and led the
horse cautiously away.  Then he turned back to break off a piece of the
yellow crust and examine it.

Edwin remembered his last night’s ride with the Maori, how he shot
fearlessly forward, avoiding all these insidious dangers as if by
instinct, "So that I did not even know they existed," exclaimed the boy,
with renewed admiration for the fallen chief.

    "’The rank puts on the guinea stamp,
    But the man’s the gold for a’ that,’"

he cried, with growing enthusiasm.

"Gold or stamp," retorted the coachman; "well, I can’t lay claim to
either.  I’m a blockhead, and yet not altogether one of nature’s making,
for I could have done better.  When I was your age, lad, who would have
thought of seeing me, Dilworth Ottley, driving a four-in-hand over such
a breakneck path as we crossed yesterday?  Yet I’ve done it, until I
thought all sense of danger was deadened and gone. But that horrid hole
brings back the shudder."

"What is it?" asked Edwin.

"One of the many vents through which the volcanic matter escapes.  In my
Cantab days—you stare; but I was a Cantab, and got ploughed, and
rusticated—I was crack whip among the freshmen.  The horses lost me the
’exam;’ and I went on losing, until it seemed that all was gone.  Then I
picked up my whip once more; and here you find me driving the
cross-country mail for so much a week.  But it makes a fellow feel when
he sees another down in his luck like this Maori, so that one cannot
turn away with an easy conscience when it is in one’s power to help him,
or I’d go back this very moment."

"No, don’t," said Edwin earnestly; "we are almost there."

The exceeding stillness of the dawn was broken by the wailing cry of the
women.  The horse pricked up his ears, and cantered forward through the
basket willows and acacias which bordered the sleeping lake. Along its
margin in every little creek and curve canoes were moored, but from the
tiny bay-like indentation by the lonely whare the canoe had vanished.

The sudden jets of steam uprising in the very midst of the Maori pah
looked weird and ghostlike in the gray of the dawn.  Only one wild-cat
crept stealthily across their path.  Far in the background rose the dim
outline of the sacred hills where the Maori chiefs lie buried.

Edwin looked upward to their cloud-capped summits awestruck, as the wild
traditionary tales he had heard from Hepé’s lips only last night rushed
back upon his recollection.

There before him was the place of graves; but where was the still more
sacred Te Tara, the mysterious lake of beauty, with its terraced banks,
where fairy-like arcades of exquisite tracery rise tier above tier,
shading baths fed by a stream of liquid sun in which it is happiness to
bathe?

Edwin had listened to the Maori’s description as if it had been a page
from some fairy tale; but Ottley, in his matter-of-fact way, confirmed
it all.

"This Maori’s paradise," he said, "may well be called the
last-discovered wonder of the world.  I bring a lot of fellows up here
to see it every year; that is what old Bowen is after now.  ’A thing of
beauty is a joy for ever.’  This magic geyser has built a bathing-house
of fair white coral and enamel lace, with basins of shell and fringes of
pearl.  What is it like? there is nothing it is like but a Staffa, with
its stalactites in the daylight and the sunshine.  If Nature forms the
baths, she fills them, too, with boiling water, which she cools to suit
every fancy as she pours it in pearly cascades from terrace to terrace,
except in a north-east wind, which dries them up. All these Maoris care
for is to spend their days like the ducks, swimming in these pools of
delight.  It is a jealously-guarded treasure.  But they are wide awake.
The pay of the sightseer fills their pockets without working, and they
all disdain work."

They were talking so earnestly they did not perceive a patch of hot,
crumbling ground until the horse’s fore feet went down to the fetlocks
as if it were a quicksand, shooting Ottley and Edwin over his head among
the reeds by the lake.  Ottley picked himself up in no time, and flew to
extricate the horse, warning Edwin off.

"Whatever you may say of the lake, there are a lot of ugly places
outside it," grumbled Edwin, provoked at being told to keep his distance
when he really felt alight with curiosity and wonder as to what strange
thing would happen next.  Having got eyes, as he said, he was not
content to gape and stare; he wanted to investigate a bit.

Once more the wail of the women was borne across the lake, rising to a
fearsome howl, and then it suddenly ceased.  The two pressed forward,
and tying the horse to a tree, hastened to intercept the agonized wife
venturing homewards with the peep of light, only to discover how
thoroughly the tana had done its work.

But the poor women fled shrieking into the bush once more when they
perceived the figure of a man advancing toward them.

"A friend! a friend!" shouted Ottley, hoping that the sound of an
Englishman’s voice would reassure them.

There was a crashing in the bushes, and something leaped out of the wild
tangle.

"It is Whero!" exclaimed Edwin, running to meet him.  They grasped hands
in a very hearty fashion, as Edwin whispered almost breathlessly, "How
have they left your father?"

"You have come to tangi with us!" cried Whero, in gratified surprise;
and to show his warm appreciation of the unexpected sympathy, he gravely
rubbed his nose against Edwin’s.

"Oh, don’t," interposed the English boy, feeling strangely foolish.

Ottley laughed, as he saw him wipe his face with considerable energy to
recover from his embarrassment.

"Oh, bother!" he exclaimed.  "I shall be up to it soon, but I did not
know what you meant by it. Never mind."

"Let us have a look round," said the coachman, turning to Whero, "before
your mother gets here."

"I have been watching in the long grass all night," sobbed the boy; "and
when the tramp of the last footsteps died away, I crept out and groped
my way in the darkness.  I got to the door, and called to my father, but
there was no answer.  Then I turned again to the bush to find my mother,
until I heard our own horse neigh, and I thought he had followed me."

Ottley soothed the poor boy as best he could as they surveyed the scene
of desolation.  The fences were all pulled up and flung into the lake,
and the gates thrown down.  The garden had been thoroughly ploughed, and
every shrub and tree uprooted. The patch of cultivated ground at the
back of the whare had shared the same fate.

It was so late in the autumn Ottley hoped the harvest had been gathered
in.  It mattered little.  The empty storehouse echoed to their
footsteps.  All, all was gone.  They could not tell whether the great
drove of pigs had been scared away into the bush or driven off to the
pah.  Whero was leading the way to the door of the principal whare,
where he had last seen his father.  In the path lay a huge, flat stone
smashed to pieces.  The hard, cold, sullen manner which Whero had
assumed gave way at the sight, and he sobbed aloud.

Edwin was close behind them; he took up a splinter from the stone and
threw it into the circle of bubbling mud from which it had been hurled.
Down it went with a splash—down, down; but he never heard it reach the
bottom.

"Did that make anything rise?" asked Ottley anxiously, as he looked into
the awful hole with a shudder.

"They could not fill this up," retorted Whero exultantly.  "Throw in
what you will, it swallows it all."

To him the hot stone made by covering the dangerous jet was the
embodiment of all home comfort.  It was sacred in his eyes—a fire which
had been lighted for the race of Hepé by the powers of heaven and earth;
a fire which nothing could extinguish.  He pitied the Ingarangi boy by
his side, who had never known so priceless a possession.

"Watch it," said Ottley earnestly.  "If anything has been thrown in, it
will rise to the surface after a while incrusted with sulphur; but now—"
He pushed before the boys and entered the whare.

There lay Nga-Hepé, a senseless heap, covered with blood and bruises.  A
stream of light from the open door fell full on the prostrate warrior.
The rest of the whare was in shadow.

Whero sprang forward, and kneeling down beside his father, patted him
fondly on his cheek and arm, as he renewed his sobbing.

After the tana had feasted to their heart’s content. after they had
carried off everything movable, Nga-Hepé had been called upon to defend
himself against their clubs.  Careful to regulate their ruthless
proceedings by ancient custom, his assailants came upon him one at a
time, until his powerful arm had measured its strength with more than
half the invading band.  At last he fell, exhausted and bereft of
everything but the greenstone club his unconscious hand was grasping
still.

"He is not dead," said Ottley, leaning over him; "his chest is heaving."

An exclamation of thankfulness burst from Edwin’s lips.

Ottley was looking about in vain for something to hold a little water,
for he knew that the day was breaking, and his time was nearly gone.
All that he could do must be done quickly.  He was leaving the whare to
pursue his quest without, when he perceived the unfortunate women
stealing through the shadows. He beckoned the gray-haired Maori, who had
waited on Marileha from her birth, to join him.  A few brief words and
many significant gestures were exchanged before old Ronga comprehended
that the life yet lingered in the fallen chief.  She caught her mistress
by the arm and whispered in her native tongue.

The death-wail died away.  Marileha gazed into the much-loved face in
breathless silence.  A murmur of joy broke from her quivering lips, and
she looked to Whero.

He went out noiselessly, and Edwin followed.  A hissing column of steam
was still rising unchecked from a rough cleft in the ground, rendered
bare and barren by the scalding spray with which it was continually
watered.  Old Ronga was already at work, making a little gutter in the
soft mud with her hands, to carry the refreshing stream to the bed of a
dried-up pond.  Edwin watched it slowly filling as she dug on in
silence.

"The bath is ready," she exclaimed at last.  The word was passed on to
her companions, who had laid down the sleepy children they had just
brought home in a corner of the great whare, still huddled together in
Mrs. Hirpington’s blanket.  With Ottley’s assistance they carried out
the all but lifeless body of Nga-Hepé, and laid him gently in the
refreshing pool, with all a Maori’s faith in its restorative powers.

Marileha knelt upon the brink, and washed the blood-stains from his
face.  The large dark eyes opened, and gazed dreamily into her own.  Her
heart revived.  What to her were loss and danger if her warrior’s life
was spared?  She glanced at Ottley and said, "Whilst the healing spring
still flows by his father’s door there is no despair for me.  Here he
will bathe for hours, and strength and manhood will come back.  Whilst
he lies here helpless he is safe. Could he rise up it would only be to
fight again. Go, good friend, and leave me.  It would set the jealous
fury of his tribe on fire if they found you here.  Take away my Whero.
My loneliness will be my defence.  What Maori would hurt a weeping woman
with her hungry babes?  There are kind hearts in the pah; they will not
leave me to starve."

She held out her wet hand as she spoke.  Ottley saw she was afraid to
receive the help he was so anxious to give.  Whilst they were speaking,
Edwin went to find Whero.

He had heard the black horse neigh, and was looking round for his
favourite.  "They will seize him!" he muttered between his set teeth.
"Why will you bring him here?"

"Come along with us," answered Edwin quickly, "and we will go back as
fast as we can."

But the friendly ruse did not succeed.

"I’ll guide you to the road, but not a step beyond it.  Shall men say I
fled in terror from the sound of clubs—a son of Hepé?" exclaimed Whero.
"Should I listen to the women’s fears?"

"All very fine," retorted Edwin.  "If I had a mother, Whero, I’d listen
to what she said, and I’d do as she asked me, if all the world laughed.
They might call me a coward and a jackass as often as they liked, what
would I care?  Shouldn’t I know in my heart I had done right?"

"Have not you a mother?" said Whero.

Edwin’s "No" was scarcely audible, but it touched the Maori boy.  He
buried his face on the horse’s shoulder, then suddenly lifting it up
with a defiant toss, he asked, "Would you be faithless and desert her if
she prayed you to do it?"

This was a home-thrust; but Edwin was not to be driven from his
position.

"Well," he retorted, "even then I should say to myself, ’Perhaps she
knows best.’"

He had made an impression, and he had the good sense not to prolong the
argument.



                             *CHAPTER IV.*

                            *THE NEW HOME.*


The sun had risen when Edwin and the coach man started on their way to
the ford.  With Whero running by the horse’s head for a guide, the
dangers of the bush were avoided, and they rode back faster than they
came.  The gloom had vanished from the forest.  The distant hills were
painted with violet, pink, and gold.  Sunbeams danced on scarlet
creepers and bright-hued berries, and sparkled in a thousand frosted
spiders’ webs nestling in the forks of the trees.  Whero led them to the
road, and there they parted.  "If food runs low," he said, "I shall go
to school.  With all our winter stores carried away it must; I know it."

"Don’t try starving before schooling," said Ottley, cheerily.  "Watch
for me as I come back with the coach, and I’ll take you down to
Cambridge and on to the nearest government school.—Not the Cambridge you
and I were talking of, Edwin, but a little township in the bush which
borrows the grand old name.—You will love it for a while, Whero; you
tried it once."

"And I’ll try it again," he answered, with a smile. "There is a lot more
that I want to know about—why the water boils through the earth here and
not everywhere.  We love our mud-hole and our boiling spring, and you
are afraid of them."

"They are such awful places," said Edwin, as Whero turned back among the
trees and left them, not altogether envious of a Maori’s patrimony.  "It
is such a step from fairy-land to Sodom and Gomorrah," persisted Edwin,
reverting to Nga-Hepé’s legends.

"Don’t talk," interrupted Ottley.  "There is an awful place among these
hills which goes by that name, filled with sulphurous smoke and hissing
mud. The men who made that greenstone club would have finished last
night’s work by hurling Nga-Hepé into its chasms.  Thank God, that day
is done.  We have overcome the cannibal among them; and as we draw their
young lads down to our schools, it will never revive."  They rode on,
talking, to the gate of the ford-house.

"I shall be late getting off," exclaimed Ottley, as he saw the household
was astir.  He gave the bridle to Edwin and leaped down.  The boy was in
no hurry to follow.  He lingered outside, just to try if he could sit
his powerful steed and manage him single-handed.  When he rode through
the gate at last, Ottley was coming out of the stable as intent upon his
own affairs as if nothing had occurred.

Breakfast was half-way through.  The passengers were growing impatient.
One or two strangers had been added to their number.  The starting of
the coach was the grand event of the day.  Mrs. Hirpington was
engrossed, and Edwin’s entrance passed unquestioned.  His appetite was
sharpened by his morning ride across the bush, and he was working away
with knife and fork when the coach began to fill.

"If ever you find your way to Bowen’s Run, you will not be forgotten,"
said the genial colonist, as he shook hands with the young Lees and
wished them all success in their new home.

The boys ran out to help him to his seat, and see the old ford-horse
pilot the coach across the river.

Ottley laid his hand on Edwin’s shoulder for a parting word.

"Tell your father poor Marileha—I mean Whero’s mother—dare not keep the
money for the horse; but I shall leave all sorts of things for her at
the roadman’s hut, which she can fetch away unnoticed at her own time.
When you are settled in your new home, you must not forget I’m general
letter-box."

"We are safe to use you," laughed Edwin; and so they parted.

The boys climbed up on the garden-gate to watch the crossing.  The
clever old pilot-horse, which Mr. Hirpington was bound by his lease to
keep, was yoked in front of the team.  Good roadsters as the
coach-horses were, they could not manage the river without him.  Their
feet were sure to slip, and one and all might be thrown down by the
force of the current.  But this steady old fellow, who spent his life
crossing and recrossing the river, loved his work. It was a sight no
admirer of horses could ever forget to see him stepping down into the
river, taking such care of his load, cautiously advancing a few paces,
and stopping to throw himself back on his haunches and try the bottom of
the river with one of his fore feet.  If he found a boulder had been
washed down in the night too big for him to step over, he swept the
coach round it as easily and readily as if it were a matter of course,
instead of a most unexpected obstruction.  The boys were in ecstasies.
Then the sudden energy he put forth to drag the coach up the steep bank
on the opposite side was truly marvellous.  When he considered his work
was done, he stood stock-still, and no power on earth could make him
stir another step.  As soon as he was released, splash he went back into
the water, and trotted through it as merrily as a four-year-old.

"Cuthbert," said Edwin, in a confidential whisper, "we’ve got just such
another of our own.  Come along and have a look at him."

Away went the boys to the stable, where Mr. Hirpington found them two
hours after making friends with "Beauty," as they told him.

At that hour in the morning every one at the ford was hard at work, and
they were glad to leave the boys to their own devices.  Audrey and Effie
occupied themselves in assisting Mrs. Hirpington. When they all met
together at the one-o’clock dinner, Edwin was quite ready to indemnify
his sisters for his last night’s silence, and launched into glowing
descriptions of his peep into wonderland.

"Shut up," said Mr. Hirpington, who saw the terror gathering in Effie’s
eyes.  "You’ll be persuading these young ladies we are next-door
neighbours to another Vesuvius.—Don’t believe him, my dears. These
mud-jets and geysers that he is talking about are nature’s
safety-valves.  I do not deny we are living in a volcanic region.  We
feel the earth tremble every now and then, setting all the dishes
rattling, and tumbling down our books; but it is nothing more than the
tempests in other places."

"I’m thinking more of the Maoris than of their mud," put in Effie,
shyly; while Audrey quietly observed, everything was strange at present,
but they should get used to it by-and-by.

"The Maoris have been living among nature’s water-works for hundreds of
years, and they would not change homes with anybody in the world;
neither would we.  Mr. Bowen almost thinks New Zealand beats old England
hollow," laughed Mr. Hirpington. "If that is going a little too far, she
is the gem of the Southern Ocean.  But seriously now," he added,
"although the pumice-stone we can pick up any day tells us how this
island was made, there has been no volcanic disturbance worth the name
of an eruption since we English set foot on the island.  The Maoris were
here some hundreds of years before us, and their traditions have been
handed down from father to son, but they never heard of anything of the
kind."

Mr. Hirpington spoke confidently, and all New Zealand would have agreed
with him.

Edwin thought of Whero.  "There are a great many things I want to
understand," he said, thoughtfully.

"Wife," laughed Mr. Hirpington, "is not there a book of Paulett
Scroope’s somewhere about?  He is our big gun on these matters."

As Mrs. Hirpington rose to find the book, she tried to divert Effie’s
attention by admitting her numerous family of cats: seven energetic
mousers, with a goodly following of impudent kittens—tabby,
tortoise-shell, and black.  When Effie understood she was to choose a
pet from among them, mud and Maoris seemed banished by their round green
eyes and whisking tails.  The very title of Edwin’s book proved
consolatory to Audrey—"Geology and Extinct Volcanoes in Central France."
A book in the bush is a book indeed, and Edwin held his treasure with a
loving clasp.  He knew it was a parting gift; and looking through the
river-window, he saw Dunter and his companion returning in a big
lumbering cart.  They drew up on the opposite bank of the river and
waved their hats.

"They have come to fetch us," cried Audrey. Mrs. Hirpington would hardly
believe it.  "I meant to have kept you with me for some days at least,"
she said; but the very real regret was set aside to speed the parting of
her juvenile guests.

According to New Zealand custom, Mr. Lee had been obliged to buy the
horse and cart which brought his luggage up country, so he had sent it
with Dunter to fetch his children.

The men had half filled it with freshly-gathered fern; and Edwin was
delighted to see how easily his Beauty could swim the stream, to take
the place of Mr. Hirpington’s horse.

"He would make a good pilot," exclaimed the man who was riding him.

Mrs. Hirpington was almost affectionate in her leave-taking, lamenting
as she fastened Effie’s cloak that she could not keep one of them with
her.  But not one of the four would have been willing to be left behind.

The boat was at the stairs; rugs and portmanteaus were already thrown
in.

Mr. Hirpington had seized the oar.  "I take you myself," he said; "that
was the bargain with your father."

In a few minutes they had crossed the river, and were safely seated in
the midst of a heap of fern, and found it as pleasant as a ride in a
hay-cart. Mr. Hirpington sat on the side of the cart teaching Cuthbert
how to hold the reins.

The road which they had taken was a mere cart-track, which the men had
improved as they came; for they had been obliged to use their hatchets
freely to get the cart along.  Many a great branch which they had lopped
off was lying under the tree from which it had fallen, and served as a
way-mark.  The trees through which they were driving were tall and dark,
but so overgrown with creepers and parasites it was often difficult to
tell what trees they were.  A hundred and fifty feet above their heads
the red blossoms of the rata were streaming like banners, and wreathing
themselves into gigantic nests.  Beneath were an infinite variety of
shrubs, with large, glossy leaves, like magnolias or laurels; sweetly
fragrant aromatic bushes, burying the fallen trunk of some old tree,
shrouded in velvet moss and mouse-ear.  Little green and yellow birds
were hopping from spray to spray through the rich harvest of berries the
bushes afforded.

The drive was in itself a pleasure.  A breath of summer still lingered
in the glinting sunlight, as if it longed to stay the falling leaves.
The trees were parted by a wandering brook overgrown with brilliant
scarlet duckweed.  An enormous willow hanging over its pretty bank, with
a peep between its drooping branches of a grassy slope just dotted with
the ever-present ti tree told them they had reached their journey’s end.
They saw the rush-thatched roof and somewhat dilapidated veranda of the
disused schoolhouse.  Before it stretched a lovely valley, where the
brook became a foaming rivulet.  A little group of tents and a long line
of silvery-looking streamers marked the camp of the rabbiters.

But the children’s eyes were fastened on the moss-grown thatch.  Soon
they could distinguish the broken-down paling and the recently-mended
gate, at which Mr. Lee was hammering.  A shout, in which three voices at
least united, made him look round. Down went bill and hammer as he ran
to meet them, answering with his cheeriest "All right!" the welcome cry
of, "Father, father, here we are!"

Mr. Hirpington sprang out and lifted Audrey to the ground.  Mr. Lee had
Effie in his arms already. The boys, disdaining assistance, climbed over
the back of the cart, laughing merrily.  The garden had long since gone
back to wilderness, but the fruit still hung on the unpruned
trees—apples and peaches dwindling for want of the gardener’s care, but
oh, so nice in boyish eyes!  Cuthbert had shied a stone amongst the
over-ripe peaches before his father had answered his friend’s inquiries.

No, not the shadow of a disturbance had reached his happy valley, so Mr.
Lee asserted, looking round the sweet, secluded nook with unbounded
satisfaction.

"You could not have chosen better for me," he went on, and Edwin’s
beaming face echoed his father’s content.

Mr. Hirpington was pulling out from beneath the fern-leaves a store of
good things of which his friend knew nothing—-wild pig and hare, butter
and eggs, nice new-made bread; just a transfer from the larder at the
ford to please the children.

Age had given to the school-house a touch of the picturesque.  Its
log-built walls were embowered in creepers, and the sweet-brier, which
had formerly edged the worn-out path, was now choking the doorway.
Although Mr. Lee’s tenancy could be counted by hours, he had not been
idle.  A wood fire was blazing in the room once sacred to desk and form.
The windows looking to the garden behind the house had been all forced
open, and the sunny air they admitted so freely was fast dispelling the
damp and mould which attach to shut-up houses in all parts of the world.

One end of the room was piled with heterogeneous bales and packages, but
around the fire-place a sense of comfort began to show itself already.
A camp-table had been unpacked and screwed together, and seats, after a
fashion, were provided for all the party. The colonist’s "billy," the
all-useful iron pot for camp fire or farmhouse kitchen, was singing
merrily, and even the family teapot had been brought back to daylight
from its chrysalis of straw and packing-case. There was a home-like
feeling in this quiet taking possession.

"I thought it would be better than having your boys and girls shivering
under canvas until your house was built," remarked Mr. Hirpington,
rubbing his hands with the pleasant assurance of success. "You can rent
the old place as long as you like.  It may be a bit shaky at the other
corner, but a good prop will make it all right."

The two friends went out to examine, and the brothers and sisters drew
together.  Effie was hugging her kitten; Cuthbert was thinking of the
fruit; but Beauty, who had been left grazing outside, was beforehand
with him.  There he stood, with his fore feet on the broken-down paling,
gathering it for himself. It was fun to see him part the peach and throw
away the stone, and Cuthbert shouted with delight to Edwin.  They were
not altogether pleased to find Mr. Hirpington regarded it as a very
ordinary accomplishment in a New Zealand horse.

"We are in another hemisphere," exclaimed Edwin, "and everything about
us is so delightfully new."

"Except these decaying beams," returned his father, coming round to
examine the state of the roof above the window at which Edwin and Effie
were standing after their survey of the bedrooms.

Audrey, who had deferred her curiosity to prepare the family meal, was
glad to learn that, besides the room in which Mr. Lee had slept last
night, each end of the veranda had been enclosed, making two more tiny
ones.  A bedstead was already put up in one, and such stores as had been
unpacked were shut in the other.

When Audrey’s call to tea brought back the explorers, and the little
party gathered around their own fireside, Edwin could but think of the
dismantled hearth by the Rota Pah, and as he heard his father’s
energetic conversation with Mr. Hirpington, his indignation against the
merciless tana was ready to effervesce once more.

"Now," Mr. Lee went on, "I cannot bring my mind to clear my land by
burning down the trees.  You say it is the easiest way."

"Don’t begin to dispute with me over that," laughed his friend.  "You
can light a fire, but how will you fell a tree single-handed?"

The boys were listening with eager interest to their father’s plans.  To
swing the axe and load the faggot-cart would be jolly work indeed in
those lovely woods.

Mr. Hirpington was to ride back on the horse he had lent to Mr. Lee on
the preceding evening.  When he started, the brothers ran down the
valley to get a peep at the rabbiter’s camp.  Three or four men were
lying round their fire eating their supper.  The line of silver
streamers fluttering in the wind proved to be an innumerable multitude
of rabbit-skins hanging up to dry.  A party of sea-gulls, which had
followed the camp as the rabbiters moved on, were hovering about, crying
like cats, until they awakened the sleeping echoes.

The men told Edwin they had been clearing the great sheep-runs between
his father’s land and the sea-shore, and the birds had followed them all
those miles for the sake of the nightly feast they could pick up in
their track.

"You can none of you do without us," they said. "We are always at work,
moving from place to place, or the little brown Bunny would lord it over
you all."

The boys had hardly time to exchange a good-night with the rabbiters,
when the daylight suddenly faded, and night came down upon vale and bush
without the sweet interlude of twilight.  They were groping their way
back to the house, when the fire-flies began their nightly dance, and
the flowering shrubs poured forth their perfume.  The stars shone out in
all their southern splendour, and the boys became aware of a moving army
in the grass.  Poor Bunny was mustering his myriads.



                              *CHAPTER V.*

                          *POSTING A LETTER.*


Mr. Lee and his boys found so much to do in their new home, days sped
away like hours. The bright autumn weather which had welcomed them to
Wairoa (to give their habitation its Maori name) had changed suddenly
for rain—a long, deluging rain, lasting more than a week.

The prop which Mr. Hirpington had recommended was necessarily left for
the return of fine weather. But within doors comfort was growing
rapidly.  One end of the large room was screened off for a workshop, and
shelves and pegs multiplied in convenient corners. They were yet a good
way off from that happy condition of a place for everything, and
everything in its place.  It was still picnic under a roof, as Audrey
said; but they were on the highroad to comfort and better things.  When
darkness fell they gathered round the blazing wood-fire.  Mr. Lee wrote
the first letters for England, while Edwin studied "Extinct Volcanoes."
Audrey added her quota to the packet preparing for Edwin’s old friend,
"the perambulating letter-box," and Effie and Cuthbert played
interminable games of draughts, until Edwin shut up his book and evolved
from his own brains a new and enlarged edition of Maori folk-lore which
sent them "creepy" to bed.

It seemed a contradiction of terms to say May-day was bringing winter;
but winter might come upon them in haste, and the letters must be posted
before the road to the ford was changed to a muddy rivulet.

Mr. Lee, who had everything to do with his own hands, knew not how to
spare a day.  He made up his mind at last to trust Edwin to ride over
with them.  To be sure of seeing Ottley, Edwin must stay all night at
the ford, for after the coach came in it would be too late for him to
return through the bush alone.

Edwin was overjoyed at the prospect, for Ottley would tell him all he
longed to know.  Was Nga-Hepé still alive?  Had Whero gone to school?
He might even propose another early morning walk across the bush to the
banks of the lake.

Edwin was to ride the Maori Beauty, which had become the family name for
the chieftain’s horse. Remembering his past experiences with the
white-leaved puka-puka, he coaxed Audrey to lend him a curtain she was
netting for the window of her own bedroom.  She had not much faith in
Edwin’s assurances that it would not hurt it a bit just to use it for
once for a veil or muzzle; but she was horrified into compliance by his
energetic assertion that her refusal might cost his Beauty’s life.
Cuthbert, mounted on an upturned pail, so that he could reach the
horse’s head, did good service in the difficult task of putting it on.
The veil was not at all to the Beauty’s mind, and he did his best to get
rid of it.  But the four corners were drawn through his collar at last,
and securely tied.

With Mr. Lee’s parting exhortation to mind what he was about and look
well to Beauty’s steps, Edwin started.

The road was changed to a black, oozy, slimy track.  Here and there the
earth had been completely washed away, and horse and rider were
floundering in a boggy swamp.  A little farther on a perfect landslip
from the hills above had obliterated every trace of road, and Edwin was
obliged to wind his way through the trees, trusting to his Beauty’s
instinct to find it again.

With the many wanderings from the right path time sped away.  The lamp
was swinging in the acacia tree as he trotted up to the friendly gate of
the ford-house.

"Coach in?" he shouted, as he caught sight of Dunter shovelling away the
mud from the entrance.

"Not yet; but she’s overdue," returned the man, anxiously.  "Even Ottley
will never get his horses through much longer.  We may lock our
stable-doors until the May frosts begin.  It is a tempting of Providence
to start with wheels through such a swamp, and I told him so last week."

"Then I am just in time," cried Edwin joyfully, walking his horse up to
the great flat stone in the middle of the yard and alighting.  He
slipped his hand into his coat to satisfy himself the bulky letters in
his breast-pocket were all right, and then led his Beauty to the
horse-trough.  He had half a mind not to go in-doors until he had had
his talk with Ottley.

Dunter, who was looking forward to the brief holiday the stopping of the
coach secured him, leaned on his spade and prepared for a gossip.

"Did Mr. Lee think of building a saw-mill?" Edwin’s reply ended with the
counter-inquiry, "Had Mr. Hirpington got home?"

Dunter shook his head.  "Not he: we all hold on as long as the light
lasts.  He is away with the men, laying down a bit of corduroy road over
an earthslip, just to keep a horse-track through the worst of the
winter."

Whilst Edwin was being initiated into the mysteries of road-making in
the bush, the coach drove up.

Horses and driver were alike covered with mud, and the coach itself
exhibited more than its usual quota of flax-leaf bandages—all testifying
to the roughness of the journey.

"It is the last time you will see me this season," groaned Ottley, as he
got off the box.  "I shall get no farther."  He caught sight of Edwin,
and recognized his presence with a friendly nod.  The passengers,
looking in as dilapidated and battered condition as the coach, were
slowly getting out, thankful to find themselves at a stopping-place.
Among them Edwin noticed a remarkable old man.

His snowy hair spoke of extreme old age, and when he turned a tattooed
cheek towards the boy, Edwin’s attention was riveted upon him at once.
Lean, lank, and active still, his every air and gesture was that of a
man accustomed to command.

"Look at him well," whispered Dunter.  "He is a true old tribal chief
from the other side of the mountains, if I know anything; one of the
invincibles, the gallant old warrior-chiefs that are dying out fast. You
will never see his like again.  If you had heard them, as I have, vow to
stand true for ever and ever and ever, you would never forget it.—Am I
not right, coachee?" he added in a low aside to Ottley, as he took the
fore horse by the head.

The lantern flickered across the wet ground.  The weary passengers were
stamping their numbed feet, and shaking the heavy drops of moisture from
hat-brims and overcoats.  Edwin pressed resolutely between, that he
might catch the murmur of Ottley’s reply.

"He got in at the last stopping-place, but I do not know him."

There was such a look of Whero in the proud flash of the aged Maori’s
eye, that Edwin felt a secret conviction, be he who he might, they must
be kith and kin.  He held his letter aloft to attract the coachman’s
attention, calling out at his loudest, "Here, Mr. Ottley, I have brought
a letter for you to post at last."

"All right," answered the coachman, opening a capacious pocket to
receive it, in which a dozen others were already reposing.  "Hand it
over, my boy; there is scarcely a letter reaches the post from this
district which does not go through my hands."

"Did you post this?" asked the aged Maori, taking another from the folds
of his blanket.

"I did more," said Ottley, as he glanced at the crumpled envelope, "for
I wrote it to Kakiki Mahane, the father of Nga-Hepé’s wife, at her
request."

"I am that father," returned the old chief.

"And I," added Ottley, "was the eye-witness of her destitution, as that
letter tells you."

They were almost alone now in the great wet yard. The other passengers
were hurrying in-doors, and Dunter was leading away the horses; but
Edwin lingered, regardless of the heavy drops falling from the acacia,
in his anxiety to hear more.

"I have brought no following with me to the mountain-lake, for by your
letter famine is brooding in the whare of my child.  Well, I know if the
men of the Kota Pah heard of my coming, they would spread the feast in
my honour.  But how should I eat with the enemies of my child?  I wait
for the rising of the stars to find her, that none may know I am near."

"I’ll go with you," offered Ottley.

"You need not wait for the stars," interposed Edwin; "I’ll carry the big
coach-lantern before you with pleasure.  Do let me go with you," he
urged, appealing to Ottley.

"How is this?" asked Kakiki.  "Does the pakeha pity when the Maori
frowns?  What has my son-in-law been about, to bring down upon himself
the vengeance of his tribe?"

"Let your daughter answer that question," remarked Ottley discreetly.

But Edwin put in warmly: "Nga-Hepé was too rich and too powerful, and
the chief grew jealous. It was a big shame; and if I had been Whero, I
should have been worse than he was."

Whero’s grandfather deigned no reply.  He stalked up the well-worn steps
into Mrs. Hirpington’s kitchen, and seating himself at the long table
called out for supper.  Edwin just peeped in at the door, avoiding Mrs.
Hirpington’s eye, for fear she should interfere to prevent him going
with the old Maori.

"I shall see her when I come back," he thought, as he strolled on
towards the stable, keeping an anxious watch over the gate, afraid lest
the fordmaster should himself appear at the last moment and detain him.

"You have brought Nga-Hepé’s horse," said Ottley. as he entered the
nearest stall.  "We must have him, for he knows the way.  We have only
to give him his head, and he is safe to take the road to his master’s
door."

"If you have him you must have me," persisted Edwin, and the thing was
settled.  He nestled down in the clean straw under Beauty’s manger, and
waited, elate with the prospect of a night of adventure, and stoutly
resisted all Dunter’s persuasions to go in to supper.

Wondering at the shy fit which had seized the boy, Dunter brought him a
hunch of bread and cheese, and left the lantern swinging in the stable
from the hook in the ceiling, ere he went in with Ottley to share the
good feed always to be found in Mrs. Hirpington’s kitchen, leaving Edwin
alone with the horses.  He latched the stable-door, as the nights were
growing cold. The gates were not yet barred, for Mr. Hirpington and his
men were now expected every minute.

Edwin’s thoughts had gone back to the corduroy road, which Dunter had
told him was made of the trunks of trees laid close together, with a
layer of saplings on the top to fill up the interstices.  He was making
it in miniature with some bits of rush and reed scattered about the
stables, when the latch was softly lifted, and Whero stood before him.
Not the Whero he had parted from by the white pines, but the lean
skeleton of a boy with big, staring eyes, and bony arms coming out from
the loose folds of the blanket he was wearing, like the arms of a
harlequin. Edwin sprang up to meet him, exclaiming, "Your grandfather is
here."  But instead of replying, Whero was vigorously rubbing faces with
his good old Beauty.

"Have you come to meet your grandfather?" asked Edwin.

"No," answered the boy abruptly.  "I’ve come to ask Ottley to take me to
school."  His voice was hollow, and his teeth seemed to snap together at
the sight of the bread in Edwin’s hand.

"Whero, you are starving!" exclaimed Edwin, putting the remainder of his
supper into the dusky, skinny fingers smoothing Beauty’s mane.

"A man must learn to starve," retorted Whero. "The mother here will give
me food when I come of nights and talk to Ottley."

"But your own mother, Whero, and Ronga, and the children, how do they
live?" Edwin held back from asking after Nga-Hepé, "for," he said, as he
looked at Whero, "he must be dead."

"How do they live?" repeated Whero, with a laugh.  "Is the door of the
whare ever shut against the hungry?  They go to the pah daily, but I
will not go.  I will not eat with the men who struck down my father in
his pride.  I wander through the bush.  Let him eat the food they bring
him—he knows not yet how it comes; but his eyes are opening to the world
again.  When he sees me hunger-bitten, and my sister Rewi fat as ever,
he will want the reason why.  I will not give it.  His strength is gone
if he starves as I starve.  How can it return? No; I will go to school
to-morrow before he asks me."

Edwin’s hand grasped Whero’s with a warmth of sympathy that was only
held in check by the dread of another nasal caress, and he exclaimed,
"Come along, old fellow, and have a look at your grandfather too."

There was something about the grand old Maori’s face which made Edwin
feel that he both could and would extricate his unfortunate daughter
from her painful position.

"It is a fix," Edwin went on; "but he has come to pull you through, I
feel sure."

Still Whero held back.  He did not believe it was his grandfather.  _He_
would not come without a following; and more than that, the proud boy
could not stoop to show himself to a stranger of his own race in such a
miserable guise.  He coiled himself round in the straw and refused to
stir.

"Now, Whero," Edwin remonstrated, "I call this really foolish; and if I
were you I would not, I could not do it, speak of my own mother as one
of the women.  I like your mother.  It rubs me up to hear you—"  The boy
stopped short; the measured breathing of his companion struck on his
ear.  Whero had already fallen fast asleep by Beauty’s side.

"Oh, bother!" thought Edwin.  "Yet, poor fellow, I won’t wake you up,
but I’ll go and tell your grandfather you are here."

He went out, shutting the door after him, and encountered Mr. Hirpington
coming in with his men.

"Hollo, Edwin, my boy, what brings you here?" he exclaimed.

"Please, sir, I came over with a packet of letters for Mr. Ottley to
post," was the quick answer, as Edwin walked on by his side, intent upon
delivering his father’s messages.

"All right," was the hearty response.  "We’ll see. Come, now I think of
it, we can send your father some excellent hams and bacon we bought of
the Maoris.  Some of poor Hepé’s stores, I expect."

"That was a big shame," muttered Edwin, hotly, afraid to hurt poor
Whero’s pride by explaining his forlorn state to any one but his
grandfather.

He entered the well-remembered room with the fordmaster, looking eagerly
from side to side, as Mr. Hirpington pushed him into the first vacant
seat at the long table, where supper for the "coach" was going forward.
Edwin was watching for the old chief, who sat by Ottley, gravely
devouring heap after heap of whitebait, potatoes, and pumpkins with
which the "coach" took care to supply him.  Mrs. Hirpington cast anxious
glances round the table, fearing that the other passengers would run
short, as the old Maori still asked for "more," repeating in a loud
voice, "More, more kai!" which Ottley interpreted "food."  Dunter was
bringing forth the reserves from the larder—another cheese, the remains
of the mid-day pudding, and a huge dish of brawn, not yet cold enough to
be turned out of the mould, and therefore in a quaky state.  The old
chief saw it tremble, and thinking it must be alive, watched it
curiously.

"What strange animals you pakehas bring over the sea!" he exclaimed at
last, adding, as he sprang to his feet and drew the knife in his belt
with a savage gesture, "I’ll kill it."

The laughter every one was trying to suppress choked the explanation
that would have been given on all sides.  With arm upraised, and a
contorted face that alone was enough to frighten Mrs. Hirpington out of
her wits, he plunged the knife into the unresisting brawn to its very
hilt, utterly amazed to find neither blood nor bones to resist it.
"Bah!" he exclaimed, in evident disgust.

"Here, Edwin," gasped the shaking fordmaster, "give the old fellow a
spoon."

Edwin snatched up one from the corner of the table, and careful not to
wound the aged Maori’s pride, which might be as sensitive as his
grandson’s, he explained to him as well as he could that brawn was
brawn, and very jolly stuff for a supper.

"Example is better than precept at all times," laughed Mr. Hirpington.
"Show him what to do with the spoon."

Edwin obeyed literally, putting it to his own lips and then offering it
to Kakiki.  The whole room was convulsed with merriment.  Ottley and Mr.
Hirpington knew this would not do, and exerted themselves to recover
self-control sufficiently to persuade the old man to taste and try the
Ingarangi kai.

He drew the dish towards him with the utmost gravity, and having
pronounced the first mouthful "Good, good," he worked away at it until
the whole of its contents had disappeared.  And all the while Whero was
starving in the stable.

"I can’t stand this any longer," thought Edwin.  "I must get him
something to eat, I must;" and following Dunter into the larder, he
explained the state of the case.

"Wants to go by the coach and cannot pay for supper and bed.  I see,"
returned Dunter.

Edwin thought of the treasure by the white pines as he answered, "I am
afraid so."

"That’s hard," pursued the man good-naturedly; "but the missis never
grudges a mouthful of food to anybody.  I’ll see after him."

"Let me take it to him," urged Edwin, receiving the unsatisfactory
reply, "Just wait a bit; I’ll see," as Dunter was called off in another
direction; and with this he was obliged to be content.

Ottley was so taken up with the aged chief—who was considerably annoyed
to find himself the laughing-stock of the other passengers—that Edwin
could not get a word with him.  He tried Mr. Hirpington, who was now
talking politics with a Wellingtonian fresh from the capital.  Edwin, in
his fever of impatience, thought the supper would never end.  After a
while some of the passengers went off to bed, and others drew round the
fire and lit their pipes.

Mrs. Hirpington, Kakiki, and the coachman alone remained at the table.
At last the dish of brawn was cleared, and the old Maori drew himself up
with a truly royal air.  Taking out a well-filled purse, in which some
hundreds of English sovereigns were glittering, he began counting on his
fingers, "One ten, two ten—how muts?" (much).

Ottley, who understood a Maori’s simple mode of reckoning better than
any one present, was assisting Mrs. Hirpington to make her bill, and
began to speak to Kakiki about their departure.

The fordmaster could see how tired the chief was becoming, and suddenly
remembered a Maori’s contempt and dislike for the wretched institution
of chairs.  He was determined to make the old man comfortable, and
fetching a bear-skin from the inner room, he spread it on the floor by
the fire, and invited Kakiki to take possession.  Edwin ran to his help,
and secured the few minutes for talk he so much desired.  Mr. Hirpington
listened and nodded.

"You will have to stay here until the morning," he added, "every one of
you.  Go off with Dunter and make the boy outside as comfortable as you
can. I should be out of my duty to let that old man cross the bush at
night, with so much money about him. Better fetch his grandson in here."

Mrs. Hirpington laid her hand on Edwin’s shoulder as he passed, and told
him, with her pleasant smile, his bed was always ready at the ford.

Dunter pointed to a well-filled plate and a mug of tea, placed ready to
his hand on the larder shelf; and stretching over Edwin’s head, he
unbolted the door to let him out.

The Southern Cross shone brightly above the iron roof as Edwin stepped
into the yard to summon Whero.  The murmur of the water as it lapped on
the boating-stairs broke the stillness without, and helped to guide him
to the stable-door.  The lantern had burnt out.  He groped his way in,
and giving Whero a hearty shake, charged him to come along.

But the hand he grasped was withdrawn.

"I can’t," persisted Whero; "I’m too ashamed."  He meant too shy to face
the "coach," and tell all he had endured in their presence.  The idea
was hateful to him.

Edwin placed the supper on the ground and ran back for Ottley.  He found
the coachman explaining to Kakiki why Marileha had refused to accept the
money for the horse, and how he had kept it for her use.

"Then take this," cried Kakiki, flinging the purse of gold towards him,
"and do the like."

But Ottley’s "No!" was dogged in its decision.

"What for no?" asked Kakiki, angrily.

"Who is his daughter?" whispered Mr. Hirpington to his wife.

"You know her: she wears the shark’s teeth, tied in her ears with a
black ribbon," Mrs. Hirpington answered, sleepily.

Then he went to the rescue, and tried to persuade Kakiki to place his
money in the Auckland Bank for his daughter’s benefit, pointing out as
clearly as he could the object of a bank, and how to use it.  As the
intelligent old man began to comprehend him, he reiterated, "Good, good;
the pitfall is only dangerous when it is covered.  My following are
marching after me up the hills.  If I enter the Rota Pah with the state
of a chief, there will be fighting.  Send back my men to their canoes.
Hide the wealth that remains to my child as you say, but let that
wahini" (meaning Mrs. Hirpington) "take what she will, and bid her send
kai by night to my daughter’s whare, that there may be no starving.
This bank shall be visited by me, and then I go a poor old man to sleep
by my daughter’s fire until her warrior’s foot is firm upon the earth
once more.  I’ll wrap me in that thin sheet," he went on, seizing the
corner of the table-cloth, which was not yet removed.

Mr. Hirpington let him have it without a word, and Ottley rejoiced to
find them so capable and so determined to extricate Marileha from her
peril.

"Before this moon shall pass," said Kakiki, "I will take her away, with
her family, to her own people. Let your canoe be ready to answer my
signal."

"Agreed," replied Mr. Hirpington; "I’ll send my boat whenever you want
it."

"For all that," thought Edwin, "will Nga-Hepé go away?" He longed to
fetch in Whero, that he might enter into his grandfather’s plans; and
as, one after another, the passengers went off to bed, he made his way
to Mrs. Hirpington.  Surely he could coax her to unbar the door once
more and let him out to the stables.

"What, another Maori asleep in the straw!" she exclaimed.  "They do take
liberties.  Pray, my dear, don’t bring him in here, or we shall be up
all night."

Edwin turned away again in despair.

Having possessed himself of the table-cloth, the old chief lay down on
the bear-skin and puffed away at the pipe Mr. Hirpington had offered
him, in silence revolving his schemes.

He was most anxious to ascertain how his son-in-law had brought down
upon himself the vengeance of the tribe amongst which he lived.  "I will
not break the peace of the hills," he said at length, "for he may have
erred.  Row me up stream while the darkness lasts, that I may have
speech of my child."

"Too late," said Mr. Hirpington; "wait for the daylight."

"Are there not stars in heaven?" retorted Kakiki, rising to try the
door.

"Am I a prisoner?" he demanded angrily, when he found it fastened.

Mr. Hirpington felt he had been reckoning without his host when he
declared no one should leave his roof that night.  But he was not the
man to persist in a mistake, so he threw it open.

"I’ll row him," said Dunter.

Edwin ran out with them.  Here was the chance he had been seeking.  He
flew to the stable and roused up Whero.  Grandfather and grandson met
and deliberately rubbed noses by the great flat stone which Edwin had
used as a horse-block.  Whilst Dunter and Mr. Hirpington were getting
out the boat, they talked to each other in their native tongue.

"It will be all right now, won’t it?" asked Edwin, in a low aside to
Ottley, who stood in the doorway yawning.  But Kakiki beckoned them to
the conference.

"The sky is black with clouds above my daughter’s head; her people have
deserted her—all but Ronga. Would they cut off the race of Hepé?  Some
miscreant met the young lord in the bush, and tried to push him down a
mud-hole; but he sprang up a tree, and so escaped.  Take him to school
as he wills. When I go down to the bank I shall see him there. It is
good that he should learn.  The letter has saved my child."



                             *CHAPTER VI.*

                           *MIDNIGHT ALARMS.*


After his return home, Edwin felt as if mud and rain had taken
possession of the outside world.  The rivulet in the valley had become a
raging torrent.  All the glamour of the woods was gone. The fern-covered
hills looked gaunt and brown.  The clumps of flax and rush bent their
flattened heads low in the muddy swamp before the piercing night winds.
The old trees in the orchard were shattered, and their broken branches,
still cumbering the ground, looked drear and desolate.  The overgrowth
of leaf and stalk presented a mass of decaying vegetation, dank and
sodden.

One chill May morning brought a heavy snow, veiling the calm crests of
the majestic hills with dazzling whiteness, becoming more intense and
vivid as their drapery of mist and storm-cloud blackened. All movement
seemed absorbed by the foaming cascades, tearing down the rifts and
gullies in the valley slope.  Every sign of life was restricted to a
ghostly-looking gull, sated with dead rabbit, winging its heavy flight
to the blue-black background of dripping rock.

But in this England of the Southern Seas the winter changes as it
changes in the British Isles. Sharp, frosty nights succeeded.  The
ground grew crisp to the tread.  The joyous work in the woods began.
Mr. Lee went daily to his allotment with axe on shoulder and his boys by
his side.  His skill in woodcraft was telling.  Many of the smaller
trees had already fallen beneath his vigorous stroke, when the
rabbiters—who glean their richest harvest in the winter
nights—reappeared.  They were so used to the reckless ways of the
ordinary colonist—who cuts and slashes and burns right hand and left
until the coast is clear—that Mr. Lee’s methodical proceedings began to
interest them.  His first step was to clear away the useless undergrowth
and half-grown trees, gaining room for charcoal fires, and for stacks of
bark which his boys were stripping from the fallen trunks.  His roving
neighbours promised to leave their traps and snares, and help him to
bring down the forest giants which he was marking for destruction.

One June evening, as the Lees were returning from a hard day’s work,
they passed the rabbiters going out as usual to begin their own.  A
slight tremor in the ground attracted the attention of both parties.  As
they exchanged their customary good-night, one of the rabbiters observed
there was an ugly look about the sky.

The boys grumbled to each other that there was an ugly look about the
ground.  Although thousands of little brown heads and flopping ears were
bobbing about among the withered thistle-stalks, thousands more were
lying dead behind every loose stone or weedy tuft.

The ghoul-like gulls were hovering in increasing numbers, some already
pouncing on their prey and crying to their fellows wheeling inland from
the distant shore.  No other sound disturbed the silence of the bush.
The sense of profound repose deepened as they reached their home.  To
Mr. Lee it seemed an ominous stillness, like the lull before the storm;
but in the cheerful light of his blazing fire he shook off the feeling.

The weary boys soon went to bed.  For the present they were sleeping in
the same room as their father, who slowly followed their example.

It was nearly midnight, when Edwin was awakened with a dim feeling of
something the matter. Cuthbert was pulling him.  "Edwin!  Edwin!"

"What is it?" he cried.  Edwin’s hurried exclamation was lost in the
bang and rattle all around. Were the windows coming in?  He sprang
upright as the bed was violently shaken, and the brothers were tossed
upon each other.

"What now?" called out Mr. Lee, as the floor swayed and creaked, and he
felt himself rolling over in the very moment of waking.  The walls were
beginning a general waltz, when the noise of falling crockery in the
outer room and the howling of the rabbiters’ dogs drowned every other
sound.

A sickly, helpless sensation stole over them all, Mr. Lee too, as
everything around them became as suddenly still—an eerie feeling which
could not be shaken off.  The boys lay hushed in a state of nervous
tension, not exactly fear, but as if their senses were dumfoundered and
all their being centred in a focus of expectation.

Effie gave a suppressed scream.  Mr. Lee was speaking to her through the
wall.  "It is over, my dear—it is over; don’t be frightened," he was
saying.

"It—what it?" asked Cuthbert, drawing his head under the bed-clothes.

"Our first taste of earthquake," returned his father; "and a pretty
sharp one, I fancy."

At this announcement Cuthbert made a speedy remove to his father’s bed,
and cuddled down in the blankets.  Mr. Lee walked round the room and
looked out of the window.  It was intensely dark; he could see nothing.

"Oh my head!" they heard Audrey saying; "it aches so strangely."

Mr. Lee repeated his consolatory assurance that it was over, and
returned to bed, giving way to the natural impulse to lie still which
the earthquake seemed to produce.  The violence of the headache every
one was experiencing made them thankful to lie down once more; but rest
was out of the question. In a little while all began again; not a
violent shock, as at the first, but a continual quaking.

Mr. Lee got up and dressed.  He was afraid to light a lamp, for fear it
should be upset; so he persuaded his children to keep in bed, thinking
they would be rolled down in the darkness by the heaving of the floor.
He groped his way into the outer room, treading upon broken earthenware
at every step. This was making bad worse.  He went back and lit a match.
It was just two o’clock.

Audrey, who heard him moving about, got up also, and began to dress,
being troubled at the destruction of the plates and dishes.  In ten
minutes they were startled by a fearful subterranean roar.  Edwin could
lie still no longer.  He sprang up, and was hurrying on his clothes,
when the house shook with redoubled violence.  Down came shelves, up
danced chairs.  The bang and crash, followed by a heavy thud just
overhead, made Edwin and his father start back to opposite sides of the
room as the roof gave way, and a ton weight of thatch descended on the
bed Edwin had just vacated.

"The chimney!" exclaimed Mr. Lee.  "The chimney is down!"

The dancing walls seemed ready to follow.  Cuthbert was grabbing at his
shoes.  Mr. Lee ran to the door, thinking of his girls in the other
room.

"Audrey!  Effie!" he shouted, "are you hurt?"

But the weight of the falling thatch kept the door from opening.  He saw
the window was bulging outwards.  He seized a stick standing in the
corner, and tried to wrench away the partition boarding between him and
his daughters.  But the slight shake this gave to the building brought
down another fall of thatch, filling the room with dust.  Edwin just
escaped a blow from a beam; but the darkness was terrific, and the
intense feeling of oppression increased the frantic desire to get out.

"In another moment the whole place will be about our ears!" exclaimed
Mr. Lee, forcing the window outwards, and pushing the boys before him
into the open. He saw—no, he could not see, but rather felt the whole
building was tottering to its fall.  "Let the horses loose!" he shouted
to Edwin, as he ran round to the front of the house to extricate the
girls.

The boom as of distant cannon seemed to fill the air.

"O Lord above, what is it?" ejaculated one of the rabbiters, who had
heard the chimney go down, and was hurrying to Mr. Lee’s assistance.

Again the heavy roll as of cannon seemed to reverberate along the
distant shore.

"It is a man-of-war in distress off Manakau Head," cried a comrade.

"That! man, that is but the echo; the noise is from the hills.  There is
hot work among the Maoris, maybe. They are game enough for anything.
The cannon is there," averred old Hal, the leader of the gang.

"Then it is that Nga-Hepé blowing up the Rota Pah by way of revenge,"
exclaimed the first speaker.

Edwin had opened the stable-door, and was running after his father.  He
caught the name Nga-Hepé, and heard old Hal’s reply,—

"He buy cannon indeed, when the muru took away his all not three months
since!"

Edwin passed the speaker, and overtaking his father in the darkness, he
whispered, "The man may be right.  Nga-Hepé’s wife buried his money by
the roadside, by the twin pines, father.  I saw her do it."

"Ah!" answered Mr. Lee, as he sprang up the veranda steps and rapped on
Audrey’s window.  As she threw it open a gruff voice spoke to Edwin out
of the darkness.

"So it was money Marileha buried?"

But Edwin gave no reply.  Mr. Lee was holding out his arms to Erne, who
had scrambled upon the window-sill, and stood there trembling, afraid to
take the leap he recommended.

"Wrap her in a blanket, Audrey, and slide her down," said their father.

Edwin was on the sill beside her in a moment. The blanket Audrey was
dragging forward was seized and flung around the little trembler,
enveloping head, arms, and feet.  Mr. Lee caught the lower end, and
drawing it down, received his "bonnie birdie" in his fatherly arms.
Edwin leaped into the darkness within.

"Quick, Audrey, quick, or the house will fall upon us," he urged.

She was snatching at this and that, and tying up a bundle in haste.
Edwin pulled out another blanket from the tumbled bed-clothes, and flung
it on the window-sill.

"No, no," said Audrey; "I’ll jump."

She tossed her bundle before her, and setting herself low on her feet,
she gave one hand to her father and the other to the gruff speaker who
had startled Edwin in the darkness.  They swung her to the ground
between them just as the log-built walls began to roll.  Edwin was
driven back among the ruins, crouching under the bulrush thatch, which
lay in heaps by the debris of beam and chimney, snug like a rabbit in
its burrow, whilst beam and prop were falling around him.  He heard
Cuthbert calling desperately, "Look, look! father, father! the world’s
on fire!"

Edwin tugged furiously at the mass of dry and dusty rushes in which he
had become enveloped, working with hands and feet, groping his way to
space and air once more.  The grand but terrific sight which met his
gaze struck him backwards, and he sank confounded on the heap, from
which he had scarcely extricated himself.

The sacred Maori hills, which at sunset had reared their snowy crests in
majestic calm, were ablaze with fire.  The intensity of the glare from
the huge pillar of flame, even at so great a distance, was more than
eyes could bear.  With both hands extended before his face to veil the
too terrific light, Edwin lay entranced.  That vision of a thousand feet
of ascending flame, losing itself in a dome of cloud blacker and denser
than the blackness of midnight, might well prelude the day of doom.
Unable to bear the sight or yet to shut it out, he watched in dumb
amazement. White meteor globes of star-like brilliancy shot from out the
pall of cloud in every direction, and shed a blue unearthly light on all
around.  They came with the roar as of cannon, and the rocks were riven
by their fall.  Huge fissures, opening in the mountain sides, emitted
streams of rolling fire.

Edwin forgot his own peril and the peril of all around, lost in the
immensity of the sight.  The cries and groans of the rabbiters recalled
him.  Some had thrown themselves on their faces in a paroxysm of terror.
Old Hal had fallen on his knees, believing the end of the world had
come.

Edwin heard his father’s voice rising calm and clear above the gasping
ejaculations and snatches of half-forgotten prayer.

"Would you court blindness?  Shut your eyes to the awful sight.  It is
an eruption of Mount Tarawera.  Remember, Hal, we are in the hands of
One whom storm and fire obey."

The play of the lightning around the mountain-head became so intense
that the glare from the huge column of volcanic fire could scarcely be
distinguished. The jagged, forked flashes shot downwards to the
shuddering forest, and tree after tree was struck to earth, and fire
sprang up in glade and thicket.

"To the open!" shouted Mr. Lee, blindfolding Cuthbert with his
handkerchief, and shrouding Effie in the blanket, as he carried her
towards the recent clearing.

Cuthbert grasped his father’s coat with both hands, and stumbled on by
his side.  A dull, red spot in the distance marked the place where the
charcoal fires were smouldering still, just as Mr. Lee had left them.

He laid his burden down in the midst of the circling heaps, which shed a
warmth and offered something of a shelter from the rising blast.  It was
the safest spot in which he could leave the two; and charging Cuthbert
to be a man and take care of his sister, he hurried away to look for
Edwin.

With their backs against the sods which covered over the charring wood,
the children sat with their arms round each other’s necks, huddled
together in the blanket, all sense of loneliness and fear of being left
by themselves absorbed in the awe of the night.

Inspired by Mr. Lee’s example, old Hal had rallied. He had caught
Beauty, and was putting him in the cart.  Audrey, with her recovered
bundle on her arm, with the quiet self-possession which never seemed to
desert her, was bringing him the harness from the new-built shed, which
was still standing.

The gruff rabbiter, who had been the first to come to Mr. Lee’s
assistance, followed her for a fork to move the heaps of thatch which
hemmed Edwin in. He was crossing to the ruined house with it poised upon
his shoulder as Mr. Lee came up.  He saw the lightning flash across the
steel, and dashed the fork from the man’s insensate grasp.  The fellow
staggered backwards and fell a senseless heap.  Star-like rays were
shooting from each pointing tine as the fork touched the ground, and
lines of fire ran from them in every direction.  Edwin saw it also, and
seizing a loosened tie-beam, he gave the great heap of thatch before him
a tremendous heave, and sent it over. The sodden mass of rush, heavy
with frozen snow, broke to pieces as it fell, and changed the running
fire to a dense cloud of smoke.

A deep-voiced "Bravo, young un!" broke from the horror-stricken
rabbiters, who had gathered round their comrade.  But Mr. Lee was before
them.  He had loosened the man’s collar and torn open his shirt. In the
play of the cold night air his chest gave a great heave.  A sigh of
thankfulness ran round the group.  The lightning he had so unthinkingly
drawn down upon himself had not struck a vital part.

Audrey had dropped her bundle, and was filling her lap with the frozen
flags by the edge of the stream.

They dragged him away from the smoke, and Audrey’s icy gleanings were
heaped upon his burning head.  A twitch of the nostrils was followed by
a deep groan.

"He’ll do," said Hal.  "He’s a coming round, thank God!"

With a low-breathed Amen, Mr. Lee turned away, for the cloud of smoke
his boy had raised completely concealed him.  The cheery "All right"
which answered his shout for his son put new life into the whole party.

Audrey and her father ran quickly to the end of the house.  The great
beam of the roof was cleared, and Edwin was cautiously making his way
across it on his hands and knees.

"Stand back!" he cried, as he neared the end, and, with a flying leap
and hands outspread he cleared the broken wall, and alighted uninjured
on the ground.

Mr. Lee caught hold of him, and Audrey grasped both hands.

"I’m all right," he retorted; "don’t you bother about me."

A terrible convulsion shook the ground; the men flung themselves on
their faces.  A splendid kauri tree one hundred and seventy feet high,
which shaded the entrance of the valley, was torn up by the roots, as an
awful blast swept down the forest glades with annihilating force.  The
crash, the shock reverberating far and wide, brought with it such a
sense of paralyzing helplessness even Mr. Lee gave up all for lost.

They lifted up their heads, and saw red-hot stones flying into the air
and rolling down the riven slopes.

"O my little lambs!" groaned Mr. Lee, thinking of the two he had left by
the charcoal fires, "what am I doing lying here, and you by yourselves
in the open?"

"Get ’em away," said Hal; "the cart is still there. Put ’em all in, and
gallop off towards the shore; it’s our only safety."

There was too much weight in the old man’s words to disregard them.  Mr.
Lee looked round for his other horse, which had rushed over him at a mad
bound when the last tree fell.  He saw it now, its coat staring with the
fright, stealing back to its companion.



                             *CHAPTER VII.*

                           *THE RAIN OF MUD.*


It was about four o’clock in the morning.  A new thing happened—a
strange new thing, almost unparalleled in the world’s history.  The
eruption had been hitherto confined to the central peak of Tarawera,
known among the Maori tribes as Ruawahia; but now with a mighty
explosion the south-west peak burst open, and flames came belching
forth, with torrents of liquid fire.  The force of the earthquake which
accompanied it cracked the bed of the fairy lake.  The water rushed
through the hole upon the subterranean fires, and returned in columns of
steam, forcing upwards the immense accumulation of soft warm mud at the
bottom of the lake.  The whole of this was blown into the air, and for
fifteen miles around the mountain fell like rain.  The enormous amount
of steam thus generated could not find half vent enough through the
single hole by which the water had poured in, and blew off the crust of
the earth above it.

Showers of rock, cinders, and dust succeeded the mud, lashing the lake
to fury—a fury which baffled all imagination.  The roar of the falling
water through unseen depths beneath the lake, the screech of the
escaping steam, the hissing cannonade of stones, created a volley of
sound for which no one could account, whilst the mud fell thick and
fast, as the snow falls in a blizzard.

The geysers, catching the subterranean rage, shot their scalding spray
above the trees.  Mud-holes were boiling over and over, and new ones
opening in unexpected places.  Every ditch was steaming, every hill was
reeling.  For the space of sixty miles the earth quivered and shook, and
a horrid sulphurous smell uprose from the very ground; while around
Tarawera, mountain, lake, and forest were enveloped in one immense cloud
of steam, infolding a throbbing heart of flame, and ascending to the
almost incredible height of twenty-two thousand feet.  Beneath its awful
shadow the country lay in darkness—a darkness made still more appalling
when the huge rock masses of fire clove their way upwards, to fall back
into the crater from which they had been hurled.

As Mr. Lee caught his horse by the forelock, the first heavy drops of
mud hissed on the frozen ground. In another moment they came pelting
thick and fast, burning, blinding, burying everything in their path. The
horse broke loose from his master’s hand, and tore away to the shelter
of the trees.  The heavy cart lumbering at his heels alone kept Beauty
from following his mate.  Hal caught his rein, Edwin seized his head, as
the thick cloud of ashes and mud grew denser and blacker, until Edwin
could scarcely see his hand before him.

"Get in! get in!" gasped the old rabbiter.

Edwin swung himself upon the horse’s back, and rode postilion, holding
him in with all his might.

"The sick man first," said Mr. Lee, almost choking with the suffocating
smell which rose from the earth. He lifted the poor fellow in his arms,
a comrade took him by the feet, and between them they got him into the
cart.  Hal had resigned the reins to Edwin, and taken his place, ready
to pillow the unconscious head upon his knees.

"The Lord have mercy on us!" he groaned.

Mr. Lee groped round for Audrey.  Her feet were blistering through her
thin boots, as she sank ankle-deep in the steaming slime, which came
pouring down without intermission.  Her father caught her by the waist
and swung her into the back of the cart. Another of the rabbiters got up
on the front and took the reins from Edwin, who did not know the way.
The other two, with Mr. Lee, caught hold of the back of the cart and ran
until they came to their own camp.  The tents lay flat; the howling dogs
had fled; but their horse, which they had tethered for the night, had
not yet broken loose.

Here they drew up, sorely against Mr. Lee’s desire, for he could no
longer distinguish the glimmer of his charcoal fires, and his heart was
aching for his children—his innocents, his babies, as he fondly called
them—in that moment of dread.  As the rabbiters halted, he stooped to
measure the depth of mud on the ground, alarmed lest the children should
be suffocated in their sleep; for they might have fallen asleep, they
had been left so long.

"Not they," persisted Edwin.  "They are not such duffers as to lie down
in mud like this; and as for sleep in this unearthly storm—" he stopped
abruptly.

"Hark!" exclaimed his father, bending closer to the ground.  "Surely
that was a ’coo,’ in the distance."

Every ear was strained.  Again it came, that recognized call for help no
colonist who reckons himself a man ever refuses to answer.

Faint as was the echo which reached them, it quivered with a passionate
entreaty.

"They are cooing from the ford," cried one.  But another contradicted.
It was only when bending over the upturned roots of a fallen tree that
the feeble sound could be detected, amidst all the fearsome noises
raging in the upper air.

The rabbiters felt about for their spades, and throwing out the mud from
the cavity, knelt low in the loosened earth.  They could hear it now
more plainly.

Mr. Lee pressed his ear to the freshly-disturbed mould, and listened
attentively.  The cry was a cry of distress, and the voice was the voice
of his friend.

The rabbiters looked at each other, aghast at the thought of returning
to the thick of the storm.  It was bad enough to flee before it; but to
face the muddy rain which was beating them to the earth, to breathe in
the burning dust which came whirling through it, could any one do that
and reach the ford alive?  Not one dare venture; yet they would not
leave the spot.

At break of day they said, "We will go."  They were glad of such shelter
as the upheaved roots afforded.  It was a moment’s respite from the
blistering, blinding rain.  But whilst they argued thus, Mr. Lee was
striding onwards to the seven black heaps, in the midst of which he had
left his children.

The fires had long gone out; the blackness of darkness was around him.
He called their names.  He shouted.  His voice was thick and hoarse from
the choking atmosphere.  He stumbled against a hillock. He sank in the
drift of mud by its side.  A faint, low sob seemed near him; something
warm eluded his touch.  His arms sought it in the darkness, sweeping
before him into empty space.  Two resolute small hands fought back his
own, and Cuthbert growled out fiercely, "Whoever you are, you shan’t
touch my Effie.  Get along!"

"Not touch your Effie, my game chick!" retorted Mr. Lee, with the ghost
of a smile in spite of his despair.

"Oh, it is father! it is father!" they exclaimed, springing into his
arms.  "We thought you would never come back any more."

He thought they would never stop kissing him, but he got them at last,
big children as they were, one under each arm, lifting, dragging,
carrying by turns, till he made his way to the cart.  Then he discovered
why poor Effie hung so helplessly upon him.  Both hands had tightly
clinched in the shock of the explosion, and her feet dragged uselessly
along the ground.

"She turned as cold as ice," said Cuthbert, "and I’ve cuddled her ever
since.  Then the mud came on us hot; wasn’t that a queer thing?"

They snugged poor Effie in the blanket, and Audrey took her on her lap.

"I’m not afraid now," she whispered, "now we are all together.  But I’ve
lost the kitten."

"No," said Audrey; "I saw it after you were gone, scampering up a tree."

Mr. Lee was leaning against the side of the cart, speaking to old Hal.

They did not hear what he was saying, only the rabbiter’s reply: "Trust
’em to me.  I’ll find some place of shelter right away, down by the sea.
Here, take my hand on it, and go.  God helping, you may save ’em at the
ford.  Maybe they are half buried alive.  It is on my mind it will be a
dig-out when you get there.  The nearer the mischief the worse it will
be.  When our fellows see you have the pluck to venture, there’ll be
some of ’em will follow, sure and sartin."

"We are all chums here," said Mr. Lee, turning to the men.  "Lend me
that spade and I’m off to the ford.  We must answer that coo somehow, my
lads."

"We’ll do what we can in the daylight," they answered.

"I am going to do what I can in the darkness," he returned, as he
shouldered the spade and crossed over for a last look at his children.

Audrey laid her hand in his without speaking.

"You are not going alone, father, when I’m here," urged Edwin, springing
off the horse.  "Take me with you."

"No, Edwin; your post is here, to guard the others in my
absence.—Remember, my darlings, we are all in God’s hands, and there I
leave you," said Mr. Lee.

He seized a broken branch, torn off by the wind, and using it as an
alpenstock, leaped from boulder to boulder across the stream, and was up
the other side of the valley without another word.

Cuthbert was crying; the dogs were whining; Audrey bent over Effie and
rocked her backwards and forwards.

The cart set off.  The mud was up to the axle-tree. It was slow work
getting through it.

The rest of the party were busy dragging their tents out of the mire,
and loading their own cart with their traps as fast as they could,
fumbling in the dark, knee-deep in slush and mud.

As Beauty pulled his way through for an hour or more, the muddy rain
diminished, the earth grew hard and dry.  The children breathed more
freely as the fresh sea-breeze encountered the clouds of burning dust,
which seemed now to predominate over the mud.

They could hear the second cart rumbling behind them.  The poor fellow
who had been struck by the lightning began to speak, entreating his
comrades to lay him somewhere quiet.  "My head, my head!" he moaned.
"Stop this shaking."

By-and-by they reached a hut.  They were entering one of the great
sheep-runs, where the rabbiters had been recently at work.  Here the
carts drew up, and roused its solitary inmate.  One of the rabbiters
came round and told Hal they had best part company.

"There are plenty of bold young fellows among Feltham’s shepherds.  We
are off to the great house to tell him, and we’ll give the alarm as we
go.  He’ll send a party off to the hills as soon as ever he hears of
this awful business.  A lot of us may force a way. We’ll take this side
of the run: you go the other till you find somewhere safe to leave these
children. Wake up the shepherds in every hut you pass, and send them on
to meet us at Feltham’s.  If we are back by daylight we shall do," they
argued.

"Agreed," said the old man.  "We can’t better that.  Dilworth and the
traps had best wait here. He will sleep this off," he added, looking
compassionately at his stricken comrade.

Out came the shepherd, a tall, gentlemanly young fellow, who had passed
his "little-go" at Trinity, got himself "ploughed" like Ottley, and so
went in for the southern hemisphere and the shepherd’s crook.

Pale and livid with the horror of the lone night-watch in his solitary
hermitage, he caught the full import of the direful tidings at a word.
His bed and his rations were alike at their service.  He whistled up his
horse and dog, and rode off at a breakneck gallop, to volunteer for the
relief-party, and send the ill news a little faster to his master’s
door, for his fresh horse soon outstripped the rabbiters’ cart.
Meanwhile old Hal drove onward towards the sea.  A shepherd met him and
joined company, breathless for his explanation of all the terrors which
had driven him from his bed.  He blamed Mr. Lee for his foolhardiness in
venturing on alone into such danger.

Freed at last from the clayey slime, Beauty rattled on apace.  Cuthbert
was fast asleep, and Edwin was nodding, but Audrey was wide awake.  She
gathered from the conversation of the men fresh food for fear. The "run"
they were crossing was a large one.  She thought they called it
Feltham’s.  It extended for some miles along the sea-shore, and Audrey
felt sure they must have journeyed ten or fifteen miles at least since
they entered it.  Thirteen thousand sheep on run needed no small company
of shepherds.  Many of them lived at the great house with Mr. Feltham;
others were scattered here and there all over the wide domain, each in
his little shanty.  Yet most of them were the sons of gentlemen, certain
to respond to the rabbiters’ call.  Again the cart drew up, and a
glimmer of firelight showed her the low thatched roof of another shanty.
Hal called loudly to a friend inside.

"Up and help us, man!  There is an awful eruption. Tarawera is pouring
out fire and smoke.  Half the country round will be destroyed before the
morning!"

Down sprang the shepherd.  "We are off to Feltham’s; but we must have
you with us, Hal, for a guide.  We don’t know where we are wanted."

Edwin was wide awake in a moment.  The men were talking eagerly.  Then
they came round, lifted the girls out of the cart, told them all to go
inside the hut and get a sleep, and they would soon send somebody to see
after them.

Hal laid his hand on Edwin’s shoulder.  "Remember your father’s charge,
lad," he said, "and just keep here, so that I know where to find you."

It was still so dark they could scarcely see each other’s faces; but as
Edwin gave his promise, Audrey sighed a startled sigh of fear.  Were
they going to leave them alone?

"Must," returned all three of the men, with a decision that admitted of
no question.

"Afraid?" asked the shepherd, in a tone which made Edwin retort, "Not a
bit."

But Audrey could not echo her brother’s words. She stood beside him the
picture of dismay, thinking of her father.  Hal’s friend Oscott picked
up a piece of wood and threw it on the dying lire; it blazed up
cheerily.

"My dear," said Hal, in an expostulating tone, "would you have us leave
your father single-handed? We have brought you safe out of the danger.
There are numbers more higher up in the hills; we must go back."

"Yes, yes," she answered, desperately.  "Pray don’t think about us.  Go;
do go!"

Oscott brought out his horse.  The shepherd smiled pityingly at the
children.  "We’ll tell the boundary-rider to look you up.  He will bring
the dog his breakfast, and I have no doubt Mrs. Feltham will send him
with yours."

With a cheery good-night, crossed by the shepherd with a cheerier
good-morning, intended to keep their spirits up, the men departed.

Edwin put his arm round Audrey.  "Are you really afraid?  I would not
show a white feather after all he said.  Come inside."

The hut was very similar to the one at the entrance of the gorge, with
the customary bed of fern leaves and thick striped blanket.  The men had
laid Effie down upon it, and Cuthbert was kneeling beside her rubbing
her hands.

"I’ll tell you a secret," he whispered.  "Our Audrey has gone over to
the groaners."

"No, she has not," retorted Edwin.  "But once I heard that Cuthbert was
with the criers."

"Where are we?" asked Effie piteously.

"Safe in the house that Jack built," said her brother, wishing to get up
a laugh; but it would not do.

Audrey turned her head away.  "Let us try to sleep and forget
ourselves."

Edwin found a horse-rug in the hut, and went out to throw it over
Beauty’s back, for the wind was blowing hard.  There was plenty of
drift-wood strewing the shore, and he carefully built up the fire.
Having had some recent experience during the charcoal-burning, he built
it up remarkably well, hoping the ruddy blaze would comfort Audrey—at
least it would help them to dry their muddy clothes.  The sound of the
trampling surf and the roar of the angry sea seemed as nothing in the
gray-eyed dawn which followed that night of fear.

He found, as he thought, his sisters sleeping; and sinking down in the
nest of leaves which Cuthbert had been building for him, he soon
followed their example.  But he was mistaken: Audrey only closed her
eyes to avoid speaking.  She dared not tell him of their father’s peril
for fear he should rush off with the men, urged on by a desperate desire
to share it. "I know now," she thought, "why father charged him to
remain with us."

Her distress of mind drowned all consciousness of their strange
surroundings.  What was the rising of the gale, the trampling of the
surf upon the sand, or the dashing of the tumultuous waves, after the
fire and smoke of Tarawera?

But Cuthbert started in his dreams, and Edwin woke with a cry.  Shaking
himself from the clinging leaves, now dry as winter hay, he ran out with
the impression some one had called him.  It was but the scream of the
sea-gull and the moan of the storm. It should have been daylight by this
time, but no wintry sun could penetrate the pall-like cloud of blue
volcanic dust which loaded the atmosphere even there.

It seemed to him as if the sea, by some mysterious sympathy, responded
to the wild convulsions of the quaking earth.  The billows were rolling
in towards him mountains high.  He turned from the angry waves to
rebuild his fire.

Did Oscott keep it as a beacon through the night on the ledge of rock
which sheltered his hut from the ocean breezes?  From its position Edwin
was inclined to think he did, although the men in the hurry of their
departure had not exactly said so.  By the light of this fire he could
now distinguish the outline of a tiny bay—so frequent on the western
coast of the island—a stretch of sandy shore, and beyond the haven over
which the rock on which he stood seemed sentinel, a sheet of boiling
foam.

And what was that?  A coasting steamer, with its screw half out of the
water, tearing round and round, whilst the big seas, leaping after each
other, seemed washing over the little craft from stem to stern.

He flung fresh drift-wood on his beacon-fire until it blazed aloft, a
pyramid of flame.  "Audrey dear, Audrey," he ran back shouting, "get up,
get up!"

She appeared at the door, a wan, drooping figure, shrinking from the
teeth of the gale.  "Is it father?" she asked.

"Father! impossible, Audrey.  We left him miles away.  It is a ship—a
ship, Audrey—going down in the storm," he vociferated.

She clasped her hands together in hopeless despair.

Cuthbert pulled her back.  "You will be blown into the sea," he cried.
"Let me go.  Boys like me, we just love wild weather.  I shan’t hurt.
What is it brings the downie fit?" he asked.  "Tell old Cuth."

"It is father, dear—it is father," she murmured, as his arms went round
her coaxingly.

"I know," he answered.  "I cried because I could not help it; but Edwin
says crying is no good."

"Praying is better," she whispered, buttoning up his coat a little
closer.  But what was he wearing?

"Oh, I got into somebody’s clothes," he said, "and Edwin helped me."

"It is father’s short gray coat," she ejaculated, stroking it lovingly
down his chest, as if it were all she ever expected to see of her father
any more.

"So much the better," he answered, undaunted.  "I want to be father
to-night."

"Night!" repeated Edwin, catching up the word, "How can you stand there
talking when there is a ship going down before our eyes?"

Cuthbert ran up the rocky headland after his brother, scarcely able to
keep his footing in the increasing gale.  There, by the bright stream of
light flung fitfully across the boiling waves, he too could see the
little vessel tossing among the breakers.  An Egyptian darkness lay
around them—a darkness that might be felt, a darkness which the ruddiest
glow of their beacon could scarcely penetrate.

"You talk of night," Edwin went on, as the brothers clung together, "but
it is my belief it has long since been morning.  I tell you what it is,
Cuth: the sun itself is veiled in sackcloth and ashes; it can’t break
through this awful cloud."

Young as they were, they felt the importance of keeping up the fire to
warn the steamer off the rocks, and again they set to work gathering
fuel.  The men had said but little about the fire, because they knew it
was close on morning when they departed, and now—yes, the morning had
come, but without the daylight.

Old roots and broken branches drifted in to shore were strewing the
beach.  But as the boys were soon obliged to take a wider circle to
collect them, Edwin was so much afraid of losing his little brother he
dare not let go his hand.  Then he found a piece of rope in the pocket
of "father’s coat," and tied their arms together.  So they went about
like dogs in leash, as he told Cuthbert.  If dogs did their hunting in
couples, why should not they?

Meanwhile Audrey, whose heart was in the hills, was watching landwards
from the little window at the back of the hut.  Edwin’s pyramid of fire
shot fitful gleams above the roof and beyond the black shadow of the
shanty wall.  Beauty, who had never known the luxury of a stable until
he came into the hands of his new masters, was well used to looking out
for himself.  He had made his way round to the back of the hut, and now
stood cowering under the broad eaves, seeking shelter from the raging
blast.

Where the firelight fell Audrey could faintly distinguish a line of
road, probably the one leading to the mansion.  To the left, the
wavering shadows cast upon the ground told her of the near neighbourhood
of a grassy embankment, surmounted by a swinging fence of wire, the
favourite defence of the sheep-run, so constructed that if the half-wild
animals rush against it the wire swings in their faces and drives them
back.  She heard the mournful howling of a dog at no great distance.
Suddenly it changed to a clamorous bark, and Audrey detected a faint but
far-away echo, like the trampling of approaching horsemen.

She pushed the window to its widest and listened. Her long fair hair,
which had been loosely braided for the night, was soon shaken free by
the raging-winds, and streamed about her shoulders as she leaned out as
far as she could in the fond hope that some one was coming.

The knitted shawl she had snatched up and drawn over her head when she
jumped into her father’s arms was now rolled up as a pillow for Effie.
She shivered in the wintry blast, yet courted it, as it blew back from
her the heated clouds of whirling ashes. Faint moving shadows, as of
trees or men, began to fleck the pathway, and then a band of horsemen,
galloping their hardest, dashed across the open.

Audrey’s pale face and streaming hair, framed in the blackness of the
shadowing roof, could not fail to be seen by the riders.  With one
accord they shook the spades they carried in the air to tell their
errand, and a score of manly voices rang out the old-world ballad,—

    "What lads e’er did our lads will do;
    Were I a lad I’d follow him too.
    He’s owre the hills that I lo’e weel."


Audrey waved her "God-speed" in reply.  With their heads still turned
towards her, without a moment’s pause, they vanished in the darkness.
Only the roll of the chorus thrown back to cheer her, as they tore the
ground beneath their horses’ hoofs, rose and fell with the rage of the
storm—

    "He’s owre the hills we daurna name,
    He’s owre the hills ayont Dumblane,
    Wha soon will get his welcome hame.
    My father’s gone to fecht for him,
    My brithers winna bide at hame,
    My mither greets and prays for them,
    And ’deed she thinks they’re no to blame.
      He’s owre the hills," etc.


The last faint echo which reached her listening ears renewed the
promise—

    "What lads e’er did our lads will do;
    Were I a lad I’d follow him too.
    He’s owre the hills, he’s owre the hills."


The voices were lost at last in the howl of the wind and the dash of the
waves on the angry rocks. But the music of their song was ringing still
in Audrey’s heart, rousing her to a courage which was not in her nature.

She closed the window, and knelt beside the sleeping Effie with a
question on her lips—that question of questions for each one of us, be
our emergency what it may—"Lord, what wouldest thou have me to do?"  She
was not long in finding its answer.



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*

                            *A RAGING SEA.*


The boys rushed in exclaiming, "Audrey, Audrey! the ship is foundering!
The men are getting off into the boat, and they can’t keep its head to
the sea.  She swings round broadside to the waves, and must be filling.
Is there a rope about the hut—anywhere, anywhere; a long, strong rope,
dear Audrey?"

How should she know what was in the hut?  But she knew what was put in
the cart: the ropes which tied the load were there.  She had pulled them
out of the shed with the harness herself.

Off went Edwin, shouting, "A rope! a rope! a kingdom for a rope!"

Cuthbert released himself from the leash, which was dragging him along
too fast, and ran back to his sister.

"Did you hear the singing?" she asked.  "Did you see the men ride past?
They are gone to the rescue, Cuth; they are gone to father’s help.  May
God reward them all."

"And will you come to ours?" he said.  "Audrey, you could feed the fire.
Edwin and I have got a lot of wood together.  You have only to keep
throwing it on; and then I can help Edwin."

    "’What lads e’er did our lads will do;
    Were I a lad I’d follow him too,’"

she answered, slipping her shawl from under Effie’s head and tying it
once more over her own.  They went out together.  Cuthbert helped her up
the rock, pulled a big root in to the front of the fire to make her a
seat, and left her a willing stoker.  He had pointed out the tiny
cockle-shell of a boat—a small dark speck beyond the sheet of boiling
foam, with the hungry, curling waves leaping after it.

Could it escape swamping in the outer line of breakers it could never
hope to cross?  It was running before them now.  Edwin had put Beauty
once more into the cart, and was carefully knotting the rope to the back
of it.

He had learned to tie a safety-knot—a sailor’s knot—on their voyage out.
Thank God for that! It whiled away an idle hour at the time; now it
might prove the saving of human creatures’ lives. That the cart was
heavy and lumbering and strong was cause for rejoicing.

"You and I, Cuth, could not pull a man through such a sea; but Beauty
can.  We know how well he crossed the ford.  I shall back him into the
water as far as ever I can, and then jump into the cart and throw the
rope.  You see my plan?"

"I do," said Cuth; "but as soon as you leave go of Beauty’s head he’ll
come splashing back again out of the water.  You must have me in the
cart to hold his reins."

"I dare not," protested Edwin.  "A shrimp like you would be washed out
to sea in no time; and I promised father to take care of you.  No, Cuth,
you are not yet ten years old."

"I am sure I look a good bit older than that, in father’s coat," urged
Cuthbert, looking down upon himself with considerable satisfaction; but
Edwin was inexorable.  "Tie me in the cart, then," cried Cuthbert.

"Where is the old leash?"

It was quickly found, and Edwin owned the thought was a good one.

When all was ready a sudden impulse prompted them to run back into the
hut and look at Erne, and then up the rock for a final word with Audrey.
They found her already wet with the salt sea spray, and almost torn to
pieces by the wind, but, as Edwin said, "at it all the same."

The final word was spoken, reiterated, shouted; who, alas! could hear it
in the rage of the storm? So it came to a snatch of kiss, and away they
ran, leaving Audrey with the impression that the moving lips were trying
to repeat, "Keep us a jolly blaze."

Voice being useless on such a morning, Audrey made answer by action, and
flung her brands upon the fire with such rapidity that the column of
flame rose higher and higher, flinging its fitful gleams across the
sands, where the boys were busy.

The recent voyage had taken away all fear of the sea even from Cuthbert,
who was already tied to the front of the cart, with Beauty’s reins in
his hand, holding him in with all his might.  Edwin, with his teeth set
and a white look about his lips, had seized the horse’s head, and was
backing him into the water. Splash, splash into the wall of wave, rising
higher and higher at every step, and almost lifting Edwin off his feet.
Then he swung himself into the cart by Cuthbert’s side.  Beauty felt his
firmer grasp as the reins changed hands, and turning his head with a
look in his resolute eye that showed him a willing partner in the daring
plan, he reversed the position, choosing rather to breast the opposing
billows.  Edwin let him have his way, and with a dash and a snort he
plunged into their midst, carrying the boys full fifteen yards into the
raging sea.  The brothers clung to the cart as the waves dashed in their
faces.  Caps were gone in a moment.  The cart was filling. Beauty held
his head high above the water, and struggled on another yard or so.
Then Edwin felt they must go no further, and turned the cart round.

It was no easy matter to make Beauty stand.  His natural sense of
danger, his high intelligence, his increasing love for the boys, all
prompted him to bring them out of the water, not to stay in it.  He was
bent on rushing back to dry ground, as Cuthbert had predicted.  The boys
thundered "Whoa, whoa!" with all the endearing epithets they were wont
to lavish upon him in his stable.  He was brought to a stand at last,
and Edwin, raising himself on the side of the cart, looked round for the
boat.

It was nowhere.  His heart sank cold within him.

"O Cuth, we are too late, too late!" he groaned.

Then Audrey’s fire sent up a brighter blaze, and hope leaped lightly
into life once more, and he cried out joyfully, "I see it!" but stopped
abruptly, almost drawing back his words with bated breath.

The momentary glimpse had shown him the luckless boat, blown along by
the force of the wind, without the help of an oar, dash into the
bursting crest of a giant roller.  It flung the boat across the line of
boiling foam.  The men in it, finding their oars useless, were kicking
off their boots, preparing for a swim.  He knew it by their attitudes.
He seized the pole they had put in the cart to use as a signal.  It was
a willow sapling, torn up by its roots, which they had found when they
were gathering the firewood.

Cuthbert had peeled off the bark at the thin end, whilst Edwin had
twisted its pliant boughs into a strong hoop, to tie at the end of his
rope.

As Edwin raised it high above his head—a tall, white wand, which must be
conspicuous in the surrounding darkness—he saw the boat turn over, the
angry waves rush on, and all was gone.  A cry of dismay broke from the
brothers’ lips: "Lord help us, or they perish!"

"I could not have done this without you, Cuth. We are only two boys, but
now is our hour."

Edwin had learned a great deal from the sailors’ stories during their
voyage, and he had been a crack kite-flier on the playground at his
English school; so that he was quite alive to the importance of keeping
his rope free from entanglement, which really is the vital point in
throwing a rope at sea.  He had laid it carefully on the bottom of the
cart, fold upon fold, backwards and forwards, and Cuth had stood upon it
to keep it in place.  The hoop lay on the top of the coil, and to the
hoop he had tied the plaid-scarf from his own neck, to serve it as a
sail.

The paralyzing fear came over him now that whilst they were doing all
this the time for help had gone by.  "But we won’t stop trying," he
said, "if it seems ever so hopeless; God only knows."

He took his brother’s place on the coil of rope, and unfolding a yard or
two, flung the hoop from him, taking aim at the spot where the boat had
capsized. The wind caught the scarf and bore the hoop aloft; Edwin let
his rope go steadily, fold after fold.  Would it carry it straight?
Would the men see his scarf fluttering in the wind?  He felt sure a hand
might catch the hoop if they only saw it.  But, alas, it was so small!
He leaned against his brother back to back, and if the hot tears came it
was because he was only a boy.  Cuthbert put a hand behind him.  There
was comfort to him in the touch.  One burning drop just trickled on his
thumb.

"What, you crying!" he exclaimed; "is not praying better?"

"God have mercy on us!" burst from Edwin’s lips; and Cuthbert echoed
back the gasping words.  Had they ever prayed like that before?  All,
all that was in them seemed to pour itself forth in that moment of
suspense, when God alone could hear.

[Illustration: A PERILOUS RESCUE.]

The rope tightened in Edwin’s grasp; something had clutched it at last.
The tug had come.  Would his knots give way?  He was faint with the fear
that his work was not well done—not strong enough to stand the strain
which he felt was increasing every moment.  It seemed to him, as he
watched with every sense alert and tried to its uttermost, that each
successive earthquake shock, as it heaved the land, sent a corresponding
wave across the sea.  One of these had carried out his hoop, and he knew
he must wait until it subsided to draw his rope in, or it might snap
like pack-thread under the awful strain.

"O Edwin, I am getting so tired!" said little Cuth, in a tone of such
utter exhaustion it went like a knife through his brother to hear him.

"Only another minute," he replied; "just another minute—if we can hold
on."

The longed-for lull was coming.  Edwin gave Beauty his head; but the
poor horse was stiffened with standing, and almost refused to move.
Then Edwin tied himself to the cart.

"O Beauty, if you fail us we are done!"

The despairing cry roused the torpid energies of the horse.  With a
stretch and a snort he tugged and strained, dragging his load a yard or
two landwards.  A man’s head appeared above the water. The joy of the
sight brought back hope and capability.  It was but a spasmodic effort;
but Beauty caught the thrill of joy animating the boyish voices,
cheering him on to renewed exertions.  The wheels splashed round in the
water; a cloud of muddy spray rose between Edwin and the rescued man.
He could not see the sailor’s face.  The fire was dying.  Was all the
wood they had gathered—all that great heap—burnt up at last?

Audrey raked the dying brands together, and a fresh flame shot upwards,
and by its welcome radiance Edwin was aware of two hands working their
way along the tightened rope, one over the other, towards the cart.

The tightened rope!  Yes; that was proof that some one had grasped the
hoop.  In another moment that stranger hand was clasping Edwin’s in the
darkness that was following fast upon those fitful flames.

"Hold hard!" shouted a stentorian voice, and a man got up into the cart
beside him.  A deep-drawn breath, a muttered prayer, and the strong,
powerful hands clasped over Edwin’s, and began to draw in the rope.

Not a word was said, for the boys had no voice left to make themselves
heard.  The last shout of joy to Beauty had left them spent and faint.
The stranger, surprised at the smallness and feebleness of the hand he
now let go, gently pushed the boy aside and took his place.  Edwin
leaned against the front of the cart beside his brother, dead beat and
scarcely conscious of anything but a halo of happiness radiating from
the blessed consciousness which found expression in a murmured, "Cuth,
old boy, we’ve done it."

The reins fell slack on Beauty’s neck, but the good horse needed no
guiding.  He seemed aware that two more men got up into the cart, and
when a pause followed he gave his proud head a triumphant toss, and
brought them up out of the water.  There were three men in the cart and
twice as many more holding on by the rope.

Audrey ran down from the dying fire to meet them.

A strange, unnatural kind of twilight, a something weird and ghastly,
belonging to neither day nor night, seemed to pervade the land, and shed
a sepulchral gleam across the men’s pale faces.  Audrey pushed open the
door of the hut and beckoned to the sailors to enter.

They gathered round her, shaking the salt water from their dripping
garments, and uttering broken exclamations of surprise and thankfulness.
She saw a boy in the midst of the group limping painfully. As she
hurried up to his assistance, she discovered that it was neither Edwin
nor Cuthbert; but he grasped her outstretched hand so thankfully she
could not withdraw it.  There was a wildness in the alarm with which she
began to ask them for her brothers the men could not mistake.  They gave
the forlorn girl an almost unanimous assurance that they knew nothing of
her brothers.  For the men clinging to the rope had not seen the boys in
the cart.  "But," added one heartily, "we’ll protect you, for there is
wild work afoot somewhere to-night.  We have heard the cannonading,
broadside after broadside, or we should not have gone rock-hunting in
the dark.  It is fool’s work—you can give it no better name—coasting
along a dangerous shore, with a sky too black for moon or star to
penetrate."

"Yon’s the little maid who fed the beacon," said another.  "I saw her
move across the front of the fire and throw her sticks upon it.  God
bless her! Every minute I thought we should see her blown over into the
sea."

"Not me, not me," interposed poor Audrey.

Getting free in her desperation, and pressing between the sailors, she
ran towards Beauty, who was slowly lagging round to the back of the hut.

"If my brothers are missing," she cried, "they must have been washed out
of the cart."  She clasped her hands before her eyes to shut out the
sight of the drowning boys which imagination was picturing, and so
failed to perceive the two weary heads leaning against the side of the
cart.  It was but a moment of agony, one of the unfounded alarms which
always cluster round a real danger and follow the shock of dread like
its shadow.

"Edwin, Edwin! where are you?" she cried.—"Cuthbert, Cuthbert!  come to
me!"

The rocks gave back the hollow echo, "Come to me!"

But she did not hear two faint voices feebly expostulating, "We tied
ourselves to the cart, and we can’t undo the knots.  We are here, like
two galley-slaves chained to the oars, and we can’t get out."

A shock of earthquake sent Beauty with a shiver of terror straight to
the open.  The men threw themselves on their faces, knowing how easily
they might lose their footing on the reeling ground; whilst Audrey,
neglecting this precaution, went over like a nine-pin.

The hut shook as if its carefully-piled walls were about to give way,
and Audrey, who had seen their house go down in the beginning of this
fearful night, shrieked out for Effie.

As the tremor subsided, and the sailors gathered from poor Audrey’s
broken sentences some idea of the awful catastrophe on land, they turned
from the hut, judging it safer to remain in the open.

Mates were looking out for mates.  Were they all there?  Captain,
boatswain, cook—not one of the little coaster’s crew was missing.
Passengers all right: a gold-digger from Otago, the schoolboy from
Christchurch.  Are all saved?  Only the hand which threw the rope was
missing.

Who backed the cart into the sea? they asked; and where was Oscott?

When they learned from Audrey’s frantic replies that every man had gone
to the rescue, and the little fugitives had been left in the hut alone,
the sailors’ desire to find the missing boys was as earnest as her own.

They pointed to the cart jogging steadily across the grassy plain,
dotted with sheep, and shaded here and there by groups of stately trees.

"God bless the young heroes!" they exclaimed. "Why, there they are—off
to the mansion to beg for tucker for us all."

Audrey, set at rest from this last great fear, escaped from her
questioners, and retreated to Effie and the empty hut, saying
reproachfully,—

"How just like Edwin!  But they might have told me what they were going
to do."

It seemed a moment’s reprieve.  There was nothing more to be done.
Audrey sank upon the bed of fern leaves, weary and wet and worn, unable
any longer to resist the craving for a little sleep.

The sailors lit a fire on the open grass beyond the hut, and grouped
themselves round it to talk and rest.  The poor fellows who had been
dragged to shore, clinging to the rope, found their shoeless feet cut
and bleeding from the sharp edges of the oyster-shells with which the
sands were studded.  But when an hour or more passed by, the sunless
noon brought with it sharper pangs of hunger to them all.

No cart had returned, no boundary rider had put in an appearance, and
the men began to talk of a walk over the grass to find the mansion.
They were all agreed as to the best course for them to pursue. They must
turn "sundowners"—the up-country name for beggars—tramp across to the
nearest port, begging their way from farm to farm.  They knew very well
no lonely settler dare refuse supper and a night’s lodging to a party of
men strong enough to take by force what they wanted.

The embankment with its swinging fence, the shepherd’s hut where the
girls were sleeping, told them where they were—on the confines of a
great sheep-run.  Their route must begin with the owner’s mansion, which
could not be very far off, as there was no food in the hut, and no
apparent means for cooking any, so Audrey had told them.  But now the
storm was dying, the captain rose to look round the hut for himself.  He
was wondering what to do with the Christchurch boy he had undertaken to
land at another great sheep-run about twenty-five miles farther along
the coast It was of no use to take him back with them, a hundred miles
the other way. He hoped to leave him at the mansion.  The owner must be
a wealthy man, and would most likely undertake to put the boy on board
the next steamer, which would pass that way in a week or ten days.

So he called to the boy to go with him, and explained his purpose as
they went.  They waked up Audrey, to ask the owner’s name.

"Feltham," she answered, putting her hand to her head to recall her
scattered senses; between rabbiters and sailors she was almost dazed.

To be left alone again in that empty hut, without food, without her
brothers, was enough to dismay a stouter heart than hers.  The captain
spoke kindly.

"I want to see you all safe in this sheep-owner’s care before I leave
you," he said.  "It was stupid in those brothers of yours to go off with
the cart, for you are too exhausted to walk."

"Did you ever hear the name of Bowen in these parts?" asked the
Christchurch boy eagerly, nursing a bleeding foot the while.

Audrey thought of the kind old gentleman in Ottley’s coach, and
answered, brightening.

"I am his grandson," the boy replied.  "I am Arthur Bowen."



                             *CHAPTER IX.*

                           *NOTHING TO EAT.*


As the shock of the earthquake subsided, and Beauty rallied from his
terror, his pace began to slacken.  If Edwin had not tied himself and
Cuthbert so securely in the cart, they might have been thrown out when
Beauty ran away.  So the knots which would not be untied proved their
protection; and now they found themselves trotting leisurely through
verdant stretches, dotted with ti tree and blue-gum, and overgrown with
toi and flax and rushes.  Before them rose the great gates of the avenue
leading to the central station-house.  The white front of Feltham’s
mansion gleamed through the tall stems of the trees which surrounded it;
whilst beyond and around them were the sheds and walls, the pools and
bridges, comprising stock-yards and shearing-places, where thousands of
wild cattle and tens of thousands of wilder sheep were washed and
dipped, and counted and branded, year after year.

The ingenious arrangement of pool and paddock and pen by which this
gigantic undertaking is safely accomplished looked to the boys like a
wooden village.

Beauty drew up at the friendly gate of his own accord, attracted by the
welcome sounds of human life as stockmen and shepherds hurried out to
their morning work.  Half the hands were off to the hills; the remaining
half found in consequence the more to do.  The poor terrified cattle had
suffered considerably.  Sheep were cast in every ditch.  Cows had gored
each other in their mad terror; and broken fences told of wild leaps and
escaped bulls to be sought for in the neighbouring bush.

The boundary rider, whose sole duty is to parade the vast domain and
give notice at headquarters of unwary gaps and strays, had been spurring
hither and thither, delayed by the gloom of the morning and the herds of
wild bulls which had broken in, while the tame had broken out.  With
demolished fences, and frightened sheep dying around them by hundreds,
the little fugitives in Oscott’s hut had been forgotten.

But when the boundary rider saw a cart at his master’s gate, blue with
volcanic mud above, and dripping from below with the slime of the sea,
he thought of the family from the hills waiting somewhere for the
breakfast he was to have carried in his saddle-bag.  His circuit was but
half completed. "I shall find them yet," he said to himself, as he
galloped up behind the cart.  He saw the dangling rope, and the white
faces of the two boys huddled together in a state of complete
exhaustion.  He tied his horse to the gate, and jumping into the cart,
rattled Beauty up the avenue to his master’s door, which stood wide open
to all comers.  For every hour brought fresh rumours, and fresh parties
of fugitives who had fled precipitately from their homes when the storm
of mud began.

He took his knife from his pocket and cut the rope which tied Edwin and
his brother to the cart. Some one ran out with a cup of coffee, which he
poured down their throats, and then the boys began to revive.  He wanted
to take them in-doors and put them to bed.  But the relief-party had
already sent down so many sufferers from the hills every bed was full of
children, women, and even men, who had been dug out of the muddy stream
in which they were suffocating.

As soon as Edwin could speak, he added his story to the others,
entreating the men who turned their heads to listen, as they hurried in
and out, to send some food to his sisters, who were left alone in
Oscott’s hut.  As for the sailors, the feeling among Feltham’s people
was decided: any one not from the hills must be left to take care of
himself.

Just then a horseman, covered with mud and foam, came spurring towards
the house, shouting to the crowd around the door,—

"I’ve come for every man on the ground, by the master’s orders.  Leave
everything.  Bring your spades, and follow me.  The nearer we get to
Tarawera the thicker lies the mud.  Our government station at Rotorua is
buried beneath it, church and all.  Te Ariki and Maura are nowhere to be
seen. The low whares in the Maori pahs are utterly destroyed.  Wherever
the roofs have been strong enough to uphold the weight of the falling
mud, the inhabitants are alive beneath them now.  Come to the
rescue—come!"

The last hoarse words were scarcely audible.  The boundary rider took
the unfinished cup from Edwin’s lips and passed it to the man, and the
boy was glad that he did so.

A cry of "Spades! spades!" rang through the increasing group of
listeners, which seemed to gather and disperse with equal rapidity.
Mrs. Feltham made her way through the midst to the bell-tower, and rang
a frantic peal to call all hands together.  Horses were saddling; men
were mounting; others were hurrying up to learn the meaning of the hasty
summons.  Edwin drew his cart aside under the trees to watch the
departure.

Mrs. Feltham reappeared on her doorstep with knife and loaf, trying to
fill every pocket with bread before each one rode off.  She could not
make her intention understood.  The men, in their impatience to be gone,
would hardly stop to take it.

"Oh," thought Edwin, "they forget they will want it all to give away."

He leaned over his brother.  "Cuth, take the reins."  But Cuth’s numbed
hands let them drop.  Edwin twisted them round his arm, and with a nod
and a smile made his way to Mrs. Feltham.

His voice was so weak and faint she could not hear what he said, but the
ready hand was offering to pass on the great hunches of bread she was
cutting, and she kept him at work, little dreaming how he had to turn
his head away again and again to resist the impulse to take a bite by
the way.  As he took the last crust from her, and saw that it was the
last, a sudden faintness overcame him, and he dropped on the stones at
her feet.

"I am so very, very hungry," he said piteously.

"Why did not you tell me that before the basket was empty?" she
retorted.  "You must remember, my boy, every bit of food for man and
beast must be buried under this dreadful mud for miles and miles. I may
have a famishing army round me before night, and how am I to feed them
all?  Not a crumb must be wasted.  If you are so hungry, go into the
kitchen and clear up the scraps on the men’s plates.  I would turn all
the flour in the granary into bread, and feed you every one, if I had
only hands to make it and bake it.  Stop," she went on; "though you are
a boy you could be of some use.  You could wash and boil a copperful of
potatoes and pumpkins; that would be something to set before the
starving cart-loads I hope and trust they will be successful in saving."

"No, ma’am," answered Edwin.  "I must go back to my sisters.  I have
left them alone with a lot of rough sailors."

His "no" was round and resolute.

She took out her purse, saying almost coaxingly, "Here is a week’s wage
for a day’s work."

"I am very sorry, Mrs. Feltham, but I really can’t stay," he persisted.

She turned away with an impatient gesture and went in-doors.

"She takes me for some unlucky beggar," thought Edwin, crawling round to
the kitchen door, glad to avail himself of the somewhat ungracious
permission to look out for the scraps.  "It is dog’s fare," thought
Edwin, "but it is more to me than her gold."  He found a piece of
newspaper, and walked round and round the long breakfast-table,
collecting into it such morsels as he could find.  Of most of the dishes
the hungry young shepherds had made a clean sweep. Still there were some
unfinished crusts of bread, a corner of Melton pie, a rasher of bacon
burned in the grilling.  On the dresser he discovered a bone of mutton,
evidently laid aside for the hounds.  He would not touch the sugar in
the basin, or take a peep at the contents of the cupboards, feeling
himself on his honour.  The sounds within convinced him Mrs. Feltham and
the rest of her household were hard at work transforming the hospitable
mansion into a temporary hospital, for the reception of the poor
unfortunates who might be dug out alive but scarcely uninjured.

"O Cuth, we haven’t been the worst off by a long way!" exclaimed Edwin
suddenly, as the brothers sat together in their cart, enjoying their
bone of mutton, quite in the doggie line, but, as Cuthbert averred,
feeling themselves, as they ate, like new-made men.

Then they turned Beauty homewards.  Yes, that queer little shanty was a
kind of home.  It was still dark as in a London fog, but the shocks of
earthquake were less, fainter and farther apart.

Half-way down the road they met the party of sailors, walking barefoot
on the edge of the grass. They did not recognize the boys, but stopped
to ask the way to the central station.

"We have just been there to beg for food," said Edwin, feeling it quite
"infra dig" to acknowledge the condition in which they reached Mrs.
Feltham’s gate. "But," he added drearily, "we could not get it.  Not
enough for you all."

Then he hurried on to explain the tidings from the hills and the general
stampede to the rescue.

"Turn back," urged the captain, "and give us a lift."

"Lend us the cart," added Arthur Bowen.  "If any harm should come to it,
grandfather will pay you for it; and as for the horse, he will get a
good feed of corn in Feltham’s stable.  I will see after him."

Edwin was not sure he ought to trust the horse and cart with strangers,
but the prospect of a good feed of corn for Beauty went a long way; for
he had nothing for the horse to eat but the winter grass around the hut.
Down he jumped.

"If there are so many men at this station," the sailors were saying,
"maybe they can find us an old pair of shoes; and if strong arms are in
request, we are ready to take our turn."

They shook hands all round.

"Good-bye, my lads, good-bye.  It was a brave act to back that cart into
the sea, and you’ll take a sailor’s blessing with you to your home,
wherever it is.  If there is anything washed ashore from the little
craft, you’ll store it up high and dry until another coaster calls to
fetch it away."

The promise was given on both sides.  Edwin would find his Beauty safe
at Feltham’s, and the captain his wreckage piled against the back of
Oscott’s hut, although they might both be miles away when the two were
reclaimed.

Edwin took Cuthbert’s hand in his and walked on in grave silence.  One
thing was clear—nobody would have time or thought to care for them.
They must just look out for themselves.

"It is playing at Robinson Crusoe in earnest, we four in that little
hut," said Cuthbert.  "He did lots of things to make himself
comfortable, but then he was a man."

"It won’t be for long," added Edwin.  "I hardly think we shall see
father to-night, but he may be back to-morrow.  If we could only find
something to eat.  Whero and his mother lived on nuts and berries after
the muru, but then it was autumn."

They sank again into silence.  The barking of the boundary dog warned
them they were near the hut, and when it died away to a low growl they
distinguished a faint, soft murmur of singing.

"Oh, hush!" they exclaimed.  "Oh, listen!  It is the girls; that is
Audrey."

It put fresh life into the weary feet as they heard it clearer and
clearer—

    "Hark, hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings."


"Heaven’s gate," repeated the boys: it was the only word they could
distinguish.

"Heaven’s gate.  It is a word to comfort us, for that is never shut,"
added Edwin, as they stumbled against an uprooted ti tree.  The long,
tapering stem, with its waving plume of feathery leaves, barred their
progress.  Cuth was about to climb over it, for the hard brown trunk at
its base was six feet round; but Edwin ran off to examine its leafy
crown, where the cabbage which gave the tree its name should lie hidden.

He parted the yard-long leaflets, and felt a something tall and crisp
growing up in their midst.

A shout of glee brought Cuth to his assistance. They pulled the pliant
boughs to this side and that, and perceived what looked to them like a
coil of white ribbon, as thick and as long as a man’s arm.  Was this the
cabbage of which they had heard so much, for the sake of which the
lordly tree was so often cut down and destroyed?

They tore off one of the ribbon-like flakes and tasted it.

Cuth declared it was like eating almonds, only not so hard.

"But how can we cut it without a knife?" cried Edwin, munching away at
the raw flakes in his fingers, and pronouncing them a right good feed
for them all, if they could but cut the cabbage out.

There might be a knife in the hut, who could say. Away they rushed to
explore, guided through the tangle of flax and rushes by their sisters’
voices.

The girls were sitting on the bed of fern in an abandonment of despair,
scarcely daring to believe their own ears when the refrain of their song
was caught up and repeated—

    "With everything that pretty is,
      My ladies sweet, arise."


"O Edwin, Edwin!" they exclaimed.  "We thought you too had vanished."

"We could not bear ourselves," said Effie, "so we took to singing.  We
feared we were left to starve on our bed of leaves, like the ’Children
in the Wood,’ and we were afraid there was not a robin redbreast
anywhere here to cover us up."

"Oh, but there is a robin blackbreast," retorted Edwin; "a true-born
native, all the fitter for the undertaker’s work.  Only it is not going
to be done to-night, Dame Trot."  He took the wee white face between his
hands, and felt so strong, so vigorous, so determined to take care of it
somehow.  "I am not going away again, Effie."  He pulled the newspaper
parcel out of his pocket and tossed it into Audrey’s lap.  "Beggars’
crumbs!" he laughed.  But her cold, nerveless fingers seemed incapable
of untwisting the paper.

"Hands were made before forks!" cried Cuthbert, pushing in between his
sisters, "and I’ve often heard that pie-crust is made to be broken, like
promises. I can spy a bill-hook in the corner, a little too big for
cutting up a pie, but just the thing to chop the cabbage out of a ti
tree."

Edwin spun round and shouldered it in triumph.

"There goes smash to the promise: he is off again as fast as he can go.
And now for the second breakage. You must not mind my dirty pads for
once, Audrey," Cuthbert went on, pulling the pie into two pieces and
making his sisters eat.

The slender store in the newspaper would be soon exhausted.  Cuthbert,
like a provident commissariat officer, was anxious to make the most of
it.  He laid aside the bacon to eat with Edwin’s cabbage, and piled up
the mutton-bones for their solitary neighbour, the boundary dog, who,
like themselves, had been breakfasting on broken promise.

Audrey had recovered herself in some measure by the time Edwin returned
with his spoils.

"Who’ll buy? who’ll buy?" he shouted; "yards upon yards of vegetable
ribbon, white and delicate enough to make the wedding favours for the
queen of cooks."

"Oh, don’t talk about cooking," put in Cuthbert; "it is so nice, let us
eat it as it is."

So down they sat, breaking off flake after flake until they were
satisfied.  As hunger diminished speech returned, and Audrey, who had
scarcely uttered a word whilst Edwin went over all they had heard and
seen at Mrs. Feltham’s, became suddenly animated. A thought had struck
her, but she hesitated to propose her plan too abruptly.

"Dears," she said earnestly, looking round at the other three, "father
will not come back to us perhaps for a day or two; it may even be a
week.  Think of our own escape.  Think if one of us had been buried in
that awful mud.  How should we be feeling now? Whilst there is another
life to be saved father will not come away—no, not for our sakes, and we
must not wish that he should."

Even Effie answered, "Oh no, we must not."

"Then," continued Audrey, still more earnestly. "what are we going to
do?"

"That is a poser," retorted Edwin.  "The storm brought down the ti tree,
and that gave us the cabbage.  The gale is dying.  We had better take a
walk round and look about us.  We may find something else.  Heaven’s
gate is open still, Audrey.  We must bear this as patiently as we can,
and help will come."

"Yes, dears," she answered, "if you can be patient here a little longer,
I think there is something I can do to help us all."

"You, Audrey?" exclaimed her brothers; "you are as white as a sheet.
Let us do; we are twice as strong as you are."

"Strength is not everything," she returned quietly. "There are some
things which only a girl can do. Now this is my plan.  If Edwin will
walk with me to the central station, I will ask Mrs. Feltham to let me
help her.  I will go for so much a day, and then at night when she pays
me I may persuade her to sell me some flour and meat and tea, food
enough for us all, dears."

"Go out like a charwoman, Audrey!" exclaimed Edwin, in amazement.  "Is
that what you mean?"

"Well, yes," returned Audrey, in a considering tone, "it certainly would
be the same thing, if you like to call it so."

"’Of old men called a spade a spade,’" grumbled Edwin.  "I like to give
things their plain names, and then we know where we are."

"If little Mother Audrey goes out charing, Cuth will poison himself, and
then there will be no more food wanting for him.  That Mrs. Feltham
looked as cross as two sticks," declared Cuthbert.

"Just listen to these proud young gentlemen," retorted Audrey.  "Erne,
my dear, I turn to you to support me."

"I’ll do as you do," returned her little sister, laying her head on her
shoulder.

"Not quite so fast, Dame Trot," interposed Edwin. "But if Audrey marches
home at night with a bag of flour on her back, you must make it into
Norfolk dumplings.  Cuthbert and I, it seems, are good for nothing but
to eat them."

"You ridiculous boys, why can’t you be serious?" said Audrey, adding, in
an aside to Edwin, "Erne is too ill to exist on your vegetable ribbon,
even if we boil it.  Well, is not my plan better—"

"Than robin blackbreast and the burying business? Of course, you have
shut me up," he answered.

So the decision was reached.  Audrey untied her bundle.  Combs and
brushes, soap and towels, a well-worn text-book, a little box of her own
personal treasures, all knotted up in one of Effie’s pinafores. What a
hoard of comfort it represented!

"That is a notice to quit for you and me, Cuth," remarked Edwin.  "We’ll
take the boundary dog his bones, and accommodate our honest charwoman
with a pailful of sea-water to assist the toilet operations."

The storm had died away as suddenly as it rose, and the receding waves
had left the shelving sands strewn with its debris—uprooted trees, old
hats, and broken boards, fringed with seaweed.  A coat was bobbing up
and down, half in the water and half out, while floating spars told of
the recent wreck.  A keg sticking in the sand some feet below high-water
mark attracted the boys’ attention, for Edwin was mindful of his promise
to the sailors.  As they set to work to roll it up, they came upon the
oysters sticking edgeways out of the sand, and clinging in clusters to
the rocks.  With a hurrah of delight they collected a goodly heap.  Here
was a supper fit for a king.



                              *CHAPTER X.*

                            *THE MAORI BOY.*


The bath of sea-water which Edwin had provided in the shepherd’s pail
did more than anything else to restore poor Effie.  When the arduous
task of opening the oysters was at last accomplished, by the aid of a
great clasp nail and a splinter of stone, the abundant and nourishing
meal which followed did them all so much good, Cuthbert and Effie
declared they did not mind being left alone in the hut half as much as
when father left them by the charcoal fires. They all wanted Audrey to
wait until morning, but her answer was resolute.

"No, dears; the chance might be gone.  It is just when the men come back
from the hills Mrs. Feltham will want me.  They may come in the middle
of the night.  Nobody knows when, and if I am there, at least I shall
hear what they say.  Perhaps they will have been with father, and bring
us a message."

This reconciled them all to her departure.  Then she hurried away with
Edwin by her side, for fear the dark wintry day should close before she
reached her destination.

Edwin guessed the distance to be about four miles; but they were in poor
order for walking, and were reduced to halting by the wayside
continually.  Yet, as the snail got to the top of the wall at last, so
they reached the avenue gates.  Here they agreed to part. There was no
more danger of Audrey losing herself, and both were uneasy at leaving
Effie and Cuthbert alone so long.

During the walk they had talked over everything, which Audrey declared
was the greatest comfort imaginable.  Edwin did not want to go up to the
house to fetch his Beauty.

"I shall come for him to-morrow," he said; "then I can tell you how
Effie is, and we shall hear how you are getting on."

The shades of night were gathering as Edwin turned away; but he could
not lose the white line of well-made road by which he was returning even
by starlight, yet he was afraid of encountering any of the wild cattle,
which he knew were roaming at will among the groves and coverts which
surrounded him.  He found himself a stick, and trudged along, whistling
to keep his courage up.

It was a danger to which he was altogether unaccustomed; for there is no
four-footed creature native to New Zealand bigger than a rat, and in the
primeval forest which surrounded his home the absence of all animal life
is its marked characteristic. But here the many horses and bulls which
had strayed from the early colonists had multiplied in the bush and
grown formidable, not to speak of the pigs which Captain Cook let loose
on the New Zealand shore, and which now, like the rabbits, overrun the
island. The sound of grunting in the midst of a flax-bush or the bleat
of a bell-wether was enough to startle him.

The hoar was gathering white on the grass and sparkling like diamonds on
shrivelled fronds and gloomy evergreens, when he heard the barking of
the boundary dog, which told him he was nearing the hut, and his weary
feet jogged on at a quicker pace.

The barking grew still more furious.  A battle was going forward.
Instead of turning off towards the sea to find the hut, Edwin ran on to
the point of the road where it entered another sheep-run.  As it was the
public coast-road, there was no gate.  The dog was stationed there, with
a chain long enough to command the whole breadth of the road, to keep
the sheep from straying on to their neighbour’s ground, and well he did
his work.  He seemed to know in a moment to which side the adventurous
rover belonged who dared to intrude on his beat, and sent him home with
a resolute bark and a snap of the wool just to show how easily biting
could follow. But the cry which succeeded the onslaught of the dog, the
cry which made Edwin turn aside, was so like the cry of a child that it
shot a fear through him Cuthbert might have been tempted to pay the dog
another visit, and having no more bones to give him, the hungry brute
had seized poor Cuth instead.

As Edwin came up he could just distinguish a small figure on the other
side of the boundary vainly endeavouring to pass.  It must be Cuth, he
argued, because there was nobody else about; so he shouted to him to
stand still until he came up.  But instead of obeying, the small figure
darted forward once more, and a fearful yell told Edwin the dog had
seized him at last.

He sprang towards them, and grasping the dog’s collar with both hands,
exerted all his strength to pull him off.  Strong and savage as the
hairy hermit had become from the loneliness of his life, he had all a
dog’s grateful remembrance of a kindness, and recognizing the hand which
had flung him the welcome bone earlier in the day, he suffered Edwin to
choke him off without turning on him.

"Run!" cried Edwin to the boy he had delivered; "run beyond his reach
whilst I hold him."

He had no need to repeat his exhortation.  The shrieking boy fled like
the wind.  It was not Cuthbert; Edwin knew that by the fleetness of his
hare-like speed.  He did his best to soothe and coax the angry dog,
keeping his eye meanwhile on the retreating figure.

As the distance between them increased, Edwin let the dog go.  The
fugitive changed his course, and was circling round to regain the road.
Then Edwin started at right angles, and so got between him and the hut,
where Effie and Cuthbert were probably asleep.

"They will be so frightened," thought Edwin, "if he runs in for refuge.
For poor little Eff’s sake I must stop him."

So they came up face to face in the open ground beyond the black shadow
of the boundary, and eyed each other in the starlight.

"Whero!" exclaimed Edwin.

"Ah, you!" cried the Maori boy, holding out both hands.  "To meet you is
good."

"Come in with me and rest," continued Edwin. "Are you hurt?  It was
madness to try to pass the boundary dog in the dark.  He might have torn
you to pieces."

Out spoke the young savage, "I would have killed him first."

"No, no," interposed Edwin.  "He is set there as a sentinel to keep the
sheep from straying; he only did his duty."

"I," repeated Whero—"am I a sheep, to be made to fear?  All the goblins
in Lake Taupo should not turn me back to-night.  I heard men saying in
Tauranga streets the sacred three had shot forth the lightning that made
all faces pale last night and laid the tall trees low.  Are not they the
men from whom I spring who are sleeping the death-sleep in their bosom?
Last night they awakened; they are angry.  The thunder of their voices
is louder than the cannon of the pakeha.  Why are they calling?  I know
not; but I answer I am theirs.  I leaped out of the window of my school,
and ran as the water runs to the sea. No one could catch me, for I
thought of my father and mother; and I said in my heart, ’Will the anger
of the majestic ones fall upon the son of Hepé, or upon those who have
despoiled him?’"

Edwin drew his arm within his dusky friend’s. "It is not the dead men’s
bones which are buried on Tarawera but the hidden fires which have burst
from the mountain which have done the mischief.  Our house went down in
the shock of the earthquake, and we fled from it for our lives to the
sea."

"I took the coast-road," continued Whero, "for the coach was turned
back.  Trees lay everywhere in its path; and no man knows more than I
have told you."

Edwin trembled for Whero, for he remembered how the men had said the low
whares of the natives were completely buried.

"Wait with us," he entreated; "wait for the daylight."

As he began to describe the strangeness of the disaster which had
overwhelmed the district, the ready tears of the Maori race poured down
in torrents from Whero’s eyes.

Edwin led him into the hut; and finding Cuthbert and Effie fast asleep,
the two lowered their voices, and sitting side by side in the starlight,
went over again the startling story until voices grew dreamy, and Edwin
became suddenly aware that the eager listener reclining at his elbow was
lost in forgetfulness. Then he too laid down his head and gained a
respite from his cares and fears in the deep sweet sleep of healthy
boyhood.

Effie was the first to awaken.  A solitary sunbeam had made its way
through the tiny window, and was dancing along the opposite wall.  The
rest of the hut was in shadow.  She did not see Edwin with Whero
nestling by his side, for the long fern fronds rose in heaps around her;
but she heard a sound from the road, and called joyously to Cuthbert,—

"Get up; there is somebody coming."

Cuth tumbled to his feet; Edwin started upright. They were rushing to
the door, when Whero lifted a black hand and commanded silence.  His
quicker sense of hearing had already told him of men and horses near at
hand.

Effie eyed him in mute amazement.  "Look," she whispered at last,
pointing to Whero’s head, "there is a big boy-rat rustling in the
leaves."

"Hush! listen!" cried her brothers.

"Is it father?" she asked, in a flutter of fear and expectation.

The boys ran out, elate with a similar hope. But Edwin saw in a moment
there was only a party of shepherds returning for supplies.  They
scarcely waited to listen to his eager questions.

"Can’t stop," they shouted.  "But the worst is over.  All are going back
to their farms.  You will have your own people coming to look you up
before long.  You are safest where you are for the present."

Their words were intended to reassure the boys—Edwin was certain of
that; but their faces were so grave, they seemed to contradict the
comforting assertion that the worst was over.

"I must hear more," cried Edwin.  "I’ll run after them and ask if any
one has seen father."

The tired horses were walking slowly; one or two seemed to have fallen
lame, and all were covered with mud.

"We shall soon overtake them," thought Edwin; but Whero outstripped him
in the chase.  The shepherds looked back.  One amongst their number
halted, and shouted the inquiry, "What now?"

"Did you reach the lake in the hills?  How is it there?" burst forth
Whero.

"Up among the natives?" answered the shepherd, not unkindly.  "Nobody
knows.  We did not get beyond the road, and we found enough to do.  The
mud fell so thick every door and window was blocked in no time, and many
a roof fell in with the weight. Everything around the mountain lies
buried deep in mud."

The shriek, the howl in which poor Whero vented his alarm so startled
the shepherd’s horse it galloped off at a mad rate towards the mansion,
just as Edwin came up, pale and panting.  But Whero’s English was
scattered.  He could only reiterate the man’s last words, "Deep in mud;
buried, all buried deep in mud," and then he ran on in Maori.

Edwin and Cuthbert looked at each other in despair. It was impossible to
understand what he was evidently trying to explain.

"You wooden boys!" he exclaimed at last, as he turned away in disgust,
and raced off like a hare towards the mansion.

Cuthbert was wild to follow, when a large merino ram bounded out of a
group of palm trees and knocked him over.

"Go back to Effie," urged Edwin, "and I’ll watch by the roadside, for
somebody else may pass."

But Cuthbert could not find his way alone, and the brothers retraced
their steps.  As they drew near the hut, the loud barking of the
boundary dog was again heard.  Somebody might be coming by the
coast-road, somebody who could tell them more.

It was the boundary rider from the neighbouring run, waiting and
watching for the appearance of his neighbour, to ascertain if any
tidings had yet been received from the lonely mountain wilds.  All knew
now some dread catastrophe had overwhelmed the hills.  Confused rumours
and vague conjectures were flying through the district beyond the reach
of the muddy rain.  Earth-slips and fallen trees blocked every road.
The adventurous few who had made their way to the scene of the disaster
had not yet returned.

Far as his eye could see across the grassy sweep not a shepherd was
moving.  Feltham’s sheep were straying by hundreds in his master’s run.
Then the two boys came in sight, and arms were waved to attract
attention; and the burning anxiety on both sides found vent in the
question, "Any news from the hills?"

As Edwin poured forth the story of their flight, another horseman was
seen spurring across the open. It was a messenger Mr. Bowen had
despatched the day before, to inquire among the shepherd hermits in
Feltham’s outlying huts, who might, who must know more than their
seaside neighbours.  But the man had ridden on from hut to hut, all
alike empty and deserted.  About nightfall, at the extreme end of the
run, he came upon a man who had been struck down by the awful lightning,
who told a rambling tale of sudden flight before the strange storm.

"So," said the shepherd, "I rested my horse, and determined to ride
round to the central station, or go on from farm to farm, to find out
all I could; but a trackless swamp stretched before me.  Turning aside,
I fell in with a party of Feltham’s men, who had made their way by the
river-bank as far as the government road.  They were returning for a
cart to bring off one of their number, who had been knocked on the head
by a falling tree, trying to make his way through the bush."

"Who was it?" asked Edwin breathlessly, his brief colloquy with the
horsemen he had passed full in his mind.  They were the same men, but
not a word as to the accident to one of the relief-party had crossed
their lips.

The significance of their silence flashed upon him.

"It is father!" he exclaimed, "and they would not tell us."

"No, Edwin, no," interposed little Cuth, with wide-eyed consternation.
"Why do you say it is father?"

"Why, indeed," repeated Mr. Bowen’s man.  "I tell you it was a near
neighbour of the fordmaster’s, who had come across to his help before
the others got up.  For Hirpington and his people were all blocked in by
the weight of mud jamming up windows and doors, and were almost
suffocated; but they got them out and into the boat when the others
came.  One man rowed them off to the nearest place of refuge, and the
others went on to look for the roadmen in their solitary huts."

Every word the man let fall only deepened Edwin’s conviction.

He grasped Cuth’s hand.  Was this what Whero had tried to tell him?

The doubt, the fear, the suspense was unbearable. Their first impulse
was to run after the shepherds, to hear all they had to tell.  But the
Bowen men held them back; and whilst they questioned Edwin more closely,
Cuthbert sat down crying on the frosted grass. The boundary dog came up
and seated itself before him, making short barks for the bone that was
no longer to be had for the asking.  The noise he made led the men to
walk their horses nearer to the hut, when the debris of the wreck,
scattered about the sands, met their eyes.  That a coaster should have
gone down in the terrific storm was a casualty which the dwellers by the
sea-shore were well prepared to discover.  They kicked over the
half-buried boots and broken spars, looking for something which might
identify the unfortunate vessel, and they brought Edwin into court once
again, and questioned him closely.  He assured them the sailors were all
safe, and when they heard how they had borrowed his father’s horse and
cart to take them across to the central station, they only blamed him
for his stupidity in not having asked the captain’s name.

"Yes, it was stupid," Edwin owned, "but then I did not know what I was
doing."

The sound of their voices brought Effie to the door of the hut, and they
heard a little piping voice behind repeating, "Bowen, please sir; his
name was Bowen."

"What! the captain’s?" they cried.

"No, the schoolboy’s," she persisted, shrinking from the cold sea-breeze
blowing her hair into her eyes, and fluttering her scant blue skirt, and
banging at the door until it shut again, in spite of her utmost efforts
to keep it open.

Here was a discovery of far more importance in the estimation of Mr.
Bowen’s men than all the rest.

"If that is our young master Arthur," they said, "coming up for the
holidays, we must find him, let alone everything else.  We must be off
to the central station; and as for these children, better take them
along with us."

This was just what Edwin wanted.  After a reassuring word to Effie anent
the black boy-rat, he set himself to work piling up the wreckage, with
the care of one about to leave the place.

He had not forgotten Hal’s charge to stay where he left them.

"But better be lost than starved," said the men; and he agreed with
them.  Even Audrey had failed to send them food to that far-off hut.  It
was clear there was no one to bring it.

"You should have gone with the sailors," said the boundary rider.  "You
must go with us."

He wrapped the flap of his coat over Effie as Edwin lifted her on to his
knee, and his comrade called to Cuthbert, who was hoisted up behind him;
and so they set forth, Edwin walking in the rear.

As the horses trotted onwards across the fern-covered downs, the
distance between them steadily increased, for the boy was tired.  Once
or twice he flung himself down to rest, not much caring about losing
sight of his companions, as he knew the way.

Edwin had nearly reached the gate of the avenue, when he saw Whero
scampering over the grass on Beauty’s back.

There was a mutual shout of recognition; and Whero turned the horse’s
head, exclaiming,—

"Lee!  Boy!  Lee!  Wanderer Lee! have you lost your horse?  I went to
beg bread at the station, and he leaped over the stable-bar and followed
me.  You must give him back, as you said you would, for how can I go to
the hills without him?  I want him now."

"And so do I," answered Edwin; "I want to go back with the shepherds to
father."

"The men who spoke to us are gone.  I saw them start," returned Whero.
"But jump up behind me, and we will soon overtake them."

For one brief moment Edwin looked around him doubtfully.  But Erne and
Cuthbert were safe with Audrey by this time, and he was sure Mr. Bowen,
"the old identity," their kind-hearted travelling companion, would take
good care of all three as soon as he heard of their forlorn condition.
"His grandson will tell him how Cuth and I pulled him through the surf.
I had better ride back to the hills with Whero, and see if it is safe
for us to go home.  They may have taken father there already, and then I
know he will want me."  So Edwin reasoned as he sprang up behind the
Maori boy.  "And if I don’t go with him," he added, "we may lose our
horse, and then what would father say to that?"



                             *CHAPTER XI.*

                        *WIDESPREAD DESOLATION.*


As the boys rode onward a sharp and bracing wind blew in their faces.
The hoar still lay on the grass, and the many pools at which the sheep
were accustomed to drink were coated with ice.  But the mysterious
darkness of the preceding day was over, and the sun shone forth once
more to gild a desolated world.

Whero and Edwin were alike anxious to avoid meeting any of Mr. Feltham’s
shepherds who might have returned to their daily work, for fear they
should try to stop them.

Whero, with something of his father’s skill, shot forward with a
reckless disregard for the safety of Edwin’s neck.  But the party they
were pursuing were long out of sight.

As they reached the confines of the sheep-run, an unnatural grayness
overspread the landscape.  Yet on they went, encountering clouds of dust
with every breeze.  The blades of grass beneath the horse’s hoofs, the
leaves rustling on the boughs, were all alike loaded with it.  But the
cattle were still grazing, and despite the clouds of dust constantly
rising, the atmosphere above was clear; and the sunshine cheered their
spirits.

"We will not turn back," said Edwin.

They knew, by what the shepherds had told them, the force of the
eruption had expended itself; that danger was over.  When the boys
ascended higher ground and gained a wider view, they could distinguish
parties of men marching up in every direction, with their spades on
their shoulders.  For now the personal danger was diminished, the
anxiety to ascertain the fate of the unfortunate people living near the
sacred heights of Tarawera predominated.

Above the range of hills there was a dense bank of steam, which rose
like a wall of snowy white, extending for miles.  Whero shook with
terror at the sight, but Edwin urged him on.  They had missed the
shepherds, but they could soon overtake the men now in sight.  Yet the
longer they gazed at the huge mass of vapour, the more impenetrable it
seemed.  It was drifting slowly northwards, where it merged in another
cloud, black and restless, like smoke.  It was but the work of the
winds, stirring the vast deposit of dust covering hill and forest.

Changed as the face of the country appeared to be, Whero seemed able to
track his way with something of the unerring instinct of the hound.
Emboldened by Edwin’s steadier courage, on he went, the gray, drab tint
of the volcanic debris deepening around them at every step, until it lay
nine inches deep on the ground, covering up all trace of vegetation.
The poor cattle wandering in the fields were here absolutely without
food, and the blue waters of the liquid rivulets were changed to a muddy
brown, thick and repulsive.  Every footfall of the horse enveloped his
riders in so dense a cloud that eyes were stinging and voices choking,
until they began to exchange this dry deposit for the treacherous,
deadly mud which had preceded it.

This soon became so thick and sticky poor Beauty could scarcely drag his
legs out again, and their pace grew slower and slower.  The time was
going fast; they had scarcely gained a mile in an hour.  They dare not
turn aside to view the ruins of Edwin’s home. As they went deeper and
deeper into the bush, the blue mud lay fifteen inches thick on all
around.  The unrivalled beauty of the forest was gone.  The boys could
see nothing but a mass of dirt-laden tree trunks, bending and falling
beneath the weight of their burden.  Every leaf was stripped off, and
every branch was broken short.  It was a scene of desolation so intense
Whero set up a wild wail of lamentation.  All was taken from the Maori
when the wealth of the bush was gone.

They gained the road; the mud was two feet thick at least, and Beauty
sank knee-deep in the sulphurous, steaming slime.  How they got him out
again they hardly knew.  They backed him amongst the trees, seeking the
higher ground.  Fresh mud-holes had opened in unexpected places, and old
ones had enlarged to boiling pools, and wide areas of smouldering ashes
marked the site of the many fires the lightning had kindled.

Could the boys have extricated themselves just then, they might have
been tempted to turn back in sheer dismay.  They were forced from the
line which Whero had hitherto pursued with the directness which marks
the flight of the crow.  The trees were quivering with an earthquake
shock.  The hill was trembling visibly beneath their feet.  Guided by a
break in the trees, they made their way to the open. Once more the bank
of cloud was visible, drifting slowly to the north; but Whero’s eyes
were fastened on the distance, where he knew the lofty Tarawera reared
its threefold crest.

Had the mighty chieftains of renown arisen from their graves and built a
wall of luminous vapour around their sleeping-place?  He quailed in
abject terror at the sight of the clouds, like ramparts rising into the
air for thousands of feet, and veined with wavy lines that glowed and
shimmered with the reflection of the flames they held enshrined.

"If the arrows of their lightnings burst forth upon us," shrieked Whero,
"how shall such as we escape? Better seek sleep in the cold waters of
the river than fall before the torture of their presence in the boiling
mud and scorching flame."

Edwin, too, was staggered by the strangeness of the sight.  It was the
sense of unprecedented peril, the presence of dangers which no man could
fathom, which overwhelmed him.  But he had enough clear-sighted common
sense to perceive the first thing to be guarded against was the frantic
terror of the wilful boy who was guiding him; for Whero, in his
excitement, was urging Beauty to a breakneck speed.  But a change
awaited them in the open glade, for there the sun and wind had dried the
surface of the mud, and the clouds of dust settling down upon it had
formed a hard crust.

Edwin breathed more freely as Whero grew calmer. The horse seemed to
step along with ease at first; but his weight was too great.  The crust
gave way beneath him, and they were soon all floundering in a quagmire.
Edwin was flung backwards on a portion of the broken crust, which, like
a floating island, was drifting him across the fissure.  Whero clung
round the horse’s neck, clutching wildly at his mane.  Beauty, with the
intelligence of a fording-horse, pawed through the mud in quest of a
firmer foothold, and found it on the trunk of a buried tree.

On this vantage-ground, being lightened of half his load, he was
preparing for a spring.  At the first movement Whero went over his head,
and Beauty, finding himself his own master, changed his mind. Under any
other circumstances it would have been fun to Edwin to see him feeling
his way along his unseen bridge until he reached the roots of the tree,
which, with the many tons of earth clinging in them, rose at least ten
feet into the air, a solitary hillock around which the mud was
consolidating. Here he took his stand.  The boys could see him scraping
away the earth and nibbling at the young green shoots of budding fern
already forcing their way to the upper air.

Edwin tried to propel his floating island towards the point where Whero
was standing, like a heron, on one leg, trying to scrape the mud from
the other. He edged about this way and that, until at last the boys were
near enough to clasp hands.  When he felt the sinewy gripe of his dusky
friend, Edwin took the meditated leap, and broke into the mud by Whero’s
side.  He went down upon his hands and knees; but Whero grasped the
collar of his jacket, and kept him from sinking.  The crust in this
place was nearly a foot thick, and when Edwin regained his equilibrium
the two stepped lightly over it, walking like cats, holding each other’s
hands, and balancing themselves as if they were treading on ice, until
they reached a precipitous crag, on which it was impossible for the mud
to rest.  Whero began to climb the steep ascent, reaching down a hand to
drag up Edwin after him.  They gained a ledge several feet above the
lower ground, and here they paused to recover themselves and look around
for Beauty.  It was a pain, a grief to both the boys to abandon him to
his fate. But they dared not shout his name or attract his attention,
for fear he should attempt to cross the treacherous waste which lay
between them.

To dash the tears from their eyes, to speak as if they "would not care"
when their hearts felt bursting, was useless; and yet they did
it—risking their own necks in a mad desire to rush off where they could
no longer see him, and then returning for a last despairing glance,
until Whero had to own he had lost his way.

Another vast column of steam hung in mid air, and when it lifted they
could distinguish the gangs of men hard at work, marking the site of
more than one annihilated village.  They watched them from afar digging
away the mud in hopes of finding some of the inhabitants alive beneath
it.  A mill-sail turning in the wind just showed itself above the
blue-gray mass, and warned them that the depth of the deposit was
increasing steadily as they drew nearer and nearer to the sacred
mountains.  That moving sail told Whero where he was.  With one hand
shading his eyes he scanned the country round.

"The pakeha seeks out the pakeha, but no man turns to the Maori pah!" he
exclaimed, stretching his arms towards the wide waste of hateful blue,
and pointing to the foul remains of the crystal lake—the lake by which
he had been born.  But where was the ancient whare? where was his home?

Edwin thought only of crossing to the nearest group of men, throwing
back the mud, right and left, with a desperate energy.  He raised his
voice and tried to give the "coo" for help, in the fond hope it might
reach their ears.  Whero joined in the outcry, and they stood still,
shouting.  But the hollow echo was their sole reply.

They had wandered wide from the ford, for they were approaching the lake
from the opposite side.

They sat down on the rocky ledge, and looked at each other in silence.
A call from above startled them.  It was a shrill but far-off voice that
was not human.

Whero, with all a Maori’s belief in evil spirits, shook with terror, and
his howling shrieks filled the air and drowned the distant sound.

"Oh, hush!" entreated Edwin.  "Shut up! do, and let us listen."

They heard it plainly once again—the long-drawn Maori word "Hoké"
(Return, return), followed, in quicker accents, by Whero’s name.  He
looked up terror-stricken, surveying the rocky steep above their heads,
and gasped out, almost fainting,—

"You know not where you are.  This hill is tapu, and he who breaks tapu
is sure to die."

"Bosh!" retorted Edwin.  "If you would only speak English I should know
what you mean."

His arms went round the poor boy, who seemed ready to die, as many a
Maori has died before, of pure fright at the thought of breaking
tapu—that is, touching anything the chief has made sacred.  But Edwin
did not understand his dread.

"Don’t be such a coward," he expostulated; "I’ll stand by you."

"Hoké! hoké!" rang out the bird-like voice. "Whero, hoké!"

The lofty summit of the hill gave back the cry.

"Go up," urged Edwin.  "Some of your people may have taken refuge here.
Whatever you mean by tapu, it can’t scare me.  You daren’t go! then let
me try."

There was a rift in the scarped side of the hill, where human hands had
cut a foothold here and there, making the ascent possible.  Whero crept
along the edge and swung himself over.  Edwin crawled after him, and
climbed up with less difficulty than he expected.  "Hoké" was piped
above their heads, and Whero’s courage failed him once again.  He sank
upon a stone, with every nerve quivering.  The English boy climbed on,
and found himself at last upon a bit of table-land which from its height
seemed to have escaped the general devastation; for the ground was still
covered with the dried remains of summer vegetation.  He passed between
the tree-like ferns until he came upon a spot, bare and dry, without a
sign of a scrap of undergrowth of any kind or at any time.  It might
have been about three-quarters of an acre, and was completely arched
over by the inter-woven boughs of four or five gigantic trees, which
even the storm of mud could not penetrate.  Edwin gazed at their
majestic trunks, full sixty feet in circumference, ranged around him
like the columns of one of nature’s temples, with a kind of awe.

The ground on which he stood was hard and dusty, and yet he knew, by the
fern and the creeper through which he had reached it, this unusual
clearance was not the work of the eruption.  It looked as if it might
have been thus barren for ages.

The roots of the trees had grown out of the ground, and were twisted and
coiled over and over like a group of mighty serpents transfixed and
fossilized by ancient sorcery.  Among them lay the human relics of a
barbarous age.  The very stones on which he trod had once been fashioned
by the hand of man. There were axe and spear heads, knives and chisels,
embedded in the fibrous coils; and were they human skulls and bones
which lay there whitening by their side?  Edwin recoiled in horror.  A
bird flew down from the leafy dome, and alighted near him, renewing its
wailing cry, "Hoké, hoké."  Edwin saw by the crimson feathers of its
breast it was a species of macaw—an escaped pet from some of the buried
homes around him.

He called it a little nervously at first, as if it had dyed its plumage
in the blood of the murdered captives whose bones lay white at his feet.
The bird swooped round, beating the air with its outspread wings, and
darting forward as if it had half a mind to perch upon his outstretched
hand.

When were Edwin’s pockets ever empty?  He was feeling in them now for a
few dry crumbs wherewith to tempt the wailing bird.

It fluttered nearer at the welcome sight, for grain or insects were
nowhere to be found in that place of dearth.  It came at last, and
nestled, as it had evidently been taught to nestle by its unknown
master, close against Edwin’s cheek.  He grasped it by the wings, and
gently smoothed its ruffled feathers.

"Whero," he shouted, running back with it to the brow of the hill,
"Whero, it is a bird."

The sound of his own voice seemed to break the spell of horror which had
fallen over him, and he rushed away from serpent root and blighted bough
with which nature herself had written on the hateful spot, "Accursed."

He no longer wondered that the Maori boy refused to go with him.  The
slightest suspicion of impatience and contempt had vanished from his
tone when he spoke again.

"Look at it, Whero."

But Whero looked not at the bird, but at his friend.

"Did you go far?" he asked.

"Only to the top," answered Edwin.

"Not to the top," persisted Whero, lowering his voice and whispering
hoarsely.  "There is a spot up there, a fatal spot, where the grass
never grows and the air breathes death.  Ask me not for more.  Come
away."

He seized Edwin’s arm and drew him backwards. The desolate bird shook
itself free, and flew to him with a cry of joy.

"It is my kaka," he exclaimed, "my own dear redbreast, calling out,
’Return.’"

"Are you satisfied, Whero?" asked Edwin, in tones of heartfelt sympathy.
"Have we searched far enough?  Shall we go back and try to make our way
to the ford or across to the diggers?"

"Not yet," answered Whero; "I would see the spot where the great hot
stone used to be."

"It is buried," Edwin went on, "too deep in the mud for us to find, I’m
afraid."

Whero flung himself on the ground, exclaiming wildly, "All lost! all
gone! why don’t you tangi over me?"

"I would, if it would do you any good; but I don’t know how," said
Edwin, bluntly.  "We are not sure yet, Whero; your people may have
rushed away in the night as we did.  We will hope to the last."

In his despair Whero had let the kaka fly, and Edwin watched it wheeling
over the space between them and the lake, until it settled down in what
appeared to him to be a hole in the all-pervading mud.

"He has found something," cried Edwin, hurrying down the steep descent
in a wave of excitement. Whero shrieked after him to stop him; so once
again the boys rested awhile, and ate up the remainder of the bread in
Whero’s pockets.  It was Edwin’s last resource to revive the wild boy’s
failing courage, and it partially succeeded.

"Edwin," he said, "am I alone in the world—the last of the proud race
who owned the fastness in this steep hill-top and the hot stone by
yonder lake? Have I nothing left to me but this awful place where my
grim forefathers held their victory-feast?  Will you come and live with
me there?"

"In that ogre’s castle!" exclaimed Edwin, with a shudder.  "A moment ago
you dare not follow me to its threshold, and now—"

"I have been thinking," interrupted Whero, "I must not slight so strange
an omen as the kaka’s call.  Are the mighty dead using his voice to call
me back (for I should have fled the place); to remind me what I have now
become—a chief of the hills, who can make and unmake tapu as he pleases?
Let us go up and swear to be true to each other for ever and ever and
ever, as my forefathers used to swear on the eve of battle."

"I will stand by you," said Edwin, earnestly; "on the honour of an
Englishman I will.  I’ll go down to the lake with you.  Better see what
the kaka has found than climb the hill again.  Come."

He put his arm round Whero and began the dangerous descent.  A fallen
tree bridged their path. The tremor of an earthquake was beginning.
They flung themselves at once on their faces, for fear they should be
rolled over down the treacherous steep. As Edwin lay resting his arms
against the fallen tree, he scanned once more the break in the muddy
crust round which the kaka was still wheeling.

What did he see, or what did he fancy he could see at such a distance?
Was it a blackened fragment of pumice-stone the bird was hovering over
with its wailing cry, or was it the quaint old carving on the pointed
roof of Nga-Hepé’s whare?  Whero’s eye was fastened on the spot.  Could
he too see it?  They were afraid of losing their foothold, as the tree,
like everything else, was covered with the sticky slime, and crawled
along the trunk one after the other, Whero leading the way.  It landed
them on the top of the mud-heap, and they walked across the dried crust,
as they had been able to do on the other side.

The stillness of the desert was around them. Little life of any kind
seemed to have escaped the widespread destruction.  A lonely gull had
flown up with the morning breeze, and was pursuing the dead fish across
the lake, as they floated entangled in the drift of the wind-torn
foliage which strewed its surface.

On they walked, until Whero was satisfied that the dead level they were
crossing must cover the site of the Rota Pah.  Even the strong wall
which defended it was buried.  Yet it was a wall strong enough and high
enough to resist the attack of English assailants.

The wintry breezes sweeping over the lake had dried the mud more
thoroughly on this side of the hill.  The crust beneath their feet was
thicker and firmer.

The boys ran lightly across the intervening space. As Whero drew near to
the hole, the bird alighted on his shoulder, and putting its beak to his
ear, exchanged its painful cries for a soft, low, warbling note.

Edwin was sure now they saw the ridge of the high-peaked roof of
Nga-Hepé’s whare.



                             *CHAPTER XII.*

                          *EDWIN’S DISCOVERY.*


Edwin rubbed off the mud from the boss at the point of the gable, and
gazed upon the hideous face, which was neither bird’s nor man’s, but the
same, the very same, which had attracted his attention when he went with
Nga-Hepé to his home.  Edwin looked up.  The words upon his lips seemed
to die away in pity for the Maori boy.  At last he whispered huskily,
"Whero, there is something here."

"My home! my home!" was the passionate response, as Whero flung himself
across the ridge and hugged the wooden face as if it were a living
thing.

Edwin was thinking of all Mr. Bowen’s men had said: how the doors and
windows of the ford-house had been blocked by the mud with such rapidity
there was not time for Mr. Hirpington and his people to get away.  He
recalled all he had ever heard or read of the frightful colliery
accidents when the miners had been entombed for days, and of cottages
buried beneath an avalanche of snow.  A bitter and overwhelming feeling
of self-reproach rose in his heart. "Oh, why did we linger by the way
and follow the bird?  We ought to have hurried here at once.  O Whero, I
did not realize, I did not half understand. Help me," Edwin went on, for
Whero had begun to raise his howling dirge—"help me to make a hole
through the roof, for fear there should be anybody left inside."

"Have I come to the hot stone of my fathers to find it a place of
graves?" groaned Whero, pausing in his wail.

"Mr. Hirpington got away in his boat; your father may have taken to his
canoe," urged Edwin, clinging to hope to cheer his companion.

A bound, and Whero was up among the leafless boughs of the grand old
trees which had sheltered his home.

Were the canoes gone?  His eye roved along the reedy swamp for each
familiar mooring-place, but all was changed.  Mud-banks and shoals
surrounded the murky pool, and his landmarks were gone.  Yet more than
one canoe was embedded in the new-made morass, and he cried out in
despair.

Meanwhile Edwin was tugging at the bulrush thatch with all his might.
As the hole increased with his efforts, he caught the echo of a feeble
sigh.  He shouted to Whero, and tore away at the rushes with frantic
desperation.  A knock made answer.  The wintry day was darkening to its
close, and Edwin felt that the task was beyond him.  He could not unroof
the well-built whare, with no fork to help him and single-handed.

"We must get across the bush somehow, and fetch the men we saw at work
on the other side of the hill."

But nothing which Edwin could urge could induce Whero to leave the spot.
He sat on the ridge of the roof with the fidelity of a dog, howling and
wailing, only pausing to bury his head in the thatch to listen to the
faint and feeble sounds within.  Edwin watched him breathlessly for a
moment or two.  They had let in the air through the hole he had made;
but the brief New Zealand twilight would soon be over, and what more
could they do in the darkness of night? He sprang to his feet.  "I’m
off, Whero," he shouted. "Trust me, I’ll never rest until I get you
better help than mine."

He ran across the mud.  It was growing harder and harder in the keen
frosty air.  He knew the wind was blowing from the lake, so that if he
were careful to turn his back to the breeze, he could not lose his way.

Edwin had almost reached the hill, when he heard a voice "cooing" in the
distance.  It was not Whero’s. But the swift transition with which night
comes on in New Zealand shrouded him in sudden darkness; and whilst he
waited for the rising of the stars, he heard the shouts drawing nearer,
and gave the answering "coo" with all his might.  He could distinguish
the echo of a horse’s hoofs on the hardening ground. There was no doubt
about it now, the rider was coming fast.  He shouted with renewed
energy; and then the Southern Cross shone out in all its brilliancy, and
the horseman perceived the small dark figure waving both arms in the
air, and galloped towards him.

In another moment Edwin was grasping hands with his old friend the
coachman.

"What! you, my lad, up here?" exclaimed Ottley; and as Edwin answered,
the sight of the prancing horse that Ottley was riding shot a pain
through his heart.  It was so like his own beloved Beauty, abandoned on
his little islet in that sea of mud.

The tears came rushing into Edwin’s eyes, until he could see no more.
He tried to answer.  The horse had turned its head to listen with quick,
impatient movements, until it fairly rubbed its nose against Edwin’s
shoulder.

His arms went round its arching neck with a cry of delight.  It was his
own, his own, own Beauty.

"Yes," said Ottley, "I knew him again.  I supposed he had strayed, for I
came upon him standing shivering against such shelter as the roots of an
upturned tree could afford him.  He was not difficult to catch, and he
has brought me on.  I got my coach along some miles beyond Cambridge,
and found the way completely blocked, so I have left it there, and come
to give what help I could.  I can spare the time it would have taken me
to reach the end of my route.  I have been working with a party of
diggers at Te Wairoa.  Then I determined to come across and see how it
fared with my old friend at the ford, and now I find you wandering
alone.  Come, get up behind me.  It is not the first time you and I have
crossed these wilds together."

"Oh no," answered Edwin; "and I want you worse than even then.  You must
come with me at once to the help of the Maori chief.  We have found him
buried alive, with his whole family, beneath this awful mud—but I think
not yet quite dead.  I feel as if God had sent you here to save them."

Then Edwin poured out his story, and explained how he had encountered
Whero, and how they had come on together to find their fathers.

Whilst he was yet speaking Ottley alighted. "Take your horse, lad," he
said, "and ride as fast as you can; the mud will bear you now.  As soon
as you get to the brow of that hill, you will see the camp-fire of the
diggers in the distance.  Make that your guide.  You will find them by
that in the night when you could not have found your way in the daylight
and the dust.  Trust to Beauty to avoid the boiling jets; they are
opening everywhere.  You can give this message from me to the first
party of diggers you come to.  Tell them I want help badly, by the lake.
Be a brave lad, and remember that more lives than we can reckon are
depending on your speed."

Then Ottley took out his match-box, and sharing its contents with Edwin,
charged him, if he happened to lose his way or meet with any obstacle he
could not pass, to choose a dry tree and set it on fire.  "The blaze
will be seen for miles through the leafless forest, and will be sure to
bring you help," he added, as he put the boy on the horse and set off at
a swinging pace towards the buried whare, over which the kaka was still
hovering.

The emergency was so great, Edwin felt himself beyond all personal fear,
which might have daunted him at any other time had he been obliged to
ride alone in the night through those desolate wilds.  He patted
Beauty’s neck, and heartened himself up with the thought of the eternal
presence of the Unseen, ever ready, ever near to help and guide, giving
strength in weakness and light in darkness.  When will, desire, and
trust meet in one point, that point is faith, the strongest power within
the human breast. It upheld Edwin, worn and weary as he was, in that
lonely ride.  He had cleared the rising ground.  The camp-fire glimmered
in the distance; but Beauty, who had had neither food nor water since
the morning, began to flag.  Then Edwin remembered Ottley’s charge, and
looked about for a dry tree.

He found one smouldering still, in the midst of a scorched circle—the
dying remains of a bush fire, kindled by the lightning on the night of
the eruption.

He gathered up the charred branches fallen around it, and fanned the
glowing embers to a flame.  One of the incessant earthquake shocks
scattered his fire just as he had got it to burn.  He did his work over
again.  The blaze roared up into the midnight sky. He tied Beauty to a
tree at a little distance, and sat down before his fire, thankful for
the momentary rest.  He could have fallen asleep.  He was afraid that he
might do so unawares, for he felt he was succumbing to the genial
warmth.  The change was too great after being exposed for so many hours
to the chill of the night, and he fainted.

When Edwin came to himself he was lying under canvas.  A cup was held to
his lips by some unknown hand, and as he tasted its warm contents, voice
came back to him.  He asked feebly, "Where am I?  I can’t remember."

"Never mind then, my boy," said his rough nurse, in kindly tones which
were not altogether strange. "You are with those who will take care of
you to the last.  There, sleep, and forget your troubles."

"Sleep!" repeated Edwin, starting up.  "What business have I with sleep
when Mr. Ottley sent me with a message?"

"Ottley! who is Ottley?" asked another voice.

"The coachman fellow who helped us at Te Wairoa," answered the first
speaker.

Edwin roused himself, saying earnestly,—

"He wants you to go to his help.  He wants help badly by the lake amid
the hills."

"Where is that?" asked the men of each other.

"I’ll guide you," said Edwin.  "I’ll show you the way."

"Not you," they answered simultaneously.  "You just lie here and sleep
in safety.  Some of the other fellows will know.  That will be all
right."

As they laid him back on the blanket, Edwin saw in the dim, uncertain
light the rough sleeve of a blue jacket.

"What! surprised to meet us here, my boy?" said the voice, which he now
knew to be the captain’s. "Though our feet were sore with dragging over
the oyster-bed, we went back with Feltham’s shepherds. When we saw your
fire flash up against the night sky, says some of the fellows, ’That is
a signal,’ and off they went to see, and when they brought you into camp
I knew you in a moment."

Edwin grasped the horny hand held out to him with a smile.

"Where is my horse?" he asked.

"Tethered outside; but there is not a bit of food to give him—no, not a
single bite.  But lie still and sleep and eat yourself, and in a few
hours you will be all right."

When Edwin waked again it was daylight.  A piece of camping-out bread
and a cup of water stood beside him, but every man was gone.

He took the breakfast they had provided, and walked to the door of the
tent eating his bread. There was no one in sight but Beauty, looking
very wretched for want of food.  Edwin broke the crumb from his piece of
bread, and carried it to him.

"We will go shares, old fellow," he said, patting him, "and then you
will carry me to father.

    ’What must be, must;
    But you shall have crumb,
      If I have crust.’"


He looked about the tent, and found a small pail. The hiss and splash of
bubbling water guided him to the geyser.  He knew the men would not have
put up their tent unless there had been a spring at hand. He filled his
pail with the boiling water, and left it to cool for Beauty’s benefit.
Still he thought they could not be very far off, or they would not have
left their tent.  But he was afraid to waste time looking about him.
Some of the party had no doubt remained behind.  He longed to follow the
captain, and go back to Ottley and Whero, for when their work was over
by the lake he knew they would help him to find his father.  Edwin found
a charred stick where the men had made their camp fire.  He wrote with
it on a piece of bark:—

"Good-bye, and thanks to all kind friends.  I am going back to
Ottley.—EDWIN LEE."

Then he gave poor Beauty his water, and started off for the Rota Pah.
He was trusting to the horse’s sagacity.  "If I give him the rein," he
thought, "he is safe to take the road to his old home."

But no brief spell of sleep, with its blessed forgetfulness, had come to
Whero.  He had kept his lonely vigil on the tumbled thatch, chanting his
mournful dirge until the echoes rang.  There, with the starshine
overhead, and that strange cloud through which the fire still flashed
rising like a wall between him and the sacred hills, he felt himself
abandoned by earth and heaven.  But his despair had reached its climax.
The help which Edwin had gone to seek was nearer than he thought.  A
long, dark shadow was thrown across the star-lit ground, and Ottley
hastened towards him, exclaiming,—

"Stop that howling.  Be a man, and help me. We’ll soon see if there is
any one alive beneath that thatch."

He found himself a pole among the broken arms of the trees, and set to
work tearing away the thatch until the starlight waned, and the darkest
hour of all the night put a stop to his efforts.

But in many places the roof was stripped to its rafters, so that the
cold night breeze could enter freely.  Whero was gathering the heaps of
dusty rush which Ottley had flung off to make a fire.  The cheery flames
leaped upward, but were far too evanescent to do more than give a
glimpse into the interior of the whare.  But Ottley saw something in the
dark corner of the room like a white dress, fluttering in the admitted
gust.  Could it be the thin white sheet in which Kakiki had chosen to
disguise himself?

Brief as the blaze had been, it had served as a beacon to guide the
captain and his mates to the spot with their spades and bill-hooks.  To
chop away the beam, to build a more substantial fire with the splintered
wood, was easy now.  Whero leaped through the hole, and reappeared with
his mother in his arms. The captain swung himself down after him,
directed by Ottley to "that something white in the corner."  He dragged
it forward—a senseless burden.  A spade full of ice from above was
dashed into the unconscious face of the aged chieftain resting on his
shoulder.  As Kakiki Mahane opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was
the well-remembered face of Ottley looking down upon him, and the first
thing he heard was the heartfelt murmur which ran through the little
group above, "In time! thank God, in time!"



                            *CHAPTER XIII.*

                         *FEEDING THE HUNGRY.*


As Edwin crossed the desolated bush, the morning sun lit up the
marvellous cloud-banks with a flush of pink and gold that held him
spell-bound with the strangeness of the sight, until the dust-drift
before him began to tremble visibly with an earthquake shock.  He was
not wrong in his estimate of Beauty’s intelligence, but the weary horse
poked his head forward and walked languidly.  Edwin avoided the hill
where he had found the kaka.  He shrank from the gruesome spot even by
daylight.

He was trying to find a safe pathway to the lake, when he saw Ottley
walking rapidly towards him. He waved his arm to the boy to stop.  As
they drew near to each other, Edwin almost shuddered, expecting to hear
nothing but ill news.  He was bitterly reproaching himself for not
having asked the captain if he had heard anything of his father.

But Ottley shouted out "Well met" in a cheery tone, adding dryly, "I
hope you got some breakfast at the camp, for on this side of the bush it
is very hard to find.  We have been at it all night. Nga-Hepé has not
yet come round; but Marileha is saved, and her white-haired father too.
We have done what we could, with nothing to help us but the keen frosty
air and muddy water.  Now we must have food, for most of the villagers
from the Rota Pah had taken refuge with them.  The mud slipped off the
sloping roof of Nga-Hepé’s whare when half the huts in the pah lay
crushed beneath its weight.  I am going to the ford to see if Hirpington
has come back to his place.  He kept a full store-room at all times."

"O Mr. Ottley," exclaimed Edwin, "let me go too, for father may be with
him."

"No, he is not, my boy," returned Ottley, compassionately.  "He was the
first in the field, and did wonders.  He has been hurt by a falling
tree, but an old fellow they call Hal is taking care of him in one of
the tents.  I’ll show you where."

"Show me at once," entreated Edwin.  "I must go to father first,
wherever he is.  I have been such a very long while trying to find him.
Is it very far from here?"

"No," answered Ottley; "but you must wait until I can take you there.
You had better come with me now, and get some food for your father
whilst I can give it to you.  If Hirpington has not come back, we must
dig into the house and help ourselves, and reckon the pay when we meet."

"Please, Mr. Ottley," burst in Edwin, "tell me all about father.  Is he
much hurt?"

"My boy," exclaimed Ottley, "I know no more than you do; but if he is
roughing it, as our fellows do up there alone, better wait and see what
I can find."

Edwin felt the force of this reasoning, and said no more.  Ottley laid
his hand on Beauty’s rein, and walked beside him.

Suddenly Edwin looked up, exclaiming, "This is Sunday morning!"

"And a strange Sunday it is," answered Ottley, somewhat dreamily, as his
thoughts went back to Sundays long ago, bringing with them an echo of
the church-going bells, to which his ear had so long been a stranger.
"Sunday up country in New Zealand," he went on, "is little beside a
name, except to those who can hear the sermon of the stones and read the
books—"

"In the running brooks," added Edwin; "and good in everything.  But is
it so?"

"Nature’s voices have been speaking in tones to which all must listen,"
continued Ottley.  "Yet the Lord was not in the earthquake and the
storm, but in the still small voice."

His words were slow and grave, so unlike his usual tones Edwin listened
in silence, and in silence they approached the ford.  Even Beauty’s
footsteps were inaudible, for the mud by the river had not dried as fast
as elsewhere.

The boy’s heart was heavy with apprehension as he looked up, expecting
to see the familiar gate; but not one trace of post or gate remained.
The acacia tree in which the lamp used to hang was riven asunder. The
grassy mound and the gorse hedge were gone. The road had been raised by
the mud and dust to the level of the farm-yard wall.  Almost without
knowing they did so, they went straight over it, and found themselves
even with the window of the hay-loft. The roof of the house was crushed
in, and its doors and windows banked up with mud.  As they looked round
at it, Edwin pointed to the hole his father must have made when he
extricated his friend’s family.  A man was getting out of it at the
moment.  They stood quite still and watched him draw up a full sack
after him.

"There is some one before us on the same errand," said Edwin; but Ottley
hushed him without replying.

The man looked round as Edwin’s voice broke the profound stillness.
Ottley shouted to him, "Wait where you are, mate, and I will come to
your help."

The coachman knew if the man were on honest work intent he would gladly
accept his offer, for the sack was so full he could hardly move it.  But
he thought, if the fellow is a thief, he will try to get rid of me.
Ottley turned to Edwin, saying carelessly, with the air of one at home
in the place, "You will find some hay for your horse inside that window.
Give him a good feed, whilst I look round and see if all is safe."

He was speaking loud enough for the man to hear him.  He was trying to
make the fellow understand that he was there to protect Mr. Hirpington’s
property. He left Edwin to feed his horse, and walked quickly across the
heaps of mud Mr. Lee had shovelled away from the window nearest to the
water.

The man had let the sack drop, and now stood idly on the main beam,
which had not been displaced, as if he too were surveying the extent of
the mischief. Ottley leaped across and stood beside him, observing, "The
colonists are everywhere returning to their homes.  The general opinion
seems to be that the danger is over.  Hirpington may be expected any
minute.  I came over to help him."

The men stood looking at each other, and Edwin recognized the fellow on
the roof.  It was the rabbiter who had spoken to him in the dark when he
thought no one could hear him but his father.

"O Mr. Ottley," he called out, "it is one of the rabbiters who came to
our help."

"And are you the farmer’s son?" asked the man, descending from the roof
to speak to him.

Edwin was feeling very grateful to the rabbiters. Hal was nursing his
father, and he looked on them as friends.  So when the man approached
and asked him what he had come to the ford for he answered him freely,
explaining all that had happened since they parted.  Edwin ended his
account with the dismaying intelligence, "Mr. Ottley says there is no
food to be had—nothing to give the poor Maoris to eat—so we have come to
look if we can find any food among these ruins."

"No harm in that," returned the man quickly. "We are all on the same
errand."

These were Edwin’s own words, and he smiled, not knowing anything of
Ottley’s suspicion that the man was bent on plunder.  The rabbiter
walked off, and they saw no more of him.

Ottley continued his examination of the premises. The house to the
river-side was not greatly damaged. If the roof were repaired, Mr.
Hirpington could inhabit it again, and clear away the mud from the
garden side at his leisure.  But Ottley had no idea where his friend had
taken refuge.  He could send him no warning to return and see after his
property.  The window of the store-room looked to the river.  As he went
round to examine it, he found the old ford-horse wading about in the
water, cropping at the weeds which grew on its margin.  When Dunter let
him loose—for no power on earth could make him travel on land—he swam
down stream, and returned to his beloved ford, which he had crossed and
recrossed several times, for his own gratification.  Ottley called him
out of the water, and led him round to share the hay with Beauty.  He
was anxious about his own coach-horses, for whose benefit the store of
hay had been provided.  They were gone.  Probably Mr. Hirpington had
opened the stable-doors at the first shock of earthquake.  The hay was
his own, and he told Edwin to tie up a bundle and take it away with him
for Beauty.  He was glad to see the man had gone off quietly, and said
no more about him.  He saw no occasion to put Edwin on his guard, as he
was going to take him back to his father directly.  He had not much
faith in any boy’s discretion, and he thought he might talk about the
man to Hal.

Ottley knew well, when there were so many abandoned homes and so many
homeless wanderers, what was sure to follow.  "But," he said to himself,
"this state of things will not last many days; yet a lot of mischief may
be done, and how is the property to be protected?  Life must stand
first.  A good dog would guard the ruins, but Hirpington’s must all have
followed their master."

He crawled into the hay-loft and pulled out a tarpaulin, which, with
Edwin’s assistance, he spread over the broken roof, and fastened as
securely as he could, to keep out the weather and other depredators.
Then he cut away the lattice of the store-room window with his
pocket-knife, until he had cleared a space big enough for Edwin to slip
through.

"This feels like house-breaking," said the boy with a laugh, as his feet
found a resting-place on Mrs. Hirpington’s chopping-block, and he drew
in his head and stood upright.

"Ah! but it is not," returned Ottley gravely. "All this is accommodation
provided for my ’coach,’ and paid for.  It will be all right between me
and Hirpington.  If anybody talks of following in our steps, tell them
what I say.  Now hand me up that cheese, and the ham on the opposite
shelf, and look if there is a round of beef in salt.  There should be
bovril and tea and sugar somewhere.  We may want those for your father.
Now for the flour!"

Edwin undid the window from the inside, but he could not lift a sack of
flour.  He handed up a biscuit-tin, and pound after pound of coffee,
until Ottley began to think they had as much as they could carry away.
Like a careful housekeeper, Mrs. Hirpington kept the door of her
store-room locked, so they could not get through to the kitchen to find
the bacon. Where Mrs. Hirpington kept her bread was a puzzle. Then
Ottley remembered there was another pantry; but they could not get at
it.  He discovered two great baskets in the loft, used in the
fruit-gathering. He slung them over Beauty’s back, and filled them full.
Edwin got out of the window again, and shut it after him.  Mrs.
Hirpington’s pastry-board was converted into a temporary shutter.  But
as all Ottley’s fastenings had to be done on the outside, they could
also be undone if any one were so minded. Yet this consideration could
not weigh against the starving people by the lake.  Ottley pulled the
hay still in the loft close up to the window, which they left open, so
that the old forder could help himself. Then they attempted once again
to cross the bush. Poor Beauty was terribly annoyed by his panniers. He
conceived the wild idea of rolling over on the ground, to get rid of
them.  But Ottley promptly circumvented all such attempts.  As for the
load of hay on his back, Beauty was decidedly of opinion the best way to
free himself from that was to eat it up. Edwin contented him with an
occasional handful, and much patting and coaxing to soothe his ruffled
temper.

It was the middle of the day before they reached Nga-Hepé’s whare, which
the kindly band of excavators had so expeditiously unroofed.  When their
work was over in that direction, they had dug into the mud heaps which
marked the site of the Rota Pah, and many a poor Maori had been lifted
into light and air.

Some of the inhabitants of the village had rushed out at the first
alarm, and had escaped in their canoes; others had taken refuge in
Nga-Hepé’s strongly-built whare; but many had perished beneath their
falling roofs.

The captain and his mates had bent all their energies to the task.  They
had shovelled away the mud from the council-hall, which was also,
according to Maori custom, the sleeping-room of the tribe. Here they
found men, women, and children huddled together, for the stronger beam
of its roof had not yet given way under the weight of the mud.  They had
carried the survivors to the fire on the bank of the lake, and left them
in Whero’s care, to await Ottley’s return with the food.  There was
nothing more that the captain and his companions could do here.  But
other lives might yet be saved elsewhere; and they hurried back to the
help of the comrades they had abandoned when Ottley’s message reached
them.

The natives, swathed in their mats and blankets, were lying in groups on
the frozen mud, still gasping and groaning, suffering as much from
terror as from physical exhaustion.  But the rich men of the tribe, who
may always be known by some additional bit of European clothing, were
not among them.

The aged patriarch Kakiki, who had been among the first to rally, had
raised himself on his elbow, and was asking eager questions about them.

"Where is Pepepe?  Hopo-Hopo where?  Are there none to answer?" he
demanded, gazing at the dazed faces around him.  "Then will I tell you.
They are struck by the gods in their anger.  Who are the gods we
worship? who but the mighty ones of the tribe—men whose anger made the
brave tremble even here on earth.  Who then can hope to stand against
their anger in the dwelling of the gods? Is not Hepé the terrible one
foremost among them? Did ye at all appease him when ye sent the tana to
a son of his race?  See his vengeance on Pepepe! He lies dead in the
pah, he who proposed it.  Who shall carry up his bones to the sacred
mountain, that he may sleep with his fathers?  The gods will have none
of him, for has he not eaten up their child?  Ye who brought hunger to
this whare, in this place has hunger found you.  Ye left Nga-Hepé naught
but a roof to shelter him; he has naught but that shelter to give you
now.  As the lightning shrivels up the fern, so shame shall shrivel up
the tongue which asks of him the food of which ye have robbed him."

He ceased speaking as Ottley came in sight.  Whero was hidden among the
reeds, filling a pail he had exhumed with the muddy water from the lake.
Four or five of the other Maoris staggered to their feet and intercepted
the horse, clamouring and snatching at the food in its panniers.  They
had eaten nothing since the night of the eruption.  The supply Ottley
had brought looked meagre and poor amongst so many, and whilst he
promised every man a share, he steadily resisted all their attempts to
help themselves until he came up with the little cluster of women and
children cowering between the heaps of thatch, when a dozen hands were
quickly tearing out the contents of the baskets.

Old Konga seized a stick and tried to beat them off, while Marileha
stood behind her imploring her old friends to remember her famishing
babes.

Edwin was pushed down, but he scrambled up and ran to meet Whero, as
Kakiki Mahane rose slowly from the ground and laid a detaining hand upon
the horse’s mane.  "Who fights with starving men?" he exclaimed, and the
stick fell from Ronga’s hand in mute obedience.

"What is the matter?" asked Whero, as the boys stood face to face.
"There is trouble in your eyes, my brother—a trouble I do not share."

"Ottley has promised to take me on to father; the time is flying, and he
cannot get away," said Edwin.

Whero’s cheek was rubbed softly against his, a word was whispered
between them, and Whero went round to where his own father lay groaning
on the ground, leaving his pail behind him.  "Father, father, rouse
yourself," he entreated, "or the men of the pah will tear the kind
coachman to pieces!"

Edwin caught up the pail and threw away the muddy water which Whero had
taken such pains to reach, but no vexation at the sight brought the
slightest cloud to his dusky face.

"Throw me that tin of coffee," shouted Edwin to the resolute Ottley, who
was dividing the food so that every one should have a share, according
to his promise.

The desired tin came flying through the air.  Edwin emptied its contents
into his pail.  "Whoever wants coffee," he cried, "must fill this at the
geyser."

Nga-Hepé lifted his head from the ground where he had been lying,
apparently taking no notice, and said something to his wife.  She moved
slowly amidst the group until she reached her old friend the coachman.
"Go," she whispered.  "The boiling spring is choked by the mud.  The men
are scattering to find another.  Go before they return.  In their hearts
they love you not as we do.  Go!"

He put the remainder of his stores into her hands, sprang upon Beauty,
and caught up Edwin behind him.  They looked back to the old man and the
children, and waved their hands in farewell, taking nothing away with
them but the bovril and the tea in Edwin’s pocket.

They rode on in silence until they felt themselves beyond the reach of
the excited crowd.  Both were looking very grave when at last they
reached the tent where Mr. Lee was lying.  The lowering skies betokened
a change of weather.

"Rain," said Ottley, looking upwards; "but rain may free us from this
plague of dust."

Hal, who had heard their steps approaching, came out to meet them.
Whilst he was speaking to Ottley, Edwin slipped off the horse and ran
into the tent. He found his father lying on the ground, apparently
asleep.  He knelt down beside him and listened to his heavy breathing.
The dreamy eyes soon opened and fastened on his face.

"Don’t you know me, father?" asked Edwin, taking the hand which hung
down nervelessly in both of his.

"Where are the little ones?" asked Mr. Lee.

"Safe by this time with Mr. Bowen’s grandson, father," answered Edwin.
But the reply was hardly spoken when the dreamy eyelids closed, and Mr.
Lee was fast asleep again.

Edwin looked out of the door of the tent, where the men were still
talking.

"If it had not been for those surveying fellows," Hal was saying, "who
hurried up from the south with their camp, what should I have done?
They lent me this tent and gave me some bread."

"Where are they?" asked Edwin, glancing round. "I want to thank them
all."

"Why, lad," exclaimed Hal, "they are miles away from here now.  They say
the mud has fallen from Taheka to Wairoa.  Not your little bit of a
place, but a big village.  We’ve lots of Wairoas; it is a regular Maori
name."

"Yes," added Ottley, "they have gone on; for the mud has fallen heavy
for ten miles round the mountain—some declare it is a hundred feet deep
at Te Ariki—and there may be other lives to save even now."

"Ah, but you have done a bad day’s work, I fear," persisted the old
rabbiter.  "You have brought back to life a dangerous neighbour; which
may make it hardly safe for us to stay where we are.  His people will
follow the horse’s tracks, and come and eat up all my little hoard; and
how can an old man like me defend himself?  They would soon knock me
over, and what would become of poor Lee?  He will sleep himself right if
we can let him lie still where he is; but if these Maoris come
clamouring round us, it will be all over with him."

Edwin grew so white as he overheard this, Ottley urged him to go back to
his father and rest whilst they lit a fire and prepared the tea.

He gave Beauty his feed of hay, and gathering up the remainder he took
it in with him, to try to make his father a better bed than the old rug
on which he was lying.

It would be a bad day’s work indeed if it were to end as Hal predicted.
He trembled as he slipped the hay beneath his father’s head, wondering
to find him sleeping undisturbed in the midst of such calamities as
these.  "If he could only speak to me!" he groaned.

He had found at last one quiet Sunday hour, but how could he have knelt
down to pray that night if he had refused to help Whero?  His fears were
for his father, but he laid them down.  Had he to live this day over
again to-morrow he would do the same. His heart was at rest once more,
and he fell asleep.

He was wakened by Hal and Ottley coming inside the tent.  It was raining
steadily.  There was no such thing as keeping a fire alight in the open.
The tea had been hastily brewed.  It was none the better for that; but
such as it was, they were thankful for it.  They roused up Edwin to have
his share.  It was so dark now he could scarcely see the hand which held
the cup.  Hal spread the one or two remaining wraps he had, and prepared
for the night.  They all lay down for a few hours’ sleep.  Edwin was the
nearest to his father.

The two men were soon snoring, but Edwin was broad awake.  Mr. Lee moved
uneasily, and threw aside the blanket which covered him.  Edwin bent
over him in a moment.

"Is there anything I can do for you, father?" he said.

Mr. Lee was feeling about in the blanket.  "Where is my belt?" he asked.

Edwin did not say a word to rouse the other sleepers; but although it
was perfectly dark, he soon satisfied himself the belt was gone.

It was a wash-leather belt, in which Mr. Lee had quilted his money for
safety.  Edwin knew it well. He realized in a moment what a loss it
would be to his father if this were missing.  Hal had set Mr. Lee’s leg
with splints of bark; whilst he was doing this he might have taken off
the belt.  Perhaps it would be found in a corner of the tent when it was
light. Edwin felt he must mind what he said about it to Hal, who was
taking such care of his father.  He saw that more clearly than anything
else.

No; he would only tell Ottley, and with this decision he too fell
asleep.

He was so tired out, so worn, so weary, that he slept long and heavily.
When he roused it was broad daylight, and Ottley, whose time was up, had
departed. Hal had made a fire, and was preparing a breakfast of tea.  He
agreed to save the bovril Edwin had brought for his father alone.

They made a hole in the floor of the tent, not deep enough to break the
crust of the mud, and lined it with bark.  Here they kept the little
jar, for fear any of the Maoris should see it, if they came across to
beg for food.

Whilst the two were drinking their tea and watching the lowering clouds,
which betokened more rain, the other rabbiter whom Ottley had surprised
in the ford-house strolled out from among the leafless trees and invited
himself to a share.  Edwin and Hal, who knew he needed it as much as
they did, felt it would indeed be selfish to refuse him a breakfast.

As they sat round the fire Hal took counsel with his mate, and talked
over the difficulties of their position.

Ottley had promised to try to send them help to remove Mr. Lee to a
safer place.  But Hal, who was expecting one of those torrents of rain
which mark a New Zealand winter, feared they might be washed away before
that help arrived.

Lawford—as he called his mate—was of the same opinion, and offered, if
Edwin would accompany him, to go across to the ford-house and see if the
Hirpingtons had returned.

This seemed the most hopeful thought of all, and Edwin brightened as he
ran off to catch Beauty.

He had left his father comfortably pillowed in the hay, which he had
made to serve a double purpose, but he was now obliged to pull a bit
away for the horse’s breakfast.

As he started with Lawford, Hal called after them to be sure to wrench
off a shutter or a loose bit of board.  They must bring back something
on which poor Mr. Lee could be laid, to move him.

Beauty trotted off briskly.  After a while Lawford looked over his
shoulder at Edwin, who was riding behind him, and said shortly, "Now we
are safe, I have something to tell you."



                             *CHAPTER XIV.*

                           *RAIN AND FLOOD.*


Edwin felt a cold shiver run over him as Lawford made this announcement.

"Something to tell me!" he exclaimed.  "Oh, please speak out!"

"Do you see those spades?" replied Lawford, halting beside a tree,
against which two spades were leaning.  "Whero has sent them to you.  He
wants you to show me where he buried that bag of treasure. I am to dig
it up and take it to Nga-Hepé.  He means to use it now to buy food for
the people about him.  You know the place: it is between the two white
pines by the roadside.  As soon as Nga-Hepé has got his money, he will
row down the river in his canoe and bring it back with a load of bacon
and flour, and whatever he can get in the nearest township."

This seemed so natural to Edwin he never doubted it was true.  There
were the spades, just like the two he had seen in the whare.

"Oh yes," he answered, "I can find the place.  I saw the trees only
yesterday."

"Nga-Hepé sent you a charge," added Lawford, "to mind and keep a still
tongue; for if it gets air whilst he’s gone for the food, there will be
such a crowd waiting for the return of the canoe, it would be eaten up
at a single meal, and his own children would be starving again."

"I shall not speak," retorted Edwin.  "Nga-Hepé may safely trust me."

They reached the road at last, and made their way along it as before,
until they came to the two tall tapering trunks—not quite so easily
identified now they had lost their foliage.

"This is the spot!" cried Edwin, slipping off the horse, and receiving a
descent of mud upon his shoulders as he struck the dirt-laden tree.

Lawford gave him the spades he was carrying, and got down.  They tied
Beauty at a safe distance, and set to work.  It was comparatively easy
digging through the crust, but when they reached the soft mud beneath
it, as soon as they cleared a hole it filled again.

Their task seemed endless.  "I don’t believe we can get at the money,"
said Edwin, in despair.  "I must go on and see if Mr. Hirpington has
returned, for I want to get back to father."

"All right," answered Lawford.  "Leave me at the work.  A boy like you
soon tires.  Take your horse and ride down to the ford; but mind you do
not say anything about me."

"You need not fear that," repeated Edwin, as he extricated himself from
the slime-pit they had opened, and mounted Beauty.  It was not very far
to the ford, but he found it as he had left it—desolate and deserted. No
one had been near it since yesterday, when he visited it with Ottley.
The good old forder neighed a welcome, and came trotting up from the
river-bank to greet him.  He pulled out more hay to feed both horses,
and whilst they were eating he examined the house.

The river was swollen with last night’s rain.  It had risen to the top
of the boating-stairs.  Once more the house was standing in a muddy
swamp, from which the tall fuchsia trees looked down disconsolate on the
buried garden.  It was past anybody’s power to get at the store-room
window.  In short, the river had taken possession, and would effectually
keep out all other intruders.

Edwin chose himself a seat among the ruins, and turned out his pockets
in quest of a little bit of pipe-clay which once found a lodging amongst
their heterogeneous contents.  He wrote with the remaining corner, which
he was happy enough to find had not yet crumbled to dust, "Lee, senior,
waiting by lake, badly hurt, wants food and help."

He had fixed upon the shutter of the hay-loft window for his tablet, and
made his letters bold and big enough to strike the eye at a considerable
distance. He tried to make them look as if some man had written them,
thinking they would command more attention.  Then he hunted about for
the piece of loose board Hal had charged them to bring back.

Edwin wrenched it off from the front of the hayloft, and discovered a
heap of mangel-wurzel in the corner.  He snatched up one and began to
eat it, as if he were a sheep, and then wondered if he had done right.
But he felt sure Ottley would say yes.

He balanced the board on his head, but found it impossible to mount
Beauty, and equally difficult to make him follow a master with head-gear
of such an extraordinary size.  So he had to drive Beauty on before him,
and when he reached the white pines Lawford was gone.

"He ought to have waited for me," thought Edwin, indignantly.  "How can
I get across the bush with this board?  The men care nothing about me;
they drive me along or they leave me behind to follow as I can, just as
it happens.  It is too bad, a great deal too bad!"

Beauty heard the despairing tone, and turning softly round, tilted the
board backwards in spite of Edwin’s efforts to stop him.

There was no such thing as getting it into position again.  All Edwin
could do was to mark the spot and leave it lying on the ground.  Then he
jumped on Beauty and trotted off to the tent, for the rain which Hal had
predicted was beginning fast.  The sodden canvas flapped heavily in the
storm-wind.  The tent-poles were loosened in the softened mud, and
seemed ready to fall with every gust, as Edwin rode up disheartened and
weary, expecting to find Lawford had arrived before him.  No such thing.
Hal was worn out with waiting, and was very cross.

It is only the few who can stand through such days of repeated disaster
with patience and temper unexhausted.  There has been some schooling in
adversity before men attain to that.  Edwin was taking his lesson early
in life, but he had not learned it yet.

Hal would have it Edwin had lost himself, and called him a young fool
for not sticking close to his companion, who was no doubt looking for
him.

He started off in high dudgeon to "coo" for Lawford, and bring on the
board Edwin had left by the way.

Father and son were alone.  The rain pouring through the tent seemed to
rouse Mr. Lee to consciousness.

"I am hurt, Edwin," he said; "yet not so much as they think.  But is
there not any place of shelter near we can crawl into?  This rain will
do me more harm than the fall of the tree.  If this state of things
continues, we shall be washed away into the mud."

Edwin’s heart was aching sorely when Hal returned with the board.  Mr.
Lee looked up with eyes which told them plainly the clouded
understanding was regaining its power.

The old man saw it with pleasure, He knew even better than Mr. Lee that
the steady rain was changing the mud to swamp.  They must lose no time
in getting away, at least to firmer ground.

He was looking about him for the nearest hill. He had made his plan; but
he wanted Lawford’s help to carry it out.

"He will come back soon," said Edwin confidently, feeling pretty sure
Lawford had gone across to the lake to give Nga-Hepé his bag.

Hal was more puzzled than ever at his mate’s disappearance, and again he
wanted to know why the two had parted company.  Edwin was so downhearted
about his father, and so badgered by Hal’s questionings and upbraidings,
he knew not what to say or do.

Hal wrapped Mr. Lee in the blanket, and with Edwin’s assistance laid him
on the board.  It was a little less wet than the sodden ground.  He
bound him to it with the cord which had tied up Beauty’s hay.

"There," he said, as he pulled the last knot tight, "we can lift you now
without upsetting my splints. They are but a bungling affair, master;
but bad is the best with us."

Try as Edwin would he was not strong enough to lift the board from the
ground.  The old man saw it too, and pushed him aside impatiently.

"See what you have brought on us all," he said, or rather muttered.

"I could not help it," repeated Edwin bitterly; "but I don’t mind
anything you say to me, Hal, for you have stuck by father and cared for
him, when he would have died but for you.  Don’t despair; I’ll go and
look for Lawford."

"You!" returned Hal contemptuously; "you’ll lose yourself."

But Edwin, who thought he could guess where Lawford was to be found,
could not be turned from his purpose.

"Can’t I cross the bush once more, for father’s sake," he asked, "whilst
I have got my horse?" He called up Beauty and told him to go home. Edwin
found the whare by the lake deserted.  After his abrupt departure with
Ottley, Nga-Hepé had roused himself to assist his father-in-law in
making an equal distribution of the food; and then they gathered the men
around the fire and held a council.

With two such leaders as Nga-Hepé and Kakiki, they reached the wise
decision to seek a safer place beyond the anger of the gods, and build a
temporary kainga, or unwalled village, where food was to be obtained,
where the fern still curled above the ground, and the water gushed pure
from the spring.  The men of the pah yielded as they listened to the
eloquent words of the aged chief; and though they passed the night in
speechifying until the malcontents were overawed, the morning found them
hard at work digging out their canoes.

As Edwin approached the lake he saw the little fleet cautiously steering
its way through the mud-shoals and boulders towards the river.

The wind was moaning through the trees, and the unroofed whare was
filling with the rains.

While Edwin surveyed the desolate scene, he perceived a small canoe
coming swiftly towards his side of the lake.  He watched it run aground
amongst the bent and broken reeds, swaying hither and thither in the
stormy wind.  Suddenly he observed a small, slight figure wading
knee-deep through the sticky slime.  It was coming towards him.

A bird flew off from its shoulder, and the never-to-be-forgotten sound
of "Hoké" rang through the air.

"Whero, Whero!" shouted Edwin joyfully; and turning Beauty’s head he
went to meet him.

But Whero waved him back imperiously; for he knew the horse could find
no foothold in the quagmire he was crossing.  He was leaping now like a
frog, as Edwin averred; but there are no frogs in New Zealand, so Whero
could not understand the allusion as Edwin held out his hand to help him
on. Then the kaka, shaking the water from his dripping wings, flew
towards Edwin and settled on his wrist with a joyous cry of recognition.

"Take him," gasped Whero; "keep him as you have kept my Beauty.  The
ungrateful pigs were to kill him—to kill and eat my precious redbreast;
but he soared into the air at my call, and they could not catch him."

Edwin’s boyish sympathies were all ablaze for his outraged friend.  "Is
that their Maori gratitude," he exclaimed, "when it was your kaka which
guided me to the spot?"

"When I told them so," sobbed Whero, "they laughed, and said, ’We will
stick his feathers in our hair by way of remembrance.’  They shall not
have him or his feathers.  They shall eat me first.  I will take him
back to the hill which no man cares to climb.  I will live with dead
men’s bones and despise their tapu; but no man shall eat my kaka."

During the outpouring of Whero’s wrath, Edwin had small chance of
getting an answer to his anxious question.  "Are not those your people
rowing across the lake?  Is Lawford with them?  Did he bring the bag to
your father all right?"

Whero looked at him incredulously.  Edwin waved his hand, and the Maori
boy leaped up for once behind him.  He took the kaka from Edwin’s wrist
and hugged it fondly whilst he listened to his explanations about
Lawford.

"It was I," interposed Whero, "who was staying behind to dig up the bag
by the white pines.  Did my father think I would not go when I ran off
to call away my kaka?  Where could he meet this pakeha and I not know,
that he should trust him to look for his hoard?  as if any one beside me
or my mother could find it.  Kito!" (lies.)

But the pelting rain cut short his wonder, as Edwin urged everything
else must give way to the pressing necessity of finding some better
shelter for Mr. Lee.  It was useless to look for Lawford any longer.

"You will help me, Whero?" entreated Edwin earnestly, as they turned the
horse’s head towards the small brown tent.  It was lying flat, blown
down by the wind in their absence.  Hal had folded up the canvas, and
was pacing up and down in a very dismal fashion.

"Father," said Edwin, springing to the ground, "I can’t find Lawford;
but this Maori boy was going to a sheltered place high up in the hills.
Will you let us carry you there?"

"Anywhere, anywhere, out of this pond," replied Mr. Lee.

"Have at it then!" cried Whero, seizing hold of the board; but Hal
called out to them to stay a bit. By his direction they lifted Mr. Lee
on his board and laid it along the stout canvas.  Hal tied up the ends
with the tent ropes, so that they could carry Mr. Lee between them,
slung, as it were, in a hammock.  Hal supported his head, and the two
boys his feet.

It was a slow progression.  Whero led them round to another part of the
hill, where an ancient fissure in its rugged side offered a more gradual
ascent.  It was a stairway of nature’s making, between two walls of
rock.  Stones were lying about the foot, looking as if they might have
been hurled from above on the head of some reckless invader in the old
days of tribal violence.

Edwin had well named it an ogre’s castle.  It was a mountain fastness in
every sense, abandoned and decayed.  As they gained the summit, Edwin
could see how the hand of man had added to its natural strength.  Piles
of stones still guarded the stairway from above, narrowing it until two
could scarcely walk abreast, and they lay there still, a ready heap of
ammunition, piled by the warrior hands sleeping in Tarawera.

Whero sent his kaka on before him.  "See," he exclaimed to Edwin, "the
bird flies fearless over the blighted ground, and you came back to me
unharmed. I will conquer terror by your side, and take possession of my
own.  Who should live upon the hill of Hepé but his heir!  Am I not lord
and first-born?  Count off the moons quickly when I shall carry the
greenstone club, and make the name of Hepé famous among the tribes, as
my mother said.  This shall be my home, and my kaka shall live in it."

They were trampling through the dry brown fern on the hill-top, and here
Whero would willingly have bivouacked.  But Hal, who knew nothing of the
traditionary horrors which clung to the spot, pushed on to the shelter
within the colonnade.  No tent was needed here.  They laid their
helpless burden on the ground and stretched their cramped arms.  Whero’s
tall talk brought an odd twinkle of amusement into the corner of Hal’s
gray eye as he glanced around him humorously.  "It is my lord baron, as
we say in England, then," he answered, with a nod to Whero: "but it
looks like my barren lord up here."  Whero did not understand the old
man’s little joke, and Edwin busied himself with his father.

Whero descended the hill again and fetched up Beauty, who was as expert
a climber as his former owner, and neighed with delight when he found
himself once more amid the rustling fern.  Dry and withered as Edwin had
thought it, to Beauty it was associated with all the joys of early days,
when he trotted a graceful foal by his mother’s side.  Like Whero, he
was in his native element.

The proud boy rolled a big stone across the end of the path by which
they had climbed up, and then feeling himself secure, began to execute a
kind of war-dance.

"Stop your antics," said Hal, cowering against the gigantic trunk which
was sheltering Mr. Lee from the keen winds, "and tell us what that
means."  He pointed to a huge white thing towering high above his head,
with open beak and outstretched claw—a giant, wingless bird, its dry
bones rattling with every gust.

"It is a skeleton," said Edwin, walking nearer to it to take off the
creepy feeling it awakened.

"It is a moa," said Whero, continuing his dance—"the big old bird which
used to build among these hills until my forefathers ate him up.  They
had little to eat but the fern, the shark, and the moa, until the pakeha
came with his pigs and his sheep. There may be one alive in the heights
of Mount Cook, but we often find their skeletons in desolate places."
Then Whero went up close to the quivering bones, and cried out with
exultation when he discovered the hole in its breast through which the
spear of the Hepé had transfixed this ancient denizen of his fortress.

"It is an unked place," muttered Hal, "but dry to the feet."

He lit his pipe, and settled himself on the roots of the tree for a
smoke and a sleep.  He had been existing for so many days in the midst
of the stifling clouds of volcanic dust and the choking vapours from the
ground, through which chloride of iron gas was constantly escaping for a
space of fifty-six miles, that the purer air to which they had ascended
seemed like life, and robbed the place of its habitual gloom.

Even Whero, with the Maori’s reverential horror of a dead man’s bones,
coiled himself to sleep in the rustling fern by Beauty’s side, his dream
of future greatness undisturbed by the rattling bones of the moa, and
the still more startling debris which whitened amidst the gnarled and
twisted roots.

But it was not so with Edwin.  He sat beside his father, feeding him
with the undiluted bovril—for water failed them on the rocky height—and
wondering how long the slender store would last.  He refused himself the
smallest taste, and bore his hunger without complaint, hiding the little
jar with scrupulous care, for fear Whero should find it and be tempted
to eat up the remainder of its contents.  So he kept his silent vigil.
The storm-clouds cleared, and the grandeur of the view upon which he
gazed banished every other thought.  He could look down upon the veil of
mist which had hidden the sacred mountains, and Tarawera rose before him
in all its grandeur. He saw the awful rent which had opened in the side
of the central peak, and from which huge columns of smoke and steam were
fitfully ascending.  He watched the leaping tongues of flame dart up
like rockets to the midnight sky, once more ablaze with starshine, and a
feeling to which he could give no expression seemed to lift him beyond
the present,—"Man does not live by bread alone."



                             *CHAPTER XV.*

                          *WHO HAS BEEN HERE?*


"Edwin," said Mr. Lee, when he saw his son shivering beside him in the
gray of the wintry morning, "what is the matter with you? Have you had
enough to eat?"

"Not quite.  Well, you see, father, we have to do as we can," smiled
Edwin, in reply.

"Certainly; but where on earth have we got to?" resumed the sick man, as
he glanced upwards at the interlacing boughs.

"We are high up in the hills, father, in one of the old Maori
fastnesses, where the mud and the flood cannot reach us," answered
Edwin.

"And the children?" asked Mr. Lee.

"Are all safe by the sea," was the quick reply.

Mr. Lee’s ejaculations of thankfulness were an unspeakable comfort to
Edwin.

"Did not I hear the splash of oars last night?" asked his father.

"You might when Whero came.  He guided us here," said Edwin.

"Then," resumed his father, "try to persuade this Maori to row you in
his canoe down the river until you come to an English farm.  The
colonists are all so neighbourly and kind, they will sell or lend or
give you what we want most.  Make the Maori bring you back.  You must
pay him well; these Maoris will do nothing without good pay.  Remember
that; but there is plenty in the belt."  Mr. Lee ceased speaking. He was
almost lost again, and Edwin dare not remind him that the belt was gone.
But Edwin knew if Whero would do it at all, he would not want to be
paid.

"With this leg," sighed Mr. Lee slowly and dreamily, "I—am—a—fixture."

Sleep was stealing over him, and Edwin did not venture to reply.

A sympathetic drowsiness was visiting him also, but he was roused out of
it by seeing Hal busily engaged in trying to capture the kaka.

"It is a good, fat bird," whispered the old man; "they are first-rate
eating in a pie.  We can cook him as we did the duck I found; put him in
the boiling mud as the natives do!"

Up sprang Edwin to the rescue.  "No, Hal, no; you must not touch that
bird!"

He caught the old man’s arm, and scared the kaka off.  The frightened
bird soared upwards, and concealed itself in the overarching boughs.

Whero was awakened by its screams, and got up, shaking the dry moss from
his tangled shock of hair, and laughing.

Edwin called off attention from the kaka by detailing his father’s plan.

The breakfastless trio were of one mind.  It must be tried, as it
offered the surest hope of relief.  The river was so much safer than the
road.  Ottley might never have it in his power to send the promised
help. Some danger might have overwhelmed him also.  What was the use of
waiting for the growing of the grass, if a readier way presented itself?
Hal spread out the canvas of the tent to dry, and talked of putting it
up in the new location.  Legs and arms were wonderfully stiff from
keeping on wet clothes.  But the most pressing want was water.  Dry
ground and pure air were essential, but thirst was intolerable. They
took the cup by turns and went down to a spring which Whero pointed out.
Beauty had found for himself a little pond, which nature had scooped
out, and the recent rains had filled with greenish water which he did
not despise.

Whilst Hal was away, Edwin intimated to Whero that it was not very safe
to leave his kaka with him; for he feared the bird would be killed and
eaten as soon as they were gone, although he did not say so to his Maori
friend.

Whero’s eyes were ablaze with rage in a moment. "Let him touch it!" he
snorted rather than hissed. "I’ll meet him.  If it’s here on the hill,
I’ll hurl him over that precipice.  If—if—"  Edwin’s eye was fastened on
the boy with a steady gaze.  Whero raised his clinched hand, as if to
strike.  "Tell him," he went on—"tell him in our country here the mud is
ever boiling to destroy the Maori’s foes.  I’ll push him down the first
jet we pass."  He looked around him proudly, and kicked away the skull
beneath his foot, as if to remind his listener how in that very spot the
threats in which he had been indulging found plenty of precedent.

Edwin exerted all his self-command.  He would not suffer one angry or
one fearful word to pass his lips, although both anger and fear were
rising in his heart.  But the effort to keep himself as cool and quiet
as he could was rewarded.  Whero saw that he was not afraid; and the
uncontrollable passion of the young savage expended itself in vain
denunciations.

Edwin knew how the Maoris among themselves despise an outburst of
passion, and he tried to shame Whero, saying, "Is that the way your
warriors talk at their councils?  Ours are grave, and reason with each
other, until they find out the wisest course to take.  That is what I
want to do as soon as we have caught the kaka."

The catching of the macaw proved a safety-valve; and Whero went down to
the lake to get the canoe ready, with the bird on his wrist.

Edwin ran back to beg Hal to return to his father, as he and Whero were
hurrying off to the lake.  He had saved a dangerous quarrel, but it left
him very grave.  He was more and more afraid of what Whero might do in a
moment of rage.  "Oh, I am excessively glad, I am thankful," he thought,
"that I was not forced to leave him alone with Effie and Cuthbert!"  It
was well that Whero was rowing, for the exertion seemed to calm him.
Edwin escaped from the difficulty of renewing their conversation by
beginning to sing, and Whero, with all the Maori love of music, was
easily lured to listen as "Merry may the keel row" echoed from bank to
bank, and the splash of his paddle timed itself to the words of the
song.

Edwin assured him he was singing to keep the kaka quiet, which had
nestled on his folded arms, and was looking up in his face with evident
enjoyment. As they paddled on the old ford-horse stepped out into the
water to hear him, so they stopped the canoe and went ashore to pull him
out his hay.  He followed them for nearly half-a-mile, and they lost
sight of him at last as they rounded the bend in the river.  He was
fording his way across the huge bed of shingle, over which the yellow,
rattling, foaming torrent wandered at will.  The tiny canoe shot
forward, borne along without an effort by the force of the stream.  With
difficulty they turned its head to zigzag round a mighty boulder, hurled
from its mountain home by the recent convulsions.

Even now as the river came tearing down from the heights above, it was
bringing with it tons upon tons of silt and shingle and gravel.  The
roar of these stones, as they rolled over each other and crashed and
dashed in the bed of the flood, was louder than the angry surges on the
tempestuous shore when Edwin saw the coaster going down.  The swift
eddies and undertows thus created made rowing doubly dangerous, and
called forth Whero’s utmost skill.

But the signs of desolation on the river-banks were growing fainter.
Between the blackened tracts where the lightning had fired the fern
broken and storm-bent trees still lifted their leafless boughs, and
shook the blue dust which weighed them down into the eyes of the
travellers.

Here and there a few wild mountain sheep, which had strayed through the
broken fences of the run, were feeding up-wind to keep scent of danger.
But other sign of life there was none, until they sighted an
English-built boat painfully toiling along against the force of the
current.  They hailed it with a shout, and Edwin’s heart leaped with joy
as he distinguished Mr. Hirpington’s well-known tones in the heartiness
of the reply.  "Well met, boys.  Come with us."

They were soon alongside, comparing notes and answering inquiries.
Dunter, who plied the other oar, nodded significantly to Edwin.  He had
encountered Ottley, and received his warning as to the depredations
likely to ensue if the ford-house were left to itself much longer.  He
had started off to find the governor.

The good old forder was still scraping amongst the shingle, and when he
saw his master in the boat, he came plunging through the water to meet
him with such vehemence he almost caused an upset. But the stairs were
close at hand, and as Mr. Hirpington often declared, he and his old
horse had long ago turned amphibious.  They came out of the water side
by side, shaking themselves like Newfoundland dogs.  It was marvellous
to Mr. Hirpington to discover that his old favourite had taken no harm.

"He is a knowing old brute," said Dunter.  But when they saw the writing
on the shutter, they knew where he had found a friend.  The pipe-clay
was smeared by the rain, but the little that was legible "gave me a
prick," said Mr. Hirpington, "I cannot well stand."

A great deal of the mud had been washed on to Ottley’s tarpaulin, which
had been pushed aside by the fury of the storm, as Mr. Hirpington was
inclined to think.  But there were footprints on the bank of mud jamming
up doors and windows—recent footprints, impressed upon it since the
storm.  Dunter could trace them over the broken roof.  They were not
Edwin’s.  Dunter pointed to the impression just left by his boot as the
boy climbed up to them.  That was conclusive.

"If it were any poor fellow in search of food under circumstances like
these, I would not say a word," remarked Mr. Hirpington.

Dunter found a firmer footing for himself, and getting hold of the edge
of the sheet of iron, he forced it up, and with his master’s help
dislodged a half-ton weight of mud, which went down into the river with
a mighty splash.  To escape from the shower-bath, which deluged both
them and the roof, the three jumped down into the great farm kitchen.
There all was slime, and a sulphurous stench vitiated the atmosphere.

"We can’t breathe here," said Mr. Hirpington, seizing Edwin’s arm and
mounting him on the dining-table.

The muddy slush into which they had plunged was almost level with its
top.  The door into the bedroom was wrenched off, and lodged against it,
forming a kind of bridge over the mud.  But there was one thing which
the earthquake, the mud, and the storm could never have effected.  They
could not have filled the sacks lying on the other end of the long
tables. That could only have been done by human hands.

They were all three on the table now.  Mr. Hirpington untied the nearest
sack, and pushed his arm inside.

"Some of our good Christchurch blankets and my best coat," he muttered.
"I have no need to make them in a worse state with my muddy hands.
Leave them where they are for the present," he continued, turning to
Dunter, who began to empty out the contents of the other sacks.

Mr. Hirpington looked about for his gun.  It was in its old place, lying
across the boar’s tusks, fixed like pegs against the opposite wall.  It
was double-barrelled, and he knew he had left it loaded for the night as
usual.

"You must get that down, Dunter," he said, "and mount guard here, whilst
I take young Lee back to his father.  That must be the first concern.
When I return we must set to work in earnest—bail out this slush, mend
the roof over the bedroom to the river, where it is least damaged, and
live in it whilst we clear the rest.  Light and air are to be had there
still, for the windows on that side are clear.  More’s the pity we did
not stay there.  But when that awful explosion came, my wife and I
rushed into the kitchen, and so did most of the men.  I was tugging at
the outer door, which would not open, and ’cooing’ with all my might,
when the crash came, and I knew no more until I found myself in the
boat."

"I was a prisoner in my little den," put in Dunter; "and I kept up the
’coo’ till Mr. Lee came, for I could not open door or window though I
heard your groans."

"Yes, Lee must be our first care.  We owe our lives to him alone;
understand that, all of you.  He had us out before anybody else
arrived," Mr. Hirpington went on, as he heaved up the fallen door and
made a bridge with it from the table to the back of the substantial
sofa, over which his gun was lying. From such a mount he could reach it
easily.  Was there anything else they required?  He looked around him.
Dunter had got possession of a boat-hook, and was fishing among the
kettles and saucepans under the dresser.  The bacon, which had been
drying on the rack laid across the beams of the unceiled roof, had all
gone down into the mud; but the solid beams themselves had not given
way, only the ties were dislodged and broken, with the iron covering.
All the crockery on the shelves of course was smashed.  A flying dish
had struck Mrs. Hirpington on the head and laid her senseless before the
rain of mud began. But her husband had more to do now than to recount
the how and the why of their disaster.

He was hastily gathering together such things within reach as might be
most needed by the sufferer on the hills.  A kettle and a pan and a big
cooking-spoon, which Dunter had fished out, were tied up in the
Christchurch blanket dislodged from the sack, and slung across Mr.
Hirpington’s shoulder.  Dunter made his way into the bedroom, and pulled
out a couple of pillows.  Here, he asserted, some one must have been
before him; for muddy footsteps had left their mark on the top of the
chest of drawers and across the bed-quilt, and no mud had entered there
ere the Hirpingtons fled.  Yet muddy fingers had left their impress high
up on wardrobe-doors and on window-curtains, which had been drawn back
to admit the light.  Over this room the roof had not given way.  The
inference was clear—some one had entered it.

Mr. Hirpington glanced up from the bundle he was tying, and spoke aside
to Edwin: "You knew the man Ottley surprised in the house?"

"Yes," answered Edwin; "he was one of the rabbiters.  I thought he was
looking for food, as we were.  Mr. Ottley did not say anything to me
about his suspicions.  Somebody else may have got in since then, Mr.
Hirpington."

"Certainly, certainly," was the answer, and the three emerged again into
daylight.

As they stood upon the roof shaking and scraping the mud from each
other, Edwin looked round for Whero.

"Whoever filled these sacks," observed Mr. Hirpington, when he was alone
with Dunter, "means to come back and fetch them.  Be on the watch, for I
must leave you here alone."

Dunter was no stranger to the Maori boy, and invited him to share in the
good things he was unloading from the boat, thinking to secure himself a
companion.  Whilst he was talking of pork-pies and cheese, Edwin
suggested the loan of a spade and a pail.

"A’ right!" exclaimed Whero, with a nod of intelligence; "I’ll have
both."

"Ay, take all," laughed Edwin, as he ran down the boating-stairs after
Mr. Hirpington, who was impatient to be off.  Whero followed his friend
to the water’s edge to rub noses ere they parted.  The grimaces with
which Edwin received this final token of affection left Dunter shaking
with laughter.

"I go to dig by the white pines," said Whero.

"But you will come back to the hill of Hepé.  We shall have food enough
for us all," returned Edwin, pointing to the boat in which Mr.
Hirpington was already seated.



                             *CHAPTER XVI.*

                         *LOSS AND SUSPICION.*


The great hole which Lawford had made in the mud was not yet filled up.
He had walled the sides with broken branches, damming up the mud behind
him as he dug his way to the roots of the white pines.

Of course the mud was slowly oozing through these defences, and might
soon swallow them up.  But Whero felt he was just in time.  He dipped
out a pail or two from the bottom, and felt about for the original hole
in which he had hidden the bag.  His foot went into the hole unawares.
He was not long in satisfying himself that the treasure was gone.  It
was too heavy to float away.  However great the depth of mud might be
above, it should still be in the hole where he had hidden it.  He had
covered it over with bark.  The bark was there, but the bag was gone.

He went back to the ford.  Dunter was at work dipping out the slime from
the farm-house kitchen. The boy did not wait to speak to him, but pushed
off his canoe and paddled away down the river to find his mother.
Dunter had promised to take care of his kaka during his absence.  Well,
if that were prolonged, he would take care of it all the same, so Whero
reasoned, as he was carried along by the rapid current.

He was watching for the first sign of the Maori encampment, which he
knew he should find beyond the vast tract which had been desolated by
the rain of mud.  The canoe shot onward, until the first leaf became
visible on the evergreens, and the fish were once more leaping in the
water.  The terraced banks of the river were broken here and there with
deep gulches and sunken canyons.  It was in one of these retreats that
he was expecting to find the Maori tents.

The river was rushing deep and swift as before, but its margin was now
studded with reeds and ti trees. The crimson heads of the great
water-hens were poking out of their midst to stare at him, and flocks of
ducks rose noisily from their reedy beds.

Whero began to sing one of the wild and plaintive native melodies.  But
his voice was almost drowned by the roar of the whirling stones, and his
passage was continually impeded by the masses of drift-wood—great arms
of trees, and uprooted trunks—striking against the boulders and
threatening him with an upset.

Yet he still sang on, until a low, sweet echo answered him from the
bank, and he saw his mother gathering fern by the water’s edge.

The canoe was quickly run aground, and he leaped ashore to join her.
Then he saw that his grandfather Kakiki Mahane was sitting on a stone
not far off. Whero walked up a little ashamed of his behaviour; but for
him Marileha had no reproaches, for he was the bitter-sweet which
changed her joy to pain and her pain to joy continually.

She hailed his return, for her heart was aching for her baby, which
could not survive their terrible entombment.  She pointed to the bend in
the ravine, where one or two small whares had been hastily built. Two
uprights in the ground, with a pole across, had been walled with mats,
roughly and quickly woven from flax-leaf and bulrush.  Every Maori had
been hard at work, and work could get them all they wanted here, except
the hot stone and the geyser-bath.

With her own hands Marileha had cooked them what she called a good
square dinner.

But the ideal life of the Maori is one of perfect laziness, and as a
Maori lady Marileha had enjoyed this from her birth.  Her old father was
trying to comfort her.  She should go back with him to her own people.
She should not stay where the fish had to be caught, and the wild duck
snared, and the wild pig hunted, and then brought to her to kindle a
fire to cook them, when he was a rich man, who could live like his
kinsmen at Hawke’s Bay, hire a grand house of the pakeha, and pay white
servants to do everything for them.

The prospect was an alluring one, but Marileha did not believe anything
would induce Nga-Hepé to abandon his native hills even for a season.

"Have I not sat in the councils of the pakeha?" argued Kakiki.  "Do I
not see our people giving place to theirs?  The very rat they have
brought over seas drives away our kiore [the native rat], and we see him
no more.  Have I not ever said, Let your young lord and first-born go
amongst them, that he may learn their secret and hold his own in manhood
against them?"

"I have learned it," put in Whero: "it is ’work.’  Was it for this,
mother, you sent a pakeha to dig up the bag we buried by the white
pines?"

Marileha hushed her son as she glanced nervously around, for none of her
Maori companions must know of the existence of that bag.

"Foolish boy," she said softly, "what pakeha had we to send?  The bag is
safe where we hid it; no one but you or I could find it."

"Then it is stolen," exclaimed Whero, "for the bag is gone."

They questioned him closely.  How had he discovered that the bag was
gone?  As they walked away to find Nga-Hepé, the old patriarch laid his
hand on his daughter’s arm, remarking in a low aside. which was not
intended for Whero’s ear, as he did not wish to excite his indignation,—

"It is the farmer’s son who has had it; no one else knew of it.  Our own
people cannot help in this matter; we must go to the pakeha chiefs."

In the meantime, whilst Whero was disclosing the loss of the buried
treasure, Edwin was marching over the waste by Mr. Hirpington’s side.
The heavy load they had to carry when they left the boat made them very
slow; but on they toiled to the foot of the hill, when Mr. Hirpington’s
ready "coo" brought Hal to their assistance.

He looked very white and trembling—a mere ghost of his former self.  Mr.
Hirpington could hardly recognize him.  He was down in heart as well,
for his pipe, his sole remaining solace, had burned out just
half-an-hour before he heard the welcome "coo" at the foot of the hill.

For a moment the two men stood regarding each other as men regard the
survivals of a dread catastrophe.

"Lord bless you, sir," said Hal.  "I never thought to see you again,
looking so hale and hearty."

"Don’t talk about looks, Hal.  Why, you are but a walking skeleton!"
exclaimed Mr. Hirpington. "But cheer up," he added,—"the worst is over;
we shall pull ourselves together now.  Lend a hand with this basket up
the steep."

The climb before them was something formidable to the genial speaker.

Edwin was already lost to view beneath the overhanging wall of rock
which shadowed the cleft. They had trodden down a pathway through the
fern; but the ascent was blocked by Beauty, who seemed resolute to upset
the load on Edwin’s head, as he had upset the board in the bush.  In
vain did Edwin apostrophize him, and thunder out a succession of "whoas"
and "backs," and "Stand you still, you stupid, or you will roll me
over."  It was all of no use.  He was obliged to shunt his burden on to
the heap of stones; and Beauty, with a neigh of delight, came a little
closer, so that he too might rub his nose against Edwin’s cheek.

"Don’t you mean to let me pass, you silly old fellow?  Well, then, I
won’t turn baker’s boy any more; and what I want to carry I’ll carry on
my back, as you do.  There!"

But Edwin at last seized Beauty by the forelock, and forcing him to one
side, squeezed by.

"Edwin!" called his father, and a feeble hand was lifted to beckon him
nearer, "what are you bringing?"

"Pillows, father, pillows," he cried, as he stumbled over the twisted
roots, half blinded by the sombre gloom beneath those giant trees where
his father was lying.  Edwin slipped out of his sandwich with exceeding
celerity.  A pillow was under the poor aching head in another minute,
and a second propping the bruised shoulders, and Edwin stood by his
father, smiling with the over-brimming joy of a grand success.

Then he denuded himself of the blanket, which he had been wearing like a
Highlander’s plaid, and wrapped it over the poor unfortunate, cramping
in the bleak mountain air with cold and hunger.

"Father," he went on cheerily, "the worst is over. Mr. Hirpington is
here.  He has come to see after you."

"Too late, too late," moaned Mr. Lee.  "I fear I am done for.  The
activity of my days is over, Edwin; and what remains to us?"

"We don’t know yet, father," answered the boy, gravely.  "I’m young and
ever so strong, and if I’ve only got you to tell me what to do, I can do
a lot."

"But, Edwin, have you seen anything of my belt?" asked Mr. Lee,
collecting his wandering thoughts.

Edwin shook his head.

"What has become of it?" repeated the sick man nervously, as Mr.
Hirpington appeared above the stones.  Edwin went to meet him, and to
gather together the remainder of his load, which he had left for Beauty
to inspect at will.

"A horse up here!" exclaimed Mr. Hirpington. "He must have the feet and
knees of a goat."

"I think he has," answered Edwin, backing his favourite to a respectful
distance as Mr. Hirpington stepped on to the top of the hill, panting
and puffing from the toilsomeness of the long ascent.

He looked around him bewildered, and followed Edwin into the dim
recesses beyond the gloomy colonnade of trees, whose hoary age was
beyond their reckoning.

"I am the most miserable of men!" he exclaimed, as he stooped over his
prostrate friend, and clasped the hand which had saved him at such a
cost.  "How do I find you?"

"Alive," answered Mr. Lee, "and likely to live, a burden—"

"No, no, father," interposed Edwin.

"Don’t say that!" exclaimed Mr. Hirpington, winking hard to get rid of a
certain moisture about the eyelids very unusual to him.  "To think how I
have been living in clover all these days whilst you were lying here, it
unmans me.  But where on earth are you bivouacking? in a charnel-house?"
He ceased abruptly with a shudder, as he discovered it was a human skull
he was crushing beneath the heel of his boot.

Hal was busy with the basket, and Edwin ran off to his assistance.

"Sit down, Hal, and begin to eat," urged Edwin. "Now I have come back
let me see after father."

But the sight of the longed-for food was too much for the old man.  He
began to cry like a child.

If the first glance into the full basket had been more than poor Hal
could bear, the first taste was a sight from which Mr. Hirpington had to
turn away. The one great object before him and Edwin was to get the two
to eat, for the starving men seemed at first to refuse the food they
were craving for; in fact they could hardly bear it.  Mr. Lee put back
the cold meat and bread, unable to swallow more; so Edwin at once turned
stoker, and lit up a jolly fire of sticks and drying roots.

"We must get them something hot," said Mr. Hirpington, opening one of
the many tins of soup which he had brought with him.  Soon the savoury
contents of the steaming kettle brought back a shadow of English
comfort.

Mr. Hirpington had passed many a night of camping out before he settled
down at the ford, and he set to work like an old hand.  The canvas of
the tent was stretched from tree to tree and well pegged down, so as to
form a screen on the windward side.  The dry moss and still drier fern
that could be collected about the brow of the hill where Beauty was
ranging, were brought in and strewed over the gnarled and twisted roots,
until they gained a warm and comparatively level floor, with an
excrescence here and there which served them for a seat.  The basket was
hung up to preserve its remaining contents from the inspection of
centipedes and crawling things, for which Edwin as yet had no
nomenclature.

Then the men pulled up their collars to their ears, set their backs
against the wind, lit a well-filled pipe, and laid their plans.  The
transfer of Mr. Hirpington’s tobacco-pouch to Hal’s pocket had brought
back a gleam of sunshine—wintry sunshine, it must be confessed; but who
could look for more?  Mr. Lee, too, was undeniably better.  The shake
his brains had received was going over.  He was once more able to listen
and understand.

"I have telegraphed to Auckland," explained Mr. Hirpington.  "I shall
have my store of corrugated iron by the next coaster, and Middleton’s
barge will bring it up to the ford.  Thank God for our waterways, there
is no stoppage there!  I have always kept to the river.  But, old
friend, before we mend up my own house we must get a roof over your
head. There is not a man under me who will not be eager to help us at
that; and we cannot do much to the road until the mud hardens
thoroughly, so for once there will be help to be had.  We are booked for
the night up here; but to-morrow I propose to take your boy with me, and
go over to your place and see the state it is in.  A wooden house stands
a deal of earthquaking.  Edwin thinks it was the chimney came down.  We
must put you up an iron one.  You have plenty of timber ready felled to
mend the roof, and rushes are growing to hand.  It is only the work that
has to be done, and we all know how to work in New Zealand."

"Oh ay," chimed in old Hal; "most on us sartinly do, and this little
chap ain’t no foreigner there."

He was already nodding.  The comforting influences of the soup and the
pipe were inviting the return of "tired nature’s sweet restorer."
By-and-by he slipped from his seat upon the soft moss, and was lost to
every trouble in balmy sleep.  Edwin covered him up, feeling rich in the
possession of a blanket for every one of the party.

The wintry twilight was gathering round them, cold and chill.  The
skeleton of the bird monster rattled and shook, and gleamed in spectral
whiteness between the blackness of the shadows flung by the interlacing
boughs.  A kiore working amongst the dry bones seemed to impart a
semblance of life to them which effectually banished sleep from Mr.
Hirpington, who persuaded Edwin to come closer to him, declaring the boy
looked frightened; and well he might, for who but a clod could lay his
head on such a floor?

Assured at last that Hal was lost to all outward perception, Mr. Lee
whispered the story of his loss. The belt was gone—taken from him whilst
he was unconscious.  No doubt about that.  Mr. Hirpington described the
state in which he found his house—the three sackfuls ready to be carried
off.  Edwin thought he had better tell his father now of the digging up
of Whero’s treasure.

"There is a thief amongst us," said Mr. Hirpington, "and suspicion
points to the gang of rabbiters."

"No, not to Hal," interposed Mr. Lee; "not to all. We may yet find the
belt."

He was growing excited and restless.  He had talked too much.

"I must have this matter over with Dunter," was Mr. Hirpington’s
conclusion, when he saw how unable poor Mr. Lee was to bear any
lengthened conversation. Before they settled to sleep he charged Edwin
to be very careful, and not let any alteration in his manner put the old
man on his guard.

The three arose in the gray of the morning with renewed energy.  To take
Beauty to water, to light a fire and prepare a breakfast in the solitary
fastness, left scant time for any further discussion.  But second
thoughts told Mr. Lee that in such strange circumstances loss was almost
inevitable.  If his belt had been taken off when his leg was set, it
might have been dropped in the all-surrounding mud and never missed.

"True, true," answered Mr. Hirpington, and leaving Mr. Lee to his son’s
care, he strolled across to the fire, where Hal was brewing the morning
coffee, and began to question him about the accident—how and where the
tree fell.  But no new light was thrown upon the loss.  It was hopeless
to dig about in the mud, supposing Mr. Lee’s last surmise to be correct.
He determined to ride Beauty to the ford and look round the scene of the
disaster with Edwin.

The day was well up when he stepped across the sunken fence which used
to guard his own domain, and found Dunter fixing a pail at the end of
the boat-hook to facilitate the bailing out of the mud.

The Maori boy had deserted him, he said, and a fellow single-handed
could do little good at work like his.  No one else had been near the
place.  He had kept his watch-fire blazing all night as the best scare
to depredators.  In Dunter’s opinion prevention was the only cure.  With
so many men wandering homeless about the hills, and with so many
relief-parties marching up in every direction, there was sure to be
plenty of pilfering, but who could track it home?

The hope of discovering the belt appeared to grow less and less.

"What shall we do without the money?" lamented Edwin, as he continued
his journey with his father’s friend.  "Trouble seems to follow
trouble."

"It does," said Mr. Hirpington; "for one grows out of another.  But you
have not got it all, my boy; for my land, which would have sold for a
pound an acre last Saturday week, is not worth a penny with all this
depth of volcanic mud upon it.  Nothing can grow.  But when we get to
your father’s, where the deposit is only a few inches deep, we shall
find the land immensely improved.  It will have doubled its value."

As they drew nearer to the little valley the road grew better.  The mud
had dried, and the fern beneath it was already forcing its way through
the crust.  The once sparkling rivulet was reduced to a muddy ditch,
choked with fallen trees and stones, which the constant earthquaking had
shaken down from the sides of the valley.

Beauty took his way to the familiar gate, and neighed.  Edwin jumped
down and opened it.  All was hopeful here, as Mr. Hirpington had
predicted. The ground might have been raised a foot, but the house had
not been changed into a cellar.  The daylight shone through the windows,
broken as they were.  The place was deluged, not entombed.

"You might return to-morrow," said Mr. Hirpington. "This end of the
house is uninjured."

The chimney was down, it was true, the sleeping-rooms were demolished,
but the workshop and storeroom were habitable.  Whilst Mr. Hirpington
considered the roof, Edwin ran round and peeped in at the broken
windows.  Dirt and confusion reigned everywhere, but no trace as yet of
unwelcome visitors. A feeble mew attracted his attention, and Effie’s
kitten popped up its little head from the fallen cupboard in which it
had evidently been exploring.  It was fat and well.  An unroofed pantry
had been its hunting-ground; not the little room at the other end of the
veranda, but a small latticed place which Mr. Lee had made to keep the
uncooked meat in.  The leg of a wild pig and a brace of kukas or wild
pigeons, about twice the size of their English namesake, were still
hanging on the hooks where Audrey had left them.

The leg of pork had been nibbled all round, and the heads were torn from
the pigeons.

"Lucky Miss Kitty," said Edwin.  "We thought you had got the freedom of
the bush, and here you’ve been living in luxury whilst the rest of the
world was starving.  Come; you must go shares, you darling!"

It clawed up the wall, and almost leaped into his arms, to be covered
with kisses and deafened with promises which were shouted out in the joy
of his heart, until Mr. Hirpington began to wonder what had happened.

"My boy, have you gone quite crazy?" he exclaimed.  "Why don’t you look
after your horse? you will lose him!"

Edwin looked round, and saw Beauty careering up the side of the valley.
He shut the kitten carefully into the workshop.  Mr. Hirpington had just
got the other door open, and came out to assist in recalling Beauty to
his duty.

Edwin started off after his horse; but he had not gone far when he was
aware of another call, to which his Beauty paid more heed than he seemed
disposed to show to Edwin’s reiterated commands to come back.

The call was in Maori, and in a few minutes Nga-Hepé himself emerged
from the bush and seized the horse by the forelock.



                            *CHAPTER XVII.*

                           *EDWIN IN DANGER.*


When Mr. Hirpington came up he found his little English friend in
earnest argument with the Maori warrior.

Nga-Hepé’s looks were excited and wild.  He was carrying the famous
greenstone club, which he brandished every now and then in the heat of
the conversation.

"Come with me," he was saying peremptorily—"come with me and find the
man."

"I cannot," answered Edwin, toughly.  "I cannot leave my father.  Take
the horse, if you will, and follow the tracks in the mud.  I will show
you which is Lawford’s footprint."

"Show me the man, and I will believe you," retorted Nga-Hepé, swinging
himself lightly upon Beauty’s back as he spoke.

Edwin glanced round at Mr. Hirpington.  It was a look which said, "Stand
by me."  The appeal was mute, and he answered it neither by word nor
sign. Edwin thought despairingly he had not understood him, but a hand
was laid on his shoulder.  He almost fancied he was pushed aside, as Mr.
Hirpington spoke to Nga-Hepé in his cheeriest tones:—

"Well met, old neighbour.  Both of us above ground once again, thank God
in his mercy.  As for me and mine, we were fairly buried alive, and
should have died under the mud but for this lad’s father. We left
everything and fled for our lives, and so it was with most of us.  But
now the danger is over, I have come back to look after my property, and
find a thief has been there before me.  According to this boy’s account,
I am afraid the same fellow has walked off with something of yours.  But
I have a plan to catch him, and you are the one to help me."

"A’ right," answered the Maori.  "You catch your man, I catch my boy.
Man and boy go hand in hand."

"No," said Edwin stoutly; "I have nothing to do with Lawford."

Nga-Hepé raised his club.  "You, who but you," he asked, "watched my
wife dig hole?  Who but you set foot on the spot?  Who but you say, ’Man
dig here’?  I’ll make you say a little more.  Which had the bag?"

"I have never seen or touched the bag since I gave it back to your wife
Marileha on the night of the tana’s visit," answered Edwin.

"A’ right," repeated Nga-Hepé.  "No, you are not a’ right, or you would
go with me to find the man; for who but you knows who he is?  If you
won’t, you are a’ wrong, and I have come here to kill you."

An exasperated savage on horseback, with a club in his hand, was no mean
foe.  Edwin thought of old Hal’s words.  Was it a bad day’s work which
restored Nga-Hepé to life?  But he answered himself still with an
unwavering "No."

"You are returning me evil for good," said Edwin quietly.  "Whero would
not have dared to follow the kaka over the mud if I had not gone with
him; but for me you would have been a dead man.  Ask Whero—ask your own
son."

"I take no counsel with boys," answered the Maori loftily.

"Neither do I think overmuch of boys," interposed Mr. Hirpington; "but
we will keep young Lee with us, and all go together and find the man if
possible. Yet with you on his back that horse will go like the wind.
How are we to keep up with you?"

"You have ridden behind me before," said Nga-Hepé, turning to Edwin;
"you can do it again."

"Only I won’t," thought Edwin; but aloud he said, "So I could, but then
there is Mr. Hirpington.  What is he to do?"

"Ah!" put in the latter, taking out his pipe and lighting it
deliberately, "the question is not how we shall go, but which way.  The
relief-parties are beginning to disperse.  Now, Nga-Hepé, I am as
earnestly desiring to help you as I am to defend myself.  Only I see
plainly if we try to follow the fellow among these wild hills we shall
miss him. He belongs to a gang of rabbiters.  I know their leader.  Let
him call his chums together.  I’ll provide the lure—a reward and a jolly
good dinner for every one of the poor fellows who came so gallantly to
our help at the risk of their own lives.  We must bear in mind that
after Mr. Lee these rabbiters were the first in the field.  If there is
a black sheep among them, we shall have him.  But I must get my own men
about me, and then we will confront him with Edwin Lee, in the presence
of them all."

"Your plan is good," answered the Maori.  "Try it and I try mine; then
one or other of us will catch him."

"That will be me," remarked Mr. Hirpington, in a knock-down tone.

"Jump up!" cried Nga-Hepé, turning to Edwin.

"No, no," interposed Mr. Hirpington; "it is I who must have young Lee.
I have left a watchman at the ford ready to pounce on the thief if he
should return there for his booty.  I may want this boy any minute.
Ride fast from camp to camp.  Ask for any of my roadmen among them, and
give my message to them.  Ask if there are any rabbiters, and give the
other in Hal’s name.  I’ll make it right with the old man.  We shall
throw our net so wide this Lawford can’t escape our meshes.  He must
have got your bag about him, and the other money I suspect he has taken.
We’ll make him give it all up."

No one was noticing Edwin.  He made a slight sound, which set Beauty off
trotting, as he knew it would.

The delight of feeling his own good horse beneath him once again induced
Nga-Hepé to quicken the trot to a gallop.  He did not turn back to
prolong the discussion, but only waved his arm in reply.

Edwin thought to increase the distance between them by running off in
the opposite direction.

"No, no," said Mr. Hirpington; "just stand still by me.  If he saw you
begin to run, he would be after you in a minute.  If the ape and the
tiger lie dormant in some of us, the wild animal is rampant in him.
Face him to the last."

Edwin looked up with admiring gratitude at the friend who had so
skilfully delivered him.

They watched the vanishing figure as Edwin had watched him on the day of
his first acquaintance with the Maori warrior.

"He will never give back my Beauty," he sighed, as horse and rider were
lost to view in the darkling bush.

"Your horse may prove your ransom," said Mr. Hirpington, as they
retraced their steps.  He knew that the boy’s life was no longer safe
within the reach of the angry savage.  What was he to do?  Send him off
to a friend at a distance until the affair had blown over?  Yes; row him
down the river and put him on board one of the Union steamers.

He began to question Edwin.  "Had they any other friends in New
Zealand?"

"None," answered the boy.

"More’s the pity," said Mr. Hirpington; "for it will not do for you and
your father to remain alone with Hal on that hill any longer.  We must
separate you from the rabbiters, for the gang will be sure to draw
together soon.  It is nearly a week since the eruption.  I hope and
trust some of my men may get my message, and come to us before Nga-Hepé
returns."

"If any of the surveying party are about still, they would help us,"
said Edwin.  "Mr. Ottley told me how to signal to them, and they
answered at once. They said we were to signal again if we wanted them.
The captain of the coaster is with them.  He would be sure to come."

Mr. Hirpington knew nothing about the captain, but he assented.  "Signal
by all means.  If we have Englishmen enough about us, we shall carry
this through.  We must get your father home.  One or two men will soon
mend the roof.  I’ll spare you Dunter; he would keep a sharp look-out.
As the relief-parties disperse, we shall see who comes our way.  Chance
may favour us."

Then the two started again for the ford, leaving pussy once more in
possession of the valley farm. Mr. Hirpington was struck when he saw the
difference a single day’s hard work had effected.

"I want to be by your side, Dunter, putting my own shoulder to the
wheel, and we should soon fetch the mistress home.  But we are in for an
awful deal of trouble with these poor Lees, and we can’t fail them.
Somehow they do not square it with their Maori neighbours," he sighed.

"Not quite up to managing ’em yet, I guess," replied Dunter, as he
showed his master a kitchen clear of mud, although a stranger still to
the scrubbing-brush.  A few loose boards were laid down as pathways to
the bedroom doors, which all stood wide, letting in the clear river
breeze from the windows beyond.  Dunter was washing his hands to have a
spell at the bedmaking, as he said.

"We are all relegated to the cellar," sighed his master, "and we cannot
stay to enjoy even that.  We shall have a row with Nga-Hepé’s people if
we are not on the alert.  I want to get this young Lee out of their way.
Where will he be safest for to-night?"

"Here with me, abed and asleep," answered the man unhesitatingly.

Mr. Hirpington glanced into the range of bedrooms, still left as at the
moment when their occupants rushed out in the first alarm.  "That will
do," he assented. "Trust a boy to go to sleep.  He will tumble in just
as the beds are.  Anything for his supper?"

"Plenty, but it is all poisoned with the horrid sulphurous stench.
Something out of the tins is best," groaned Dunter.

"Give him one or two to open for himself, and shut him in.  Drive that
meal-barrel against the door, and don’t you let him out till I come
back," was Mr. Hirpington’s parting charge, as he pushed off in his boat
for the lake, to light the beacon-fires on the hills around it, to
summon the help he so much needed.

Edwin, who had been hunting up the kaka, was disappointed to find
himself left behind.

"All the better for you," retorted Dunter.  "Take the bird in with you,
and get a sound sleep, now you have the chance."

"Oh, you are good!" exclaimed Edwin, when he saw a jug of river-water, a
tin of sardines, and another of brawn, backed by a hunch of mouldy
bread, provided for his supper.

The door was shut, and he lay down without a suspicion of the
kindly-meant imprisonment on which he was entering.  Both men were sure
he would never have consented to it had he known of their intentions
beforehand.  They did not want to make the boy too much afraid of his
dusky neighbours; "for he has got to live in the midst of them," they
said.  "He will let them alone after this," thought Dunter.  "He has had
his scare for the present; let him sleep and forget it."

The deep and regular breathing of a sleeper soon told Dunter his wish
was realized.

It was a weary vigil for Mr. Hirpington.  He kept his watch-fire blazing
from dusk till dawn.

It was a wakeful, anxious night for Hal and Mr. Lee, who saw the
beacon-lights afar, and wondered more and more over the unlooked-for
sight.

"It is some one signalling for help," groaned Mr. Lee, feeling most
painfully his inability to give it. It might be Edwin, it might be some
stranger.  He wanted his companion to leave him and go to see. But the
old man only shook his head, and muttered, "There is no go left in me,
I’m so nearly done."

Mr. Hirpington had given up hope.  He had coiled himself in his blanket,
laid his head on the hard ground, and yielded to the overwhelming desire
for sleep.

The returning party of surveyors, who started on their march with the
first peep of the dawn, caught the red glow through the misty gray.
They turned their steps aside, and found, as they supposed, a sleeping
traveller.  It was the only face they had seen on the hills which was
not haggard and pale.  In the eyes of those toilworn men, fresh from the
perils of the rescue, it seemed scarcely possible that any one there
could look so ruddy and well unless he had been selfishly shirking his
duty to his neighbour, and the greeting they gave him was biting with
its caustic.

"There is no help for me out of such a set of churls," thought Mr.
Hirpington bitterly, as he tried to tell his story, without making much
impression, until he mentioned the name of Edwin Lee, and then they
turned again to listen, for the captain was amongst them.

But as for this stranger, had he not food and friends of his own? what
did he want of them? they asked.

"Help for a neighbour who has saved more lives than can be counted, and
is now lying on the hills with a broken leg; help to convey him to his
home," Mr. Hirpington returned, with increasing warmth, as he showed
them there was but one way of doing that.  They must carry the poor
fellow through the bush on a stretcher.  "When did colonists turn their
back on a chum in distress?" he asked reproachfully.

"Shut up," said the captain, "and show us where he lies."

They would have set to work on the broken boughs and twisted them into a
stretcher; but there was nothing small enough for the purpose left above
ground.  They must turn the tent into a palanquin once again, and manage
as Hal had done before them.

One and all agreed if the Maoris had been using threatening language to
the suffering man’s boy, they could not go their ways and leave him
behind in the Maoris’ country.  "No, no," was passed from lip to lip,
and they took their way to the hill.

Mr. Hirpington was himself again, and his geniality soon melted the
frost amongst his new friends.

"So you have carried him blankets and food?" they said; and the
heartiness of the "yes" with which he responded made them think a little
better of him.

The steep was climbed.  Mr. Lee heard the steady tramp approaching, and
waked up Hal.

"Humph!" remarked the foremost man, as he caught sight of Hal.  "I
thought you said you brought them food."

"Are you sure you did not eat it all by the way?" asked another of Mr.
Hirpington.

"Look at that poor scarecrow!" cried a third, as they scaled the hill
and drew together as if loath to enter the gloom of the shadow flung by
those tremendous trees.  They gazed upwards at the giant branches, and
closed ranks.  More than one hand was pointing to the whitened skeleton.

"Do you see that?" and a general movement showed the inclination to draw
back, one man slowly edging his way behind another.  It left the captain
in the forefront.  Mr. Lee lifted a feeble hand.

"Oh, it is all right; there he is!" exclaimed the man of the sea, less
easily daunted by the eerie qualms which seemed to rob his comrades of
their manhood.

"We’ve come to fetch you home, old boy," he added, bending over Mr. Lee
and asking for his sons.  "Have you not two?"

"Yes, I’ve a brace of them," said the injured man, "Edwin, where is
Edwin?"

"Edwin and Cuthbert," repeated the captain.  "I have something to tell
you about them.  They are just two of the boldest and bravest little
chaps I ever met with.  If my mates were here they would tell you the
same.  But they have followed the fall of mud, and gone across the hills
by Taupo.  I was too footsore for the march, and so kept company with
these surveying fellows."

The said fellows had rallied, and were grouped round Mr. Hirpington, who
was pointing out the route they must take to reach the valley farm.

Two of the men started to carry their baggage to Mr. Hirpington’s boat,
intending to row to the ford and wait there for their companions.  The
canvas was taken down from the trees.  Mr. Lee was bound to his board
once more and laid within the ample folds, and slid rather than carried
gently down the steep descent.  The puzzle remained how one old man and
two boys ever got him to the top alive.  The party was large enough to
divide and take turns at the carrying, and the walk was long enough and
slow enough to give the captain plenty of opportunity to learn from Mr.
Hirpington all he wanted to know about Mr. Lee and his boys.  He gave
him in return a picture of the deserted coast.  "Every man," he said,
"was off to the hills when my little craft went down beneath the
earthquake wave.  It was these young lads’ forethought kept the beacon
alight when the night overran the day.  They saw us battling with the
waves, and backed their cart into the sea to pick us up.  Mere boys,
they had to tie themselves to the cart, sir.  Think of that."

Mr. Hirpington was thinking, and it made him look very grave.  What had
he been doing in the midst of the widespread calamity?  Not once had he
asked himself poor Audrey’s question, but he asked it now as the captain
went on: "A shipwrecked sailor, begging his way to the nearest port, has
not much in his power to help another.  But I will find out a man who
both can and will.  I mean old Bowen. He is one of our wealthiest
sheep-owners, and he stands indebted to these two lads on the same count
as I do, for his grandson was with me."

"His run is miles away from here," said Mr. Hirpington.  "You cannot
walk so far.  Look out for some of Feltham’s shepherds riding home; they
would give you a lift behind them."

The party halted at the ford, where Mr. Hirpington found several of his
own roadmen waiting for him. Nga-Hepé had faithfully delivered his
message.

"Ah!" said Mr. Hirpington, "I knew he would, and I am going to keep my
part of the bargain too. We are always friendly."  He turned to Hal, and
explained how he had sent to his mates to meet him at the ford.  "Until
they come," he added, "rest and eat, and recover yourself."

Since the arrival of the boat, Dunter had been getting ready, for he
foresaw an increasing demand for breakfast, and his resources were very
restricted.  But he got out the portable oven, lit his fires, not so
much in the yard, correctly speaking, as over it. "Breakfasting the
coach" had given every one at the ford good practice in the art of
providing.  When the walking-party arrived they found hot rolls and
steaming coffee awaiting them without stint.  It brought the sunshine
into many a rugged face as they voted him the best fellow in the world.

They circled round the fire to enjoy them.  Nobody went down into the
house but Hal, who resigned the care of Mr. Lee somewhat loathly.  "I
should have liked to have seen you in your own house before we parted,"
he muttered.

"No, no," said Mr. Lee; "you have done too much already.  You will never
be the man again that you have been, I fear."

The hearty hand-clasp, the look into each other’s faces, was not quickly
forgotten by the bystanders.

The air was full of meetings and partings. Mr. Hirpington was in the
midst of his men.  He was bound by his post under government to make the
state of the roads his first care.

"When will the coach be able to run again?" was the question they were
all debating, as a government inspector was on his way to report on the
state of the hills; for few as yet could understand the nature of the
unparalleled and unprecedented disaster which had overwhelmed them.



                            *CHAPTER XVIII.*

                         *WHERO TO THE RESCUE.*


The busy sounds of trampling feet, the many voices breaking the silence
of the past days, roused Edwin effectually, and then he discovered that
the door of the room in which he had slept resisted his most strenuous
efforts to open it.

He called to Dunter to release him.  No reply. A louder shout,
accompanied by a sturdy kick at the immovable door, gave notice of his
growing impatience. The kaka, which had been watching his determined
efforts with exceeding interest, set up its cry of "Hoké, hoké!"

"We are caged, my bird," said Edwin; "both of us caged completely."

His eye wandered round in search of any outlet in vain.  All his
experiences since the night of the eruption had taught him to look to
himself, and he turned to the window.  It was securely shuttered and
apparently barred.

"How strange!" he thought, as a sudden shock of earthquake made the iron
walls around him rattle and vibrate, as if they too were groaning in
sympathetic fear.

The kaka flew to him for protection, and strove to hide its head.
Another tremor all around sent it cowering to the floor.  Edwin stooped
to pick it up, and saw that the thin sheet of iron which formed the
partition between that room and the next had started forward.  He found
the knife which Dunter had left him, and widened the crack.  He could
slip his hand through it now.  The walls were already twisted with the
shocks they had sustained.  He got hold of the iron with both hands, and
exerting all his strength bent it up from the floor.  His head went
through. Another vigorous tug, another inch was gained; his shoulders
followed, and he wriggled through at last in first-rate worm fashion.

"It is something to be thin," thought Edwin, as he shook himself into
order on the other side.  He was in another bedroom, exactly similar to
the one he had left.  Both were designed for the reception of "the
coach;" but door and window were securely fastened, as in the other
room.  The sounds which had awakened him must have been the noise
accompanying some departure, for he thought he could distinguish the
splash of oars in the water, and words of leave-taking.  But the voices
were strange voices, which he had never heard before, and then all was
profoundly still.

It dawned on Edwin now that perhaps he had not been shut in by accident,
but that something had occurred.  He was getting very near the truth,
for he recalled Nga-Hepé’s threats, and wondered whether friend or foe
had made him a prisoner.

Well, then, was it wise to keep making such a row to get out?  He began
to see the matter in a different light.  He lay down on the bed in the
second room, determined to listen and watch; but in his worn-out
condition sleep overcame him a second time.

The kaka missed his society, and followed to perch on his pillow.  He
was awakened at last by its scream.  The window was open, and the bird
was fluttering in and out in a playful endeavour to elude a hand put
through to catch it.  Edwin was springing upright, when his recent
experiences reminded him of the need of caution.  But the movement had
been heard, and a voice, which he knew to be Whero’s, said softly,
"Edwin, my brother, are you awake?"

"Awake? yes!  What on earth is the matter?" retorted Edwin.

"Hush!" answered Whero, looking in and laying a finger on his own lips.
"Come close to the window."

Edwin obeyed as noiselessly as he could.  Whero held out his hand to
help him on to the sill.

"Escape," he whispered; "it is for your life."

His hands were as cold as ice, and his teeth were set.  Edwin hesitated;
but the look on Whero’s face as he entreated him not to linger
frightened him, already wrought up to a most unnatural state of
suspicion by the tormenting feeling of being shut in against his will.

Any way, he was not going to lose a chance of getting out.  It was too
unbearable to be caged like a bird.  He took Whero’s hand and scrambled
up. The Maori boy looked carefully around.  All was dark and still.
Again he laid his finger on his lips.

"Trust in me, my brother," he murmured, pointing to his canoe, which was
waiting in the shadow of the rushes.

"Where are we going?" asked Edwin under his breath.

"To safety," answered Whero.  "Wait until we are out of hearing, and I
will tell you all."

He grasped Edwin’s hand, and led him down the bank to the shingly bed of
the river.

"Stop a minute," interposed Edwin, not quite sure that it was wise to
trust himself altogether to the guidance of the young Maori.  "I wish I
could catch sight of Dunter.  I want a word with him, and then I’ll go."

"No, no!" reiterated Whero, dragging him on as he whispered, "No one
here knows your danger.  It is my father who is coming to take your
life; but I will save you.  Come!"

Edwin lay down in the bottom of the canoe as Whero desired, and was
quickly covered over with rushes by the dusky hands of his youthful
deliverer. A low call brought the kaka to Whero’s shoulder, and keeping
his canoe well in the shadows, he rowed swiftly down stream.

[Illustration: ANOTHER FLIGHT.]

The brilliant starshine enabled him to steer clear of the floating
dangers—the driftwood and the stones—which impeded their course
continually.

"Are you hungry?" asked Whero, bending low to his companion.  But Edwin
answered, "No."

"Then listen," continued the excited boy.  "My father has found this
Lawford, the rabbiter you told me about.  He was with one of the biggest
gangs of pakehas, going back from the hills, every man with his spade.
Had my father raised his club, it would have been quickly beaten out of
his hand among so many.  He knew that, and the pakehas talked fair. But
this Lawford did not say as you say.  He made my father believe it was
you who asked him to go with you to the roadside, and dig between the
white pines, to find a bag you had dropped in the mud; and so he dug
down until you found it and took it away.  You then went alone to the
ruins at the ford, and he thinks you hid it in the hayloft.  It was
before the fordmaster and his people had returned. My father wanted
these pakehas to come with him, and take it from you; but they all
declared that was against the law of the pakehas.  They would go their
ways and tell their chief, who would send his soldiers for you.  It was
but a bag of talk. My father has been watching round the ford, waiting
for them, yet they have not come."

"But, Whero," interposed Edwin, "Nga-Hepé cannot be sure that I was at
the ford, for it was at the valley farm that he met me and took the
horse."

"Does my father sleep on the track of an enemy?" asked Whero.  "Has he
no one to help him?  My grandfather was following in the bush when he
took the horse from you.  The one went after Lawford, the other stayed
to watch your steps.  My grandfather saw you enter the ford; he saw the
master leave it alone.  A Maori eye has been upon the place ever since.
They know you have not come out of the hole where you went in.  Nothing
has been done. What were the fordmaster’s promises? what were Lawford’s?
A bag of talk.  My father feels himself the dupe of the pakeha.  A
geyser is boiling in his veins.  If you meet him you fall by his club.
He will wait until the day breaks; he will wait no longer. At nightfall
the old man, my grandfather, rowed back to the little kainga our people
have made on the bank of the river."

"A kainga?" interrupted Edwin, breathlessly. "What is a kainga?"

"That is our name for a little village without a wall," explained Whero,
hurrying on.  "He came. He called the men together.  They have gone up
with clubs and spears.  They will come upon the ford-house with the
dawn, and force their way in to find the bag.  The master cannot resist
so many. O Edwin, my brother, I said I saved my kaka when they would
have killed it; shall I not save my friend? I wanted to go with the men,
that I might tell my father again how you have stood by me.  And should
I not stand by you?  But my mother, Marileha, held me back.  My
grandfather kept on saying, ’I knew from the first it was the farmer’s
son who had robbed you.  Was it he who helped us out of the mud?  I saw
him not.  It was Ottley, the good coachman. Have we not all eyes?’  ’Go
not with them,’ said my mother.  ’What is talk?  Your father will make
you the same answer.  Do they know the young pakeha as we do?’  So I
listened to my mother, and we made our plan together.  I knew our men
could not conceal themselves in the water; they must all be hidden in
the bush.  I filled my canoe with rushes. I rowed after them up the
river, gliding along in the shadows.  I climbed up the bank, under the
row of little windows at the back of the ford-house, and listened.  I
heard my kaka scream, and I guessed it was with you.  I was sure you
would take care of it.  I could see the windows were all cracked and
broken with the earthquakes.  The shocks come still so often I knew I
had only to wait, and when I felt the ground tremble under my feet I
smashed the window.  Nobody noticed the noise when everything around us
was rocking and shaking.  You know the rest.  We have an hour before us
yet.  I am rowing for the coast as hard as I can.  Once on board a
steamer no Maori can touch you.  I have plenty of money to pay for our
passage.  My grandfather came to see me when I was at school, and gave
me a lot to persuade me to stay.  He was taking his money to the
Auckland bank, for fear another tana should come.  Then we can go and
live among the pakehas."

"But where shall we go?" asked Edwin, struck with the ability with which
Whero had laid his plan, and the ease with which he was carrying it out.
"I only wish I could have spoken to Dunter or Mr. Hirpington before we
came away; for what will they think of me?"

"Think!" repeated Whero; "let them think.  Could I betray my father to
them?  Our hearts are true to each other.  We have given love for love.
Would they believe it?  No.  Would they have let you come away with me,
Nga-Hepé’s son?  No.  One word, my brother, and you would have been
lost.  A steamer will take us to school.  They told me at Tauranga there
was a school in every great town on the island, so it does not matter
where it lands us; the farther off the better."

Marileha was watching for them on the bank. Whero waved his arms in
signal of success, and shot swiftly past in the cold gray light of the
coming day.

The eastern sky was streaked with red when the first farm-house was
sighted.  Should they stop and beg for bread?  Whero was growing
exhausted with continued exertion.  He lifted his paddle from the water,
and Edwin sat upright; then caution whispered to them both, "Not yet!
wait a little longer."  So they glided on beneath the very window of the
room where Mrs. Hirpington was sleeping.  One half-hour later she might
have seen them pass.

The ever-broadening river was rolling now between long wooded banks.
Enormous willows dipped their weeping boughs into the stream, and a
bridge became visible in the distance as the morning sun shone out. The
white walls of many a settler’s home glistened through the light gauzy
haze which hung above the frosted ground.  Whero’s aching arms had
scarcely another lift left in them, when they perceived a little
river-steamer with its line of coal-barges in tow.

Should they hail it and ask to be taken on board? No; it was going the
wrong way.  But Edwin ventured, now that the hills were growing shadowy
in the dim distance, to sit upright and take his turn with the paddle,
whilst Whero rested.

How many miles had they come? how many farther had they yet to go?

They watched the settlements on either side of the river with hungry
eyes, until they found themselves near a range of farm-buildings which
looked as if they might belong to some well-to-do colonist, and were in
easy hail of the river-bank.  They ran the canoe aground, and walked up
to the house to beg for the bread so freely given to all comers through
the length and breadth of New Zealand.

Invigorated by the hearty meal willingly bestowed upon a Maori boy on
his way to school, they returned to the canoe; but the effort to reach
the coast was beyond their utmost endeavour.  Edwin felt they were now
out of the reach of all pursuit, and might safely go ashore and rest,
for Whero was ready to fall asleep in the canoe.

They were looking about for a landing-place, when, to his utter
amazement, Edwin heard Cuthbert shouting to him from the deck of one of
the little steamers plying up and down the river.

"By all that is marvellous," exclaimed Edwin, "if that isn’t my old
Cuth!"

He turned to his companion, too far under the influence of the dustman
to quite understand what was taking place around him.

Cuthbert’s shout of "Stop, Edwin, stop!" was repeated by a deep, manly
voice.  The motion of the steamer ceased.  Edwin brought the canoe
alongside.

"Where are you bound for?" asked his old acquaintance the captain of the
coaster.

"Come on board," shouted Cuthbert.

The captain repeated his inquiry.

Whero opened his sleepy eyes, and answered, "Christchurch."

"I am a Christchurch boy," cried another voice from the deck of the
steamer.  "But the Christchurch schools are all closed for the winter
holidays."

There were hurried questions exchanged between the brothers after father
and Effie.  But the answers were interrupted by the appearance of Mr.
Bowen.

"Pay your rower," he shouted to Edwin, "and join our party.  I am taking
your little brother and sister home, for I am going to the hills to make
inquiries into the state of distress."

Before Edwin could reply, Whero, with a look at the old identity as if
he defied the whole world to interfere with him, was whispering to
Edwin,—

"These men are fooling us.  They will not take us to Christchurch.  They
are going the wrong way."

Edwin was as much alarmed as Whero at the thought of going back; but he
knew Mr. Bowen had no authority to detain him against his will.

"Our errand admits of no delay," he answered, as he resigned the paddle
to Whero.

The canoe shot forward.

"Good-bye! good-bye!" cried Edwin.

Sailors and passengers were exclaiming at their reckless speed, for
Whero was rowing with all his might.  The number of the boats and barges
increased as they drew nearer the coast.

"Lie down again amongst the rushes," entreated Whero, "or we may meet
some other pakeha who will know your English face."

Their voyage was almost at its end.  They were in sight of the goal.

Black, trailing lines of smoke, from the coasting-steamers at the mouth
of the river, flecked the clear brilliancy of the azure sky.

Edwin was as much afraid as Whero of another chance encounter.  Audrey
might turn up to stop him. Some one might be sending her home by water,
who could say?  Another of the shipwrecked sailors might be watching for
a coaster to take him on board.  So he lay down in the bottom of the
canoe as if he were asleep, and Whero pulled the rushes over him.



                             *CHAPTER XIX.*

                             *MET AT LAST.*


The boys were recovering their equanimity, when the stiff sea-breeze
blowing in their faces scattered the rushes and sent them sailing down
the stream.

Whero drew his canoe to the bank as they came to a quiet nook where
rushes were growing abundantly, that he might gather more.

Whero was out of his latitude, in a _terra incognita_, where he knew not
how to supply the want of a dinner.  How could he stop to discover the
haunts of the wild ducks to look for their eggs?  How could he reach the
cabbage in the top of those tall and graceful ti trees, which shook
their waving fronds in the wintry breezes?  Ah! if it had been summer,
even here he would not have longed in vain.  His bundle of rushes was
under his arm, when he noticed a hollow willow growing low to the
river-side.  A swarm of bees in the recent summer had made it their
home, and their store of winter honeycomb had filled the trunk.  Swarms
of bees gone wild had become so frequent near the English settlements,
wild honey was often found in large quantities.  But to Whero it was a
rare treat.  He was far too hungry to be able to pass it by.  He
scrambled up the bank, and finding the bees were dead or torpid with the
cold, he began to break off great pieces of the comb, and lay them on
his rushes to carry away.

As he was thus engaged a man came through the clustering ti trees and
asked him to give him a bit.

Whero was ready enough to share his spoils with the stranger, for there
was plenty.  As he turned to offer the piece he had just broken off, he
saw he was an ill-looking man, with his hat slouched over his eyes,
carrying a roll of pelts and a swag at the end of a stick, which had
evidently torn a hole through the shoulder of the wretched old coat the
man was wearing.

"Much craft on the river here?" asked the man. "Any barges passing that
would take a fellow down to the coast?"

"I am a stranger here," answered Whero; "I do not know."  As he spoke,
his quick eye detected the stains of the hateful blue volcanic mud on
the man’s dirty clothes.

"I’ll be off," he thought.  "Who are you?  You are from the hills,
whoever you are."

He gave him another great piece of the honeycomb, for fear he should
follow him to ask for more.

"That is so old," objected the man; "look how dark it is.  Give me a
better bit."

But he took it notwithstanding, and tried to put it in his ragged
pocket.  The holes were so large it fell through.

"There is plenty more in the tree," said Whero. "Why do you not go and
help yourself?"  He took up his rushes and walked quickly to the canoe.

Edwin was making a screen for his face with the few remaining rushes.
Whero saw that he was looking eagerly through them, not at the honeycomb
he was bringing, but at the man on the bank.

"Do you know him?" asked Whero.

"Yes, yes; it is Lawford," answered Edwin, under his breath.  "Look, he
has got his rabbit-skins and his swag.  How careful he is over it!  He
has set his foot on it whilst he gets the honey."

The canoe was completely hidden by the tall tufts of bulrush growing
between it and the willow, so they could watch unseen.  The man was
enjoying the honeycomb immensely.  He was choosing out the best pieces.
Whero gave Edwin the kaka, lest it should betray them.

"You are sure it is Lawford?" asked Whero.

"Yes, quite," replied Edwin, beginning to eat.

The best of the honeycomb was higher up in the hollow trunk, where the
rain could not wash out its sweetness.  As Lawford was stretching up his
arm to get at it, the sweet-brier, now so plentiful in New Zealand, that
was growing about its roots caught the ragged old coat.  They heard the
rent; something fell out of the pocket on the other side.

He picked it up hastily, shaking off the dirt into which it had fallen.
"It is my father’s belt!" exclaimed Edwin.  Whero was over the side of
the canoe in a moment, and crawling through the bed of rushes with the
noiseless swiftness of a wild animal watching its prey.

He saw Lawford unpack what New Zealanders call a swag—that is, a piece
of oil-cloth provided with straps, which takes the place of knapsack or
portmanteau amongst travellers of Lawford’s description. If a man has
not even got a swag, he is reckoned a sundowner in colonial eyes.  Swags
are always to be bought at the smallest stores.  No difficulty about
that. As Whero drew nearer, he saw the swag was a new one.  Everything
else about the man looked worn out.

Lawford was unpacking it on the ground, throwing suspicious glances over
his shoulder as he did so; but his recent companion seemed to have
vanished.  He stood up and looked all round him, but there was no one to
be seen.

He took out a small bundle packed up in flax-leaves, which he began
slowly to unwind.

Did not Whero know the bag which his own mother had woven?  Could
anything produce those tell-tale stains but the hateful mud from which
it had been dug up?

Lawford wrapped the belt round the bag, and bound the flax-leaves over
both as before.  When he began to strap up the swag, Whero crept back to
the canoe.  His eyes were ablaze with passion.

"Pull off your coat," he whispered, "and leave it in the rushes.  Take
mine, or he will know you."

Edwin eagerly complied.

"Sleep deep; lie on your face!" whispered Whero, covering him over with
the rushes he had brought. Then, before Edwin had the least idea of what
he was purposing, Whero pushed out his canoe into the middle of the
river, and paddled quickly to a handy landing-place a little farther on.
He ran up the bank shouting to Lawford, "If you want a boat to go down
river to meet a coaster, I’ll row you in my canoe.  But you will have to
pay me."

"You would not work without that if you are a Maori, I know," retorted
the other, taking out a well-worn purse.

"Come along," shouted Whero; "that’s a’ right."  The unsuspecting
Lawford took his seat in the canoe, and gave Edwin an unwary kick.

"Who have you got here?" he asked.

"A chum asleep," answered Whero, indifferently, as he stroked his kaka.

Edwin was feeling anything but indifferent.  He knew not how to lie
still.  "If we are not dead unlucky," he thought, "we shall get all
back—Nga-Hépé’s bag, and father’s belt too.  We must mind we do not
betray ourselves.  If we can manage to go on board the same steamer,
when we are right out to sea I’ll tell the captain all; and we will give
Lawford in charge as he lands."  Such was Edwin’s plan; but he could not
be sure that Whero’s was the same.  He dare not exchange a look or sign;
"for," he said to himself, "if Lawford catches sight of me, it is all
over."

They passed another little steamer going up the river, with its
coal-barge in tow.

Edwin felt as if Audrey’s sedate face would be looking down upon him
from its deck, but he was wrong.

"Nothing is certain but the unforeseen," he sighed; but he remembered
his part, and the sigh became a snore, which he carefully repeated at
intervals, for Lawford’s benefit.

He little thought how soon his words would be fulfilled.  The steamer
was some way ahead, and Whero was making towards it steadily.  The barge
behind them was lessening in the distance, when the Maori boy fixed his
fingers like a vice in the strap of Lawford’s swag, and upset his canoe.

Whero knew that Edwin could swim well, and that Lawford was unused to
the water.  Whero had detected that by the awkward way in which he
stepped into the canoe.

The two struggled in the water for the possession of the swag.  At last
the man relinquished his hold, and Whero swam to shore triumphantly,
leaving him to drown.

"He shall not drown!" cried Edwin, hastening towards him with vigorous
strokes; but before he could reach the spot, Lawford had sunk.  Edwin
swam round and round, watching for him to rise.

It was a moment of anguish so intense he thought life, reason, all
within him, would give way before the dreadful question, "What have I
been?  An accomplice in this man’s death—all unknowing, it is true; but
that cannot save him.  Oh! it does matter," he groaned, "what kind of
fellows a boy is forced to take for his chums."

The drowning man rose to the surface.  Edwin grasped him by the coat.
For a little while they floated with the current, until Lawford’s weight
began to drag Edwin down.

"Better die with him than live to know I have killed him," thought
Edwin.  One hurried upward glance into the azure sky brought back the
remembrance of One who is ever present, ever near, and strong to save us
to the uttermost.  This upheld him. A tree came floating by; he caught
at its branches. Lawford had just sense enough to follow his example and
cling for dear life to the spreading arms.

A bargee, unloading his freight of coal upon the bank, perceived their
danger, and swam out with a rope.  He threw it to Lawford, but he missed
it. A second was flung from the barge, and the noose at the end of it
caught among the branches flapping up and down in the water.  Men’s
lives were at stake, but as the value of the drift-wood would well repay
its capture, they hauled it in with the bold young swimmer clinging to
its boughs; for the first of the watermen who came to their help had
seized Lawford, who relinquished his hold on the tree to snatch at the
rope he brought him.

The two men swam to the barge.  Edwin was drawn in to shore.  He
scrambled up the bank and looked around him for Lawford.

He saw the rabbiter half lying on the deck of the barge, panting with
rage and fear, and shouted to him, "Safe!  all safe!"

But Lawford answered with a bitter imprecation on the son of the
cannibal, who had purposely flung him over, tossed him like a bone to
the hungry sharks.

"Ask yourself why," retorted Edwin.  "And what might not I have done to
you, if I had never heard such words as, ’Neither do I condemn thee: go,
and sin no more’?"

"Come," interposed the waterman to Lawford, "shut up.  Such language as
this is wonderfully unbecoming from the mouths of fellows scarce
snatched back from a watery grave, and we don’t care to hear it.  Say
what you will to the young ’un, he made a bold fight with the tide to
save you.  Let him alone."

"Where were you bound for?" said the bargee aside to Edwin, as the boy
poured out his gratitude for their timely assistance.

"I wanted to take a passage on board the steamer for Christchurch, and a
Maori boy was rowing me down to meet it.  This man was in the same
canoe, and had robbed the boy who was rowing us.  In the struggle
between them the canoe was upset."

"Go on with him, then," advised the bargee, "and give him in charge when
he lands."

"No," answered Edwin resolutely, "for the boy recovered his own.  But
this man is a bad one, and I would rather stay where I am than be in his
company another hour."

"Run off, then," returned the bargee kindly; "run until you are dry, and
you will take no harm.  As for this fellow, we will ship him off to the
South Island, if that is where he wants to go."

Edwin wrung the bargee’s horny hand, and followed his counsel with all
speed.  Lawford’s jeering laugh was ringing in his ears.

"He thinks I am running away from him; if he fancies I am afraid, he
makes a mistake, that is all," reflected Edwin, racing onward.

But where was Whero?  A run of half-a-mile brought Edwin back to the
river-brink again, but nearer to the spot where the canoe was upset.
Whero had recovered it, and was looking about for his friend. Edwin
could see his tiny "dug-out" zigzagging round the boulders, and still
rushing seawards, as he paused to reconnoitre a leafless bush on the
water’s edge, which seemed to bear a fancied resemblance to the figure
of a crouching boy.  Edwin pulled off his jacket and waved it high in
the air.  He threw up his arms. He shouted.  He did everything he could
think of to attract Whero’s attention.  But his back was towards him.
All his signals seemed in vain, but not quite; for the kaka was swinging
high up among the top-most branches of an enormous willow near the scene
of the upset.  From such an elevation it espied Edwin, and recognizing
Whero’s jacket, which he was waving flag-like over his head, it swooped
down upon him with an angry scream, and seizing the jacket by the
sleeve, tugged at it with all its might.  If Whero could not distinguish
the shout of his friend from the rush of the water, the doleful "Hoké"
of his bird could not be mistaken, and Edwin soon saw him rowing swiftly
towards them.

"What for?" demanded Whero; "what for go bother about a thief?  What is
he good for?  Throw him over, and have done with him."

"Ah!" retorted Edwin, "but we never should have done with him.  The life
we had let him lose would have lain like a terrible weight on us,
growing heavier and heavier as we too drew nearer to the grave.  For
Christ himself refuses to lift the murderer’s load. But you do not know;
you are not to blame, as I should have been."

The overmastering feelings which prompted Edwin to say this shot from
his eyes and quivered in his voice, and Whero, swayed by a force he
could not understand, reaching him only by words, yielded to the
influence of the light thus vibrating from soul to soul.

"Yes," he said, reflectively, "there is something greater than killing,
and I want the greatest things."



                             *CHAPTER XX.*

                            *JUST IN TIME.*


"What an ass Lawford must have been not to put on father’s belt!  If he
had, we could not have got it away from him," said Edwin, as the two
seated themselves on the sunny bank and unpacked the swag.  Whero took
out the precious bag, slung it round his own neck, and concealed it
under his shirt. Edwin claimed his father’s belt, and as he shook off
the mud and dirt which had accumulated upon it during its sojourn in
Lawford’s pocket, he saw why the man had been unable to wear it.  In his
haste to get it off Mr. Lee whilst he lay unconscious, he had not waited
to unbuckle it, for fear Hal should see him. He had taken out his
pocket-knife and ripped it open.  This helped to get it into his
possession, and helped him to lose it too.  The apparent gain was
nothing but the earnest-money of the self-sought calamity which drove
him a beggar from the gangway of the San Francisco mail before many
months were over.

As the boys weighed the weight of coin in their hands, they nodded
significantly at each other.  No wonder it wore Lawford’s old pockets
into holes before the end of his journey.  Reluctant as he must have
been, he was forced to buy his swag at one or other of the would-be
townships, with their fine names, which dot the lower reaches of the
bush road.  They turned the poor unlucky bit of oil-cloth over and over
with contempt and loathing, and finally kicked it into the river.  Edwin
folded his father’s belt together, and once more resuming his own
jacket—to the great satisfaction of the kaka—he changed the belt into a
breastplate, and buttoned his jacket tightly over it.

To get back to the ford as quickly as they could was now their chief
desire.  It was aggravating—it was enough to make a fellow feel mad all
over—to think that Effie and Cuthbert and the Bowens had passed them
just that little bit too soon.  Edwin grew loud in his regrets.  Audrey
would have called it crying over spilt milk.  He could do nothing but
think of Audrey and her philosophical proverbs.  To practise the
patience which was their outcome was a little more difficult.  To sit
down where they were and wait for the next steamer up stream to help
them on their way was tantalizing indeed, when nobody could tell what
might be taking place at the ford at that very moment.

But they had not long to wait, for the sight of a Maori boy, a Hau-Hau
from the King country, in the heart of the hills, had a special
attraction for every New Zealander coming from the coast.  All were
breathless for the particulars of the dire eruption, which had
overwhelmed their sunny vales, and changed their glassy lakes to Stygian
pools.

Not a sailor who could pull a rope, not a passenger lounging on its tiny
deck, would willingly forego the chance of hearing something definite
and detailed. The steamer stopped, and the man at the wheel asked
eagerly for news, any more news from the doomed hills, looming gaunt and
gray in the dim distance.

No sooner did they touch the deck than the two boys found themselves the
centre of an earnest questioning group, athirst for the latest
intelligence.  It was a grave responsibility for both of them.  They
chose to remain on deck, keeping as near to the master of the vessel as
they could without attracting attention.  For each one knew that he was
carrying his father’s hoard, and their recent experiences made them
regard the rough appearance of most of the men around them with
mistrust.

It was a secret belief with both the boys that they were safer alone in
their canoe; but Whero’s strength was expended.  He leaned on Edwin’s
arm for support, and was only restrained from falling into one of his
cat-like dozes by the fear that another thievish hand might steal away
his treasure while he slept. They could not return as they came; rest
and food must be had.

A coil of rope provided the one, and the steward promised the other.
But before the boys were permitted to taste the dinner so freely
offered, Edwin had to describe afresh the strange and startling
phenomena appearing on that night of terror, which rumour with her
double tongue could scarcely magnify.  He described them as only an
eye-witness, with the horror of the night still over him, could describe
them; and the men stood round him spell-bound.  All the while his words
were painting the vivid scenes, his thoughts were debating the very
practical question, "Ought I, or ought I not, to spend some of father’s
money, now I have got it back, and buy more meat and flour and cheese to
carry home?"  He thought of the widespread dearth, and he knew that the
little store he had found unhurt at the valley farm might all be gone on
his return, and yet he was afraid to venture with the wealth of gold he
had about him into doubtful places.  No, he dare not risk it again.
They must trust for to-morrow’s bread.

When they quitted the steamer the short wintry day had long passed its
noon, and the wind blew cold around them as they returned to the open
boat. Edwin was rowing now; for when they drew nearer to the hills, both
he and Whero agreed that he must lie down again beneath the rushes.  The
kaka had hidden its head under its wing when the exchange was made.  The
weary Maori boy could scarcely make his way against roaring wind and
rushing water.  They were long in getting as far as the ravine where the
tiny kainga nestled.

Whero moored his canoe in a little cleft of the rock, where it was
concealed from view, and landed alone.  Edwin’s heart beat fast when he
heard light steps advancing to the water’s edge.  His hand was cold as
the ice congealing on the duck-weed as a dusky face peered round the
ledge of rock and smiled. It was Marileha.

"Good food make Ingarangi boy anew," she said, putting into Edwin’s hand
a steaming kumara, or purple-coloured Maori potato.  Whilst he was
eating it Whero brought round a larger "dug-out," used now by his
father.  It was piled with savoury-smelling roasted pig, newly-baked
cakes of dirty-looking Maori wheat, with roasted wekas or wingless
moor-hens hanging in pairs across a stick.  Like a wise woman, Marileha
had spent the day in providing the savoury meat much loved by one she
wanted to propitiate.

"They have not yet come back," said Whero, beckoning to Edwin to join
him in the larger canoe, where he could be more easily concealed beneath
the mats on which the provisions were laid.

"We are going to take them their supper," added Whero.  "When the men
are eating I can get my father to hear me; then I put this bag in his
hands and tell him all.  Then, and not till then, will it be safe for
you to be seen."

"The Ingarangi boy lies safely here," whispered Marileha, smiling, happy
in her womanly device for keeping the peace.  "My skirt shall cover him.
I leave not the canoe.  You, Whero, shall take from my hand and carry to
your father the supper we bring to himself and his people."

Edwin guessed what Marileha’s anticipation might embrace when he found
his pillow was a bundle of carefully-prepared flax fibres, enveloping
little bunches of chips—the splints and bandages of the bush. Edwin had
a vision of broken heads and gaping spear-thrusts, and a ride in an
ambulance after the battle. What had taken place that day?

But the question was shortly answered.  They were not bound for the
lake, or the ruins of the Rota Pah, but the nearer wreck of the
ford-house.

His visions grew in breadth and in detail; smoke and fire were darkening
their background when the canoe stopped at the familiar boating-stairs.
What did he see?  A party of dusky-browed and brawny-armed fellows hard
at work clearing away the last remains of the overturned stables.

Mr. Hirpington, giving away pipes and tobacco with a lavish hand, was
walking in and out among them, praising the thoroughness of their work,
and exhorting them to continue.

"Pull them down," he was repeating.  "We will not leave so much as a
stick or a stone standing.  If the bag is there we will have it.  We
must find it."

The emphasis on the "will" and the "must" called forth the ever-ready
smiles of the Maori race.  Mother and son were radiant.

With a basket of cakes in his hand and a joint of roast-pig on a mat on
his head, Whero marched up the landing-stairs, and went in amongst his
countrymen as they threw down their tools and declared their work was
done.

He was talking fast and furiously in his native tongue, with many
outbursts of laughter at the expense of his auditors.  But neither Edwin
nor Mr. Hirpington could understand what he was saying, until he flung
the bag at his father’s feet with a shout of derision—the fifth
commandment being unknown in Maori-land.

Nga-Hepé took up the bag and changed it from hand to hand.

Kakiki Mahane leaned forward and felt its contents.  "Stones and dirt,"
he remarked, choosing English words to increase the impression.

"Sell it to me, then," put in Mr. Hirpington. "What shall I give you for
it? three good horses?"

He held out his hand to receive the bag of many adventures, and then the
cunning old chief could be the first to bid Nga-Hepé open it and see.
But the remembrance of the tana was too vivid in his son-in-law’s mind
for him to wish to display his secreted treasure before the greedy eyes
of his tribe.  He was walking off to deposit it in Marileha’s lap, when
Mr. Hirpington intercepted him, saying in a tone of firm control and
good-natured patience, in the happy proportion which gave him his
influence over his unmanageable neighbours: "Come now, that is not fair.
Untie the bag, and let us see if it has come back to you all right or
not.  You have pulled down my stables to find it; who is to build them
up again?"

"Give us four horses for the loss of time," said one of the Maoris.

"Agreed, if you will give me five for the mischief you have done me," he
answered readily.

"You can’t get over him," said Nga-Hepé.  "It is of no use talking."

Kneeling down on the landing-stairs, he opened his treasure on his
wife’s now greasy silk, displaying sharks’ teeth, gold, bank-notes,
greenstone, kauri gum—every precious thing of which New Zealand could
boast.  They began to count after their native manner.

Mr. Hirpington stepped aside to Kakiki.  "You took my advice and
Ottley’s: you carried your money to the Auckland bank.  Make Nga-Hepé do
the same."

"Before another moon is past I will," the old chief answered, grasping
the hand of his trusty counsellor, who replied,—

"It may not be lost and found a second time."

"True, it may not," said the old gray-beard, "if, as he meant to do, he
has killed the finder."

Mr. Hirpington started and turned pale.

"He has not killed the finder," said Marileha, rising with the dignity
of a princess; and taking Edwin by the hand, she led him up to Mr.
Hirpington.  The "Thank God" which trembled on his lips was deep as low.
But aloud he shouted, "Dunter, Dunter! here is your bird flown back to
his cage.  Chain him, collar him, keep him this time, if you brick him
in."

Dunter’s hand was on the boy’s shoulder in a moment.  Edwin held out his
to Nga-Hepé, who took the curling feathers from his own head-dress to
stick them in Edwin’s hair.  The boy was stroking the kaka’s crimson
breast.  He lifted up his face and shot back the smile of triumph in
Whero’s eyes, as Dunter hauled him away, exclaiming, "Now I’ve got you,
see if I don’t keep you!"



                             *CHAPTER XXI.*

                           *THE VALLEY FARM.*


Edwin laughed a merry laugh as Mr. Hirpington and his man led him away
between them.  A ladder had been found in the pulling down of the
stables.  It greatly assisted the descent into the "dungeonized"
kitchen, as Edwin called it.  But within, everything was as dirty and
comfortless as before.

"They laugh who win," he whispered, undoing a single button of his
jacket, and displaying a corner of the wash-leather belt.  "Where is
father?" he asked, looking eagerly along the row of open doors, and
singling out his recent cage as the most comfortable of the little
dormitories.  A glance told him it was not without an inhabitant.  But
it was Hal’s voice which answered from the midst of the blankets, in
tones of intense self-congratulation, "I’m in bed, lad. Think o’ that.
Really abed."

"And mind you keep there," retorted Edwin, looking back to Mr.
Hirpington for a guiding word, as he repeated impatiently, "Where’s
father?  Has he seen the captain?"

"Father," echoed Mr. Hirpington, "is safe, safe at home; and we will
follow him there as soon as I get rid of these troublesome guests."

"Sit down, boy, if you do not mind the mud and cold.  Sit down and eat,"
said Dunter kindly.  He opened the kitchen cupboard, and pointed to some
biscuits and cheese which he had reserved for their own supper.  "It is
all they have left us," he sighed. "We have fed them a whole day just to
keep the Queen’s peace.  We thought they would eat us up when they
marched down on us, clamouring for you and the bag you had stolen from
Nga-Hepé and hidden in our hayloft.  But master is up to ’em. ’Well,’
says he, ’if the bag has ever been in my hay-loft, it is there still;
and if it is there, we’ll find it. Pull the loft down.  Clear out every
stick and stone that is left of my stables, an’ welcome.’  You see, it
must all be cleared down before we could begin to build up again," added
Dunter, confidentially.

"It was a happy thought," said Mr. Hirpington, rubbing his hands, "and
it took.  I ran myself to set the example, and knocked over the shaky
door-post, and then the work of demolition went forward with a will.
Nothing like a good spell of hard work to cool a man down.  Of course
they did not find the bag.  But Nga-Hepé’s neighbours have found so many
old nails and hooks and hinges they have stuck to their task; they are
at it yet, but the dusk will disperse them.  Their excuse is gone.
Still," he went on, "’all is well that ends well.’  You might have found
the place a smouldering ash-heap.  We know their Maori ways when they
mean to dislodge an English settler.  They come as they came last night,
set fire to his house, pull up his fences, and plough up his fields.
The mud preserved me from anything of that sort beginning unawares.
Nothing would burn.  We have picked up more than one charred stick, so
they had a try at it; and as for the fences, they are all buried.  When
the coast is clear you and I must prepare for a starlight walk through
the bush to your father’s farm."

"Will they molest father?" asked Edwin anxiously.

"No, no," answered both in a breath.  "Your father’s farm is on the
other side of the river, not on Hau-Hau ground.  It belonged to another
tribe, the Arewas, who are ’friendless,’ as we say.  We told you your
father was safe if we could but get him home.  And so am I," continued
Mr. Hirpington, "for I can always manage my neighbours and appreciate
them too; for they are men at heart, and we like each other.  And there
is a vein of honour in Nga-Hepé and his son according to their light
which you may safely trust, yet they are not civilized Englishmen."

"But Whero will be—" Edwin began; but his bright anticipations for the
future of his Maori friend were cut short by a strange, unearthly
sound—a wild, monotonous chant which suddenly filled the air.  As the
dusk fell around them, the Maoris still sitting over Marileha’a supper
had begun to sing to drive away the fairies, which they imagine are in
every dancing leaf and twittering bird.  Then, one by one, the canoes
which had brought them there began to fill, and as the swarthy faces
disappeared, silence and loneliness crept over the dismantled ford.

Nga-Hepé proved his friend’s assertions true, for Beauty was honourably
returned.  They found him tied by the bridle to the only post on the
premises which had been left standing.  Perhaps it had been spared for
the purpose.  The gun was loaded, such wraps as Dunter could get
together were all put on, and Edwin and Mr. Hirpington started.  The
first step was not a pleasant one—a plunge into the icy river and a
scramble up the opposite bank, from which even Beauty seemed to shrink.
But the gallop over the frosty ground which succeeded took off the
comfortless chill and dried their draggled coats.  Mr. Hirpington got
down and walked by Beauty’s head, as they felt the gradual descent
beginning, and heard the splash of the rivulet against the stones, and
saw the bright lights from Edwin’s home gleam through the evening
shadows.  A scant half-hour that almost seemed a year in its reluctance
to slip away, a few more paces, and Beauty drew up at the gateless
enclosure. A bar thrown across kept them outside.  A gleeful shout, a
thunderous rain of blows upon the bar, and the impatient stamping of
Beauty’s feet brought Cuthbert and Arthur Bowen almost tumbling over one
another to receive them.  The welcome sound of the hammer, the stir and
movement all about the place, told Edwin that the good work of
restoration had already begun.  The bar went down with a thud.  It was
Cuthbert, in his over-joy at seeing his brother, who had banged it to
the ground.  The noise brought out the captain.

"It is a short journey to Christchurch," exclaimed Cuthbert.  "How many
miles?"

"I’m in no mood for arithmetic," retorted Edwin, bounding up the remnant
of a path beside the captain, with Cuthbert grasping him by the other
hand. Arthur Bowen took Beauty by the bridle.

"I’ll see after him," said Mr. Hirpington.

But young Bowen responded gaily, "Think me too fresh from Greek and
Latin to supper a horse, do you? I’ll shoe him too if occasion requires
it, like a true-born New Zealander."

"Brimful of self-help," retorted Mr. Hirpington; "and, after all, it is
the best help.—  Well, well," he added, as he paused in the doorway, "to
take the measure of our recuperative power would puzzle a stranger.  You
beat me hollow."

He had walked into the sometime workshop; but all the debris of the
recent carpentering had been pushed aside and heaped into a distant
corner, while an iron chimney, with a wooden framework to support it,
had been erected in another.

"In simply no time," as Mr. Hirpington declared in his astonishment.

To which the old identity, Mr. Bowen, retorted from the other room,
asking if two men with a hammer to hand and a day before them were to be
expected to do nothing but look at each other.

Mr. Lee was reposing on a comfortable bed by the blazing fire, with
Effie standing beside him, holding the tin mug from which he was taking
an occasional sip of tea; everything in the shape of earthenware having
gone to smash in the earthquake.  The kitten was purring on the corner
of his pillow, stretching out an affectionate paw towards his undefended
eyes.

"I am reaping the fruit of your good deeds," smiled the sick man.  "Is
not this luxury?"

With a leap and a bound Edwin was at the foot of the bed, holding up the
recovered belt before his father’s astonished eyes.

Audrey peeped out from the door of the store-room. With a piece of
pumice-stone to serve her for a scrubbing-brush, she was endeavouring to
reduce its shelves to cleanliness and order.

"You here!" exclaimed Edwin, delighted to find themselves all at home
once more; "ready for the four-handed reel which we will dance to-night
if it does not make father’s head ache," he declared, escaping from
Effie’s embracing arms to Audrey’s probing questions about that journey
to Christchurch.

"Since you must have dropped from the skies yourself to have reached
home at all, it need excite no wonder," he said.

"Me!" she replied demurely.  "Why, I arrived at my father’s door, like a
correct young lady, long enough before any of you wanderers and
vagabonds thought of returning.  Our good friend the oyster-captain, as
Cuth will call him, sent me a message by one of Mr. Feltham’s shepherds
that my father wanted me to nurse him, and I hastened to obey.  Mrs.
Feltham lent me her own habit, and I rode home with my groom, behind me,
in grand style for an honest charwoman just released from washing
teacups and beating eggs.  My wages taken in kind loaded the panniers of
my steed, and I felt like a bee or an ant returning to the hive with its
store of honey."

"That is my best medicine," murmured Mr. Lee, as the merry laugh with
which Audrey’s words were greeted rang through the house.

Mr. Lee was slowly counting his remaining coin. He looked at Audrey.
Without another word she led her brothers away, Effie following as a
matter of course, and left him with his friend.

"Come and look round," whispered Audrey to Edwin.

"And help," he answered.  "It does not square with my ideas to let
strangers put a prop against the falling roof and I stand idle."

"Conceited boy!" cried Audrey, "to match your skill against our
oyster-captain’s."

She ran lightly down the veranda steps and pointed to the bluff sailor,
hammering at a sheet of iron he had brought from the ruins of the stable
to patch the tumble-down walls of the house.

With the rough-and-ready skill of a ship-carpenter he had set himself to
the task the moment he arrived.

"No, no thanks, my boys," he said, as Edwin and Cuthbert looked up at
the strong framework of beam and cross-bar which he had erected in so
brief a space, and burst into exclamations of wonder and delight.

"It was the one thing we could not do; it was beyond us all," added
Edwin.  "It is true, the poles lay ready on the ground and the nails
were rusting on the workshop floor, but the skill that could splice a
beam or shore up a rafter was not ours.  There was nobody about us who
could do it."

"I saw what was wanting when I helped to bring your father home, and it
set my compass, so I came back to do it.  A Jack-of-all-trades like me I
knew could make the old place ship-shape in a couple of days, and when
the old gentleman and his grandson saw what I was after, their coats
were off in a moment, and they have worked beside me with a will all
day," replied the captain.

Finding Mr. Lee awake, Mr. Bowen had taken the opportunity to join the
quiet council over ways and means which he was holding with his friend.

"Now just look on me as a neighbour, for what is fifty miles in New
Zealand? and remember I do not want anybody to tell me this disaster
leaves you both in an awkward strait.  If there is one thing we have
learned in our far-off corner in the Southern Ocean, it is to practise
our duty to our neighbour. Dr. Hector bears me out in thinking that
after such an eruption as this there will probably be peace in the hills
again, perhaps for hundreds of years.  No one remembers such an outbreak
of subterranean force, no one ever heard of such an one before, and all
we can do is to help each other.  If a loan will be of use to you to
tide over it, just tell me the figure, and I’ll write it down.  No
counting, Mr. Lee, if you please; I tell you the debtor account is all
on my side. Those little lads—"

The thud of the captain’s hammer drowned his voice.

"The same feeling," he added, "which lends its ring to that hammer
points my pen, and you must just remember, while you are lying here, how
we all envy you your quartette."

They could hear the merry laughter from the group in the veranda, where
Audrey was singing,—

    "What lads ere did our lads will do;
    Were I a lad, I would follow him too."


Effie gravely expostulated with her sister.  "I really do think, Audrey,
we ought to say now what our lads have done."

"Ah! but I fear they have something more to do," cried Edwin, suddenly
catching his little sister round the waist, not in play but in panic
fear, as he heard the trampling as of many horses crossing the bush. He
whirled her into the house and pushed Audrey after her, as the captain
ceased nailing to listen.

Arthur Bowen was by Edwin’s side as he spoke. With one impulse the bar
was lifted to its place, and the trio retreated to the veranda.  A long
train of pack-horses came winding down the valley.

Which was coming—friend or foe?

The boys stood very close to each other, ready to bolt in-doors at a
moment’s warning.  Edwin was at once the bravest and the most
apprehensive.

"You had better go to father and leave us two to watch," he said to his
brother.

"But old Cuth won’t go," muttered the little fellow, squaring his
shoulders and planting his foot firmly on the ground as he took his
stand between them.

"Holloa! ho! oh!" shouted a cheery voice they all knew well.

"It is Ottley! it is Ottley!" was echoed from side to side.

Down went the bar once more.  Out ran the trio, leaping, jumping,
chasing each other over the uneven ground, strewed with the broken arms
from the fallen giants of the neighbouring forest.  They raced each
other across the valley in the exuberance of their boyish spirits, let
loose by the momentary relief from the pressure and the fetters which
had been crushing them to earth.

"Until the coach can run again," said Ottley, as they came up to him
laughing and panting, "I have started a pack-horse team to carry up
supplies.  The roadmen are rebuilding their huts, and as I came along
they warned me one and all to avoid the ford to-night.  They were
anticipating a bit of warm work up there with their Maori neighbours,
and were holding themselves ready to answer the fordmaster’s signal at
any moment.  They told me of a crossing lower down the stream.  The
fords were sure to shift their places after such a time as we have had.
I found myself so near the valley farm, I turned aside to water my
horses at the rivulet, and rest for the night."

"Come along," cried Edwin; "father will be glad to see you.  But there
has been no scrimmage at the ford; trust Mr. Hirpington for that."

Ottley paused to release his weary team, and let them slake their thirst
with the so-called water at their feet, which really was not all sulphur
and sludge.

"I am not sure," he said compassionately, as he brought up the tired
horses one after another, "that the poor animals have not had a worse
time of it than we men; for their food and drink are gone, and it
grieved me to see them dying by the wayside as I came."

The boys helped him to measure out the corn and hobble them for the
night in the shelter of the valley.

Then Ottley looked around to ascertain the state of Mr. Lee’s new
fields.  Three men were lingering by the site of the charcoal fires.

"There are the rabbiters," said Cuthbert, "just as usual!"

"Nonsense," returned his brother; "the gang is dispersed."

"Well, there they are," he persisted; and he was right.

They marched on steadily, as if they were taking their nightly round,
but instead of the familiar traps, each one carried a young pig in his
arms.

Pig-driving, as Pat does it at Ballyshannon fair, is a joke to
pig-carrying when the pig is a wild one, born and reared in the bush.
On they came with their living burdens, after a fashion which called
forth the loudest merriment on the part of the watchers.

"Is Farmer Lee about again?" they asked, as they came up with the
pack-horse train.

Ottley shook his head and pointed to the laughing boys beside him,
saying, "These are his sons."

"No matter," they replied, with a dejected air.  "We cannot get our gang
together.  Hal is down, and Lawford missing.  We’ve been hunting a pig
or two over Feltham’s run, and we’ve brought ’em up to Farmer Lee.  They
are good ’uns, and they will make him three fat hogs by-and-by, if he
likes to keep ’em. We have heard something of what that Lawford has been
after, and we are uncommon mad about it, for fear the farmer should
think we had any hand in it."

"He knows you had not," returned Edwin.  "It is all found out.  But I do
not think Lawford will show his face here any more.  I am sure my father
will be pleased with such a present, and thank you all heartily."  As he
spoke he held out his hand, and received a true old Yorkshire gripe.

"There are three of us," he went on, glancing at Arthur and Cuthbert;
"but can we get such gifties home?"

"And what will you do with them when they are there?" asked Arthur;
"unless, like Paddy, you house them in the corner of the cabin."

Ottley, always good at need, came to the help, and proposed to lend his
empty corn-bags for the transit.

Back they went in triumph, each with a sack on his back and a struggling
pig fighting his way out of it.

The kicking and the squealing, the biting and the squalling, the screams
and the laughs, broke up the conference within doors, and augmented the
party at the supper, which Audrey and Effie were preparing from the
contents of the panniers.

"The pack-horse train a realized fact!" exclaimed Mr. Bowen.—"Come,
Arthur; that means for us the rest of our journey made easy.  We must be
ready for a start at any hour."

"If your time is to be my time," interposed Ottley, who was entering at
the moment, "we shall all wait for the morning."

"Wait for the morning," repeated the captain, as he lit his pipe.
"There is a bigger world of wisdom in that bit of advice than you think
for.  It is what we have all got to do at times, as we sailors soon find
out."

A light tread beneath the window caught Edwin’s ear.  Surely he knew
that step.  It was—it must be Whero’s.

He was out on the veranda in a moment.  There was his Maori friend
wandering round the house in the brilliant starshine, stroking his kaka.

"I cannot live upon my hill alone," said Whero. "I have followed you,
but I should cry hoké to you in vain.  I will take my bird and go back
to Tuaranga—it will be safe among my Maori school-fellows—until hunger
shall have passed away from the hills."

Edwin’s arm went round him as he cried out gleefully, "Ottley, Ottley,
here are two more passengers for the pack-horse train!"



                                THE END.



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                 *ENTIRELY NEW AND CHEAPER EDITION OF*

                  *R. M. Ballantyne’s Books for Boys.*


The Coral Island.  A Tale of the Pacific.

The Young Fur-Traders; or, Snowflakes and Sunbeams from the Far North.

The World of Ice.  Adventures in the Polar Regions.

The Gorilla Hunters.  A Tale of the Wilds of Africa.

Martin Rattler.  A Boy’s Adventures in the Forests of Brazil.

Ungava.  A Tale of Esquimau Land.

The Dog Crusoe and His Master.  A Story of Adventure on the Western
Prairies.

Hudson Bay; or, Everyday Life in the Wilds of North America, during a
Six Years’ Residence in the Territories of the Hon. Hudson Bay Company.
With Memoir of the Author and Portrait. Also Twenty-nine Illustrations
drawn by BAYARD and other Artists, from Sketches by the Author.



                        *The Boys’ New Library.*


The British Legion.  A Tale of the Carlist War.  By HERBERT HAYENS,
author of "An Emperor’s Doom," etc., etc.  Crown 8vo. With Six
Illustrations by W. H. MARGETSON.

The Island of Gold.  A Sea Story.  By GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N., author
of "Every Inch a Sailor," "How Jack Mackenzie won his Epaulettes," etc.,
etc.  Crown 8vo.  With Six Illustrations.

How Jack Mackenzie Won His Epaulettes.  By GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.,
author of "As We Sweep through the Deep," etc. With Six Illustrations by
A. PEARCE.  Crown 8vo, cloth extra.

Boris the Bear-Hunter.  A Story of Peter the Great and His Times. By
FRED. WHISHAW, author of "A Lost Army," etc.  Illustrated by W. S.
STACEY.  Crown 8vo, cloth extra.

My Strange Rescue.  AND OTHER STORIES OF SPORT AND ADVENTURE IN CANADA.
By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, author of "Up Among the Ice-Floes," "Diamond
Rock," etc.  Crown 8vo, cloth extra.

Pincherton Farm.  By E. A. B. D., author of "Young Ishmael Conway," etc.
Crown 8vo, cloth extra.

Up Among the Ice-Floes.  By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, author of "Diamond
Rock," etc.  With Illustrations.  Crown 8vo, cloth extra.

A Lost Army.  By FRED. WHISHAW, author of "Boris the Bear Hunter," "Out
of Doors in Tsarland," etc.  With Six Illustrations by W. S. STACEY.
Post 8vo, cloth extra.

Baffling the Blockade.  By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, author of "In the Wilds
of the West Coast," "Diamond Rock," "My Strange Rescue," etc.  Post 8vo,
cloth extra.

Chris Willoughby; or, Against the Current.  By FLORENCE E. BURCH, author
of "Dick and Harry and Tom," etc.  Post 8vo, cloth extra.

Diamond Rock; or, On the Right Track.  By J. MACDONALD OXLEY, author of
"Up Among the Ice-Floes," etc.  With Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth
extra.

Doing and Daring.  A New Zealand Story.  By ELEANOR STREDDER, author of
"Jack and his Ostrich," etc.  With Illustrations.  Post 8vo, cloth
extra.

Harold the Norseman.  By FRED. WHISHAW, author of "A Lost Army," "Boris
the Bear-Hunter," etc.  Post 8vo, cloth extra.



                    *Works of Travel and Research.*


Captain Cook’s Voyages Round the World.  With a Memoir by M. B. SYNGE.

Voyages and Travels of Captain Basil Hall.  With Illustrations.

The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.  By WASHINGTON IRVING.
Author’s Revised Edition.  With Illustrations.

Maury’s Physical Geography of the Sea.  With Charts, Diagrams, and
Illustrations.

The Bible in Spain; or, The Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of
an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the
Peninsula.  By GEORGE BORROW, author of "The Gipsies in Spain." With
Illustrations.

Journal of a Voyage Round the World of H.M.S. "Beagle." By CHARLES
DARWIN, M.A., F.R.S.  With Sixteen Full-page and Six Double-page
Illustrations.

Kane’s Arctic Explorations: The Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of
Sir John Franklin.  With a Chart and numerous Illustrations.

Wanderings in South America, etc.  By CHARLES WATERTON, Esq. With
Sixteen Illustrations.



                         *Self-Effort Series.*


Architects of Fate; or, Steps to Success and Power.  By ORISON SWETT
HARDEN, author of "Pushing to the Front; or, Success under
Difficulties."  With Eight Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.

Men Who Win; or, Making Things Happen.  By W. M. THAYER, author of "From
Log Cabin to White House," "Women Who Win," etc.  Crown 8vo, cloth
extra.

Women Who Win; or, Making Things Happen.  By W. M. THAYER, author of
"From Log Cabin to White House," "Men Who Win," etc.  Crown 8vo, cloth
extra.

The Achievements of Youth.  By the Rev. ROBERT STEEL, D.D., Ph.D.,
author of "Lives Made Sublime," etc.  Post 8vo, cloth extra.

Doing Good; or, The Christian in Walks of Usefulness.  Illustrated by
Examples.  By the Rev. ROBERT STEEL, D.D., Ph.D.  Post 8vo.

Earnest Men: Their Life and Work.  By the late Rev. W. K. TWEEDIE, D.D.
Crown 8vo.

Famous Artists.  Michael Angelo—Leonardo da
Vinci—Raphael—Titian—Murillo—Rubens—Rembrandt. By SARAH K. BOLTON.  Post
8vo, cloth extra.

Heroes of the Desert.  The Story of the Lives of Moffat and Livingstone.
By the Author of "Mary Powell."  New and Enlarged Edition, with numerous
Illustrations and Two Portraits.  Crown 8vo, cloth extra.



                  *Popular Works by E. Everett-Green.*


                          *HISTORICAL TALES.*

A Clerk of Oxford, and His Adventures in the Barons’ War.

The Young Pioneers; or, With La Salle on the Mississippi.

In Taunton Town.  A Story of the Rebellion of James, Duke of Monmouth,
in 1685.

Shut In.  A Tale of the Wonderful Siege of Antwerp in the Year 1585.

The Lost Treasure of Trevlyn. A Story of the Days of the Gunpowder Plot.

In the Days of Chivalry.  A Tale of the Times of the Black Prince.

Loyal Hearts and True.  A Story of the Days of "Good Queen Bess."

The Church and the King.  A Tale of England in the Days of Henry the
Eighth.

Tom Tufton’s Travels.

Dominique’s Vengeance.  A Story of France and Florida.

The Sign of the Red Cross.  A Tale of Old London.

Maud Melville’s Marriage.  A Tale of the Seventeenth Century.

Evil May-Day.  A Story of 1517.

In the Wars of the Roses.  A Story for the Young.

The Lord of Dynevor.  A Tale of the Times of Edward the First.

The Secret Chamber at Chad.  A Tale.



                       *BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.*

"Sister."  A Chronicle of Fair Haven.  With Eight Illustrations.

Molly Melville.  With Illustrations.

Olive Roscoe; or, The New Sister.  With Eight Illustrations.

The Heiress of Wylmington.

Temple’s Trial.

Vera’s Trust.  A Tale.

Winning the Victory; or, Di Pennington’s Reward.  A Tale.

For the Queen’s Sake; or, The Story of Little Sir Caspar.

Squib and his Friends.  A Story for Children.

Birdie’s Resolve, and How It Was Accomplished.  A Story for Children.

Dulcie’s Little Brother; or, Doings at Little Monksholm.

Dulcie and Tottie; or, The Story of an Old-Fashioned Pair.

Dulcie’s Love Story.

Fighting the Good Fight; or, The Successful Influence of Well Doing.

True to the Last; or, My Boyhood’s Hero.

Sir Aylmer’s Heir.  A Story for the Young.


          T. NELSON AND SONS, London, Edinburgh, and New York.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Doing and Daring - A New Zealand Story" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home