Part 8 out of 11
his convalescence was rapid.
At one o'clock, they all seated themselves on the raft, still moored
to the shore. John Mangles had installed himself at the starboard,
and entrusted to Wilson a sort of oar to steady the raft against
the current, and lessen the leeway. He took his own stand at the back,
to steer by means of a large scull; but, notwithstanding their efforts,
Wilson and John Mangles soon found themselves in an inverse position,
which made the action of the oars impossible.
There was no help for it; they could do nothing to arrest the gyratory
movement of the raft; it turned round with dizzying rapidity, and drifted
out of its course. John Mangles stood with pale face and set teeth,
gazing at the whirling current.
However, the raft had reached the middle of the river, about half
a mile from the starting point. Here the current was extremely strong,
and this broke the whirling eddy, and gave the raft some stability.
John and Wilson seized their oars again, and managed to push it
in an oblique direction. This brought them nearer to the left shore.
They were not more than fifty fathoms from it, when Wilson's oar snapped
short off, and the raft, no longer supported, was dragged away.
John tried to resist at the risk of breaking his own oar, too, and Wilson,
with bleeding hands, seconded his efforts with all his might.
At last they succeeded, and the raft, after a passage of more than
half an hour, struck against the steep bank of the opposite shore.
The shock was so violent that the logs became disunited,
the cords broke, and the water bubbled up between.
The travelers had barely time to catch hold of the steep bank.
They dragged out Mulrady and the two dripping ladies.
Everyone was safe; but the provisions and firearms, except the carbine
of the Major, went drifting down with the DEBRIS of the raft.
The river was crossed. The little company found themselves
almost without provisions, thirty-five miles from Delegete,
in the midst of the unknown deserts of the Victoria frontier.
Neither settlers nor squatters were to be met with; it was
entirely uninhabited, unless by ferocious bushrangers and bandits.
They resolved to set off without delay. Mulrady saw clearly that
he would be a great drag on them, and he begged to be allowed to remain,
and even to remain alone, till assistance could be sent from Delegete.
Glenarvan refused. It would be three days before he could
reach Delegete, and five the shore--that is to say, the 26th
of January. Now, as the DUNCAN had left Melbourne on the 16th,
what difference would a few days' delay make?
"No, my friend," he said, "I will not leave anyone behind.
We will make a litter and carry you in turn."
The litter was made of boughs of eucalyptus covered with branches;
and, whether he would or not, Mulrady was obliged to take his
place on it. Glenarvan would be the first to carry his sailor.
He took hold of one end and Wilson of the other, and all set off.
What a sad spectacle, and how lamentably was this expedition
to end which had commenced so well. They were no longer in search
of Harry Grant. This continent, where he was not, and never
had been, threatened to prove fatal to those who sought him.
And when these intrepid countrymen of his should reach the shore,
they would find the DUNCAN waiting to take them home again.
The first day passed silently and painfully. Every ten minutes
the litter changed bearers. All the sailor's comrades took
their share in this task without murmuring, though the fatigue
was augmented by the great heat.
In the evening, after a journey of only five miles, they camped
under the gum-trees. The small store of provisions saved from
the raft composed the evening meal. But all they had to depend
upon now was the Major's carbine.
It was a dark, rainy night, and morning seemed as if it would never dawn.
They set off again, but the Major could not find a chance of firing
a shot. This fatal region was only a desert, unfrequented even
by animals. Fortunately, Robert discovered a bustard's nest with a
dozen of large eggs in it, which Olbinett cooked on hot cinders.
These, with a few roots of purslain which were growing at the bottom
of a ravine, were all the breakfast of the 22d.
The route now became extremely difficult. The sandy plains were
bristling with SPINIFEX, a prickly plant, which is called in Melbourne
the porcupine. It tears the clothing to rags, and makes the legs bleed.
The courageous ladies never complained, but footed it bravely,
setting an example, and encouraging one and another by word or look.
They stopped in the evening at Mount Bulla Bulla, on the edge
of the Jungalla Creek. The supper would have been very scant,
if McNabbs had not killed a large rat, the _mus conditor_,
which is highly spoken of as an article of diet.
Olbinett roasted it, and it would have been pronounced even
superior to its reputation had it equaled the sheep in size.
They were obliged to be content with it, however, and it was
devoured to the bones.
On the 23d the weary but still energetic travelers started off again.
After having gone round the foot of the mountain, they crossed
the long prairies where the grass seemed made of whalebone.
It was a tangle of darts, a medley of sharp little sticks,
and a path had to be cut through either with the hatchet or fire.
That morning there was not even a question of breakfast. Nothing could
be more barren than this region strewn with pieces of quartz.
Not only hunger, but thirst began to assail the travelers.
A burning atmosphere heightened their discomfort.
Glenarvan and his friends could only go half a mile an hour.
Should this lack of food and water continue till evening,
they would all sink on the road, never to rise again.
But when everything fails a man, and he finds himself without
resources, at the very moment when he feels he must give up,
then Providence steps in. Water presented itself in the CEPHALOTES,
a species of cup-shaped flower, filled with refreshing liquid,
which hung from the branches of coralliform-shaped bushes.
They all quenched their thirst with these, and felt new life returning.
The only food they could find was the same as the natives were forced
to subsist upon, when they could find neither game, nor serpents,
nor insects. Paganel discovered in the dry bed of a creek,
a plant whose excellent properties had been frequently described
by one of his colleagues in the Geographical Society.
It was the NARDOU, a cryptogamous plant of the family Marsilacea,
and the same which kept Burke and King alive in the deserts of
the interior. Under its leaves, which resembled those of the trefoil,
there were dried sporules as large as a lentil, and these sporules,
when crushed between two stones, made a sort of flour. This was
converted into coarse bread, which stilled the pangs of hunger at least.
There was a great abundance of this plant growing in the district,
and Olbinett gathered a large supply, so that they were sure of food
for several days.
The next day, the 24th, Mulrady was able to walk part of the way.
His wound was entirely cicatrized. The town of Delegete was not more than
ten miles off, and that evening they camped in longitude 140 degrees,
on the very frontier of New South Wales.
For some hours, a fine but penetrating rain had been falling.
There would have been no shelter from this, if by chance John Mangles
had not discovered a sawyer's hut, deserted and dilapidated to a degree.
But with this miserable cabin they were obliged to be content.
Wilson wanted to kindle a fire to prepare the NARDOU bread,
and he went out to pick up the dead wood scattered all over
the ground. But he found it would not light, the great quantity
of albuminous matter which it contained prevented all combustion.
This is the incombustible wood put down by Paganel in his list
of Australian products.
They had to dispense with fire, and consequently with food too,
and sleep in their wet clothes, while the laughing jackasses,
concealed in the high branches, seemed to ridicule the poor unfortunates.
However, Glenarvan was nearly at the end of his sufferings.
It was time. The two young ladies were making heroic efforts,
but their strength was hourly decreasing. They dragged themselves along,
almost unable to walk.
Next morning they started at daybreak. At 11 A. M. Delegete
came in sight in the county of Wellesley, and fifty miles
from Twofold Bay.
Means of conveyance were quickly procured here.
Hope returned to Glenarvan as they approached the coast.
Perhaps there might have been some slight delay, and after all they
might get there before the arrival of the DUNCAN. In twenty-four
hours they would reach the bay.
At noon, after a comfortable meal, all the travelers installed in a
mail-coach, drawn by five strong horses, left Delegete at a gallop.
The postilions, stimulated by a promise of a princely DOUCEUR,
drove rapidly along over a well-kept road. They did not lose
a minute in changing horses, which took place every ten miles.
It seemed as if they were infected with Glenarvan's zeal.
All that day, and night, too, they traveled on at the rate of six
miles an hour.
In the morning at sunrise, a dull murmur fell on their ears,
and announced their approach to the Indian Ocean. They required
to go round the bay to gain the coast at the 37th parallel,
the exact point where Tom Austin was to wait their arrival.
When the sea appeared, all eyes anxiously gazed at the offing.
Was the DUNCAN, by a miracle of Providence, there running
close to the shore, as a month ago, when they crossed
Cape Corrientes, they had found her on the Argentine coast?
They saw nothing. Sky and earth mingled in the same horizon.
Not a sail enlivened the vast stretch of ocean.
One hope still remained. Perhaps Tom Austin had thought it
his duty to cast anchor in Twofold Bay, for the sea was heavy,
and a ship would not dare to venture near the shore. "To Eden!"
cried Glenarvan. Immediately the mail-coach resumed the route
round the bay, toward the little town of Eden, five miles distant.
The postilions stopped not far from the lighthouse, which marks
the entrance of the port. Several vessels were moored in the roadstead,
but none of them bore the flag of Malcolm.
Glenarvan, John Mangles, and Paganel got out of the coach,
and rushed to the custom-house, to inquire about the arrival
of vessels within the last few days.
No ship had touched the bay for a week.
"Perhaps the yacht has not started," Glenarvan said,
a sudden revulsion of feeling lifting him from despair.
"Perhaps we have arrived first."
John Mangles shook his head. He knew Tom Austin. His first mate
would not delay the execution of an order for ten days.
"I must know at all events how they stand," said Glenarvan.
"Better certainty than doubt."
A quarter of an hour afterward a telegram was sent to the syndicate
of shipbrokers in Melbourne. The whole party then repaired
to the Victoria Hotel.
At 2 P.M. the following telegraphic reply was received:
"LORD GLENARVAN, Eden.
"The DUNCAN left on the 16th current. Destination unknown.
J. ANDREWS, S. B."
The telegram dropped from Glenarvan's hands.
There was no doubt now. The good, honest Scotch yacht was now a pirate
ship in the hands of Ben Joyce!
So ended this journey across Australia, which had commenced
under circumstances so favorable. All trace of Captain Grant
and his shipwrecked men seemed to be irrevocably lost.
This ill success had cost the loss of a ship's crew.
Lord Glenarvan had been vanquished in the strife; and the
courageous searchers, whom the unfriendly elements of the Pampas
had been unable to check, had been conquered on the Australian
shore by the perversity of man.
END OF BOOK TWO
In Search of the Castaways or The Children of Captain Grant
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In Search of the Castaways
CHAPTER I A ROUGH CAPTAIN
IF ever the searchers after Captain Grant were tempted to despair,
surely it was at this moment when all their hopes were destroyed
at a blow. Toward what quarter of the world should they direct
their endeavors? How were they to explore new countries?
The DUNCAN was no longer available, and even an immediate
return to their own land was out of the question.
Thus the enterprise of these generous Scots had failed!
Failed! a despairing word that finds no echo in a brave soul;
and yet under the repeated blows of adverse fate, Glenarvan himself
was compelled to acknowledge his inability to prosecute
his devoted efforts.
Mary Grant at this crisis nerved herself to the resolution never
to utter the name of her father. She suppressed her own anguish,
when she thought of the unfortunate crew who had perished.
The daughter was merged in the friend, and she now took upon her to
console Lady Glenarvan, who till now had been her faithful comforter.
She was the first to speak of returning to Scotland. John Mangles was
filled with admiration at seeing her so courageous and so resigned.
He wanted to say a word further in the Captain's interest,
but Mary stopped him with a glance, and afterward said to him:
"No, Mr. John, we must think of those who ventured their lives.
Lord Glenarvan must return to Europe!"
"You are right, Miss Mary," answered John Mangles;
"he must. Beside, the English authorities must be
informed of the fate of the DUNCAN. But do not despair.
Rather than abandon our search I will resume it alone!
I will either find Captain Grant or perish in the attempt!"
It was a serious undertaking to which John Mangles bound himself;
Mary accepted, and gave her hand to the young captain, as if to
ratify the treaty. On John Mangles' side it was a life's devotion;
on Mary's undying gratitude.
During that day, their departure was finally arranged;
they resolved to reach Melbourne without delay.
Next day John went to inquire about the ships ready to sail.
He expected to find frequent communication between Eden and Victoria.
He was disappointed; ships were scarce. Three or four vessels,
anchored in Twofold Bay, constituted the mercantile fleet of the place;
none of them were bound for Melbourne, nor Sydney, nor Point de Galle,
at any of which ports Glenarvan would have found ships loading
for England. In fact, the Peninsular and Oriental Company has
a regular line of packets between these points and England.
Under these circumstances, what was to be done? Waiting for a ship
might be a tedious affair, for Twofold Bay is not much frequented.
Numbers of ships pass by without touching. After due reflection
and discussion, Glenarvan had nearly decided to follow the coast
road to Sydney, when Paganel made an unexpected proposition.
The geographer had visited Twofold Bay on his own account,
and was aware that there were no means of transport for Sydney
or Melbourne. But of the three vessels anchored in the roadstead
one was loading for Auckland, the capital of the northern island
of New Zealand. Paganel's proposal was to take the ship in question,
and get to Auckland, whence it would be easy to return to Europe
by the boats of the Peninsular and Oriental Company.
This proposition was taken into serious consideration.
Paganel on this occasion dispensed with the volley of arguments
he generally indulged in. He confined himself to the bare proposition,
adding that the voyage to New Zealand was only five or six days--
the distance, in fact, being only about a thousand miles.
By a singular coincidence Auckland is situated on the self-same parallel--
the thirty-seventh--which the explorers had perseveringly followed
since they left the coast of Araucania. Paganel might fairly have used
this as an argument in favor of his scheme; in fact, it was a natural
opportunity of visiting the shores of New Zealand.
But Paganel did not lay stress on this argument. After two mistakes,
he probably hesitated to attempt a third interpretation of
the document. Besides, what could he make of it? It said positively
that a "continent" had served as a refuge for Captain Grant,
not an island. Now, New Zealand was nothing but an island.
This seemed decisive. Whether, for this reason, or for some other,
Paganel did not connect any idea of further search with this
proposition of reaching Auckland. He merely observed that regular
communication existed between that point and Great Britain,
and that it was easy to take advantage of it.
John Mangles supported Paganel's proposal. He advised its adoption,
as it was hopeless to await the problematical arrival of a
vessel in Twofold Bay. But before coming to any decision,
he thought it best to visit the ship mentioned by the geographer.
Glenarvan, the Major, Paganel, Robert, and Mangles himself,
took a boat, and a few strokes brought them alongside the ship
anchored two cables' length from the quay.
It was a brig of 150 tons, named the MACQUARIE. It was
engaged in the coasting trade between the various ports
of Australia and New Zealand. The captain, or rather
the "master," received his visitors gruffly enough.
They perceived that they had to do with a man of no education,
and whose manners were in no degree superior to those of the five
sailors of his crew. With a coarse, red face, thick hands,
and a broken nose, blind of an eye, and his lips stained
with the pipe, Will Halley was a sadly brutal looking person.
But they had no choice, and for so short a voyage it was not
necessary to be very particular.
"What do you want?" asked Will Halley, when the strangers stepped
on the poop of his ship.
"The captain," answered John Mangles.
"I am the captain," said Halley. "What else do you want?"
"The MACQUARIE is loading for Auckland, I believe?"
"Yes. What else?"
"What does she carry?"
"Everything salable and purchasable. What else?"
"When does she sail?"
"To-morrow at the mid-day tide. What else?"
"Does she take passengers?"
"That depends on who the passengers are, and whether they are satisfied
with the ship's mess."
"They would bring their own provisions."
"Yes. How many are there?"
"Nine; two of them are ladies."
"I have no cabins."
"We will manage with such space as may be left at their disposal."
"Do you agree?" said John Mangles, who was not in the least put
out by the captain's peculiarities.
"We'll see," said the master of the MACQUARIE.
Will Halley took two or three turns on the poop, making it resound
with iron-heeled boots, and then he turned abruptly to John Mangles.
"What would you pay?" said he.
"What do you ask?" replied John.
Glenarvan looked consent.
"Very good! Fifty pounds," replied John Mangles.
"But passage only," added Halley.
"Yes, passage only."
"Agreed. And now," said Will, putting out his hand, "what about
the deposit money?"
"Here is half of the passage-money, twenty-five pounds,"
said Mangles, counting out the sum to the master.
"All aboard to-morrow," said he, "before noon. Whether or no,
I weigh anchor."
"We will be punctual."
This said, Glenarvan, the Major, Robert, Paganel, and John Mangles
left the ship, Halley not so much as touching the oilskin that adorned
his red locks.
"What a brute," exclaimed John.
"He will do," answered Paganel. "He is a regular sea-wolf."
"A downright bear!" added the Major.
"I fancy," said John Mangles, "that the said bear has dealt in human
flesh in his time."
"What matter?" answered Glenarvan, "as long as he commands the MACQUARIE,
and the MACQUARIE goes to New Zealand. From Twofold Bay to Auckland we
shall not see much of him; after Auckland we shall see him no more."
Lady Helena and Mary Grant were delighted to hear that their departure
was arranged for to-morrow. Glenarvan warned them that the MACQUARIE
was inferior in comfort to the DUNCAN. But after what they
had gone through, they were indifferent to trifling annoyances.
Wilson was told off to arrange the accommodation on board
the MACQUARIE. Under his busy brush and broom things soon
changed their aspect.
Will Halley shrugged his shoulders, and let the sailor have his way.
Glenarvan and his party gave him no concern. He neither knew,
nor cared to know, their names. His new freight represented fifty pounds,
and he rated it far below the two hundred tons of cured hides which were
stowed away in his hold. Skins first, men after. He was a merchant.
As to his sailor qualification, he was said to be skillful enough
in navigating these seas, whose reefs make them very dangerous.
As the day drew to a close, Glenarvan had a desire to go again to the
point on the coast cut by the 37th parallel. Two motives prompted him.
He wanted to examine once more the presumed scene of the wreck.
Ayrton had certainly been quartermaster on the BRITANNIA, and the
BRITANNIA might have been lost on this part of the Australian coast;
on the east coast if not on the west. It would not do to leave without
thorough investigation, a locality which they were never to revisit.
And then, failing the BRITANNIA, the DUNCAN certainly had fallen
into the hands of the convicts. Perhaps there had been a fight?
There might yet be found on the coast traces of a struggle,
a last resistance. If the crew had perished among the waves,
the waves probably had thrown some bodies on the shore.
Glenarvan, accompanied by his faithful John, went to carry out the
final search. The landlord of the Victoria Hotel lent them two horses,
and they set out on the northern road that skirts Twofold Bay.
It was a melancholy journey. Glenarvan and Captain John trotted
along without speaking, but they understood each other.
The same thoughts, the same anguish harrowed both their hearts.
They looked at the sea-worn rocks; they needed no words of question
or answer. John's well-tried zeal and intelligence were a guarantee
that every point was scrupulously examined, the least likely places,
as well as the sloping beaches and sandy plains where even the slight
tides of the Pacific might have thrown some fragments of wreck.
But no indication was seen that could suggest further search
in that quarter--all trace of the wreck escaped them still.
As to the DUNCAN, no trace either. All that part of Australia,
bordering the ocean, was desert.
Still John Mangles discovered on the skirts of the shore evident
traces of camping, remains of fires recently kindled under solitary
Myall-trees. Had a tribe of wandering blacks passed that way lately?
No, for Glenarvan saw a token which furnished incontestable proof
that the convicts had frequented that part of the coast.
This token was a grey and yellow garment worn and patched,
an ill-omened rag thrown down at the foot of a tree. It bore
the convict's original number at the Perth Penitentiary. The felon
was not there, but his filthy garments betrayed his passage.
This livery of crime, after having clothed some miscreant,
was now decaying on this desert shore.
"You see, John," said Glenarvan, "the convicts got as far as here!
and our poor comrades of the DUNCAN--"
"Yes," said John, in a low voice, "they never landed, they perished!"
"Those wretches!" cried Glenarvan. "If ever they fall into my hands
I will avenge my crew--"
Grief had hardened Glenarvan's features. For some minutes
he gazed at the expanse before him, as if taking a last look at
some ship disappearing in the distance. Then his eyes became dim;
he recovered himself in a moment, and without a word or look,
set off at a gallop toward Eden.
The wanderers passed their last evening sadly enough. Their thoughts
recalled all the misfortunes they had encountered in this country.
They remembered how full of well-warranted hope they had been at
Cape Bernouilli, and how cruelly disappointed at Twofold Bay!
Paganel was full of feverish agitation. John Mangles,
who had watched him since the affair at Snowy River, felt that
the geographer was hesitating whether to speak or not to speak.
A thousand times he had pressed him with questions, and failed
in obtaining an answer.
But that evening, John, in lighting him to his room, asked him
why he was so nervous.
"Friend John," said Paganel, evasively, "I am not more nervous
to-night than I always am."
"Mr. Paganel," answered John, "you have a secret that chokes you."
"Well!" cried the geographer, gesticulating, "what can I do?
It is stronger than I!"
"What is stronger?"
"My joy on the one hand, my despair on the other."
"You rejoice and despair at the same time!"
"Yes; at the idea of visiting New Zealand."
"Why! have you any trace?" asked John, eagerly. "Have you recovered
the lost tracks?"
"No, friend John. No one returns from New Zealand; but still--
you know human nature. All we want to nourish hope is breath.
My device is '_Spiro spero_,' and it is the best motto in the world!"
CHAPTER II NAVIGATORS AND THEIR DISCOVERIES
NEXT day, the 27th of January, the passengers of the MACQUARIE were
installed on board the brig. Will Halley had not offered his cabin
to his lady passengers. This omission was the less to be deplored,
for the den was worthy of the bear.
At half past twelve the anchor was weighed, having been
loosed from its holding-ground with some difficulty.
A moderate breeze was blowing from the southwest.
The sails were gradually unfurled; the five hands made slow work.
Wilson offered to assist the crew; but Halley begged him to be
quiet and not to interfere with what did not concern him.
He was accustomed to manage his own affairs, and required
neither assistance nor advice.
This was aimed at John Mangles, who had smiled at the clumsiness
of some maneuver. John took the hint, but mentally resolved that
he would nevertheless hold himself in readiness in case the incapacity
of the crew should endanger the safety of the vessel.
However, in time, the sails were adjusted by the five sailors,
aided by the stimulus of the captain's oaths.
The MACQUARIE stood out to sea on the larboard tack, under all
her lower sails, topsails, topgallants, cross-jack, and jib.
By and by, the other sails were hoisted. But in spite
of this additional canvas the brig made very little way.
Her rounded bow, the width of her hold, and her heavy stern,
made her a bad sailor, the perfect type of a wooden shoe.
They had to make the best of it. Happily, five days, or,
at most, six, would take them to Auckland, no matter how bad
a sailor the MACQUARIE was.
At seven o'clock in the evening the Australian coast and the lighthouse
of the port of Eden had faded out of sight. The ship labored
on the lumpy sea, and rolled heavily in the trough of the waves.
The passengers below suffered a good deal from this motion.
But it was impossible to stay on deck, as it rained violently.
Thus they were condemned to close imprisonment.
Each one of them was lost in his own reflections. Words were few.
Now and then Lady Helena and Miss Grant exchanged a few syllables.
Glenarvan was restless; he went in and out, while the Major
was impassive. John Mangles, followed by Robert, went on the poop
from time to time, to look at the weather. Paganel sat in his corner,
muttering vague and incoherent words.
What was the worthy geographer thinking of? Of New Zealand, the country
to which destiny was leading him. He went mentally over all his history;
he called to mind the scenes of the past in that ill-omened country.
But in all that history was there a fact, was there a solitary
incident that could justify the discoverers of these islands
in considering them as "a continent." Could a modern
geographer or a sailor concede to them such a designation.
Paganel was always revolving the meaning of the document.
He was possessed with the idea; it became his ruling thought.
After Patagonia, after Australia, his imagination, allured by
a name, flew to New Zealand. But in that direction, one point,
and only one, stood in his way.
"_Contin--contin_," he repeated, "that must mean continent!"
And then he resumed his mental retrospect of the navigators who made
known to us these two great islands of the Southern Sea.
It was on the 13th of December, 1642, that the Dutch navigator Tasman,
after discovering Van Diemen's Land, sighted the unknown shores
of New Zealand. He coasted along for several days, and on the 17th
of December his ships penetrated into a large bay, which, terminating in
a narrow strait, separated the two islands.
The northern island was called by the natives Ikana-Mani, a word
which signifies the fish of Mani. The southern island was called
Tavai-Pouna-Mou, "the whale that yields the green-stones."
Abel Tasman sent his boats on shore, and they returned
accompanied by two canoes and a noisy company of natives.
These savages were middle height, of brown or yellow complexion,
angular bones, harsh voices, and black hair, which was dressed
in the Japanese manner, and surmounted by a tall white feather.
This first interview between Europeans and aborigines seemed
to promise amicable and lasting intercourse. But the next day,
when one of Tasman's boats was looking for an anchorage nearer
to the land, seven canoes, manned by a great number of natives,
attacked them fiercely. The boat capsized and filled. The quartermaster
in command was instantly struck with a badly-sharpened spear,
and fell into the sea. Of his six companions four were killed;
the other two and the quartermaster were able to swim to the ships,
and were picked up and recovered.
After this sad occurrence Tasman set sail, confining his revenge to giving
the natives a few musket-shots, which probably did not reach them.
He left this bay--which still bears the name of Massacre Bay--
followed the western coast, and on the 5th of January, anchored near
the northern-most point. Here the violence of the surf, as well as
the unfriendly attitude of the natives, prevented his obtaining water,
and he finally quitted these shores, giving them the name Staten-land
or the Land of the States, in honor of the States-General.
The Dutch navigator concluded that these islands were
adjacent to the islands of the same name on the east of Terra
del Fuego, at the southern point of the American continent.
He thought he had found "the Great Southern Continent."
"But," said Paganel to himself, "what a seventeenth century
sailor might call a 'continent' would never stand for one with
a nineteenth century man. No such mistake can be supposed!
No! there is something here that baffles me."
CHAPTER III THE MARTYR-ROLL OF NAVIGATORS
ON the 31st of January, four days after starting, the MACQUARIE
had not done two-thirds of the distance between Australia
and New Zealand. Will Halley took very little heed to
the working of the ship; he let things take their chance.
He seldom showed himself, for which no one was sorry.
No one would have complained if he had passed all his time
in his cabin, but for the fact that the brutal captain
was every day under the influence of gin or brandy.
His sailors willingly followed his example, and no ship ever
sailed more entirely depending on Providence than the MACQUARIE
did from Twofold Bay.
This unpardonable carelessness obliged John Mangles to keep
a watchful eye ever open. Mulrady and Wilson more than once
brought round the helm when some careless steering threatened
to throw the ship on her beam-ends. Often Will Halley would
interfere and abuse the two sailors with a volley of oaths.
The latter, in their impatience, would have liked nothing better
than to bind this drunken captain, and lower him into the hold,
for the rest of the voyage. But John Mangles succeeded,
after some persuasion, in calming their well-grounded indignation.
Still, the position of things filled him with anxiety;
but, for fear of alarming Glenarvan, he spoke only to Paganel
or the Major. McNabbs recommended the same course as
Mulrady and Wilson.
"If you think it would be for the general good, John," said McNabbs,
"you should not hesitate to take the command of the vessel.
When we get to Auckland the drunken imbecile can resume his command,
and then he is at liberty to wreck himself, if that is his fancy."
"All that is very true, Mr. McNabbs, and if it is absolutely necessary I
will do it. As long as we are on open sea, a careful lookout is enough;
my sailors and I are watching on the poop; but when we get near the coast,
I confess I shall be uneasy if Halley does not come to his senses."
"Could not you direct the course?" asked Paganel.
"That would be difficult," replied John. "Would you believe it
that there is not a chart on board?"
"Is that so?"
"It is indeed. The MACQUARIE only does a coasting trade between
Eden and Auckland, and Halley is so at home in these waters
that he takes no observations."
"I suppose he thinks the ship knows the way, and steers herself."
"Ha! ha!" laughed John Mangles; "I do not believe in ships that
steer themselves; and if Halley is drunk when we get among soundings,
he will get us all into trouble."
"Let us hope," said Paganel, "that the neighborhood of land will bring
him to his senses."
"Well, then," said McNabbs, "if needs were, you could not sail
the MACQUARIE into Auckland?"
"Without a chart of the coast, certainly not.
The coast is very dangerous. It is a series of shallow fiords
as irregular and capricious as the fiords of Norway. There are
many reefs, and it requires great experience to avoid them.
The strongest ship would be lost if her keel struck one of those
rocks that are submerged but a few feet below the water."
"In that case those on board would have to take refuge on the coast."
"If there was time."
"A terrible extremity," said Paganel, "for they are not hospitable shores,
and the dangers of the land are not less appalling than the dangers
of the sea."
"You refer to the Maories, Monsieur Paganel?" asked John Mangles.
"Yes, my friend. They have a bad name in these waters.
It is not a matter of timid or brutish Australians, but of an
intelligent and sanguinary race, cannibals greedy of human flesh,
man-eaters to whom we should look in vain for pity."
"Well, then," exclaimed the Major, "if Captain Grant had been
wrecked on the coast of New Zealand, you would dissuade us
from looking for him."
"Oh, you might search on the coasts," replied the geographer,
"because you might find traces of the BRITANNIA, but not in the interior,
for it would be perfectly useless. Every European who ventures
into these fatal districts falls into the hands of the Maories,
and a prisoner in the hands of the Maories is a lost man. I have urged
my friends to cross the Pampas, to toil over the plains of Australia,
but I will never lure them into the mazes of the New Zealand forest.
May heaven be our guide, and keep us from ever being thrown within
the power of those fierce natives!"
CHAPTER IV THE WRECK OF THE "MACQUARIE"
STILL this wearisome voyage dragged on. On the 2d of February,
six days from starting, the MACQUARIE had not yet made a nearer
acquaintance with the shores of Auckland. The wind was fair,
nevertheless, and blew steadily from the southwest; but the currents
were against the ship's course, and she scarcely made any way.
The heavy, lumpy sea strained her cordage, her timbers creaked,
and she labored painfully in the trough of the sea. Her standing
rigging was so out of order that it allowed play to the masts,
which were violently shaken at every roll of the sea.
Fortunately, Will Halley was not a man in a hurry, and did not use
a press of canvas, or his masts would inevitably have come down.
John Mangles therefore hoped that the wretched hull would reach port
without accident; but it grieved him that his companions should
have to suffer so much discomfort from the defective arrangements
of the brig.
But neither Lady Helena nor Mary Grant uttered a word of complaint,
though the continuous rain obliged them to stay below, where the want
of air and the violence of the motion were painfully felt.
They often braved the weather, and went on the poop till
driven down again by the force of a sudden squall.
Then they returned to the narrow space, fitter for stowing
cargo than accommodating passengers, especially ladies.
Their friends did their best to amuse them. Paganel tried to beguile
the time with his stories, but it was a hopeless case. Their minds
were so distracted at this change of route as to be quite unhinged.
Much as they had been interested in his dissertation on the Pampas,
or Australia, his lectures on New Zealand fell on cold and
indifferent ears. Besides, they were going to this new and ill-reputed
country without enthusiasm, without conviction, not even of their own
free will, but solely at the bidding of destiny.
Of all the passengers on board the MACQUARIE, the most to be
pitied was Lord Glenarvan. He was rarely to be seen below.
He could not stay in one place. His nervous organization, highly excited,
could not submit to confinement between four narrow bulkheads.
All day long, even all night, regardless of the torrents of rain
and the dashing waves, he stayed on the poop, sometimes leaning
on the rail, sometimes walking to and fro in feverish agitation.
His eyes wandered ceaselessly over the blank horizon.
He scanned it eagerly during every short interval of clear weather.
It seemed as if he sought to question the voiceless waters; he longed
to tear away the veil of fog and vapor that obscured his view.
He could not be resigned, and his features expressed the bitterness
of his grief. He was a man of energy, till now happy and powerful,
and deprived in a moment of power and happiness. John Mangles bore
him company, and endured with him the inclemency of the weather.
On this day Glenarvan looked more anxiously than ever at each point
where a break in the mist enabled him to do so. John came up to him
and said, "Your Lordship is looking out for land?"
Glenarvan shook his head in dissent.
"And yet," said the young captain, "you must be longing to quit
this vessel. We ought to have seen the lights of Auckland
thirty-six hours ago."
Glenarvan made no reply. He still looked, and for a moment his glass
was pointed toward the horizon to windward.
"The land is not on that side, my Lord," said John Mangles.
"Look more to starboard."
"Why, John?" replied Glenarvan. "I am not looking for the land."
"What then, my Lord?"
"My yacht! the DUNCAN," said Glenarvan, hotly. "It must be here
on these coasts, skimming these very waves, playing the vile
part of a pirate! It is here, John; I am certain of it,
on the track of vessels between Australia and New Zealand;
and I have a presentiment that we shall fall in with her."
"God keep us from such a meeting!"
"Your Lordship forgets our position. What could we do in this ship
if the DUNCAN gave chase. We could not even fly!"
"Yes, my Lord; we should try in vain! We should be taken,
delivered up to the mercy of those wretches, and Ben Joyce has shown us
that he does not stop at a crime! Our lives would be worth little.
We would fight to the death, of course, but after that!
Think of Lady Glenarvan; think of Mary Grant!"
"Poor girls!" murmured Glenarvan. "John, my heart is broken;
and sometimes despair nearly masters me. I feel as if fresh
misfortunes awaited us, and that Heaven itself is against us.
It terrifies me!"
"You, my Lord?"
"Not for myself, John, but for those I love--whom you love, also."
"Keep up your heart, my Lord," said the young captain.
"We must not look out for troubles. The MACQUARIE
sails badly, but she makes some way nevertheless. Will Halley
is a brute, but I am keeping my eyes open, and if the coast
looks dangerous, I will put the ship's head to sea again.
So that, on that score, there is little or no danger.
But as to getting alongside the DUNCAN! God forbid!
And if your Lordship is bent on looking out for her, let it
be in order to give her a wide berth."
John Mangles was right. An encounter with the DUNCAN
would have been fatal to the MACQUARIE. There was every
reason to fear such an engagement in these narrow seas,
in which pirates could ply their trade without risk.
However, for that day at least, the yacht did not appear,
and the sixth night from their departure from Twofold Bay came,
without the fears of John Mangles being realized.
But that night was to be a night of terrors. Darkness came on almost
suddenly at seven o'clock in the evening;
V. IV Verne
[illustration omitted] [page intentionally blank] the sky
was very threatening. The sailor instinct rose above the
stupefaction of the drunkard and roused Will Halley. He left
his cabin, rubbed his eyes, and shook his great red head.
Then he drew a great deep breath of air, as other people swallow
a draught of water to revive themselves. He examined the masts.
The wind freshened, and veering a point more to the westward,
blew right for the New Zealand coast.
Will Halley, with many an oath, called his men, tightened his
topmast cordage, and made all snug for the night.
John Mangles approved in silence. He had ceased to hold any
conversation with the coarse seaman; but neither Glenarvan nor
he left the poop. Two hours after a stiff breeze came on.
Will Halley took in the lower reef of his topsails.
The maneuver would have been a difficult job for five men if
the MACQUARIE had not carried a double yard, on the American plan.
In fact, they had only to lower the upper yard to bring the sail
to its smallest size.
Two hours passed; the sea was rising. The MACQUARIE was struck so
violently that it seemed as if her keel had touched the rocks. There was
no real danger, but the heavy vessel did not rise easily to the waves.
By and by the returning waves would break over the deck in great masses.
The boat was washed out of the davits by the force of the water.
John Mangles never released his watch. Any other ship would
have made no account of a sea like this; but with this heavy
craft there was a danger of sinking by the bow, for the deck
was filled at every lurch, and the sheet of water not being able
to escape quickly by the scuppers, might submerge the ship.
It would have been the wisest plan to prepare for emergency by
knocking out the bulwarks with an ax to facilitate their escape,
but Halley refused to take this precaution.
But a greater danger was at hand, and one that it was too late
to prevent. About half-past eleven, John Mangles and Wilson, who stayed
on deck throughout the gale, were suddenly struck by an unusual noise.
Their nautical instincts awoke. John seized the sailor's hand.
"The reef!" said he.
"Yes," said Wilson; "the waves breaking on the bank."
"Not more than two cables' length off?"
"At farthest? The land is there!"
John leaned over the side, gazed into the dark water, and called out,
"Wilson, the lead!"
The master, posted forward, seemed to have no idea of his position.
Wilson seized the lead-line, sprang to the fore-chains, and threw
the lead; the rope ran out between his fingers, at the third knot
the lead stopped.
"Three fathoms," cried Wilson.
"Captain," said John, running to Will Halley, "we are on the breakers."
Whether or not he saw Halley shrug his shoulders is of very
little importance. But he hurried to the helm, put it hard down,
while Wilson, leaving the line, hauled at the main-topsail brace
to bring the ship to the wind. The man who was steering received
a smart blow, and could not comprehend the sudden attack.
"Let her go! Let her go!" said the young captain, working her to get
away from the reefs.
For half a minute the starboard side of the vessel was turned
toward them, and, in spite of the darkness, John could discern
a line of foam which moaned and gleamed four fathoms away.
At this moment, Will Halley, comprehending the danger, lost his head.
His sailors, hardly sobered, could not understand his orders.
His incoherent words, his contradictory orders showed that this
stupid sot had quite lost his self-control. He was taken
by surprise at the proximity of the land, which was eight
miles off, when he thought it was thirty or forty miles off.
The currents had thrown him out of his habitual track,
and this miserable slave of routine was left quite helpless.
Still the prompt maneuver of John Mangles succeeded in keeping
the MACQUARIE off the breakers. But John did not know the position.
For anything he could tell he was girdled in by reefs.
The wind blew them strongly toward the east, and at every lurch
they might strike.
In fact, the sound of the reef soon redoubled on the starboard side
of the bow. They must luff again. John put the helm down again and
brought her up. The breakers increased under the bow of the vessel,
and it was necessary to put her about to regain the open sea.
Whether she would be able to go about under shortened sail, and badly
trimmed as she was, remained to be seen, but there was nothing else
to be done.
"Helm hard down!" cried Mangles to Wilson.
The MACQUARIE began to near the new line of reefs:
in another moment the waves were seen dashing on submerged rocks.
It was a moment of inexpressible anxiety. The spray
was luminous, just as if lit up by sudden phosphorescence.
The roaring of the sea was like the voice of those ancient
Tritons whom poetic mythology endowed with life.
Wilson and Mulrady hung to the wheel with all their weight.
Some cordage gave way, which endangered the foremast.
It seemed doubtful whether she would go about without further damage.
Suddenly the wind fell and the vessel fell back, and turning
her became hopeless. A high wave caught her below, carried her
up on the reefs, where she struck with great violence.
The foremast came down with all the fore-rigging. The brig
rose twice, and then lay motionless, heeled over on her port
side at an angle of 30 degrees.
The glass of the skylight had been smashed to powder.
The passengers rushed out. But the waves were sweeping the deck
from one side to the other, and they dared not stay there.
John Mangles, knowing the ship to be safely lodged in the sand,
begged them to return to their own quarters.
"Tell me the truth, John," said Glenarvan, calmly.
"The truth, my Lord, is that we are at a standstill.
Whether the sea will devour us is another question; but we
have time to consider."
"It is midnight?"
"Yes, my Lord, and we must wait for the day."
"Can we not lower the boat?"
"In such a sea, and in the dark, it is impossible.
And, besides, where could we land?"
"Well, then, John, let us wait for the daylight."
Will Halley, however, ran up and down the deck like a maniac.
His crew had recovered their senses, and now broached a cask of brandy,
and began to drink. John foresaw that if they became drunk,
terrible scenes would ensue.
The captain could not be relied on to restrain them;
the wretched man tore his hair and wrung his hands.
His whole thought was his uninsured cargo. "I am ruined!
I am lost!" he would cry, as he ran from side to side.
John Mangles did not waste time on him. He armed his two companions,
and they all held themselves in readiness to resist the sailors who were
filling themselves with brandy, seasoned with fearful blasphemies.
"The first of these wretches that comes near the ladies,
I will shoot like a dog," said the Major, quietly.
The sailors doubtless saw that the passengers were determined
to hold their own, for after some attempts at pillage,
they disappeared to their own quarters. John Mangles thought no
more of these drunken rascals, and waited impatiently for the dawn.
The ship was now quite motionless. The sea became gradually calmer.
The wind fell. The hull would be safe for some hours yet.
At daybreak John examined the landing-place; the yawl, which was
now their only boat, would carry the crew and the passengers.
It would have to make three trips at least, as it could
only hold four.
As he was leaning on the skylight, thinking over the situation
of affairs, John Mangles could hear the roaring of the surf.
He tried to pierce the darkness. He wondered how far it
was to the land they longed for no less than dreaded.
A reef sometimes extends for miles along the coast.
Could their fragile boat hold out on a long trip?
While John was thus ruminating and longing for a little light from
the murky sky, the ladies, relying on him, slept in their little berths.
The stationary attitude of the brig insured them some hours of repose.
Glenarvan, John, and their companions, no longer disturbed by the noise
of the crew who were now wrapped in a drunken sleep, also refreshed
themselves by a short nap, and a profound silence reigned on board
the ship, herself slumbering peacefully on her bed of sand.
Toward four o'clock the first peep of dawn appeared in the east.
The clouds were dimly defined by the pale light of the dawn.
John returned to the deck. The horizon was veiled with a curtain
of fog. Some faint outlines were shadowed in the mist, but at
a considerable height. A slight swell still agitated the sea,
but the more distant waves were undistinguishable in a motionless
bank of clouds.
John waited. The light gradually increased, and the horizon acquired
a rosy hue. The curtain slowly rose over the vast watery stage.
Black reefs rose out of the waters. Then a line became defined
on the belt of foam, and there gleamed a luminous beacon-light
point behind a low hill which concealed the scarcely risen sun.
There was the land, less than nine miles off.
"Land ho!" cried John Mangles.
His companions, aroused by his voice, rushed to the poop,
and gazed in silence at the coast whose outline lay on the horizon.
Whether they were received as friends or enemies, that coast must
be their refuge.
"Where is Halley?" asked Glenarvan.
"I do not know, my Lord," replied John Mangles.
"Where are the sailors?"
"Invisible, like himself."
"Probably dead drunk, like himself," added McNabbs.
"Let them be called," said Glenarvan, "we cannot leave them
on the ship."
Mulrady and Wilson went down to the forecastle, and two
minutes after they returned. The place was empty!
They then searched between decks, and then the hold.
But found no trace of Will Halley nor his sailors.
"What! no one?" exclaimed Glenarvan.
"Could they have fallen into the sea?" asked Paganel.
"Everything is possible," replied John Mangles, who was getting uneasy.
Then turning toward the stern: "To the boat!" said he.
Wilson and Mulrady followed to launch the yawl. The yawl was gone.
CHAPTER V CANNIBALS
WILL HALLEY and his crew, taking advantage of the darkness of night
and the sleep of the passengers, had fled with the only boat.
There could be no doubt about it. The captain, whose duty would have
kept him on board to the last, had been the first to quit the ship.
"The cowards are off!" said John Mangles. "Well, my Lord,
so much the better. They have spared us some trying scenes."
"No doubt," said Glenarvan; "besides we have a captain of our own,
and courageous, if unskillful sailors, your companions, John. Say the
word, and we are ready to obey."
The Major, Paganel, Robert, Wilson, Mulrady, Olbinett himself,
applauded Glenarvan's speech, and ranged themselves on the deck,
ready to execute their captain's orders.
"What is to be done?" asked Glenarvan.
It was evident that raising the MACQUARIE was out of the question,
and no less evident that she must be abandoned. Waiting on board
for succor that might never come, would have been imprudence and folly.
Before the arrival of a chance vessel on the scene, the MACQUARIE
would have broken up. The next storm, or even a high tide
raised by the winds from seaward, would roll it on the sands,
break it up into splinters, and scatter them on the shore.
John was anxious to reach the land before this inevitable consummation.
He proposed to construct a raft strong enough to carry the passengers,
and a sufficient quantity of provisions, to the coast of New Zealand.
There was no time for discussion, the work was to be set about
at once, and they had made considerable progress when night came
and interrupted them.
Toward eight o'clock in the evening, after supper, while Lady Helena
and Mary Grant slept in their berths, Paganel and his friends
conversed on serious matters as they walked up and down the deck.
Robert had chosen to stay with them. The brave boy listened
with all his ears, ready to be of use, and willing to enlist
in any perilous adventure.
Paganel asked John Mangles whether the raft could not follow the coast
as far as Auckland, instead of landing its freight on the coast.
John replied that the voyage was impossible with such
an unmanageable craft.
"And what we cannot do on a raft could have been done in the ship's boat?"
"Yes, if necessary," answered John; "but we should have had to sail
by day and anchor at night."
"Then those wretches who abandoned us--"
"Oh, as for them," said John, "they were drunk, and in the darkness
I have no doubt they paid for their cowardice with their lives."
"So much the worse for them and for us," replied Paganel;
"for the boat would have been very useful to us."
"What would you have, Paganel? The raft will bring us to
the shore," said Glenarvan.
"The very thing I would fain avoid," exclaimed the geographer.
"What! do you think another twenty miles after crossing the Pampas
and Australia, can have any terrors for us, hardened as we
are to fatigue?"
"My friend," replied Paganel, "I do not call in question our courage
nor the bravery of our friends. Twenty miles would be nothing
in any other country than New Zealand. You cannot suspect me
of faint-heartedness. I was the first to persuade you to cross
America and Australia. But here the case is different. I repeat,
anything is better than to venture into this treacherous country."
"Anything is better, in my judgment," said John Mangles,
"than braving certain destruction on a stranded vessel."
"What is there so formidable in New Zealand?" asked Glenarvan.
"The savages," said Paganel.
"The savages!" repeated Glenarvan. "Can we not avoid them
by keeping to the shore? But in any case what have we to fear?
Surely, two resolute and well-armed Europeans need not give
a thought to an attack by a handful of miserable beings."
Paganel shook his head. "In this case there are no miserable
beings to contend with. The New Zealanders are a powerful race,
who are rebelling against English rule, who fight the invaders,
and often beat them, and who always eat them!"
"Cannibals!" exclaimed Robert, "cannibals?" Then they heard him whisper,
"My sister! Lady Helena."
"Don't frighten yourself, my boy," said Glenarvan;
"our friend Paganel exaggerates."
"Far from it," rejoined Paganel. "Robert has shown himself a man,
and I treat him as such, in not concealing the truth from him."
Paganel was right. Cannibalism has become a fixed fact in New Zealand,
as it is in the Fijis and in Torres Strait. Superstition is no doubt
partly to blame, but cannibalism is certainly owing to the fact that there
are moments when game is scarce and hunger great. The savages began by
eating human flesh to appease the demands of an appetite rarely satiated;
subsequently the priests regulated and satisfied the monstrous custom.
What was a meal, was raised to the dignity of a ceremony, that is all.
Besides, in the eyes of the Maories, nothing is more natural
than to eat one another. The missionaries often questioned
them about cannibalism. They asked them why they devoured
their brothers; to which the chiefs made answer that fish
eat fish, dogs eat men, men eat dogs, and dogs eat one another.
Even the Maori mythology has a legend of a god who ate another god;
and with such a precedent, who could resist eating his neighbor?
Another strange notion is, that in eating a dead enemy they consume
his spiritual being, and so inherit his soul, his strength and
his bravery, which they hold are specially lodged in the brain.
This accounts for the fact that the brain figures in their feasts
as the choicest delicacy, and is offered to the most honored guest.
But while he acknowledged all this, Paganel maintained, not without
a show of reason, that sensuality, and especially hunger,
was the first cause of cannibalism among the New Zealanders,
and not only among the Polynesian races, but also among
the savages of Europe.
"For," said he, "cannibalism was long prevalent among
the ancestors of the most civilized people, and especially
(if the Major will not think me personal) among the Scotch."
"Really," said McNabbs.
"Yes, Major," replied Paganel. "If you read certain passages
of Saint Jerome, on the Atticoli of Scotland, you will see
what he thought of your forefathers. And without going
so far back as historic times, under the reign of Elizabeth,
when Shakespeare was dreaming out his Shy-lock, a Scotch bandit,
Sawney Bean, was executed for the crime of cannibalism.
Was it religion that prompted him to cannibalism?
No! it was hunger."
"Hunger?" said John Mangles.
"Hunger!" repeated Paganel; "but, above all, the necessity
of the carnivorous appetite of replacing the bodily waste,
by the azote contained in animal tissues. The lungs are
satisfied with a provision of vegetable and farinaceous food.
But to be strong and active the body must be supplied
with those plastic elements that renew the muscles.
Until the Maories become members of the Vegetarian Association
they will eat meat, and human flesh as meat."
"Why not animal flesh?" asked Glenarvan.
"Because they have no animals," replied Paganel; "and that ought
to be taken into account, not to extenuate, but to explain,
their cannibal habits. Quadrupeds, and even birds, are rare
on these inhospitable shores, so that the Maories have always
eaten human flesh. There are even 'man-eating seasons,'
as there are in civilized countries hunting seasons.
Then begin the great wars, and whole tribes are served up
on the tables of the conquerors."
"Well, then," said Glenarvan, "according to your mode of reasoning,
Paganel, cannibalism will not cease in New Zealand until her pastures
teem with sheep and oxen."
"Evidently, my dear Lord; and even then it will take years to wean them
from Maori flesh, which they prefer to all others; for the children
will still have a relish for what their fathers so highly appreciated.
According to them it tastes like pork, with even more flavor.
As to white men's flesh, they do not like it so well, because the
whites eat salt with their food, which gives a peculiar flavor,
not to the taste of connoisseurs."
"They are dainty," said the Major. "But, black or white,
do they eat it raw, or cook it?"
"Why, what is that to you, Mr. McNabbs?" cried Robert.
"What is that to me!" exclaimed the Major, earnestly. "If I am
to make a meal for a cannibal, I should prefer being cooked."
"Because then I should be sure of not being eaten alive!"
"Very good. Major," said Paganel; "but suppose they cooked you alive?"
"The fact is," answered the Major, "I would not give half-a-crown
for the choice!"
"Well, McNabbs, if it will comfort you--you may as well be told--
the New Zealanders do not eat flesh without cooking or smoking it.
They are very clever and experienced in cookery.
For my part, I very much dislike the idea of being eaten!
The idea of ending one's life in the maw of a savage! bah!"
"The conclusion of all," said John Mangles, "is that we must not fall
into their hands. Let us hope that one day Christianity will abolish
all these monstrous customs."
"Yes, we must hope so," replied Paganel; "but, believe me, a savage
who has tasted human flesh, is not easily persuaded to forego it.
I will relate two facts which prove it."
"By all means let us have the facts, Paganel," said Glenarvan.
"The first is narrated in the chronicles of the Jesuit Society
in Brazil. A Portuguese missionary was one day visiting
an old Brazilian woman who was very ill. She had only a few
days to live. The Jesuit inculcated the truths of religion,
which the dying woman accepted, without objection.
Then having attended to her spiritual wants, he bethought himself
of her bodily needs, and offered her some European delicacies.
'Alas,' said she, 'my digestion is too weak to bear any kind of food.
There is only one thing I could fancy, and nobody here could
get it for me.' 'What is it?' asked the Jesuit. 'Ah! my son,'
said she, 'it is the hand of a little boy! I feel as if I
should enjoy munching the little bones!'"
"Horrid! but I wonder is it so very nice?" said Robert.
"My second tale will answer you, my boy," said Paganel: "One day
a missionary was reproving a cannibal for the horrible custom,
so abhorrent to God's laws, of eating human flesh! 'And beside,'
said he, 'it must be so nasty!' 'Oh, father,' said the savage,
looking greedily at the missionary, 'say that God forbids it!
That is a reason for what you tell us. But don't say it is nasty!
If you had only tasted it!'"
CHAPTER VI A DREADED COUNTRY
PAGANEL'S facts were indisputable. The cruelty of the New Zealanders
was beyond a doubt, therefore it was dangerous to land.
But had the danger been a hundredfold greater, it had to be faced.
John Mangles felt the necessity of leaving without delay
a vessel doomed to certain and speedy destruction.
There were two dangers, one certain and the other probable,
but no one could hesitate between them.
As to their chance of being picked up by a passing vessel,
they could not reasonably hope for it. The MACQUARIE was
not in the track of ships bound to New Zealand. They keep
further north for Auckland, further south for New Plymouth,
and the ship had struck just between these two points,
on the desert region of the shores of Ika-na-Mani, a dangerous,
difficult coast, and infested by desperate characters.
"When shall we get away?" asked Glenarvan.
"To-morrow morning at ten o'clock," replied John Mangles. "The tide
will then turn and carry us to land."
Next day, February 5, at eight o'clock, the raft was finished.
John had given all his attention to the building of this structure.
The foreyard, which did very well for mooring the anchors,
was quite inadequate to the transport of passengers and provisions.
What was needed was a strong, manageable raft, that would
resist the force of the waves during a passage of nine miles.
Nothing but the masts could supply suitable materials.
Wilson and Mulrady set to work; the rigging was cut clear,
and the mainmast, chopped away at the base, fell over
the starboard rail, which crashed under its weight.
The MACQUARIE was thus razed like a pontoon.
When the lower mast, the topmasts, and the royals were sawn and split,
the principal pieces of the raft were ready. They were then joined to the
fragments of the foremast and the whole was fastened securely together.
John took the precaution to place in the interstices half a dozen empty
barrels, which would raise the structure above the level of the water.
On this strong foundation, Wilson laid a kind of floor in open work,
made of the gratings off the hatches. The spray could then dash on
the raft without staying there, and the passengers would be kept dry.
In addition to this, the hose-pipes firmly lashed together formed a kind
of circular barrier which protected the deck from the waves.
That morning, John seeing that the wind was in their favor,
rigged up the royal-yard in the middle of the raft as a mast.
It was stayed with shrouds, and carried a makeshift sail.
A large broad-bladed oar was fixed behind to act as a rudder
in case the wind was sufficient to require it. The greatest
pains had been expended on strengthening the raft to resist
the force of the waves, but the question remained whether,
in the event of a change of wind, they could steer, or indeed,
whether they could hope ever to reach the land.
At nine o'clock they began to load. First came the provisions,
in quantity sufficient to last till they should reach Auckland,
for they could not count on the productions of this barren region.
Olbinett's stores furnished some preserved meat which remained of
the purchase made for their voyage in the MACQUARIE. This was but a
scanty resource. They had to fall back on the coarse viands of the ship;
sea biscuits of inferior quality, and two casks of salt fish.
The steward was quite crestfallen.
These provisions were put in hermetically sealed cases, staunch and safe
from sea water, and then lowered on to the raft and strongly lashed to the
foot of the mast. The arms and ammunition were piled in a dry corner.
Fortunately the travelers were well armed with carbines and revolvers.
A holding anchor was also put on board in case John should be unable
to make the land in one tide, and would have to seek moorings.
At ten o'clock the tide turned. The breeze blew gently from
the northwest, and a slight swell rocked the frail craft.
"Are we ready?" asked John.
"All ready, captain," answered Wilson.
"All aboard!" cried John.
Lady Helena and Mary Grant descended by a rope ladder,
and took their station at the foot of the mast on the cases
of provisions, their companions near them. Wilson took the helm.
John stood by the tackle, and Mulrady cut the line which held
the raft to the ship's side.
The sail was spread, and the frail structure commenced its progress
toward the land, aided by wind and tide. The coast was about
nine miles off, a distance that a boat with good oars would have
accomplished in three hours. But with a raft allowance must be made.
If the wind held, they might reach the land in one tide.
But if the breeze died away, the ebb would carry them away
from the shore, and they would be compelled to anchor and wait
for the next tide, a serious consideration, and one that filled
John Mangles with anxiety.
Still he hoped to succeed. The wind freshened. The tide had
turned at ten o'clock, and by three they must either make the land
or anchor to save themselves from being carried out to sea.
They made a good start. Little by little the black line of the reefs
and the yellow banks of sand disappeared under the swelling tide.
Extreme watchfulness and perfect skill were necessary to avoid
these submerged rocks, and steer a bark that did not readily answer
to the helm, and that constantly broke off.
At noon they were still five miles from shore. A tolerably clear
sky allowed them to make out the principal features of the land.
In the northeast rose a mountain about 2,300 feet high,
whose sharply defined outline was exactly like the grinning
face of a monkey turned toward the sky. It was Pirongia,
which the map gave as exactly on the 38th parallel.
At half-past twelve, Paganel remarked that all the rocks had disappeared
under the rising tide.
"All but one," answered Lady Helena.
"Which, Madam?" asked Paganel.
"There," replied she, pointing to a black speck a mile off.
"Yes, indeed," said Paganel. "Let us try to ascertain its position,
so as not to get too near it, for the sea will soon conceal it."
"It is exactly in a line with the northern slope of the mountain,"
said John Mangles. "Wilson, mind you give it a wide berth."
"Yes, captain," answered the sailor, throwing his whole weight
on the great oar that steered the raft.
In half an hour they had made half a mile. But, strange to say,
the black point still rose above the waves.
John looked attentively, and in order to make it out,
borrowed Paganel's telescope.
"That is no reef," said he, after a moment; "it is something floating,
which rises and falls with the swell."
"Is it part of the mast of the MACQUARIE?" asked Lady Helena.
"No," said Glenarvan, "none of her timbers could have come so far."
"Stay!" said John Mangles; "I know it! It is the boat."
"The ship's boat?" exclaimed Glenarvan.
"Yes, my lord. The ship's boat, keel up."
"The unfortunate creatures," cried Lady Helena, "they have perished!"
"Yes, Madam," replied John Mangles, "they must have perished,
for in the midst of these breakers in a heavy swell on that pitchy night,
they ran to certain death."
For a few minutes the passengers were silent.
They gazed at the frail craft as they drew near it.
It must evidently have capsized about four miles from the shore,
and not one of the crew could have escaped.
"But this boat may be of use to us," said Glenarvan.
"That is true," answered John Mangles. "Keep her up, Wilson."
The direction was slightly changed, but the breeze fell gradually,
and it was two hours before they reached the boat.
Mulrady, stationed forward, fended off the blow, and the yawl
was drawn alongside.
"Empty?" asked John Mangles.
"Yes, captain," answered the sailor, "the boat is empty.
and all its seams are open. It is of no use to us."
"No use at all?" said McNabbs.
"None at all," said John Mangles.
"It is good for nothing but to burn."
"I regret it," said Paganel, "for the yawl might have taken
us to Auckland."
"We must bear our fate, Monsieur Paganel," replied John Mangles.
"But, for my part, in such a stormy sea I prefer our raft to that
crazy boat. A very slight shock would be enough to break her up.
Therefore, my lord, we have nothing to detain us further."
"As you think best, John."
"On then, Wilson," said John, "and bear straight for the land."
There was still an hour before the turn of the tide.
In that time they might make two miles. But the wind soon fell
almost entirely, and the raft became nearly motionless, and soon
began to drift to seaward under the influence of the ebb-tide.
John did not hesitate a moment.
"Let go the anchor," said he.
Mulrady, who stood to execute this order, let go the anchor in five
fathoms water. The raft backed about two fathoms on the line,
which was then at full stretch. The sail was taken in,
and everything made snug for a tedious period of inaction.
The returning tide would not occur till nine o'clock in the evening;
and as John Mangles did not care to go on in the dark, the anchorage
was for the night, or at least till five o'clock in the morning,
land being in sight at a distance of less than three miles.
A considerable swell raised the waves, and seemed to set in continuously
toward the coast, and perceiving this, Glenarvan asked John why he did
not take advantage of this swell to get nearer to the land.
"Your Lordship is deceived by an optical illusion,"
said the young captain. "Although the swell seems to carry
the waves landward, it does not really move at all.
It is mere undulating molecular motion, nothing more.
Throw a piece of wood overboard and you will see that it
will remain quite stationary except as the tide affects it.
There is nothing for it but patience."
"And dinner," said the Major.
Olbinett unpacked some dried meat and a dozen biscuits.
The steward blushed as he proffered the meager bill of fare.
But it was received with a good grace, even by the ladies,
who, however, had not much appetite, owing to the violent motion.
This motion, produced by the jerking of the raft on the cable,
while she lay head on to the sea, was very severe and fatiguing.
The blows of the short, tumbling seas were as severe as if she
had been striking on a submerged rock. Sometimes it was hard
to believe that she was not aground. The cable strained violently,
and every half hour John had to take in a fathom to ease it.
Without this precaution it would certainly have given way,
and the raft must have drifted to destruction.
John's anxiety may easily be understood. His cable might break,
or his anchor lose its hold, and in either case the danger was imminent.
Night drew on; the sun's disc, enlarged by refraction,
was dipping blood-red below the horizon. The distant waves
glittered in the west, and sparkled like sheets of liquid silver.
Nothing was to be seen in that direction but sky and water,
except one sharply-defined object, the hull of the MACQUARIE
motionless on her rocky bed.
The short twilight postponed the darkness only by a few minutes,
and soon the coast outline, which bounded the view on the east and north,
was lost in darkness.
The shipwrecked party were in an agonizing situation on their narrow raft,
and overtaken by the shades of night.
Some of the party fell into a troubled sleep, a prey to evil dreams;
others could not close an eye. When the day dawned, the whole party
were worn out with fatigue.
With the rising tide the wind blew again toward the land.
It was six o'clock in the morning, and there was no time to lose.
John arranged everything for resuming their voyage, and then
he ordered the anchor to be weighed. But the anchor flukes had
been so imbedded in the sand by the repeated jerks of the cable,
that without a windlass it was impossible to detach it,
even with the tackle which Wilson had improvised.
Half an hour was lost in vain efforts. John, impatient of delay,
cut the rope, thus sacrificing his anchor, and also the possibility
of anchoring again if this tide failed to carry them to land.
But he decided that further delay was not to be thought of,
and an ax-blow committed the raft to the mercy of the wind,
assisted by a current of two knots an hour.
The sail was spread. They drifted slowly toward the land,
which rose in gray, hazy masses, on a background of sky illumined
by the rising sun. The reef was dexterously avoided and doubled,
but with the fitful breeze the raft could not get near the shore.
What toil and pain to reach a coast so full of danger when attained.
At nine o'clock, the land was less than a mile off.
It was a steeply-shelving shore, fringed with breakers;
a practicable landing-place had to be discovered.
Gradually the breeze grew fainter, and then ceased en-
V. IV Verne tirely. The sail flapped idly against the mast,
and John had it furled. The tide alone carried the raft to the shore,
but steering had become impossible, and its passage was impeded
by immense bands of FUCUS.
At ten o'clock John found himself almost at a stand-still, not
three cables' lengths from the shore. Having lost their anchor,
they were at the mercy of the ebb-tide.
John clenched his hands; he was racked with anxiety, and cast
frenzied glances toward this inaccessible shore.
In the midst of his perplexities, a shock was felt.
The raft stood still. It had landed on a sand-bank, twenty-five
fathoms from the coast.
Glenarvan, Robert, Wilson, and Mulrady, jumped into the water.
The raft was firmly moored to the nearest rocks. The ladies
were carried to land without wetting a fold of their dresses,
and soon the whole party, with their arms and provisions,
were finally landed on these much dreaded New Zealand shores.
CHAPTER VII THE MAORI WAR
GLENARVAN would have liked to start without an hour's delay,
and follow the coast to Auckland. But since the morning heavy
clouds had been gathering, and toward eleven o'clock, after
the landing was effected, the vapors condensed into violent rain,
so that instead of starting they had to look for shelter.
Wilson was fortunate enough to discover what just suited their wants:
a grotto hollowed out by the sea in the basaltic rocks.
Here the travelers took shelter with their arms and provisions.
In the cave they found a ready-garnered store of dried sea-weed,
which formed a convenient couch; for fire, they lighted some
wood near the mouth of the cavern, and dried themselves as well
as they could.
John hoped that the duration of this deluge of rain would be in an
inverse ratio to its violence, but he was doomed to disappointment.
Hours passed without any abatement of its fury. Toward noon
the wind freshened, and increased the force of the storm.
The most patient of men would have rebelled at such an untoward incident;
but what could be done; without any vehicle, they could not brave
such a tempest; and, after all, unless the natives appeared on
the scene, a delay of twelve hours was not so much consequence,
as the journey to Auckland was only a matter of a few days.
During this involuntary halt, the conversation turned on the incidents
of the New Zealand war. But to understand and appreciate the critical
position into which these MACQUARIE passengers were thrown,
something ought to be known of the history of the struggle which had
deluged the island of Ika-na-Mani with blood.
Since the arrival of Abel Tasman in Cook's Strait, on the 16th
of December, 1642, though the New Zealanders had often been
visited by European vessels, they had maintained their liberty
in their several islands. No European power had thought
of taking possession of this archipelago, which commands
the whole Pacific Ocean. The missionaries stationed at various
points were the sole channels of Christian civilization.
Some of them, especially the Anglicans, prepared the minds
of the New Zealand chiefs for submitting to the English yoke.
It was cleverly managed, and these chiefs were influenced to sign
a letter addressed to Queen Victoria to ask her protection.
But the most clearsighted of them saw the folly of this step;
and one of them, after having affixed his tattoo-mark to
the letter by way of signature, uttered these prophetic words:
"We have lost our country! henceforth it is not ours;
soon the stranger will come and take it, and we shall
be his slaves."
And so it was; on January 29, 1840, the English corvette HERALD
arrived to claim possession.
From the year 1840, till the day the DUNCAN left the Clyde,
nothing had happened here that Paganel did not know and he was
ready to impart his information to his companions.
"Madam," said he, in answer to Lady Helena's questions,
"I must repeat what I had occasion to remark before, that the
New Zealanders are a courageous people, who yielded for a moment,
but afterward fought foot to foot against the English invaders.
The Maori tribes are organized like the old clans
of Scotland. They are so many great families owning a chief,
who is very jealous of his prerogative. The men of this race
are proud and brave, one tribe tall, with straight hair,
like the Maltese, or the Jews of Bagdad; the other smaller,
thickset like mulattoes, but robust, haughty, and warlike.
They had a famous chief, named Hihi, a real Vercingetorix,
so that you need not be astonished that the war with the English
has become chronic in the Northern Island, for in it is the famous
tribe of the Waikatos, who defend their lands under the leadership
of William Thompson."
"But," said John Mangles, "are not the English in possession
of the principal points in New Zealand?"
"Certainly, dear John," replied Paganel. "After Captain Hobson took
formal possession, and became governor, nine colonies were founded at
various times between 1840 and 1862, in the most favorable situations.
These formed the nucleus of nine provinces, four in the North Island
and five in the southern island, with a total population of 184,346
inhabitants on the 30th of June, 1864."
"But what about this interminable war?" asked John Mangles.
"Well," said Paganel, "six long months have gone by since we
left Europe, and I cannot say what may have happened during that time,
with the exception of a few facts which I gathered from the newspapers
of Maryborough and Seymour during our Australian journey.
At that time the fighting was very lively in the Northern Island."
"And when did the war commence?" asked Mary Grant.
"Recommence, you mean, my dear young lady," replied Paganel;
"for there was an insurrection so far back as 1845. The present
war began toward the close of 1863; but long before that date
the Maories were occupied in making preparations to shake off
the English yoke. The national party among the natives carried
on an active propaganda for the election of a Maori ruler.
The object was to make old Potatau king, and to fix as the capital
of the new kingdom his village, which lay between the Waikato
and Waipa Rivers. Potatau was an old man, remarkable rather
for cunning than bravery; but he had a Prime Minister who was
both intelligent and energetic, a descendant of the Ngatihahuas,
who occupied the isthmus before the arrival of the strangers.
This minister, William Thompson, became the soul of the War
of Independence, and organized the Maori troops, with great skill.
Under this guidance a Taranaki chief gathered the scattered tribes
around the same flag; a Waikato chief formed a 'Land League,'
intended to prevent the natives from selling their land
to the English Government, and warlike feasts were held
just as in civilized countries on the verge of revolution.
The English newspapers began to notice these alarming symptoms,
and the government became seriously disturbed at these
'Land League' proceedings. In short, the train was laid,
and the mine was ready to explode. Nothing was wanted but the spark,
or rather the shock of rival interests to produce the spark.
"This shock took place in 1860, in the Taranaki province on the southwest
coast of Ika-na-Mani. A native had six hundred acres of land in the
neighborhood of New Plymouth. He sold them to the English Government;
but when the surveyor came to measure the purchased land, the chief
Kingi protested, and by the month of March he had made the six hundred
acres in question into a fortified camp, surrounded with high palisades.
Some days after Colonel Gold carried this fortress at the head of
his troops, and that day heard the first shot fired of the native war."
"Have the rebels been successful up to this time?"
"Yes, Madam, and the English themselves have often been
compelled to admire the courage and bravery of the
New Zealanders. Their mode of warfare is of the guerilla type;
they form skirmishing parties, come down in small detachments,
and pillage the colonists' homes. General Cameron had no
easy time in the campaigns, during which every bush had to
be searched. In 1863, after a long and sanguinary struggle,
the Maories were entrenched in strong and fortified position
on the Upper Waikato, at the end of a chain of steep hills,
and covered by three miles of forts. The native prophets
called on all the Maori population to defend the soil,
and promised the extermination of the pakekas, or white men.
General Cameron had three thousand volunteers at his disposal,
and they gave no quarter to the Maories after the barbarous
murder of Captain Sprent. Several bloody engagements
took place; in some instances the fighting lasted twelve
hours before the Maories yielded to the English cannonade.
The heart of the army was the fierce Waikato tribe under
William Thompson. This native general commanded at the outset
2,500 warriors, afterward increased to 8,000. The men of Shongi
and Heki, two powerful chiefs, came to his assistance.
The women took their part in the most trying labors
of this patriotic war. But right has not always might.
After severe struggles General Cameron succeeded in subduing
the Waikato district, but empty and depopulated, for the Maories
escaped in all directions. Some wonderful exploits were related.
Four hundred Maories who were shut up in the fortress of Orakau,
besieged by 1,000 English, under Brigadier-General Carey,
without water or provisions, refused to surrender, but one day
at noon cut their way through the then decimated 40th Regiment,
and escaped to the marshes."
"But," asked John Mangles, "did the submission of the Waikato
district put an end to this sanguinary war?"
"No, my friend," replied Paganel. "The English resolved to march on
Taranaki province and besiege Mataitawa, William Thompson's fortress.
But they did not carry it without great loss.
Just as I was leaving Paris, I heard that the Governor and
the General had accepted the submission of the Tauranga tribes,
and left them in possession of three-fourths of their lands.
It was also rumored that the principal chief of the rebellion,
William Thompson, was inclined to surrender, but the Australian
papers have not confirmed this, but rather the contrary,
and I should not be surprised to find that at this moment
the war is going on with renewed vigor."
"Then, according to you, Paganel," said Glenarvan, "this struggle
is still going on in the provinces of Auckland and Taranaki?"
"I think so."
"This very province where the MACQUARIE'S wreck has deposited us."
"Exactly. We have landed a few miles above Kawhia harbor,
where the Maori flag is probably still floating."
"Then our most prudent course would be to keep toward
the north," remarked Glenarvan.
"By far the most prudent," said Paganel. "The New Zealanders are incensed
against Europeans, and especially against the English. Therefore let
us avoid falling into their hands."
"We might have the good fortune to fall in with a detachment
of European troops," said Lady Helena.
"We may, Madam," replied the geographer; "but I do not expect it.
Detached parties do not like to go far into the country,
where the smallest tussock, the thinnest brushwood, may conceal
an accomplished marksman. I don't fancy we shall pick up an escort
of the 40th Regiment. But there are mission-stations on this
west coast, and we shall be able to make them our halting-places
till we get to Auckland."
CHAPTER VIII ON THE ROAD TO AUCKLAND
ON the 7th of February, at six o'clock in the morning, the signal for
departure was given by Glenarvan. During the night the rain had ceased.
The sky was veiled with light gray clouds, which moderated the heat
of the sun, and allowed the travelers to venture on a journey by day.
Paganel had measured on the map a distance of eighty miles
between Point Kawhia and Auckland; it was an eight days'
journey if they made ten miles a day. But instead of following
the windings of the coast, he thought it better to make for a point
thirty miles off, at the confluence of the Waikato and the Waipa,
at the village of Ngarnavahia. The "overland track" passes that point,
and is rather a path than a road, practicable for the vehicles
which go almost across the island, from Napier, in Hawke's Bay,
to Auckland. From this village it would be easy to reach Drury,
and there they could rest in an excellent hotel, highly recommended
by Dr. Hochstetter.
The travelers, each carrying a share of the provisions,
commenced to follow the shore of Aotea Bay. From prudential
motives they did not allow themselves to straggle, and by instinct
they kept a look-out over the undulating plains to the eastward,
ready with their loaded carbines. Paganel, map in hand,
took a professional pleasure in verifying the minutest details.
The country looked like an immense prairie which faded into distance,
and promised an easy walk. But the travelers were undeceived
when they came to the edge of this verdant plain. The grass gave
way to a low scrub of small bushes bearing little white flowers,
mixed with those innumerable tall ferns with which the lands
of New Zealand abound. They had to cut a path across the plain,
through these woody stems, and this was a matter of some difficulty,
but at eight o'clock in the evening the first slopes of the
Hakarihoata Ranges were turned, and the party camped immediately.
After a fourteen miles' march, they might well think of resting.
Neither wagon or tent being available, they sought repose beneath some
magnificent Norfolk Island pines. They had plenty of rugs which make
good beds. Glenarvan took every possible precaution for the night.
His companions and he, well armed, were to watch in turns, two and two,
till daybreak. No fires were lighted. Barriers of fire are a potent
preservation from wild beasts, but New Zealand has neither tiger,
nor lion, nor bear, nor any wild animal, but the Maori adequately
fills their place, and a fire would only have served to attract
this two-footed jaguar.
The night passed pleasantly with the exception of the attack
of the sand-flies, called by the natives, "ngamu," and the visit
of the audacious family of rats, who exercised their teeth
on the provisions.
Next day, on the 8th of February, Paganel rose more sanguine,
and almost reconciled to the country. The Maories,
whom he particularly dreaded, had not yet appeared, and these
ferocious cannibals had not molested him even in his dreams.
"I begin to think that our little journey will end favorably.
This evening we shall reach the confluence of the Waipa and Waikato,
and after that there is not much chance of meeting natives
on the way to Auckland."
"How far is it now," said Glenarvan, "to the confluence
of the Waipa and Waikato?"
"Fifteen miles; just about what we did yesterday."
"But we shall be terribly delayed if this interminable scrub
continues to obstruct our path."
"No," said Paganel, "we shall follow the banks of the Waipa,
and then we shall have no obstacle, but on the contrary,
a very easy road."
"Well, then," said Glenarvan, seeing the ladies ready, "let us
make a start."
During the early part of the day, the thick brushwood seriously
impeded their progress. Neither wagon nor horses could have passed
where travelers passed, so that their Australian vehicle was but
slightly regretted. Until practicable wagon roads are cut through these
forests of scrub, New Zealand will only be accessible to foot passengers.
The ferns, whose name is legion, concur with the Maories in keeping
strangers off the lands.
The little party overcame many obstacles in crossing the plains
in which the Hakarihoata Ranges rise. But before noon they
reached the banks of the Waipa, and followed the northward
course of the river.
The Major and Robert, without leaving their companions,
shot some snipe and partridge under the low shrubs of the plain.
Olbinett, to save time, plucked the birds as he went along.
Paganel was less absorbed by the culinary importance of the game
than by the desire of obtaining some bird peculiar to New Zealand.
His curiosity as a naturalist overcame his hunger as a traveler.
He called to mind the peculiarities of the "tui" of the natives,
sometimes called the mocking-bird from its incessant chuckle,
and sometimes "the parson," in allusion to the white cravat it