THE “noble savages,” the early inhabitants of New Zealand, were a curiosity t_ee. When she said: “tenakohi” (how do you do?), to her dark-skinned brother,
he strode about with a blanket guiltless of tie or tag, folded lengthway_ound his brawny shoulders, of which shoulders one chanced occasionally to se_ore than one wished, notwithstanding that, on the whole, he managed his full-
dress toggery very adroitly. And the natives being stealthy in thei_ovements, Zee was often startled to find a grim, hobgoblin face flattene_gainst her window-pane, taking stock of all within. Entering the hous_ithout any form of “by your leave,” they raked an ember from the fire, an_ropping it into their horrid pipes (both sexes smoke), puffed away clouds o_irty tobacco-smoke. Then, but not till then, to business, bartering thei_ares for old clothing, may be, at which they snapped eagerly, first lookin_he garment over and over; and if they spied a hole, they would thrust _inger through, with “Too much the broke, too much the broke,” and Zee had t_un it up. Her conjuring art served its turn at last, for she converted man_ell-worn shirts, coats, trousers, dresses, etc., into kits of deliciou_eaches.
Wahine (female) is a guy, dress her how you will. She not infrequently becam_namored of the shapely dress which adorned the compressed figure of her whit_ister; and if an old dress were offered her, she put it on, hoping it migh_nvelope her ample charms, but on finding it too small grunted her protest i_nmeasured disdain either against madam's elfin or her own elephantin_roportions. A Maori beauty, seeing herself in a glass for the first time,
possibly, burst into a very uncivilised sort of a laugh as she made signs t_ee for brush and comb; but no, not for all Maoridom would Zee have understoo_hose signs; but to have seen the weird face as reflected in the glass woul_ave moved the risibilities of the gravest.
They regarded it as childish to give, and rarely betrayed the weakness, ye_ere they importunate beggars. Beating their breasts and making a wry face,
they would point to the cupboard saying, with a well-assumed whine: “Too muc_he hungry, too much the hungry,” but brightened wonderfully if kai, kai
(food), “very dood,” “kapai,” were given them. If Zee wished them to go, the_ecame as dense as their primeval forests, or else, shrinking to half thei_ize, they would cry, with a lugubrious expression of countenance: “Too muc_he cold,” or “Too much the rain.” But “clear out” or “hook it” from th_akeha (man—foreigner) was magical in effect; hence their visits were made i_is probable absence. They were scrupulously honest, or their liberties woul_ave been abridged. Still, amusing though they were, it was not alway_leasant to have them prying round.
They courted and were flattered by the notice of Europeans, and locating nea_he beach, Zee passed their rookery in taking her boys for sea-bathing. On_ent entertained a bridal party, some of whom were at their early mornin_oilette outside their tent when Zee passed. “The brave” wore a shirt, coat,
pants and boots, and the ladies' style was of the flashiest “pure red an_right yallar,” predominating over a monster crinoline. The dusky belle mus_ave had her own conceptions of beauty, for she consulted the small glass sh_eld in her hand as complacently as the cream of Belgravia consult thei_heval.
Wahine wears her sex's badge of disgrace—she is schooled, as is her faire_ister who ought to know better, in all the arts of coquetry, coaxing, ogling,
wheedling, giggling. Will woman ever dare to be true–true in thought, true i_ord, true in deed, with that perfect truthfulness which makes coquetr_mpossible? If it be objected it is natural for woman to please, even to th_acrifice of honor, yes, natural to uncultured savage nature, but eightee_enturies of Christianity should have produced other results in English women.
What human nature is, is seen in the noblest, purest type of man, of woman;
elsewhere only savage nature, ever affirming its baser self, not its divin_ature, is seen in various degrees of coarseness. To call the life commonl_ived human nature is a libel on God and man.
When Maori friend meets friend, they demonstrate affection by “rubbing noses;”
the men thus greet each other in public, and appear to enjoy it; wahin_ever—never at least to the writer's knowledge. Whether she is les_ffectionate, less demonstrative, or beneath such superlative distinction i_nknown. She is not permitted to eat with “the braves,” except at a respectfu_istance. Again extremes meet; by sharing in the good things provided, sh_riumphs over the grand dames of Belgravia, who are only permitted to see th_ions feed at public banquets, etc.
Cannibalism is of the past; civilisation has deteriorated human flesh in th_aori's estimation: “White man too salt.” A favorite Maori being offered _hoice between roast pork and roast mutton from Wrax's table one day, did no_uzzle the carver by saying: “I have no choice,” as mock-modest young ladie_re prone to do, but answered instantly: “Poaka, sheep no good,” politel_ntimating that “sheep” disagreed with his delicate stomach, whereas his lov_f “poaka” was excessive; and taking his plate, he seated himself at _espectful distance from the table, using his knife and fork like a Christian,
and to as good purpose.
The Maori devil (tipo) is white! the color of his skin is favored probably b_he conceit which makes the white man's devil black, that each may repudiat_ll kindred with his black-white majesty with a show of consistency. If “tipo”
is understood to be intimately related to the press, the Maori is less witles_han some would make believe. But as there may be farther talk (koreru) abou_im, he is for the present dismissed.
A striking contrast presents itself in turning from the child of nature to th_ophisticated colonist, whose life appeared so fast, so unlike the old-worl_og-trot that Zee longed to creep into a corner and let it pass. But give_ime to penetrate beneath the surface, Zee found repose. The cautious ol_olonist locked shop and its cares up in his counting-house, and revelling i_is well-earned relaxation, he could be seen of an evening in his pleasan_uburban residence as fresh as if accustomed to kill time among sof_ushions—more so, indeed; soft cushions enervate and take the edge off al_ational enjoyment. The very baby talked and crowed as if it knew tha_appiness and papa came in together. And in the house-sphere, the wives o_uch men fully equalled their husbands, though in a different way.
Queenly natures are found in every walk of life—women, so far proof agains_he vulgarity hard-work and hard - fare are said to engender, that nothin_eems to stain or harden even the native delicacy of their hands. Zee wa_urprised to observe how cheerfully and well the women of the upper circle_orked, making poetry of their daily cares, nor dreamed of apologising fo_eing busy. Contempt was the portion of those only who pretended to be abov_ork. When a visitor called, if mamma happened to be engaged, she wa_epresented by a small, grave man or woman, of seven years perhaps, with a_ntertaining simplicity quite fascinating.
Not that the young folk are of the Goody-Two-Shoes order, by any means; but s_uch is expected of them, and put upon them, that the old head on youn_houlders is not unfrequently seen.
There are quite too many sprigs of over-bearing insolence in the “uppercrust”
families, and there is juvenile depravity, alas, poor children! down among th_rounds of society. Large families are the rule in this land of the sun, an_nfants appear to be six weeks' old at birth, giving almost no trouble, a_hey develop with hot-house rapidity, without its forcing and frailty. A ru_s spread in the shade for the short-coated dot, and a step-above baby is se_o mind it.
Try how Zee would to make home attractive, Wrax could not have appeared les_illing to have entered it, had it been one of the filthiest of dens, and Ze_n old hag ready to tear his hair and talk him to death. The crossing of hi_wn threshold soured him; she had known him turn with a smile from a mal_riend to hiss darkling speech at her, that scorched her; he was mixing u_hose “bitter pills” she was to swallow. Loving punctuality, its practice wa_asy to Zee, but to Wrax the word had no meaning; yet come when he would, al_hings must be ready on the instant. How she trembled at his step! She ough_o have been in possession of the veritable Aladdin's Lamp. She, nevertheless,
resolutely cherished secret anticipations of brighter days, nor swerved fro_er high purpose of bracing him to manly effort.
And those, indeed, were happy days that saw Wrax usefully employed; he did a_ast give to business such energy as remained to him; and having made a start,
it was never so wholly neglected as in England, from whence he had brough_etters of introduction to men of position in Auckland. But scorning—wisely i_onsistently carried out—to owe an obligation to any one, he threw the letter_ehind the fire. Quite as good treatment as they deserved, doubtless. In poin_f education and business capacity, Wrax was the equal of the first men in th_ity, and as able as they to make an honorable position for himself. The_ight have formed a desirable circle of acquaintance, too; but husband an_ife were still as wide apart as right and wrong could make them, and differe_n tastes and habits so widely that Zee's friends would have been an aversio_o Wrax; besides which his uniformly contemptuous treatment of herself,
together with doubt as to the condition in which he might return home,
precluded the hope of enjoyment. So she made no friends.
As time rolled on, he spurned all appeals to right principle: “only fools an_diots were concerned about such rot.” And except that they knew no want o_ood, his wife and children were left utterly uncared for; Zee feared lest hi_ittle chicks, good children though they were, should be a disturbing element;
but no, the man himself was wrong, and made all else wrong; the old bligh_till resting on his life, public and private, could never lead to honor an_sefulness. The ill-assorted pair were average man and woman; neither the bes_or the worst by any means, but it is to be hoped that the Wraxes may neve_utnumber the Zees. If Wrax had but performed his part as well as Zee, wit_ll her short-comings, did hers, they would never have crossed England'_orderland, but have gone quietly down to the valley, leaving a numerou_rogeny to carry on their life work.
But now cold, cold was the home. Wrax gave his smiles to the world, an_eserved only the frowns for his own hearthstone. Ah, how proud he was of tha_mile of his, and of his absolute control of every muscle of his face when h_urposed to mislead! Resenting the slightest allusion to his habits, he flun_efiance at his wife in the loudest and coarsest manner. Reproaching her wit_iresome iteration as the cause of his wrong-doing, he has flung her Bible (t_hich alone he owed his leave to live) on the fire, calling her “a damne_ypocrite,” careful though she was to parade neither faith nor Bible befor_im, vowing, too, as he never tired of doing, that “he would leave the_ltogether, and that they should never hear of him again.” Zee tried th_arder, under a bondage of fear and torment, to do her best, but with n_etter results. She had long ceased her pretensions to the angelic, an_ailing by her own unaided efforts to discover in what way she ha_isappointed Wrax, she implored him in his best moments to tell her, but i_ain; so she asked of herself, with an agony of intensity words fail t_onvey: Am I wrong just where I think myself most right? Still she dared no_ccept Wrax's definition of right, although she lived in the hourl_xpectation of his putting his oft-repeated threat of “leaving them” int_xecution. He could not blame her in his heart, whatever his lips might utter.
His wife ought to have been made to order, no ready-made article ever woul_ave suited him. Such noble women as the late Mrs. J. S. Mill and the Barones_eaconsfield are said to have been, would not have been worth two pins to Wra_s wives. It is believed he would have murdered Zee had she thwarted an_rritated him as some wives do thwart and irritate their really good husbands;
there was guilt enough on his conscience without that. Of one woman an_nother who fell short of his standard of wife in perfection, he has said: “I_he were my wife I'd kick her out of doors,” and he would have been as good a_is word. Nothing, however, could have been farther from Wrax's mind than a_mplied compliment to Zee. If she had revelled in such frightful excesses a_id her lord, would he have endured it, think you? It would not have been “un-
English” to have locked her up. It is passing strange that the proposition t_reat drunkenness as a criminal offence should have to combat deep-roote_rejudices. “Lock a man up for getting drunk! it's un-English!” exclaim men,
excitedly. Alas, that it should be so! English to turn a man into somethin_ess than a brute: “un-English” to turn him back into a man. English to loc_p the scum of the earth for getting drunk; but they are paupers whom nobod_wns.
Zee was low enough on the social ladder to realise fully that, as a rule,
woman is looked upon and treated as the merest drudge—a necessary evil,
possessing no recognised power in the household when deficient in that forc_f character which rises superior to the servility of legal bondage. A long-
suffering woman is a phænomenon men cannot understand; they like t_ontemplate her, so she is impaled on the horns of society's altar, a prett_pectacle for men to gape at. And even admitting that her innate purity i_ever more divine than when she is down in the depths with her besotte_usband, the world is surfeited with such pretty spectacles. Nevertheless he_ight to consideration will be disavowed so long as it is believed that he_ocial degradation is her moral elevation, that her finer qualities can ripe_nly in her humiliation, that the lower she lies the more lustrous are he_irtues. How fares man's moral nature? Meanwhile, were the tables of ston_iven to women only? _Possessing remedial elements within themselves, th_ircumstances that are the whetstone of many virtues must sound the death-
knell of many vices_. Much needless torture of body and mind is endured b_omen for Christ's sake, they fancy; but he has taught that no wrong which ca_e righted, come whence it may, is to be tamely submitted to.
Bloody steps will mark woman's way to freedom. Come when it may, as come i_ust, she'll walk over corduroy roads formed by the drink-tyrant's victims.
Think of the scenes our police and criminal courts present—think of the poo_attered women—wives and mothers “too much the broke,” pleading for thei_mbruted husbands: “Forgive them, they know not what they do,” “they migh_ave been worse.” My God, what must this world look like to thee, when i_ooks so black to me? black with a devilishness all of man, not of devil. Wil_othing move good men to pity? Must God's garden still be sown thick wit_roken hearts before trees of righteousness will grow in it? Yes, if men ar_evils. All power is in their hands, and they love themselves, love the drink,
and are not one-half so faithful to their convictions as bad men are t_heirs, or the world would not be what it is. The devils in hell must stan_ghast at the cruelty of the drunkard, to whom the intelligence of the man an_uch social distinction are added to the fiendishness of the fiend. Neve_ntil the veil is taken off all hearts will it be known how much the worl_wes to woman, how much of evil she has concealed with ill-judged clemency an_isastrous consequences—concealment precious at any price to cowardl_onventionalism.
When Christ fainted under his cross, Simon was permitted to carry it. Woman i_ainting under a too heavy cross; is there no Simon anywhere to carry it fo_er? Christ had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again; woma_as power to do neither, yet her Judas-husband is allowed to betray her, no_ith a kiss, now with a kick, until it becomes doubtful whether there is on_rop of human blood in his veins, or in the veins of those who look on wit_allous indifference. Could infinite love have borne with a _drunken_udas—so foul a blot?
So filthy is the drunkard that man would not lodge him with his horses an_ogs: no, not even with his pigs; yet, grateful only if he does not kick an_urse her, his wife must take him in and wash him from head to foot like a_nfant, or he will roll as he is into his bed, and—oh, dreadful thought!—hi_ife's bed also. It is too much to bear! If men are men, not devils,
suffering's hallowed shrine will have its votaries as well as it_ictims—victims eloquent in their very helplessness.
With a lofty brow, immaculate England has flung her flag in the face of al_ations, seeking to convict them of their sins, while she hugs to her boso_he belief that she is less guilty than are other nations; no one has a ston_o cast at her. She says of herself, in many ways: “The white-robed lily i_ot more chaste than am I. I am guileless and innocent as the sportive lamb.
My flag is spotless, _it_ never floats over a slave.” Strange that no on_as dared to give England the lie; to fling back the taunt, Physician hea_hyself!
England owns no slaves? The drunkard's wife and little ones are the slaves,
legally, of the vilest slave-holder that ever owned human cattle, or disgrace_is kind. They are his, body and soul; there is no limit to his power, so lon_s he spares life—bare life. If he could sell them, they would escape much o_is brutality, possibly, lest their money value should be endangered thereby.
Never did a blacker Legree disgrace American soil than nestles in the bosom o_aintly England, gold-crazed England! What cares she, though her best an_ravest daughters, the pride of her own land, the admiration of other lands,
be slain in cold blood? What cares she for the speechless agony of th_elpless ever ringing in God's ears? What can be said that will make her loo_t home at her own sins? It is all for gold—gold, sweet gold!—and heedless o_he death-throes of her children, she shows them a face like a flint, thoug_he knows her gold-dust will one day prove lighter than vanity. Be as saintl_s she may, slave-blood is on her snow-drift skirts, and in a demoralise_eople she reaps the reward of her hypocrisy.
Believing that the drink brings only gold to her coffers, she holds out th_atal glass as she cries: “List not to the babblers who talk of shrieks an_roans; but for these bacchanalian scenes, an Englishman's right to do as h_ikes would be imperilled. Here's the Bible for the other world (we think _eal of the Bible), and here's the glass to drown dull care in this world.
Take your fill of both; but the more you drink the better it pays. See th_old—see the gold!”