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    Chapter 33

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    Chapter 34
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    Let us be grateful to Adam our benefactor. He cut us out of the
    "blessing of idleness," and won for us the "curse of labor."
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    We soon reached the town of Nelson, and spent the most of the day there,
    visiting acquaintances and driving with them about the garden--the whole
    region is a garden, excepting the scene of the "Maungatapu Murders," of
    thirty years ago. That is a wild place--wild and lonely; an ideal place
    for a murder. It is at the base of a vast, rugged, densely timbered
    mountain. In the deep twilight of that forest solitude four desperate
    rascals--Burgess, Sullivan, Levy, and Kelley--ambushed themselves beside
    the mountain-trail to murder and rob four travelers--Kempthorne, Mathieu,
    Dudley, and De Pontius, the latter a New Yorker. A harmless old laboring
    man came wandering along, and as his presence was an embarrassment, they
    choked him, hid him, and then resumed their watch for the four. They had
    to wait a while, but eventually everything turned out as they desired.

    That dark episode is the one large event in the history of Nelson. The
    fame of it traveled far. Burgess made a confession. It is a remarkable
    paper. For brevity, succinctness, and concentration, it is perhaps
    without its peer in the literature of murder. There are no waste words
    in it; there is no obtrusion of matter not pertinent to the occasion, nor
    any departure from the dispassionate tone proper to a formal business
    statement--for that is what it is: a business statement of a murder, by
    the chief engineer of it, or superintendent, or foreman, or whatever one
    may prefer to call him.

    "We were getting impatient, when we saw four men and a pack-horse
    coming. I left my cover and had a look at the men, for Levy had
    told me that Mathieu was a small man and wore a large beard, and
    that it was a chestnut horse. I said, 'Here they come.' They were
    then a good distance away; I took the caps off my gun, and put fresh
    ones on. I said, 'You keep where you are, I'll put them up, and you
    give me your gun while you tie them.' It was arranged as I have
    described. The men came; they arrived within about fifteen yards
    when I stepped up and said, 'Stand! bail up!' That means all of
    them to get together. I made them fall back on the upper side of
    the road with their faces up the range, and Sullivan brought me his
    gun, and then tied their hands behind them. The horse was very
    quiet all the time, he did not move. When they were all tied,
    Sullivan took the horse up the hill, and put him in the bush; he cut
    the rope and let the swags--[A "swag" is a kit, a pack, small
    baggage.]--fall on the ground, and then came to me. We then marched
    the men down the incline to the creek; the water at this time barely
    running. Up this creek we took the men; we went, I daresay, five or
    six hundred yards up it, which took us nearly half-an-hour to
    accomplish. Then we turned to the right up the range; we went, I
    daresay, one hundred and fifty yards from the creek, and there we
    sat down with the men. I said to Sullivan, 'Put down your gun and
    search these men,' which he did. I asked them their several names;
    they told me. I asked them if they were expected at Nelson. They
    said, 'No.' If such their lives would have been spared. In money
    we took L60 odd. I said, 'Is this all you have? You had better
    tell me.' Sullivan said, 'Here is a bag of gold.' I said, 'What's on
    that pack-horse? Is there any gold?' when Kempthorne said, 'Yes,
    my gold is in the portmanteau, and I trust you will not take it
    all.' 'Well,' I said, 'we must take you away one at a time, because
    the range is steep just here, and then we will let you go.' They
    said, 'All right,' most cheerfully. We tied their feet, and took
    Dudley with us; we went about sixty yards with him. This was
    through a scrub. It was arranged the night previously that it would
    be best to choke them, in case the report of the arms might be heard
    from the road, and if they were missed they never would be found.
    So we tied a handkerchief over his eyes, when Sullivan took the sash
    off his waist, put it round his neck, and so strangled him.
    Sullivan, after I had killed the old laboring man, found fault with
    the way he was choked. He said, 'The next we do I'll show you my
    way.' I said, 'I have never done such a thing before. I have shot
    a man, but never choked one.' We returned to the others, when
    Kempthorne said, 'What noise was that?' I said it was caused by
    breaking through the scrub. This was taking too much time, so it
    was agreed to shoot them. With that I said, 'We'll take you no
    further, but separate you, and then loose one of you, and he can
    relieve the others.' So with that, Sullivan took De Pontius to the
    left of where Kempthorne was sitting. I took Mathieu to the right.
    I tied a strap round his legs, and shot him with a revolver. He
    yelled, I ran from him with my gun in my hand, I sighted Kempthorne,
    who had risen to his feet. I presented the gun, and shot him behind
    the right ear; his life's blood welled from him, and he died
    instantaneously. Sullivan had shot. De Pontius in the meantime,
    and then came to me. I said, 'Look to Mathieu,' indicating the spot
    where he lay. He shortly returned and said, 'I had to "chiv" that
    fellow, he was not dead,' a cant word, meaning that he had to stab
    him. Returning to the road we passed where De Pontius lay and was
    dead. Sullivan said, 'This is the digger, the others were all
    storekeepers; this is the digger, let's cover him up, for should the
    others be found, they'll think he done it and sloped,' meaning he
    had gone. So with that we threw all the stones on him, and then
    left him. This bloody work took nearly an hour and a half from the
    time we stopped the men."

    Anyone who reads that confession will think that the man who wrote it was
    destitute of emotions, destitute of feeling. That is partly true. As
    regarded others he was plainly without feeling--utterly cold and
    pitiless; but as regarded himself the case was different. While he cared
    nothing for the future of the murdered men, he cared a great deal for his
    own. It makes one's flesh creep to read the introduction to his
    confession. The judge on the bench characterized it as "scandalously
    blasphemous," and it certainly reads so, but Burgess meant no blasphemy.
    He was merely a brute, and whatever he said or wrote was sure to expose
    the fact. His redemption was a very real thing to him, and he was as
    jubilantly happy on the gallows as ever was Christian martyr at the
    stake. We dwellers in this world are strangely made, and mysteriously
    circumstanced. We have to suppose that the murdered men are lost, and
    that Burgess is saved; but we cannot suppress our natural regrets.

    "Written in my dungeon drear this 7th of August, in the year of
    Grace, 1866. To God be ascribed all power and glory in subduing the
    rebellious spirit of a most guilty wretch, who has been brought,
    through the instrumentality of a faithful follower of Christ, to see
    his wretched and guilty state, inasmuch as hitherto he has led an
    awful and wretched life, and through the assurance of this faithful
    soldier of Christ, he has been led and also believes that Christ
    will yet receive and cleanse him from all his deep-dyed and bloody
    sins. I lie under the imputation which says, 'Come now and let us
    reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson,
    they shall be as wool.' On this promise I rely."

    We sailed in the afternoon late, spent a few hours at New Plymouth, then
    sailed again and reached Auckland the next day, November 20th, and
    remained in that fine city several days. Its situation is commanding,
    and the sea-view is superb. There are charming drives all about, and by
    courtesy of friends we had opportunity to enjoy them. From the grassy
    crater-summit of Mount Eden one's eye ranges over a grand sweep and
    variety of scenery--forests clothed in luxuriant foliage, rolling green
    fields, conflagrations of flowers, receding and dimming stretches of
    green plain, broken by lofty and symmetrical old craters--then the blue
    bays twinkling and sparkling away into the dreamy distances where the
    mountains loom spiritual in their veils of haze.

    It is from Auckland that one goes to Rotorua, the region of the renowned
    hot lakes and geysers--one of the chief wonders of New Zealand; but I was
    not well enough to make the trip. The government has a sanitorium there,
    and everything is comfortable for the tourist and the invalid. The
    government's official physician is almost over-cautious in his estimates
    of the efficacy of the baths, when he is talking about rheumatism, gout,
    paralysis, and such things; but when he is talking about the
    effectiveness of the waters in eradicating the whisky-habit, he seems to
    have no reserves. The baths will cure the drinking-habit no matter how
    chronic it is--and cure it so effectually that even the desire to drink
    intoxicants will come no more. There should be a rush from Europe and
    America to that place; and when the victims of alcoholism find out what
    they can get by going there, the rush will begin.

    The Thermal-springs District of New Zealand comprises an area of upwards
    of 600,000 acres, or close on 1,000 square miles. Rotorua is the
    favorite place. It is the center of a rich field of lake and mountain
    scenery; from Rotorua as a base the pleasure-seeker makes excursions.
    The crowd of sick people is great, and growing. Rotorua is the Carlsbad
    of Australasia.

    It is from Auckland that the Kauri gum is shipped. For a long time now
    about 8,000 tons of it have been brought into the town per year. It is
    worth about $300 per ton, unassorted; assorted, the finest grades are
    worth about $1,000. It goes to America, chiefly. It is in lumps, and is
    hard and smooth, and looks like amber--the light-colored like new amber,
    and the dark brown like rich old amber. And it has the pleasant feel of
    amber, too. Some of the light-colored samples were a tolerably fair
    counterfeit of uncut South African diamonds, they were so perfectly
    smooth and polished and transparent. It is manufactured into varnish; a
    varnish which answers for copal varnish and is cheaper.

    The gum is dug up out of the ground; it has been there for ages. It is
    the sap of the Kauri tree. Dr. Campbell of Auckland told me he sent a
    cargo of it to England fifty years ago, but nothing came of the venture.
    Nobody knew what to do with it; so it was sold at 15 a ton, to light
    fires with.

    November 26--3 P.M., sailed. Vast and beautiful harbor. Land all about
    for hours. Tangariwa, the mountain that "has the same shape from every
    point of view." That is the common belief in Auckland. And so it has
    --from every point of view except thirteen. Perfect summer weather. Large
    school of whales in the distance. Nothing could be daintier than the
    puffs of vapor they spout up, when seen against the pink glory of the
    sinking sun, or against the dark mass of an island reposing in the deep
    blue shadow of a storm cloud . . . . Great Barrier rock standing up
    out of the sea away to the left. Sometime ago a ship hit it full speed
    in a fog--20 miles out of her course--140 lives lost; the captain
    committed suicide without waiting a moment. He knew that, whether he was
    to blame or not, the company owning the vessel would discharge him and
    make a devotion--to--passengers' safety advertisement out of it, and his
    chance to make a livelihood would be permanently gone.
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