WILDEST NEW ZEALAND.
MURA BAYLY, IN THE "NEW ZEALAND GRAPHIC." New Zealand, so small an anklet of the great world, yet set with its rarest jewels ! Some complained of the dulness of the day. In truth! to the layman it was dull, but to the poet who seeks mystery in each speck of greyness, no more appropriate day could have been chosen by the Great Nature God as a prelude to the dramatic grandeur of mighty peaks and the secret mutterings of torrential waters. As if in fear that the abruptly revealed magnitude of the scene might endanger the graceful slenderness of the Hinemoa, laden with her freight of mortal pigmies, should so much awe be thrust upon her too suddenly, the door of Nature's Tabernacle was curtained with loose transparent mist.
As the Hinemoa carefully steamed through the dimness of Preservation Inlet, the surroundings gradually loomed up before the naked eye. Ahead, there were great mist-clad mountains which scaled the ethereal heights, and stood shoulders braced as if challenging the heavens, and the impression was that of Walhalla —the abode of the thundering Wotan — the racing ground of the fiery steeds of the Valkyries.
All the while we wended our way the day grew lighter and the myth-locked mountains seemed to form a labyrinth— so closely did they interlace. Small islands were dotted here, there and. everywhere; virgin isles rioting in rata and shrub. To one of these is attached the ghastly name of Choky Island, and gruesome tales are told of the old whaling days when this islet starved to death the shackled miscreants thrown upon its mercy, though to all appearance, like its sister isles, clad in the fresh green of growing things, it lay innocently voluptuous in the caress of the fleeting mist.
In Doubtful Sound Nature was in a merry mood. She played with enigmas. She was a domineering sphinx; she exposed the gloriousnes of her mountain body, though, like the Turkish maiden, she kept a soft cloud to veil her face.
From the Hinemoa, tho siren screeched in wild defiance. From peak to peak, like hounds a-yelp, bounded shrill, uncanny sounds, and the rocks quivered with a legions echoes.
Again the siren shrieked—it 3 dying tones sounded as if a tnousand stringed instruments had simultaneously broken their chords — so mournful were the notes.
For the last time it woke the uncanny echoes, and I imagined that 1 heard Brunnhilde's fierce -call to the Valkyries as she sprang from height to height, shouting her war-cry: " Ho-jb-to-ho ho-jo-to-ho; Hei-a-ha!" — and from the depths of the unknown, the "Hei-a-ha!" wailed like a lost soul.
Within the precincts of George Sound we went in quest of the wapiti—the Roosevelt herd, which no man had sighted since the day of its liberation. Hundreds of small hoof-prints betokened the existence of young life among the elk, then suddenly, as if from the bowels of the earth, rose a full-blooded, firm-bodied bull, five feet at shoulder, carrying a head ,of twelve points. This creature, with his antlers tossed regally in the air, looked about defiantly and satisfied that trouble was stalking abroad, he heavily
pressed his way through tho thick stemmed bush and the trailing vines. Maybe, on his return to the tribe, the wapiti described how be had come across the "dread white danger" lurking in the woody tangle.
I doubt whether even a master-brain could fittingly describe Milford'3 titanic fortresses of granite walls, high and open to the rage of heaven and to the mad riot of the elements, rising far into the sky like great straining giants; the huge severity of Mitre Peak reaching 5000 ft., stiff and straight from the water's edge; the grim, harsh outline of the lion crouching against the cloudless sky; the careless frivolity of countless water streams amidst this gigantic serenity, which course along the steep mountain thighs, forming clusters of slender bodies with pointed heads pressing towards each other, as they slide down the grooved rock, effortless, and then, on reaching the goal, splutter into misty nothings and sink to rest on the jade coloured water of Milford Sound, forming glinting crystals in the liquid slab of polished green stone.
To gaze on Milford at night is to revel in an ecstasy of intoxicative thrills of body and soul. A night when Mitre Peak leans with a soft darkness against the faded heaven, as the moon, silvering behind, casts the giant's shadow upon the Fiord beneath, and with her reflection encircles the head of the giant-myth as he stretches upon the waters.
A night when exquisiteness is born of the giant-myth and the moonlight.
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