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A visitob to Wellington writes to the 1 Ashburton Guardian ': — ' I was wandering over'the rocks din the beach to the left of ,the Islanil Bay Hotel, and had-travelled a considerable distance along them, when my attention was attracted to smoke issuing from the side of the hills, which bordered on the sea., I went to ascertain the origin of the smoke. I approached the place and found that.the smoke was coming from a. cave through the only entrance, and therefore the only means of exit. I groped my way into the cave,, and called out to ascertain if anyone was there. " Come in," was the re-assuring answer i received, and I went through the blinding smoke to the place whence proceeded the voice. I found a fire of wood in a hole; and reaching the farther side of the fire I saw a human being, whom I quickly concluded was the much advertised hermit. Taking a seat on a log at my host's invitation, I entered into a conversation with him, obtaining, as good a view of the man and the interior of his primitive habitation as I could through the smoke which I was afraid would choke me. Being in the far end of the cave the light from the entrance helped the fire to dispel the gloom. The hermit was a man about 40 years of age, and rather medium height. His face and clothes bore evidence to extreme poverty and wretchedness; his hair was long and uncombed; his boots were old, the sides hanging together like criminals with little hope of redemption. The hermit did not volunteer much information about himself; either he was tired of repeating his story to the galaxy of curious ones who visit him, or his habitual indolence prevented him exercising a member rather rusty from inutility, but he readily answered reasonable questions. In the intervals between he would forget the visitor and be absorbed,in meditation. I gathered from him that he had lived in that miserable cave for nearly six years, and did not feel anxious to improve his surroundings. He had no' trade, and I could,see from his dejected manner that he had no energy, courage, hope, ambition, enterprisei common sense, or such like praiseworthy faculties to enable him to face the world and secure a livelihood. I subsequently learned that , this wretched being lives on the charity of anyone who takes the trouble to visit him. He will not solicit alma, but he never refuses to accept them. His bed, couch, and chair combined is made of a few boards nailed together, with an upright at one end—like the back of a chair. His bedding consists of a bundle of old clothes and some sacks. His cooking utensils, as far as I could see, were a email tin billy, a pannikin, and a large baking tin. In a corner of the cave a pile of wood was placed, which'the solitary man Had collected, and which was sufficient to last him a day or two..' A spring of water about a hundred1 yards from the cave supplied him with',his favorite beverage.; He, informed'me that he did not smoke or drink intoxicants. He seemed to be wanting the energy required to draw smoke through a pipe. ' My stay with the lonely occupant of the cave was of only ten minutes duration, and when I again stood in the open air without, everything in nature appeared to me in a different aspect. I never realised so much enjoyment in the elements of sunshine and sea breeze. The adventure recalled to my mind the following lines, which may appropriately close this notice :—. .... : .-..,. Upon a mountain's brow , ; A hermit lived—the Lord knows how. Hardship and penance were hia lot.; ; He often prayed—the Lord knows what. Hope and sackcloth did he wear ; He got his food—the Lord knows where. At length tins Holy man did die; ■ He left the world—the Lord knows why. ' He'sburied in that gloomy den; And he'll arise—the Lord knows when.

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Bibliographic details

THE HERMIT OF ISLAND BAY, Colonist, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4261, 6 October 1885

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THE HERMIT OF ISLAND BAY Colonist, Volume XXVIII, Issue 4261, 6 October 1885