Read EPILOGUE of The Tale of Timber Town , free online book, by Alfred Grace, on

When the play is over, it is customary for the curtain to be raised for a few moments, that the audience may take a last look at the players; and though the action of our piece is ended and the story is told, the reader is asked to give a final glance at the stage, on which have been acted the varied scenes of the tale of Timber Town.

In the inner recess of Tresco’s cave, where he had made his comfortless bed, the dim light of a candle is burning. As its small flame lights up the cold walls, stained black with the smoke of the goldsmith’s dead fire, a weeping woman is seen crouching on the damp floor.

It is Gentle Annie.

Between the sobs which rack her, she is speaking.

“While he lived for weeks in this dripping hole, I lodged comfortably and entertained murderers! Vile woman, defiled by hands stained with blood! despised, loathed, shunned by every man, woman, or child that knows me. Yet he did not despise me, though I shall despise myself for ever, and for ever, and for ever. And he is gone the only one who could have raised me to my better self.”

Rising from the ground, she takes the candle, and gropes her way out of the cave into the pure light of the Sun.

In a common Maori whare, built of raupo leaves and rushes, sits a dusky maiden, filled with bitterness and grief. Outside the low doorway, stand Scarlett and his wife.

Forbidden to enter, they beg the surly occupant to come out to them. But the only answer is a sentence of Maori, growled from an angry mouth.

“But, Amiria, we have ridden all the way from Timber Town to see you,” pleads the silvery voice of Rose Scarlett.

“Then you can ride back to Timber Town. I didn’t ask you to come.”

“Amiria,” says Jack; his voice stern and hard, “if you insult my wife, you insult me. Have not you and she been friends since you were children?”

Amiria emerges from her hut. On her head is a man’s hat, and round her body is wrapped a gaudy but dirty blanket.

“Listen to what I say.” The same well-moulded, dusky face is there, the same upright bearing, the same musical voice, but the tone is hard, and the look forbidding. “I learnt all the Pakeha ways; I went to their school; I can speak their tongue; I have learnt their ritenga: and I say these Pakeha things are good for the Pakeha, but for the Maori they are bad. The white man is one, the Maori is one. Let the white man keep to his customs, and let the Maori keep to his. Let the white marry white, and let the brown marry brown. That is all. Take your wife with you, and think of me no more. I am a Maori wahine, I have become a woman of the tribe. My life is in the pa, yours is in the town. Now go. I want to see you no more.” So saying she disappears inside the hut.

Scarlett draws himself to his full height, and stands, contemplating the sea. Then his eye catches a fleck of white at his side; and he turns, to see his wife drying the tears which cannot be restrained.

He takes her by the hand, and leads her through the little crowd of natives standing round.

“Come away, little woman,” he says; “we can do no good here. It’s time we got back to Timber Town.”

So mounting their horses, they ride away.

It so happens that as they reach their journey’s end, and pass the big “emporium” of Varnhagen and Co., they catch sight of the gay figure of a girl, dressed in fluttering muslin and bright ribbons, beside whom walks a smart young man.

“Wasn’t that Miss Varnhagen?” asks Jack after they have passed by at a trot.

“Yes,” replies Rose.

“Who was the fellow with her?”

“He’s the new gold-clerk at the Kangaroo Bank. She’s engaged to him.”