In the main, the book is concerned with recalling the joint kindred of the two friends and cousins, and reconstituting the surroundings and the atmosphere of both families. Chieftainesses are there unmistakably. Near the end of her long life she went to the funeral of a relative, leaning decorously upon the arm of a kinsman. At the churchyard a countryman pushed forward between her and the coffin.
"It may well be so," he said sadly, "but I pray that it is not so, for she is the best of chieftainesses. At least we have our own lives to save, so let us go on," and again they pressed forward through the gathering gloom. Soon it grew dark, and had her guide been any other man than Zinti Suzanne must have stopped where she was till the moon rose at midnight.
Her eyes were large, meditative, and intelligent, her features distinguished. She was a goodly product of her race, being descended from a line of chiefs and chieftainesses broken only in the case of her grandfather, as has been mentioned. They were perfectly made, slim, yet plump, the fingers tapering, the wrist supple. Mrs. Townley then and there decided that the girl had possibilities.
Do you know, girls, that these Britons, big and strong as they are, are ruled by their women. These take part in their councils, and are queens and chieftainesses, and when it is necessary they will fight as bravely as the men.
It is not merely that in primitive times we suffered from the destruction of the fields we tilled and the houses we built; or that in later times as domestic labourers and producers, though unwaged, we, in taxes and material loss and additional labour, paid as much as our males towards the cost of war; nor is it that in a comparatively insignificant manner, as nurses of the wounded in modern times, or now and again as warrior chieftainesses and leaders in primitive and other societies, we have borne our part; nor is it even because the spirit of resolution in its women, and their willingness to endure, has in all ages again and again largely determined the fate of a race that goes to war, that we demand our controlling right where war is concerned.
But presently, because she saw they waited for her to speak, she said, with a little flutter of maliciousness: "Wouldn't it be well for Richard he has plenty of time, and we are also likely to have it now to put us all through a course of instruction for the training of chieftainesses? And when do you think she will be ready for a drawing-room Her Majesty Queen Victoria's, or ours?"
Only four years before this, Kapiolani had according to the custom of the Hawaiian chieftainesses, married many husbands, and she had given way to drinking habits. Then she had become a Christian, giving up her drinking and sending away all her husbands save one. She had thrown away her idols and now taught the people in their huts the story of Christ.
But presently, because she saw they waited for her to speak, she said, with a little flutter of maliciousness: "Wouldn't it be well for Richard- -he has plenty of time, and we are also likely to have it now to put us all through a course of instruction for the training of chieftainesses? And when do you think she will be ready for a drawing- room Her Majesty Queen Victoria's, or ours?"
These provinces were ruled by chieftainesses, who declared themselves loyal to the Imperial cause, and gave information about the haunts and habits of the "brigands," who in Suwo had no special appellation but in Buzen were known as Tsuchi-gumo, a name to be spoken of presently. They were disposed of partly by stratagem and partly by open warfare.
It was all the more amazing because his predominance was so great that none challenged it, and other great warriors were there. Timmendiquas continued to walk slowly forward to the point, where the long row of the chieftainesses stood. He would not have been human had he not felt exaltation, and an immense pride as he faced the women, with the hundreds and hundreds of admiring eyes looking on.