In the course of fencing operations, the Little'un developed a wonderful aptitude for the manufacture of gates. Whether he had learnt the whole art of carpentry from his practice upon a certain chair, elsewhere described, I do not know; but his gates are a marvel of ingenuity, and really very capital contrivances.
And so say all of us, although the Saint and the Little'un and O'Gaygun hold aloof from matrimony as yet. These Maori maidens are not to be thought of as savages. Far from it. They can read and they can write, in English as well as Maori. They can read the newspaper or the Bible to their less accomplished papas and mammas.
Chairs we have none, except two curious contrivances belonging to the Saint and the Little'un. We use empty kegs and boxes, sawn logs set up on end, and the sides of our bunks, when we sit at table. When at our ease and our tobacco, we either recline in our bunks, or sit on the edge of the floor opening into the chimney-place.
Then there was a party of moderates, represented by Little'un, the Pirate, Wolf, Dark Charlie, and the Member. These were all for a compromise of some sort. And at last they were inspired with a plan that seemed the best that could be done under the circumstances, and that was finally, after much dispute, accepted as our line of action by all parties. It was this.
Concern and consternation sat on every brow, as the Little'un unfolded his tale, and we surveyed the universal smash of our crockery. Only O'Gaygun showed signs of levity. In stentorian tones he shouted: "A jedgment! a jedgment on ye, bhoys! The very bastes is sint to prache aginst yer exthravagance an' lukshury! The pigs is tachin' ye as they tached the howly St. Anthony av ould! O glory, glory!
Such as we have is pretty much held in common, and all that is not in immediate use finds a place on the partition-rack, or the shelves upon it. We are supposed to possess another change of garments apiece, but no one knows exactly how he stands in this matter, unless it be the Little'un, whose superior amplitude of limb debars him from the fullest exercise of communal rights.
The Little'un got through his task; he washed every plate and cup we had got; but, not finding any towel or cloth handy, he disposed the things on the stones in the chimney-place, round the stove to dry. There he left them, and went off to chop firewood, forgetting to fasten the door. Directly the Little'un's back was turned, a wandering pig arrived on the scene.
The Little'un has no inborn genius for joinery. Sometimes it has happened that, as we sat at a meal, a loud crack would be heard, some part of his throne would give way, and the Little'un would disappear from view. Shouts of laughter from the rest.
And a funny little incident occurs. Miss Fairweather remarks to the Little'un that she thinks she has met him before; in Auckland, probably. Either she is mistaken, or, the Little'un has forgotten, and is shamefaced. He blushes the colour of beet-root.
But there is a sequel to the incident. Some time after, when we had learnt to love and cherish these acquisitions, the Little'un was one day detailed as hut-keeper. It so happened that he had our entire stock of crockery to wash up, as we generally work through the set before any one will act as scullery-maid.