John Rutherford, the White Chief eBook

George Lillie Craik
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about John Rutherford, the White Chief.


Rutherford and his comrades spent another night in the same manner as they had done the previous one; and on the following morning set out, in company with the five chiefs, on a journey into the interior.

When they left the coast, the ship was still burning.  They were attended by about fifty natives, who were loaded with the plunder of the unfortunate vessel.  That day, he calculates, they travelled only about ten miles, the journey being very fatiguing from the want of any regular roads, and the necessity for making their way through a succession of woods and swamps.

The village at which their walk terminated was the residence of one of the chiefs, whose name was Rangadi,[K] and who was received on his arrival by about two hundred of the inhabitants.

They came in a crowd, and, kneeling down around him, began to cry aloud and cut their arms, faces, and other parts of their bodies with pieces of sharp flint, of which each of them carried a number tied with a string about his neck, till the blood flowed copiously from their wounds.

[Illustration:  Kororareka Beach, in the Bay of Islands, where some of Rutherford’s adventures are supposed to have taken place.]

These demonstrations of excited feeling, which Rutherford describes as merely their usual manner of receiving any of their friends who have been for some time absent, are rather more extravagant than seem to have been commonly observed to take place on such occasions in other parts of the island.  Mr. Marsden,[L] however, states that on Korro-korro’s[M] return from Port Jackson, many of the women of his tribe who came out to receive him “cut themselves in their faces, arms, and breasts with sharp shells or flints, till the blood streamed down.”  Some time after, when Duaterra[N] and Shungie[O] went on shore at the Bay of Islands, they met with a similar reception from the females of their tribes.  Mr. Savage asserts that this cutting of their faces by the women always takes place on the meeting of friends who have been long separated; but that the ceremony consists only of embracing and crying, when the separation of the parties has been short.  It may be remarked that the custom of receiving strangers with tears, by way of doing them honour, has prevailed with other savages.  Among the native tribes of Brazil, according to Lafitau, it used to be the custom for the women, on the approach of any one to whom they wished to show especial fidelity, to crouch down on their heels, and, spreading their hands over their faces, to remain for a considerable time in that posture, howling in a sort of cadence, and shedding tears.  Among the Sioux, again, it was the duty of the men to perform this ceremony of lamentation on such occasions, which they did standing, and laying their hands on the heads of their visitors.

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John Rutherford, the White Chief from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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