Chapter 2

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

Auckland, 18th November, 1873

You must be wondering whatever happened to me. My last letter to you had ended so abruptly that I may have left you in a state of suspense and with a terrible sense of dread. The unexpected news brought by Mrs. Dunstan changed the course of my life forever. Sometimes unimagined good fortune lies hidden in misfortune. And so it came to pass.

I vividly recall that fateful day when Mrs. Dunstan came at my door wearing a blue flared skirt with a matching bonnet perched daintily on her gray head of hair. Words tumbled out of her mouth smothering the sobs that eventually followed. She informed me that a Māori had arrived from Wairoa bearing bad news. Dr. Hanley was gravely ill. It seemed he didn’t have much time left and had sent word for me to immediately come to him.

The room spun around me and I collapsed on the hard stone floor. When I opened my eyes, Mrs. Dunstan was holding a blue bottle of powerful smelling salts to my nose and wiping the beading sweat from my forehead with her lace handkerchief.

“How can we get to Wairoa? I must be at my husband’s side at the earliest,” I pleaded.

Mrs. Dunstan was aghast. How was a young, delicate lady like me going to undertake such an arduous trek into the wilderness all by herself? She was aware that I was in the family way and that must have greatly worried her. 

“I am coming with you Mrs. Hanley.  You cannot possibly travel alone in such a state,” said the good lady firmly as she left to arrange for our immediate departure.

My heart overflowed with gratitude towards that truly kind lady. Sometimes God appears to us in the form of kindred spirits such as her.


Our journey from Auckland to Wairoa was most eventful and very dangerous.

We had to battle bone chilling winds, travelling in a horse drawn buggy, driven by a sullen man who grumbled endlessly about having to be out. He grudgingly took us from Auckland to Riverhead. The roads were muddy and slowed our passage considerably. I was feeling wretched but Mrs. Dunstan, bless her soul, soothed my frayed nerves with her kind and generous words.   

From Riverhead we had to navigate the Kaipara River in a four oared boat to get to Kaipara Heads. The rocking motion of the boat reminded me of the dreadful journey I had undertaken just a few months back.  From Kaipara Heads we travelled up the Wairoa River inland to Wairoa.

It was an awful five-day ordeal but I am convinced that at such trying times the Lord Almighty infuses your mind and body with supreme courage and determination.

What an enormous relief it was to see Dr. Hanley at last. He was critically ill, almost dying.

But then a miraculous thing happened.

The Māori say it was good fortune brought by our unborn child. I don’t know if children determine their parents’ destinies, but it was surely divine providence that in Wairoa I met a man named Taine, meaning god’s light. 


This chapter had me checking my NZ History to see if the journey Hemali describes in this chapter would be possible and it is. What excellent research! You also brought in the fact that the missionaries would have had very close contact with Maori and this again shows thorough research. The voice you maintained throughout this chapter was in keeping with the time and thoroughly believable. an excellent chapter!
Thanks Suraya. I love period novels and this starter was really close to my heart. Yes, I did quite a bit of research because I have never been to NZ to even have an inkling regarding its landscape or its native people. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this beautiful country and its history. That's the reason why it took me so long to write and submit this chapter. I also have to thank you for helping me get the chapter on the grid and make it more lucid.
Thanks Angela. I too am looking forward to see how this serial shapes up.
Hemali, this is such a brilliantly written chapter. I am in awe and am now nervous to be the next writer. Such vivid descriptions, real-life emotions expressed beautifully. And such wonderful research, wonderful! I am now off to spend the night with my near best friend- GOOGLE.
I have read some of your work Rosemary; therefore I know you chapter will be well written contribution towards what is turning out to be an attention grabbing serial.
Hemali, what an excellent chapter! You've done such a good job with tone and style that I feel like I'm reading the work of a writer who lived through the Victorian era.
Thanks Rosemary and Linda. When the beginning is good, the rest just follows!!

This is an excellent follow on from Chapter one. I was very impressed.
Thank you so much Aiden-Penn. I am really looking forward to reading your work!!