It was a glorious autumn day, when the New Zealand bush was at its loveliest—as enchanting as if it truly were the fairy ground of the Southern Ocean; yet so unlike every European forest that weariness seemed banished by its ceaseless variety. Here the intertwining branches of majestic trees, with leaves of varied hue, shut out the sky, and seemed to roof the summer road which wound its devious track towards the hills; there a rich fern-clad valley, from which the murmuring sound of falling water broke like music on the ear. Onwards still a little farther, and an overgrown creek, gently wandering between steep banks of rich dark fern and graceful palm, came suddenly out of the greenwood into an open space, bounded by a wall of rock, rent by a darkling chasm, where the waters of the creek, tumbling over boulder stone and fallen tree, broadened to a rushing river. Along its verge the road continued, a mere wheel-track cut in the rock, making it a perilous crossing, as the driver of the weekly mail knew full well.
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