Mr Tanner was anxious to explain how it was that he had a lawyer in the family, so that when they all decided to sell up and quit New Zealand there had been someone they could absolutely trust with the legal business.
They didn’t have to buy their place, it had been left deserted, and yet it had something you could give a thousand pounds for and not get, and that was a standpipe giving constant clear water from an underground well.
“What’s it called?”
“Don’t know it. That’s not a Māori name.”
“I think it means Jerusalem,” said Tanner.
“He’s a crank, I dare say.”
“He’s a dreamer,” Tanner replied. “I should term Brinkman a dreamer.”
Parrish didn’t mind because Hiruharama, Tanner’s place, was on a more or less direct line from Awanui to Te Paki station, and that was the line his pigeons flew.
“If you’d have lived over the other way I couldn’t have helped you,” Parrish said.
He had made the pigeons’ nest out of packing-cases. They ought to have flown daily for exercise, but he hadn’t been able to manage that. Still, they looked fair enough, a bit disheveled, but not so that you’d notice. It was four o’clock, breezy, but not windy. He took them out into the bright air which, even that far from the coast, was full of the salt of the ocean. How to toss a pigeon he had no idea. He opened the basket, and before he could think what to do next they were out and up into the blue. He watched in terror as after reaching a certain height they began turning round in tight circles as though puzzled or lost. Then, apparently sighting something on the horizon that they knew, they set off strongly toward Awanui.
The doctor emerged, moving rather faster than he usually did. “Please to go in there and wash the patient. I’m going to look at the afterbirth. The father put it out with the waste.”
There Tanner had made his one oversight. It wasn’t the afterbirth, it was a second daughter, smaller, but a twin.
“I think of myself as one of the perpetually welcome.”