Excerpt: Savage Love

Northland, New Zealand, 1850s. Rocks center stage beside an invisible river upstage. Mahina, a beautiful Maori maiden, sits on the rocks looking out stage right over the river. Campion enters stage left and goes up to her.
CAMPION: I thought I might find you here.
MAHINA: Smiles shyly. This is my favourite spot.
CAMPION: Sits down beside her. Why do you like it so much?
MAHINA: I used to come here all the time with my mother.
CAMPION: It is a beautiful place.
MAHINA: My mother used to sit where you are now, and tell me stories.
CAMPION: What kind of stories?
MAHINA: Stories of my tribe, Ngati Awa. Stories of the great mountain Taranaki. Stories of how the world began.
CAMPION: How the world began! That's a weighty subject. What did she tell you?
MAHINA: Impishly. You do not know how the world began? Yet you spend all your time capturing the power of the trees.
CAMPION: The trees? That's my trade. What about them?
MAHINA: You ask any Maori who knows his ancestral line. He will recite his father's name, his father's father, and his father too, right back to when the world began. His first ancestor is often – a tree.
CAMPION: I'm sorry.
CAMPION: Aren't you saying that my men are chopping down your ancestors?
MAHINA: Laughs prettily. Oh no! Tane is the god of the forest now. He can easily grow some more.
CAMPION: Nevertheless, I can see that trees have a special significance for you.
MAHINA: Solemnly. Trees are special. They hide fire within them, which can be coaxed out by stroking their limbs together. They are my friends.
Dreamily. There's a grove of trees near my whare [thatched hut] where I sleep. I often visit there at night. I stand beside them, silent and still, and watch them, silvered in the moonlight. I hear them whispering to each other. Sometimes they whisper to me too. I listen to their mysteries with great delight. Every night my delight deepens and deepens. But it's strange, my delight sometimes goes so deep it turns to fear. I have to rush home to my whare until I feel safe again.
To Campion, curiously. Does that happen to you? Intense joy, followed by deep pain, as if of some great loss?

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