VOYAGES ROUND THE WORLD, AND POLAR EXPEDITIONS
Driven back by bad weather, the Rurik reached Ounalashka on the 6th September, halted for a few days at San Francisco, and reached the Sandwich Islands, where some important surveys were made and some very curious information collected.
On leaving the Sandwich Islands, Kotzebue steered for Suwaroff and Kutusoff Islands, which he had discovered a few months before. On the 1st January, 1817, he sighted Miadi Island, to which he gave the name of New Year's Island. Four days later he discovered a chain of little low wooded islands set in a framework of reefs, through which the vessel could scarcely make its way.
Just at first the natives ran away at the sight of Lieutenant Schischmaroff, but they soon came back with branches in their hands, shouting out the word aidara (friend). The officer repeated this word and gave them a few nails in return, for which the Russians received the collars and flowers worn as neck-ornaments by the natives.
This exchange of courtesies emboldened the rest of the islanders to appear, and throughout the stay of the Russians in this archipelago these friendly demonstrations and enthusiastic but guarded greetings were continued. One native, Rarik by name, was particularly cordial to the Russians, whom he informed that the name of his island and of the chain of islets and attolls connected with it was Otdia. In acknowledgment of the cordial reception of the natives, Kotzebue left with them a cock and hen, and planted in a garden laid out under his orders a quantity of seeds, in the hope that they would thrive; but in this he did not make allowance for the number of rats which swarmed upon these islands and wrought havoc in his plantations.
On the 6th February, after ascertaining from what he was told by a chief named Languediak, that these sparsely populated islands were of recent formation, Kotzebue put to sea again, having first christened the archipelago Romantzoff.
The next day a group of islets, on which only three inhabitants were found, had its name of Eregup changed to that of Tchitschakoff, and then an enthusiastic reception was given to Kotzebue on the Kawen Islands by the tamon or chief. Every native here fêted the new-comers, some by their silence—like the queen forbidden by etiquette to answer the speeches made to her—some by their dances, cries, and songs, in which the name of Totabou (Kotzebue) was constantly repeated. The chief himself came to fetch Kotzebue in a canoe, and carried him on his shoulders through the breakers to the beach.
In the Aur group the navigator noticed amongst a crowd of natives who climbed on to the vessel, two natives whose faces and tattooing seemed to mark them as of alien race. One of them, Kadu by name, especially pleased the commander, who gave him some bits of iron, and Kotzebue was surprised that he did not receive them with the same pleasure as his companions. This was explained the same evening. When all the natives were leaving the vessel, Kadu earnestly begged to be allowed to remain on the Rurik, and never again to leave it. The commander only yielded to his wishes after a great deal of persuasion.
"Kadu," says Kotzebue, "had scarcely obtained permission, when he turned quickly to his comrades, who were waiting for him, declared to them his intention of remaining on board the ship, and distributed his iron among the chiefs. The astonishment in the boats was beyond description: they tried in vain to shake his resolution; he was immovable. At last his friend Edock came back, spoke long and seriously to him, and when he found that his persuasion was of no avail, he attempted to drag him by force; but Kadu now used the right of the strongest, he pushed his friend from him, and the boats sailed off. His resolution being inexplicable to me, I conceived a notion that he perhaps intended to steal during the night, and privately to leave the ship, and therefore had the night-watch doubled, and his bed made up close to mine on the deck, where I slept, on account of the heat. Kadu felt greatly honoured to sleep close to the tamon of the ship."
Born at Ulle, one of the Caroline Islands, more than 300 miles from the group where he was now living, Kadu, with Edok and two other fellow-countrymen, had been overtaken, when fishing, by a violent storm. For eight months the poor fellows were at the mercy of the winds and currents on a sea now smooth, now rough. They had never throughout this time been without fish, but they had suffered the cruelest tortures from thirst. When their stock of rain-water, which they had used very sparingly, was exhausted, there was nothing left to them to do but to fling themselves into the sea and try to obtain at the bottom of the ocean some water less impregnated with salt, which they brought to the surface in cocoa-nut shells pierced with a small opening. When they reached the Aur Islands, even the sight of land and the immediate prospect of safety did not rouse them from the state of prostration into which they had sunk.
The sight of the iron instruments in the canoe of the strangers led the people of Aur to decide on their massacre for the sake of their treasures; but the tamon, Tigedien by name, took them under his protection.
Three years had passed since this event, and the men from the Caroline Islands, thanks to their more extended knowledge, soon acquired a certain ascendancy over their hosts.