CAPTAIN COOK'S SECOND VOYAGE, I

"At daybreak," says Forster, "we rejoiced in one of those beautiful mornings which poets of every country have tried to paint. A light breeze brought a delicious perfume from the land, and ruffled the surface of the water. The forest-capped mountains elevated their majestic heads, over which the rising sun shed his beams. Close to us we saw a ridge of hills, of gentler ascent, but wooded like the first, and pleasantly intermixed with green and brown tints; below, a plain adorned with breadfruit-trees, and a quantity of palms in the background, overshadowing the delightful groves. All seemed still asleep. Dawn was but just breaking, and the country was wrapped in peaceful darkness. Yet we could perceive the houses amid the trees, and the pirogues on the shore. Half a mile from the beach, the waves broke over a reach of rocks level with the sea, and nothing could equal the tranquillity of the interior flow of the harbour. The day-star shed its lustre on the plain; the natives rose, and by degrees added life to this charming scene. At the sight of our vessels, several launched their pirogues in haste, and paddled towards us, as we were happily watching them. We little thought that we were going to run into great danger, and that destruction would soon threaten the vessels and their crews on this fortunate coast."

Skilful the writer, happy the painter, who knew how to find such fresh and varied colours! This enchanting picture is conveyed in a few words. One regrets not having accompanied this bold sailor, this scientist who so well understood Dame Nature! Unfortunately we could not visit these innocent and peaceable inhabitants in that age of gold to which our own century offers a painful comparison.

The vessels were half a league from a reef, when the wind fell. In spite of every effort, the ships were driven upon the rocks, in the very sight of the much-coveted land, when a clever manoeuvre of the captain's, ably seconded by the tide and the land breeze, came to their rescue. They had, however, received some injuries, and theAdventure lost three anchors.

The ships were surrounded by a crowd of pirogues, and every variety of fruit was exchanged for glass beads. Still the natives offered neither fowls nor pigs. Those that were seen near the cabins belonged to the king, and they had no right to sell them. Several of the Tahitans begged for news of Banks and the companions of Cook's earlier voyage. Some also inquired for news of Tupia, but they spoke no more of him when they had learned the circumstances of his death.

Next day, the two vessels anchored in the roadstead of Otaiti-Piha, two cable-lengths from the shore, and were besieged by visitors and traffickers.

Some profited by the crush to throw the merchandize they had already sold into their canoes, that they might sell it over again. To put a stop to this trick, Cook drove the perpetrators away, after having flogged them, a punishment which they accepted without complaining.

In the afternoon the two captains landed, to examine the watering place, which they found very convenient. During their absence a crowd of natives came on board, and amply confirmed the unenviable reputation they had acquired in the earlier records of Bougainville and Cook.

"One of the officers, standing on the quarter-deck," says the narrative, "desiring to give a child six years old, in one of the pirogues, some glass beads, let them fall into the sea. The child at once jumped into the water and dived until he recovered them. To reward his skill, he threw other trifles to him, a generosity which tempted a crowd of men and women, who amused us by their surprising agility in the waves. Their easy attitudes in the water, and the suppleness of their limbs, made them like amphibious animals."

But the Tahitans who came on board were detected in several acts of theft. One of them, who remained for the greater part of the day in Cook's bedroom, hastened to jump into the sea, and the captain, enraged by his conduct, had shots fired over his head. A boat, sent to take the pirogues of the robbers, was assailed with stones until it reached the shore, and it was only after a discharge of shot that the assailants determined to retreat. These hostilities led to no result, the natives came on board as if nothing had occurred.

Cook learned from them that the greater part of his old friends from the neighbourhood of Matavai had fallen in a battle between the inhabitants of the two peninsulas.

The officers made many excursions on land. Forster, animated by an ardour for botanical research, missed none of them. In one of these he witnessed the method employed by the Tahitans in preparing their stuffs.

"We had gone but a few paces," he says, "when a noise from the forest struck upon our ears. Following the sounds, we reached a little tent, where five or six women sitting upon either side of a large square piece of wood, were thrashing the fibrous bark of mulberry-trees to fabricate their stuffs. For this purpose they used a bit of square wood, with long parallel grooves more or less hollowed, according to the different sides. They paused a moment to enable us to examine the bark, the hammer, and the beam which served them for a table.

"They also showed us a kind of gum-water in a large cocoa-nut which they used from time to time to join the various bits of bark together.

"This glue, which appears to us to be obtained from the 'Hibiscus Esculentus,' is absolutely needful in the fabrication of the stuff, which being occasionally two or three yards wide and fifty long, are composed of small pieces of the bark. The women employed at this work wore very old and ragged clothes and their hands were hard and knotted."