CAPTAIN COOK'S SECOND VOYAGE, II

A fresh visit to Tahiti and the Friendly Islands—Exploration of New Hebrides—Discovery of New Caledonia and Pine Island—Stay in Queen Charlotte'sSound—South Georgia—Accident to the Adventure.

After leaving these islands, on the 12th of April, and sailing for Tahiti, Cook fell in, five days later, with the Pomotou archipelago. He landed on the Tioukea Island of Byron. The inhabitants, who had cause to complain of earlier navigators, received the advances of the English coldly. The latter could only obtain about two dozen cocoa-nuts and five pigs, which appeared plentiful in this island. In another settlement a more friendly reception was met with. The natives embraced the new-comers, and rubbed their noses in the same fashion as the New Zealanders. OEdidi bought several dogs, the long and white hair of whose skins serves as an ornament for cuirasses in his native land.

Forster relates:—

"The natives told us that they broke up scurvy grass, mixed it with shell-fish, and threw it into the sea on the approach of a shoal of fish. This bait intoxicated the fish for a time, and when they came to the surface it was easy to take them. The captain afterwards saw several other islands of this immense archipelago, which were similar to those he had left, especially the Pernicious Islands, where Roggewein had lost his sloop, the African, and to which Cook gave the name of Palliser Islands."

He then steered for Tahiti, which the sailors, certain of the good-will of the natives, regarded as a home. The Resolution cast anchor in Matavai Bay on the 22nd of April, and their reception was as friendly as had been anticipated. A few days later, King O-Too and several other chiefs visited the English, and brought them a present of ten or a dozen large pigs and some fruit.

Cook's first idea was to remain in this spot only just long enough for Mr. Wales, the astronomer, to take observations, but the abundance of provisions induced him to prolong his stay.

On the morning of the 26th, the captain, who had been to Oparrée with some of his officers, to make a formal visit to the king, observed a fleet of more than 300 pirogues, drawn up in order on the shore. They were all completely equipped. At the same time a number of warriors assembled on the beach.

The officers' suspicions were excited by this formidable armament, collected in one night, but they were reassured by the welcome they received.

This fleet consisted of no less than sixty large double pirogues, decorated with flags and streamers, and 170 smaller ones, intended for the transport of provisions, and the flotilla was manned with no fewer than 7760 men, warriors or paddlers.

"The sight of this fleet," says Forster, "increased our ideas of the power and wealth of this island. The entire crew was astonished. When we reflect upon the implements possessed by this people, we can but admire the patience and toil necessary to cut down these enormous trees, separate and polish the branches, and then to carry the heavy constructions to such perfection. These works are produced by them by means of a stone hatchet and saw, a piece of coral, and the hide of whales. The chiefs, and all who occupied a prominent fighting rank, were dressed in military style—that is to say, in a quantity of stuffs, turbans, helmets, and breastplates. The height of some of the helmets was most embarrassing to the wearers. The entire equipment appeared more appropriate for scenic effect than suitable for a battlefield. But, in any case, it added to the grandeur of the display, and the warriors did not fail to show themselves with a view to the most striking effect.

"Upon reaching Matavai, Cook learned that this formidable armament was destined for an attack upon Eimio, whose chief had revolted against the Tahitan yoke, and become independent.

"During the following days the captain was visited by some of his old friends. All showed a desire to possess red feathers, which were of considerable value. One only attached more importance to a glass bead or a nail. The Tahitans were so impressed that they offered in exchange the strange mourning garments, which they had refused to sell during Cook's first voyage.

"These garments are made of the rarest productions of the islands and the surrounding sea, and are worked with care and great skill, and no doubt are of great value to themselves. We bought no less than ten, which we brought to England."

OEdidi, who had taken good care to procure some feathers for himself, could indulge in any caprice he liked. The natives looked upon him as a prodigy, and listened eagerly to his tales. The principal personages of the island, and even the king sought his society. He married a daughter of the chief of Matavai, and brought his wife on board. Every one was delighted to make him a present. Finally he decided to remain at Tahiti, where he had found his sister married to a powerful chief.

In spite of the thefts, which more than once caused unpleasantness, the English procured more provisions on their stay in this port than ever before. The aged Oberea, who was like a queen in the island during the stay made by the Dauphin in 1767, herself brought pigs and fruits, in the secret hope of obtaining red feathers, which had so great a success. Presents were liberally given, and the Indians were amused with fireworks and military manoeuvres.