CAPTAIN COOK'S THIRD VOYAGE, I

The ships were well supplied with red feathers. Therefore fruits, pigs, and fowls appeared in great abundance during the stay in port. Cook, however, soon proceeded to Matavai Bay, where King Otoo left his residence at Pané, to pay his old friend a visit. Mai was disdainfully received by his friends there also, and although he threw himself at the king's feet, when he presented him with a tuft of red feathers, and three pieces of gold cloth, he was scarcely noticed. But as at Taqabou, the treatment changed suddenly upon the discovery of Mai's fortune, but he being only happy in the company of vagabonds, who laughed at him good-naturedly, even while they robbed him, was unable to acquire the influence over Otoo, and the principle chiefs, which was necessary to the development of civilization.

Cook had long heard that human sacrifices were common in Tahiti, but he had always refused to believe it. A solemn ceremonial which he saw at Atahour, no longer allowed him to doubt the existence of the practice. In order to gain the favourable assistance of the Atoua or Godon in an expedition against the island of Eimèo, a man of the lowest social rank was killed by blows with clubs in the king's presence. As an offering the hair and one eye of the victim was placed before the king; last signs of the cannibalism which formerly existed in this archipelago. At the end of this barbarous ceremony, which was a blot in the memoirs of so peaceable a people, a king-fisher alighted in the foliage. "It is Atoua!" cried Otoo, delighted at the happy augury.

Human sacrifice at Tahiti
Human sacrifice at Tahiti.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

Next day the ceremony was to be continued by a holocaust of pigs. The priests, like the Roman augurs, sought to read the history of the expedition in the dying struggles of the victims.

Cook, who had silently assisted at the ceremony, could not conceal the horror with which it inspired him. Mai interpreted for him, eloquently and forcibly. Towha could scarcely contain his anger.

"If the king had killed a man in England," said Mai, "as he has done the unhappy and innocent victim he has offered to his gods, it would have been impossible to save him from hanging, a punishment reserved for murderers and assassins." Mai's severe reflection was a little out of place, Cook should have remembered that manners vary with countries. It is absurd to attempt to apply to Tahiti, as punishment for that which is their custom, a punishment reserved in London for what is considered a crime. "Every man's house is his castle," says a popular proverb, which European nations have too often forgotten. Under the pretext of civilization, they have often shed more blood than would have flowed if they had not interfered.

Before he left Tahiti, Cook bestowed all the animals he had had so much difficulty in bringing from Europe upon Otoo. They were geese, ducks, turkeys, goats, sheep, horses, and cattle. Otoo was at a loss to express his gratitude to the "Areeke no Pretonne," (King of Britain) especially when he found that the English could not take a large pirogue on board which he had constructed as an offering for his friend the King of England, it being too large.

The Resolution and the Discovery left Tahiti on the 30th of September, and anchored at Eimeo.

In this place their stay was marked by a painful incident. Frequent thefts had occurred for several days, when a goat was stolen. To make an example, Cook burnt five or six cabins, and set fire to a large number of pirogues, threatening the king with his anger if the animal were not immediately produced. As soon as he had obtained satisfaction the captain started for Huaheine with Mai who was to settle on that island.

A sufficiently large space of land was ceded by the chiefs of the Ouare settlement in return for such presents. Upon this Cook had a house built, and planted a garden, where he planted European cabbages. Mai was left with two houses, two goats, and fowls. At the same time he was presented with a present of a coat of mail, of a complete set of armour, powder, balls, and guns. A portable organ, an electrical machine, fireworks, and domestic and agricultural implements completed the collection of useful and ornamental presents intended to give the Tahitans an idea of European civilization. Mai had a sister married at Huaheine, but her husband occupied too humble a position for him to attempt to despoil him. Cook then solemnly declared that the native was his friend, and that in a short time he should return to ascertain how he had been treated, and that he should severely punish those who had acted badly to him.

His threats were likely to be effective, as a few days earlier, some robbers, caught in the act by the English, had had their heads shaved and their ears cut. A little later at Raiatea, in order to force the natives to send back some deserters, Cook had carried off the entire family of the chief Oreo on one rope.

The moderation exhibited by the captain in his first voyage, constantly diminished; every day he became more severe and exacting. This change in his conduct was fatal to him.