CHAPTER 16. 1776 TO 1777. THIRD VOYAGE.
On 29th September, after giving Otoo a short run out to sea and back, the two ships sailed for the north side of Eimeo, arriving the next day, and were greeted by a chief, Maheine, who was bald-headed. Of this defect he seemed much ashamed, and always appeared with his head covered with a sort of turban. Cook thinks perhaps this shame rose from the fact that natives caught stealing on the ships were often punished by having their heads shaved, and adds that "one or two of the gentlemen whose heads were not overburdened with hair, lay under violent suspicions of being titos (thieves)."
One of the few remaining goats was stolen, but after threats of serious reprisals was given up, together with the thief, who was eventually discharged with a caution; but on a second one disappearing and not being found after careful search, Cook felt that he must make an example, or nothing would be safe, so he ordered one or two houses and canoes to be destroyed, and sent word to Maheine that he would not leave a canoe on the island if the goat was not returned. The goat was recovered, and the next day the people were as friendly as if nothing had occurred. Cook was particularly annoyed, for he had sent a present of red feathers to Otoo, and requested him to send in return a couple of goats to Eimeo.
On 11th October the ships sailed for Huaheine, and when they arrived Cook was so ill he had to be landed from the ship, but he makes no mention of it in his Journal. He thought this island would be more suitable for Omai than Otaheite, and as Omai was agreeable a piece of ground was obtained from the chief and a small house erected and a garden laid out and planted. The interest of the different chiefs of the neighbourhood was sought on Omai's behalf, and as it was seen that some of the natives were inclined to take advantage of his good nature, Cook let it be understood that if, should he return and find Omai in an satisfactory condition, some one would feel the weight of his displeasure. Then the most serious thing that can be brought against Cook's treatment of the natives occurred. In extenuation it must be remembered that he admits that he was inclined to be hot-tempered, though it did not last; he had been constantly irritated by repeated losses, and he was at the time really seriously ill, and also when all was over he sincerely regretted he had taken such strong measures.
Mr. Bayley's sextant was stolen from the observatory: Cook at once demanded from the chiefs that it should be returned, but they paid no attention. The thief, however, was pointed out, seized, and taken on board ship; the sextant was recovered, but Cook says, finding the thief to be "a hardened scoundrel, I punished him with greater severity than I have ever done any one before, and then dismissed him." He is said to have had his head shaved and his ears cut off, but Gilbert (midshipman on the Discovery) says this was not done till he had been rearrested for damaging Omai's garden, trying to set fire to the house, and threatening to kill Omai as soon as the ships left. Cook had intended to remove him from the island, but, being in irons, he stole the keys from a sleeping guard and made his escape. Omai found that many of the articles which were practically useless to him, would be appreciated on the ships, so he very wisely changed them for hatchets and other useful articles. A notice of the visit with the names of the ships was cut on the end of Omai's house, and, after firing a salute of five guns, the ships sailed on 2nd November. Omai accompanied them for a short way, and Mr. King says that when he parted from Cook he completely broke down and cried all the way ashore. Cook speaks well of him, saying he seldom had to find fault with him, that he had many good qualities, but, like the rest of his race, he lacked powers of observation, application, and perseverance.
On the 3rd they were off Ulietea, and as they were able to run in close to the shore a staging was erected, and the ballast ports were opened so as to give the rats, which had become very troublesome, a chance of going ashore. One of the marines also took the opportunity to desert, taking his musket with him, but after a little trouble was arrested; and having previously borne a very good character, he was let off with a short imprisonment. A second desertion occurred from the Discovery, Mr. Mouat, midshipman, and a seaman getting away. Cook says the affair gave him more trouble than both men were worth, but he insisted on getting them back to prevent others following their example, and "to save the son of a brother officer from being lost to the world." They were found to have gone off in a canoe to another island, and Cook ordered Clerke to detain the chief, his son, daughter, and son-in-law on the Discovery, where they had gone to dine, and to inform them they would be kept as hostages till the runaways were returned. Three days afterwards the deserters were brought back, and the hostages were at once released. It was afterwards found out that there had been a plot to seize Cook in retaliation, when he went for his usual bath in the evening, but, as it happened, he was so much worried that he put it off and so escaped. Burney notes that Cook could not swim. Before leaving they received a message from Omai, saying he was all right, but asking for another goat as one of his was dead. Clerke was able to oblige him with two kids, one of each sex.