CHAPTER 16. 1776 TO 1777. THIRD VOYAGE.
On 6th June they sailed for Tongatabu again, accompanied by some sailing canoes which could all easily outdistance the two ships. A good anchorage was found, and Cook's old friends, Otago and Toobough, were soon on board to greet them. As it was proposed to make a short stay, the cattle were landed, the observatory set up, and the sail-makers set to work to overhaul the sails, for much-required repairs. Cook speaks very highly of the orderly behaviour of the natives, many of whom had never seen a white man before. Hearing much of an important chief named Mariwaggee, Cook persuaded the king to escort a party to his residence, which was found to be pleasantly situated on an inlet where most of the chiefs resided, surrounded by neatly fenced plantations; but they were informed that Mariwaggee had gone to see the ships. This was found to be untrue, but the next day he appeared, accompanied by a large number of both sexes, and Cook at once landed with some presents for him, only to find he was accompanied by another chief, to whom something had to be given as well. Fortunately the two were easily satisfied, and the present was divided between them. Mariwaggee was found to be the father of Feenough, and the father-in-law of the king. He gave a grand entertainment of singing and dancing in honour of the strangers, which commenced about eleven in the morning and lasted till between three and four in the afternoon, and wound up with a presentation of a large number of yams, each pair of the roots being tied to a stick about six feet long, and decorated with fish. Cook says it was hard to say which was the most valuable, the yams for food or the sticks for firewood; but, as for the fish, "it might serve to please the sight, but was very offensive to the smell, as some of it had been kept two or three days for this occasion." More singing and dancing then took place, and then the English gave a display of fireworks, which "astonished and highly entertained" the natives.
Being afraid that some of his live stock might be stolen, Cook tried to interest some of the chiefs in them by presenting the king with a bull and cow and some goats; to Feenough a horse and mare, and to Mariwaggee a ram and two ewes. Some one, however, was not satisfied, and a kid and two turkey cocks were stolen; and as thefts had been frequent and very daring, including an attempt to steal one of the anchors of the Discovery, which would have been successful had not one of the flukes of the anchor got fixed in one of the chain plates, Cook determined to put his foot down. He seized three canoes, and, hearing Feenough and some other chiefs were in a house together, he placed a guard over them and informed them they would be detained till the stolen goods were returned. They took the matter coolly, and said that everything should be returned. Some of the things being produced, Cook invited his prisoners on board ship to dine, and when they came back the kid and a turkey were brought, so the prisoners and canoes were released. At one time a small hostile demonstration was made by the natives, but the landing of a few marines and an order from the king put an end to it.
The following day Cook was invited on shore and found some natives busy erecting two sets of poles, one on each side of the place set apart for the guests. Each set consisted of four placed in a square about two feet apart, secured from spreading by cross pieces, and carried up to a height of about thirty feet, the intervening space being filled with yams. On the top of one structure were two baked pigs, and on the other alive one, with a second tied by its legs about half way up. Cook was particularly struck by the way the men raised these two towers, and says if he had ordered his sailors to do such a thing, they would have wanted carpenters and tools and at least a hundredweight of nails, and would have taken as many days as it did these people hours. When the erections were completed, piles of bread-fruit and yams were heaped on either side, and a turtle and some excellent fish were added, and then the whole was presented to Cook.
A party of officers from both ships went off to an island without leave, and returned two days after without their muskets, ammunition, and other articles which had been stolen. They persuaded Omai to make a private complaint to the king, which resulted in the chiefs leaving the neighbourhood. Their disappearance annoyed Cook, and when the affair was explained to him he severely reprimanded Omai for speaking on the matter without orders. This put Omai on his mettle, and he managed to persuade Feenough to return, and informed the king that no serious consequences should ensue. Matters were then easily smoothed over; most of the stolen goods, including the missing turkey, were returned, and the king said he ought not to have been held responsible, for, if he had known that any one wished to see the island, he would have sent a chief who would have ensured their safety.
An eclipse of the sun was to occur on 5th July, and Cook decided to remain so as to secure observations, and meanwhile employed himself in exploring the neighbourhood and studying the customs of the natives. On one occasion, thinking to see an interesting ceremony, he accompanied Polaho, who was going to do state mourning for a son who had been dead some time. The result was disappointing, and the chief impression left with Cook seems to have been that over their clothing of native cloth, those present wore old and ragged mats; those of the king being the raggedest, and "might have served his great-grandfather on some such like occasion."