CHAPTER 16. 1776 TO 1777. THIRD VOYAGE.
July 5th proved dark and cloudy, with heavy showers of rain, and the observations were unsatisfactory, especially as the clouds came up thickly in the middle of the eclipse, and the sun was seen no more for the rest of the day. This failure was not of great importance, for the longitude had already been satisfactorily ascertained by several very good lunar observations, so as soon as the eclipse was over everything was sent on board the ships, including the sheep which had been presented to Mariwaggee. No one had taken any notice of them since they were landed, and Cook felt sure they would be killed by the dogs as soon as the ships left.
A NATIVE CEREMONY.
As the wind proved contrary, and it was understood that the king's son was to be initiated into the estate of manhood, eating with his father for the first time, Cook determined to remain a few days longer. A party of the officers went over to the island of Moa, where the ceremony was to be held, and found the king in a very dirty enclosure, drinking kava; and as the method of preparing this beverage was uninviting to Europeans, they went for a walk till about ten o'clock. Finding large numbers of people assembling in an open space near a large building they rejoined the king, taking off their hats and untying their hair, "that we might appear the more decent" in the eyes of the natives. The proceedings consisted of marching of men laden with yams tied on to sticks, of considerable speech-making, and various performances of which the signification could not be understood, and then the prince made his appearance. He seated himself with a few of his friends on the ground, and some women wound a long piece of cloth round them, and after some more speech-making and mysterious pantomime with sticks representing yams, the proceedings ended for the day. As there were signs that so many white onlookers was not altogether acceptable to the natives, some of the party returned to the ships; but Cook resolved to see it out, and joined the king at supper, and the latter enjoyed some brandy and water so much that Cook says "he went to bed quite grogish. "
After breakfast Cook paid a visit to the prince and presented him was enough English cloth to make a suit, receiving native cloth in return. After dinner the people mustered for the remains of the ceremony, and Cook determined to join the principal party, so he seated himself with it, and would not understand when requested to leave. He was then requested to bare his shoulders as a mark of respect, and immediately did so, and was then no further molested. A somewhat similar performance was gone through as the day before, but the significance of which could not be ascertained, and then suddenly all the people turned their backs on king and prince, who, Cook was afterwards informed, had had pieces of roast yam given them to eat. An exhibition of boxing and wrestling was then given, and after a speech or two the proceedings terminated. Cook was informed that in about three months a much greater affair would take place at which ten men would be sacrificed.
On 10th July the ships sailed through a very difficult passage, arriving off Middleburg on the 12th, where they were visited by their old friend Taoofa. The country appeared flourishing, and they obtained some turnips raised from seed sown at Cook's last visit. An exhibition of boxing was given, and was to have been repeated the following night, but unfortunately some of the natives fell upon a sailor and stripped him of his clothes. Cook thereupon seized two canoes and a pig, demanding that the culprits should be given up. A man who had the shirt and trousers was brought, and so the canoes were returned and the pig paid for, and next day the thief was liberated. The remainder of the sailor's clothes were afterwards found, but so much torn as to be worthless.
They left the Friendly Islands on the 17th, after a stay of more than two months, during which time they had been living almost entirely on food they had purchased from the natives, with whom they had been on fairly good terms. The 29th brought them into a very heavy squall which cost the Resolution a couple of staysails and her consort a main topmast and main topgallant yard, springing the head of her main-mast so badly that the rigging of a jury-mast was attended with some danger, but it was at length accomplished, a spare jibboom being furnished for the purpose by the Resolution. Otaheite was reached on 12th August, and amongst the first visitors on board were Omai's brother-in-law and others who knew him before he went away; they treated him as if he was an Englishman and a stranger, but when he took his brother-in-law to his cabin and gave him some of the valuable red feathers a change came over them all, and they expressed the greatest interest in him. Cook says Omai "would take no advice, but permitted himself to be made the dupe of every designing knave." Of these red feathers Cook says they were of such value that "not more than might be got from a tomtit, would purchase a hog of 40 or 50 pounds weight." Nails and beads were not looked at, although they had previously been very acceptable.
Two ships from Lima were found to have visited the island twice since Cook's last call, and the first time the Spaniards built a house with material they had with them. They left four men in charge, and were away for about ten months. At the second visit their Commodore died, and was buried near the house which was left at their departure, and the natives built a shade over it to protect it from the weather. It consisted of two rooms, furnished with table, bed, bench, and a few other trifles, and the timbers were found to have been carefully marked to facilitate erection. Near by was a cross having the following inscription cut on it:
CHRISTUS VINCIT, CAROLUS III. IMPERAT, 1774.
Cook caused to be cut on the back: