CHAPTER II. Narrative of Captain Cook's first voyage round the world.
One of the first things that occupied the lieutenant's attention, after his arrival at Otaheite, was to prepare for the execution of his grand commission. For this purpose, as, in an excursion to the westward, he had not found any more convenient harbour than that in which the Endeavour lay, he determined to go on shore and fix upon some spot, commanded by the guns of the ship, where he might throw up a small fort for defence, and get every thing ready for making the astronomical observations. Accordingly, he took a party of men, and landed, being accompanied by Mr. Banks, Dr. Solander, and Mr. Green. They soon fixed upon a place very proper for their design, and which was at a considerable distance from any habitation of the natives. While the gentlemen were marking out the ground which they intended to occupy, and seeing a small tent erected, that belonged to Mr. Banks, a great number of the people of the country gathered gradually around them, but with no hostile appearance, as there was not among the Indians a single weapon of any kind. Mr. Cook, however, intimated that none of them were to come within the line he had drawn excepting one, who appeared to be a chief, and Owhaw, a native who had attached himself to the English, both in Captain Wallis's expedition and in the present voyage. The lieutenant endeavoured to make these two persons understand, that the ground, which had been marked out, was only wanted to sleep upon for a certain number of nights, and that then it would be quitted. Whether his meaning was comprehended or not, he could not certainly determine; but the people behaved with a deference and respect that could scarcely have been expected, and which were highly pleasing. They sat down without the circle, peaceably and uninterruptedly attending to the progress of the business, which was upwards of two hours in completing.
This matter being finished, and Mr. Cook having appointed thirteen marines and a petty officer to guard the tent, he and the gentlemen with him set out upon a little excursion into the woods of the country. They had not, however, gone far, before they were brought back by a very disagreeable event. One of the Indians, who remained about the tent after the lieutenant and his friends had left it, watched an opportunity of taking the sentry at unawares, and snatched away his musket. Upon this, the petty officer who commanded the party, and who was a midshipman, ordered the marines to fire. With equal want of consideration, and, perhaps with equal inhumanity, the men immediately discharged their pieces among the thickest of the flying crowd, who consisted of more than a hundred. It being observed, that the thief did not fall, he was pursued, and shot dead. From subsequent information it happily appeared, that none of the natives besides were either killed or wounded.
Lieutenant Cook, who was highly displeased with the conduct of the petty officer, used every method in his power to dispel the terrors and apprehensions of the Indians, but not immediately with effect. The next morning but few of the inhabitants were seen upon the beach, and not one of them came off to the shill. What added particularly to the regret of the English was, that even Owhaw, who had hitherto been so constant in his attachment, and who the day before had been remarkably active in endeavouring to renew the peace which had been broken, did not now make his appearance. In the evening, however, when the lieutenant went on shore with only a boat's crew and some of the gentlemen, between thirty and forty of the natives gathered around them, and trafficked with them, in a friendly manner, for cocoa nuts and other fruit.
On the 17th, Mr. Cook and Mr. Green set up a tent onshore, and spent the night there, in order to observe an eclipse of the first satellite of Jupiter; but they met with a disappointment, in consequence of the weather's becoming cloudy. The next day, the lieutenant, with as many of his people as could possibly be spared from the ship, began to erect the fort. While the English were employed in this business, many of the Indians were so far from hindering, that they voluntarily assisted them, and with great alacrity brought the pickets and facines from the wood where they had been cut. Indeed, so scrupulous had Mr. Cook been of invading their property, that every stake which was used was purchased, and not a tree was cut down till their consent had first been obtained.
On the 26th, the lieutenant mounted six swivel guns upon the fort; on which occasion he saw, with concern, that the natives were alarmed and terrified. Some fishermen, who lived upon the point, removed to a greater distance; and Owhaw informed the English by signs, of his expectation that in four days they would fire their great guns.