« PrécédentContinuer »
the evening I waited on the chiefs, and took my leave; the native chieftains did the same; and their final instructions were, to induce, if possible, Teriitaria to come and reside at Huahine; but that, if she preferred remaining at Tahiti, she should give up all interference with the government of the island, and delegate it to them, independently of all foreign control.
The wind continuing to blow from the westward through the night, early on the morning of the sixteenth we prepared for embarkation. The boat was rather rude in appearance, being one I had from necessity built, with the assistance of the natives, while residing in the island of Raiatea, in the early part of 1820. It was about thirty-six feet in length, and capable of carrying forty persons. The breeze increased in strength as the morning began to dawn, and about day-break we sailed from Fare harbour. Auna, Matatore, and Matapuupuu were my companions, and our boat was manned by about ten strong and active natives. As we were bounding over the waves of the harbour, and entering upon the wide-spread bosom of the Pacific, we lost the sprit of one of our mattingsails in the sea, and could only carry one sail. This circumstance, although it prevented our proceeding so rapidly as we should otherwise have done, contributed perhaps to our safety, for the wind was high and the sea rough. By noon we had entirely lost sight of Huahine, and about sunset we obtained our first distant glance of the lofty peaks of Eimeo. The wind now blew what the natives called a strong toerau, or westerly gale, and the agitation of the sea was proportionably increased. The inside of our open boat was, however, perfectly dry, and it appeared to shoot along, as the natives
expressed it, upon the tops of the waves, until at length we heard, amid the stillness of the night, the welcome sound of the long heavy surf, rolling in solemn grandeur, and dashing in loud, though distant roar, upon the coral reefs. This, though adapted to inspire apprehension and terror in the minds of those unaccustomed to navigate among the islands, was a gladdening sound to us, as it indicated our approach to land. We were several miles distant when we first heard the roaring of the surf; but, proceeding with rapidity, we soon came in sight of it. Sailing in a line parallel with the reef till we came to an opening, we entered Taloo or Opunohu harbour, and landed near the Missionary settlement shortly after midnight, having sailed a distance of about one hundred miles in the space of twenty hours.
The natives seldom evince much concern about their accommodations, when voyaging or travelling. Frequently, when landing for the night, they kindle a fire on the sea-beach, and, having cooked their bread-fruit or other provision, which they usually carry with them, lie down in the boat, or on the sand by its side, and, spreading the sails as a tent, or wrapping themselves in them, substitute them for bed and bedding, and sleep comfortably till the morning. Most of those, however, who were my fellow-voyagers on this occasion, had formerly resided at this settlement, on terms of friendship with many of the inhabitants. To the dwellings of these they repaired, while I pursued my way up the valley to the residence of my friend Mr. Platt, whom I awoke from his midnight repose, and, after receiving from him a kind welcome and some refreshment, I retired to rest till sunrise.
During the forenoon of the 18th, our men went to the mountains, and cut down a new sprit for our sail, and prepared for the prosecution of the voyage. The favourable breeze had, however, been succeeded by a perfect calm, and the rays of the sun were exceedingly oppressive. As it appeared probable that the men would have to row the whole of the way, we agreed to defer our departure till the evening. This afforded me an opportunity of attending public worship with the native Christians of the settlement, and addressing the congregation assembled.
The sun was approaching the western horizon, when we took leave of our friends, and embarked, to prosecute the remaining parts of our voyage. We passed across the beautiful bay, which, for its size has justly been denominated one of the finest in the world, and, continuing within the reefs to Maharepa, again sailed forth on the ocean, about eight o'clock in the evening.
The excitement, watching, and fatigue of the preceding part of our voyage, having induced an exhaustion of strength and spirits, we had not advanced far upon the open sea, before I became oppressed with a sensation of drowsiness, which I could not remove. During my voyages among the islands, I have passed many nights at sea with the natives in an open boat, and generally found them watchful and alert during the early hours of darkness, but wearied and sleepy towards morning; and whenever I have felt rest necessary for myself, have usually taken it before midnight, that I might be more vigilant when my companions should become drowsy. This was my purpose in the present instance. The wind had indeed ceased, but the surface of the sea was agitated with a
quick and cross motion; the current was against us; and it was uncertain how soon in the morning we should reach Matavai, our port of destination in the island of Tahiti. I therefore gave Matapuupuu charge of the helm, which I had hitherto kept during the whole of the voyage, and, directing him to awake me in about an hour's time, wrapped myself in a cloak, and lay down upon the seat in the stern of the boat, where, notwithstanding the motion of the sea, and the rattling and shaking occasioned by the movements of the oars, I soon fell into a sound sleep.
The refreshing and beneficial effects of my repose were, however, entirely neutralized by the sensations I experienced at its close. I cannot describe my emotions, when I awoke, and found it was broad day-light, and, turning to the helm, saw Matapuupuu fast asleep, with his hand still on the tiller; and then, looking forward along the boat, beheld every individual motionless; the rowers leaning over their oars, the others stretched along the bottom of the boat, and every one in the most profound sleep. Before I attempted to awake any one, I involuntarily looked for the island we had left: it was still in sight. I then looked on the opposite side, for that to which we were going it was also in sight, but the lofty mountains rising at the head of Matavai were far to the north, and indicated that the port to which we were bound was many miles behind us. fact, we appeared to be about midway between Tahiti and Eimeo, drifting to the southward, far away from both, as fast as the current could bear us.
Fully sensible of our critical situation, if the breeze which just began to ripple the surface of
the water should increase, I instantly awoke my companions, and asked them how they came all to fall asleep together. They looked confused, on beholding the broad light of day, and replied that. each had imperceptibly fallen under the influence of sleep, without knowing that the others were in the same situation. Recollecting that I had in the first instance set them the example, I could not much censure their conduct; I therefore directed their attention to the mountains in the vicinity of Matavai and Papeete, or Wilks' Harbour, far in our rear, and, as Burder's Point was the nearest part of the coast, urged them to apply with vigour to their oars, that we might reach it before the wind became so strong as to arrest our progress.
The men, refreshed by their slumbers, which had been favoured by the undulating motion of the boat on the water, broke a few cocoa-nuts, drank the milk, cheerfully grasped their oars, and pulled steadily towards the shore. After about
five hours' hard rowing, we reached the beach, and were cordially welcomed by our friends, Messrs. Darling and Bourne, who resided at Burder's Point. In the afternoon, several of the natives, who had come with us to Tahiti, set out for Papara, to visit their friends, who had accompanied Mr. Davies from Huahine during the preceding year.
I spent this and the following day at Burder's Point. The respect and affection manifested by the natives towards their teachers was gratifying, and the general improvement in the habits of the people, and the appearance of the settlement, encouraging. Newly planted gardens and enclosures appeared in every direction: several good houses were