“Puhi! Haere mai!” he said in a low, but urgent, voice.
Tahitua flew through the ripples, and we all hurried to see the new adventure.
“Puhi! Puhi!” again said Raiere, and pointed to the rocks. We cautiously stepped that way, and saw, apparently asleep at the foot of the stones, a tangle of huge eels. Their black and gray slate-colored bodies lay inert in folds, as if they had gathered for a night’s good slumber, and not until Raiere, with unerring aim thrust the great spear, with its half-dozen points of iron, into one of them, did the others scatter in a mad swim for safety. The mere transfixing of the eel did not always mean his securing, but another of us must put a lance in the contorting curves and with quick and dexterous motion lift him to the bank where his struggles might be ended with knife or rock. The release of him for a second might permit him to wriggle to the river and escape.
With the finding of the first eel, began an hour’s search for his fellows. We had struck their haunt, but they did not yield us half a dozen of their kind without diligent, though pleasant, work. We splashed to places when one sang out that an eel was in sight, and pursued them in their divagations through the river, trusting to drive them into eddies or under the fringe of plants hanging from the banks where we hunted them out.
In a couple of hours we found ourselves with a full creel of eels and oura, and I a trifle dismayed at facing the march home. Raiere relieved Tahitua of the burden, and a song shortened the way. I gave them the ditty of the New-Zealand Maori, who metaphorically toasted his enemy:
O, the saltiness of my mouth
In drinking the liquid brains of Nuku
Whence welled up his wrath!
His ears which heard the deliberations!
Mine enemy shall go headlong
Into the stomach of Hinewai!
My teeth shall devour Kaukau!
The three hundred and forty of my enemy
Shall be huddled in a heap in my trough;
Te Hika and his multitudes
Shall boil in my pot!
The whole tribe shall be
My sweet morsel to finish with! E!
In the days of Captain Cook—The first Spanish missionaries—Difficulties of converting the heathens—Wars over Christianity—Ori-a-Ori, the chief, friend of Stevenson—We read the Bible together—The church and the himene.
Captain Cook barely escaped shipwreck here. The Bay of Tautira is marked on the French map, “Mouillage de Cook,” the anchorage of Cook. That indomitable mariner risked his vessels in many dangerous roadsteads to explore and to procure fresh supplies for his crews. When he had exhausted the surplus of pigs, cocoanuts, fowls, and green stuff at one port, he sailed for another. Scurvy, the relentless familiar of the sailor on the deep sea, made no peril or labor too severe. At night Cook’s ships approached Oati-piha, or Ohetepeha, Bay, as his log-writers termed this lagoon, from the Vaitapiha River, flowing into it, and the dawn found them in a calm a mile and a half from the reef.