As soon as they perceived us from the opposite shore, a loud shout of welcome was raised, and all the inhabitants came out to meet us. They carried us over the stream, conducted us to their huts, and then sat down to gaze at and admire us.
As we were very hungry after our fatiguing walk, we soon unpacked our baggage, and in so doing made an unavoidable display of many valuable and glittering objects, which roused the attention of our savage spectators, and caused them, on the unfolding of every fresh object, to make loud and long exclamations of wonder and amazement. As I was then “a stranger in their land,” and unaccustomed to their peculiarities, I felt a little alarmed at their shouts; but, on a longer acquaintance with them, I found my fears had been groundless.
Here we saw the son of Patuone, accompanied by thirty or forty young savages, sitting or lying all round us. All were exceedingly handsome, notwithstanding the wildness of their appearance and the ferocity of their looks. Let the reader picture to himself this savage group, handling everything they saw, each one armed with a musket, loaded with ball, a cartouch-box buckled round his waist, and a stone patoo-patoo, or hatchet, in his hand, while human bones were hung round each neck by way of ornament; let the scene and situation be taken into consideration, and he will acknowledge it was calculated to make the young traveller wish himself safe at home; but, when I suspected, I wronged them; for after admiring everything we had brought with us (more especially our fowling-pieces, which were very beautiful ones), they begged a little tobacco, then retired to a distance from the hut which had been prepared for our reception, and left us to take our supper uninterrupted; after which they placed all our baggage in the hut, that we might be assured of its safety.
It proved a rainy, miserable night; and we were a large party, crowded into a small, smoky hut, with a fire lighted in the middle; as, after our supper, the natives, in order to have as much of our company as possible, crowded it till it was literally crammed. However annoying this might be, still I was recompensed by the novelty and picturesque appearance of the scene. Salvator Rosa could not have conceived a finer study of the horrible. A dozen men, of the largest and most athletic forms, their cakahoos (or mat-dresses) laid aside, and their huge limbs exposed to the red glare of the fire; their faces rendered hideous by being tattooed all over, showing by the firelight quite a bright blue; their eyes, which are remarkable for their fierce expression, all fixed upon us, but with a look of good temper, co-mingled with intense curiosity. All my fears had by this time subsided, and, being master of myself, I had leisure to study and enjoy the scene; we smoked a social pipe with them (for they are all immoderately fond of tobacco), and I then stretched myself down to sleep amidst all their chattering and smoke.