The high state of excitement into which the savages had been thrown by the late conflagration gradually subsided, and as we had escaped the dreaded calamity of our magazine blowing up, we began to look with calmness on our desolate condition, and draw comfort from thinking how much worse we might have been circumstanced than we then were. I hope our distress may prove a benefit to future sojourners in this country, by showing them the great importance of forming a proper magazine for powder. The agonies I suffered in contemplating the destruction which six barrels of powder, each of an hundredweight, would cause amongst a mob of several hundred naked savages, it is impossible to imagine!
King George, as well as all his people, were most anxious to build us a new habitation entirely themselves. They requested us to give them the dimensions of the various dwellings, and said we should have no further trouble about them. A party accordingly proceeded to the bush to collect materials. They first formed the skeleton of a cottage containing three rooms, with slight sticks, firmly tied together with strips of flax. While this was in progress, another party was collecting rushes (which grow plentifully in the neighbourhood, called Ra-poo). These they spread in the sun for twenty-four hours, when they considered them sufficiently dry. They then thatched every part of the house, which for neatness and strength was equal to anything I had ever seen. The doors and windows we employed our carpenter to make, these being luxuries quite beyond the comprehension of the natives. We were thus tolerably well lodged again; and our time passed on tranquilly, almost every day developing some fresh trait of character amongst these children of nature.
A hostile demonstration.
I went to reside for a short time at a village about half a mile distant, where there was a pretty good house vacant. It was called Ma-to-we, and belonged to a chief named Atoi, a relation of George’s, but a much younger man. His power was not so great, and he was every way subject to the authority of the tribe under whose protection I had placed myself. One morning, at daybreak, we were roused by the hasty approach of King George and all his warriors towards Ma-to-we. All were fully equipped for war, and each countenance looked fierce and wild. Our late misfortunes having rendered us more than usually anxious, this hostile appearance gave us considerable alarm. We left our house to inquire the reason thereof, and saw George and his followers enter the village, pull down several fences, fire a few muskets in the air, dance a most hideous dance of defiance, and then depart; but not one word of explanation could we obtain from him. In the course of the morning, however, the women acquainted us with the cause of this mysterious proceeding, which determined me to remove my things back again to George’s village of Kororarika as soon as possible.