At six o’clock on that morning we discovered upwards of twenty sail of war canoes, crowded with armed warriors, coming into the bay. What their intentions were we could not imagine; but for fear of the worst, the ships in the harbour shotted their guns, and when the canoes were abreast of us, we fired a blank one over their heads. On this they all stopped, and we saw some stir amongst them: at length a very small canoe left the main body, and pulled directly towards us; it contained the chief persons of the expedition: they came on board, and assured us they meant no harm to any persons; they were merely some of the late George’s friends, who were going to pay a visit of condolence to his relations; and, after making a most hearty breakfast with us, they went on shore, and we accompanied them.
Whether the account they gave of themselves was correct, or the reverse, we knew not at the time; but we felt assured their intentions were not hostile towards us Europeans, and their quarrels with each other we were determined not to interfere in. We soon discovered their falsehood, for George’s eldest daughter informed me that amongst the chiefs who landed with us were several of the most inveterate foes of her father, and that they were only restrained from committing the most dreadful outrages, and carrying off all her relations as slaves, by witnessing the many friends of George by whom they were surrounded. The day was spent in savage dancing, yelling, making speeches, and debating as to who the proper person was to succeed George in his dignities: several times I thought the affair would end in blows. George’s relation, Rivers, made great exertions “to keep the peace,” and finally, by force of argument, succeeded. It was at length unanimously agreed that Kiney Kiney was to succeed his brother, and that Rivers should take the command until the time of Kiney Kiney’s mourning for the loss of George should be completed.
DEPARTURE FROM BAY OF ISLANDS.
After these important matters were amicably disposed of, I made a sign to Rivers, and, separating him from the crowd, I explained to him the nature of my situation, and asked his assistance in getting me safely over to Hokianga. He replied, there would certainly be great danger in attempting it; but I soon discovered that he magnified the difficulties in order to increase his demand for payment, for even the greatest chiefs have here their price. He said (and I had every reason to think he was correct) that I ran no risk of being molested by any chiefs, like himself, who would always protect rather than molest every European; but that the country being in such a state of commotion, in consequence of the late events, it was full of runaway slaves, who always took advantage of such times to make their escape; and if I chanced to fall in with any of them, I should be exposed to great peril: “However (he added), keep up your