At night, we arrived safe at Patuone’s Village, where I had slept on my first journey across the island; but it now presented a very different appearance to what it had done then; instead of the tumult I had formerly heard, all was silence; the numerous families then there, all fully occupied, were exchanged for a few old surly-looking slaves, and the huts were all deserted. The inhabitants, in consequence of the rumour of approaching war, having betaken themselves to one of their fortified pas, I had no alternative but to pass the night with these suspicious-looking creatures, who, feeling themselves beyond the control of their cruel masters, soon gave way to their own vile passions, and became most impertinent and intrusive—taking every advantage of my loneliness to indulge their curiosity and familiarity.
On my arrival, I had deposited my things in one of the empty huts, and spread my bed, hoping to enjoy the luxury of a few hours’ repose after the fatigue and great anxieties of the day; but these fellows would force themselves into the hut I had chosen, where they lighted a fire, and sat chattering around it all the night long. Finding that I did not appear alarmed at their intrusion or noise, they kept doing everything they could think of to rouse my fears. They threatened to break open my portmanteau; and one old wretch sharpened his knife, and made motions as though he were going to cut my throat and eat me. I knew my only chance of safety was not to betray any sign of apprehension; so I forced a laugh, and made them believe I considered their tricks an excellent joke. I gave them all my tobacco to keep them in good humour; but I passed a most miserable night, nearly suffocated with smoke, distracted with their noise, and annoyed by vermin of every description.
I was most happy when daybreak gave me an excuse for leaving these brutal savages, and resuming my journey. Every step I took brought before me proofs of the horrors of war: villages which had been crowded, were now entirely desolate, and, in many instances, burned to the ground. On that spot where I had left a party of enterprising Scotchmen busily employed in sawing timber, with crowds of natives assisting them, all was quiet and totally deserted, with the exception of a few nearly starved, wretched-looking dogs, who, hearing someone approach, came out, and tried to bark at us, but were too weak to utter a sound.
EUROPEAN PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENCE.
Our march along the banks of the river was through a most beautiful country; but all the inhabitants had fled; their plantations were in a most luxuriant state; fields which I had left bare and uncultivated were now covered with Indian corn standing higher than my head, the ripe ears hanging fantastically in all directions, and none to gather in the harvest; the crops of kumara and potatoes were equally abundant.