An Intercourse established with the Natives; some Account of the Island, and a Variety of Incidents that happened during our Stay at it.
As we wanted to take in a large quantity both of wood and water, and as, when I was on shore, I had found it practicable to lay the ship much nearer the landing-place than she now was, which would greatly facilitate that work, as well as overawe the natives, and enable us better to cover and protect the working party on shore; with this view, on the 6th, we went to work to transport the ship to the place I designed to moor her in. While we were about this, we observed the natives assembling from all parts, and forming themselves into two parties, as they did the preceding evening, one on each side the landing-place, to the amount of some thousands, armed as before. A canoe, sometimes conducted by one, and at other times by two or three men, now and then came off, bringing a few cocoa-nuts or plantains. These they gave us without asking for any return; but I took care they should always have something. Their chief design seemed to invite us on shore. One of those who came off was the old man, who had already ingratiated himself into our favour. I made him understand, by signs, that they were to lay aside their weapons, took those which were in the canoe, and threw them overboard, and made him a present of a large piece of cloth. There was no doubt but he understood me, and made my request known to his countrymen. For as soon as he landed, we observed him to go first to the one party, and then to the other; nor was he, ever after, seen by us with any thing like a weapon in his hand. After this, three fellows came in a canoe under the stern, one of them brandishing a club, with which he struck the ship’s side, and committed other acts of defiance, but at last offered to exchange it for a string of beads, and some other trifles. These were sent down to him by a line; but the moment they were in his possession, he and his companions paddled off in all haste, without giving the club or any thing else in return. This was what I expected, and indeed what I was not sorry for, as I wanted an opportunity to shew the multitude on shore, the effect of our fire arms, without materially hurting any of them. Having a fowling-piece loaded with small shot (No. 3) I gave the fellow the contents; and, when they were above musquet-shot off, I ordered some of the musquetoons, or wall-pieces, to be fired, which made them leap out of the canoe, keep under her offside, and swim with her ashore. This transaction seemed to make little or no impression on the people there. On the contrary, they began to halloo, and to make sport of it.