A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 760 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 12.

Soon after the interchanging of our presents with Tootahah, they attended us to several large houses, in which we walked about with great freedom:  they shewed us all the civility of which, in our situation, we could accept; and, on their part, seemed to have no scruple that would have prevented its being carried farther.  The houses, which as I have observed before, are all open, except a roof, afforded no place of retirement; but the ladies, by frequently pointing to the mats upon the ground, and sometimes seating themselves and drawing us down upon them, left us no room to doubt of their being much less jealous of observation than we were.

We now took leave of our friendly chief, and directed our course along the shore; when we had walked about a mile, we met, at the head of a great number of people, another chief, whose name was Toubourai Tamaide, with whom we were also to ratify a treaty of peace, with the ceremony of which we were now become better acquainted.  Having received the branch which he presented to us, and given another in return, we laid our hands upon our left breasts, and pronounced the word Taio, which we supposed to signify friend; the chief then gave us to understand, that if we chose to eat, he had victuals ready for us.  We accepted his offer, and dined very heartily upon fish, breadfruit, cocoa-nuts and plantains, dressed after their manner; they eat some of their fish raw, and raw fish was offered to us, but we declined that part of the entertainment.

During this visit a wife of our noble host, whose name was Tomio, did Mr Banks the honour to place herself upon the same matt, close by him.  Tomio was not in the first bloom of her youth, nor did she appear to have been ever remarkable for her beauty:  he did not therefore, I believe, pay her the most flattering attention:  it happened too, as a farther mortification to this lady, that seeing a very pretty girl among the crowd, he, not adverting to the dignity of his companion, beckoned her to come to him:  the girl, after some entreaty, complied, and sat down on the other side of him; he loaded her with beads, and every showy trifle that would please her:  his princess, though she was somewhat mortified at the preference that was given to her rival, did not discontinue her civilities, but still assiduously supplied him with the milk of the cocoa-nut, and such other dainties as were in her reach.  This scene might possibly have become more curious and interesting, if it had not been suddenly interrupted by an interlude of a more serious kind.  Just at this time, Dr Solander and Mr Monkhouse complained that their pockets had been picked.  Dr Solander had lost an opera glass in a shagreen case, and Mr Monkhouse his snuff box.  This incident unfortunately put an end to the good-humour of the company.  Complaint of the injury was made to the chief; and, to give it weight, Mr Banks started up, and hastily struck the butt end of his firelock upon the ground:  this action, and the noise that accompanied it, struck the whole assembly with a panic, and every one of the natives ran out of the house with the utmost precipitation, except the chief, three women, and two or three others, who appeared by their dress to be of a superior rank.

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