Our surgeon, Mr Monkhouse, having walked out this evening, reported that he had seen the body of the man who had been shot at the tents, which he said was wrapped in cloth, and placed on a kind of bier, supported by stakes, under a roof that seemed to have been set up for the purpose: That near it were deposited some instruments of war, and other things, which he would particularly have examined but for the stench of the body, which was intolerable. He said, that he saw also two more sheds of the same kind, in one of which were the bones of a human body that had lain till they were quite dry. We discovered afterwards, that this was the way in which they usually disposed of their dead.
A kind of market now began to be kept just without the lines, and was plentifully supplied with every thing but pork. Tubourai Tamaide was our constant guest, imitating our manners, even to the using of a knife and fork, which he did very handily.
As my curiosity was excited by Mr Monkhouse’s account of the situation of the man who had been shot, I took an opportunity to go with some others to see it. I found the shed under which his body lay, close by the house in which he resided when he was alive, some others being not more than ten yards distant; it was about fifteen feet long, and eleven broad, and of a proportionable height: One end was wholly open, and the other end, and the two sides, were partly inclosed with a kind of wicker work. The bier on which the corpse was deposited, was a frame of wood like that in which the sea-beds, called cotts, are placed, with a matted bottom, and supported by four posts, at the height of about five feet from the ground. The body was covered first with a matt, and then with white cloth; by the side of it lay a wooden mace, one of their weapons of war, and near the head of it, which lay next to the close end of the shed, lay two cocoa-nut shells, such as are sometimes used to carry water in; at the other end a bunch of green leaves, with some dried twigs, all tied together, were stuck in the ground, by which lay a stone about as big as a cocoa-nut: Near these lay one of the young plantain trees, which are used for emblems of peace, and close by it a stone axe. At the open end of the shed also hung, in several strings, a great number of palm-nuts, and without the shed, was stuck upright in the ground, the stem of a plantain tree about five feet high, upon the top of which was placed a cocoa-nut shell full of fresh water: Against the side of one of the posts hung a small bag, containing a few pieces of breadfruit ready roasted, which were not all put in at the same time, for some of them were fresh, and others stale. I took notice that several of the natives observed us with a mixture of solicitude and jealousy in their countenances, and by their gestures, expressed uneasiness when we went near the body, standing themselves at a little distance while we were making our examination, and appearing to be pleased when we came away.