Arrival of the Ships at Hepaee, and friendly Reception there.—Presents and Solemnities on the Occasion.—Single Combats with Clubs.—Wrestling and Boxing Matches.—Female Combatants.—Marines exercised.—A Dance performed by Men.—Fireworks exhibited.—The Night-entertainments of Singing and Dancing particularly described.
By the time we had anchored, (May 17) the ships were filled with the natives, and surrounded by a multitude of canoes, filled also with them. They brought from the shore, hogs, fowls, fruit, and roots, which they exchanged for hatchets, knives, nails, beads, and cloth. Feenou and Omai having come on board, after it was light, in order to introduce me to the people of the island, I soon accompanied them on shore, for that purpose, landing at the north part of Lefooga, a little to the right of the ship’s station.
The chief conducted me to a house, or rather a hut, situated close to the sea-beach, which I had seen brought thither, but a few minutes before, for our reception. In this, Feenou, Omai, and myself, were seated. The other chiefs, and the multitude, composed a circle, on the outside, fronting us; and they also sat down. I was then asked, How long I intended to stay? On my saying, Five days, Taipa was ordered to come and sit by me, and proclaim this to the people. He then harangued them, in a speech mostly dictated by Feenou. The purport of it, as I learnt from Omai, was, that they were all, both old and young, to look upon me as a friend, who intended to remain with them a few days; that, during my stay, they must not steal any thing, nor molest me any other way; and that it was expected, they should bring hogs, fowls, fruit, &c. to the ships, where they would receive, in exchange for them, such and such things, which he enumerated. Soon after Taipa had finished this address to the assembly, Feenou left us. Taipa then took occasion to signify to me, that it was necessary I should make a present to the chief of the island, whose name was Earoupa. I was not unprepared for this, and gave him such articles as far exceeded his expectation. My liberality to him brought upon me demands, of the same kind, from two chiefs of other isles who were present; and from Taipa himself. When Feenou returned, which was immediately after I had made the last of these presents, he pretended to be angry with Taipa for suffering me to give away so much; but I looked upon this as a mere finesse; being confident that he acted in concert with the others. He now took his seat again, and ordered Earoupa to sit by him, and to harangue the people as Taipa had done, and to the same purpose; dictating, as before, the heads of the speech.