The quiet and inoffensive behaviour of the natives having taken away every apprehension of danger, we did not hesitate to trust ourselves amongst them at all times, and in all situations. The officers of both ships went daily up the country, in small parties, or even singly, and frequently remained out the whole night. It would be endless to recount all the instances of kindness and civility which we received upon those occasions. Wherever we went, the people flocked about us, eager to offer every assistance in their power, and highly gratified, if their services were accepted. Various little arts were practised to attract our notice, or to delay our departure. The boys and girls ran before, as we walked through their villages, and stopped us at every opening, where there was room to form a group for dancing. At one time, we were invited to accept a draught of cocoa-nut milk, or some other refreshment, under the shade of their huts; at another, we were seated within a circle of young women, who exerted all their skill and agility to amuse us with songs and dances.
The satisfaction we derived from their gentleness and hospitality was, however, frequently interrupted by the propensity to stealing, which they have in common with all the other islanders of these seas. This circumstance was the more distressing, as it sometimes obliged us to have recourse to acts of severity, which we should willingly have avoided, if the necessity of the case had not absolutely called for them. Some of their most expert swimmers were one day discovered under the ships, drawing out the filling nails of the sheathing, which they performed very dexterously by means of a short stick, with a flint-stone fixed in the end of it. To put a stop to this practice, which endangered the very existence of the vessels, we at first fired small shot at the offenders; but they easily got out of our reach by diving under the ship’s bottom. It was therefore found necessary to make an example, by flogging one of them on board the Discovery.
About this time, a large party of gentlemen, from both ships, set out on an excursion into the interior parts of the country, with a view of examining its natural productions. An account of this journey will be given in a subsequent part of our narrative. It is, therefore, only necessary at present to observe, that it afforded Kaoo a fresh opportunity of shewing his attention and generosity. For as soon as he was informed of their departure, he sent a large supply of provisions after them, together with orders, that the inhabitants of the country through which they were to pass, should give them every assistance in their power. And, to complete the delicacy and disinterestedness of his conduct, even the people he employed could not be prevailed on to accept the smallest present. After remaining out six days, our officers returned, without having been able to penetrate above twenty miles into the island, partly from want of proper guides, and partly from the impracticability of the country.