As soon as the general consternation, which the news of this calamity occasioned throughout both crews, had a little subsided, their attention was called to our party at the morai, where the mast and sails were on shore, with a guard of only six marines. It is impossible for me to describe the emotions of my own mind, during the time these transactions had been carrying on at the other side of the bay. Being at the distance of only a short mile from the village of Kowrowa, we could see distinctly an immense crowd collected on the spot where Captain Cook had just before landed. We heard the firing of the musketry, and could perceive some extraordinary bustle and agitation in the multitude. We afterwards saw the natives flying, the boats retire from the shore, and passing and repassing, in great stillness, between the ships. I must confess, that my heart soon misgave me. Where a life so dear and valuable was concerned, it was impossible not to be alarmed, by appearances both new and threatening. But, besides this, I knew that a long and uninterrupted course of success, in his transactions with the natives of these seas, had given the captain a degree of confidence, that I was always fearful might, at some unlucky moment, put him too much off his guard; and I now saw all the dangers to which that confidence might lead, without receiving much consolation from considering the experience that had given rise to it.
[Footnote 1: This is a very happy reflection, and implies a discriminating power and good sense, of which, it is justice to his talents to say, Captain King has exhibited no few or inconsiderable examples.—E.]
My first care, on hearing the muskets fired, was, to assure the people, who had assembled in considerable numbers round the wall of our consecrated field, and seemed equally at a loss with ourselves how to account for what they had seen and heard, that they should not be molested; and that, at all events, I was desirous of continuing on peaceable terms with them. We remained in this posture till the boats had returned on board, when Captain Clerke, observing through his telescope, that we were surrounded by the natives, and apprehending they meant to attack us, ordered two four-pounders to be fired at them. Fortunately, these guns, though well aimed, did no mischief, and yet gave the natives a convincing proof of their power. One of the balls broke a cocoa-nut tree in the middle, under which a party of them were sitting; and the other shivered a rock that stood in an exact line with them. As I had just before given them the strongest assurances of their safety, I was exceedingly mortified at this act of hostility; and, to prevent a repetition of it, immediately dispatched a boat to acquaint Captain Clerke, that, at present, I was on the most friendly terms with the natives; and that, if occasion should hereafter arise for altering my conduct toward them, I would hoist a jack, as a signal for him to afford us all the assistance in his power.