Early next morning, I dispatched one of Omai’s men to Maheine, with this peremptory message, that, if he persisted in his refusal, I would not leave him a single canoe upon the island, and that he might expect a continuation of hostilities as long as the stolen animal remained in his possession. And, that the messenger might see that I was in earnest, before he left me, I sent the carpenter to break up three or four canoes that lay ashore at the head of the harbour. The plank was carried on board, as materials for building a house for Omai, at the place where he intended to settle. I afterward went, properly accompanied, to the next harbour, where we broke up three or four more canoes, and burnt an equal number; and then returned on board about seven in the evening. On my arrival, I found that the goat had been brought back, about half an hour before; and, on enquiry, it appeared that it had come from the very place where I had been told, the day before, by the inhabitants, that they knew nothing of it. But, in consequence of the message I sent to the chief in the morning, it was judged prudent to trifle with me no longer.
Thus ended this troublesome, and rather unfortunate business; which could not be more regretted on the part of the natives than it was on mine. And it grieved me to reflect, that, after refusing the pressing solicitations of my friends at Otaheite to favour their invasion of this island, I should so soon find myself reduced to the necessity of engaging in hostilities against its inhabitants, which, perhaps, did them more mischief than they had suffered from Towha’s expedition.
[Footnote 2: It is impossible not to think that Cook carried his resentment farther than the necessity of the case required; at least we may say, that the necessity, besides being in a great degree of his own creating, did not warrant such extensive aggression. His confessing his regret and concern must be allowed to prove this, and at the same time to indicate the tenderness of his moral feelings. It is one of the wisest precepts of practical wisdom, not to commit one’s self farther in threatenings, or vindictive resolutions, than it will be quite safe and convenient to carry into effect.—E.]
The next morning our intercourse with the natives was renewed; and several canoes brought to the ships bread-fruit and cocoa-nuts to barter; from whence it was natural for me to draw this conclusion, that they were conscious it was their own fault if I had treated them with severity; and that the cause of my displeasure being removed, they had a full confidence that no further mischief would ensue.
About nine o’clock, we weighed with a breeze down the harbour; but it proved so faint and variable, that it was noon before we got out to sea, when I steered for Huaheine, attended by Omai in his canoe. He did not depend entirely upon his own judgment, but had got on board a pilot. I observed that they shaped as direct a course for the island as I could do.