« ForrigeFortsæt »
but they objected, under the apprehension that they should be afterwards killed by the treachery of the king or of Toobo Toa. Finow then addressed them, threatening to remain there the whole night, and the next day to set about building a fort opposite theirs, and to keep up the war until they either yielded or were destroyed.
Shortly after this, however, he gave orders to his men to repair as silently and as speedily as possible to Neafoo. He deceived the enemy in this way, to prevent them proceeding by another road, and cutting off his retreat. The guns were given in charge to some of the principal warriors, with men under their command to drag them along. The labour of doing this for three miles was by no means trifling, particularly as the road was very uneven, and the task rendered the men very impatient; they swore heartily at all guns, and all Englishmen for making them, and wanted to know why they could not construct them a little lighter ; or at least, as they had ingenuity enough to make the guns, they ought to have, they said, the ingenuity also to make legs for them to walk with.
Being arrived at Neafoo, the king, his chiefs, matabooles, Mr. Mariner, and some of the Englishmen, went on board the canoes to pass the night. Mr. Mariner now, as well as in numerous other instances, found the advantage of having an adopted mother, by whom he was provided with plenty of good food, consisting of cooked yams, ripe bananas, and raw fish. They had partaken of no food all the day, and even now not above thirty or forty, consisting of chiefs and matabooles, got any thing to eat, for the time was too late, and the common men too fatigued, to cook yams enough for themselves that night; and as to raw fish, it was considered too good, and at that time too scarce, to give to them*.
* The idea of eating raw fish is not one of the least revolting to the imagination: and we are readily disposed to believe, that nothing but excessive hunger could render this species of food at all palatable: hence voyagers, on witnessing this act among the natives of these islands, have reasonably supposed them to be some of the lower orders much distressed for want of food (vide Labillardiere's voyage); but the fact is, raw fish is a very palatable diet, and is accordingly eaten as a matter of choice, not of necessity. Being strongly assured of this fact by Mr. Mariner, I ventured to make the trial, and repeated it several times upon mackarel, salmon, and turbot, and found the assertion perfectly correct : all the preparation necessary, is to take off the skin, and wash the fish with a little salt water; it will then taste as relishing as the oyster, and very similar to it. If we eat the oyster raw, why not other fish?
The next morning, after the men had refreshed themselves, armed parties were sent out to cut reeds, for the purpose of building a fortress at Neafoo: Finow and his principal chiefs remained to lay out the plan, whilst others were employed in digging a ditch about fourteen feet wide and ten feet deep. The spot on which this fortress was planned out was so situated, that one side was close upon the sea-shore, on a steep rocky bank, and therefore requiring no further defence, for the enemy had no large canoes, having broken up all they had to make small ones, and with these it would be imprudent to venture as far as Neafoo, lest their retreat should be cut off by Finow's larger and swifter canoes. In the course of the day the fencing and ditch were tolerably well completed, so that the following night the greater part of the army slept on shore; but they were not without alarm, for about midnight, a small party of the enemy having come down to reconnoitre, looked through the openings of some part of the fencing that was not quite finished, and seeing several of the men sitting round a fire conversing together, they threw several spears at them, which wounded many, and struck all with a panic: the whole garrison was instantly in a state of confusion ; and a great number so far lost their presence of mind as to endeavour to make their escape on board the canoes ; in this attempt, forgetting that it was low water, they leapt from off the banks, and fell upon the shelf of rocks below, in consequence of which several of them had broken arms and legs, and sundry contusions, which, together with the fright, producing universal spasm (tetanus *) in some of them, caused their death a day or two afterwards. In about a quarter of an hour the alarm perfectly subsided, and they passed the rest of the night quietly.
During the following day the fencing was completed, and a second ditch was planned round the former ; this, however, was to be without any fencing, that the guns might be brought to bear more readily upon the enemy, in case they should make a descent upon foo. This ditch was to be eighteen feet wide, and about ten deep. In three days the ditch was dug and the fortress completed. In the mean time the canoes were hauled
within the fencing, and no active operations effected on either side. Four or five women, however,
* Their mode of treating this disease, and their success in sometimes curing it, will be related under its proper head.
revolted from the enemy, and brought information that the chiefs of Vavaoo, having now revenged themselves on most of Toobo Neuha's murderers, had come to the resolution of waiting a little time without having recourse to any offensive measures, with a view of ascertaining what Finow's real intentions were.
The fortress being now quite completed, and the guns stationed one at each of the four entrances, of which there were two in front (on the inland side) and one on each of the other two sides; Finow gave orders that a strong party should go forth early in the morning, towards the enemy's fortress, and destroy all the plantations they could come at, but in case of an attack, they should make their retreat as speedily as possible. In the afternoon they returned laden with yams, plantains, &c. but having met, with a sudden attack from the enemy, had lost several of their men.
They brought intelligence that they had discovered a large field of fine yams nearly full grown, but it was so well defended that they could not with prudence make an attack upon it. Finow. however resolved to remain quiet the following night, lest the enemy should be lying in wait for him, and the night after that to proceed with a large and strong party to plunder and