Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

The king and queen were very kind, and held all their hands by turns, and shook hands also with them; then looked at their clothes and examined them. They were very much pleased *with Mr. Lewis's umbrella when he spread it out; but they warned him not to hold it over their heads, as it would then become sacred to their use.

During the whole day a company of dancers were playing, dancing, and shouting close by. These dancers were a most wicked set of people. They were called Areois, and they spent their whole time in going about from place to place, playing antics of all kinds, to amuse themselves and other people. When they danced, their bodies were blackened over with charcoal, and their faces dyed red with the juice of a plant. They ought to have been punished for their idleness; but, instead of that, they were encouraged both by the king and his people. Wherever they went, they were feasted and welcomed; and, notwithstanding their wickedness, they were treated with respect. They even expected, when they died, to go to a very beautiful place at the top of a mountain, where they should always be enjoying themselves. It is dreadful to think what murders they often committed. They would not take the trouble to bring up their little children, but always killed them as soon as

THEIR WICKEDNESS.

19

they were born: and a great many people in Tahiti followed their horrible example, as you will hear by-and-by. These idle creatures came near the door of the missionaries' house in the afternoon, and began to box and wrestle, and to knock each other in the face with their heads for sport. Alas! poor ignorant creatures! they lived like the beasts that perish. How sad it is to think that in this christian land there should be people who behave at fairs and plays like these wicked heathen, and how sad also to think that people should delight in seeing them! The missionaries were grieved at the sight of these dancers and their follies.

The natives had been crowding into the house all day, yet they had not stolen anything: perhaps they had observed that the missionaries were watching them closely : for as you have heard before, they were all inclined to thieving, and they even thought there was no harm in it.

When the evening was coming on, the missionaries commanded the natives (who were constantly laughing and talking) to be silent, and then they sang a hymn, and one of them prayed. They liked to praise God before the natives, that these poor heathen might be led to inquire about him. The missionaries then requested the natives

20

FIRST NIGHT IN TAHITI.

to go away, and not to return till the morning; and when they were gone, the little band of Christians held their regular family worship alone and undisturbed. They supped upon the remains of their dinner, and for the first time slept on a heathen shore. Their hearts were overflowing with thankfulness to God for having brought them across the ocean to this distant spot, and for having inclined the hearts of strangers to receive them so kindly. All they desired was, that their message might be believed, and that the Lord might be honoured by these poor idolaters.

The next day was Thursday. Early in the morning the natives came to the house, and boiled the water, and prepared cocoa-nuts and bread-fruit for the missionaries' breakfast.

The missionaries had not yet finished fitting up the house, so that they continued to work hard. However, they went to the ship to dinner, and some of the natives went with them. Otu went in his canoe ; but not being able, on account of his sacredness, to enter the ship, he remained paddling near in his canoe, and called out for something to eat. The captain sent him half a roast pig in a dish and some biscuit. Otu, highly delighted, paddled to the shore with his present.

The missionaries returned after dinner to their work; but they did not find the natives

THE BOX OF DRESSES,

21

on the

so active as before. They were now tired of fetching bamboos ; but, upon a reward being promised, they brought by evening a good quantity.

So many presents of food arrived, that the missionaries began to fear they should not be able to make as many presents in return as the givers would expect, who they knew were interested, covetous creatures.

On Friday the captain came early from the ship with a box in his boat containing dresses for the king and queen.

Otu was beach as usual ; for he had a little shed built near, that he might always be at hand. Peter showed Otu the box, and telling him what was in it, asked him to go with them to a place close to his house, in order that he might be able to dismount.

The whole party soon stopped under a tree near the king's shed. The captain asked them all to stand in a ring. He then placed the box in the midst, and requested the king to alight from his seat, that he might be dressed in his new clothes. But the king only answered “By-and-by,” and continued to look sullenly. at the unopened box. The captain, tired of waiting, opened the box, and took out the queen's dress. The instant the queen saw it, she jumped off the man's shoulders, and the king followed her example. She put on the

22

HOW THE DRESSES WERE LIKED.

more use.

cap, and appeared delighted. The dresses were too small both for her and Otu, who was tall and stout; and it was necessary to unrip some of the seams. The clothes were gay, and the crowd around admired the king and queen much when they were dressed in them; but Otu did not care for them, and said that a gun, a knife, or a pair of scissors, would have been of

This was not a polite way of receiving a present, but it was a sensible choice to make; indeed, though Otu appeared stupid, he had a good understanding, as you will see hereafter.

Just after the royal pair had been dressed, Mane-mane appeared with

some beautiful Tahitian cloth in his hand. He called his friend the captain to him, and dressed him in it. They then went together to the missionaries' house, and found the work going on well. As it was now past noon, the old priest accompanied the captain to the ship to dinner.

On Saturday the house was ready for the women and children, although not yet finished. After dinner the women and children went to the shore in the largest boat. A very great crowd was assembled on the beach, eager to see, what they had never seen before, white women and children. They were all much delighted with their appearance. The king and queen seemed afraid to come near, or to speak to the

« PreviousContinue »