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WILLIAM WILSON'S JOURNEY.
many people lived in Tahiti. You have heard that he had a nephew with him, called William Wilson, This young man he resolved to send round the island to inquire how many inhabitants there were.
Tahiti is not a very large island. It is about forty miles long, so that in a few days a person can walk round it. You will perceive, by looking at the map, that its shape is singular, consisting of a large and a little piece of land joined together by a narrow piece called an isthmus.
The part where the missionaries lived, is at the north of the island. It is called Matavai, and there is a hill near it, called One-Tree Hill. As you
know that there was no animal bigger than a pig in Tahiti, it was impossible for William Wilson to ride. He, however, took with him a man to carry him over the streams that he knew would often cross his path. Peter, the Swede, also accompanied him to interpret, and two men to carry linen and other things.
Four persons in all set out on the journey. No doubt you would like to hear what curious things they saw on their way, as well as what sort of persons they met with.
They set out from Matavai, and kept close by the eastern shore of the sea. High mountains lay on the other side all the way. These mountains, as well as the valleys below, were
THE BREAD-FRUIT TREE.
covered with beautiful trees. I will now describe to you the two principal trees that adorned the island. They were the breadfruit tree and the cocoa-nut tree, and their fruit was the principal food of the people.
The bread-fruit tree is a most beautiful tree; it resembles an oak in shape and size, but its leaves are darker and larger, and between them peep clusters of yellow fruit. Each fruit is about the size of a baby's head; the outside is rough and hard; when cut open, a soft white stuff is found, in taste like bread, only sweeter. The natives used to bake it in ovens before they ate it. But what do you think their ovens were? Holes that they dug in the ground. The natives first burnt some wood, then took the hot embers, and laid them in the hole; then placed leaves over them, and then slices of breadfruit, then more embers, then more leaves, and soon, till at last they covered up the hole with earth. When they wanted to eat, they dug up a little of the bread-fruit. The pigs also knew how to dig up these ovens, and, when they had taken out the smoking fruit in their snouts, would often run to the nearest stream, and dip it in to cool it. If these pigs in this respect seem as clever as men, the men were as greedy, as pigs; for when the fruit was first ripe, they often made large ovens, and remained in their houses, wrapped up
THE COCOA-NUT TREE.
in cloth, feasting almost from morning till night, till they grew as fat as pigs, and could hardly breathe ; but Him who gave them fruitful seasons, and filled their hearts with food and gladness, they knew not, and thanked not-indeed they had no word in their language which meant thank."
I have said that the cocoa-nut was another of the fruits of Tahiti.
This fruit is often brought to England; but it must be gathered fresh from the tree to be tasted in its sweetness, for when first ripe it contains about a pint and a half of sweet milk. The cocoa-nut tree is much taller than a common house, (about sixty feet,) and the leaves and fruit grow like a crown at the top. Though it has no branches on its stem, yet the Tahitians can easily climb to the top, after first tying their feet loosely together with a piece of cord, which enables them to cling round the tree. William Wilson was struck with the beauty of these trees. He saw plantains and bananas, (small trees whose fruit resembles cucumbers in shape)-chestnut and plum-trees-yams, sweet potatoes, and sugar-canes, But though the country was so charming to behold, it was unpleasant to travel through it. Long grass and shrubs grew close to the sea, and blocked up the way; sometimes the path was so very dangerous, that William was afraid of going
HOW WILLIAM WAS RECEIVED.
along: the Tahitians, however, helped him. Once or twice he passed along the side of a high rock—there was rock above him, and the sea roaring at a distance beneath, with scarcely room for him to place his feet upon.
He stopped at various houses as he travelled, and was always kindly received, as he well might be, when he had so many things to give. It is, however, just to say, though the Tahitians were covetous, they were not stingy: for it was considered a great disgrace not to be ready to give. When the bread-fruit was first ripe, the chiefs used to give some to anybody who sent a garland of flowers, and asked them to fill it. By doing this, however, they encouraged the people in idleness.
Wherever William stopped, he generally dined on roasted pigs or fowls, which was food that only chiefs could obtain. But though he fared sumptuously, he was obliged to sleep on the floor of the house at night, and was often so cold that, unable to keep himself warm with the cloth he had brought, he was glad to borrow a blanket of Peter.
I will tell you what he found the people doing in one house where he went, which will show
you what was the usual manner of spending their time.
It was the house of Ina Madua, Pomare's sister-in-law, who was a very bad woman,
HOW AVA WAS PREPARED.
though kind to the travellers. When William entered, women were pasting cloth together at one end ; at another some men were making cords, called cinet, from the outside of cocoanuts; some other men were sleeping, and some others were drinking ava out of small cocoanut shells. You perceive that some of these people were well employed; but those who were drinking ava were doing very ill.
You will inquire what ava was : the root of a shrub. This was the
way in which it was prepared. It was first chewed, then mixed with water, stirred, and strained through a sieve, and then it was fit for drinking.
You will wonder how persons could drink a liquor prepared in so disagreeable a manner; but the people delighted in it, because it made them drunk. Even as much ava as a wineglass would contain, was sufficient to intoxicate
It took away the use of the limbs for a time, as well as of the senses. Those who had drunk it, fell asleep afterwards, and women sat by them and rubbed their limbs.
Those who drank it often were generally covered with a white breaking out, like the leprosy; their eyes grew red, and the skin of their feet and hands cracked, One would think that such unpleasant consequences would have made people reckon it disgraceful to drink