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78

BEHAVIOUR TO THE SICK.

and good-natured when pleased; but in many respects they were like beasts, and in others like devils.

They resembled beasts in their love of eating, and drinking, and idleness; in hardness of heart they resembled devils. Their conduct to their aged parents, and to their sick friends, was barbarous. When tired of waiting upon a sick person, his relations generally built a little hut for him, and at first fed him, but often left him afterwards to die of hunger. At other times their relations would throw their spears at the sick man, to see which would thrust him through first.

I will relate an instance of the murder of one sick man.

He was staying with an acquaintance, who, growing tired of him, went one day and dug a hole near the sea-shore; then returned, and offered to take him to bathe. The sick man consented, and was placed upon a board, and carried towards the sea between two men; but when he came near the hole, he suspected what was going to be done, and he jumped off the board and tried to escape, but his companion threw a stone at him, and thus stopped him, and then forced him into. the hole, and buried him alive. His cries were heard at some distance by some women in a canoe, yet none came to rescue him, or were even shocked when they heard the history.

TREATMENT OF ENEMIES.

79

If the Tahitians behaved in this manner to their friends, what must have been their cruelty to their enemies ! It was more dreadful than can be conceived. They stamped upon the prisoners they had taken in battle, crying out, “ Thus would you have treated me if

you

had conquered,” and then left the bodies unburied, to be devoured by dogs and birds. Sometimes a hole was made through an enemy's body, and he was worn for a short time as a tiputa by the man who slew him. After a battle the conquerors destroyed all the women and children of their enemies, and even taught their own little children to kill the little creatures that they would have liked to play with. Sometimes the conqueror put ropes through the necks of his enemy's children, or threaded them like beads on his spear. God has said in his word, that the feet of men are swift to shed blood. And is not this true ?

The missionaries came to melt the stony hearts of these people, by telling them of the love of the Son of God. These lions and tigers could be turned into lambs and doves by the Spirit of God. So the missionaries did not cease to

pray

for them, and to teach them the good and the right way, hoping that God would at length give them repentance for their sins.

80

SHEEP AMONG WOLVES.

CHAPTER X.

1797, 1798.

SHEEP AMONG WOLVES.

We will now continue the history of the poor missionaries, who stood gazing upon the ship, on the day it left Tahiti, with tears in their eyes, till they could no longer behold it.

They felt that they were in a very dangerous situation, among wicked men, who coveted all they possessed, and whose hands were often stained with blood; but they were able to look up to God for support. They set apart a day for fasting and prayer : on that day they met three times to pray together, and twice more to hear sermons from two of the brethren, (for they called each other brethen.) They agreed also to hold a prayer meeting once a month for the conversion of the heathen, at the very same time that their friends in England, in different places of worship, met together for the same purpose.

But though they placed their strength in God, they thought it right to take all possible pains to defend themselves. They had many guns in their possession, but they never in

THE WATCHMEN.

81

It

tended to shoot the natives, even if they were attacked by them : they thought, however, that the sight of the guns would fill the natives with fear.

Perhaps it was not wise of the missionaries to keep many things in their house. might have been better if they had been contented with having only food and raiment, for then the people would not have regarded them with so much envy.

All night long two of the brethren watched outside the house, and very often one was appointed to watch during the day.

The day after the ship's departure, the missionary who was watching the house, overheard Idia talking with some of the natives about the quantity of property the brethren possessed. Among other things, he heard it said, that the sabbath-day would be a good opportunity to take it away, as on that day the brethren would be engaged together in prayer, and would lay aside their weapons. Idia little thought that the man on guard understood her conversation. Of course he reported it to his friends, who immediately desired all the natives to leave the house. Idia was alarmed when she heard of this order, and inquired the reason. When she was reminded of what she had said, she denied it, and sent Peter the Swede to declare that she had been misunderstood, as she had only been

G

82

THE CUNNING THIEF.

talking of a plan made by some bad men in Tahiti. This excuse was probably false; but the missionaries thought it best to receive it, and to treat Idia with as much respect as usual. However, they were more on their guard than ever on the next day, which was Sunday, and did not take the Lord's Supper together as they had intended.

About three weeks afterwards they were robbed in a very singular manner. One morning they missed a great many articles from the blacksmith's shop, and they also observed a hole in the ground of the shop. They soon perceived a thief had entered through this hole, which resembled a rabbit's burrow, and had an opening outside. They saw that the hole must have taken more than one night to dig with the hands, (the spade the natives usually made use of,) and they wondered how it was that the watch had not observed the thief digging in the day. The watch then remembered that he had once remarked the hole, and had seen something, that he had taken for a hog, coiled up in it; and now he had no doubt that the supposed hog was the thief. The wicked cunning of the robber excited the astonishment of all. On applying to a chief of that part of the island, the stolen articles were restored.

In vain the missionaries endeavoured to win the natives by kindness. Because they

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