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Ambau people from getting a sight of them, in which case they would all be taken from him.
On the 25th of June, as I was employed surveying, having David Whippy in the boat with me, it being a remarkably clear day, and the peaks on the far-distant islands very conspicuous, I proposed to Whippy to ascend an almost perpendicular rock, some eighty feet high, on the north end of Ovolau, which we had named Underwood Tower. David seemed to hesitate, and said it was beyond the boundary of Tui Levuka's authority ; but seeing me anxious, he said he thought it might be done. I accordingly landed at some distance from its base. There were no natives in sight at the time. After a hard scramble we reached the top, which was about ten feet square, with the instruments. Here I was soon engaged in my occupation, and took no note of what was passing around me, except that after a time I observed several natives sitting around, and was a little annoyed by David fidgeting about me. Finally, I got through all that I desired, and now found the cause of the anxiety felt by David. A number of natives had collected, and he thought, to use the expression of white men, they were after mischief. He at once ordered them to go beyond club distance, and with three men, Whippy, and myself, well armed, passed down safely to the boat, where we found the rest of the crew, with their arms in their hands, and under no small anxiety to see us safely back. Whippy's great care was to get me out of the reach of accident; and he told me after we shoved off, that he never expected to get to the boat without killing some of those rascals. He expected the attack on the rock, and thought they would have endeavoured to throw me headlong down. This incident will serve to show how little these natives are to be trusted at any time, and how unaware one may be of the danger that is at all times impending.
The Rev. Messrs. Cargill and Hunt reached Levuka from Rewa. Mr. Hunt was to remain with me until an opportunity offered in our surveying operations to send him to Somu-somu. Mr. Cargill offered me every information in his power relative to the group, and I here take occasion to acknowledge his liberality in this respect, as well as that of the rest of the missionaries. Mr. Cargill was about to return to England, having recently lost his wife, and been left with five young children. For this purpose, he intended proceeding to Sydney in the Currency Lass.
Ngaraningiou, the brother of Vendovi, who, it will be recollected, played so important a part in his capture, visited the ship. He is a remarkably fine-looking chief. He requested that his likeness might be taken, and, to his great delight, after it was finished, it was pre
sented to him. He was attended by a white man, an Englishman by the name of Wilson, who lives with him, and is a partner of Houghton, the owner of the Currency Lass. Ngaraningiou was accused of having robbed, with the connivance of Wilson, the house of the latter, and possessed himself of all the property; but it appeared to me, on an investigation of the business, that it was a complication of roguery all round; I therefore left it for them to settle among themselves.
The officers at the observatory, whilst at dinner, were one day visited by her majesty the queen of Ambau, one of Tanoa's hundred wives. She was not dressed differently from the rest of the females. The usual liki was worn; she had a trochus ring on her arm, and a spondylus hung from her neck, and her head was covered with a prodigious mass of parti-coloured hair. Her majesty and retinue soon cleared the table of its contents; and it was quite fortunate that the officers had finished their dinner before she arrived.
Mr. Eld procured from her majesty her bracelets and two baskets, in return for which he presented her with a small looking-glass and a few brass rings, with coloured glass in them, with which her majesty and the attendants were highly delighted.
The ladies of the seraglio were constant visiters, and seemed determined to obtain all the presents from us they could possibly extract. The expense of gratifying them was trifling; but after seeing many of them they became tiresome, and were not a little annoying by leaving large grease-spots where they sat, from the profusion of oil and turmeric with which they were covered. The highest queen of Ambau came last, and she took great pains to impress this on every one. She brought a large retinue with her, among whom was a young son of Tanoa.
Among the natives who had been round the observatory, were some from the town of Lebouni, mountaineers, who had been living in the neighbourhood, and doing some little jobs for the men stationed there. This young son of Tanoa began throwing stones at the cocoa-nut trecs, to insult these natives; and when they remonstrated, he threatened to stone them also. Some of these natives soon secured the youth, near the village of Vi Tonga, and had his head on a stone, and their clubs raised to knock his brains out, when he was rescued by some of the white men. The affair was finally settled by the queen and the chiefs of Levuka and Vi Tonga.
On the breaking up of the observatory, when I was desirous of building the stone pile, the natives of Lebouni, or mountaineers, would not assist, alleging that the three who had been working for the
cook and men had not been treated to extra presents, although they could not deny that they had been liberally paid; and, as we looked upon this conduct as an attempt at extortion, no more notice was taken of them, and they sat idle during the whole time.
The white residents at Levuka were very desirous of obtaining a mission-school for their children, and Mr. Waldron took a lively interest in promoting this object. Having bought a piece of ground from the chief, he presented it to the missionaries for the purpose. Mr. Cargill stayed a few days at Levuka, after our departure, in order to make arrangements respecting the erection of a school-house and chapel, which the chief had promised to erect on the ground, that the white men might enjoy their own religion, or lotu.
Mr. Hunt mentioned to me, that the gift of Mr. Waldron would, according to the custom of the Feejees, enable them to establish a mission station at Levuka, notwithstanding the objections of Tanoa, for the owners now had a right to do what they pleased with the soil or ground that belonged to them, without hindrance or control. Tanoa haš hitherto resisted every attempt to induce him to admit a missionary within his immediate sovereignty, while all the other towns or districts have acceded to and desire their residence. I was told that his reason for refusing was, that he considers that the moment the missionary comes, a chief loses his influence, or must change his religion. This he now was too old to do, as he would be unable to learn all about the gods of the Papalangis, and it would be showing great disrespect to his own gods, whom he has worshipped so long. I have myself but little doubt if Tanoa, in the height of his power, had embraced Christianity, the whole of his people would have followed; but as long as he resists none will change, partly through fear of their own chief, but more so from the punishment which would await them by the orders of the great Ambau chief.
On the 27th, the instruments were all embarked, and the return of the tender enabled me to put to sea on the 28th of June. Intending to visit the hot springs of Savu-savu on Vanua-levu, we left Levuka in the morning, and stood over towards the end of the Wakaja Reef, with the view of passing round it. It being Sunday, the Rev. Mr. Hunt, who was a passenger on board with me, volunteered to officiate for us, which was gladly accepted. After service, I found the wind would not permit my weathering the point of the reef; so I bore up pass through the Mokungai Passage, with a strong breeze. After getting through (which we had some difficulty in doing, in consequence of the strong ebb tide setting to the southward and westward), I stood on towards Direction or Nemena Island, intending, as the
wind was becoming light, to enter through the narrow passage in the reef, and anchor under it, rather than remain surrounded by reefs during the night. Tom Granby had some doubts about the propriety of attempting it, but, as I knew the passage well myself, I determined to try it, if we reached it before sunset. On our way across, we saw a school of sperm whales. These begin to frequent the seas around these islands in the month of July, are most plenty in August and September, and continue about the reefs and islands four or five months. I am informed that they are frequently seen from the town of Levuka, near the harbour and adjacent reefs. It seems remarkable that the natives of these islands, who value whales' teeth so highly, should have devised no means of taking the animal that yields them, although it frequents their seas for three or four months in the year. The chiefs, of whom I inquired, seemed to show an ignorance upon the subject that I was a little surprised at. Although daring navigators in other respects, they showed a great difficulty in comprehending the mode of capturing whales. Their canoes would not be adapted to this object, being easily overturned, and, as yet, they have but little intercourse with whale-ships. It was nearly four o'clock when we reached the passage and passed through. Out of either gang . way a biscuit could have been tossed on the reef: there is not room for two vessels to pass. Tom could not help congratulating me and himself that we had got through in safety. Three miles more brought us to the anchorage. The weather being perfectly clear, and all the peaks of Ovolau and the other islands to the south in sight, I determined to take advantage of it. I therefore had my boat lowered, and, as soon as the ship dropped her anchor, pulled for the shore, where I reached the station I had before occupied when in the tender, and succeeded in getting all the observations I desired.
Before leaving the ship, I had ordered Lieutenant Alden and Passed Midshipman Colvocoressis, with two boats, to join the tender, and proceed to the survey of Goro and the Horseshoe Reef. On my relurn on board, I was surprised to see her returning, and ascertained that they did not think she could get through the reefs, on account of the darkness. I immediately sent boats to assist her through with lights, for I did not think the alleged impediment a sufficient one to prevent her. She had been familiarly nicknamed by the crew as “The Night-Hawk.” By this aid she got through, and, in consequence, they were off Goro the next morning, ready to begin the survey. Thus, much time was saved by a little perseverance, and a determination on my part to have the work executed. The occurrence will serve to show the difficulties that frequently arose in