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These islands are not very thickly inhabited The people are divided into numerous tribes, and are governed by their chiefs, who rule as they please. The different tribes are almost perpetually at war with each other; and the captives taken in war, are reduced to slavery. It is a horrid practice of these islanders, to eat human flesh.
I met with an adventure here, which I will relate to you. One day several of the officers went ashore, to hunt in the woods; I went, to assist in rowing the boat. Some of the men remained to watch the boat, and some accompanied the officers into the woods; I was among the number.
The shore was high and rocky, and for a little distance there were no trees. But after walking about half a mile, we came to a very thick forest. The trees were exceedingly lofty; many of them being as high-as a meeting-house steeple. They also stood very close,
What of the different tribes? What horrid practica are the New Zoalanders addicted to i
and the spaces between were filled up with underwood.
The weather was very warm, and there were multitudes of birds in the trees. Some of them had very bright feathers, and resembled parrots. They were flying about amid the thick branches of the trees, and filled the air with their chattering.
Some of them appeared to be talking to one another in very soft tones, and some of them appeared to be scolding, and quarrelling in a very rude manner.'
All around, the scene was very beautiful There were many flowering shrubs, in full blossom on all sides; and the air was filled with their fragrance. A little farther on, we came to a stream, as clear, and bright as the streams of New England.
As I knelt down to drink some of the water, I was strongly reminded of my home, and my country. I thought of the pleasure I had often taken, in a hot summer day, in drinking
from the pure streams of my native land, and for a moment, the tears filled my eyes. But these things do not become a sailor, whose duty calls him to spend a great part of his life far away from his home.
At length we came to a deep, narrow place between two mountains. We saw a great many birds, but the officers were anxious to shoot some larger animals. So they began to climb the sides of a mountain. Here we saw some wild pigs, and some wild dogs. The latter howled at us, and then ran away. The officers shot at them, but did not kill any.
At length one of the Englishmen shot a pig, and he fell over the rocks. I went to find him, while the rest of the party proceeded. I looked about some time, and by and by, I discovered the pig between two stones, on the edge of a precipice.
I took it up, and was about to carry it away, when the whole rock on which I stood, started from its bed, and descended to the valley below. I clung for a moment to some bushes, but these soon broke, and I fell to the distance of more than forty feet.
I was stunned by the fall, and for a long time, I lay in a state of insensibility. It was early in the forenoon when the accident orcurred; when I came to myself, it was night. At first, I fancied myself to be in a dream but, very soon, my aching bones made me recollect where I was. .
I endeavoured to rise, but at first I could not. One of my legs was badly sprained, and I was bruised in several places. By and by, I was able to stand up; and then I began to reflect upon my situation. The night was exceedingly dark, and the wind roared through the tall forest, like the voice of a cataract.
The woods seemed to be full of strange noises; these were made, I suppose, by the creeking of the trees, as they rubbed one against another; but I fancied that I could distinguish, amid the tumult, the cries of wild
beasts, and the yells of savages. It was so perfectly dark, that I could not see a single object. I felt about me, and found that I was surrounded by rocks, and trees.
I dared not to stir, supposing that I might fall into some danger. I concluded it best to sit down, and wait patiently till morning.
In circumstances like mine, we are apt to overrate the dangers that attend us. I feared that the ship would be driven off the coast, by the hurricane, and that I should be left to the merciless savages. These thoughts filled me with great anxiety. I knew that there were no savage animals in the island, but yet I had a strange apprehension, of an attack from some wild beast.
This fear was not a little increased, when I distinctly heard the howling of a wild dog at no great distance. By and by, I distinctly saw his eyes gleaming in the darkness, like two sparks of fire. For sometime, these eyes remained steadily in one position, and then the animal howled, with a wailing sound