Fresh Gales at SE and ESE varying to NE in the latter part and a Storm of Wind.
After Dinner we began by little and little to get our things into the Boat which became troublesome on account of the surf and I carefully watched the motions of the Natives who I found still encreasing in numbers, and that instead of their intention being to leave us, fires were made and places were fixed on for their residence during the night. Consultations were also held among them & everything assured me we should be attacked and I sent the Master Orders to keep the Boat well in upon the Beach when he saw us coming down that we might easily get in.
I had my Log with me in the Cave writing up the occurrences and in sending it down it was nearly taken away but for the timely assistance of the Gunner.
Every Person who was now on shore with me boldly took up their proportion of things and carried them to the Boat, when the Cheifs asked me if I would not stay with them all night. I said no, I never sleep out of my Boat, but in the morning we will again trade with you and I shall remain untill the weather is moderate that we may go as we have agreed to see Paulehow at Tongataboo. Maccaackavow now got up and said you will not sleep on Shore, then Mattee (which directly implies we will kill you,) and he left me. The onset was now preparing, every one as I have described before kept knocking their Stones together, and Eefow likewise quitted me. We had now all but two or three things in the Boat, when I took Nageetee by the hand and we walked down the Beach every one in a Silent kind of horror. When we came down Nageetee wanted me to stay to speak to Eefow, but I found he was encouraging them to the attack, in which case if it had then begun, I determined to have killed him, and I ordered the Carpenter not to quit me untill the others were in the Boat. Nageetee therefore finding I would not listen to him quitted my hold and went off, and we all except one Man got into the Boat, who while I was getting on board quitted the boats side and ran up the Beach to cast the Stern fast off notwithstanding I heard the Master and others calling to him to return while they were hauling me out of the water.
I was no sooner in the Boat than the attack began by about 200 Men, this unfortunate poor man was first knocked down and the Stones flew like a shower of shot. Many men got hold of the Stern fast and were near hauling us on shore, and would certainly have done if I had not had a Knife in my pocket to cut, we therefore hauled off to our Grapnel with every one more or less hurt. In the course of this I saw five of the Natives about the Poor Man they had killed struggling who should get his Trowsers, and two of them were beating him about the head with Stones in their hands. We had not time to think before, to my surprize they filled their Cannoes with Stones and twelve Men came off after us to renew the Combat, which they did so effectually as nearly to disable all of us. Our Grapnel was foul but providence here assisted us, as the Fluke broke and we got to our oars and pulled to Sea. They however could paddle round us, so that we were obliged to sustain the Attack without being able to return it but with such Stones as lodged in the Boat, and in this I found we were much inferior to them. We could not close with them because our Boat was lumbered and heavy. I therefore adopted the expedient to throw over some cloaths, which beguiled them and they lost time In picking up, and by this means and the Night coming on they at last quitted us to reflect on our unhappy Situation. The poor Man I lost was called John Norton, this was the Second Voyage with me as Quarter Master, and his worthy Character made me fell [feel] his loss very severely. He has left an Aged Parent I am told who he supported.
I once before sustained an Attack of this Nature with as small a number of Men against a multitude of Indians (after the death of Captain Cook) on the Morai at Owhyee, where I was left by Mr. King, to act on the defensive as he calls it it[sic].—Yet notwithstanding; I did not conceive that the power of a mans arm could throw stones from 2 to 8 pounds weight with such force and exactness as these People did. Here unhappily I was without Arms and the Indians soon discovered it; but it was a fortunate circumstance that they did not begin the attack on us in the Cave, in that case nothing could have saved us, and we had nothing left but to dye as bravely as we could fighting Close together, in which I found every One cheerfully to join me. It was from the appearance of such a resolution that awed them, supposing they could effect their purpose without risk after we got into the Boat.
Taking this as a sample of their natural dispositions, there were little hopes to expect much where I was going for I considered their good behaviour hitherto owing to a dread of our Fire Arms, which now knowing us to have none would not be the case; and that supposing our lives were safe, our Boat, Compass and Quadrant would be taken from us, and thereby I should not be able to return to my King and Country to give an account of the transaction. While my mind was thus anxiously employed to consider that was best to be done as we were sailing along the west side of the Island, I was sollicited by all hands to take them towards home, and when I told them that no hopes of releif for us remained but what I might find at New Holland, untill I came to Timor, a distance of full 1200 leagues, where was a Governor, but that I had no Idea of the part of the Island the settlement was at, they all agreed to live on one ounce of Bread per day and one Jill of water. I therefore after examining what our real stock of provisions was and recommending this as a sacred promise forever to their memory, bore away across a Sea where the Navigation is dangerous and but little known, and in a small Boat 23 feet long from Stem to Stern, deep loaded with 18 souls, without a single map, and nothing but my own recollection and general knowledge of the situation of places assisted by an old Book of latitudes and longitudes to guide me, in which particular I was happy to see every one better satisfied than myself.
Our stock of Provisions consisted of about 150 pounds of Bread, 28 Gallons of water, 20 pounds of Pork, 3 Bottles of Wine and 5 Quarts of Rum. The difference between which and the quantity we had on leaving the ship was principally owing to loss. A few Cocoanutts were in the Boat and some Breadfruit but the latter useless.
It was about 8 oClock at night when I bore away under a reefed Lug fore sail, and having divided into two watches and got the Boat in a little Order, we returned God thanks for our miraculous preservation, and fully confident of his gracious support, I had a mind more at ease than I had before felt.
At day break the Gale encreased, the sun rose very firey and Red, a sure indication of a severe Gale. At 8 hours it blew a mere Storm, and the Sea run very high, so that between the Seas the sail was becalmed, and when on the Top of the Sea, it was too much to have set, but I was obliged to carry to it for we were now in very eminent danger and distress, the sea curling over the Stern of the Boat which obliged us to bail with all our might. A situation equally horrible perhaps was never experienced.
Our Bread was in Bags and getting Wet, to be starved to death was therefore inevitable if it could not be prevented. I therefore began to examine what cloaths there were in the Boat and what other things could possibly be spared, and having determined for only two suits to be kept for each person, the rest was thrown overboard, which with some Rope and Spare Sails lightened the Boat considerably and we had more Room to bail the water out. Fortunately the Carpenter had a good chest in the Boat, I therefore fixed on it to put the Bread in the first favoable moment. His Tool Chest also was cleared and the Tools stowed in the Bottom of the Boat, so that this became a second convenience.
I now served a teaspoon full of Rum to each person (for we were very wet and cold) with a quarter of a Breadfruit which was scarce eatable for dinner, but our engagement was now fully to be carried into Execution, and I was sacredly determined with my life to make what provisions I had to last Eight Weeks, let the daily proportion be ever so small.
At Noon I considered my distance from Tofoa to be 86 Miles WBN½N my Latitude 19°27′South and Longitude 183°52 East. My intention is to steer to the WNW that I may see a Group of Islands called Fidgee if they lie in that direction.