Page:A Lady's Cruise in a French Man-of-War.djvu/337

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CLEMENCY CONQUERS.

to plunder the gardens or molest their wives and families. He, however, selected a trustworthy force, and bade them march to Tautira, to the temple of Oro, and totally destroy both temple and idol, and everything connected with the old worship. At eventide he bade the chiefs call together the congregation which had been so ruthlessly disturbed in the morning, and all knelt together in solemn thanksgiving for their great deliverance from so strong a foe.

The party whom he had despatched on so righteous a mission of destruction, carried out his orders implicitly. They turned neither to the right hand nor the left, till they reached Tautira, where they fully expected that the priests and people would make a stand in defence of their gods. They, however, met with no opposition from the crowds, who stood silently round while they entered the temple, hitherto held so sacred, and bringing out the idol, stripped him of his coverings, and exposed a rude unhewn log, about six feet long, of casuarina wood. Having utterly destroyed the temples, altars, and other idols, they carried off the rude log which for so many years had been the national god of Tahiti, and for the possession of which the land had, during the last thirty years, been made desolate by incessant wars. It was now turned to better use as a post in the king's kitchen from which to suspend baskets of food. Eventually it was cut up for firewood.

The effect of the king's clemency to the vanquished was magical. At first it seemed to them utterly incomprehensible; but when, under cover of night, some ventured from their hiding-places, and found their homes and families all undisturbed, and learnt that the bodies of the slain had received honourable burial, instead of being given to the dogs and pigs, and that the king had proclaimed a free pardon to all, then one by one they came down from the mountains to tender their submission to the merciful conqueror, and to learn from him the secret of such new principles. Then they agreed that the faith which inspired such deeds was assuredly the best, and with one accord they determined to destroy all their idols, and desired that the king would send messengers to instruct them in the good way.