Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/444

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These Englishmen, mysterious and unknown, were beings from another world, and the guests displayed lively astonishment, but no uneasiness.

It was agreed that Mr. Matthias Wilson, the captain's brother, should go to the near-by island of Pelew, or Coorooraa, to meet the king in formal audience and solicit his friendship. One canoe and three men remained at the sailors' camp. One of them was the king's brother, Raa Kook, commander of the military forces. These islanders were entirely naked, their brown skins glistening with cocoanut-oil, their long hair neatly done up in a roll behind.

While Mr. Matthias Wilson was absent on his mission, the crew of the Antelope went off to the wreck in quest of salvage. It was discovered that natives had rummaged the cabin and sampled the bottles in the medicine-chest. Here one begins to discern the ethical code of these most primitive savages.

Captain Wilson made this transaction known to Raa Kook, not so much as a matter of complaint as to express to him his uneasiness for the consequences which might arise to the natives from their drinking such a variety of medicines. Raa Kook begged that Captain Wilson would entertain no anxiety whatever on their account; that if they suffered it would be entirely owing to their own misconduct, for which he said he felt himself truly concerned.