Page:Aboriginesofvictoria02.djvu/245

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227
NOTES AND ANECDOTES.

for wild-ducks in the river for him to shoot. Yagan was in the act of stepping softly and looking over the bank down into the river, when Richard Keats deliberately shot him in the back of the neck, killing him on the spot, in view of the tribe, who were encamped not a quarter of a mile off. Keats then threw down his gun and ran for his life down the side of the river, but the natives soon gained upon him, and when he jumped in to swim across, they riddled his body with spears. These lads had been in the habit of daily frequenting the natives' camps for years; their treachery was therefore the greater. Capt. Bull, I believe, sent Yagans head to the Directors of the British Museum after it had been smoke-dried.

The following anecdote will further illustrate the general character and disposition of the Australian natives when they first saw the white men come among them:—

Towards the end of 1848, Capt. Fitzgerald, the Governor of Western Australia, visited the newly-discovered country to the northward near Champion Bay.

While returning from the Bowes River to that Bay, accompanied by Mr. Rivett H. Bland, his Private Secretary (now of Clunes), Mr. Augustus Gregory, three soldiers and a servant lad, they saw several natives following them, who increased in number as they got into the thickets at the foot of King's tableland, and came closer to the party every step they advanced. Notwithstanding an order to keep off, one laid hold of Mr. Bland by the arm, with the intention of striking him on the head with his dowak; but on a soldier running towards him, he let go.

Mr. Bland had a pistol in his hand, but, with praiseworthy forbearance, was reluctant to commence the affray by using it. Shortly afterwards the natives, armed with spears, kileys,[1] and dowaks,[2] having closed upon the party, a spear was thrown at Mr. Gregory, but without effect, and the Governor, having dismounted, shot the man nearest to him, who appeared to have some influence in directing the movements of the others. He was a splendid fellow, more than six feet high. He suddenly sprang in among the party, his eyes flashing and his spear quivering in the miro,[3] ready to throw, when he received a ball through the heart, for he fell forward on the knees with his head to the ground, and did not even roll over or stir again.

The soldiers then fired, and the natives threw a shower of spears, kileys, and stones. The party had now nearly cleared the thickets, and were between two small rocky hills, from the summits of which and from the thickets behind the natives were throwing their spears, when one struck His Excellency the Governor just above the knee, passing through the thigh and protruding about a foot. Fortunately, he was warned the spear was coming, and made a sudden step forward, or it would have struck him in the back.

During the remainder of the journey, for twelve or fourteen miles, to the beach, the savages used every effort to cut them off. After a fatiguing walk of ten

  1. Boomerangs.
  2. Small clubs.
  3. Throwing-board.