Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/40

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39

upon which, at my desire, the soldier returned his musket to its place in his tent, and in a moment all was quiet; but, like the troubled state of the ocean in a calm after a storm, there was a feeling of distrust in the minds of both which made the prisoners ever after uneasy, and ultimately determined them upon planning their escape. Sensible that I had saved his life, Yagan threw his arms around me, and, unable for some time to express his feelings in words, gave vent to his gratitude in a flood of tears.

Convinced that I was their friend, but concluding that I was the only friend they had, as their attachment to me daily increased they became more and more distrustful of those around them, not considering their lives for a moment safe while the soldiers resided on the rock to which they were confined. Against the careless manner in which the island was guarded, I had repeatedly but in vain remonstrated. At length the very opportunity they wished for presented itself. The revenue boat anchored in the little bay, the crew passed the night on shore, and the guard as usual went to sleep. About one o'clock, the prisoners, having ascertained the preceding evening that the wind was fair, rose, unmoored the boat, and, utter strangers as they were to the art of the mariner, made their escape. They reached the main about two hours after daylight; and, by ten o'clock, having traversed the country for about twenty miles, crossing both the Canning and the Swan, they were in the camp of Yellowgongo, relating the adventures of their two months' captivity; about six weeks of which they had spent in the midst of the ocean, which neither they nor their fathers had ever navigated.

Though the grand object I had in view—that of making the Saviour's name known to the heathen on the western coast of Australia—had for the present failed, it was consoling to reflect, that a foundation was laid for it at some future period; and that the affair of Carnac was productive of many immediate benefits to the settlement. Instead of enmity and blood-shedding, the confidence, friendship, and good-will of the natives were gained; while their acquisition of English and the publication of a vocabulary of their language, led for a time to the most friendly intercourse between them and the settlers. This state of things would have been lasting, had it not been interrupted by one of those wanton acts of cruelty which are ever sure to involve a community in ruin or endless trouble. The settlers having taken possession of their fishing stations and hunting grounds, the fish and the game—the two great sources of their living—were gone. Starving for want of food, therefore, and unconscious of any moral wrong in helping themselves to the