Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/296

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236
DEVONSHIRE CHARACTERS

Gower for £60. We landed about two o'clock. Mr. Benson did not accompany us, expecting letters from the insurance office for the vessel and cargo which was to have taken us there. The vessel then lay off his quay with convicts bound for Virginia, but he came to us on Wednesday. The island was at this time in no state of improvement, the houses miserably bad, one on each side of the platform, that on the right inhabited by Mr. Benson and his friends, the other by the servants. The old fort was occupied by the convicts whom he had sent there some time before, and occupied in making a wall across the island. They were locked up every night when they returned from their labour. About a week before we landed seven or eight of them took the long-boat and made their escape to Hartland, and were never heard of afterwards. Wild fowl were exceeding plenty and a vast number of rabbits. The island was overgrown with ferns and heath, which made it almost impossible to go to the extreme of the island. Had it not been for the supply of rabbits and young sea-gulls our tables would have been but poorly furnished, rats being so plenty that they destroyed every night what was left of our repast by day. Lobsters were tolerably plenty, and some other fish we caught. The deer and goats were very wild and difficult to get at. The path to the house was so narrow and steep that it was scarcely possible for a horse to ascend it. The inhabitants by the assistance of a rope climbed up a rock in which were steps cut to place their feet, to a cave or magazine where Mr. Benson lodged his goods. There happened to come into the roads one evening near 70 sail of vessels. The colours were hoisted on the fort, and they all as they passed that island returned the compliment except one vessel, which provoked Mr. Benson to fire at her with ball,