Page:Diary of ten years.djvu/155

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137

cat-fish. Perch will take no bait except the shrimps which are found about stumps of trees and logs of timber in the river. The snake-necked turtle sucks your bait off most ingeniously. We have the cray-fish from two to six inches long, and clams in abundance. These are all the productions of our river as far as we are yet acquainted with them. There are crabs in the salt water, different in shape from yours, and so very daring, that they have seized me by the foot frequently when pushing boats over the flats. Neither lobsters nor oysters have been found, though the shells of the latter are very numerous about the flats and Melville Water. Of the natives I have not heard or seen any thing of late, yet we do not trust our cattle in any distant place with less than two herds, and the settlers over the hills have a few soldiers allowed them for their protection. White ants are troublesome; these usually carry on their operations under the cover of a hard clay mound, which can with difficulty be entered even by the force of a hatchet. You see nothing outside to indicate their presence but a little brown streak of clay—the covered way by which they make their approaches; they never volunteer their appearance

24th.—I have hired two Irish men to split palings, at 10s. a hundred (the paling is four feet six inches long, and from four to six inches broad); they commenced this morning, and have already cut a tree three feet six inches in diameter, cross cut one length, split it into convenient sizes by wedges, and are now splitting out the paling with a knife, as you may have seen laths split. The tree is of the red gum species, and splits well, each pale from half an inch to an inch thick. Experienced men sometimes split from 200 to 300 a day, so they can earn a good deal of money; but on the other hand they buy their provisions from their employers.

I have always considered my own countrymen peculiarly happy in hitting off and applying a metaphor, though its frequent confusion is, perhaps, the principal cause of the