Albany, lent them assistance, but being without regular food supplies, they abandoned their endeavours. The health of the men gave way under their severe sufferings, and they proceeded to Mauritius, where they received refuge in a mission supervised by an English Benedictine Bishop.
The northern mission was even more unsuccessful. To reach the northern coast nearly the whole continent had to be circumnavigated, and the three members of this party proceeded to Sydney. They there obtained a passage in a ship bound for the settlement at Port Essington. This vessel was wrecked in Torres Straits, and all on board perished except the captain and a Tyrolese priest. The latter was a brave man, and he worked incessantly among the northern natives for two years, when he died from the effects of the unhealthy climate.
Priest Powell and a catechist sought to found a small mission at Guildford, but in the absence of adequate assistance they were compelled to leave the colony. They joined a mission in Calcutta.
Of all the priests only two remained, and by heroic courage and impressive earnestness they established a permanent mission. They were two Spanish Benedictine monks, who, desiring to teach the heathen in foreign lands, obtained permission to leave their monastery of La Cava, Naples, when Dr. Brady was leaving for Western Australia. Their names were Rudesindo Salvado, and his friend Guiseppe Serra. These ardent men had some difficulty in choosing a suitable field where they might establish the central mission. It was desirable to go beyond the ken of white men, among natives who were unaffected by settlement, but how to secure regular provisions in such a place was a serious problem. Captain Scully, a remote settler north-east of Perth, visited Dr. Brady, and told him of a spot some distance from his station, where the natives were numerous and the land good. It was decided to proceed thither, especially when Captain Scully offered to gratuitously convey the necessary goods to the locality.
It did not take long to prepare the equipment. The mission was inaugurated with no settled means of support, but this did not deter or influence the fathers. They conceived that they had a great work to perform, and, strange as it may seem, went out into the bush, not knowing where sustenance would come from when what they had with them was consumed. At sundown, after a warm day, on 16th February, the Fathers Salvado and Serra, a French Benedictine novice, and an Irish catechist, entered the little Roman Catholic Church in Perth. They intended to begin the journey in the night, when it was cool. Each proceeded to the altar in procession, with staff in hand, breviary under the arm, and cross on the breast. The building was crowded with Protestants, as well as Catholics to bid farewell to the noble young men.
Then when the moon was risen they left the church and followed Captain Scully's waggons along the dusty road. The bishop and other friends accompanied them for some little distance, but presently they turned back, and the four strode onward to possible immolation in the bush. For five days they sturdily trudged through sand and dust and over heat-bathed plains, until, as Father Salvado in his book on the mission writes, they were so dusty and travel-stained as to appear like the savages they were approaching. A three days' rest was taken at Captain Scully's house, after which they resumed their journey, led by two of the settler's servants.
The sun gave out an almost tropical heat, and, to add to their discomfort, there was no water on the road. Now they entered the Australian bushman's school, and learnt what the anguish of thirst means when no water is near. On the evening of the 27th February they drew near to a spot where there was usually ample water; oxen and men rushed eagerly to the spring. It was reduced to a mud-hole, and after drinking the slimy liquid the men vomited. The servants wanted to go back; the missionaries persisted in going forward. A native met with had promised to lead them to water in the morning.
At break of day Father Salvado, a novice, and a servant were conducted by the savage to a place five miles away. The guide struck the ground with his hand in token of amazement. The spring had disappeared. There was yet another chance, the native said, some distance further on. The novice and the servant refused to budge, and Father Salvado therefore proceeded alone with the black man. To his delight a large pond was reached. Before night the whole party gathered round the welcome oasis.
This place was in the heart of the native wilds, and the monks determined to establish the mission there. Next morning, the 1st of March and fourth Sunday in Lent, the two servants unloaded the cart and after mass was celebrated started on their home journey. On the following day the missionaries prepared to erect a domicile which should also serve as a chapel. They dug the foundations and cut wood. With the twilight came a number of natives, who scrutinised these white men with evident suspicion. Then they lit a large fire about forty paces from the builders, and when darkness reigned slept within the encircling light on the edge of the pond. The missionaries also lit a fire, and standing round it chanted compline, but they could not sleep. Throughout the next day the natives absented themselves; but, as previously, they again approached with the evening, this time in greater numbers and completely armed. They built their fire a little nearer to the missionaries, who slept not, "expecting every moment to be killed and eaten."
No injury was offered, and again the curious dusky men disappeared in the surrounding bush in the morning. During the forenoon the missionaries hurried on with their building, although somewhat anxious concerning this strange coming and going of the natives. The picture of them labouring there remote in the Australian bush after so elevated an object is a thrilling one. By noon the structure only needed the roof to complete it. Just as the workmen sat down to their mid-day meal, they were startled to observe a large band of natives approaching, each man carrying several spears. They had come still earlier. Writes Father Salvado:—"We looked at them with cheerful countenances—God alone knowing the beating of our hearts—and made signs of invitation to share our tea and bread." But the natives paid no heed, and, talking loudly among themselves, sat down beside the pond. The white men had encroached on their tribal grounds, and evidently intended to remain, for they had erected their hut. Their appearance was so remarkable that all the natives were apparently debating, in their simple way, on what course to take.
The missionaries were intensely anxious, knowing not what their fate was to be. Finally, they could bear the suspense no longer, and, "after the fashion of throwing a sop to Cerberus," says Mrs. Millett, determined to make peace-offerings to the savages. They baked huge dampers, piled sugar on several plates, and, filling their mouths with the food to indicate that it was good, approached the assembled band, chewing in a demonstrative manner.
This was the decisive moment. The native men snatched