Page:Life and Adventures of William Buckley.djvu/131

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108
LIFE OF BUCKLEY.

Several months after, when journeying alone along the beach, I found a large cask, a barrel or hogshead, partly buried in the sand, which, no doubt, had been thrown on shore from a wrecked ship. It was much too heavy for me to lift, or move in any way; so I set to work digging round about it, until I could get at the iron hoops, which I knew were valuable to the natives. At length I knocked the head in, but could not fancy what the liquid contents were, having lived so long in the bush without tasting any other drink than water. The flavour appeared to be horribly offensive, and the smell equally so. It must have been either beer or wine, not being strong enough for spirits. However, I determined on letting the whole contents go by the run, to prevent mischief—should the natives take a fancy to it—although so utterly nauseous to my palate. Having broken up the iron hoops into pieces, I some days after divided them amongst those who were most kind to me, and by these presents added greatly to the influence I had already acquired over them. Whether being so long with them was the occasion or not, but I began to fancy they were gradually becoming more docile and civilized.

The various families returned to their several camping places—except one old man, his wife, and children, who remained; and we proceeded together to a lake called Jerringot—one of a chain of that name—which supplies the Barwin River. Here the Bunyip—the extraordinary animal I have already mentioned—were often seen by the natives, who had a great dread of them, believ-