Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/26

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11
CAUSES OF THEIR DISPERSION.

tomed to practice, and in conformity with their ideas of religion? Indubitably all these things the new settlers would be likely to do, and, most probably, all these proceedings were in due order gone through; but days and weeks passed over and a great change was wrought in the spirit of the adventurer. The land was still fair, the climate genial, and the spirit of enterprise still strong and buoyant; but the stern realities of life began to press very severely. What provisions remained of their sea stock, if any, were soon consumed. The hunting grounds in the immediate vicinity of the rude settlement were quickly cleared of their numerous stock to supply immediate wants, and hunger appeared in perspective. What, then, was to be done? Were they to retrace their steps, and to return to the country whence they came? Two serious obstacles presented themselves to this movement. The necessary sea provisions for even a very short voyage were wanting, and their frail barks, shattered by the effects of the former voyage and the action of a burning sun on their timbers, were altogether unfit a second time to encounter the surges the ocean. Thus precluded from the possibility of return, these primitive colonists, resigning themselves to a lot which they could not avert became permanent denizens of the Australian forests. Nor was this the worst of their fate. The same misfortune which confined them within the shores of the new coasts pursued them still further, and made them a roaming people—perpetual wanderers over its interminable