Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/106

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
[Prior Discoveries.


to be well inhabited; and, on anchoring, there were about thirty men assembled upon the shore. On the boats being sent next morning, the natives went to them without distrust; and, having piled together some pieces of wood, presented a lighted stick to the new comers, and seemed to ask them to set fire to the pile. Not knowing what this ceremony meant, they complied; and the act seemed neither to excite surprise, nor to cause any alteration in the conduct of the natives: they continued to remain about the French party, with their wives and children, as before.

These people were of the common stature, of a black colour, and were all naked, both men and women; and some of the latter had children fastened to their backs, with ropes made of rushes. All the men were armed with pointed sticks (spears), and with stones which appeared to have been sharpened in the manner of axe heads. They had, in general, small eyes, and the white duller than in Europeans; the mouth very wide, the teeth white, and flat noses. Their hair, which resembled the wool of the Caffres, was separated into shreds, and powdered with red ochre. They were generally slender, tolerably well made, kept their shoulders back, and upon their prominent chests, several had marks raised in the skin. Their language appeared harsh; the words seeming to be drawn from the bottom of the throat.

The French tried to win them by little presents, but they rejected with disdain every thing that was offered; even iron , looking-glasses, handkerchiefs, and cloth. They were shown ducks and fowls, which had been carried from the ships; and it was endeavoured to make them understand, that such would be gladly purchased of them; but they took these animals, with which they seemed to be unacquainted, and threw them away in anger.

The party had been about an hour with the savages when captain Marion went on shore. One of the natives stepped forward, and offered him a fire-brand to be applied to a small heap of wood; and

the captain, supposing it was a ceremony necessary to prove that he