Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/121

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East Coast, & V.D.'s Land.]

Bass and

in Tom Thumb. Our two conductors then quitted the boat to walk along the sandy shore abreast, with eight or ten strange natives in company.

After rowing a mile up the stream, and finding it to become more shallow, we began to entertain doubts of securing a retreat from these people, should they be hostilely inclined; and they had the reputation at Port Jackson of being exceedingly ferocious, if not cannibals. Our muskets were not yet freed from rust and sand, and there was a pressing necessity to procure fresh water before attempting to return northward. Under these embarrassments, we agreed upon a plan of action, and went on shore directly to the natives. Mr. Bass employed some of them to assist in repairing an oar which had been broken in our disaster, whilst I spread the wet powder out in the sun. This met with no opposition, for they knew not what the powder was; but when we proceeded to clean the muskets, it excited so much alarm that it was necessary to desist. On inquiring of the two friendly natives for water, they pointed upwards to the lagoon; but after many evasions our barica[1] was filled at a hole not many yards distant.

The number of people had increased to near twenty, and others were still coming, so that it was necessary to use all possible expedition in getting out of their reach. But a new employment arose upon our hands: we had clipped the hair and beards of the two 4 Botany-Bay natives at Red Point; and they were shewing themselves to the others, and persuading them to follow their example: Whilst, therefore, the powder was drying, I began with a large pair of scissars to execute my new office upon the eldest of four or five chins presented to me; and as great nicety was not required, the shearing of a dozen of them did not occupy me long. Some of the more timid were alarmed at a formidable instrument coming so near to their noses, and would scarcely be persuaded by their shaven friends, to

allow the operation to be finished. But when their chins were held

  1. A small cask, containing six or eight gallons.