Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/47

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North Coast: Torres' Strait.]
xxiv
INTRODUCTION.

Bligh and
Portlock
1792.

western reef, and was surrounded with dry sands. Besides these, there were other low isles, called the Six Sisters, in sight, to the 1792. south-east; and a long, flat island, bearing S. 33° to 46° W. over the dry Dungeness Reef; in the west, also, there were islands visible, at a greater distance, and much higher, than the others. The Strait, instead of becoming clearer, seemed to be more and more embarrassed with dangers, as the vessels proceeded westward. The latitude of this anchorage was 9° 50'½ south, and the longitude 142° 55' east.

Sept. 10. The boats sounded the channel to the north-west, between Dungeness and Warriours Islands; and finding sufficient water, the vessels got under way, at noon, to follow them. There were many natives collected upon the shore of Dungeness Island, and several canoes from Warriours Island were about the brig. Presently, captain Portlock made the signal for assistance; and there was a discharge of musketry and some guns, from his vessel and from the boats. Canoes were also coming towards the Providence; and when a musket was fired at the headmost, the natives set up a great shout, and paddled forward in a body; nor was musketry sufficient to make them desist. The second great gun, loaded with round and grape, was directed at the foremost of eight canoes, full of men; and the round shot, after raking the whole length, struck the high stern. The Indians leaped out, and swam towards their companions; plunging constantly, to avoid the musket balls which showered thickly about them. The squadron then made off, as fast as the people could paddle without shewing themselves; but afterwards rallied at a greater distance, until a shot, which passed over their heads, made them disperse, and give up all idea of any further attack.

In passing the deserted canoe, one native was observed still sitting in it. The other canoes afterwards returned to him; and, with glasses, signals were perceived to be made by the Indians, to their friends on Dungeness Island, expressive, as was thought, of grief and consternation.