Page:A Voyage to Terra Australis Volume 1.djvu/50

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xxviii
[Prior Discoveries.
INTRODUCTION.

Bligh and
Portlock
1792.

trees and shrubs. Amongst them was a cluster of cocoa-nut trees, bearing a small, but delicious, fruit; and the tree bearing a plum, such as had been seen at Dalrymple's Island. Besides these, the botanists found the peeha and nono of Taheity; and two new plants, of the size of the common mulberry. One, of the class polyadelphia, bears a scarlet, bell-shaped flower, large as the China rose; the other was a species of erythrina, bearing clusters of butterfly-shaped flowers, of a light yellow, tinged with purple: both were entirely destitute of leaves, and their woods remarkably brittle.

There did not appear to be any fixed inhabitants upon Possession Island ; but from a fire which had been recently extinguished, and the shells and bones of turtle scattered around, it was supposed to have been visited not many days before. The bushes were full of small, green ants; which proved exceedingly troublesome to those who had sufficient hardihood to penetrate their retreats. Another, and larger species of ant, was black; and made its nest by bending and fixing together the leaves, in a round form, so as to be impenetrable to the wet. These, and a small kind of lizard, were all the animals found upon the island.

Sept. 17. The boats led to the westward, steering for a passage between Mulgrave's and Jervis' Islands; but seeing it full of rocks and shoals, the vessels anchored a little within the entrance, in 10 fathoms, coarse ground; until the boats should sound a-head. The latitude here was 10° 2', and longitude 142° 03'. The flood tide, from the E. N. E., was found to set through between the islands, at the rate of four miles an hour; and the breeze being fresh, and bottom bad, the situation was considered to be very unsafe.

Whilst the boats were sounding, several Indians in three canoes, were perceived making towards them; but on a swivel shot being fired over their heads, they returned to Mulgrave's Island, on the south side of the passage. On the signal being made for good anchorage further on, the Assistant led to the W. by S.; but on

reaching the boats, the bottom was found much inferior to what had