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

mouth of the Canning River, one of them was caught by the heel in a dog-trap which had been set in the narrow path by the fisherman. The native and his companion were, of course, much terrified, but succeeded in reaching the place of rendezvous, a distance of five or six miles, with the iron trap firmly grasping his heel. Here they found their assembled countrymen in a state of great excitement at intelligence which had reached them from the opposite direction that a Swan River native had been killed at Guildford by a white man. The result was that a party went the next morning to the Indiaman's hut—killed him, and so mangled the body that it could scarcely be recognized. They also threw a spear at an English gentleman who happened to be there, and who just escaped being killed by swimming the Canning River; he received a barbed spear in the back of the arm, and ran with it up to Capt. Hester's, where it was taken out.

At about the same place, though two or three years earlier, a powerful leader and two of his companions were ensnared by stratagem and made prisoners. They had been inveigled into a boat which for this purpose had put off from Perth, the embryo capital, to the opposite side of the water, where a number of natives were fishing. So soon as the men in the boat got their victims into their power, they seized, bound, and carried them off, in view of their tribe, who stood amazed and mad with indignation at the perfidy thus practised on them.

The names of these men were Yagan, Doumera, and Nyinyinnee. Yagan was a chief of the Upper Swan tribe; he was tall, athletic, and muscular, with a strong dash of the savage in his countenance. When animated in conversation, or even a little excited, scarcely a peer of the realm could excel him in dignity of demeanour or urbanity of manners. The passions of the savage, however, occasionally flitting across his brow, kept confidence in check; and yet, when conciliating, he exhibited a disposition so candid, cordial, and generous that the most timid would feel at ease in his presence. His was a fine character, but withal he had been the terror of the infant colony.

Doumera was a well-disposed, mild-looking youth, and a great favorite with many of the colonists.

Nyinyinnee, on the other hand, was dark, reserved, and cunning— "a thorough savage," as an old settler remarked.

These prisoners were conveyed to Perth and banished to a barren rock called Karnac Island. A Mr. Milne voluntarily took charge of them, accompanied by a soldier, with a view to their civilization; but after a short period they effected their escape in a boat, and landed at Woodman's Point, whence they made their way across the bush to the Swan; but in crossing the Canning road they unfortunately fell in with two young men, John and Thomas Velvich, both of whom they killed. I shall have to recur to Yagan, and will now only add that the Government offered thirty pounds for his head, for the purpose of obtaining which a boy named Richard Keats treacherously killed him.

This boy with his brother John were tending Capt. Bull's sheep at the Upper Swan, Yagan's country, and were well acquainted with him and all his tribe, numbering some seventy or eighty, when one day he asked Yagan to look