Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/36

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stepped into the revenue boat at Fremantle, amidst a crowd whom the novelty of the scene had attracted, and in a few hours reached our destination. As we neared the island, I desired the prisoners to be unbound, which produced on their countenances a gleam of joy; but it was transitory. For Several days there was a struggle in their minds between hope and despair. One moment they expected life, and another nothing but death. Nor would they be persuaded to the contrary, till gentle words and kind treatment at length convinced them that I had nothing in view but their welfare; for they now began to feel that they were in my hands.

On our landing, I learned that their names were Yagan, Doumera, and Ningina. Yagan had been the terror of the colony. He was tall, athletic, and muscular, with a strong dash of the savage in his countenance. When placid, animated in conversation, or even a little excited, no peer in the realm could excel him in dignity of demeanour or urbanity of manners. The passions of the savage, however, occasionally flitting across his brow and playing behind his bronze coloured countenance, kept confidence in check; and yet, when conciliating, he exhibited a disposition so candid, cordial, and generous, that the most timid could not but feel at perfect ease in his company, be it where it may, whether in the midst of the city or the solitary desert. He was altogether a noble, a princely character—one of nature's best productions. The characters of the others may be given in a few words. Doumera was mild, gentle, candid, and generous. He possessed one of the finest dispositions I ever knew; and, under the influence of divine grace, might have been taken for the brother of John the Evangelist. His countenance beamed with every thing that is excellent and amiable. How exceedingly repulsive it must have been, I often thought, to a mind like his, to handle a spear and mingle with barbarians in the strife of battle—but he was born in a land of darkness, and compelled by a mysterious but unerring Providence to lead the life of a savage. Ningina, on the contrary, was dark, reserved, timid, and cunning. He affected confidence, but was always distrustful.

On our landing, Mr. Dale, at my request, made them ascend the rock which was for a time to form their abode, in order to show them that they were surrounded by water. When we reached the summit, Yagan at once understood the object of our walk, concluded that his doom was sealed, and in an agony of mind threw himself on his knees in the attitude of prayer; but whether a feeling of devotion, or of grief and despair, laid him prostrate on the ground, could not then be determined.

After eating some salt pork and a little biscuit, the guard