Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/37

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and the prisoners lay down by a fire which they had kindled on a mound under a pendant rock, adorned with a few of those stalactite formations which are not uncommon on the western coast. Mr. Dale and I stretched our limbs at a little distance close to the water, on some sharp fragments which the surge had washed from the precipice above. Though our bed was not made of down, it was clean; and thus we passed the first night on this rock in the ocean. When day dawned, and we had partaken of a similar repast, the aid-de-camp took his leave, and left me to form my own plans and manage as well as I could.

Surrounded by the sea, and nothing over our heads but the sky, it became necessary to contrive shade from the sun and shelter from the storm. I therefore sent to the adjacent island for spars, and planned a little encampment of huts—one for a place of worship, one for the prisoners, and one for myself—in a little valley in the centre of the rock, in which grew a few acacia shrubs. But a serious difficulty now presented itself. We could find no water; and without this element, so essential to the existence of animated nature, we could not live. I had therefore no alternative but to attempt a well; and, after boring about twenty feet through the rock, we found, to our great joy, an abundant supply. A garden, around the well in the little valley, to show the savages that, his mother-earth, notwithstanding the curse, is still capable of furnishing man with nourishing food, completed my contemplated arrangements.

We immediately commenced operations, by sloping the bank and forming a pathway from the valley to the beach. While thus occupied, Yagan became very melancholy, hung over his spade, and refused to work. Wishing to enforce obedience, so essential to discipline and good order, I spoke to him in rather a commanding tone; on which he turned on his heel and looked upon me with a scowl of ineffable contempt, while his eyes were red as lightning and flashed fire. I instantly perceived that he had fallen into an error, calculated to appal and unman the bravest, actually supposing that we were making preparations for his execution, and that here we intended to bury him. What fiends he must have imagined us to be, when he supposed that we were capable of such a refinement in cruelty as to make a captive assist in digging his own grave. I undeceived him as quickly as possible by walking up and down the bank, and thus showed him that it was not a grave but a road that we were making to and from the beach; after which he became tranquil and assisted in the work. On our making the holes for the corner posts of the first hut, however, the same dreadful impression seized him again; and when the