Page:Australia an appeal.djvu/38

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third hole was dug, Ningina and Doumera also began to weep, believing that their deaths, as well as his, were now intended; and it required no little persuasion to convince them of the contrary.

We prosecuted the different undertakings we had in hand; and, in a few days, the natives became cheerful, pleasant, and happy. The day was spent in work, and the mornings and evenings in conversation around the fire in the open air, where we all mealed together. At night, they generally entertained us by singing or reciting a few stanzas of their poetry; and these occasions, as well as every interval from labour, I improved by endeavoring to gain a knowledge of the language.

Cleanliness being akin to godliness, I caused them to be shaved, washed, and clothed; and made them at length wash themselves and their own linen. To my surprise, when washed, they were not black but red or bronze coloured. When attending prayers on the Sabbath, they were quiet, attentive, and serious; and, but for their copper-coloured countenances, might have been taken for well-instructed British peasants. Our congregation was small; but I never saw one better behaved. Solemn and interesting were the reflections that crowded upon me on these occasions, and delighted were the sensations that pervaded my bosom. These rocks, uninhabited from creation, and on which the sound of prayer and praise had never been heard, now responded in echoing accents to the worship of Him that made them. The expanded ocean, lying to the westward, and reminding me of a country from which the light of the gospel was breaking forth to every land, but this; the extended continent lying to the eastward and stretching north and south, with a range of elevated mountains in the distance, bounding the horizon like a rainbow or ribbon of blue, and veiling the unexplored interior with its innumerable tribes on whom a Sabbath never smiled, presented scenes on which the imagination ruminated with intense interest. The happiness of being the first to announce the name of Jesus to those who, exiled from the rest of the world for thousands of years, were utter strangers to revelation, and who had never heard of the advent of a Saviour, made the rock on which I reclined softer than a bed of down, and the humble fare of a coarse biscuit and a glass of cold water, sweeter than the dainties of a royal table. The beginning indeed was small. I had just got a hold of the key that would unlock the native language; and was thus merely preparing the way for the missionary by opening for him a door to the preaching of the gospel. Still it was a beginning. It was not the first corruscation of the morning light; but it was