Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/230

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84
PICTURESQUE NEW GUINEA.

recently murdered. A cutter which we sighted and supposed to be the craft we were in pursuit of turned out, on closer acquaintance, to be a rock which bore a singular resemblance to a boat, the illusion being heightened by a solitary tree growing on its side, which looked from the distance like a flag. The name of this curious island is marked in the chart as "Foolscap Rock." Teste Island, with Bell Rock quarter point to the westward, lay seven miles ahead, and at 11 o'clock we dropped anchor midway between the land and a huge boulder called Boat Rock. The tides here are very strong, and the under current is so swift that a sinker weighing over two pounds attached to a fishing line would not fetch the bottom. On landing we found two cutters, belonging to the unfortunate Captains Miller and Fryer, the former of which had arrived the day previous with Paolo Fidele and the rest of the party. A neatly built house, with the Union Jack flying from a pole, stood near the beach, and I was surprised to find in the proprietor a young man named Kissack, a photographer, formerly owning a studio in Victoria Street, Hotham, a Melbourne suburb. He told me that the doctors advised him to give up photography as the worry connected with that profession was sure to kill him. So after a spell in a Queensland labour ship as Government Agent, he settled down on Teste Island as a trader, making a tolerably good living by entrusting trade articles to the Teste Island boys, who barter them in the Louisiade Islands and bring back cocoa nuts and bêche-de-mer in return for tobacco, pipes, and knives, the market quotations at that time being twenty-eight old cocoa-nuts for one stick of tobacco. By the time the fruit is husked, sliced and dried, and bagged, and the freight paid to Queensland, the profit has dwindled to a very modest sum, and I could not but reflect that with the risk thrown in of being murdered on the slightest provocation the traders deserve all they can make. Meantime the General had been pursuing his inquiries at the Mission House, the result being that Paolo Fidele and his mates are to return with their cutter to Dinner Island, proceed with us to the scene of the outrage and identify the perpetrators if possible.