Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/247

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89
CAPTURE OF CANOES.

descry our movements, their own being completely hidden from view. Under these circumstances the recall was sounded, and the crews put off for their ships at dusk. On their way several canoes were seen leaving the shelter of a promontory and paddling with all the speed they could towards the north to get out of the bay. Our officers thinking these might be the persons we were in quest of, or at any rate people who could supply information, gave orders to pursue, and a most exciting chase commenced, the boats' crews giving way with a will, and the canoes, seeing themselves chased, paddling with might and main for the shallow water where they would be safe from pursuit. Each boat made a capture, the "Raven" laying alongside a canoe containing three natives, while the "Blackall" boat captured another with two. The little dingy, after a desperate pull, overtook a canoe containing two men within a few boat-lengths of the reef, of whom one took to the water and escaped to the shore. It was nearly seven o'clock when the boats got back, and a signalman from the "Diamond," who was on board the "Blackall," wishing to report progress, used the steam whistle on the Morse principle, giving short and long splashes of sound. He certainly succeeded in making a hideous din, echoed from all the inland hills, whether intelligible or not I cannot say, but our poor prisoners were nearly frightened out of their wits, being too terrified to swallow the food we gave them. On the arrival of Mr. Chalmers, which took place shortly after, they were interrogated through his means and that of Paolo, and it turned out that they were natives of a northern district, who had been on a visit to Negarera. In order to afford Captain Clayton an opportunity of seeing them they were kept in custody till next morning, being stowed away for the night in the boatswain's locker and sailroom, where they must have spent a most miserable night. As they had no information to impart when taken on board the "Diamond" they were sent ashore with a few presents and dismissed. Early next morning, the 13th October, the General and Captain Clayton started on a cruise of inspection round Cape Ventenat, to the village whose inhabitants were known to have participated in the murder of poor Captain Miller. I profiting by the occasion to borrow the dingy