Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/255

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
93
AUTHOR'S RETURN HOME.

forgotten, took Baelala to Sydney, and there exhibited him in a tent for money. When the novelty had worn off, and no more could be made out of the poor savage, the unscrupulous fellow simply turned him adrift. For some weeks the Papuan led a precarious existence, picking up bits of food from even the dust-pans and gutters, sleeping about the wharves in any corner he could find. After a while a publican in that neighbourhood took compassion on the homeless man, and in return for various small services fed him and gave him a place to sleep. This affair got talked about in Sydney, and Baron Miclohon Maclay, who passed through at that time, chanced to hear of it. Like a good Samaritan the Baron took charge of Baelala, and eventually brought him back to Moresby Island, on his way to the North Coast of New Guinea.

Towards noon on the 16th October, we anchored again at the road-stead of Dinner Island. Next day the "Harrier" arrived from Cooktown with the Australian Mail. It brought me rather distressing news. My wife's health, delicate always, had become worse, and grave fears were entertained. Though in her own letter there was nothing to cause immediate alarm, my friends urged me if possible to return. It so happened that H.M.S. "Dart" was to leave here for Sydney on the 21st to pay off, and ship a fresh crew. When I made my wish. to return known to Sir Peter, he seemed to regret the circumstances very much, and expressed the hope that I might be able to accompany him again next season. He also kindly promised to speak to Captain Clayton (who as senior of the station had to be consulted) about a passage home in the "Dart." Captain Clayton consenting. Captain Field, of the "Dart," courteously acceded to Sir Peter's wish, and I was granted a passage home in that vessel. The time of the change in the trade winds was approaching, and the few days before our departure the weather had been very uncertain. I made several attempts, but only got one chance of getting a few views of Dinner Island and Anchorage.

I must not omit to mention that Diavcri was ultimately taken to Port Moresby and liberated there, the laws of the protectorate not allowing a severer punishment than exile.