Page:Picturesque New Guinea.djvu/393

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convey us to the mouth of the river Aird. I saw Captain Williams the night we arrived, and found that he objected to go to the Aird, and he strongly recommended me to go elsewhere; but as my instructions did not permit my making such an alteration in the plans of the Council, I of course could not discuss the question; explaining that the Society had matured their plans and issued their instructions after considerable deliberation, and that I could not think of any deviation from the line laid down by them, unless I had the direct evidence of its impracticability from some one of local experience, which Captain Williams was unable to give me; his objections being principally founded on rumour, and not on practical experience. However, I telegraphed to the Society, but as the steamer left at daylight next morning could not get a reply. I also, on Captain Williams's request, put to paper what I had previously said.

We arrived at Thursday Island June 25th, went alongside the A. S. N. Company's hulk to coal and tranship provisions; but before doing this, in accordance with my instructions, I had the "Bonito" surveyed, and found that she required some repairs; the heavy tow, together with the high seas experienced between Sydney and Brisbane having strained her considerably. These repairs were effected under the survey of Captain Wilkie, Government Pilot, and Captain Dubbins of the "Elsea." While these repairs were proceeding, the scientific staff made what collections they could on Thursday and adjacent Islands. These collections, together with some sketches and photos, were duly forwarded to the Society before our departure, and I have learnt since our return that they were very good, some novelties having been found among them; so that it is satisfactory to know that our unavoidable detention was not time lost. While at Thursday Island I received a telegram from the President requesting me not to attempt the Aird River or to cross the Gulf of Papua. This telegram altering the whole plan of the expedition, and in fact forbidding me going eastward of the River Fly; but fortunately the Rev. Mr. McFarlane coming to Thursday Island enabled me to obtain his valuable advice and experience; and after some consultation with him and the Hon. Mr. John Douglas, I resolved to go up the river Fly, and to take the first large branch to the eastward. Mr. McFarlane, who was then on his way to the river Fly, kindly offering to assist me in obtaining interpreters, &c. This circumstance, together with that of Mr. Douglas who was also going to Kewei in the "Mavis," afforded us an excellent opportunity of going in company, and giving the Society the advantage of the report of a good clear start.

As a great deal has been written in the Press about our equipment of fire-arms, I may here state that the majority of the fire-arms sent by Messrs