Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/123

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

breeze would bring them to the coast. But they drifted on a strong current six or seven miles southward, and being unable to land, passed the night in the boat. Next day, being in want of water, but unable to bring the Tom Thumb to a safe landing place, Bass swam ashore. While the filled cask was being got off a wave carried the boat shoreward and beached her, leaving the three on the beach with their clothes drenched, their provisions partly spoiled, and their arms and ammunition thoroughly wet. The emptying and launching of the boat on a surfy shore, and the replacing of the stores and cask in her, were managed with some difficulty; and they ran for two islands for shelter late in the afternoon. Finding a landing to be dangerous they again spent the night, cramped, damp, and uncomfortable, in their tossing little eight-foot craft, with their stone anchor dropped under the lee of a tongue of land. Bass could not sleep because, from having for so many hours during the day had his naked body exposed to the burning sun, he was "one continued blister." On the third day they took aboard two aboriginals—"two Indians," Flinders calls them—natives of Botany Bay, who offered to pilot them to a place where they could obtain not only water but also fish and wild duck.

They were conducted to a small stream descending from a lagoon, and rowed up it for about a mile until it became too shallow to proceed. Eight or ten aboriginals put in an appearance, and Bass and Flinders began to entertain doubts of securing a retreat from these people should they be inclined to be hostile. "They had the reputation at Port Jackson of being exceedingly ferocious, if not cannibals."

The powder having become wet and the muskets rusty, Bass and Flinders decided to land in order that they might spread their ammunition in the sun to dry,