Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/213

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the coast.[1] A closer inspection of the shore-line was required. In fact, the rivers were not found by seaward exploration; they were discovered by inland travellers.

The most interesting features of the voyage lay in the meeting with aboriginals in Moreton Bay. Some of the incidents were amusing, though at one time there seemed to be danger of a serious encounter. Flinders went ashore to meet a party of the natives, and endeavoured to establish friendly relations with them. But as he was leaving, one of them threw a spear. Flinders snatched up his gun and aimed at the offender, but the flint being wet missed fire. A second snap of the trigger also failed, but on a third trial the gun went off, though nobody was hurt. Flinders thought that it might obviate future mischief if he gave the blacks an idea of his power, so he fired at a man who was hiding behind a tree; but without doing him any harm. The sound of the gun caused the greatest consternation among the natives, and the small party of white men had no more serious trouble with them while they were in the bay. Flinders was "satisfied of the great influence which the use of a superior power has in savages to create respect and render their communications friendly"; but he was fortunately able to keep on good terms without resort to severity.

An effort to tickle the aboriginal sense of humour was a failure. Two of the crew who were Scotch, commenced to dance a reel for the amusement of the blacks. "For want of music," it is related, "they made a very bad performance, which was contemplated by the natives without much amusement or curiosity." The joke, like Flinders' gun, missed fire. There have been, it is often alleged, other occasions when jokes made by

  1. See Coote, History of Queensland, I., 7, and Lang, Cooksland, p. 17.