Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/385

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Chapter XX.


Governor King received the news of the wreck of the Porpoise immediately after the arrival of the Hope in Port Jackson, on the evening of September 8th. King and his family were at dinner when to his great amazement Flinders was announced. "A razor had not passed over our faces from the time of the shipwreck," he records, "and the surprise of the Governor was not little at seeing two persons thus appear whom he supposed to be many hundred leagues on their way to England; but so soon as he was convinced of the truth of the vision before him, and learned the melancholy cause, an involuntary tear started from the eye of friendship and compassion, and we were received in the most affectionate manner."

King in an official letter confessed that he could not "sufficiently commend your voluntary services, and those who came with you, in undertaking a voyage of 700 miles in an open boat to procure relief for our friends now on the reef." It was, indeed, an achievement of no small quality in itself.

Plans for the relief of the wrecked people were immediately formed. Captain Cumming of the Rolla, a 438-ton merchant ship, China-bound, agreed to call at the reef, take some of them on board, and carry them to Canton, whilst the Francis, which was to sail in company, was to bring the remainder back to Sydney. Flinders himself was to take command of the Cumberland, a 29-ton schooner, and was to sail in her to England with his charts and papers as rapidly as possible.

The Cumberland was a wretchedly small vessel in