Disco elements volume five

Stout poles from 14 to 16 feet high formed the framework of these snug huts--for so indeed they deserve to be termed--these were brought together conically at the roof; a stout thatching of dried grass completely excluded both wind and rain, and seemed to bespeak the existence of a climate at times much more severe than a latitude of 16 degrees 6 minutes south, would lead one to anticipate. The remains of small fires, a well greased bark pillow, a head ornament of seabird's feathers, together with several other trifling articles, strewn upon the floors of these wigwams, proved that they had been very recently inhabited. NATIVE RAFT. But perhaps the most interesting discovery in this bay, was a native raft, which we found near the beach, in such a position as must have required the exertions of several men to have placed it there; being heavier than either of our boats. In the construction of this raft, almost everything had been left to nature. It was framed of the dead trunk of a mangrove tree, with three distinct stems growing from one root, about 18 feet long, and 4 1/2 broad. The roots at one end closely entwined, as is the habit of the tree, formed a sufficient bulwark at the stem, while an elbow in the centre of the trunk, served the same purpose at the stern: a platform of small poles, well covered with dried grass, gave a sufficient flooring to this rude specimen of a raft. I could not survey it without allowing my thoughts to carry me away in pleasing reflections upon the gradual progress of human ingenuity by the advance of which, the same intellect that first contents itself with the mere floating of the single tree, at length shapes a forest into timbers and launches the floating fortress in triumph on the deep! RETURN TO PORT USBORNE. We were now about 40 miles in a direct line from Port Usborne, and perhaps 70 by the winding course we were obliged to follow; only two days' provisions remained, and as we were still deficient of material for the chart of this archipelago, I was reluctantly obliged to abandon the idea of attempting to reach Collier Bay. The mainland we had explored, since leaving Port Usborne, may be described as forming eight bays, varying in depth from three to eight miles, and in width from two to five; their general trend is East-South-East; many islets skirt their shores, and almost more than can be counted fill their mouths. March 26. With the first grey of the morning we left Bathurst Island, on our return to the southward. Whilst passing inside the cluster of isles of slate formation, we heard a "halloa," and on looking in the direction from whence it proceeded, a native was observed on a raft: the boat's course was immediately altered so as to cut him off should he attempt to escape, but to my great surprise he paddled towards us with all possible haste. THE NATIVE YAMPEE. He was soon alongside, and with great satisfaction we at once recognized our strange friend of yesterday, who amongst the boat's crew, went by the sobriquet of Yampee. He again made use of the word Yampee according to our orthography, and after repeating it several times, I offered him some water, which he very eagerly accepted, twice emptying a canister that had originally held 4 pounds of preserved meat; this afforded me additional proof of Yampee being the word the natives of these parts use for water. At Swan River, the native name for water is gab-by, which differs so much as to lead us to suppose the dialect of the two places is quite distinct. This supposition is also borne out by the fact, that Miago, the native of Swan River we had on board, could never understand the language spoken by his countrymen, on the western shore of King's Sound. We found our new acquaintance as yesterday, perfectly naked, the raft he was on was in every respect similar to that previously seen upon Roe's Group, with this slight exception, that between each pole several small pieces of wood were inserted so as to make the flooring of the raft almost smooth. Into the large end of the centre, and largest pole, six long pegs were driven, forming a kind of basket in which were secured his means for procuring fire; they consisted of two pieces of white flint, and some tinder rudely manufactured from the inner bark of the papyrus tree. He used in paddling a short spear, sharp at each end, and struck the water alternately on either side; in this primitive manner he contrived to make way with a rapidity that astonished us all. He had two spears on the raft, besides the one he used for paddling; one of them was about 12 feet long, also pointed at each end, though not barbed; and a small stick, similar to that used by other natives for throwing at birds, and small animals. As well as we could understand by his signs, it appeared that he had been anxiously waiting our arrival, and had pushed off from the main to intercept the boat, on our leaving Bathurst Island. We threw him a line, and he immediately comprehended our intention, and its use, by at once making fast to the raft; an instance of confident reliance upon our good intentions, which reflected much credit upon the unsuspicious openness of his own character, and which I should have exceedingly regretted by any act of ours to abuse. PARTING WITH THE NATIVE. Had not the distance and our scant supply of food, rendered such a step imprudent, I should have been very glad to have towed him to the ship. I really believe he would have trusted himself with us, for that or a much longer distance; but this could not be, and therefore, after endeavouring to make him understand that we should sleep some distance to the south, where there was a larger boat, alluding to the ship, we filled his basket with bread, gave him as much water as he could drink, and bidding him farewell, reluctantly cut him adrift: I shall not soon forget the sorrowful expression of his countenance, when this apparently inhospitable act was performed; it did not seem however to quench his regard for his new friends, for so long as we could see him he was hard at work paddling in our wake. I noticed that the beads given him yesterday were gone; this fact, coupled with the smokes seen during the day, satisfied me that he had friends in the neighbourhood, to whom I hoped he would report favourably of his new acquaintances; we had certainly endeavoured to obtain his goodwill. Simple-hearted, trusting savage, farewell! NATIVE SPEARS. The woodcut represents the difference between the spear used by the natives of this district and those of Swan River.

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