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Voyages in the Southern Hemisphere, Vol. IVoyaging Accounts
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King George's Island


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King George's Island (continued)

scarcely a ship’s length wide, and there they had thirteen fathom, with a bottom of coral rock. We stood close in with the ships, and saw hundreds of the savages, ranged in very good order, and standing up to their waists in water; they were all armed in the same manner as those that we had seen at the other islands, and one of them carried a piece of mat fastened to the top of a pole, which we imagined was an ensign. They made a most hideous and incessant noise, and in a short time many large canoes came down the lake to join them. Our boats were still out, and the people on board them made all the signs of friendship that they could invent, upon which some of the canoes came through the inlet and drew near them. We now began to hope that a friendly intercourse might be established; but we soon discovered that the Indians had no other design than to haul the boats on shore: many of them leaped off the rocks, and swam to them; and one of them got into that which belonged to the Tamar, and in the twinkling of an eye seized a seaman’s jacket, and jumping overboard with it, never once appeared above water till he was close in shore among his companions. Another of them got hold of a midshipman’s hat, but not knowing how to take it off, he pulled it downward instead of lifting it up; so that the owner had time to prevent its being taken away, otherwise it would probably have disappeared as suddenly as the jacket; our men bore all this with much patience, and the Indians seemed to triumph in their impunity.

About noon, finding there was no anchorage here, I bore away and steered along the shore to the westermost point of the island: the boats immediately followed us, and kept sounding close to the beach, but could get no ground.

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© Derived from Volume I of the London 1773 Edition: National Library of Australia call no. FERG 7243, page 98, 2004
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