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An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port

Just recovered from the small pox


In

the course of the little excursions of our boats' crews this afternoon, a native woman was discovered, concealing herself from our sight in the long grass, which was at this time very wet, and I should have thought very uncomfortable to a poor naked creature. She had, before the arrival of our boats at this beach, been, with some of her friends, employed in fishing for their daily food, but were upon their approach alarmed, and they had all made their escape, except this miserable girl, who had just recovered from the small-pox, and was very weak, and unable, from a swelling in one of her knees, to get off to any distance: she therefore crept off, and concealed herself in the best manner she could among the grass, not twenty yards from the spot on which we had placed our tents. She was discovered by some person who having fired at and shot a hawk from a tree right over her, terrified her so much that she cried out and discovered herself. Information was immediately brought to the governor, and we all went to see this unhappy girl, whom we found, as I have already observed, just recovered from the small-pox, and lame: she appeared to be about 17 or 18 years of age, and had covered her debilitated and naked body with the wet grass, having no other means of hiding herself; she was very much frightened on our approaching her, and shed many tears, with piteous lamentations: we understood none of her expressions, but felt much concern at the distress she seemed to suffer; we endeavoured
all in our power to make her easy, and with the assistance of a few expressions which had been collected from poor Ara-ba-noo while he was alive, we soothed her distress a little, and the sailors were immediately ordered to bring up some fire, which we placed before her: we pulled some grass, dried it by the fire, and spread round her to keep her warm; then we shot some birds, such as hawks, crows, and gulls, skinned them, and laid them on the fire to broil, together with some fish, which she eat; we then gave her water, of which she seemed to be much in want, for when the word _Baa-do_ was mentioned, which was their expression for water, she put her tongue out to show how very dry her mouth was; and indeed from its appearance and colour, she had a considerable degree of fever on her.

Before we retired to rest for the night, we saw her again, and got some fire-wood laid within her reach, with which she might, in the course of the night, recruit her fire; we also cut a large quantity of grass, dried it, covered her well, and left her to her repose, which, from her situation, I conjecture was not very comfortable or refreshing.

Next morning we visited her again; she had now got pretty much the better of her fears, and frequently called to her friends, who had left her, and who, we knew, could be at no great distance from her; she repeated their names in a very loud and shrill voice, and with much apparent anxiety and concern for the little notice they took of her intreaties to return: for we imagined, in all she said when calling on them, she was informing them, that the strangers were not enemies, but friends; however, all her endeavours to bring them back were ineffectual, while we remained with her; but we were no sooner gone from the beach, than we saw some of them come out of the wood; and as there were two canoes on the shore belonging to this party, they launched one into the water, and went away.

We employed this day in going up the south branch which the governor named Pitt Water, and so much of the day was spent in examining it, that when we returned down near the place where we had passed the last night, it was thought too late to proceed farther; we therefore encamped on the same spot. Our tents were no sooner up, than we went to visit our young female friend, whom we found in a little bark hut upon the beach; this hut was the place in which she and her friends were enjoying themselves, when the arrival of our boat alarmed them. She was not alone, as before, but had with her a female child, about two years old, and as fine a little infant of that age as I ever saw; but upon our approach (the night being cold and rainy, and the child terrified exceedingly) she was lying with her elbows and knees on the ground, covering the child from our sight with her body, or probably sheltering it from the weather, but I rather think on account of its fears.


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