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An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port

As Captain Johnstone and I were on our way home


Sirius's men were now wholly employed, when the weather would admit, in fishing for the settlers; and when the surf was too high, in making fishing-lines and hooks. A party of marines, and all the convicts, were employed in clearing ground for corn and potatoes. On the 24th of July, there being at that time no more than ten or twelve days salt provisions left, at the short allowance before-mentioned, and as birds, though growing scarce, were yet still to be had, it was judged necessary by the lieutenant-governor and council to stop the salt provisions entirely during the time which birds were to be caught; so that the ratio now was three pounds of flour, and one pint of rice per week, or in lieu of the flour, the same quantity of Indian corn meal, or wheat ground, with the husks and bran in the meal.

The people in general were now reduced so low in bodily strength for want of a sufficiency of food, that much work could not be expected; however, it was absolutely necessary that something should be done to get seed into the ground. A considerable portion of the cleared land was planted with potatoes, as the first thing from which we could expect any relief.

On the 4th of August, one of the seamen who had been walking towards the south-east part of the island, casting his eyes towards the sea, _saw a sail_; without waiting a moment to examine her particularly, he ran back with as much speed as possible, calling

out as he ran, A ship! a ship! This news was all over the settlement in a few minutes, and men, women, and children were hastening in different directions to welcome the expected relief. I took a spy glass in my hand, and went to the place from whence the ship had been seen, and there, to my very great happiness, I observed a ship with an English ensign flying, not more than six or seven miles off shore.

The wind at this time blowing strong from south-west, it was not possible for her to appear off Sydney-Bay, she therefore wore, and seemed to intend going under the lee of the island, in order to land a boat there. Captain Johnstone, of the marines, and myself, agreed to walk across the island and receive them. We set off, and when we arrived at the sea-side, it is impossible for me to describe our feelings, when we observed the ship before the wind, and making sail from the island. We did all we could to show ourselves, but they did not think proper to speak to us.

The effect this disappointment had upon every individual on the island will be easier to conceive than to express by words. Every one agreed in opinion, that it would have been much better if no ship had been seen. There surely was an appearance of a great want of the common feelings of humanity in the commander of this ship: for although we afterwards knew that he had no relief for us, he had it in his power to have given us some comfort, some hope of relief being at no great distance; that would, in a considerable degree, have relieved the anxiety of mind under which we had laboured for five months past, and he would not have lost two hours in doing it.

As Captain Johnstone and I were on our way home, lamenting our disappointment, it struck me that this ship must be from Port Jackson, and that the commander was bound to China; had nothing on board for the island, and therefore did not choose to lose any time; but if this conjecture should be just, he must have known from our friends what the probable state of this island was, and therefore might readily suppose that five minutes conversation would have been a vast relief to our anxiety.

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