- Category: Edward John Eyre - Vol 2 - Ch 3
- Written by Edward John Eyre
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June 2. — As we had made a shorter stage yesterday than I intended to have done, and the quantity of flour we had now remaining was very small, I did not dare to make use of any this morning, and we commenced our journey without breakfast. Being now near Thistle Cove, where I intended to halt for some time, and kill the little foal for food, whilst the other horses were recruiting, and as I hoped to get there early this afternoon, I was anxious to husband our little stock of flour in the hope, that at the little fresh-water lake described by Flinders, as existing there, we should find abundance of the flag-reed for our support. Keeping a little behind the shore for the first hour, we crossed over the sandy ridge bounding it, and upon looking towards the sea, I thought I discovered a boat sailing in the bay. Upon pointing this object out to Wylie, he was of the same opinion with myself, and we at once descended towards the shore, but on our arrival were greatly disappointed at not being able again to see the object of our search. In the course of half an hour, however, whilst resting ourselves and watching the surface of the ocean, it again became visible, and soon after a second appeared. It was now evident that both these were boats, and that we had noticed them only when standing off shore, and the light shone upon their sails, and had lost them when upon the opposite tack. It was equally apparent they were standing out from the main land for the islands. I imagined them to be sealers, who having entered the bay to procure water or firewood, were again steering towards the islands to fish. Having hastily made a fire upon one of the sand-hills, we fired shots, shouted, waved handkerchiefs, and made every signal we could to attract attention, but in vain. They were too far away to see, or too busy to look towards us. The hopes we had entertained were as suddenly disappointed as they had been excited, and we stood silently and sullenly gazing after the boats as they gradually receded from our view.
Whilst thus occupied and brooding over our disappointment, we were surprised to see both boats suddenly lower their sails, and apparently commence fishing. Watching them steadily we now perceived that they were whale boats, and once more our hearts beat with hope, for I felt sure that they must belong to some vessel whaling in the neighbourhood. We now anxiously scanned the horizon in every direction, and at last were delighted beyond measure to perceive to the westward the masts of a large ship, peeping above a rocky island which had heretofore concealed her from our view. She was apparently about six miles from us, and as far as we could judge from so great a distance, seemed to be at anchor near the shore.
Poor Wylie’s joy now knew no bounds, and he leapt and skipped about with delight as he congratulated me once more upon the prospect of getting plenty to eat. I was not less pleased than he was, and almost as absurd, for although the vessel was quietly at anchor so near us, with no sails loose and her boats away, I could not help fearing that she might disappear before we could get to her, or attract the notice of those on board. To prevent such a calamity, I mounted one of the strongest horses and pushed on by myself as rapidly as the heavy nature of the sands would allow, leaving Wylie at his own especial request to bring on the other horses. In a short time I arrived upon the summit of a rocky cliff, opposite to a fine large barque lying at anchor in a well sheltered bay, (which I subsequently named Rossiter Bay, after the captain of the whaler,) immediately east of Lucky Bay, and at less than a quarter of a mile distant from the shore. The people on board appeared to be busily engaged in clearing their cables which were foul, and did not observe me at all. I tied up my horse, therefore, to a bush, and waited for Wylie, who was not long in coming after me, having driven the poor horses at a pace they had not been accustomed to for many a long day. I now made a smoke on the rock where I was, and hailed the vessel, upon which a boat instantly put off, and in a few moments I had the inexpressible pleasure of being again among civilized beings, and of shaking hands with a fellow-countryman in the person of Captain Rossiter, commanding the French Whaler “Mississippi.”
Our story was soon told, and we were received with the greatest kindness and hospitality by the captain.