- Category: John McDouall Stuart - Sixth Expedition
- Written by John McDouall Stuart
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Sunday, 3rd August, Kekwick's Large Springs. Last evening, just as the sun was dipping, five natives made their appearance, armed with spears, and came marching boldly up to within eighty yards of the camp, where they were met by Mr. Kekwick and others of the party who had advanced to meet them. They were all young men, small, and very thin. Seeing so many approaching them they soon went off. They were all smeared over with burnt grass, charcoal, or some other substance of that description. This morning, shortly after sunrise, the same five again made their appearance. I went up to them to see what they wanted. Saw that they had painted their bodies with white stripes ready for war. As it is my intention to pass peaceably through the different tribes, I endeavoured to make friends with them by showing them we intended them no harm if they will leave us alone. One of them had a curious fish spear, which he seemed inclined to part with, and I sent Mr. Kekwick to get some fish-hooks to exchange with him, which he readily did; we then left them. They continuing a longer time than I wished, and gradually approaching nearer to our camp, thinking perhaps they really did not wish to part with the spear, I sent Mr. Kekwick back with it to them to see if that was what they wanted, and to take the fish-hooks from them. But when they saw what was intended, they gave back the spear and retained the hooks. They offered another with a stone head upon the same terms, which was accepted. Mr. Kekwick had a deal of trouble before he could get them to move off, when they were joined by another, and then went off by twos. In a short time they set fire to the grass all round us to try to burn us out. Two of them came again close to the camp under pretence of looking for game before the fire, at the same time setting fire to the grass closer to us. But Mr. Kekwick and one of the others, seeing their intention, ran up to them, who, on their approach, ran off, setting fire to the grass as they went along, which gave us a deal of trouble in putting out, as we wished to save as much feed for the horses as will do for them till to-morrow morning; we have managed that, if they do not come and set fire to it again. If they do I shall be compelled to use preventive means with them, for I can stand it no longer; they must be taught a lesson that we possess a little more power than they anticipate. I would have moved on, but some of my horses are so ill that they are unable to travel. If the natives we have seen to-day are a sample of those that inhabit this country, they are certainly the smallest and most miserable race of men that I have ever seen. In height about five feet, their arms and legs remarkably thin, they do not seem to want the inclination of doing mischief if they could get an opportunity, but they find we are rather too watchful to give them a chance. From their manner I have no doubt there were many more concealed, who intended attacking us under cover of the smoke--indeed if they see us unprepared they may yet do it before evening. At sundown they have not again made their appearance. Wind, south.