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semicircle of natives trying to encompass
them and cut them off from the hut.
My men retreated to the water's edge in
capital order, and then faced round to the
enemy, for it would have been sure death to
have attempted to cross in the face of so
many of the foe. After a good deal of skirmishing
at this point, a very old Black took a
green bough, and standing a little out from
the rest, made a long harangue to the white
men in his own language, which of course
was just so much Hebrew to them; but
being anxious for a truce they ceased firing.
Another Black who could talk a little English
now came forward, and after a good deal of
jabber, concluded a peace, one condition of
which was that they were to give up everything
they had taken from the Wirrai hut.
Of course we well knew, or at least fully
expected, that this treaty was all hollow on
their side, and like lovers' vows, made only to
be broken; but the truth was, we were glad
enough to get a little respite even though for
ever so short a time. After restoring most
of the things they had stolen, the Blacks drew
off in a body to the other side of the river.

The stockman informed me, that, when they
started on their search, they first crossed the
river, and then made away over to the Collegian,
where they soon espied a few Blacks,
apparently reconnoitring, who, when they
perceived the white men, made signals to
other Blacks beyond them, and who, in like
manner, signalled others still further away:
presently they saw slowly approaching them
a dense black body which the two men who
had not been at Wirrai the day before took
to be the cattle they were in search of, but
which the more experienced stockman at once
declared to be a vast body of the Blacks.
The two men at first laughed at this idea as a
good joke, but were soon confirmed as to its
correctness, when they changed their tone,
and began to think it high time to return.
On, however, they came in a dense body, and
when nearly within gunshot, spread themselves
out, or deployedas our military
brother would I suppose call itand pressing
on in a large semicircle, endeavoured so to
manœuvre, as to cut off the escape of the
retreating army in the direction of the hut as
before related.

The truce, as we had anticipated, proved
a very short one, as you will presently see.
The day following the above incidents, I sent
the stockman and another, to see after the
surviving cattle which our black friends informed
us had got out of the island and gone
across the country to the Murray, which was
true. The men had been gone about three
hours, when about a hundred of the warriors
came up to the hutwithout their spears,
but with plenty of tomahawkspretending
to be good friends. I told the two men who
were working outside, to keep a sharp lookout,
as I suspected their friendship was not of
that description I most coveted or admired;
and being myself scarcely able to move, I sat
down in a corner of the hut by a table, with
a gun close by me, a brace of pistols in my
belt, and another on the table. I told the
Blacks to keep outside the hut; but they,
gradually edging their way in, soon nearly
filled it: and seeing that there was no chance
of keeping them out, except by proceeding
to extremities, I contented myself with watching
their motions with all the coolness I could
command. They began talking very quietly
at first, and I noticed the gentleman I mentioned
who could talk a little English, edging
by little and little towards me, sometimes
talking to his companions and sometimes addressing
me. I pretended not to notice him
particularly, though at the same timewithout
looking directly at himI could see his
eyes rolling from the direction of mine to the
fire-arms like a revolving lamp. Soon the
jabbering became louder and louder (they
were talking themselves into a rage), and I
thought I could hear the names of some of
those who had fallen, made use of. All the
while the above-mentioned black fellow was
shuffling closer and closer to me, until i' faith
I thought it was high time to act my part in
the scene, or give up all thoughts of life.
With all the calmness I was master of, I took
up a pistol from the table, and taking my
English friend by the arm, pointed it at his
head, and told him to order all his companions
to quit the hut; he shook like an aspen
leaf, and turned as white as a Black well can,
and ordered them to go out, which they immediately
did without a word; I then led him
after them, and bade them leave the place, and
return to their camp, which they likewise did.

I look upon that as about the narrowest
escape I ever had; for the Blacks have since
told me that they were on the point of
making a rush upon us, when it was providentially
stopped by the timely proceeding
mentioned. Had they done so, nothing of
course could have saved us. Next day three
or four hundred of them passed the hut in
dead silence; and not one of them called.
They were all fully armed and painted with
red ochre (their uniform for war), and I conjectured
they were up to some mischief, but
what I could not tell.

In about a week we again had the pleasure
of seeing them coming in great numbers, and
camping in an island about a mile off. From
certain signs which experience had taught
us, we were well assured that they intended
making a grand attack upon our hut. I had
no one living at Wirrai then; and as there
were only four of us at Barratta, viz., H.,
(who had just arrived), myself and two men,
(the two who had been sent after the cattle,
were still away,) and wishing to give the
Blacks a severe lesson, we sent to the next
station for as many men as they could spare.

The man we sent had only just reached the
station, when the Commissioner of the district
chanced also to arrive there. Now the