They Were All
Well Made, Good Looking Men; And One Young Man, Whose Body Was Coloured
Red, Was Even Handsome, Although His Expression Was Somewhat Wild And
All of them seemed to have been circumcised.
Charley told me
afterwards, that, at my first approach, some of them held their
bommerangs ready to throw, but I do not think that it was more than a
simple attitude of defence, in case I should have proved the aggressor.
On my inquiring about water, they pointed in the direction which we were
going, and seemed to say, "It is far, but it is large; Baco! Baco!
Umara!" they frequently repeated with emphasis. John also told me that an
old man had made signs of a large water, but not fit to drink, and was
very anxious for us to change our course, Mr. Roper had understood the
same. But, as long as we were ignorant what was before us, the pantomime
and words of the natives enabled us to form but very vague and hopeless
guesses. It was easy to understand them, when we knew the reality. These
natives must have had some intercourse with white men, or Malays, for
they knew the use of a knife, and valued it so highly, that one of them
offered a gin for one. They appeared equally acquainted with the use of
our fire-arms. No doubt they had seen the Malays, and probably some had
accompanied them to the islands; as it is a common custom of the Malays
to take natives home with them, that they may become friendly to them
when fishing for trepang at this part of the gulf.
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