Twenty Men And A Pregnant Woman, Part Of Those Who Had Arrived
In The Last Fleet, Suddenly Disappeared With Their Clothes, Working Tools,
Bedding, And Their Provisions, For The Ensuing Week, Which Had Been
Just Issued To Them.
The first intelligence heard of them, was from
some convict settlers, who said they had seen them pass, and had enquired
whither they were bound.
To which they had received for answer, "to China."
The extravagance and infatuation of such an attempt was explained to them
by the settlers; but neither derision, nor demonstration could avert them
from pursuing their purpose. It was observed by those who brought in
the account that they had general idea enough of the point of the compass
in which China lies from Port Jackson, to keep in a northerly direction.
An officer with a detachment of troops, was sent in pursuit of them;
but after a harassing march returned without success. In the course
of a week the greatest part of them were either brought back by
different parties who had fallen in with them, or were driven in by famine.
Upon being questioned about the cause of their elopement, those whom hunger
had forced back, did not hesitate to confess that they had been
so grossly deceived as to believe that China might easily be reached,
being not more than 100 miles distant, and separated only by a river.
The others, however, ashamed of the merriment excited at their expense,
said that their reason for running away was on account of being overworked
and harshly treated, and that they preferred a solitary and precarious
existence in the woods to a return to the misery they were compelled
Enter page number
Page 160 of 247
Words from 43289 to 43572