The Settlement At Port Jackson, By Watkin Tench

 -   Twenty men and a pregnant woman, part of those who had arrived
in the last fleet, suddenly disappeared with their - Page 160
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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 to undergo.

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