« ПредишнаНапред »
be employed in collecting shell-fish. Found a small sandy bay (which I took the liberty of naming after the ship), with coral reefs running out from both extremes, over which a tremendous surf was breaking ; inside the water was quite smooth. Anchored the boat a few fathoms' length from shore ; and, leaving a couple of hands in her, landed with the remainder of the Las
six in number, who were armed with muskets. We found the island (which in length is 28 miles, by 15 in breadth), to be of coral formation, entirely flat, and covered with lofty and thick jungle to within a few yards of the water's edge. Proceeded along-shore towards the N. W. point in search of two rills of water mentioned by Horsburgh in his “ Directory." At an angle of the jungle came suddenly upon a party of the natives lying on their bellies behind the bushes, armed with spears, arrows, and long bows, which they bent at us in a threatening manner. The moment the Lascars saw them they fell back in great consternation, levelling their muskets; and it was with great difficulty we could prevent them from firing ; only the tyndal or coxswain (a Malay) stood by us. We went within a few paces of the natives, and made signs of drinking, The tyndal salaamed to them according to the different oriental modes of salutation. He spoke to them in Malays and other languages. They returned no answer, but continued crouching in their menacing attitude ; and to whichever side we turned, they pointed their weapons towards us. I held out my handkerchief towards them, but they would not come from behind the bushes to take it. I placed it upon the ground, and we retired, in order to allow them to pick it up. Still they moved
I counted 16 strong and able bodied' men opposite to us, many of them very lusty ; and further on another party six or eight in number. Those in front of us were lying in two ranks, with two or three women in the rear; the whole of them completely naked, with the exception of a stout man, about six feet in height, who was standing up along with the women. He wore on his head a red cloth, with white spots, and probably was their chief. They were the most ferocious and wild looking beings that I ever saw; their hair was frizzled, noses flat, and small red eyes ; those parts of their skin which were not besmeared with mud (probably to shield them from the attacks of insects) were a
sooty black; their hideous faces seemed to be painted with red ochre. I may here remark, that the inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, decidedly a negro race, and differing widely from those of the neighbouring continent, are supposed to be the descendants of the survivors from the wreck of an Arab slave ship, said to have been lost here some centuries ago. The Chinese, who occasionally resort to these islands to collect the edible nests of the Hirundo esculenta, affirm that the natives are anthropophagi. One thing, however, is certain, that several boats' crews have fallen into their hands, and have never since been heard of.
At the above stage of the rencontre, the other cutter, with two or three of the officers on board, neared the beach, and seeing what we were about, they called to us to retire a short distance, and allow the tyndal to go up and speak to the savages, for perhaps they were afraid of Europeans. We fell back to the water's edge, and having caused the tyndal to strip to shew them that he was unarmed, he went up to within a few paces of them, and offered them a couple of handkerchiefs, making at the same time signs of drinking ; but upon his attempting to approach nearer, they drew their bows and threatened him. Seeing this we called him off ; and not knowing how to act in this emergency, without advice from the ship, as we had been requested not to use any violence, both cutters returned to the vessel ; and upon reporting what we had seen relative to the hostile disposition evinced by the natives, a subaltern's party of the 45th, with a couple of buglers, and pioneers to fill the water-casks, were ordered to accompany us, in order that we might force our way to the water if necessary. We landed at the same spot we had formerly done, and not seeing any thing of the natives, we advanced along the beach towards the southward ; and, upon turning a point, saw flocks of sand-larks, curlews, &c. Further on we discovered a hut on the edge of the jungle: we went to it, and found it to be about 20 feet in height, of a conical shape, thatched to within a foot and a half of the ground with rattan leaves, with just room to crawl in underneath. The floor inside was strewed with leaves, and there were several cots or sleeping places in different parts; they consisted of four sticks driven into the ground, on which was fixed a bamboo grating Ranged
in a row round the walls were the smoked skulls of a diminutive hog; the canine teeth shorter than in the other species of sus in eastern countries, the jaws fastened together by strips of rattan, (Plate 1. fig. 1.) From the roof a piece of red and white chequered cloth was suspended, seemingly of Madras manufacture. In conical baskets pieces of jack-fruit were found, and a nut re. sembling a chesnut, besides several roots. In a corner I found several large mangroves. At a fire the following shells were roasting : The green Murex tribulus, Trochus telescopium, Cypræa caurica, and several varieties of mussel. The drinking cups seemed to be the nautilus. The weapons were a bow from 6 to 7 feet in length, which is pulled with the feet, and a hand-bow of 4 feet ; the strings are made of the dark red fibres of a tree. The arrows are 3 and 4 feet in length, the upper part of hard white wood, inserted in a stock of cane.
The soldiers shot several of them at a tree ; they penetrated a couple of inches into the solid timber, and it required the joint strength of two men to pull them out, and even then the points were uninjured. Several arrows were found with two, three, and four prongs. No canoes or rafts were seen, and no idols of
description. The hand-nets were formed of the black filaments of
In one of the baskets, carefully wrapped up in a cloth, were the head of a harpoon with two barbs, a Malay chopping knife, and several spike-nails and ring-bolts; these last were probably from the American ship Dover, Captain Duffin, which was wrecked here several years ago.
Naturally concluding that there was water near the hut, we penetrated into the jungle, consisting of Damóner trees, red-wood, the Alexandrian laurel, aloes, rattans, and a very lofty and straight tree, about 15 feet in girth, which, if not too heavy, would answer admirably for masts. Having advanced about 30 or 40 yards from the beach, came to a pool of good water ; but, from its being at an inconvenient distance from the vessel, we retraced our steps, and, on coming opposite the boats, discovered a party of 50 or 60 natives waiting our approach in ambush. We advanced to them, in order to get them to point out a more convenient watering place. So little intention had we of molesting or injuring them, that we had brought with us several looking-glasses, cloth, and baubles to give them. How
ever, we had no sooner got within 15 yards of them, than we were assailed with a shower of arrows, which struck several of us. Our files were then extended to skirmishing order, and we returned with a round of musketry, killed and wounded several of them, fixed bayonets and charged them ; but they knowing the intricacies of the jungle, and being extremely nimble, succeeded in not only effecting their own escape, but also in carrying off the disabled of their party. We were brought up by a deep pool, and saw them making off on the other side, and heard them calling out Yahun, Yahun.
We then continued our march along the beach, and discovered another pool of very good and sweet water immediately opposite the vessel, and just within the skirts of the jungle. The water casks were sent for, a jack was hoisted at the pool (being a preconcerted signal to those on board ; left half of the party there, and proceeded with the remainder along a path into the jungle, expecting that it would lead to a village, where. we might get some fresh stock. · We advanced about a couple of miles without seeing any more huts or natives, and no quadrupeds of any description.
The wood into which we penetrated, and in which the bugle alone kept us together, was one of the most gloomy and dismal that can possibly be conceived. It was indeed,
66 Nemus atrum horrenti umbra." The trees were of vast height, and in many places thickly interwoven with rattans and bushrope. The sun-beams were unable to penetrate the entangled foliage, the atmosphere in consequence bore the semblance of twilight. The air was loaded with a damp and pestilential odour, occasioned by the rotten twigs, leaves, and fruit, with which the ground was thickly strewed, which, besides, was exceedingly swampy. The deathlike stillness was occasionally interrupted by a solitary parrot winging its noisy flight over-head; but owing to the richness of our vegetable canopy, it was almost impossible to gain even an imperfect view of him. Numerous snakes were observed stealing along amongst the bushes. From several we had narrow escapes. Those that we succeeded in killing were all furnished with the poisonous fangs; and many of them bore a striking resemblance to the Coluber prester or Viper, but they were all spotted.
Tired with our unprofitable excursion, we returned to the watering pool, and the casks having been rolled up to it, we sat down to dinner before we commenced filling. Whilst engaged with our repast a strong party of the natives came down upon us, and threw in a shower of arrows, which killed one and wounded severely three of the soldiers. We quickly formed, charged them, and killed and wounded several by our fire, and continued skirmishing with them till sunset ; for they seemed to be exceedingly cunning and revengeful, and made some desperate attempts to cut off the pioneers engaged in filling. After they had completed the watering, we pulled off from Kellie Bay for the ship, with the four boats; but a current at that time setting to the N.E. at the rate of 3 or 4 knots an hour, we found that we could not reach her. The water-boats were anchored in consequence, and the two others went alongside. The ship's anchor was weighed, and dropping down to the longboat and cutter, brought up in 13 fathoms water, and by midnight got on board, laden with bows, arrows, specimens of ambergris, shells, &c.
14th November.—During the night heard the savages shouting and yelling on the beach, seemingly in defiance. At daylight weighed, and stood through Duncan's Great Passage. At 10. A. M. got on a coral reef, not laid down in any chart; least water 5 fathoms, with the following bearings: North end of the Little Andaman S.S. E.; the N.W. point S. W. by S. ; the centre of the South Brother S. E. by E. } E., distant 4 miles ; and the centre of the North Brother E. į N. Both these islands, like the Little Andaman, are flat, and covered with high trees, without a rising ground of any sort on them. Képt away to the northward, and got twelve fathoms all the way between the South Brother and Sisters, and in a few days arrived safely at Rangoon.
PROME, BIRMAN EMPIRE,
15th December 1825.