Many of them had run so fast that their noses were bleeding, & they talked with such rapidity that their mouths frothed, & as they were all painted white red & black they looked like so many demoniacs who had been fighting. We started, accompanied by 12 canoes, each holding 4 or 5 people, & turning down Ponsonby, soon left them far behind. — Jemmy Button now perfectly knew the way & he guided us to a quiet cove where his family used formerly to reside. We were sorry to find that Jemmy had quite forgotten his language, that is as far as talking, he could however understand a little of what was said. It was pitiable, but laughable, to hear him talk to his brother in English & ask him in Spanish whether he understood it.
I do not suppose, any person exists with such a small stock of language as poor Jemmy, his own language forgotten, & his English ornamented with a few Spanish words, almost unintelligible. Jemmy heard that his father was dead; but as he had had a "dream in his head" to that effect, he seemed to expect it & not much care about it. He comforted himself with the natural reflection "me no help it". Jemmy could never find out any particulars about his father, as it is their constant habit, never to mention the dead. We believe they are buried high up in the woods, anyhow, Jemmy will not eat land-birds, because they live on dead men. This is one out of many instances where his prejudices are recollected, although language forgotten.
When we arrived at Woolliah (Jemmy’s Cove) we found it far better suited for our purposes, than any place we had hitherto seen. There was a considerable space of cleared & rich ground, & doubtless European vegetables, would flourish well.
We found a strange family living there, & having made them friends, they, in the evening, sent a canoe to Jemmy’s relations. We remained in this place till the 27th, during which the labours of our little colony commenced.
Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While embarking our tents and cooking utensils, several natives came running over the hills towards us, breathless with haste, perspiring violently, and bleeding at the nose. Startled at their appearance, we thought they had been fighting; but it appeared in a few moments, that having heard of our arrival, they lost not a moment in hurrying across the hills from a place near Woollӯa, and that the bloody noses which had surprised us were caused by the exertion of running. This effect has been noticed among the New Hollanders, I believe the islanders of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Esquimaux, and probably others; but to our party it was then a novelty, and rather alarming.
Scarcely had we stowed the boats and embarked, before canoes began to appear in every direction, in each of which was a stentor hailing us at the top of his voice. Faint sounds of deep voices were heard in the distance, and around us echoes to the shouts of our nearer friends began to reverberate, and warned me to hasten away before our movements should be-come impeded by the number of canoes which I knew would soon throng around us. Although now among natives who seemed to be friendly, and to whom Jemmy and York contrived to explain the motives of our visit, it was still highly necessary to be on our guard. Of those men and boys who ran over the hills to us, all were of Jemmy's tribe excepting one man, whom he called an Oens-man; but it was evident, from his own description, that the man belonged to the Yapoo, or eastern Tekeenica tribe, and was living in safety among his usual enemies, as a hostage for the security of a man belonging to Jemmy's tribe who was staying among the eastern people.
As we steered out of the cove in which our boats had been sheltered, a striking scene opened: beyond a lake-like expanse of deep blue water, mountains rose abruptly to a great height, and on their icy summits the sun's early rays glittered as if on a mirror. Immediately round us were mountainous eminences, and dark cliffy precipices which cast a very deep shadow over the still water beneath them. In the distant west, an opening appeared where no land could be seen; and to the south was a cheerful sunny woodland, sloping gradually down to the Murray Narrow, at that moment almost undistinguishable. As our boats became visible to the natives, who were eagerly paddling towards the cove from every direction, hoarse shouts arose, and, echoed about by the cliffs, seemed to be a continual cheer. In a very short time there were thirty or forty canoes in our train, each full of natives, each with a column of blue smoke rising from the fire amidships, and almost all the men in them shouting at the full power of their deep sonorous voices. As we pursued a winding course around the bases of high rocks or between islets covered with wood, continual additions were made to our attendants; and the day being very fine, without a breeze to ruffle the water, it was a scene which carried one's thoughts to the South Sea Islands, but in Tierra del Fuego almost appeared like a dream. After a few hours (pulling hard to keep a-head of our train) we reached Woollӯa, and selected a clear space favourably situated for our encampment, landed, marked a boundary-line, placed sentries, and made the various arrangements necessary for receiving the anticipated visits of some hundred natives. We had time to do all this quietly, as our boats had distanced their pursuers several miles, while running from the Murray Narrow before a favourable breeze which sprung up, and, to our joy, filled every sail.
We were much pleased by the situation of Woollӯa, and Jemmy was very proud of the praises bestowed upon his land. Rising gently from the water-side, there are considerable spaces of clear pasture land, well watered by brooks, and backed by hills of moderate height, where we afterwards found woods of the finest timber trees in the country. Rich grass and some beautiful flowers, which none of us had ever seen, pleased us when we landed, and augured well for the growth of our garden seeds.
At our first approach, only a few natives appeared, who were not of Jemmy's family. The women ran away and hid themselves, but Jemmy and York contrived (with difficulty) to make the men comprehend the reason of our visit; and their awkward explanation, helped by a few presents, gradually put them at ease. They soon understood our meaning when we pointed to the boundary-line which they were not to pass. This line was on the shore between our tents and the grassland; immediately behind the tents was a good landing-place, always sheltered, where our boats were kept in readiness in case of any sudden necessity.
Soon after our arrangements were made, the canoes which had been following us began to arrive; but, much to my satisfaction, the natives landed in coves at some distance from us, where the women remained with the canoes while the men and boys came overland to our little camp. This was very favourable for us, because it divided their numbers and left our boats undisturbed. We had only to guard our front, instead of being obliged to look out all round, as I had expected; and really it would have been no trifling affair to watch the pilfering hands and feet of some hundred natives, while many of our own party (altogether only thirty in number) were occupied at a distance, cutting wood, digging ground for a garden, or making wigwams for Matthews, York, and Jemmy.
As the natives thronged to our boundary-line (a mere mark made with a spade on the ground), it was at first difficult to keep them back without using force; but by good temper on the part of our men, by distributing several presents, and by the broken Fuegian explanations of our dark-coloured shipmates, we succeeded in getting the natives squatted on their hams around the line, and obtaining influence enough over them to prevent their encroaching.
Canoes continued to arrive; their owners hauled them ashore on the beach, sent the women and children to old wigwams at a little distance, and hastened themselves to see the strangers. While I was engaged in watching the proceedings at our encampment, and poor Jemmy was getting out of temper at the quizzing he had to endure on account of his countrymen, whom he had extolled so highly until in sight, a deep voice was heard shouting from a canoe more than a mile distant: up started Jemmy from a bag full of nails and tools which he was distributing, leaving them to be scrambled for by those nearest, and, upon a repetition of the shout, exclaimed "My brother!" He then told me that it was his eldest brother's voice, and perched himself on a large stone to watch the canoe, which approached slowly, being small and loaded with several people. When it arrived, instead of an eager meeting, there was a cautious circumspection which astonished us. Jemmy walked slowly to meet the party, consisting of his mother, two sisters, and four brothers. The old woman hardly looked at him before she hastened away to secure her canoe and hide her property, all she possessed—a basket containing tinder, fire-stone, paint, &c., and a bundle of fish. The girls ran off with her without even looking at Jemmy; and the brothers (a man and three boys) stood still, stared, walked up to Jemmy, and all round him, without uttering a word. Animals when they meet show far more animation and anxiety than was displayed at this meeting. Jemmy was evidently much mortified, and to add to his confusion and disappointment, as well as my own, he was unable to talk to his brothers, except by broken sentences, in which English predominated. After a few minutes had elapsed, his elder brother began to talk to him; but although Jemmy understood what was said, he could not reply. York and Fuegia were able to understand some words, but could not or did not choose to speak.This first evening of our stay at Woollӯa was rather an anxious one; for although the natives seemed inclined to be quite friendly, and they all left us at sunset, according to their invariable practice, it was hard to say what mischief might not be planned by so numerous a party, fancying, as they probably would, that we were inferior to them in strength, because so few in number. Jemmy passed the evening with his mother and brothers, in their wigwam, but returned to us to sleep.