5th February 1833

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Near Point Divide we saw a large fire, and approached the spot guardedly, supposing that a number of Fuegians must be there. No one appeared; but still the fire burned brightly, and we began to think there might be an ambush, or that the natives who had been there had fled, but were still in the neighbourhood. Approaching nearer, we found that the fire was in a large tree, whose trunk it had almost consumed. Judging from the slow rate at which the tree burned while we were present, I should say it had been on fire two or three days, and that the frequent heavy rain had prevented the flames from making head. Had the weather been some time dry, the adjoining woodland would have blazed, and, as the mountain side is steep and covered with trees, the conflagration would have been immense. At Point Divide the slate rock seemed to be of excellent quality, fit for roofing; but when will roofing slates be required in Tierra del Fuego? Perhaps though sooner than we suppose; for the accidental discovery of a valuable mine might effect great changes.

On the south shore, nearly opposite to Shingle Point, we met a large party of natives, among whom those who disturbed us at that place as we passed westward were recognized. All of them appeared in full dress, being bedaubed with red and white paint, and ornamented, after their fashion, with feathers and the down of geese. One of their women was noticed by several among us as being far from ill-looking: her features were regular, and, excepting a deficiency of hair on the eyebrow, and rather thick lips, the contour of her face was sufficiently good to have been mistaken for that of a handsome gipsy.

What her figure might be, a loose linen garment, evidently one that had belonged to Fuegia Basket, prevented our noticing. The sight of this piece of linen, several bits of ribbon, and some scraps of red cloth, apparently quite recently obtained, made me feel very anxious about Matthews and his party: there was also an air of almost defiance among these people, which looked as if they knew that harm had been done, and that they were ready to stand on the defensive if any such attack as they expected were put into execution. Passing therefore hastily on, we went as far as the light admitted.

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