Three of these miserable people were some time after met by some officers who were on an excursion to the lagoon between this harbour and Broken Bay; but, notwithstanding their situation, they did not readily give themselves up, and, when questioned, said they wanted nothing more than to live free from labour. These people were sent up to Parramatta, whence, regardless of what they had experienced, and might again suffer, they a second time absconded in a few days after they had been returned. Parties were immediately dispatched from that settlement, and thirteen of those who first absconded were brought in, in a state of deplorable wretchedness, naked, and nearly worn out with hunger. Some of them had subsisted chiefly by sucking the flowering shrubs and wild berries of the woods; and the whole exhibited a picture of misery, that seemed sufficient to deter others from the like extravagant folly. The practice of flying from labour into the woods still, however, prevailing, the governor caused all the convicts who arrived this year to be assembled, and informed them of his determination to put a stop to their absconding from the place where he had appointed them to labour, by sending out parties with orders to fire upon them whenever they should be met with; and he declared that if any were brought in alive, he would either land them on a part of the harbour whence they could not depart, or chain them together with only bread and water for their subsistence, during the remainder of their terms of transportation. He likewise told them, that he had heard they were intending to arm themselves and seize upon the stores (such a design had for some days been reported); but that if they made any attempt of that kind, every man who might be taken should be instantly put to death. Having thus endeavoured to impress them with ideas of certain punishment if they offended in future, he forgave some offences which had been reported by the magistrate, exhorted them to go cheerfully to their labour, and changed their hours of work, agreeably to a request which they had made.
Four hundred and two of these miserable people had received medicines from the hospital in the morning of the day when the governor had thus addressed them. The prevailing disease was a dysentery, which was accompanied by a general debility.