Both public and private stock appeared to be threatened with destruction. The sheep and goats in the colony were not numbered far within one thousand. The cows had increased that species of stock by thirteen calves, which were produced in the last year. The exact number of hogs was not, nor could it well be ascertained; it must, however, have been considerable, as every industrious convict had been able to keep one or more breeding sows. All this wore, indeed, the appearance of a resource; yet what would it all have been (admitting that an equal partition had been made) when distributed among upwards of three thousand people? But an equal partition of private stock, as most of this was such, could not have been expected. The officers holding this stock in their own hands would certainly take care to keep it there, and from it would naturally supply their own people. How far, in an hour of such distress, the convicts would have sat quietly down on their return from labouring in the field to their scanty portion of bread and water, and looked patiently on while others were keeping want and hunger at a distance by the daily enjoyment of a comfortable meal of fresh viands? was a question with many who thought of their situation.
Happily, however, for all descriptions of people, they were not this time to be put to the trial.
On Saturday the 8th, at the critical moment when the doors of the provision-store had closed, and the convicts had received their last allowance of the salt provisions which remained, the signal for a sail was made at the South Head. We expected a ship from India in pursuance of the contract entered into with Mr. Bampton, who had been absent from us nearly eleven months. We also looked daily for the return of the Daedalus. We hoped for a ship from England. But whence the ship came for which the signal had been made was to remain for some time unknown. One boat alone, with an officer, went down; (in compliance with an order which had some days before been given to that purpose;) and on its return at night we were told that a ship with English colours flying had stood into the harbour as far as Middle-head; but meeting with a heavy squall of wind at south, in which she split her fore-top-sail, was compelled again to put to sea. It was conjectured that she was a stranger; for if any person on board her had had any knowledge of the harbour, she might have been run with much ease from the Middle-head into safety in Spring-cove. The officer who went down (Captain Johnston) unfortunately could not board her, such a sea ran within the Heads; and the wind blew with so much violence as to render any attempt to get near her extremely dangerous.
At night the wind increased with much rain, and morning was anxiously looked for, to tell us where and who the stranger was. Nothing more however was known of her during that day (Sunday), the same causes as those of the preceding day operating against our receiving any other information, than that she was to be seen from the flagstaff, whence in the evening word was brought up over land, that another vessel, a brig, was in sight.