The extreme soundness with which they sleep invites jealousy, or revenge for other wrongs, to arm the hand of the assassin. Several instances of this kind occurred during our acquaintance with them, one of which was too remarkable to pass unnoticed: Yel-lo-way, a native, who seemed endowed with more urbanity than the rest of our friends, having possessed himself (though not, as I could learn, by unfair means) of Noo-roo-ing the wife of Wat-te-wal, another native well known among us, was one night murdered in his sleep by this man, who could not brook the decided preference given by Noo-roo-ing to his rival. This murder he several months after repaid in his own person, his life being taken by Cole-be, one of Yel-lo-way’s friends, who stole upon him in the night, and put him to death while asleep. It was remarkable, that Cole-be found an infant lying in his arms, whom he first removed, before he drove the fatal spear into the father; he afterwards brought the child with him into the town. Yel-lo-way was so much esteemed among us, that no one was sorry he had been so revenged.
Being themselves sensible of the danger they ran in the night, they eagerly besought us to give them puppies of our spaniel and terrier breeds; which we did; and not a family was without one or more of these little watch-dogs, which they considered as invaluable guardians during the night; and were pleased when they found them readily devour the only regular food they had to give them, fish.
The natives on the sea-coast are those with whom we happened to be the most acquainted. Fish is their chief support. Men, women, and children are employed in procuring them; but the means used are different according to the sex; the males always killing them with the fiz-gig, while the females use the hook and line. The fiz-gig is made of the wattle; has a joint in it, fastened by gum; is from fifteen to twenty feet in length, and armed with four barbed prongs; the barb being a piece of bone secured by gum. To each of these prongs they give a particular name; but I never could discover any sensible reason for the distinction.
The lines used by the women are made by themselves of the bark of a small tree which they find in the neighbourhood. Their hooks are made of the mother-of-pearl oyster, which they rub on a stone until it assumes the shape they want. It must be remarked, that these hooks are not barbed; they nevertheless catch fish with them with great facility.
While fishing, the women generally sing; and I have often seen them in their canoes chewing muscles or cockles, or boiled fish, which they spit into the water as a bait. In these canoes, they always carry a small fire laid upon sea-weed or sand; wherewith, when desirous of eating, they find a ready material for dressing their meal. This fire accounted for an appearance which we noticed in many of the women about the small of the back. We at first thought it must have been the effect of stripes; but the situation of them was questionable, and led us to make inquiry, when we found it to be the effect of the fires in the canoes.