The run of water that supplied the settlement was observed to be only a drain from a swamp at the head of it; to protect it, therefore, as much as possible from the sun, an order was given out, forbidding the cutting down of any trees within fifty feet of the run, than which there had not yet been a finer found in any one of the coves of the harbour.
April.] As the winter of this hemisphere was approaching, it became absolutely necessary to expedite the buildings intended for the detachment; every carpenter that could be procured amongst the convicts was sent to assist, and as many as could be hired from the transports were employed at the hospital and storehouses. The long-boats of the ships still continued to bring up the cabbage-tree from the lower part of the harbour, and a range of huts was begun on the west side for some of the female convicts.
Our little camp now began to wear the aspect of distress, from the great number of scorbutic patients that were daily seen creeping to and from the hospital tents; and the principal surgeon suggested the expediency of another supply of turtle from Lord Howe Island: but it was generally thought that the season was too far advanced, and the utmost that could have been procured would have made but a very trifling and temporary change in the diet of those afflicted with the disorder.
On the 6th, divine service was performed in the new storehouse, which was covered in, but not sufficiently completed to admit provisions. One hundred feet by twenty-five were the dimensions of this building, which was constructed with great strength; yet the mind was always pained when viewing its reedy combustible covering, remembering the livid flames that had been seen to shoot over every part of this cove: but no other materials could be found to answer the purpose of thatch, and every necessary precaution was taken to guard against accidental fire.
An elderly woman, a convict, having been accused of stealing a flat iron, and the iron being found in her possession, the first moment she was left alone she hung herself to the ridge-pole of her tent, but was fortunately discovered and cut down before it was too late.
Although several thefts were committed by the convicts, yet it was in general remarked, that they conducted themselves with more propriety than could have been expected from people of their description; to prevent, however, if possible, the commission of offences so prejudicial to the welfare of the colony, his excellency signified to the convicts his resolution that the condemnation of any one for robbing the huts or stores should be immediately followed by their execution. Much of their irregularity was perhaps to be ascribed to the intercourse that subsisted, in spite of punishment, between them and the seamen from the ships of war and the transports, who at least one day in the week found means to get on shore with spirits.