On our people getting into the boat, and shoving her off into deep water, they did not seem pleased, but tried to persuade them to land again. Finding they could not succeed, one of them threw his piece of fire-wood at them; but it falling short, the matter was treated as a joke, and laughed at. On this, another ran into the water, and threw his also, but it likewise fell short: he then took the hooked stick, and slipping off the hook, which it seems was only lashed or tied on, produced a spear, with which he ran up to the middle in water, and threw at them by hand. It passed over the centre of the boat, about a foot and a half above the gunwale, but touched no one.
After this impudent and unprovoked attack, Mr. Flinders snapped his gun at the man who threw the spear; but the flint having received some wet when it was laid upon the beach, it missed fire. It was loaded with buck shot, and he was strongly tempted to fire among the cluster of natives who were standing upon the beach; but, recollecting himself, he tried again at the offender, who was still standing in the water, with his back turned toward them, and calling to his companions. The gun again missed fire.
While this was transacting, the major part of the natives were observing Mr. Flinders’s motions with much unconcern. On the third trial, however, it went off. The man in the water fell flat, as did every individual among them; but those on shore rose almost instantaneously, and scrambled away toward the bank, some upright, and some upon their hands and feet. One of the people in the boat then fired among them, and they fell again upon their faces; but they all got up, and flew immediately behind the bank into the wood. Even the man in the water rose up, and made off, but his progress was much slower than that of the others, and he stooped a great deal, carrying one hand behind him upon his back. From hence it was conjectured that he was wounded, and he looked every now and then over his shoulder, as if expecting to see the spear that he supposed must be sticking in his back.* According to Bong-ree’s account, another native had his arm broken by the second shot.
[* A certain proof of his total ignorance of the effect of fire arms, he thus unhappily being the first victim to their use in this part of the country.]
As this very wanton attack had unfortunately obliged the party to fire upon these people, in order to maintain that superiority which they meant upon all occasions to assert, Mr. Flinders thought it might be the means of preventing much future mischief, to give them a more extensive idea of his power, and thereby deter them from any future attempt in his intercourse with them. For as this bay was to be examined, and the leak which the sloop had sprung was to be stopped here, it became more than probable that they would often meet; and he was well satisfied of the great influence which the awe of a superior power has in savages, to create respect, and render their communications with each other friendly.