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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 659 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 12.

Many birds, as usual, were constantly about the ship, so that Mr Banks killed no less than sixty-two in one day; and what is more remarkable, he caught two forest flies, both of them of the same species, but different from any that have hitherto been described; these probably belonged to the birds, and came with them from the land, which we judged to be at a great distance.  Mr Banks also, about this time, found a large cuttle-fish, which had just been killed by the birds, floating in a mangled condition upon the water; it is very different from the cuttle-fishes that are found in the European seas; for its arms, instead of suckers, were furnished with a double row of very sharp talons, which resemble those of a cat, and, like them, were retractable into a sheath of skin, from which they might be thrust at pleasure.  Of this cuttle-fish we made one of the best soups we had ever tasted.

The albatrosses now began to leave us, and after the 8th there was not one to be seen.  We continued our course without any memorable event till the 24th, when some of the people who were upon the watch in the night reported that they saw a log of wood pass by the ship; and that the sea, which was rather rough, became suddenly as smooth as a mill-pond.  It was a general opinion, that there was land to windward; but I did not think myself at liberty to search for what I was not sure to find; though I judged we were not far from the islands that were discovered by Quiros in 1606.  Our latitude was 22 deg. 11’ S. and longitude 127 deg. 55’ W.[84]

[Footnote 84:  Arrowsmith has laid down Ducies Island very near to this position.  See his map of America.]

On the 25th, about noon, one of the marines, a young fellow about twenty, was placed as sentry at the cabin-door; while he was upon this duty, one of my servants was at the same place preparing to cut a piece of seal-skin into tobacco-pouches:  He had promised one to several of the men, but had refused one to this young fellow, though he had asked him several times; upon which he jocularly threatened to steal one, if it should be in his power.  It happened that the servant, being called hastily away, gave the skin in charge to the centinel, without regarding what had passed between them.  The centinel immediately secured a piece of the skin, which the other missing at his return, grew angry; but, after some altercation; contented himself with taking it away, declaring, that, for so trifling an affair, he would not complain of him to the officers.  But it happened that one of his fellow-soldiers, overhearing the dispute, came to the knowledge of what had happened, and told it to the rest; who, taking it into their heads to stand up for the honour of their corps, reproached the offender with great bitterness, and reviled him in the most opprobrious terms; they exaggerated his offence into a crime of the deepest dye; they said it was a theft by a centry when he was upon duty, and of a thing

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