A few days after, the mystery of the nailing up of the hut, and what had been doing by the Indians upon the island in our absence, was partly explained to us; for about the 15th day after our return, there came a party of Indians to the island in two canoes, who were not a little surprised to find us here again. Among these, was an Indian of the tribe of the Chonos, who live in the neighbourhood of Chiloe. He talked the Spanish language, but with that savage accent which renders it almost unintelligible to any but those who are adepts in that language. He was likewise a cacique, or leading man of his tribe, which authority was confirmed to him by the Spaniards; for he carried the usual badge and mark of distinction by which the Spaniards and their dependants hold their military and civil employments, which is a stick with a silver head. These badges, of which the Indians are very vain, at once serve to retain the cacique in the strongest attachment to the Spanish government, and give him greater weight with his own dependants: yet, withal, he is the merest slave, and has not one thing he can call his own.
This report of our shipwreck (as we supposed) having reached the Chonos, by means of the intermediate tribes, which handed it to one another from those Indians who first visited us, this cacique was either sent to learn the truth of the rumour, or, having first got the intelligence, set out with a view of making some advantage of the wreck, and appropriating such iron-work as he could gather from it to his own use; for that metal is become very valuable to those savages, since their commerce with the Spaniards has taught them to apply it to several purposes. But as the secreting any thing from a rapacious Spanish rey or governor (even an old rusty nail) by any of their Indian dependants, is a very dangerous offence, he was careful to conceal the little prize he had made till he could conveniently carry it away; for in order to make friends of these savages, we had left their hoard untouched.
Our surgeon, Mr Elliot, being master of a few Spanish words, made himself so far understood by the cacique, as to let him know that our intention was to reach some of the Spanish settlements if we could; that we were unacquainted with the best and safest way, and what track was most likely to afford us subsistence in our journey; promising, if he would undertake to conduct us in the barge, he should have it and every thing in it for his trouble as soon as it had served our present occasions. To these conditions the cacique, after much persuasion, at length agreed. Accordingly, having made the best preparation we could, we embarked on board the barge to the number of fifteen, including the cacique, whose name was Martin, and his servant Emanuel. We were, indeed, sixteen when we returned from our last fruitless attempt to get off the island, but we had buried two since that, who perished with hunger; and a marine, having committed