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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 661 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 17.

We were not suffered to be in the same wigwam with the cacique and his wife, which, if we had had any countenance from Captain Cheap, would not have been refused.  What we had made for ourselves was in such a bungling manner, that it scarce deserved the name even of this wretched sort of habitation.  But our untoward circumstances now found some relief in the arrival of the Indians we waited for, who brought with them some seal, a small portion of which fell to our share.  A night or two after, they sent out some of their young men, who procured us a quantity of a very delicate kind of birds, called shags and cormorants.  Their manner of taking these birds resembles something a sport called bat-fowling.  They find out their haunts among the rocks and cliffs in the night, when, taking with them torches made of the bark of the birch tree, which is common here, and grows to a very large size, (this bark has a very unctuous qaality, and emits a bright and clear light, and in the northern parts of America is used frequently instead of a candle) they bring the boat’s side as near as possible to the rocks, under the roosting-places of these birds, then waving their lights backwards and forwards, the birds are dazzled and confounded so as to fall into the canoe, where they are instantly knocked on the head with a short stick the Indians take with them for that purpose.

Seal are taken in some less-frequented parts of these coasts with great ease; but when their haunts have been two or three times disturbed, they soon learn to provide for their safety, by repairing to the water upon the first alarm.  This is the case with them hereabouts; but as they frequently raise their heads above water, either to breathe or look about them, I have seen an Indian at this interval throw his lance with such dexterity, as to strike the animal through both its eyes at a great distance; and it is very seldom that they miss their aim.

As we were wholly unacquainted with these methods of providing food for ourselves, and were without arms and ammunition, we were drove to the utmost straits, and found ourselves rather in worse condition than we had been at any time before; for the Indians, having now nothing to fear from us, we found we had nothing to expect from them upon any other motive.  Accordingly, if they ever did relieve us, it was through caprice; for at most times, they would shew themselves unconcerned at our greatest distresses.  But the good Indian women, whose friendship I had experienced before, continued, from time to time, their good offices to me.  Though I was not suffered to enter their wigwams, they would find opportunities of throwing in my way such scraps as they could secrete from their husbands.  The obligation I was under to them on this account is great, as the hazard they ran in conferring these favours was little less than death.  The men, unrestrained by any laws or ties of conscience in the management of their own families, exercise

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