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parture of Lord Amherst,) that they might have been from Batavia to our relief.

The small flag (belonging to the embassy) was brought down and displayed on the look-out rock; the strangers, each, immediately hoisted some flag at their mast-heads. Anxious to know still more about them, Mr. Sykes was allowed to advance with the union-jack, accompanied by some more of the young gentlemen, along the strand, to a considerable distance; and soon after some of their party, with a flag, set off to meet them. As they mutually approached, the Malays dropped a little in the rear of their flagbearer, and laid down their arms; ours also fell astern, and the two ancients (or colour men), wading into a creek which separated them, cautiously met each other. The Malay salamed a good deal: many fine Yorkshire bows were made on the other side: shaking hands was the next ceremony, and then, joining flags, they walked up arm and arm to the place where the captain and several others were stationed. Satisfied now they must be friends sent to our assistance, they were welcomed with cheers, and every countenance was gladdened. But our joy was of short duration; for, although their flag was laid submissively at the captain's feet, and all were sufficiently civil in their deportment, yet they turned out to be mere wanderers, employed gathering a sort of seaweed, found on the coast of these (but in still greater abundance among the Pelew) islands, said by some to be an article of commerce with the Chinese epicures, who use it like the bird-nests in their


All this was made out chiefly by signs, added to a few Malay words which some understood.

Mr. Hay, with his division armed, proceeded down to their anchorage, himself and some other officers, going on board with their Rajah, (as they styled him) who expressed a great desire to see the captain on board, and sent him a present of a piece of fish, and some cocoa-nut milk. During the night many schemes were proposed as to the best mode of negotiating with these people. Some thought that, by the hope of reward, they might be induced to carry part of us to Java, and our four remaining boats would then be equal to the conveyance of the rest. Others, adverting to the treacherous character of the Malays, and the great temptation to murder us when in their power, from that sort of property still in our possession, and to then of great value, considered it safest to seize upon and disarm them, carrying ourselves to Batavia, and then most amply to remunerate them for any inconvenience they might have sustained from being pressed into the service.

The morning of Thursday, the 27th, however, perfectly relieved us from any further discussion on this subject, the Rajah and his suite having proceeded to plunder the wreck, which by this time they had espied. It is probable they were not certain of our real situation on the first evening, but might have supposed, from seeing the uniforms, colours, and other military appearance, that some settlement, as at Minto, (in the island of Banca) had been esta


blished there; and this may also account for their civility in the first instance; for, from the moment their harpy-like spirit was excited by the wreck, and they saw our real condition, there were no more offerings of fish, or of cocoa-nut milk.

To have sent the boats openly to attack them was judged impolitic; it would only have driven them off for a moment, and put them on their guard against surprise by night, should it be thought necessary, in a day or two, to do so. They could deprive us of little; for the copper bolts and iron work, which they were now most interested about, were not to us of material importance.

We had the day before moved the boats into another cove, more out of sight (from the overspreading branches of the trees,) and safer in case of attack, being commanded by two strong little ports (one having a rude draw-bridge,) erected on the rocks immediately above it, and wattled in, where an officer and piquet were nightly placed; and a new serpentine path was cut down to this inlet, communicating with our main position aloft.

On Friday, the 28th, the Malays were still employed on the wreck. A boat approached us in the forenoon; but on the gig going out to meet it, they refused to correspond, and returned to their party. No relief having appeared from Batavia, and the period being elapsed at which (as was now thought) we had reason to expect it, measures were taken, by repairing the launch and constructing a firm raft, to give us additional powers of transporting our

selves from our present abode, before our stock of provisions was entirely exhausted.

On Saturday, the 1st of March, the Malays acquired a great acces sion of strength, by the arrival of 14 more proas from the northward (probably of the old party,) who joined in breaking up the remains of the wreck.

At day-light, on Sunday, the 2d, still greater force having joined them during the night, the pirates (leaving a number at work on the wreck) advanced, with upwards of twenty of their heaviest vessels, towards our landing-place; fired one of their patereroes; beat their gongs; and, making a hideous yelling noise, they anchored in a line, about a cable's length from our cove. We were instantly under arms, the party covering the boats strengthened, and scouts sent out to watch their motions, as some of their boats had gone up the creek, at the back of our position; and to beat about, lest any should be lying in ambush from the land. About this time, the old Malay prisoner, who was under charge of the sentries at the well, and who had been incautiously trusted by them to cut some wood for the fire, hearing the howling of his tribe, left his wounded comrade to shift for himself, ran off into the wood, and escaped, carrying with him his hatchet. Finding, after waiting a short time in this state of preparation, that they made no attempt to land, an officer was sent a little outside the cove in a canoe, waving in a friendly manner, to try how they would act. After some deliberation, one of their boats, with several men armed

with creeses, or their crooked daggers, approached: here, as usual, little could be made out, except a display of their marauding spirit, by taking a fancy to the shirt and trowsers of one of the young gentlemen in the canoe; but, on his refusing to give them up, they used no force.

A letter was now written, and addressed to the chief authority at Minto, a small settlement on the northwest point of Banca, stating the situation in which we were placed, and requesting him to forward, if in his power, one or two small vessels to us, with a little bread and salt provisions, and some ammunition. Again the officer went out in the canoe, and was again met by the Malay boat. This letter was given to them, the word Minto repeatedly pronounced, (which they seemed to understand,) the direction pointed out, and signs made that on their return with an answer they should be rewarded with abundance of dollars, shewing them one as a specimen. This was done more to try them than with any hope of their performing the service; for, although a boat went down to Pulo Chalacca, (where they appeared to have somebody in superior authority,) yet none took the direction of Banca. Meantime their force rapidly increased, their proas and boats of different sizes amounting to fifty. The larger had from sixteen to twenty men; the smaller about seven or eight; so that, averaging even at the lowest ten each, they had fully five hundred men. The wreck seemed now nearly exhausted, and appeared to be a very secondary object, knowing the chief booty must be in our

possession; and they blockaded us with increased rigour, drawing closer into the cove, more espe cially at high water, fearful less our boats, being afloat at that period, should push out and escape them. In the afternoon some of the Rajah's people (whom we at first considered our friends) made their appearance, as if seeking a parley; and on communicating with them, gave us to understand by signs, and as many words as could be made out, that all the Malays, except their party, were extremely hostile to us; that it was their determination to attack us that night; and urging also that some of their people should sleep up the hill, in order to protect us. Their former conduct and present connexions displayed so evidently the treachery of this offer, that it is needless to say it was rejected, giving them to understand we could trust to ourselves. They immediately returned to their gang, who certainly assumed a most menacing attitude. In the evening, when the officers and men were assembled as usual under arms, in order to inspect them, and settle the watches for the night, the captain spoke to them with much animation, almost verbatim as follows: "My lads, you must all have observed this day, as well as myself, the great increase of the enemy's force, for enemies we must now consider them, and the threatening posture they have assumed. have, on various grounds, strong reason to believe they will attack us this night. I do not wish to conceal our real state, because 1 think there is not a man here who is afraid to face any sort of danger.



We are now strongly fenced in, and our position in all respects so good, that, armed as we are, we ought to make a formidable defence against even regular troops: what then would be thought of us, if we allowed ourselves to be surprised by a set of naked savages, with their spears and creeses? It is true they have swivels in their boats, but they cannot act here. I have not observed that they have any matchlocks or muskets; but, if they have, so have we. I do not wish to deceive you as to the means of resistance in our power. When we were first thrown together on shore, we were almost defenceless; seventy-five ballcartridges only could be mustered: we have now sixteen hundred! They cannot, I believe, send up more than five hundred men; but, with two hundred such as now stand around me, I do not fear a thousand, nay, fifteen hundred of them! I have the fullest confidence we shall beat them; the pike-men standing firm, we can give them such a volley of musketry as they will be little prepared for; and, when we find they are thrown into confusion, we'll sally out among them, chase them into the water, and ten to one but we secure their vessels. Let every man, therefore, be on the alert with his arms in his hands; and, should these barbarians this night attempt our hill, I trust we shall convince them that they are dealing with Britons." Perhaps three jollier hurras were never given than at the conclusion of this short but welltimed address. The woods fairly echoed again; whilst the piquet at the cove, and those stationed at

the wells, the instant it caught their ear, instinctively joined their sympathetic cheers to the general


There was something like unity and concord in such a sound, (one neither resembling the feeble shout nor savage yell,) which, rung in the ears of these gentlemen, no doubt had its effect; for about this time (9 P.M.) they were observed making signals with lights to some of their tribe behind the islet. If ever seamen or marines had a strong inducement to fight, it was on the present occasion, for every thing conduced to animate them. The feeling excited by a savage, cruel, and inhospitable aggression on the part of the Malays,—an aggression adding calamity to misfortune,roused every mind to a spirit of just revenge; and the appeal now made to them on the score of national character was not likely to let that feeling cool. That they might come, seemed to be the anxious wish of every heart. After a slender but cheerful repast, the men lay down as usual upon their arms, whilst the captain remained with those on guard to superintend his arrangements. An alarm during the night shewed the effect of preparation on the people's minds, for all like lightning were at their posts, and returned growling and disappointed because the alarm was false.

Day-light, on Monday the 3d, discovered the pirates exactly in the same position in front of us; ten more vessels having joined them during the night, making their number now at least six hundred men. "The plot began to thicken," and our situation be


came hourly more critical. Their force rapidly accumulating, and our little stock of provisions daily shortening, rendered some desperate measure immediately necessary.

That which seemed most feasible was by a sudden night attack, with our four boats well armed, to carry by boarding some of their vessels, and, by manning them, repeat our attack with increased force, taking more, or dispersing them. The possession of some of their proas, in addition to our own boats, (taking into consider ation that our numbers would be thinned on the occasion,) might enable us to shove off for Java, in defiance of them. Any attempt to move on a raft, with their vessels playing round it, armed with swivels, was evidently impossible. Awful as our situation now was, and every hour becoming more so ;-starvation staring us in the face, on one hand, and without a hope of mercy from the savages on the other;-yet there were no symptoms of depression, or gloomy despair; every mind seemed buoyant; and, if any estimate of the general feeling could be collected from countenances, from the manner and expressions of all, there appeared to be formed in every breast a calm determination to dash at them, and be successful; or to fall, as became men, in the attempt to be free.

About noon on this day, whilst schemes and proposals were flying about, as to the mode of executing the measures in view, Mr. Johnstone, (ever on the alert,) who had mounted the look-out tree, one of the loftiest on the summit of our hill, descried a sail at a

great distance to the southward, which he thought larger than a Malay vessel. The buz of conversation was in a moment hushed, and every eye fixed anxiously on the tree for the next report, a signal man and telescope being instantly sent up. She was now lost sight of from a dark squall overspreading that part of the horizon, but in about twenty minutes she again emerged from the cloud, and was decidedly announced to be a square-rigged vessel. "Are you quite sure of that?" was eagerly inquired :— "Quite certain," was the reply:"it is either a ship or a brig standing towards the island; under all sail!"-The joy this happy sight infused, and the gratitude of every heart at this prospect of deliverance, may be more easily conceived than described. It occasioned a sudden transition of the mind from one train of thinking to another, as if waking from a disagreeable dream. We immediately displayed our colours on the highest branch of the tree, to attract attention, lest she should only be a passing stranger.

The pirates soon after this discovered the ship, (a signal having been inade with a gun by those anchored behind Pulo Chalacca,) which occasioned an evident stir among them. As the water was ebbing fast, it was thought possible, by an unexpected rush out to the edge of the reef, to get some of them under fire, and sccure them. They seemed, however, to have suspected our purpose; for, the moment the seamen and marines appeared from under the mangroves, the nearest proa let fly her swivel among a


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