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2-089 (Raw)

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addressee author,male,Moore, George Fletcher,44
Narrative Discourse
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Private Written
Ward, 1969
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2-089-raw.txt — 5 KB

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Have had A long, angry, and wholly unexpected conference to-day with the very spirit of evil himself, I mean the notorious Ya-gan. On seeing several natives approach the horse. I went towards them as usual, thinking they were my old friends. To my surprise, the first I met was Migo, whom I had known well at Perth, as the servant of Captain Ellis, and the friend of the chieftain Mundy. On looking round, I then saw Munday [sic] himself (who is proclaimed, with a price on his head): this made me took still closer, and at last I saw Ya-gan standing a little aloof, scrutinising my countenance narrowly, and my manner of receiving them. I had been taxing Migo with having been present at the murder, which he energetically denied. When my eyes first fell upon Ya-gan, I said immediately 'What name?' They all answered 'Boolgat.' I said 'No; Ya-gan.' At first he was inclined to persist in the assumed character; but seeing that I knew him perfectly, he came forward, avowed himself, and entered into along argument and defence of his conduct, in a way that I can hardly make intelligible to you; and I confess he had almost as much of the argument as I had. Both parties seemed to consider us as respectively arguing the question. Ya-gan listened with respectful anxiety, and used bold and emphatic language and graceful gesture. with abundant action: he delivered himself boldly. I did not understand him, but replied. 'If white man queeple (steal), white man shoot while man; if black man queeple, white man shoot black man: if black man no gydyell (kill) cow, no gydyell sheep, no gydyell pig, white man all same as brother to black man, shake hands plenty. co-robbery, plenty.' Here I advanced with open hands so them, which all ran eagerly to grasp. save the moody chief himself.
They had grouped around, evidently attending to the arguments on both sides with great interest, and glad of anything like a friendly termination. Ya-gan again stepped forward, and leaning familiarly with his left hand on my shoulder, while he gesticulated with his right, delivered a sort of recitative, looking earnestly at my face. [54] I regret that I could not understand him, but I conjectured, from the tone and manner, that the purport was this: 'You came to our country; you have driven us from our haunts, and disturbed us in our occupations: as we walk in our own country, we are fired upon by the white men; why should the white men treat us so?'
This reminded me of a chorus in a Greek tragedy; and the other natives seemed to act as subordinate characters to Ya-gan. After a short interval, the chief approached again, and fixing his eyes as if he read my countenance, said inquiringly, 'Midgegoroo shoot? walk?' (meaning was Midgegoroo dead or alive?) I felt that the question was full of personal hazard to me, and gave no reply. Even Weeip came, and anxiously asked the same question, putting his finger to my ear, to know if! heard or understood him. I answered slowly, 'White man angry, - Governor angry.' However my men assured them that both Midgegoroo and his son were gone on board a ship. Ya-gan still continued to read my countenance, and when he could obtain no answer from me, he said with extraordinary vehemence of manner, distinctness of utterance, and emphasis of tone, 'White man shoot Midgegoroo, Ya-gan kill three' (holding up three fingers). I said, 'Ya-gan kill all white man, soldier man and every man kill Ya-gan.' He scowled a look of daring defiance, and turned on his heel with an air of ineffable contempt. During the latter part of this conference, he held a beautifully tapered and exquisitely pointed spear, grasped like a stiletto, about fourteen inches from the point, while the shaft lay over his shoulder, with a seeming carelessness. He evidently suspected treachery, and was on his guard against it, taking care not to let my men press on him too closely, and keeping some of the natives between myself and them.
Nothing short of an overpowering force (which I did not possess), or a cold-blooded deliberate treachery (of which I was incapable), would have enabled me to have secured him as he then stood: it was, perhaps, my duty to have attempted his arrest, dead or alive; however, consider the circumstances of my situation, - I had gone among them unarmed, little thinking that the 'Wallace' of the tribe was there; he did not relinquish his spear till he was certain of my pacific intentions; and there were ten of them, and only three of us, myself rather invalided.
I dispatched a letter instantly to Mr. Bull, as a magistrate, apprising him of Ya-gan's vicinity. He went off for the soldiers; and in the meantime this proclaimed and dangerous outlaw, with a price on his head, and threats (not idle) on his tongue, in sight of the military quarters, and of a magistrate's residence, hemmed in between three or four settlements, and almost in presence of a large force of armed men, was suffered to escape unmolested. The truth is, every one wishes him taken, but no one likes to be the captor. How could any person, unless a professed blood-hunter, spring upon a man in cold blood, and lead him so the death? [55] [56] How could any one who has a heart fire upon him treacherously from a secure ambush, though he be an unfeeling and reckless savage? There is something in his daring which one is forced to admire.