27th January 1833

Woollya Cove
On the 27th however suddenly every woman & child & nearly all the men removed themselves & we were watched from a neighbouring hill. We were all very uneasy at this, as neither Jemmy or York understood what it meant; & it did not promise peace for the establishment. We were quite at a loss to account for it. Some thought that they had been frightened by our cleaning & firing off our fire-arms the evening before. Perhaps it had some connection with a quarrel between an old man & one of our sentries; the old man being told not to come so close, spat in the seaman’s face & then retreating behind the trench, made motions, which it was said, could mean nothing but skinning & cutting up a man. He acted it over a Fuegian, who was asleep, & eyed at the same time our man, as much as to say, this is the way I should like to serve you. Whatever might have been the cause of the retreat of the Fuegians, the Captain thought it advisable not to sleep another night there. All the goods were therefore moved to the houses, & Matthews & his companions prepared to pass rather an awful night. Matthews behaved with his usual quiet resolution: he is of an eccentric character & does not appear (which is strange) to possess much energy & I think it very doubtful how far he is qualified for so arduous an undertaking. In the evening we removed to a cove a few miles distant & in the morning returned to the settlement.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
While a few of our party were completing the thatch of the last wigwam, and others were digging in the garden which was made, I was much surprised to see that all the natives were preparing to depart; and very soon afterwards every canoe was set in motion, not half a dozen natives remaining. Even Jemmy's own family, his mother and brothers, left us; and as he could give no explanation of this sudden departure, I was in much doubt as to the cause. Whether an attack was meditated, and they were removing the women and children, previous to a general assembly of the men, or whether they had been frightened by our display on the preceding evening, and feared that we intended to attack them, I could not ascertain; but deeming the latter by far the most probable, I decided to take the opportunity of their departure to give Matthews his first trial of passing a night at the new wigwams.

Some among us thought that the natives intended to make a secret attack, on account of the great temptation our property offered; and in consequence of serious offence which had been taken by two or three old men, who tried to force themselves into our encampment, while I was at a little distance; one of whom, when resisted by the sentry, spit in his face; and went off in a violent passion, muttering to himself, and every now and then turning round to make faces and angry gestures at the man who had very quietly, though firmly, prevented his encroachment.
In consequence of this incident, and other symptoms of a disposition to try their strength, having more than three hundred men, while we were but thirty, I had thought it advisable, as I mentioned, to give them some idea of the weapons we had at command, if obliged to use them, by firing at a mark. Probably two-thirds of the natives around us at that time had never seen a gun fired, being strangers, coming from the Beagle Channel and its neighbourhood, where no vessel had been; and although our exercise might have frightened them more than I wished, so much, indeed, as to have induced them to leave the place, it is not improbable that, without some such demonstration, they might have obliged us to fire at them instead of the target. So many strangers had arrived during the few days we remained, I mean strangers to Jemmy's family — men of the eastern tribe, which he called Yapoo — that his brothers and mother had no longer any influence over the majority, who cared for them as little as they did for us, and were intent only upon plunder. Finding this the case, I conclude that Jemmy's friends thought it wise to retreat to a neighbouring island before any attack commenced; but why they did not tell Jemmy their reasons for going, I know not, neither could he tell me more than that they said they were going to fish, and would return at night. This, however, they did not do.

In the evening, Matthews and his party — Jemmy, York, and Fuegia — went to their abode in the three new wigwams. In that made for Matthews, Jemmy also took up his quarters at first: it was high and roomy for such a construction; the space overhead was divided by a floor of boards, brought from the ship, and there most of Matthews' stores were placed; but the most valuable articles were deposited in a box, which was hid in the ground underneath the wigwam, where fire could not reach.

Matthews was steady, and as willing as ever; neither York nor Jemmy had the slightest doubt of their being all well-treated; so trusting that Matthews, in his honest intention to do good, would obtain that assistance in which he confided, I decided to leave him for a few days. The absence of the natives, every one of whom had decamped at this time, gave a good opportunity for landing the larger tools belonging to Matthews and our Fuegians, and placing them within or beneath his wigwam, unseen by any one except ourselves; and at dusk, all that we could do for them being completed, we left the place and sailed some miles to the southward.

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