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MY COLLECTION OF BIRDS.
The country round about Bessir was very hilly and rugged, bristling with jagged and honey-combed coralline rocks, and with curious little chasms and ravines. The paths often passed through these rocky clefts, which in the depths of the forest were gloomy and dark in the extreme, and often full of fine-leaved herbaceous plants and curious blue-foliaged Lycopodiaceæ. It was in such places as these that I obtained many of my most beautiful small butterflies, such as Sospita statira and Taxila pulchra, the gorgeous blue Amblypodia hercules, and many others. On the skirts of the plantations I found the handsome blue Deudorix despœna, and in the shady woods the lovely Lycæna wallacei. Here, too, I obtained the beautiful Thyca aruna, of the richest orange on the upper side, while below it is intense crimson and glossy black; and a superb specimen of a green Ornithoptera, absolutely fresh and perfect, and which still remains one of the glories of my cabinet.
My collection of birds, though not very rich in number of species, was yet very interesting. I got another specimen of the rare New Guinea kite (Henicopernis longicauda), a large new goatsucker (Podargus superciliaris), and a most curious ground-pigeon of an entirely new genus, and remarkable for its long and powerful bill. It has been named Henicophaps albifrons. I was also much pleased to obtain a fine series of a large fruit-pigeon with a protuberance on the bill (Carpophaga tumida), and to ascertain that this was not, as had been hitherto supposed, a sexual character, but was found equally in male and female birds. I collected only seventy-three species of birds in Waigiou, but twelve of them were entirely new, and many others very rare; and as I brought away with me twenty-four fine specimens of the Paradisea rubra, I did not regret my visit to the island, although it had by no means answered my expectations.
VOYAGE FROM WAIGIOU TO TERNATE.
SEPTEMBER 29 TO NOVEMBER 5, 1860.
I HAD left the old pilot at Waigiou to take care of my house and to get the prau into sailing order-to calk her bottom, and to look after the upper works, thatch, and rigging. When I returned I found her nearly ready, and immediately began packing up and preparing for the voyage. Our mainsail had formed one side of our house, but the spanker and jib had been put away in the roof, and on opening them to see if any repairs were wanted, to our horror we found that some rats had made them their nest, and had gnawed through them in twenty places. We had therefore to buy matting and make new sails, and this delayed us till the 29th of September, when we at length left Waigiou.
It took us four days before we could get clear of the land, having to pass along narrow straits beset with reefs and shoals, and full of strong currents, so that an unfavorable wind stopped us altogether. One day, when nearly clear, a contrary tide and head-wind drove us ten miles back to our anchorage of the night before. This delay made us afraid of running short of water if we should be becalmed at sea, and we therefore determined, if possible, to touch at the island where our men had been lost, and which lay directly in our proper course. The wind was, however, as usual, contrary, being S.S.W. instead of S.S.E., as it should have been at this time of the year, and all we could do was to reach the island of Gagie, where we came to an anchor by moonlight under bare volcanic hills. In the morning we tried to enter a deep bay, at the head of which some Galela fishermen told us there was water, but a head-wind prevented us. For the reward of a handkerchief, however, they took us to the place in their boat, and we filled up our jars and bamboos. We then went round to their camping-place on the north coast
of the island to try and buy something to eat, but could only get smoked turtle meat as black and as hard as lumps of coal. A little farther on there was a plantation belonging to Guebe people, but under the care of a Papuan slave, and the next morning we got some plantains and a few vegetables in exchange for a handkerchief and some knives. On leaving this place our anchor had got foul in some rock or sunken log in very deep water, and, after many unsuccessful attempts, we were forced to cut our rattan cable and leave it behind us. We had now only one anchor left.
Starting early, on the 4th of October, the same S.S.W. wind continued, and we began to fear that we should hardly clear the southern point of Gilolo. The night of the 5th was squally, with thunder, but after midnight it got tolerably fair, and we were going along with a light wind and looking out for the coast of Gilolo, which we thought we must be nearing, when we heard a dull roaring sound, like a heavy surf, behind us. In a short time the roar increased, and we saw a white line of foam coming on, which rapidly passed us without doing any harm, as our boat rose easily over the wave. At short intervals, ten or a dozen others overtook us with great rapidity, and then the sea became perfectly smooth, as it was before. I concluded at once that these must be earthquake waves; and on reference to the old voyagers we find that these seas have been long subject to similar phenomena. Dampier encountered them near Mysol and New Guinea, and describes them as follows: "We found here very strange tides, that ran in streams, making a great sea, and roaring so loud that we could hear them before they came within a mile of us. The sea round about them seemed all broken, and tossed the ship so that she would not answer her helm. These ripplings commonly lasted ten or twelve minutes, and then the sea became as still and smooth as a millpond. We sounded often when in the midst of them, but found no ground, neither could we perceive that they drove us any way. We had in one night several of
these tides, that came mostly from the west, and the wind being from that quarter we commonly heard them a long time before they came, and sometimes lowered our topsails, thinking it was a gust of wind. They were of great length,
from north to south, but their breadth not exceeding 200 yards, and they drove a great pace. For though we had little wind to move us, yet these would soon pass away, and leave the water very smooth, and just before we encountered them we met a great swell, but it did not break." Some time afterward, I learned that an earthquake had been felt on the coast of Gilolo the very day we had encountered these curious waves.
When daylight came, we saw the land of Gilolo a few miles off, but the point was unfortunately a little to windward of us. We tried to brace up all we could to round it, but as we approached the shore we got into a strong current setting northward, which carried us so rapidly with it that we found it necessary to stand off again, in order to get out of its influence. Sometimes we approached the point a little, and our hopes revived; then the wind fell, and we drifted slowly away. Night found us in nearly the same position as we had occupied in the morning, so we hung down our anchor with about fifteen fathoms of cable to prevent drifting. On the morning of the 7th we were however a good way up the coast, and we now thought our only chance would be to get close in-shore, where there might be a return current, and we could then row. The prau was heavy, and my men very poor creatures for work, so that it took us six hours to get to the edge of the reef that fringed the shore; and as the wind might at any moment blow on to it, our situation was a very dangerous one. Luckily, a short distance off there was a sandy bay, where a small stream stopped the growth of the coral; and by evening we reached this and anchored for the night. Here we found some Galela men shooting deer and pigs; but they could not or would not speak Malay, and we could get little information from them. We found out that along shore the current changed with the tide, while about a mile out it was always one way, and against us; and this gave us some hopes of getting back to the point, from which we were now distant twenty miles. Next morning we found that the Galela men had left before daylight, having perhaps some vague fear of our intentions, and very likely taking me for a pirate. During the morning a boat passed, and the people informed