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Presented by State Library Victoria

Endeavour's Landing - Original Short Story

This story is based on the quote: “This new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more” – CS Lewis

Endeavour’s Landing

Isaac leaned out of the row boat to drag his fingers through dark ocean water, watching a stingray glide below them. The land the Endeavour had sailed towards for 2 years was just ahead and he had never been so nervous and excited at once. Finally, the boat cut into the sandy shallows and came to a gentle halt. To the his surprise, Captain Cook turned to him, ‘Jump out, Isaac!’ he called to the young man. He leapt out, and planted his boots firmly on wet sand, the first boots to crunch on the shells that littered the east shore line. His breath caught in his throat as the immensity of the occasion hit him. He was the first englishman to stand upon this ground, to gaze upon the the place he had dreamed of. This new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. Isaac watched lanky trees dance in the breeze, their thin trunks child-like in comparison to the grandeur of english oaks. The orchestra of crashing waves, rustling trees, and constant buzzing of insects created a hum of energy, matching that of the explorers. Isaac wondered if perhaps it was uninhabited. This was an ancient place, untouched by European industrialisation. There seemed to be no roads, fences or buildings, only young trees and shrubbery that lined the bay and extended inland as far as he could see.

His wistful thinking was proved wrong when Captain Cook spotted a group of huts further on, and itching to get a closer look, ordered the men to board the boat once again. The oars cut deep through the shimmering waters, the silence only broken by splashing and the scratching of pens in journals. The botanists, Joseph Banks and Dr Solander, hadn’t stopped to rest in hours, too busy examining the peculiar flora and fauna. Highlights of their discoveries involved a rather high pitched screech from Banks, after spotting an arachnid that only barely resembled its english relatives crawling onto his jacket. Once recovered, Banks and Solander had marveled over it’s massive, black body and hairy legs. They also found some sort of large hedgehog, a white parrot plumed with yellow feathers, and two incredibly strange mammals. One was a large, stag like creature, but it bounded through the bushland on two legs, not four. The other was a tree dwelling, furry animal, that seemed to do nothing but sleep and slowly eat the leaves of the trees they had named eucalypts. Efforts to classify the bizarre creatures had caused much disagreement, more than once resulting in the botanists storming off into the bush. Isaac found himself amused at their childish behavior, and took delight in watching them grin and call out to each other, as they ran about unsure where to look first.

As their boat drew closer to the huts, he saw a group of native inhabitants. The women and children ran into the trees, leaving only 2 men on the beach. The captain ordered the boat to increase speed. He was determined to make contact with these people. Captain Cook called out as they reached the shore, but instead of replying, the native men moved to attack,  imingadarts at their boat. Isaac watched with shock as the captain fired his musket between them. ‘Sir!’ Isaac cried in shock, ‘should we not wait to negotiate with these people?’ The captain didn’t answer, never taking his eyes off the men who were now gathering more darts to retaliate. A stone was thrown at the boat, and two more gunshots were fired. Isaac couldn’t watch any longer, so he stood and yelled out to them “Get out of here! Run away!” The men seemed to realise they were outmatched, and finally retreated into the bush. Isaac sighed with relief, before turning to face the furious captain. “You idiot!” He bellowed, spit spraying onto Isaac’s face, “Go find them at once!”

Despite the crew’s efforts to search for them, the people had vanished, leaving only their huts and canoes behind. Soon, the shadows grew long, and the crew was forced to return to the Endeavour. It was a warm night, and so not for the first, or the last time, Isaac climbed the crows nest to watch the sun sink under the trees, and fell asleep under the sea of stars.

1 comment

ladybird

I'm not very happy with the ending but I had a 750 word limit so there wasn't much I could do

24th Aug, 18