This thoroughness and grim determination  MacGregor still carried into his work; for instance, it was necessary for him, unless he was prepared to have a trained surveyor always with him on his expeditions, to have a knowledge of astronomy and surveying. This he took up with his usual vigour, and I once witnessed a little incident which showed, not only how perfect Sir William had made himself in the subject, but also his unbounded confidence in himself. We were lying off a small island about which a doubt existed as to whether it was within the waters of Queensland or New Guinea. The commander of the Merrie England, together with the navigating officer, took a set of stellar observations; the chief Government surveyor, together with an assistant surveyor, took a second set; 룸보도 and Sir William took a third. The ship’s party and the surveyors arrived at one result, Sir William at a slightly different one; an ordinary man would have decided that four highly competent professional men must be right and he wrong; not so, however,  MacGregor. “Ye are both wrong,” was his remark, when their results were handed to him by the commander and surveyor. They demurred, pointing out that their observations tallied. “Do it again, ye don’t agree with mine;” and sure enough Sir William proved right and they wrong.

My part in this had been to hold a bull’s-eye lantern for Sir William to the arc of his theodolite, and to endeavour to attain the immobility of a bronze statue while being devoured by gnats and mosquitoes. Therefore later I sought Stuart Russell, the chief surveyor, with the intention of working off a little of the irritation of the bites by japing at him. “What sort of surveyors do you and Commander Curtis think yourselves? Got to have a bally amateur to help you, eh?” “Shut up, Monckton,” said Stuart Russell, “we are surveyors of ordinary ability, Sir William is of more than that.”