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plunging into, and as suddenly emerging again, from the patches of " scrub," scrambling over the fallen timber, and lowering their heads with great precision, to avoid being swept from their saddles by the projecting branches that occasionally crossed their way; while the action of the stock-horses, owing to the declivity, was at times more like that of a kangaroo than anything else: somebody, thought I, must surely be damaged before long; but I was quite a stranger to the sort of thing, and had not then learnt, what I was assured of on my return home, that “ it was only the way of the country.” It seemed that there was a sort of rivalry between my

friend's stock-keeper and our invaluable partisan “ Amos,” and this was a fair field for their exertions. The open country was too easy for them. To get along fast in broken and falling ground is the criterion of horsemanship; so, from this emulation, the riding was perhaps rather more energetic than usual.

The tide of fortune hitherto seemed evenly balanced ; but just as the wild herd neared the creek, a black bull, evidently no stranger to the locality, singled out, and, far ahead of the rest, made straight for the gap. He was a very noble beast, without a brand of any kind upon him, and his eye, full and round as a gazelle's, seemed to flash fire, as he pursued his mad career, dashing the foam from his lips. It was absolutely necessary to stop him at all hazards ; for wheresoever one animal leads the way, the rest are sure to follow : but he had already gained a great deal of ground, and was now so near the gap, that his escape seemed inevitable.

One chance remained : a ledge of loose stones, so precipitous, that the bull, excited as he was, had turned aside from it in his course, opened a shorter cut. To this two men pushed their horses abreast, but one alone went down it, the other stopped and looked after him. The next minute a horseman stood in the gap; the black bull was seen making off in a contrary direction, and the report of a stock whip, reverberating through the hills, «warned the cattle that “ Amos ” (for he it was) had reached the goal before them.

This was the grand event of the day, and our success had, in a great measure, hinged upon it. Thenceforth our work was comparatively easy.

The cattle were 66 steadied ” for a minute

1

upon a hill-side, and as soon as the stragglers, of which we were
in pursuit, had been clearly distinguished among them, the whole
were hunted or rather guided homewards, for they wanted no
driving, being apparently bent upon running as long as their
legs would carry them ; while our business was to keep them
together, and always to be beforehand with them in reaching any
creek or gully that branched off from the right direction. Now
and then an animal would become exhausted, and, standing at
bay, threaten death to any one who approached it; or, being
nearly blinded with hard running, would take a line of its own,
and refuse to go any other; but with these few exceptions we
succeeded in driving the whole herd before us.
It's lucky we got them,” said Amos;

66 there were flies about that black bull.”

In due time we regained the level country, where, having the advantage of good ground, we were enabled to single off our own cattle, and leave the wild ones to recover from their alarm at leisure, and to speed their way back again into their own silent haunts in “ the gullies.”

* This expression is very common in Australia, and is apparently borrowed from the American

no snakes.”

It denotes admiration or triumph. Anything particularly good is said by the class of men we are here describing to have “no flies" about it.

no

CHAPTER X.

First Visit from the Aborigines—Portrait of an Australian Savage --Of a

“Gin” or Female -- Their Natural Character — A “Corrobory”—A “Pas seul”—Mental Powers of the Blacks-Language of Intercourse with the Settlers-Religion-Weapons—The Spear and Woomera—The Boomering-Its Construction and Peculiarities—The Shield and Club Duel with the Spear-With the Club Theft Detected— Departure of the Tribe.

Of the
many
novelties which meet the traveller's

eye
in

strange countries, but especially in one so peculiar as Australia, there is perhaps none more striking, or to which he looks forward with greater interest, than his first sight of the aborigines ; I allude of course to those in the interior, and not to the debased speci. mens that are to be met with in the streets of Sydney. These can create nothing in the mind of the beholder but repugnance at the state of demoralization into which they have fallen, and pity, mingled with shame, that their intercourse with the white man should have apparently served only to eradicate their natural good qualities, few as they were, and to engraft the vices of the European on their own.

Such is one of the least pleasing scenes of the capital of the antipodes. There is a crowd in the vicinity of a public-house; a black, usually very far advanced in a state of rum,” is settling his differences with his “gins,” whom their ungallant lord is either “ waddying,” i. e. belabouring with his club, in which he naturally has it all his own way, or vociferously squabbling with, in which, as naturally, he is sure to be worsted. Without any disparagement to the soft sex of other countries, the most loquacious of them all would bear little comparison with an Australian “gin," when fairly moved to “yabber," and the veriest scold from Europe might receive a practical lesson of her inferiority from her sable sisters at the antipodes—“So apt and voluble is their discourse."

It is only in the inland districts, far apart from these scenes of dissipation, that the New Hollander can now be seen in his natural state; and we had not long occupied our station before our wishes in this respect were fully gratified, for within a month from the time of our arrival we were not only introduced to the major part of the tribe inhabiting our district, but were additionally favoured by the sight of a “corrobory," or native dance, by night, which we were informed at the time was held in honour of our arrival, but which we discovered, when we knew more about the customs of the aborigines, was always celebrated at the time of the full moon.

The party that first presented itself consisted of two males with their “gins,” or women, carrying their children on their backs, or occasionally perched up, higher still, above their shoulders, and accompanied by a countless host of dogs, which were in themselves as unlike any other varieties of the canine species as could be imagined, and evidently disliked the whole system of civilization not less than their owners.

One of the men was very old, and his scanty locks, grizzled upon a coal-black skin, had a particularly disagreeable effect; the other was in his prime, and, as a fair specimen of a New Hollander, his appearance may be described as follows:-His height was about five feet four inches, which was the average of our tribe ; the chest was full, the arms and shoulders muscular; the body long in comparison with the legs, which were slight, and appeared more so than they actually were from the unnatural protuberance of the belly: this is a remarkable distinguishing point in all the race. The countenance was such as to be

very repulsive at first sight, though much of its harshness wore off on further acquaintance. Each feature, however, was very bad if considered separately: the hair was coarse, matted, and reeking with oil, adding by its great luxuriance to the disproportionate size of the head; the forehead was round, and the brows overhanging; the eyes sunk deep into the head, small, and strongly expressive of cunning; the nose was flat, and very broad at the base; the mouth wide, and additionally disfigured in our opinion) by the loss of the two front teeth, which after a certain age it

not worn." That their loss is a matter of choice, a black, who had long been on our station in a sort of half-domes. ticated state, gave us a clear proof, telling us one morning with a look of importance, that he must go away for a few days, as he had grown up to man's estate, and “ it was high time that he should have his teeth knocked out!”

seems are

Some of the most startling sights that a traveller sees are produced, after all, by different ideas of the ornamental : how many a fair European, whose smile exposes the only spot on her beauty, might covet the pearly teeth of the Australian savage, which, though in our estimation they are the choicest gift he has received from nature, he yet prizes so lightly as to see a greater charm in the gap created by the absence of the very pair that are most conspicuous and important !

To return to our portrait: the whole of the breast and back, together with the arms from the shoulder nearly to the elbow, were marked in a manner peculiar to the New Hollanders, the flesh being raised in a series of parallel lines, interrupted at intervals, of the thickness of one's forefinger. This operation, which is entirely different from the tattooing of the New Zealander and other savage tribes, is performed at an early age by means of a sharp fint, and is a tedious and painful process, though considered no less a matter of course than the loss of the teeth. The skin which covers these mounds or wavelets of flesh has the glossy appearance of a scar, and the effect of the whole is very disagreeable in the eyes of an European.

The female or “gin” (the pronunciation of the g is soft, though perhaps the determined etymologist would choose to derive the word from yúvn) was shorter and thinner, and, to say the truth, even less prepossessing in appearance. Though not much past her prime, her cheeks were sunken, and there was a faded look upon her features and limbs as if she was suffering from premature old age. A piece of fish-bone, smooth and polished, was inserted in the gristle of her nose, projecting about an inch and a half on either side, and removable at will, being apparently a sort of full-dress appendage, not to be worn upon all occasions ; and though anything but ornamental, it was at least preferable to the vacuum left by its absence, which rendered the profile most unsightly. Round her neck was an ornament which bore some resemblance to an European necklace; it was made of small pieces of reed, cut into equal lengths, and strung upon a sort of thread fabricated from the bark of trees. Her

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