Page:Aboriginesofvictoria01.djvu/198

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116
THE ABORIGINES OF VICTORIA:

Weeban paid the greatest possible attention to see that the east and west direction of the grave was preserved, and if the least deviation from this line occurred in the heaps of sand, either at the head or foot, he made some of the natives rectify it by sweeping the sand into its proper form with boughs of trees. . . . . . . . . . . . During the process of digging, an insect having been thrown up, its motions were watched with the most intense interest, and as this little insect thought proper to crawl off in the direction of Guildford, an additional proof was furnished to the natives of the guilt of the boyl-las of that place. When the grave was completed, they set fire to some dried leaves and twigs, then, throwing them in, they soon had a large blaze in it; during this part of the ceremony, old Weeban knelt on the ground at the foot of the grave, with his back turned towards the east, and his head bowed to the earth, his whole attitude denoting the most profound attention; the duty he had now to perform was a most important one, being no less than to discover in which direction the boyl-las, when drawn out of the earth by the fire, would take flight. Their departure was not audible to common ears, or visible to the eyes of ordinary mortals, but his power of boyl-las gaduk enabled him to distinguish these sights and sounds which were invisible and inaudible to the bystanders. The fire roared for some time loudly in the grave, and every eye rested anxiously on old Weeban; the hollow, almost mysterious, sound of the flames as they rose from the narrow aperture evidently had a powerful effect upon the superstitious fears of the natives, and when he suddenly raised his meerro [nomerra— throwing-stick], and then let it fall over his shoulder in a due east direction (the direction of Guildford), a grim smile of satisfaction passed over the countenances of the young men, who now knew in what direction to avenge the foul witchcraft which they felt assured had brought about the death of their brother-in-law. The next part of their proceedings was to take the body of Mulligo from the females: they raised it in a cloak; his old mother made no effort to prevent its being removed, but passionately and fervently kissed the cold, rigid lips which she could never press to hers again. The body was then lowered into the grave, and seated upon a bed of leaves, which had been laid there directly the fire was extinguished, the face being, according to custom, turned towards the east. The women still remained grouped together, sobbing forth their mournful songs, whilst the men placed small green boughs upon the body, until they had more than half filled up the grave with them; cross pieces of wood, of considerable size, were then fixed in the opposite sides of the grave, green boughs placed on these, and the earth from the two side heaps thrown in until the grave was completed, which then, owing to the heaps at the head and foot, presented the appearance of three graves, nearly similar in size and form, lying in a due east and west direction. The men having now completed their task, the women came with bundles of black-boy tops which they had gathered, and laid these down on the central heap, so as to give it a green and pleasing appearance; they placed neither meerro nor spear on the grave, but whilst they were filling in the earth, old Weeban and another native sat on their hams at the head of it, facing the one to the north and the other to the south, their foreheads leaning on their clasped