SKETCHES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
were aroused in less than an hour by a rapping at the front door, which turned out to be a messenger to say that the old sexton had been taken ill, and that his wife wanted the parson to come immediately to see him. My husband got up, and went at once with the messenger, but he did not remain away very long; he found the old man in bed, and complaining of cramp and spasms, for which his wife looked upon brandy as the only useful remedy, and begged very hard for some for him. This was clearly her only motive for sending for the parson; but my husband desired one of the company to return with him, to be furnished with a strong mustard plaster instead, about which he felt sure that there would be no crying of halves, nor any attempt to dispute the patient's sole enjoyment of it, and so came away, leaving the rest of the women around the sick bed looking very blank at the failure of their first endeavour to hoodwink the newcomer. We did not, however, believe that the poor old man had anything to do with the plot upon the spirit bottle, as he was really suffering. Once more we were falling into sound sleep when we were awakened by the most dismal wailings imaginable, shrieked out, apparently, by some creature just over the roof. It was a flock of curlews on their way to the river, but until I became used to the cry, as I did in time from its frequency, it impressed me with such a sense of melancholy that I could not feel surprised when I heard a native speak of them as "Jingy birds," that is, Satan's birds, Jingy being the name of the evil spirit, the only divinity confessed to in the poor native Australian's creed.