Page:Australia, from Port Macquarie to Moreton Bay.djvu/77

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54
THE BELLENGEN BLACKS.

approaching. After a short time they returned, and informed me that the Bellengen corees, (black fellows), were belcoula, (not angry), so we advanced towards them. As we passed them the men preserved a very solemn and dignified demeanour; whilst the women, who had all scaled the neighbouring trees, sat like monkeys among the branches jabbering 'white fellow! white fellow!' to each other. These blacks were very fine men, with the exception of one elderly gentleman, who, if he had been in Europe, would have made the fortune of an exhibitor of wonders; for owing to some internal hurt or disease, he was reduced to a mere skeleton, being nothing but skin, bones, and integuments. I could not indeed imagine how, with such an apparent absence of muscle, he still possessed the power of locomotion. This old fellow, though on the brink of the grave, had made one step towards civilization beyond the rest of his companions, in having acquired a knowledge of tobacco, probably from some of the tribes near the MacLeay. The Australian black has an innate predilection for smoking, for the wildest native, on being shewn a pipe for the first time in his life, and instructed how to draw up the smoke into his mouth, enhales his first whiff with a grunt of satisfaction.

We now advanced to the brink of the water, which was here about 200 yards wide; the wild black, who had accompanied us from the beach, and whom my men had named Bellengen Billy, in contra-distinc-