Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/259

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THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

As the fallen gladiator in the arena looks for the signal of life or death from the president of the amphitheatre, so waited our friends in anxious suspense while the conference continued. In a few minutes, before a word was uttered, the women of the tribes threw up their arms three times. This was the inviolable sign of peace. Down fell the spears. Forward, with a heavy sigh of relief, and upward glance of gratitude, came the friends of peace. The impulsive Natives rushed forth with tears and cries, as each saw in the other's rank a loved one of the past Eumarra recognised his two brothers in the tribe, and his wife embraced three other relatives. The chief of Bruni grasped the hand of his brother Montpeliata.

It was a jubilee of joy. A festival followed. And, while tears flowed at the recital of woe, a corrobory of pleasant laughter closed the eventful day.

When this desperate tribe was captured, there was much surprise and some chagrin to find that the 30,000l. had been spent, and the whole population of the colony placed under arms, in contention with an opposing force of sixteen men with wooden spears! Yet such was the fact. The celebrated Big River or Ouse Mob, that had been raised by European fears to a host, consisted of sixteen men, nine women and one child. With a knowledge of the mischief done by these few, their wonderful marches and their wide-spread aggressions, their enemies cannot deny to them the attributes of courage and military tact. A Wallace might harass a large army with a small and determined band; but the contending parties were at least equal in arms and civilization. The Caffres who fought us in Africa, the Maories in New Zealand, the Indians in America, were far better provided with weapons, more advanced in the science of war, and considerably more numerous, than the naked Tasmanians. Governor Arthur rightly termed them a noble race. Though they submitted to moral agencies, it was because they felt their work was done. They had fought for the soil, and were vanquished. They had lost fathers, brothers, sons, in war. Their mothers, wives, and daughters, harassed by continued alarms, worn by perpetual marches, enfeebled by want and disease, had sunk down one by one to die in the forest, leaving but a miserable remnant. Their children had been sacrificed to the cruel exactions of patriotism, and had perished of cold, hunger, and