Page:Native Tribes of South-East Australia.djvu/556

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530
CH.
NATIVE TRIBES OF SOUTH-EAST AUSTRALIA

gesture again means Daramulun, whose name cannot be lawfully spoken there.

A singular feature now showed itself. There were at this time two or three Biduelli men with their wives and children in the encampment, and also one of the Krauatungalung Kurnai, with his wife and child.[1] When these ceremonies commenced they, with one exception, went away, because neither the Biduelli or the Krauatun Kurnai had, as I have said before, any initiation ceremonies, and these men had therefore never been "made men." The one man who remained was the old patriarch of the Biduelli, and he was now driven crouching among the women and children. The reason was self-evident; he had never been made a man, and therefore was no more than a mere boy.

The women and children being thus driven together, the old men proceeded to draw from them those boys who were considered to be ripe for initiation.[2] The old men pointed out those who were to be taken, and their Kabos seized them and placed them in the front rank of the women. There was one boy, a half-caste, indeed he was nearer white than black, as to whom the old men were divided in opinion. He was in an agony of terror, clinging to his mother, but by the order of the head Gommera he was dragged out and discussed. After a few minutes the decision was given, "He is too young, put him back again." The women and children were now pushed together into as small a compass as possible, with the old Biduelli patriarch among them. Skin rugs and blankets were then placed over them, so that they were completely hidden, and were themselves unable to see anything. At a signal from Gunjerung, a Kabo seized his boy from under the covering, and holding him by one arm, ran him off to the place where the bundles were left. All of us followed as fast as possible, and as I left I could hear the muffled sound of the "tooth"-song being sung by the women under their coverings.

  1. This man had married the daughter of Yibai-malian.
  2. The proper time is when the whiskers are beginning to show themselves, and when the old men observe that the boys are paying more attention to women of the tribe than is considered decent or proper.