Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/57

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42
THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

or the cause of the encounter. In general, however, the casualties are limited to a few broken heads, and, perhaps, a spear wound or two; but sometimes three or four—seldom a greater number—of the fighting men "sleep the sleep of death" on the field of battle. The fight is generally commenced by a single combat, an individual stepping forward from each of the hostile ranks, one hurling a spear, which the other dexterously wards off with a small shield, or, failing to do so, receives it in some part of his person. Several spears are thus discharged by either party, when, in the event of none taking effect, the combatants approach, and the one submitting his head to the other, voluntarily receives a blow from the waddy of his antagonist, an operation by which, no doubt, a bump is developed never dreamt of in the philosophy of either Gall or Spurzheim. The other then submits his cranium and receives back the compliment, after which both retire, mutually satisfied, if not very well pleased, with the result of their interview. This ludicrous species of warfare is continued until all parties deem that they have had enough, and terminate the battle, or, on the other hand, the passions of the spectators becoming excited by the scenes above described, as well as by the songs and harangues of the older portion of the women, some of whom keep up a continuous chorus, a general engagement ensues, in which spears, boomerangs, waddles, and tomahawks are sometimes used with deadly effect. After the battle the conquered force are always