Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/363

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329
Western Australia.

which in our language means conversation or meeting to talk (a sort of social evening or night, for until long into the night the Kobba-Kobba continues). The camp stands on the top of the hill, and as there are good fires burning as well as the pure clear light of the moon, the men appear silhouetted against the sky, and advance or retire as if a wrestling match (but a very long-continued one) were on. The women sing in a peculiar way and screech occasionally, urging the men on. All the while there is a beating of sticks for music, as the dancing goes on. While I was ill a fight took place in the bush, in which one of the Cable House niggers was wounded very seriously. Our nigger, a man named Sheep (since dismissed) was out with him, and finding his friend overpowered and hurt, gave himself a very severe blow on the head, laying the bone bare, and rushed streaming with blood to tell the Cable House people, and so procure assistance: a usual practice with the niggers, who when they find their friends are on the losing side, hurt themselves and then go for help.

Our late Superintendent, Mr. Macpherson, told me if ever when out shooting he saw a snake, the natives with him would not attempt to kill it; they were afraid to go near, and he had to strike it on the head himself and tell the boys to bring it along, which they would do by coiling it all round their bodies. As you know, unless the backbone be broken, eels and also snakes still twist about: well, the snake occasionally untwisted and fell off the boys. Still they would not break its back, but picked up the carcase, wound it round them, then on again after "Ross" (as Mr. Macpherson was always called by them), until from the constant wriggling off of the reptile they were left far behind.

The niggers in our service are of a different tribe to those hereabouts. They came from Lagrange Bay. A few nights back Billie told us there would be a big Kobba-Kobba just over the other side of the plain near our house.