Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/376

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Notes on the Aborigines of Roebuck Bay,

not make well as soon as they think he should, then the invalid is taken into bush and the medicine-man attends him. Whatever and wherever the ache, pain, or wound be, the doctor after mumbling some words to exorcise the "debil-debil," as he is called, scoops a hole in the sand, goes to the man, mumbles something, handles the affected part, and makes a pretence of taking a double handful of pain away, and flinging it into the hole; and returning asks, "Is it better?" He does the same again, and continues casting out devils, until the hole is considered full. Suppose then the answer still remains "No," another hole is dug, and that filled until the man be relieved of his pain, or believes that he is so. . . . . .

Our Billie and Maggie went, with our permission, to their own country, and have not returned yet; in their place we have a Beagle Bay man. (Until within the last twenty years the natives of that district were cannibals, eating their women-children as well as burying them alive.) On June 23rd, [1899] we witnessed a glorious eclipse of the moon (total) on a perfectly cloudless night. A couple of days before this I told Kelly, or, to use his native name, Yamadeir, what was going to happen, fie pondered how I knew. When the night came he told me, while dinner was in preparation, "he belonged frightened pfeller." Jack went out and talked with him, telling him to come and sit with us on the front verandah and watch with us. That, however, would not do, and as soon as he could, he cleared to his camp. A few nights later Jack closely questioned him (as I, being a woman, can gain very little information from them), with this result. He told him that when the moon (Beagle Bay native name, Konyook) goes out, "all same other night," it is a prognostication of death to a man; and it happened. Suppose a child is born during an eclipse of moon, a boy is always born; that happened. In summer, wind is denoted by an eclipse; in winter, rain; the moon being hungry wants to eat someone (a man), so gets dark to do it. "The moon,