Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/384

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Notes on the Aborigines of Roebuck Bay,

Ross, the King or Chief of the Roebuck natives, our boy Fred's uncle, is a fine tall man, and speaks English fairly well. On our first introduction to Ross he was wearing twisted by a long hair string round his throat, and then stuck into the side of his hair, a long narrow piece of mother-of-pearl shell; a black end hair twist was fastened on by wilgy. Jack wanted it, and after some demur the King gave it to "Missus." I wanted to know what it was for, but they would not tell me, except that the hair was taken from the beard entirely. Knowing how reticent they are when a white woman is present I retired, and Jack learned it was a charm against sickness. So long as it is worn the "debil-debil no come along, belong all same loopen-gullery (medicine man) when he prick 'em arm along a needle make 'em plenty sick pfeller" in other words it answers the same purpose as vaccination. The next day Ross came again, and brought a splendid hair belt, as well a thick shell necklace which Pollie his wife sent me. Jack told him he wanted a carved shell to "put along belt." Jack got him to write his name on a card. I enclose it for you, also a translation of the writing. The O is his distinctive mark, which is also carved on his shell, while the first two figures on the second line represent Polly. On Saturday William came up to me at dusk mysteriously, and took from his head a tuft of feathers attached to a bone, which he presented to me. I asked what it was, and he said, "Feathers along of kangaroo bone." He told Jack when I was not there that the bone was a human one, taken from the arm of a man killed. It is gruesome to me; however it is not a thing many possess. The feathers are cockatoo. David gave Jack a kangaroo-bone the day he took William to work for us; in gratitude, as William is David's brother. I have already told you they are used for drawing blood at the sacrifices, in some of their ceremonies, when they drink as well as anoint (the word I can think of nearest to what I want to express) in human blood. Yesterday our small collection