Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/397

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357
Western Australia.

smearing over certain parts of their bodies, according to the ceremony.[1]

It is surprising, with their limited means of reckoning, how they manage. Old Mary, when she wanted to go away (a moon, of course) said she wanted a spell that time. If a half-moon she would reckon it on her fingers; but each knuckle joint represented one, so that for fourteen days see only used the one hand: "Finishum that one, missus, me come back."

The bark pingins or yandi are easily procurable, but those hewn out of wood are not so. I have had two of the latter in my hands, almost thinking them mine; but no! at the last minute sentiment stepped in and I could not get them. The bark pingins are made from the bark of the tree which Mary tells me is called Mourrya; another name is the tea-tree or paper-bark. . . . . .

December, 1899. You will be pleased to hear I have, besides Magdalene, my old Mary. My neighbour sent me along word that her boy Yarry had come in from Whistler Creek, Beagle Bay, and with him had come Mary, who was away in camp four miles out of town—the limit for unemployed natives now. I was only too pleased she should return. Early morning she came along, radiant, bearing her whole paraphernalia with her—a very wild woman of the woods. In turns we greeted her, and then, "Missus, bring 'em along scissors, I want cut 'um Mary's hair," and the poor creature was shorn of all her flowing locks; after which "Me wantum yat." I had not one to spare, so Jack gave her his old hard felt hat. Yesterday morning she set Magdalene, who is her daughter, to wash up; and I, going round to the kitchen by the back door, saw her busily weaving her locks into a belt. I was interested in watching her, and tried all my powers of persuasion to induce her to give me the hair twisted on the spindle; but no, she would not. She, however, gave me the empty spindle. [Plate XV.,

  1. Plate XV., fig. 6.