Page:Germ Growers.djvu/72

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67
AMONG THE BLACKS.

the whole effect was wildly barbarous. There were huts in great numbers built of branches, and covered with leaves and bark. As far as I could see there was a hut for each fire, and women and children of all ages were to be seen in front of the huts, some few of them apparently partaking of the excitement of the dancers, but far the greater number stolidly looking on. The dress of the women was nearly the same as that of the men. The kilt of matting was the same, but the head-dress showed more effort after ornament. It covered more of the head, and it was adorned with the feathers of cockatoos and parrots. The children who ran about were mostly naked. There were several dogs, not at all Australian dingoes, but miserable half-starved mongrels of European breed. Many of the women were engaged in cooking food, and some whiffs of smoke which reached us were by no means of unpleasant flavour.

All the while the song and dance lasted we lay quite still, hidden by the scrub which grew very thick here, and seemed to be a sort of stunted eucalyptus, and very like the mallee of Southern Australia. Our horses were hidden by the turn of a hill, and by a large tree near, and when the song and dance would pause for a moment, we could hear them munching the grass. I was at first greatly afraid that they would be