Page:Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Volume 1 (2nd edition).djvu/54

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34
Description of the Natives of King George's Sound

ment they eat them, after being cooked, and consider them very good food.

It not unfrequently happens that a sickly whale is thrown on shore; upon this they greedily feed, and lay up a large quantity of fat. They also occasionally kill a seal, the flesh of which they esteem highly, and, indeed, when young, it is by no means unpalatable.

The fresh-water swamps abound with a species of cray-fish, called challows, very like those found in rivulets in England. The procuring of these is the employment of the women. In the summer months, when the water is partly dried up, they find them in holes in the ground, a foot or more deep, the entrance being small, but sufficiently wide within for the arm to be thrust to the bottom; they are very abundant, and when boiled with salt, are good eating. The natives roast them in the ashes, and eat them in large quantities.

They also procure and eat the fresh-water tortoise (kilon), and in the season take large quantities of their eggs, which are laid on shore generally on a bank about twenty or one hundred yards from the water, buried in a small hole, and carefully covered up.

Frogs (cooyah), of two or three species, are eaten chiefly at the season of their spawning.

At one season of the year, the natives push or break down the grass-trees, on which, when fallen, a species of cockchafer (pāāluck) deposits its ova, which become large milk-white grubs; and these they eat raw, or slightly roasted. There are also other kinds (changut), some of much larger size, that are procured from rotten trees, bull-rushes, &c.; all of them are white.

Of their pāālucks they are extremely tenacious; the person who breaks down the tree being entitled to its produce. And if robberies of this nature are detected, the thief is always punished. They believe also that stolen pāālucks occasion sickness and eruptions. Yet when hungry, a friend will not scruple to have recourse to the grass·tree of another who is not present; but in this case he peels a small branch or twig, and sticks it in the ground, near the tree. This is called keit a borringerra, and is intended to prevent anger or other ill consequences.

The eggs of ants also form an article of food.

Of the vegetable substances on which they feed, a few kinds only are known. The following, however, are more used than any other, and may be said to form the staple article of diet; they are named by them meernes, tuboc, chocket and tunedong. The meernes[1], which is the chief article, are scarlet roots, not unlike, in shape and size, tulip-roots. They are mealy when roasted, but


  1. Hæmodorum spicatum. Br. Prodr., p. 300.