Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/105

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92 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

gestures towards his new acquaintance. The latter, now somewhat reassured by finding that he had to deal with a being bearing a close affinity to himself in shape and proportions, having hesitated for a moment, at last drove his spear upright into the ground, and slowly approached the stranger, keeping, however, at a respectful distance from the horse, towards which he occasionally cast a glance of suspicion and scrutiny. After a time, the parties having become mutually confiding, entered into a conversation by means of signs and gestures, which terminated by the New Hollander pointing out to the other a spot in which he would be able to procure water, of which he was in quest, stepping aside out of the way of the horse when his rider had remounted, and bidding good-bye with a movement of considerable dignity and politeness.

Among tribes of so very unsettled and migratory habits as the aborigines, who seldom reside in the same locality for more than a day or two, the preserving or procuring sufficient fire to ignite the wood with which they cook their food, or warm the air around their couches at night, must form an important part of their everyday economy. Very generally, when they remove from one locality to another, the females carry burning sticks in their hands to serve the necessary purpose at the next camping-place. As fire cannot always be preserved in this way, however, owing to the length of their marches and the various vicissitudes to which the travellers are subjected in