Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/133

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120 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

Bay all the day and night following their arrival, they a second time received abundantly the good offices of their old friend. The time had now arrived, however, when their intimacy and friendship were at once to be severed by a most unexpected and unpleasant occurrence. On the morning following the landing of the boat party, an axe, which was among their implements, was missed, and search being made among the aborigines, who were encamped round the place, it was found in the possession of the old man. It had always been an object with the authorities to impress upon the blacks the nature of the crime of theft, by immediately punishing every act of stealing, and as quickly rewarding all acts of honesty. This time Governor Phillip determined to make no exception to the rule, and, accordingly, approaching the offender, he inflicted with his open hand two or three severe slaps on the shoulder, at the same time pointing significantly to the pilfered axe, to give him to understand the cause of the punishment. The old New Hollander was not, however, to be chastised thus summarily with impunity; his manhood fired at the insult offered in the presence of a multitude of his own people and a crowd of strangers. Darting to where the arms of the tribe were deposited, and seizing a spear, he poised it aloft, and giving utterance to his resentment in the most fierce imprecations, and foaming with rage, was about to hurl the weapon at his assailant, when his arm was arrested by some of the more peaceably disposed of his com