Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/170

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COO-EE IN LONDON. 157

way it came to pass, as recorded by general report and colonial tradition, was this:—A colonist, who, probably, had accumulated a fortune in the far interior of New South Wales by wholesaling and retailing slops, tobacco, grog, and other necessaries and luxuries to the settlers, shepherds, and blacks, and had returned to England to expend a portion of his wealth among the scenes of his youth, was passing through one of the most populous streets of the city in company with his wife. Unaccustomed to perambulating in crowded thoroughfares, the good lady unwittingly strayed from the side of her husband. The latter, on missing his charge, ran anxiously about for some minutes to seek her out, and, failing in his search, jumped on to the elevated footway of a neighbouring bridge, and, with instinctive forethought, "coo-eed" most lustily, to the utter bewilderment, of gazing Londoners. Nor was the surprise of the spectators in any way diminished when their ears were greeted with the repetition of the outlandish sound from a distant part of the street, where the lost wife, catching the familiar notes, responded in shrill treble to the reverberating tenor of her lord.

Even among those who have been long familiar with the call of the Australian forests, it may not be generally known that in one particular it bears the palm from all other known intonations. This peculiar excellence consists in its adaptation for conveying the voice to a distance. It is pretty well ascertained by those competent to decide on the