Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/173

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160 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

reserves, and a determination at all hazards to preserve them intact, are here manifested; but had it been known to the early settlers, or even to the European new-comer of later days, that the rules of aboriginal good manners forbade any individual or party to approach uninvited a watering-place in the possession of any tribe, the demeanour of the blacks on those occasions referred to would have prevented wonder, and might have saved many a fierce encounter. Yet such was and is the case. The coo-ee is not only used as a call, but is employed as a salutation or a warning; and thus when a tribe, in its migratory wanderings, approaches a lagoon, it is the invariable practice among the blacks to despatch one of their number in advance, who, standing at a distance from the water, "coo-ees" at the top of his voice. If the banks of the pool are already in the possession of a tribe the coo-ee is answered, and the approaching tribe, halting at some distance, never attempt to approach till invited by the pre-occupants of the place. Thus the coo-ee is to the New Hollander a most valuable and necessary auxiliary in all his enterprises and daily pursuits—his friend in the hour of peril, as it calls his companions to his side, or enables him to rejoin their society; his valuable auxiliary in his great enterprises, as by its aid every member of a family party or tribe are assembled at a moment's notice for council or for war; and, lastly, in his conventional usages, his note of salutation, enabling him to preserve that ceremonious and