Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/45

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30 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

multitudinous and beautiful objects of the starry spheres may be inferred from the well-authenticated fact of his having distinguished from surrounding groups the constellation Gemini, and having conferred thereon an appellation of his own choosing — the Castor and Pollux of classic lore being by the New Hollander transformed into the Blackfellow and his Gin. Those masses of light in the heavens, long known as Magellan's Clouds, have likewise been noted by the aborigines, and their existence explained by them in their own peculiar style. The tradition is current among the tribes of the northern part of Australia that a solitary black, having strayed from his companions on a hunting excursion, lighted a fire in the night where he stopped; that, having warmed himself with its heat, and the fuel being reduced to embers, he cast his eyes upwards, where he beheld distinctly above him the wonderful spectacle of the smoke of his fire changed into two cloudy oval masses, and standing immovable in the sky. Such is the aboriginal origin of Magellan's Clouds. Whether the tradition affords any explanation as to why and wherefore the smoke performed such an extraordinary feat, or why the smoke of the fire lighted by the aforesaid benighted individual should accomplish such an eccentricity, any more than the smoke of any other fire, has not been ascertained. That such a tradition, however, should obtain among the aborigines, and be received by them with some credulity, is by no means improbable or unnatural, when it is considered that