Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/49

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34 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

manner, and entered into communication with them through the medium of signs, without evincing the least appearance of embarrassment or dread. On the boat afterwards leaving the shore to return to the ship he turned his face homewards, and disappeared in the bush without once looking back at what must have been to him a new and extraordinary spectacle. An illustration of their indifference is also afforded by the carelessness they evince on first coming in contact with those huge animals which are ever adjuncts to European society — horses, cattle, &c. The American Indians for a long time entertained the belief that the horses of the Europeans were beasts of prey, used in warfare to destroy and devour the enemy, while some looked upon the horse and rider as identical; hence in the early contests between the first colonists and the aborigines, one horseman has been known to put to flight hundreds of the latter. No such feelings of surprise or fear are betrayed by the New Hollander in his first intercourse with Europeans and their accompanying agencies. Instances are numerous where the aborigines in the most remote parts of the interior, where white man never before trod, or was never mentioned, have become at once the auxiliaries of explorers, approaching and handling their beasts of burden as though they had been all their days accustomed to such brutes. Nor can this be ascribed to any other cause than a quickness of perception by which they at once perceive the use and application of everything they behold, combined with a certain