Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/78

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ABORIGINAL WOMEN, 65

grow older — the natural result, no doubt, of the hardships they are made to endure, and the ill-usage to which they are frequently subjected. A circumstance once came under the observation of the writer which, however trifling in itself, will tend to illustrate the suavity of character alluded to. One of those groups of aborigines which were so frequently to be met through the city some few years ago had assembled at the corner of one of the streets. Among the number were several women and children; one of the latter, a youngster some seven or eight years of age, was engaged in eating a half-loaf of bread, the gift, no doubt, of some benevolent housewife in the neighbourhood, while another juvenile, of about the same age, regarded the loaf and the eater with the most wistful eagerness. Presently, the latter accidentally letting his treasure fall on the ground, the former, with the speed of thought, picked it up and ran away, eating as he went. The mother of the delinquent, whose attention was attracted by the occurrence, at once gave chase, and overtaking the runaway, returned the prize to the lawful owner. The mother of the latter, in turn, considerately taking into account the probable hunger of the other child divided the bread in halves between the two boys. A remarkable instance of the fidelity of the native women is related as having been displayed in the earlier days of colonial history. A young aboriginal woman had become attached to a prisoner of the Crown assigned on a station in the interior.