Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/80

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ABORIGINAL WOMEN. 67

appeared inevitable, the woman saved him by a scheme which displayed considerable capacity of conception as well as boldness of execution. This was nothing less than volunteering her services to conduct the police to the place of concealment, when she in reality led them far from his retreat. When the fugitive was finally captured and executed for a capital offence, the woman, repelling the addresses of other white men who conceived an admiration for the excellent qualities she had displayed, returned to her tribe, and did not again enter into the society of Europeans. Several instances are also on record of aboriginal females having displayed a high sense of humanity and justice by giving timely notice to settlers and others when the blacks were meditating some aggression either on life or property; and it is said that for this reason the aborigines never admit their "better halves" into their councils, when they are planning any expedition or enterprise of importance. The chief employments of the females appear to be the making of opossum cloaks, ballombimes, and baskets, the spinning of strings formed from the bark of the currajong tree and native flax, the stringing of the beads of which they form their necklaces, and the digging of a species of fern-root which abounds in some parts of the country, and forms a considerable portion of the food of the aborigines; all these labours and operations they perform with the assistance of the youths who have not yet been admitted to the privileges of manhood. In the marches and