Page:The aborigines of Australia.djvu/93

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80 THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA.

formed like the former, is about eight feet long and the thickness of a finger. This weapon is rendered terrible by the formation of its point or head, which is always barbed, for six or eight inches, with fish-teeth, glass, or pieces of bone. This is sometimes called by Europeans the "death-spear," from the fact that, owing to the peculiar construction of its head, death is the almost inevitable result of a serious wound inflicted by it. In the use of the spear the aborigines employ the foot as well as the arm. When hard pressed in battle they will avoid the necessity of stooping for their arms by raising them with the toes of the feet. This practice renders caution very necessary on the part of Europeans in their first intercourse with them, as several instances are on record of parties of aborigines, apparently unarmed, having invited Europeans to peaceful interviews, when they were subsequently found trailing their spears between their toes on the ground. Governor Phillip, the Æneas of New South Wales, very nearly sacrificed his life to this then unknown artifice. Approaching an aboriginal in the midst of his tribe, on whom he wished to bestow some mark of favour, the savage, mistaking the movement of the Governor for a hostile demonstration, with the speed of thought raised a spear, before unobserved, with his foot, and hurling it with unerring aim, inflicted a dangerous wound. The wommera the instrument by the aid of which the spear is projected, is, in general, like the spear, formed of a piece of wood, about three feet