These wood natives also make a paste formed of the fern-root and the large and small ant bruised together; in the season they also add the eggs of this insect.
How will the refined ear of gallantry be wounded at reading an account of the courtship of these people! I have said that there was a delicacy visible in the manners of the females. Is it not shocking then to think that the prelude to love in this country should be violence? Yet such it is, and of the most brutal nature of these unfortunate victims of lust and cruelty (I can call them by no better name) are, I believe, always selected from the women of a tribe different from that of the males (for they ought not to be dignified with the title of men) and with whom they are at enmity. Secrecy is necessarily observed, and the poor wretch is stolen upon in the absence of her protectors; being first stupified with blows, inflicted with clubs or wooden swords, on the head, back, and shoulders, every one of which is followed by a stream of blood, she is dragged through the woods by one arm, with a perseverance and violence that one might suppose would displace it from its socket; the lover, or rather the ravisher, is regardless of the stones or broken pieces of trees which may lie in his route, being anxious only to convey his prize in safety to his own party, where a scene ensues too shocking to relate. This outrage is not resented by the relations of the female, who only retaliate by a similar outrage when they find it in their power. This is so constantly the practice among them, that even the children make it a game or exercise; and I have often, on hearing the cries of the girls with whom they were playing, ran out of my house, thinking some murder was committed, but have found the whole party laughing at my mistake.
The women thus ravished become their wives, are incorporated into the tribe to which the husband belongs, and but seldom quit him for another.
Many of the men with whom we were acquainted did not confine themselves to one woman. Bennillong, previous to his visit to England, was possessed of two wives (if wives they may be called), both living with him and attending on him wherever he went. One named Ba-rang-a-roo, who was of the tribe of Cam-mer-ray (Bennillong himself was a Wahn-gal), lived with him at the time he was seized and brought a captive to the settlemerit with Cole-be; and before her death he had brought off from Botany Bay, by the violence before described, Go-roo-bar-roo-bool-lo, the daughter of an old man named Met-ty, a native of that district; and she continued with him until his departure for England. We were told, on the banks of the Hawkesbury, that all the men there, and inland, had two wives. Cole-be, Bennillong’s friend, had two female companions; and we found, indeed, more instances of plurality of wives than of monogamy. I do not recollect ever noticing children by both; and observed, that in general, as might be expected, the two women were always jealous of and quarrelling with each other. I have heard them say, that the first wife claimed a priority of attachment and exclusive right to the conjugal embrace; while the second or latter choice was compelled to be the slave and drudge of both.