Page:Moyarra- An Australian Legend in Two Cantos, 1891.djvu/54

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MOYARRA

venerated. There were of course districts in which no such crystals abounded, but they were obtained by barter or as presents from other tribes, and were carefully enveloped in twine made from the fur of the opossum. In 1835 a white man seized one of these, and showed it to a native woman in the presence of the man whom he had despoiled of it. A black was ordered by the tribe to punish the crime, and he slew the criminal.

A missionary, Rev. Mr. Threlkeld (author of an Australian Grammar), attended to interpret in a court of law for the obedient executioner. Mr. Threlkeld reported to the Government, "Charley was found guilty of murder, which he did not deny even when arraigned, but pleaded the custom of his nation, justifying himself on the ground that a talisman named Murramai (the crystal) was taken from him by the Englishman, was pulled to pieces by him, and shown to the black woman, which, according to their superstitious notions, subjects all parties to the punishment of death, and further that he was deputed, with others, by his tribe, to enforce the penalty which he too faithfully performed,"

Threlkeld attended at the scaffold the man who fell, Spartan-like, in obedience to his country's laws. Threlkeld wrote, "he kneeled and prayed; we ascended the gallows; he stood firmly, saying, 'I am now cast away for death,' and repeated the prayer,' Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'"

The "conflict of laws" sorely exercised the patience of Threlkeld. He represented, on another occasion, that it was anomalous that a black man should be tried in an English Court for killing another black, inasmuch as, if "acquitted, he must again stand trial amongst his own people"; and, moreover, in the English Courts no black was allowed to give evidence.