Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
till it hums out a loud, dull roar. A Scout’s Secret Letter
Although the blacks cannot write, I have got one of their letters. It is a little bit of stick about five inches long; on one side is the following design carved with a knife:
This letter was written by a man who, with several others, had gone on a journey, and finding a traveller who was going back to his tribe, he gave him the letter to take as it would tell them that he and his three companions after crossing several ranges of hills were all well.
Here is a similar sort of letter which one Scout might send to a friend in another troop, the arrowheads showing whom it was from and to whom sent. It could be scratched on a slip of wood or bone just as well as drawn on paper:
But as a good many people can read Morse, it makes it a bit more difficult for a stranger to make out if you close up the letters like this and read first the top line letter and next the letter below, then back to the top line, so on. The above message would therefore be written thus:
The Australian black is a great hand at throwing his spear. The spear is generally made of a thin shaft of hard, heavy wood, about six feet long. The head is either the shaft itself sharpened and hardened in the fire, or a piece of flint or glass finely chipped till it is sharp and pointed, and glued to the shaft so that when it enters an enemy it breaks off and remains in the wound.
The spear is thrown by means of a woomera. This is a flat strip of wood about two feet long, tapering to a handle at one end, while at the other end it has a small spike pointing towards the handle.
The butt end of the spear has a little round dent made in it, and the spike fits into this and the shaft lies along the woomera, being held there between the forefinger and thumb of the thrower while he grasps the woomera with the other fingers.