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On the South Coast of New South Wales (not the Illawarra coast, which is not the South Coast) is a wonderful tract of deeply undulated forest, wild and jungled bush. The highlands of this big territory overhang a strip of well-scrubbed and verdant bush which rolls north and south, showing the creeks and gullies by the deepness of the purple, and which, eastward, thins out to paddocks of perpetual grass with broad waters spread in them, and they in turn slip downward to curved edges and curved broad beaches of gleaming yellow sand broken into scallops by lion-like promontories that gaze out-ever out--over the great blue expanse of Pacific Sea.

These highlands are but foothills, though far-flung, of Australia's Great Dividing Range. They have been pressed to where they are by great weight. It is as though one day they will be pressed on and will cover the jungle and will be engulfed out over the beaches.

The jungle is the home of giant gums and dense myrtle, of umbrageous fig and tall palm, of sassafras and supplejack. The millions of shafted trees rear their topmost boughs up into the clouds and stand as great pillars, and the voice of animal and bird reverberates as the human voice does amongst fluted pillars of a great cathedral. But the movement of wallaby and bandicoot and bushrat, of the lyre-bird as he scratches, of the spotted native eat and the wallaroo, is silent, for there is a carpet of fallen leaves that allows no more sound than does the Axminster or the Brussels of the mansion.

All the wonder growth of our best Australian bush in this piece of country. Gullies are deep and dark. Rolling ridges are rounded and ferned. Down in the depths the creeks lie still. All the ferns, all the mosses, all the deep-green, rank-grown underscrub hem the chill waters of the little sunless creeks and close them about. Trailing vines and heavy myrtles make the gullies almost impenetrable. Up the slope of the mountain the scrub is less, and massed burrawangs hang out their fronds as if to repel the wanderer.

In one of the densest of the gullies, where the Eugenias and the Ceratopetalums hide the carpet of fallen leaves, lived a family of satin birds. The King of the Family was jet-black.

Down on the shores of the great wide Casuarina-fringed lagoons lived a family of aborigines. Their king was jet-black, and his totem was the satin bird of like colour. When the hunters tired of fishing, and when they wearied of crossing the sand-dunes and the glaring, shimmering beachglaring and shimmering on every fine day of summer-to poke off the mussels and spear the butterfish and groper, they pushed through the Ceratopetalums and the burrawangs, and, following the tortuous bed of the principal creek amid the ferns and the moss and the vines and the myrtles, gradually ascending, they entered the sub-tropical patch where the ferns were huge and lank and staghorns clustered on rocks and trees, and the beautiful Dendrobium clung, and the supplejacks and leatherwoods and bangalow palms ran up in slender height, and that pretty massive parasite-the wild fig-made its umbrageous shade, as has been written. Here they rested.

No shaft of sunlight ever penetrated through this dense foliage. Never did the fallen nor clinging plants here feel drying wind or see a sunbeam. It was never dry.

The porcupine pushed his spikey body through, slowly raising and lowering his banded quills, and the fat bandicoot snouted for roots, and sleek tiger-cats lay in wait for the pretty green tree-snake, and for other venomous reptiles; the brown-banded and carpet and diamond snakes twined among the vines or lay coiled between the damply warm roots.

Above, in the upper branches, the colonies of pretty flock and top-knot pigeons clattered, and a little lower the parrots and gill-birds shrieked. Below them the wrens and tits mingled with fantails' both black and brown, and down on the ground the little seed-eaters darted, while the coy lyre-bird stood and made his mocking calls or scratched powerfully to unearth his meats-the grubs and bugs and roaches of the damp underscrub.

When they had rested enough the straying hunters, with singleness of thought, arose and pushed on and up.

A wall of rock rose sheer with just one narrow cleft down which the water rushed or fell, and on the level crest of that a view above the figs and other tops out over the Ceratopetalums and burrawangs, and across the shimmering surface of the lake above the now hazy sand-dunes and beach to the wide, flat, blue sea, met the admiring gaze of the men.

But there was still far to go.

A wide slope down again to the level at the back of the ridge where the water of the creek was a miniature lake with just the narrow cleft cut through the wall, and down where the vines grew again and the eucalypti were mingled with turpentine.

A few hours' tramping and struggling with impending vines here, and they came to the gully of the satin birds. The darting, timid birds with the shining greenish plumage sat stock still while they watched the party of hunters. The jet-black king had chosen a burnt patch on the side of a Richea, and there he clung, his colour and that of the grass-tree making him almost invisible.

Then one of the hunters spied the home of his favourite grub on the side of this grass-tree, and as he detoured to get it the black satin thought he was discovered and he sprang out. He was very fat and heavy, and the surrounding scrub was thick, so he flapped awkwardly into the entanglement of Clematis and Eugenias.

This was his mistake and proved his undoing. Like a flash the nullah was flung, and with a grunt of satisfaction the aborigine rushed forward and seized his victim.

Now one of the party was the brother of the king of the group, and he, too, was of the satinbird totem. He asked to be allowed to examine the king of the satin birds, and, without touching it, having satisfied himself that it was really the totem of his father and himself, he said that it must not be again produced so that he could see it. The man who killed it must hide it, and it must be cooked and eaten quite out of sight of any man whose totem it was.

The black bird was hidden in the bag that was worn attached to the rope of fur around the black man's waist.

The giant range was still far ahead and there were many miles of this wooded country to be traversed before the party could reach the blue top that met the sky, and they pushed on until it was too dark to go further. No food was eaten that evening, and the dead satin bird remained fully feathered in the bag of the captor.

During the night he rolled in his sleep and the bag was emptied.

The black satin slipped beside the bird man.

In the morning when he awoke he saw what had happened, and because he was a bird man he was very frightened. He had been taught that he must never handle the king of the satin birds. The whole family was to him tabu, but the most tabu was the black one.

People who were tree people or flower people, or indeed of any other totem, could handle the satin bird and eat it.

However, as the custom was, he said nothing. All day he wondered what would be the ill that would come to him.

Once, in going over the deep creek by traversing one of the hundred logs that lay from bank to bank-a creek that wound along the foot of the enormous range-he slipped, and a jagged broken limb caused a deep wound in his leg and he thought that that was perhaps the punishment.

After that the real ascent, with all its difficulties and dangers, began. The men were behind a high pointed mass of mountain rocks that held a huge stone poised on its top and they were shut in by that and the surrounding steeps and by a wall of thousands of feet which was yet to be climbed, and then the sun went out.

Unnoticed, the day had changed.

Buried as they were in the dense forest the sky was out of their ken.

It had dulled. Deep clouds had spread over it, and now as they scaled into a higher air they found it to be raw and chill and a wind was blowing with a grim, steady persistence that foreshadowed rain in plenty.

Presently a fierce gust swept along the side, and after that the heavy rain fell. The black men huddled together and were at first undecided about what to do.

Presently it was agreed that the best thing was to return to the shelter of the gully behind the sharp-topped mount, there to await the passing of the rain. They lit fires and the man with the black satin turned his back to the rest to pluck it, and he took fire from the little heap, and out of the sight of the others he cooked his bird.

The son of the king ran no risks. He, too, parted from the group, and did his own cooking and he ate in silence. They all had berries and pieces of wallaby flesh. Only the satin was to any of them a totem thing.

Suddenly there came a roar from the mountain" side. Huge boulders were crashing down the steep. A rock had given way, and it came on, bringing others, and felling trees, and the group of blacks were right in its path. They scrambled up and each ran, holding the cooked food in the hands, to escape.

The falling mass was almost upon them. It was coming far more swiftly than any of them could run. Though it was impeded by trees so also were they by the scrub. The wound in the leg of the king's son prevented him from going as fast as the others, and the man with the piece of satin bird in his hand stayed to aid him. He grasped the arm of the other and they sped on, stumbling and falling, but progressing. Then their hands slipped together and each touched the totem.

Then they were paralysed. They fell. A big tree crashed.

The rest escaped. They got out of the path of the avalanche of rocks.

When the falling debris was stilled and the rain was ceasing and the wind was lessening they retraced their strides and they found the unlucky pair.

This put an end to their adventure. All knew what was their own totem, of course, and all knew that an outraged ancestor would have a revenge when he saw a disrespect, whether intentional or not. The ancestors were all jealous gods and they found ways of visiting such a sin upon everyone connected with it.

They returned the way they went out. There were the usual lamentations and the usual mourning period. The wives especially were required to show great sorrow, and by painting themselves with white clay, and pulling out their hair, and by cutting themselves in various places, particularly straight down the middle of the head so that blood ran over the face and down the neck, they satisfied the onlookers that they were genuinely grieved. No one ever went exactly to the place of the tragedy. Therefore, when, long years afterwards, white men were clambering about that steep of the great Curockbilly Range, they found the bones, and a derelict remnant of that once virile family told enough for me to write the true story of the black satin.

Next: The End: The Aborigines