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Main > Australian folktales > Fairy tale "Deegeenboyah the soldier-bird"

Deegeenboyah the soldier-bird

Tell me, where is your nest?"

"In the clump of the Goolahbahs, on the edge of the plain," said the unsuspecting Mullyan.

"Ah, I thought so. That is mine. But what matter? We can share—there will be plenty for all. We must get the net and go and camp near the nest to-night, and to-morrow trap the emu."

The Mullyan got their emu trapping net, one made of thin rope about as thick as a thin clothes line, about five feet high, and between two and three hundred yards long. And off they set, accompanied by Deegeenboyah, to camp near where the emu was setting. When they had chosen a place to camp, they had their supper and a little corrobborce, illustrative of slaying emu, etc. The next morning at daylight they erected their net into a sort of triangular shaped yard, one side open. Black fellows were stationed at each end of the net, and at stated distances along it. The net was upheld by upright poles. When the net was fixed, some of the blacks made a wide circle round the emu's nest, leaving open the side towards the net. They closed in gradually until they frightened the emu off the nest. The emu seeing black fellows on every side but one, ran in that direction. The blacks followed closely, and the bird was soon yarded. Madly the frightened bird rushed against the net. Up ran a black fellow, seized the bird and wrung its neck. Then some of them went back to the nest to get the eggs, which they baked in the ashes of their fire and ate. They made a hole to cook the emu in. They plucked the emu. When they had plenty of coals, they put a thick layer at the bottom of the hole, some twigs of leaves on top of the coals, some feathers on the top of them. Then they laid the emu in, more feathers on the top of it, leaves again on top of them, and over them a thick layer of coals, and lastly they covered all with earth.

It would be several hours in cooking, so Deegeenboyah said, "I will stay and cook the emu, you young fellows take moonoons—emu spears—and try and get some more emu.

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