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

Deegeenboyah the soldier-bird

Wait till I call, then jump."

"No, I am afraid."

"Come on, I will be ready this time. Now come."

"I am afraid."

"Come on; I am strong." And he smiled quite kindly up at the child, who, hesitating no longer, jumped towards his arms, only to meet her sister's fate.

"Now," said Mullyangah, "here come the two wives. I must silence them, or when they see their children their cries will warn their husband if he is within earshot." So he sneaked behind a tree, and as the two wives passed he struck them dead with his spears. Then he went to the trapdoor that the children had shown him, and sat down to wait for the coming of Deegeenboyah. He had not long to wait. The trap-door was pushed up and out came a cooked emu, which he caught hold of and laid on one side. Deegeenboyah thought it was the girls taking it, as they had often watched for his coming and done before, so he pushed up another, which Mullyangah took, then a third, and lastly came up himself, to find Mullyangah confronting him spear and boondee in hand. He started back, but the trap-door was shut behind him, and Mullyangah barred his escape in front.

"Ah," said Mullyangah, "you stole our food and now you shall die. I've killed your children."

Decgeenboyah looked wildly round, and, seeing the dead bodies of his girls beneath the leaning tree, he groaned aloud.

"And," went on Mullyangah, "I've killed your wives."

Deegenboyah raised his head and looked again wildly round, and there, on their homeward path, he saw his dead wives. Then he called aloud, "Here Mullyangah are your emus; take them and spare me. I shall steal no more, for I myself want little, but my children and my wives hungered. I but stole for them. Spare me, I pray you. I am old; I shall not live long. Spare me."

"Not so," said Mullyangah, "no man lives to steal twice from a Mullyan;" and, so saying, he speared Deegeenboyah where he stood. Then he lifted up the emus, and, carrying them with him, went swiftly back to his camp.

And merry was the supper that night when the Mullyans ate the emus, and Mullyangah told the story of his search and slaughter.

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