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The Cruel Stepmother

The bull rushed at the mountain with all his force, but the mountain was so hard that it broke his head and he fell down dead. Some moles were playing in the soft earth near by, and the head called to them to make a passage through the hill. So the moles searched and found a soft earthy place in the midst of the rock and soon they tunnelled a hole to the other side of the mountain, through which the head was able to pass. When the children saw their pursuer coming out of the moles' tunnel they cried loudly and ran away as fast as they could. At last, after a very long chase, the head was almost upon them, and they decided to use their last means of protection. They threw the wet moss behind them, and at once a long black swamp appeared where the moss had fallen, between them and their wicked follower. The head was going at such a great speed, bumping over the ground, that it could not stop. It rolled into the swamp and disappeared into the soft mud and was never seen again.

The children then went home to wait for their father. It was a long journey, for they had run far. But their father never came. Months and months they waited, but he did not come, and they grew up to be great magicians and very powerful among their tribe. At last, by their magic power, they learned what had happened to their father. Their stepmother's body continued to follow him as he ran towards the west. It followed him for many days. Then by his magic power, which the vision of his dead wife had brought to him, he changed himself into the Sun, and went to live with his wife in the sky-country. But the old witch-woman also had magic power, and she changed herself into the Moon and followed him to the land of the stars. And there she still pursues him. And while he keeps ahead of her and she cannot catch him, night follows day in all the world. But if she overtakes him she will kill him, and day will disappear and night shall reign for evermore upon the earth. And the Blackfeet of the plains pray that he will always keep in front in the race with his former witch-wife, so that there may be always Night and Day in succession in all the land.

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Category: Australian folktales
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