While working on a sermon the pastor heard a knock at his office door. "Come in," he invited. A sad-looking man in threadbare clothes came in, pulling a large pig on a rope. "Can I talk to you for a minute?" asked the ma... Read more of Professional Humour at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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The Bunyip

from The Brown Fairy Book





Long, long ago, far, far away on the other side of the world, some young
men left the camp where they lived to get some food for their wives and
children. The sun was hot, but they liked heat, and as they went they
ran races and tried who could hurl his spear the farthest, or was
cleverest in throwing a strange weapon called a boomerang, which always
returns to the thrower. They did not get on very fast at this rate, but
presently they reached a flat place that in time of flood was full of
water, but was now, in the height of summer, only a set of pools, each
surrounded with a fringe of plants, with bulrushes standing in the
inside of all. In that country the people are fond of the roots of
bulrushes, which they think as good as onions, and one of the young men
said that they had better collect some of the roots and carry them back
to the camp. It did not take them long to weave the tops of the willows
into a basket, and they were just going to wade into the water and pull
up the bulrush roots when a youth suddenly called out: 'After all, why
should we waste our time in doing work that is only fit for women and
children? Let them come and get the roots for themselves; but we will
fish for eels and anything else we can get.'

This delighted the rest of the party, and they all began to arrange
their fishing lines, made from the bark of the yellow mimosa, and to
search for bait for their hooks. Most of them used worms, but one, who
had put a piece of raw meat for dinner into his skin wallet, cut off a
little bit and baited his line with it, unseen by his companions.

For a long time they cast patiently, without receiving a single bite;
the sun had grown low in the sky, and it seemed as if they would have to
go home empty-handed, not even with a basket of roots to show; when
the youth, who had baited his hook with raw meat, suddenly saw his line
disappear under the water. Something, a very heavy fish he supposed,
was pulling so hard that he could hardly keep his feet, and for a few
minutes it seemed either as if he must let go or be dragged into the
pool. He cried to his friends to help him, and at last, trembling with
fright at what they were going to see, they managed between them to land
on the bank a creature that was neither a calf nor a seal, but something
of both, with a long, broad tail. They looked at each other with horror,
cold shivers running down their spines; for though they had never beheld
it, there was not a man amongst them who did not know what it was--the
cub of the awful Bunyip!

All of a sudden the silence was broken by a low wail, answered by
another from the other side of the pool, as the mother rose up from her
den and came towards them, rage flashing from her horrible yellow eyes.
'Let it go! let it go!' whispered the young men to each other; but the
captor declared that he had caught it, and was going to keep it. 'He had
promised his sweetheart,' he said, 'that he would bring back enough meat
for her father's house to feast on for three days, and though they could
not eat the little Bunyip, her brothers and sisters should have it to
play with.' So, flinging his spear at the mother to keep her back, he
threw the little Bunyip on to his shoulders, and set out for the camp,
never heeding the poor mother's cries of distress.

By this time it was getting near sunset, and the plain was in shadow,
though the tops of the mountains were still quite bright. The youths had
all ceased to be afraid, when they were startled by a low rushing sound
behind them, and, looking round, saw that the pool was slowly rising,
and the spot where they had landed the Bunyip was quite covered. 'What
could it be?' they asked one of another; 'there was not a cloud in the
sky, yet the water had risen higher already than they had ever known it
do before.' For an instant they stood watching as if they were frozen,
then they turned and ran with all their might, the man with the Bunyip
running faster than all. When he reached a high peak over-looking all
the plain he stopped to take breath, and turned to see if he was safe
yet. Safe! why only the tops of the trees remained above that sea of
water, and these were fast disappearing. They must run fast indeed if
they were to escape. So on they flew, scarcely feeling the ground as
they went, till they flung themselves on the ground before the holes
scooped out of the earth where they had all been born. The old men were
sitting in front, the children were playing, and the women chattering
together, when the little Bunyip fell into their midst, and there was
scarcely a child among them who did not know that something terrible
was upon them. 'The water! the water!' gasped one of the young men; and
there it was, slowly but steadily mounting the ridge itself. Parents and
children clung together, as if by that means they could drive back
the advancing flood; and the youth who had caused all this terrible
catastrophe, seized his sweetheart, and cried: 'I will climb with you
to the top of that tree, and there no waters can reach us.' But, as he
spoke, something cold touched him, and quickly he glanced down at his
feet. Then with a shudder he saw that they were feet no longer, but
bird's claws. He looked at the girl he was clasping, and beheld a great
black bird standing at his side; he turned to his friends, but a flock
of great awkward flapping creatures stood in their place He put up his
hands to cover his face, but they were no more hands, only the ends of
wings; and when he tried to speak, a noise such as he had never heard
before seemed to come from his throat, which had suddenly become narrow
and slender. Already the water had risen to his waist, and he found
himself sitting easily upon it, while its surface reflected back the
image of a black swan, one of many.

Never again did the swans become men; but they are still different from
other swans, for in the night-time those who listen can hear them talk
in a language that is certainly not swan's language; and there are even
sounds of laughing and talking, unlike any noise made by the swans whom
we know.

The little Bunyip was carried home by its mother, and after that the
waters sank back to their own channels. The side of the pool where
she lives is always shunned by everyone, as nobody knows when she may
suddenly put out her head and draw him into her mighty jaws. But people
say that underneath the black waters of the pool she has a house filled
with beautiful things, such as mortals who dwell on the earth have no
idea of. Though how they know I cannot tell you, as nobody has ever seen
it.





Next: Father Grumbler

Previous: How Ball-carrier Finished His Task



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