The Dreaming

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Fish Hawk and Lyrebird

Superb Lyrebird

The pool lay dark and still in the shadow of the trees. Fish Hawk was just as still as the pool, lying on his back with his legs stretched out, fast asleep. He had spent the morning crushing poisonous berries. When he had finished he poured the juice into the pool and went to sleep, knowing that when he woke the fish would be dead and floating on the surface. He smiled in his sleep and dreamed of the big feed he would soon be having.

He did not wake up even when Lyrebird came out of the bush and began to spear the fish. The poison had not had time to take effect, but before long the newcomer had a good supply. He lit a fire and began to roast them. Fish Hawk woke with a start and realised that Lyrebird had deliberately taken advantage of him. He stole up behind him, quietly gathered up the spears which Lyrebird had put by his side, and retreated to the shelter of the trees. He chose the tallest tree he could find, climbed to the top, and lashed the spears to the trunk. Back on the ground, he looked up and admired his work. The spears looked like a feathery branch at the top of the tree. He hid under a bush and waited to see what would happen.

Lyrebird made a leisurely meal and then put out his hand to gather up his spears. His groping fingers failed to find them. He searched everywhere with a puzzled expression, but there was no other place where he could have left them. Fish Hawk laughed silently as he watched from his hiding place and saw Lyrebird running round and round the pool, looking everywhere for the missing spears. It was even funnier when he began to talk to himself.

'Someone has been here while I was cooking fish,' Lyrebird said aloud. 'Who could it be? What would he do with them? He could bury them, but there is no sign of the soil being disturbed. He could run away with them, of course, but then I would see the marks of his flight through the bush. And he could hide them in a tree.'

He walked through the bush, looking up and down the trees until at least he saw the spears waving in the breeze. Lyrebird was a man who did not believe in working when there was an easier way to do things. He called on the spirits of water, and streams, and floods, and at his word the water in the pool rose quickly and carried him on its surface to the top of the tree, where he retrieved the spears, sinking down to the ground as the water receded.

Poor Fish Hawk was caught in the flood and swept out to sea. He has never been able to get back to his quiet pool again, but lives on the sea coast.

Lyrebird never forgot his experience that day. Everywhere he goes he searches the tree tops for his spears.

A.W. Reed, Aboriginal Fables & Legendary Tales (Aboriginal Library)


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