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The Fate of Mocking Bird

mocking bird

Weedah the Mocking Bird was true to his name. He could imitate the voices of men and women, of crying babies, barking dogs, wind up in the trees, the crackling of fire, and the running of water. Unfortunately he turned his talents to wicked purposes. He left the company of his fellow tribesmen and constructed a new encampment which contained many gunyahs.

Mocking Bird danced in and out of the tiny huts trying out his voice. One of the men who lived in the old camp was curious, and hid behind a tree. As he listened he heard many sounds—girls chattering together, children shouting as they raced round the camp, old men and women talking, someone singing, and all the other noises that come from a busy community, but there was no sign of life anywhere, except that a huge fire was burning in a cleared space. Wonderingly he tiptoed forward, stealing between the huts and peering through the doorways.

Weedah came out of one of the gunyahs and stood watching him with a smile on his face.

'Are you looking for someone?'

The man whirled round. 'Oh, it's you, Weedah! Where are all the others?'

'What others?'

'I heard the sound of many people, but your camp seems deserted now.'

Weedah laughed and came towards him. The man stepped backwards. Weedah kept on walking, and the man retreated steadily before him until he felt the heat of the fire on his back. 'Stop! Stop!' he shouted. 'You are mad, Weedah!

'Mocking bird spread his arms and shrugged his shoulders. 'What is the matter with you, friend? No one invited you to my camp. I am lonely here, but some day men and women may come and fill the place with songs and laughter and talk. But they have not come yet. You are imagining things.'

'I did hear them, Weedah.' He shivered. 'There is something strange about this place. I am going home.'

Weedah stood in his way. As the man tried to edge round him, Mocking Bird lunged forward and sent him spinning into the fire. A weird torrent of laughter swept through the camp as though many kookaburras were chattering together, but it was only Weedah laughing at his success.

As the days passed by Mocking Bird attracted many men and women into his camp by the magic of his voice, and burnt their bodies in the fire which was always kept alight. No one except the victims knew what had happened, but the suspicions of Mullian, the Eagle-hawk, had been roused. He scouted round and found that although many trails led to Weedah's encampment, there were none coming from it except those of Mocking Bird himself.

Mullian, proud, self-reliant, and cunning, then knew what had happened to some of his closest friends. He decided that the time had come for Weedah to pay for his misdeeds. He stepped boldly out of the shelter of the trees and listened to the medley of sounds that came from the gunyahs. Weedah had become over-confident. When Eagle-hawk wandered amongst the shelters, he came up to him, asking the usual questions, and driving Mullian slowly towards the fire.

The crucial moment arrived. He launched himself at the larger man, but Mullian stepped aside, and as Weedah stumbled forward, he tripped him up. Mocking Bird tried to save himself. As he balanced precariously on his toes, Mullian took him in both hands, lifted him into the air, and hurled him into the fire. Mocking Bird's head struck heavily against a stone, and he lay still with the fire licking his clothes.

As Mullian was leaving the camp the air was rent by a violent explosion. The back of Weedah's head broke in two, and from it came a bird which flew into the trees and began to chatter like a kookaburra, mocking the Eagle-hawk.

Weedah the Mocking Bird retained all the traits of Weedah the man who preyed on his own friends. Weedah the Mocking Bird still builds little shelters of grass, and imitates all the sounds of nature as he runs between the gunyahs.

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


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