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The Weeoonibeens And The Piggiebillah

Source: Australian Legendary Tales

Two Weeoombeen brothers went out hunting. One brother was much younger
than the other and smaller, so when they sighted an emu, the elder one
said to the younger: "You stay quietly here and do not make a noise, or
Piggiebillah, whose camp we passed just now, will hear you and steal
the emu if I kill it. He is so strong. I'll go on and try to kill the
emu with this stone." The little Weeoombeen watched his big brother
sneak up to the emu, crawling along, almost flat, on the ground. He saw
him get quite close to the emu, then spring up quickly and throw the
stone with such an accurate aim as to kill the bird on the spot. The
little brother was so rejoiced that he forgot his brother's caution,
and he called aloud in his joy. The big Weeoombeen looked round and
gave him a warning sign, but too late, Piggiebillah had heard the cry
and was hastening towards them. Quickly big Weeoombeen left the emu and
joined his little brother.

Piggiebillah, when he came up, said: "What have you found?"

"Nothing," said the big Weeoombeen, "nothing but some mistletoe

"It must have been something more than that, or your little brother
would not have called out so loudly."

Little Weeoombeen was so afraid that Piggiebillah would find their emu
and take it, that he said: "I hit a little bird with a stone, and I was
glad I could throw so straight."

"It was no cry for the killing of a little bird or for the finding of
mistletoe berries that I heard. It was for something much more than
either, or you would not have called out so joyfully. If you do not
tell me at once I will kill you both."

The Weeoombeen brothers were frightened, for Piggiebillah was a great
fighter and very strong, so when they saw he was really angry, they
showed him the dead emu.

"Just what I want for my supper," he said, and so saying, dragged it
away to his own camp. The Weeoombeens followed him and even helped him
to make a fire to cook the emu, hoping by so doing to get a share given
to them. But Piggiebillah would not give them any; he said he must have
it all for himself.

Angry and disappointed, the Weeoombeens marched straight off and told
some black fellows who lived near, that Piggiebillah had a fine fat emu
just cooked for supper.

Up jumped the black fellows, seized their spears, bade the Weeoombeens
quickly lead them to Piggiebillah's camp, promising them for so doing a
share of the emu.

When they were within range of spear shot, the black fellows formed a
circle, took aim, and threw their spears at Piggiebillah. As the spears
fell thick on him, sticking out all over him, Piggiebillah cried aloud:
"Bingehlah, Bingeblah. You can have it, you can have it." But the black
fellows did not desist until Piggiebillah was too wounded even to cry
out; then they left him a mass of spears and turned to look for the
emu. But to their surprise they found it not. Then for the first time
they missed the Weeoombeens.

Looking round they saw their tracks going to where the emu had
evidently been; then they saw that they had dragged the emu to their
nyunnoo, which was a humpy made of grass.

When the Weeoombeens saw the black fellows coming, they caught hold of
the emu and dragged it to a big hole they knew of, with a big stone at
its entrance, which stone only they knew the secret of moving. They
moved the stone, got the emu and themselves into the hole, and the
stone in place again before the black fellows reached the place.

The black fellows tried to move the stone, but could not. Yet they knew
that the Weeoombeens must have done so, for they had tracked them right
up to it, and they could hear the sound of their voices on the other
side of it. They saw there was a crevice on either side of the stone,
between it and the ground. Through these crevices they, drove in their
spears, thinking they must surely kill the brothers. But the
Weeoombeens too had seen these crevices and had anticipated the spears,
so they had placed the dead emu before them to act as a shield. And
into its body were driven the spears of the black fellows extended for
the Weeoombeens.

Having driven the spears well in, the black fellows went off to get
help to move the stone, but when they had gone a little way they heard
the Weeoombeens laughing. Back they came and speared again, and again
started for help, only as they left to hear once more the laughter of
the brothers.

The Weeoombeens finding their laughter only brought back the black
fellows to a fresh attack, determined to keep quiet, which, after the
next spearing, they did.

Quite sure, when they heard their spear shots followed by neither
conversation nor laughter, that they had killed the Weeoombeens at
last, the black fellows hurried away to bring back the strength and
cunning of the camp, to remove the stone.

The Weeoombeens hurriedly discussed what plan they had better adopt to
elude the black fellows, for well they knew that should they ever meet
any of them again they would be killed without mercy. And as they
talked they satisfied their hunger by eating some of the emu flesh.

After a while the black fellows returned, and soon was the stone
removed from the entrance. Some of them crept into the hole, where, to
their surprise, they found only the remains of the emu and no trace of
the Weeoombeens. As those who had gone in first crept out and told of
the disappearance of the Weeoombeens, others, incredulous of such a
story, crept in to find it confirmed. They searched round for tracks;
seeing that their spears were all in the emu it seemed to them probable
the Weeoombeens had escaped alive, but if so, whither they had gone
their tracks would show. But search as they would no tracks could they
find. All they could see were two little birds which sat on a bush near
the hole, watching the black fellows all the time. The little birds
flew round the hole sometimes, but never away, always returning to
their bush and seeming to be discussing the whole affair; but what they
said the black fellows could not understand. But as time went on and no
sign was ever found of the Weeoombeens, the black fellows became sure
that the brothers had turned into the little white-throated birds which
had sat on the bush by the hole, so, they supposed, to escape their
vengeance. And ever afterwards the little white-throats were called
Weeoombeens. And the memory of Piggiebillah is perpetuated by a sort of
porcupine ant-eater, which bears his name, and whose skin is covered
closely with miniature spears sticking all over it.

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