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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Cape Barren, Southeastern Australia


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Translation: Andrys Onsman

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Language information: [Click]Click here for different versions. >

The Moonbird

There used to be this Moonbird nest in one of the old sheds. One day the old birds were out lookin’ for a feed for the young’uns—and the young’uns stopped at home.

Mutton-bird, Moonbird, Yolla (Puffinus tenuirostris)
After a while, the Old Co’e comes home.

“What’s happened here?” he says. “Who’se had a go at youse? Youse all look like ya’ve had the shit scared outa youse!”

“Oh, Dad,” they say, “Taraba was here. We was just sittin here and he came and he saw us and he looked right at us with his horrible eyes and great big mouth with all those teeth. We reckoned he was gunna eat us and we got really scared!”

“Bugger me,” the Old Co’e says, “where’d he go?”

“Well,” they say, “he went down there.”

“Just youse stop here” the Old Co’e says, “I’m going after him. Don’t youse worry about it, young’uns. I’ll take care o’ him.” And off he goes after Taraba.

When he comes around the bend, there’s a bloody big Tasmanian devil walkin’ down the path.

But the Moonbird’s got his dander up and he’s not scared of nothin’ when it comes to his young’uns. He gets down on the devil’s back and starts growlin’ him. “What do you reckon you’re doin’ comin’ to me shed,” he says, “and scarin’ me young’uns?!”
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· Australian English?
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Cos Taraba can’t turn his head, he ignores the old Moonbird and keeps walkin’.

That makes the Old Co’e go right off! “Ya got no business bein’ there, I tell ya! An’ if ya come back,” he says, “I’m gonna give it to ya! I don’t wanna have to do it,” he says and lifts one of his legs, “but I’d bust ya back with me leg as soon as look at ya!”

And then he flies back to his nest.

“There youse go, young’uns,” he says, “I fixed him for youse. He won’t be back.”

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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