Bilber and Mayrah (Australian Folk Tale)

Bilber, the soft-furred sandhill rat, was once a man, and lived in a camp with Mayrah the wind for a mate. Mayrah was a strange mullayerh for a man, he was invisible. He could hold conversations with Bilber, but much as he desired it, Bilber could never see him. One day he said to Mayrah: “Why do you not become like me that I might see you?”

“I can see you,” said Mayrah.

“Yes, I know that you can, but I cannot see you, only hear you. I know you are there because you eat the food before you. You catch opossums, and get honey, but though I go with you, following your voice, yet I can never see you, and I long to see some one again.”

“But I can see you, so I am all right.”

“But I cannot see you, and I long to see some one again. I must travel away somewhere and join others of my tribe. If I could only see you I would not wish for a better mullayerh.”

“Well, I am off hunting now. Are you coming?”

“No, I will stay in the camp to-day.”

Mayrah the wind went off, and when evening was at hand he was not yet back. Suddenly Bilber heard a roaring in the distance such as he had never heard before. Then he saw, where the sound seemed to be, a column of dust and leaves spouting up. “What sort of a storm is this?” he asked himself. “I never saw anything like it before. I will go up to that sand-ridge behind our camp and make a hole in the soft ground, into which I will get, so that this storm cannot take me away in its fury.”

Off went Bilber hard as he could to the soft sandhill, the storm roaring behind him. There he made a hole and buried himself in it until the wind storm had passed.

Up came the wind, tearing on to the ridge, whirling round the camp, sending the bark and boughs flying about. On, on he went round Bilber”s hole, but that he could not shift, so howling with impotent rage as he went, he passed on until his voice was heard only in the distance, and at length not at all.

After a time Bilber came out. He had been so safe and warm in his hole in the sand that he lived there ever afterwards, and there he took his wife, when he found one, to live. And to this day the Bilber tribe live in burrows in the sand. They still hear the voice of the old Bilber”s mate, but never see his face, nor do they hear him speak any longer their language as of old, for so angry was he at Bilber”s desire to see his face or leave him, that he only howls and roars as he rushes past their camps. And never since have any of the tribes seen where he camps, nor does any one know except the six winds that blow, and they tell the secret to none.

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