Wayamba the Turtle


Oola the lizard was out getting yams on a mirria [polygonum shrub] flat. She had three of her children with her. Suddenly she thought she heard someone moving behind the big mirria bushes. She listened. All of a sudden out jumped Wayamba from behind a bush and seized Oola, telling her not to make a noise and he would not hurt her, but that he meant to take her off to his camp to be his wife. He would take her three children too, and look after them.

Resistance was useless, for Oola had only her yam stick, while Wayamba had his spears and cudgels. Wayamba took the woman and her children to his camp.

His tribe, when they saw him bring home a woman of the Oola tribe, asked him if her tribe had given her to him. He said, “No, I have stolen her.”

“Well,” they said, “her tribe will soon be after her. You must protect yourself, we shall not fight for you. You had no right to steal her without telling us. We had a young woman of our own tribe for you, yet you go and steal an Oola and bring her to the camp of the Wayambas. On your own head be the consequences.”

In a short time the Oolas were seen coming across the plain which faced the camp of the Wayambas. And they came not in friendship or to parley, for no women were with them. They carried no boughs of peace in their hands, but were painted as for war, and were armed with fighting weapons.

When all the Wayambas saw the approach of the Oolas, their wise man said, “Now, Wayamba, you had better go out on the plain and do your own fighting. We shall not help you.”

Wayamba chose the two biggest boreens, or shields, that he had. One he slung on him, covering the front of his body, and one the back. Then, seizing his weapons, he strode out to meet his enemies.

When he was well out onto the plain, though still some distance from the Oolas, he called out, “Come on!”

The answer was a shower of spears and boomerangs. As they came whizzing through the air Wayamba drew his arms inside the boreens, ducked his head down between them and so escaped injury.

As the weapons fell harmless to the ground, glancing off his boreen, out again he stretched his arms and held up his head, shouting, “Come on, try again, I’m ready!”

The answer was another shower of weapons, which he met in the same way. At last the Oolas closed in around him, forcing him to retreat toward the creek.

Shower after shower of weapons they slung at him, and were getting at such close quarters that his only chance for survival was to dive into the creek. He turned toward the creek, tore the front boreen off himself, flung down his weapons, and plunged in.

The Oolas waited, spears poised in hand, ready to aim the moment his head appeared above water, but they waited in vain.

Wayamba the blackfellow they never saw again. But in the water hole wherein he had dived they saw a strange creature, which bore on its back a fixed plate like a boreen. When they went to try and catch the creature it drew in its head and limbs. So they said, “It is Wayamba.”

And this was the beginning of Wayamba, or turtle, in the creeks.


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