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Folktales

King Midas and the Golden Touch

King Midas ever longed for more gold, that could buy him a place in the world that no descendant of a long race of kings should be able to contest. And from Olympus the gods looked down and smiled and vowed that Midas should have the chance of realizing his heart’s desire.

Pegasus and the Chimera

Once, in the old, old times, a fountain gushed out of a hillside, in the land of Greece. And, for aught I know, after so many thousand years, it is still gushing out of the very selfsame spot. At any rate, there was the pleasant fountain, welling freshly forth and sparkling down the hillside, in the golden sunset, when a handsome young man named Bellerophon drew near its margin.

Snow White and Rose Red

A poor widow once lived in a little cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden, in which were growing two rose trees; one of these bore white roses, and the other red.

She had two children, who resembled the rose trees. One was called Snow-White, and the other Rose-Red; and they were as religious and loving, busy and untiring, as any two children ever were.

Mayrah the Wind that Blows Winter Away

Mayrah, the Wind that Blows Winter Away

At the beginning of winter, the iguanas hide themselves in their homes in the sand; the black eagle hawks go into their nests; the garbarlee or shingle-backs hide themselves in little logs, just big enough to hold them; the iguanas dig a long way into the sand and cover up the passage behind them, as they go along. They all stay in their winter homes until Mayrah blows the winter away.

The Water of Life

Once upon a time there was a King who was so ill that everybody despaired of his life, and his three sons were very sorry, and went out into the palace gardens to weep. There they met an old man, who asked the cause of their grief, and they told him their Father was so ill that he must die, for nothing could save him. The old Man said, “I know a means of saving him: if he drinks of the water of life it will restore him to health; but it is very difficult to find.”

The Valiant Little Taylor

One fine day a Tailor was sitting on his bench by the window in very high spirits, sewing away most diligently, and presently up the street came a country woman, crying, “Good jams for sale! Good jams for sale!” This cry sounded nice in the Tailor’s ears, and, poking his diminutive head out of the window, he called, “Here, my good woman, just bring your jams in here!” The woman mounted the three steps up to the Tailor’s house with her large basket and began to open all the pots together before him.

Wirreenun the Rainmaker

Wirreenun the Rainmaker

The country was stricken with a drought. The rivers were all dry except the deepest holes in them. The grass was dead, and even the trees were dying. The young men of the Noongahburrah murmured among themselves, at first secretly, at last openly, saying: “Did not our fathers always say that the Wirreenun could make, as we wanted it, the rain to fall? Yet look at our country—the grass blown away, no doonburr seed to grind, the kangaroo are dying, and the emu, the duck, and the swan have flown to far countries.

The Three Feathers

Once upon a time there lived a King who had three sons; the two elder were learned and bright, but the youngest said very little and was often ignored.

When the King grew old and feeble, feeling that he was nearing his end, he wished to leave the crown to one of his three sons, but could not decide to which. He thereupon settled that they should travel, and that the one who could obtain the most splendid carpet should ascend the throne when he died.

The Bunyip

The Bunyip

In the years before history-the Alcheringa-before the river Murray was made and only a depression existed, a Bunyip visited the place. He came just at nightfall, and he sat on the bank opposite the camp. He was the color of the gumtree that afforded him shelter and something to lean against.