Wild emu in south-eastern Australia
Wild emu in south-eastern Australia


I’ve been listening to The Bat by Joe Nesbø. Nesbø’s series character, Harry Hole, is in Sydney trying to solve the case of murdered Norwegian woman. Several of the characters tell him Aboriginal tales, which is why today’s tale is an Australian story, retold by K. Langloh Parker in Australian Legendary Tales, 1897. “Dinewan the Emu, and Wahn the Crows” is not one that has been mentioned in The Bat, but I found it amusing.

Dinewan, the emu, and his two wives, the Wahn (crows), were camping out. Seeing some clouds gathering, they made a small shelter made of bark. The rain started, and they all took shelter under it. Dinewan, when his wives were not looking, gave a kick against a piece of bark at one side of the shelter, knocked it down, then told his wives to go and put it up again. When they were outside putting it up, he gave a kick, and knocked down a piece on the other side; so no sooner were they in again than out they had to go. He did it again and again, until at last they suspected him, and decided that one of them would watch. The one who was watching saw Dinewan laugh to himself and go and knock down the bark they had just put up, chuckling at the thought of his wives having to go out in the wet and cold to put it up, while he had his supper and was dry and comfortable inside. The one who saw him told the other, and they decided to teach him a lesson. So in they came, each with a piece of bark filled with hot coals. They went straight up to Dinewan, who was lying down laughing.

“Now,” they said, “you shall feel as hot we did cold.” And they threw the coals over him. Dinewan jumped up, yelling with the pain, for he was badly burnt. He rolled himself over, and ran into the rain. His wives stayed inside and laughed at him.

I like that they got even with him, even if the punishment seemed a little harsher than the crime. I bet he learned to never mess with a woman, let alone two.

There is one story told by a character  in The Bat that talks about how the emu became flightless, but I can’t remember it clearly and didn’t easily fine it on-line. Maybe I’ll try to find it before next week.

I need a bit of help. In April, Thursdays are the letters C, I, O and U. Any ideas for tales or characters, even movies, I should feature that have some connection to those letter?

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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