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A Legend of the Sacred Bullroarer

The Bullroarer is a primitive instrument used by the aborigines at initiation and other ceremonies. It is a thin oblong section of wood, attached to a length of string through a hole at one end. When it is swung rapidly through the air it produces a peculiar humming sound. It is held in sacred veneration by the blacks, and is never seen by the women of the tribe under penalty of death.

In a rocky place in the mountains there lived two brothers named Byama. They were both married, and each man's wife had a son named Weerooimbrall. One day the brothers, accompanied by their wives and other members of the tribe, went far into the forest in search of food. They left the children alone in the camp to await their return.

Close to the camp there lived a bad man named Thoorkook, who had a number of very savage dogs. So terrible were these animals that no man dared to approach them. Thoorkook hated the brothers Byama, and was always planning to injure them. Through the trees he watched them going to the hunt, and his thoughts were evil. Some time later he heard the laughter of the boys at play in the camp, and, as he listened, a terrible thought was born in his wicked mind. He would wreak his vengeance on the brothers by killing their children, whom they loved more than life.

With this intention he loosed the dogs and sent them to the camp. When the brothers and their wives returned to the camp, they were surprised to notice that the children did not run to meet them as they usually did, and that no sound could be heard.

The elder brother said: "I cannot hear the voices of the children; surely they have not wandered into the forest alone; they will be lost. The wild dog; will eat them, or they will die of thirst."

But the other brother laughingly replied: "No. We have hunted far to-day; when we left the camp the breath of night was on the trees, and now the sun is growing cold. They have grown weary with waiting and have fallen asleep. We will find them together like two little possums." When the brothers entered the camp, they found the two little boys lying very cold and still. They called to them, but the boys did not answer-they were dead. And by the marks on their bodies, the brothers knew that they had been killed by Thoorkook's dogs. When the women saw their dead children, they were moved by a frantic grief that was heart-rending to behold, and, all through the night, could be heard the sound of their wailing.

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