The Kingfisher and the Malaki

There came a day when the kingfisher (kobug [124]) had nothing to drink, and was thirsty for water. Then she walked along the bed of the brook, searching for a drink; but the waters of the brook were all dried up.

Now, on that very day, the Maganud went up the mountain to get some agsam [125] to make leglets for himself. And when he came near to where the bulla grows, he stopped to urinate, and the urine sprinkled one of the great bulla-leaves. Then he went on up the mountain. Just then, the kingfisher came along, still looking for a mountain-stream. Quickly she caught sight of the leaf of the bulla-tree all sprinkled with water; but the man had gone away. Then the kingfisher gladly drank a few drops of the water, and washed her feathers. But no sooner had she quenched her thirst, and taken a bath, than her head began to pain her. Then she went home to her little house in the ground.

Now, every day the kingfisher laid one egg, and that day she laid her egg as usual. But when the egg hatched out, it was no feathered nestling, but a baby-boy, that broke the shell.

“Oh!” cried the frightened bird. “What will become of me?” Then she ran off a little way from her nest, and started to fly away.

But the little boy cried out, “Mother, mother, don’t be afraid of me!”

So the kingfisher came back to her baby. And the child grew bigger every day.

After a while, the boy was old enough to walk and play around. Then one day he went alone to the house of the Maganud, and climbed up the steps and looked in at the door. The Maganud was sitting there on the floor of his house; and the little boy ran up to him and hugged him, and cried for joy. But the Maganud was startled and dismayed; for he was a chaste malaki, [126] and had no children. Yet this boy called him “father,” and begged for ripe bananas in a very familiar manner. After they had talked for a little while, the Maganud went with the child to the home of the kingfisher.

The kingfisher had made her nest at the foot of a great hollow tree. She had dug out a hole, about four feet deep, in the soft ground, and fixed a roof by heaping over the hole the powdered rotten bark of the old tree. The roof stood up just a few inches above the ground; and when the Maganud saw it, he thought it was a mere little heap of earth. Immediately, however, as he looked at the lowly nest, it became a fine house with walls of gold, and pillars of ivory. The eaves were all hung with little bells (korung-korung [127]); and the whole house was radiantly bright, for over it forked lighting played continually.

The kingfisher took off her feather coat, and became a lovely woman, and then she and the Malaki were married. They had bananas and cocoanut-groves, and all things, and they became rich people.