Page:Life and Adventures of William Buckley.djvu/132

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109
LIFE OF BUCKLEY.

ing them to have some supernatural power over human beings, so as to occasion death, sickness, disease, and such like misfortunes. They have also a superstitious notion, that the great abundance of eels in some of the lagoons where these animals resort, are ordered for the Bunyip's provision; and they therefore seldom remain long in such neighbourhoods, after having seen the creature.

They told me a story of a woman having been killed by one of them, stating that it happened in this way. A particular family one day was surprised at the great quantity of eels they caught; for as fast as the husband could carry them back to their hut, the woman pulled them out of the lagoon. This, they said, was a cunning manoeuvre of a Bunyip, to lull her into security—so that in her husband's absence he might seize her for food. However this was, after the husband had stayed away some time, he returned, but his wife was gone, and she was never seen after. So great is the dread the natives have of these creatures, that on discovering one, they throw themselves flat on their faces, muttering some gibberish, or flee away from the borders of the lake or river, as if pursued by a wild beast.

When alone, I several times attempted to spear a Bunyip; but, had the natives seen me do so, it would have caused great displeasure. And again, if I had succeeded in killing, or even wounding one, my own life would probably have paid the forfeit—they considering the animal, as I have already said, something supernatural.