Crocodile Man was married to Whistle Duck and they had two daughters…
“We’ll have fish tomorrow night,” said Crocodile Man, “I’ll go out early in my bark canoe.”
So next morning Crocodile Man set off, and his two daughters went to collect swamp grass to go with the fish.
Whistle Duck also left camp making sure her daughters did not see her.
The two sisters collected the swamp food and returned to camp.
The younger of the two girls saw their father returning and called out to him, “Father we will come and collect the fish!”
“No!” said Crocodile Man, “just send your elder sister to collect the fish.”
So the elder daughter went down to her father who had beached his canoe at the edge of a creek. When she started to unload the fish Crocodile Man copulated with her. The girl’s younger sister saw this and so did her mother who remained hidden, watching.
The fish was cooked and eaten and Crocodile Man and his family fell asleep.
The next morning Crocodile Man again set out in search of fish whilst his daughters went to collect swamp food.
This time, while they were gone, Whistle Duck collected dried grass and began to roll it on her thigh in order to make a rope.
Upon the return of her daughters to camp with swamp food Whistle Duck hid the rope she was making in a hole and covered it with paperbark.
All proceeded as before with Crocodile Man returning to the creek fish-laden and calling for his eldest daughter with whom he then copulated.
Before eating the communal meal Whistle Duck set aside some of the food that her daughters had collected.
On the third day Crocodile Man and his daughters again set out in search of food as before.
Every day they were going farther and farther afield to find food and it was taking them much longer to return to camp.
Whistle Duck worked on her dried grass rope while they were gone and on the return of her daughters she again hid it and added lily roots, which was some of the food they had collected, to her growing store.
Crocodile Man returned late, called for his eldest daughter and copulated with her before they all sat down to eat.
The next morning after Crocodile Man had set out in search of fish, Whistle Duck sent her daughters to pull up a banyan tree and return to her when they had done so.
“What are we to do with the banyan tree?” asked the younger daughter upon their return.
“Your father is always copulating with your sister,” said Whistle Duck, removing the grass rope from under the paperbark.
“What are we to do?” asked the elder daughter.
“Look at this Dreaming,” said Whistle Duck, “it is the Milky Way Rope.”
The two daughters looked at it and became giddy.
Their eyes span around in their head.
When they had recovered they knew what to do.
They collected the store of food into baskets and took up the shade of the banyan tree.
Whistle Duck threw the grass rope into the sky and her daughters quickly shimmied up it.
The elder daughter climbed first with her younger sister and then her mother behind.
They all sat down under the shade of the banyan tree with their store of food and Whistle Duck pulled up the rope to form the extent of the Milky Way in the sky.
When Crocodile Man returned from his fishing trip he called out from his canoe but no one answered.
He clambered ashore and walked up the creek to his camp but there was no one there.
Only the sound of crows could be heard…
‘What has happened to those girls,’ thought Crocodile Man.
‘Has someone abducted them?’
‘Has someone killed them?’
‘Has their mother taken them away?’
Crocodile Man called out for Whistle Duck.
He ran around the camp, searching, and found only ant tracks…
Crocodile Man’s younger daughter called down from the sky, “Father, I am here!”
“What should I do?” said Crocodile Man.
“Go fetch the fish and bring it up here,” said the younger daughter lowering the grass rope.
So Crocodile Man brought the fish and began to climb the grass rope.
Whistle duck reached behind her ear, pulled out a large mussel shell, and began to cut the grass rope.
The younger daughter did not want her father to fall so she grabbed the large mussel shell and hid it from her mother.
But Whistle Duck pulled a small mussel shell out from behind her other ear and carried on cutting the grass rope.
The grass rope frayed and snapped just as Crocodile Man was nearing the top with the fish. Before he fell Whistle Duck grabbed the fish from him.
The place where Crocodile Man fell back to earth is his Dreaming. He crawled off back to the creek on his injured knees and became a crocodile.
Whistle Duck and her two daughters remained in the Milky Way.
Adapted from R.M and C.H Bernt, The Speaking Land.