Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/163

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thumb when he took the piece of money for Cæsar's tax out of the fish's mouth.

Turning from folk-lore to Savage beliefs, we learn that from one end of Africa to another the honey-bird, schneter, is said to be an old woman whose son was lost, and who pursued him till she was turned into a bird, which still shrieks his name, "Schneter, Schneter."[1] In the same way the manners of most of the birds known to the Greeks were accounted for by the myth that they had been men and women. Zeus, for example, turned Ceyx and Halcyon into sea-fowls because they were too proud in their married happiness.[2] To these myths of the origin of various animals we shall return, but we must not forget the black and white Australian pelican. Why is the pelican parti-coloured?[3] For this reason: After the Flood (the origin of which is variously explained by the Murri), the pelican (who had been a black fellow) made a canoe, and went about like a kind of Noah, trying to save the drowning. In the course of his benevolent mission he fell in love with a woman, but she and her friends played him a trick and escaped from him. The pelican at once prepared to go on the war-path. The first thing to do was to daub himself white, as is the custom of the blacks before a battle. They think the white pipe-clay strikes terror and inspires respect among

  1. Barth, iii. 358.
  2. Apollodorus, i. 7 (13, 12).
  3. Sahagun, vii. 2, accounts for colours of eagle and tiger. A number of races explain the habits and marks of animals as the result of a curse or blessing of a god or hero. The Hottentots, the Huarochiri of Peru, the New Zealanders (Shortland, Traditions, p. 57), are among the peoples which use this myth.