To view larger image, click on the image above
The story relating to Pickerdar can be found in The Cotton Papers - Land of the Sleeping Gods on pages 86 - 87. Pickerdar, the Black One Related to Timler by P-Tapte, one of the chiefs of the Minna Parlevar (Lagoon People) on the East Coast, who died in 1820
It was a bad year for Rala's kinfolk, but only because of greediness. Rayo Minna (Apsley Marshes) had been invaded by countless tiny organisms, and the frogs were gorging themselves to death. Rala had told them to eat in moderation, but they would not listen. They loved the salty taste of the minute organisms. However, the rich food was upsetting their stomachs and the frogs were dying in their thousands. Rala ordered Rageorappa to do something about it immediately. The Evil One rushed around in a great dither wondering what to do because he was terrified of Rala when she was cross. At his wits end, he suddenly remembered that Mitaweena, the whales, were in Tigana Niripa* (Oyster Bay) at this time of year having their babies. And if there was one thing Mitaweena loved, it was this troublesome little organism, Niripa Paos. Telling Rala he had a great idea and would not be long, he rushed off down the river and out into Tigana Niripa, looking for whales. They were coming through the passage between Poyananu and Mara Tigana (Schouten Island) in hundreds. Although Rageorappa implored the whales to help him, they would not listen. For one thing they did not trust him, and for another they thought the water in the lagoons was too shallow. They could be stranded high and dry. Very dejected, Rageorappa began to make his way back to Rala, and was near the river entrance when he saw a baby whale - all alone. Quickly he picked the little whale up and carried it back to Rayo Minna, and proudly sat it down in front of Rala. The frog was not pleased. 'What do you think Mitaweena will do about this?' Rala scolded. 'He will surely come and eat us both, you foolish monster.' And Rala was right. The father whale had seen Rageorappa pick his baby up, and charged after the Evil One, blind with rage. It was all a bit of bad luck, really, because the little whale was quite happy and was thoroughly enjoying a delicious meal. Halfway to Rayo Minna, the big whale came to grief at Gibbly Poyeena (Breakfast Point). There was a shallow there, and Mitaweena became stuck hard and fast on a muddy bank. For hours he thrashed about, but the more he heaved the higher he got on the bank, at last hopelessly stranded. Mitaweena lay gasping for air in a great pool of black mud, heaving lungs bursting with the crushing weight of his huge bulk. In his natural habitat, the water, the weight of Mitaweena's gigantic body was evenly distributed all around him by the buoyant element. Here on the muddy bank the whole weight of his body was pressing down on his soft underside, crushing the life out of him. Mitaweena began to panic. Thrashing wildly, he was blowing great spouts of black mud into the air from the blowhole in his head. In his last dying convulsions these muddy jets flew higher and higher until, reaching the rarer atmosphere, they turned into great black birds, wheeling and trumpeting mournfully, high above the body of their dying creator. They were as black as the mud from Mitaweena's grave, and their eyes and beak blood-red from the bursting lungs of the great whale. Their wings, white-tipped by the clouds as they soared high above his last resting place, dipped in sad salute of farewell. These great birds are still with us today in the form of Pickerdar, the black swan. *William also uses Oana Legana for Oyster Bay.