21. Goolahwilleel the Topknot Pigeons
Young Goolahwilleel used to go out hunting every day. His mother and sisters always expected that he would bring home kangaroo and emu for them. But each day he came home without any meat at all. They asked him what he did in the bush, as he evidently did not hunt. He said that he did hunt.
“Then why,” said they, “do you bring us nothing home?”
“I cannot catch and kill what I follow,” he said. “You hear me cry out when I find kangaroo or emu; is it not so?”
“Yes, each day we hear you call when you find something, and each day we get the fire ready, expecting you to bring home the spoils of the chase, but you bring nothing.”
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall not be disappointed. I will bring you a kangaroo.”
Every day, instead of hunting, Goolahwilleel had been gathering wattle-gum, and with this he had been modelling a kangaroo—a perfect model of one, tail, ears, and all complete. So the next day he came towards the camp carrying this kangaroo made of gum. Seeing him coming, and also seeing that he was carrying the promised kangaroo, his mother and sisters said, “Ah, Goolahwilleel spoke truly. He has kept his word, and now brings us a kangaroo. Pile up the fire. Tonight we shall eat meat.”
About a hundred yards away from the camp Goolahwilleel put down his model, and came on without it. His mother called out, “Where is the kangaroo you brought home?”
“Oh, over there.” And he pointed towards where he had left it.
The sisters ran to get it, but came back saying: “Where is it? We cannot see it.”
“Over there,” he said, pointing again.
“But there is only a great figure of gum there.”
“Well, did I say it was anything else? Did I not say it was gum?”
“No, you did not. You said it was a kangaroo.”
“And so it is a kangaroo. A beautiful kangaroo that I made all by myself.” And he smiled quite proudly to think what a fine kangaroo he had made.
But his mother and sisters did not smile. They seized him and gave him a good beating for deceiving them. They told him he should never go out alone again, for he only played instead of hunting, though he knew they starved for meat. They would always in the future go with him.
And so forever the Goolahwilleels went in flocks, never more alone, in search of food.