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Main > Australian folktales > Fairy tale "The Gwineeboos the redbreasts"

The Gwineeboos the redbreasts

Gwineeboo and Goomai, the water rat, were down at the creek one day, getting mussels for food, when, to their astonishment, a kangaroo hopped right into the water beside them. Well they knew that he must be escaping from hunters, who were probably pressing him close. So Gwineeboo quickly seized her yam stick, and knocked the kangaroo on the head; he was caught fast in the weeds in the creek, so could not escape. When the two old women had killed the kangaroo they hid its body under the weeds in the creek, fearing to take it out and cook it straight away, lest the hunters should come up and claim it. The little son of Gwineeboo watched them from the bank. After having hidden the kangaroo, the women picked up their mussels and started for their camp, when up came the hunters, Quarrian and Gidgereegah, who had tracked the kangaroo right to the creek.

Seeing the women they said: "Did you see a kangaroo?"

The women answered: "No. We saw no kangaroo."

"That is strange, for we have tracked it right up to here."

"We have seen no kangaroo. See, we have been digging out mussels for food. Come to our camp, and we will give you some when they are cooked."

The young men, puzzled in their minds, followed the women to their camp, and when the mussels were cooked the hunters joined the old women at their dinner. The little boy would not eat the mussels; he kept crying to his mother, "Gwineeboo, Gwineeboo. I want kangaroo. I want kangaroo. Gwineeboo. Gwineeboo."

"There," said Quarrian. "Your little boy has seen the kangaroo, and wants some; it must be here somewhere."

"Oh, no. He cries for anything he thinks of, some days for kangaroo; he is only a little boy, and does not know what he wants," said old Gwineeboo. But still the child kept saying, "Gwineeboo. Gwinceboo. I want kangaroo. I want kangaroo." Goomai was so angry with little Gwineeboo for keeping on asking for kangaroo, and thereby making the young men suspicious, that she hit him so hard on the mouth to keep him quiet, that the blood came, and trickled down his breast, staining it red.

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