Dinewan The Emu And Goomblegubbon The Bustard

Dinewan the emu, being the largest bird, was acknowledged as king bythe

other birds. The Goomblegubbons, the bustards, were jealous of the

Dinewans. Particularly was Goomblegubbon, the mother, jealous of the

Diriewan mother. She would watch with envy the high flight of the

Dinewans, and their swift running. And she always fancied that the

Dinewan mother flaunted her superiority in her face, for whenever

Dinewan alighted near Goomblegubbon, after a long, high flight, she

would flap her big wings and begin booing in her pride, not the loud

booing of the male bird, but a little, triumphant, satisfied booing

noise of her own, which never failed to irritate Goomblegubbon when she

heard it.

Goomblegubbon used to wonder how she could put an end to Dinewan's

supremacy. She decided that she would only be able to do so by injuring

her wings and checking her power of flight. But the question that

troubled her was how to effect this end. She kn ew she would gain

nothing by having a quarrel with Dinewan and fighting her, for no

Goomblegubbon would stand any chance against a Dinewan, There was

evidently nothing to be gained by an open fight. She would have to

effect her end by cunning.

One day, when Goomblegubbon saw in the distance Dinewan coming towards

her, she squatted down and doubled in her wings in such a way as to

look as if she had none. After Dinewan had been talking to her for some

time, Goomblegubbon said: "Why do you not imitate me and do without

wings? Every bird flies. The Dinewans, to be the king of birds, should

do without wings. When all the birds see that I can do without wings,

they will think I am the cleverest bird and they will make a

Goomblegubbon king."

"But you have wings," said Dinewan.

"No, I have no wings." And indeed she looked as if her words were true,

so well were her wings hidden, as she squatted in the grass. Dinewan

went away after awhile, and thought much of what she had heard. She

talked it all over with her mate, who was as disturbed as she was. They

made up their minds that it would never do to let the Goomblegubbons

reign in their stead, even if they had to lose their wings to save

their kingship.

At length they decided on the sacrifice of their wings. The Dinewan

mother showed the example by persuading her mate to cut off hers with a

combo or stone tomahawk, and then she did the same to his. As soon as

the operations were over, the Dinewan mother lost no time in letting

Goomblegubbon know what they had done. She ran swiftly down to the

plain on which she had left Goomblegubbon, and, finding her still

squatting there, she said: "See, I have followed your example. I have

now no wings. They are cut off."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Goomblegubbon, jumping up and dancing round with

joy at the success of her plot. As she danced round, she spread out her

wings, flapped them, and said: "I have taken you in, old stumpy wings.

I have my wings yet. You are fine birds, you Dinewans, to be chosen

kings, when you are so easily taken in. Ha! ha! ha!" And, laughing

derisively, Goomblegubbon flapped her wings right in front of Dinewan,

who rushed towards her to chastise her treachery. But Goomblegubbon

flew away, and, alas! the now wingless Dinewan could not follow her.

Brooding over her wrongs, Dinewan walked away, vowing she would be

revenged. But how? That was the question which she and her mate failed

to answer for some time. At length the Dinewan mother thought of a plan

and prepared at once to execute it. She hid all her young Dinewans but

two, under a big salt bush. Then she walked off to Goomblegubbons'

plain with the two young ones following her. As she walked off the

morilla ridge, where her home was, on to the plain, she saw

Goomblegubbon out feeding with her twelve young ones.

After exchanging a few remarks in a friendly manner with Goomblegubbon,

she said to her, "Why do you not imitate me and only have two children?

Twelve are too many to feed. If you keep so many they will never grow

big birds like the Dinewans. The food that would make big birds of two

would only starve twelve." Goomblegubbon said nothing, but she thought

it might be so. It was impossible to deny that the young Dinewans were

much bigger than the young Goomblegubbons, and, discontentedly,

Goomblegubbon walked away, wondering whether the smallness of her young

ones was owing to the number of them being so much greater than that of

the Dinewans. It would be grand, she thought, to grow as big as the

Dinewans. But she remembered the trick she had played on Dinewan, and

she thought that perhaps she was being fooled in her turn. She looked

back to where the Dinewans fed, and as she saw how much bigger the two

young ones were than any of hers, once more mad envy of Dinewan

possessed her. She determined she would not be outdone. Rather would

she kill all her young ones but two. She said, "The Dinewans shall not

be the king birds of the plains. The Goomblegubbons shall replace them.

They shall grow as big as the Dinewans, and shall keep their wings and

fly, which now the Dinewans cannot do." And straightway Goomblegubbon

killed all her young ones but two. Then back she came to where the

Dinewans were still feeding. When Dinewan saw her coming and noticed

she had only two young ones with her, she called out: "Where are all

your young ones?"

Goomblegubbon answered, "I have killed them, and have only two left.

Those will have plenty to eat now, and will soon grow as big as your

young ones."

"You cruel mother to kill your children. You greedy mother. Why, I have

twelve children and I find food for them all. I would not kill one for

anything, not even if by so doing I could get back my wings. There is

plenty for all. Look at the emu bush how it covers itself with berries

to feed my big family. See how the grasshoppers come hopping round, so

that we can catch them and fatten on them."

"But you have only two children."

"I have twelve. I will go and bring them to show you." Dinewan ran off

to her salt bush where she had hidden her ten young ones. Soon she was

to be seen coming back. Running with her neck stretched forward, her

head thrown back with pride, and the feathers of her boobootella

swinging as she ran, booming out the while her queer throat noise, the

Dinewan song of joy, the pretty, soft-looking little ones with their

zebra-striped skins, running beside her whistling their baby Dinewan

note. When Dinewan reached the place where Goomblegubbon was, she

stopped her booing and said in a solemn tone, "Now you see my words are

true, I have twelve young ones, as I said. You can gaze at my loved

ones and think of your poor murdered children. And while you do so I

will tell you the fate of your descendants for ever. By trickery and

deceit you lost the Dinewans their wings, and now for evermore, as long

as a Dinewan has no wings, so long shall a Goomblegubbon lay only two

eggs and have only two young ones. We are quits now. You have your

wings and I my children."

And ever since that time a Dinewan, or emu, has had no wings, and a

Goomblegubbon, or bustard of the plains, has laid only two eggs in a


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