Bohrah the Kangaroo and Dinewan the Emu (Australian Folk Tale)

Bohrah the kangaroo lived in a grass nyunnoo with his wife Dinewan the emu. He was a great wirreenun.

One evening when Bohrah was lying down trying to sleep, Dinewan kept making holes in the roof of the nyunnoo.

“What are you doing that for?” asked Bohrah.

“Just for nothing,” said Dinewan.

“Then get some grass and mend it up.”

“There is no grass here.”

“Then we will travel until we find some, for you won”t let me sleep.”

Off they went. It grew darker and darker every minute. Dinewan could not see where she was treading. She trod on bindeahs, which stuck into her feet and hurt her.

Limping along and feeling sore from the prickles, she said: “If you are such a great wirreenun as you say, surely you could make the dark roll away! Hunt it right away to another country. Let me see where to walk. My feet are very sore. If you could hunt the dark away, then you would be a great wirreenun. Oh my poor sore feet!” So crying she rubbed them against each other, which only made the bindeahs stick further in, raising rough lumps on her feet. Which lumps have been on the feet of her kind ever since, and their legs have been bare and hard up to the knee joint.

Now Bohrah the kangaroo was really a great wirreenun. While it was still quite dark he said: “We will sleep here, and I will hunt the dark away while we rest.”

They laid down.

As soon as Bohrah was asleep, he sent his Mullee Mullee, or dream spirit, out from his body to gather up the darkness and roll it away to the westward. Having done so back came the Mullee Mullee to the body of Bohrah, who now woke up and saw what his spirit had done. He turned to Dinewan, whom he saw had slept with one eye and one ear open that she might see what he would do, and said:

“My Mullee Mullee has rolled the night from us. The darkness is no more. It is rolled away for ever from me. I and my people, from this out, shall be able to see to travel and feed at night as if it were day; for us there is no more darkness. You must feed in the daytime; I can as I please at night. You kept one eye and one ear open, you shall always sleep so. First one side of your head shall go to sleep and then the other, but never from henceforth both at once.” And since that time so it has been even as Bohrah the kangaroo wirreenun said it should be.

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