voices from the past


The Red Kangaroo

by Ethel Castilla (1861- ?)

. . . the story continues . . .

The cavalcade set out again, followed by the Maroondah buggy, wherein sat Mrs. Daggert and the children, and that which held Di and Nell Mountford. Crystal kept close to the Mountfords' trap, and appeared deeply interested in Di Mountford's shooting. She was too clever to make herself conspicuous with either of John Forsythe's sons. The second drive proved even more successful than the first. After a third and fourth had been accomplished, a halt was made for lunch on the banks of a reedy lagoon, shaded by ironbarks girt by silvery brigalows and wallaby bush. The sun blazed in the clear blue heavens, and deep noonday stillness reigned. The lagoon lay in a grassy flat, well adapted for a dinner-table. The Maroondah hands lit a fire near the water, and set quart-pots and billies to boil in the glowing embers.

The three girls put a tablecloth in the shade of a clump of brigalows, and Theyre spread rugs and buggy cushions round it. Mrs. Daggert took hampers bursting with good things from the buggy. She produced plump cold roast fowls, cheeses round and golden as a summer moon, pyramids of tempting sandwiches, and mounds of crisp brown cakes. Then she began to slice ham with a great carving-knife, while Crystal mixed salad dressing and broke lettuces. The girl's next task was to supply everyone round the rural table with huge cups of tea. Only Crystal could be relied upon to remember that John Forsythe liked lemon and sugar, and Theyre both sugar and milk, that Mrs. Daggert took her tea sugarless and strong, while Jack's must be weak and sugared.

“Who's made top score?” asked Jack, boisterously, looking round the party. “I got nine. How many did you shoot, Crystal?”

“Five,” answered the girl, absently.

“Best lady's score. How many, Theyre?”

“Ten,” said his brother, reluctantly, “and not one red one,” he added, turning to Crystal.

“Oh! never mind,” said the girl.

“I've bagged fifteen,” remarked John Forsythe. “You youngsters can't compete with the old man.”

Lunch was soon over, and the men began to stroll about with lighted pipes. Theyre did not smoke, and he lingered near Crystal, who was packing a hamper.

“I'm going for that red kangaroo, Crystal,” he said presently.

“Don't trouble about it,” she said. She looked distractingly pretty in her riding habit of pale grey cloth and her panama hat, with a white gossamer veil, floating like a cloud about her golden hair. “Don't go!”

He thought she doubted his skill, and was nettled. “I shall bring it home,” he said firmly. “So long!” And, vaulting upon his horse, he cantered away, waving his hat gaily. He took Pegasus over a great tree trunk and disappeared into the scrub.

. . . the story continues . . .

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