voices from the past


The Red Kangaroo

by Ethel Castilla (1861- ?)

. . . the story continues . . .

The doctor knelt down and examined the young man's wounds. His face was grave as he bound them up with bandages improvised from his handkerchief, and gave his patient whisky and water from his flask.

“And now, how are we to get home?” he said. “Your horse has gone, I see. I must get you on Bess.” And the doctor raised him gently in a pair of strong arms.

“The kangaroo?” said Theyre, faintly.

“The brute's dead.”

“I – want – the – skin.”

“Can't wait for it,” objected the doctor.

“I must – have it! Hang it all! – I'm – not dying.”

Very reluctantly the doctor skinned the beast and flung the skin over Bess's saddle. Then Theyre suffered himself to be lifted to the mare's back.

It was a toilsome journey to the homestead. Theyre lent forward on the horse's neck, like an old man, and the doctor had to support his patient, as well as guide his mare, and look to his own footing.

As they moved painfully along, the house-party gathered at the Maroondah dinner-table.

“Where's Theyre?” asked his father.

No one knew. He had not been missed till the close of the day, and everyone supposed he had gone home.

“Do you know anything about him, Miss Wilton?” asked Mrs. Daggert, looking sharply at Crystal, as she sat behind the tea equipage. Old Forsythe loved the customs of his youth, and insisted on tea at every meal.

Crystal turned as white as the table-cloth, and would have fallen to the floor had she not been caught by the parlour-maid. “What is it, Letty?” cried Mrs. Daggert.

“I just told Miss Wilton Mr. Theyre's horse has come home without him, ma'am,” answered the girl, whimpering.

Mrs. Daggert and Letty carried Crystal to her room, and the others trooped out of the house. They gathered round riderless Pegasus and exhausted themselves in aimless conjectures. Old Forsythe was already organising a search party, when Jim announced the arrival of Dr. Allworth and Theyre at the garden gate.

The doctor and Jack took Theyre to his room and laid him on his bed. He was deadly pale, and lay in a stupor with closed eyes. Old Forsythe followed. Dr. Allworth dressed his patient's wounds, and explained the accident in a few curt sentences to his father.

Suddenly Crystal appeared in the room, looking as pale as the patient. The trampling of feet had roused her. She flung herself with a bitter cry beside Theyre's bed, as she saw his bloodstained shirt and still face. She thought he was dying, and that she had sent him to his death.

“Theyre! Theyre! speak to me,” she cried, in a tone that enlightened John Forsythe.

Jack was standing with his father, a little away from the bed, in the recess of the bay window of the big, airy room. He turned away his face and groaned.

“He'll get her now,” he murmured, and his face worked.

. . . the story continues . . .

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