voices from the past

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Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

Australian writer

To the children of Australia
in the hope of enlisting their sympathies for the many
beautiful, amiable, and frolicsome creatures of their fair land,
whose extinction, through ruthless destruction,
is being surely accomplished.

CHAPTER 1

Little Dot had lost her way in the bush. She knew it, and was very frightened. She was too frightened in fact to cry, but stood in the middle of a little dry, bare space, looking around her at the scraggy growths of prickly shrubs that had torn her little dress to rags, scratched her bare legs and feet till they bled, and pricked her hands and arms as she had pushed madly through the bushes, for hours, seeking her home. Sometimes she looked up to the sky. But little of it could be seen because of the great tall trees that seemed to her to be trying to reach heaven with their far-off crooked branches. She could see little patches of blue sky between the tangled tufts of her way in the and was very drooping leaves, and, as the dazzling sunlight had faded, she began to think it was getting late, and that very soon it would be night.

The thought of being lost and alone in the wild bush at night, took her breath away with fear, and made her tired little legs tremble under her. She gave up all hope of finding her home, and sat down at the foot of the biggest blackbutt tree, with her face buried in her hands and knees, and thought of all that had happened, and what might happen yet.

It seemed such a long, long time since her mother had told her that she might gather some bush flowers while she cooked the dinner, and Dot recollected how she was bid not to go out of sight of the cottage. How she wished now she had remembered this sooner! But whilst she was picking the pretty flowers, a hare suddenly started at her feet and sprang away into the bush, and she had run after it. When she found that she could not catch the hare, she discovered that she could no longer see the cottage. After wandering for a while she got frightened and ran, and ran, little knowing that she was going further away from her home at every step.

Where she was sitting under the blackbutt tree, she was miles away from her father's selection, and it would be very difficult for anyone to find her. She felt that she was a long way off, and she began to think of what was happening at home. She remembered how, not very long ago, a neighbour's little boy had been lost, and how his mother had come to their cottage for help to find him, and that her father had ridden off on the big bay horse to bring men from all the selections around to help in the search. She remembered their coming back in the darkness; numbers of strange men she had never seen before. Old men, young men, and boys, all on their rough-coated horses, and how they came indoors, and what a noise they made all talking together in their big deep voices. They looked terrible men, so tall and brown and fierce, with their rough bristly beards; and they all spoke in such funny tones to her, as if they were trying to make their voices small.

Chapter 1 pages:   one   two   three   four   five
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