voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

They were all little voices, some indeed quite tiny whispers and squeaks, but they were very numerous, and seemed to be everywhere. They came from the earth, from the bushes, from the trees, and from the very air. The little girl looked round to see where they came from, but everything looked just the same. Hundreds of ants, of all kinds and sizes, were hurrying to their nests; a few lizards were scuttling about amongst the dry twigs and sparse grasses; there were some grasshoppers, and in the trees birds fluttered to and fro. Then Dot knew that she was hearing, and understanding, everything that was being said by all the insects and creatures in the bush.

All this time the Kangaroo had been speaking, only Dot had been too surprised to listen. But now the gentle, soft voice of the kind animal caught her attention, and she found the Kangaroo was in the middle of a speech.

"I understood what was the matter with you at once," she was saying, "for I feel just the same myself. I have been miserable, like you, ever since I lost my baby Kangaroo. You also must have lost something. Tell me what it is?"

"I've lost my way," said Dot; rather wondering if the Kangaroo would understand her.

"Ah!" said the Kangaroo, quite delighted at her own cleverness, "I knew you had lost something! Isn't it a dreadful feeling? You feel as if you had no inside, don't you? And you're not inclined to eat anything not even the youngest grass. I have been like that ever since I lost my baby Kangaroo. Now tell me," said the creature confidentially, "what your way is like. I may be able to find it for you."

Dot found that she must explain what she meant by saying she had "lost her way," and the Kangaroo was much interested.

"Well," said she, after listening to the little girl, "that is just like you Humans; you are not fit for this country at all! Of course, if you have only one home in one place, you must lose it! If you made your home everywhere and anywhere, it would never be lost. Humans are no good in our bush," she continued. "Just look at yourself now. How do you compare with a Kangaroo? There is your ridiculous sham coat. Well, you have lost bits of it all the way you have come to-day, and you're nearly left in your bare skin. Now look at my coat. I've done ever so much more hopping than you to-day, and you see I'm none the worse. I wonder why all your fur grows upon the top of your head," she said reflectively, as she looked curiously at Dot's long flaxen curls. "It's such a silly place to have one's fur the thickest! You see, we have very little there; for we don't want our heads made any hotter under the Australian sun. See how much better off you would be, now that nearly all your sham coat is gone, if that useless fur had been chopped into little, short lengths and spread all over your poor bare body. I wonder why you Humans are made so badly," she ended, with a puzzled air.

Dot felt for a moment as if she ought to apologise for being so unfit for the bush, and for having all the fur on the top of her head. But, somehow, she had an idea that a little girl must be something better than a kangaroo, although the Kangaroo certainly seemed a very superior person; so she said nothing, but again began to eat the berries.

Chapter 1 pages:   one   two   three   four   five
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