Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
"That is a nice song of yours," said the Kangaroo, "and I like it very much, but please stop singing now, as we are getting near the waterhole, for it's not etiquette to make a noise near water at sundown."
Dot would have asked why everything must be so quiet; but as she peeped out, she saw that the Kangaroo was making a very dangerous descent, and she did not like to trouble her friend with questions just then. They seemed to be going down to a great deep gully that looked almost like a hole in the earth, the depth was so great, and the hills around came so closely together. The way the Kangaroo was hopping was like going down the side of a wall. Huge rocks were tumbled about here and there. Some looked as if they would come rolling down upon them; and others appeared as if a little jolt would send them crashing and tumbling into the darkness below. Where the Kangaroo found room to land on its feet after each bound puzzled Dot, for there seemed no foothold anywhere. It all looked so dangerous to the little girl that she shut her eyes, so as not to see the terrible places they bounded over, or rested on: she felt sure that the Kangaroo must lose her balance, or hop just a little too far or a little too near, and that they would fall together over the side of that terrible wild cliff. At last she said:
"Oh, Kangaroo, shall we get safely to the bottom do you think?"
"I never think," said the Kangaroo, "but I know we shall. This is the easiest way. If I went through the thick bush on the other side, I should stand a chance of running my head against a tree at every leap, unless I got a stiff neck with holding my head on one side looking out of one eye all the time. My nose gets in the way when I look straight in front," she explained. "Don't be afraid," she continued, "I know every jump of the way. We kangaroos have gone this way ever since Australia began to have kangaroos. Look here!" she said, pausing on a big boulder that hung right over the gully, "we have made a history book for ourselves out of these rocks; and so long as these rocks last, long long after the time when there will be no more kangaroos, and no more humans, the sun, and the moon, and the stars will look down upon what we have traced on these stones."
Dot peered out from her little refuge in the Kangaroo's pouch, and saw the glow of the twilight sky reflected on the top of the boulder. The rough surface of the stone shone with a beautiful polish like a looking glass, for the rock had been rubbed for thousands of years by the soft feet and tails of millions of Kangaroos: kangaroos that had hopped down that way to get water. When Dot saw that, she didn't know why it all seemed solemn, or why she felt such a very little girl. She was a little sad, and the Kangaroo, after a short sigh, continued her way.
As they neared the bottom of the gully the Kangaroo became extremely cautious. She no longer hopped in the open, but made her way with little leaps through the thick scrub. She peeped out carefully before each movement. Her long soft ears kept moving to catch every sound, and her black sensitive little nose was constantly lifted, sniffing the air. Every now and then she gave little backward starts, as if she were going to retreat by the way she had come, and Dot, with her face pressed against the Kangaroo's soft furry coat, could hear her heart beating so fast that she knew she was very frightened.