voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

No sooner did the black Snake get outside the cave, than she saw the Kookooburra fall like a stone from its branch, right on top of the Snake. For a second, Dot thought the bird must have tumbled down dead, it was such a sudden fall; but a moment later she saw it flutter on the ground, in battle with the poisonous reptile, whilst the Snake wriggled, and coiled its body into hoops and rings. The Kookooburra's strong wings, beating the air just above the writhing Snake, made a great noise, and the serpent hissed in its fierce hatred and anger. Then Dot saw that the Kookooburra's big beak had a firm hold of the Snake by the back of the neck, and that it was trying to fly upwards with its enemy. In vain the dreadful creature tried to bite the gallant bird; in vain it hissed and stuck out its wicked little spiky tongue; in vain it tried to coil itself round the bird's body; the Kookooburra was too strong and too clever to lose its hold, or to let the Snake get power over it.

At last Dot saw that the Snake was getting weak, for, little by little, the Kookooburra was able to rise higher with it, until it reached the high bough. All the time the Snake was held in the bird's beak, writhing and coiling in agony; for he knew that the Kookooburra had won the battle. But, when the noble bird had reached its perch, it did a strange thing; for it dropped the Snake right down to the ground. Then it flew down again, and brought the reptile back to the bough, and dropped it once more and this it did many times. Each time the Snake moved less and less, for its back was being broken by these falls. At last the Kookooburra flew up with its victim for the last time, and, holding it on the branch with its foot, beat the serpent's head with its great strong beak. Dot could hear the blows fall, whack, whack, whack, as the beak smote the Snake's head; first on one side, then on the other, until it lay limp and dead across the bough.

"Ah! ah! ah! Ah! ah! ah!" laughed the Kookooburra, and said to Dot, "Did you see all that? Wasn't it a joke? What a capital joke! Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! Oh! oh! oh! How my sides do ache! What a joke! How they'll laugh when I tell them." Then came a great flight of kookooburras, for they had heard the laughter, and all wanted to know what the joke was. Proudly the Kookooburra told them all about the Snake sleeping on Dot, and the great fight! All the time, first one kookooburra, and then another, chuckled over the story, and when it came to an end every bird dropped its wings, cocked up its tail, and throwing back its head, opened its great beak, and laughed uproariously together. Dot was nearly deafened with the noise; for some chuckled, some cackled; some said, "Ha! ha! ha!" others said, "Oh! oh! oh!" and as soon as one left off, another began, until it seemed as though they couldn't stop. They all said it was a splendid joke, and that they really must go and tell it to the whole bush. So they flew away, and far and near, for hours, the bush echoed with chuckling and cackling, and wild bursts of laughter, as the kookooburras told that grand joke everywhere.

Chapter 3 pages:   one   two   three   four
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