voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"Now," said the Kookooburra, when all the others had gone, "a bit of snake is just the right thing for breakfast. Will you have some, little Human?"

Dot shuddered at the idea of eating snake for breakfast, and the Kookooburra thought she was afraid of being poisoned.

"It won't hurt you," he said, kindly, "I took care that it did not bite itself. Sometimes they do that when they are dying, and then they're not good to eat. But this snake is all right, and won't disagree like cockchafers: the scales are quite soft and digestible," he added.

But Dot said she would rather wait for the berries the Kangaroo was bringing, so the Kookooburra remarked that if she would excuse it he would like to begin breakfast at once, as the fight had made him hungry. Then Dot saw him hold the reptile on the branch with his foot, whilst he took its tail into his beak, and proceeded to swallow it in a leisurely way. In fact the Kookooburra was so slow that very little of the snake had disappeared when the Kangaroo returned.

The Kangaroo had brought a pouch full of berries, and in her hand a small spray of the magic ones, by eating which Dot was able to understand the talk of all the bush creatures. All the time she was wandering in the bush the Kangaroo gave her some of these to eat daily, and Dot soon found that the effect of these strange berries only lasted until the next day.

The Kangaroo emptied out her pouch, and Dot found quite a large collection of roots, buds, and berries, which she ate with good appetite.

The Kangaroo watched her eating with a look of quiet satisfaction.

"See," she said, "how easily one can live in the bush without hurting anyone; and yet Humans live by murdering creatures and devouring them. If they are lost in the scrub they die, because they know no other way to live than that cruel one of destroying us all. Humans have become so cruel that they kill, and kill, not even for food, but for the love of murdering. I often wonder," she said, "why they and the dingos are allowed to live on this beautiful kind earth. The black Humans kill and devour us; but they, even, are not so terrible as the Whites, who delight in taking our lives, and torturing us just as an amusement. Every creature in the bush weeps that they should have come to take the beautiful bush away from us."

Dot saw that the sad brown eyes of the Kangaroo were full of tears, and she cried too, as she thought of all that the poor animals and birds suffer at the hands of white men. "Dear Kangaroo," she said, "if I ever get home, I'll tell everyone of how you unhappy creatures live in fear, and suffer, and ask them not to kill you poor things any more."

Chapter 3 pages:   one   two   three   four
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