voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .


"Good-bye, Kookooburra!" cried Dot, as they left the cave; and the bird gave her a nod of the head, followed by a wink, which was supposed to mean hearty good-will at parting. He would have spoken, only he had swallowed part of the Snake, and the rest hung out of the side of his beak, like an old man's pipe; so he couldn't speak. It wouldn't have been polite to do so with his beak full.

Dot was so rested by her sleep all night that she did not ride in the Kangaroo's pouch; but they proceeded together, she walking, and her friend making as small hops as she could, so as not to get too far ahead. This was very difficult for the Kangaroo, because even the smallest hops carried her far in front. After a time they arranged that the friendly animal should hop a few yards, then wait for Dot to catch her up, and then go on again. This she did, nibbling bits of grass as she waited, or playing a little game of hide-and-seek behind the bushes.

Sometimes, when she hid like this, little Dot would be afraid that she had lost her Kangaroo, and would run here and there, hunting round trees, and clusters of ferns, until she felt quite certain she had lost the kind animal; when suddenly, clean over a big bush, the Kangaroo would bound into view, landing right in front of her. Then Dot would laugh, and rush forward, and throw her arms around her friend; and the Kangaroo, with a quiet smile, would rub her little head against Dot's curls, and they were both very happy. So, although it was really a long and rough way to the little creek where the Platypus lived, it did not seem at all far.

The stream ran at the bottom of a deep gully, that had high rocky sides, with strangely shaped trees growing between the rocks. But, by the stream, Dot thought they must be in fairyland; it was so beautiful. In the dark hollows of the rocks were wonderful ferns; such delicate ones that the little girl was afraid to touch them. They were so tender and green that they could only grow far away from the sun, and as she peeped into the hollows and caves where they grew, it seemed as if she was being shown the secret store-house of Nature, where she kept all the most lovely plants, out of sight of the world. A soft carpet seemed to spring under Dot's feet, like a nice springy mattress, as she trotted along. She asked the Kangaroo why the earth was so soft, and was told that it was not earth, but the dead leaves of the tree-ferns above them, that had been falling for such a long, long time, that no Kangaroo could remember the beginning.

Then Dot looked up, and saw that there was no sky to be seen, or tops of trees; for they were passing under a forest of tree-ferns, and their lovely spreading fronds made a perfect green tent over their heads. The sunlight that came through was green, as if you were in a house made of green glass. All up the slender stems of these tall tree-ferns were the most beautiful little plants, and many stems were twined, from the earth to their feather-like fronds, with tender creeping ferns the fronds of which were so fine and close, that it seemed as if the tree-fern were wrapped up in a lovely little fern coat. Even crumbling dead trees, and decaying tree-ferns, did not look dead, because some beautiful moss, or lichen, or little ferns had clung to them, and made them more beautiful than when alive.

Chapter 4 pages:   one   two   three   four   five   six   seven   eight
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