Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
"Dear me no!" replied the Kangaroo, "but I'd rather have a talk with any other bush creature. First of all, the sight of it makes me so uncomfortable, that I want to hop away the instant I set eyes upon it. Then, too, it's so difficult to be polite to the Platypus, because one never knows how to behave towards it. If you treat it as an animal, you offend its bird nature, and if you treat it as a bird, the animal in it is mighty indignant. One never knows where one is with a creature that is two creatures," said the Kangaroo.
Dot was so sorry for the perplexity of her friend, that she suggested that they should not consult the Platypus. But the Kangaroo said it must be done, because no one in the bush was so learned. Being such a strange creature, and living in such seclusion, and being so difficult to approach was a proof that it was the right adviser to seek. So, with a half desperate air, the Kangaroo left the little girl, and went down to the water's edge.
Pausing a moment, she made a strange little noise that was something between a grunt and a hiss: and she repeated this many times. At last Dot saw what looked like a bit of black stick, just above the surface of the pool, coming towards their side, and, as it moved forward, leaving two little silvery ripples that widened out behind it on the smooth waters. Presently the black stick, which was the bill of the Platypus, reached the bank, and the strangest little creature climbed into view. Dot had expected to see something big and hideous; but here was quite a small object after all! It seemed quite ridiculous that the great Kangaroo should be evidently discomposed by the sight.
Dot could not hear what the Kangaroo said, but she saw the Platypus hurriedly prepare to regain the water. It began to stumble clumsily down the bank. The Kangaroo then raised her voice in pleading accents.
"But," she said, "it's such a little Human! I have treated it like my baby Kangaroo, and have carried it in my pouch."
This information seemed to arrest the movements of the Platypus; it had reached the water's edge, but it paused, and turned.
"I tell you," it said in a high-pitched and irritable voice, "that all Humans are alike! They all come here to interview me for the same purpose, and I'm resolved it shall not happen again; I have been insulted enough by their ignorance."
"I assure you," urged the Kangaroo, "that she will not annoy you in that way. She wouldn't think of doing such a thing to any animal."
As the Kangaroo called the Platypus an animal, Dot saw at once that it was offended, and in a great huff it turned towards the pool again. "I beg your pardon," said the Kangaroo nervously. "I didn't mean an altogether animal, or even a bird, but any a — a — a —-." She seemed puzzled how to speak of the Platypus, when the strange creature, seeing the well-meaning embarrassment of the Kangaroo, said affably, "any mammal or Ornithorhynchus Paradoxus."
"Exactly," said the Kangaroo, brightening up, although she hadn't the least idea what a mammal was.