Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
"Now we must find Willy Wagtail," said the Kangaroo. "The chances are Click-i-ti-clack, his big cousin who lives in the bush, will be able to tell us where to find him; for he doesn't care for the bush, and lives almost entirely with Humans, and the queer creatures they have brought into the country now-a-days. We may have to go a long way, so hop into my pouch, and we will get on our way."
Once more Dot was in the kind Kangaroo's pouch. It was in the latter end of autumn, and the air was so keen, that, as her torn little frock was now very little protection to her against the cold, she was glad to be back in that nice fur bag. She was used now to the springy bounding of the great Kangaroo, and felt quite safe; so that she quite enjoyed the wonderful and seemingly dangerous things the animal did in its great leaps and jumps.
With many rests and stops to eat berries or grass on their way, they searched the bush for the rest of the day without finding the big bush Wagtail. All kinds of creatures had seen him, or heard his strange rattling, chattering song; but it always seemed that he had just flown off a few minutes before they heard of him. It was most vexatious, and Dot saw that another night must pass before they would be able to hear of her home. She did not like to think of that, for she could picture to herself all those great men, on their big rough horses, coming back to her father's cottage that night, and how they would begin to be quiet and sad.
She thought it would not be half so bad to be lost, if people at home could only know that one was safe and snug in a kind Kangaroo's pouch; but she knew that her parents could never suppose that she was so well cared for, and would only think that she was dying alone in the terrible bush — dying for want of food and water, and from fear and exposure. How strange it seemed that people should die like that in the bush, where so many creatures lived well, and happily! But then they had not bush friends to tell them what berries and roots to eat, and where to get water, and to cuddle them up in a nice warm fur during the cold night. As she thought of this she rubbed her face against the Kangaroo's soft coat, and patted her with her little hands; and the affectionate animal was so pleased at these caresses, that she jumped clean over a watercourse, twenty feet at least, in one bound.
It was getting evening time, and the sun was setting with a beautiful rosy colour, as they came upon a lovely scene. They had followed the watercourse until it widened out into a great shallow creek beside a grassy plain. As they emerged from the last scattered bushes and trees of the forest, and hopped out into the open side of a range of hills, miles and miles of grass country, with dim distant hills, stretched before them. The great shining surface of the creek caught the rosy evening light, and every pink cloudlet in the sky looked doubly beautiful reflected in the water. Here and there out of the water arose giant skeleton trees, with huge silver trunks and contorted dead branches. On these twisted limbs were numbers of birds; Shag, blue and white Cranes, and black and white Ibis with their bent bills. Slowly paddling on the creek, with graceful movements, were twenty or thirty black Swans, and in and out of their ranks, as they passed in stately procession, shot wild Ducks and Moor Hens, like a flotilla of little boats amongst a fleet of big ships. All these birds were watching a pretty sight that arrested Dot's attention at once. By the margin of the creek, where tufted rushes and tall sedges shed their graceful reflection on the pink waters, were a party of Native Companions dancing.
"In these times it is seldom we can see a sight like this," said the Kangaroo. "The water is generally too unsafe for the birds to enjoy themselves. It often means death to them to have a little pleasure."
As the Kangaroo spoke, one of the Native Companions caught sight of her, and leaving the dance, opened her wings, and still making dainty steps with her long legs, half danced and half flew to where the Kangaroo was sitting.
"Good evening, Kangaroo," she said, gracefully bowing; "will you not come a little nearer to see the dance?" Then the Native Companion saw Dot in the Kangaroo's pouch, and made a little spring of surprise. "Dear me!" she said, "what have you in your pouch?"