voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"It's a Human," said the Kangaroo, apologetically; "it's quite a little, harmless one. Let me introduce you."

So Dot alighted from the pouch, and joined in the conversation, and the Native Companion was much interested in hearing her story.

"Do you dance?" asked the Native Companion, with a quick turn of her head, on its long, graceful neck. Dot said that she loved dancing. So the Native Companion took her down to the creek, and all the other Companions stopped dancing and gathered round her, whilst she was introduced, and her story told. Then they spread their wings, and with stately steps escorted her to the edge of the water, whilst the Kangaroo sat a little way off, and delightedly watched the proceedings.

Dot didn't understand any of the figures of the dance; but the scenery and the pink sunset were so beautiful, and the Native Companions were so elegant and gay, that Dot caught up her ragged little skirts in both hands and followed their movements with her bare brown feet as best she could, and enjoyed herself very much. To Dot, the eight birds that took part in the entertainment were very tall and splendid, with their lovely grey plumage and greeny heads, and she felt quite small as they gathered round her sometimes, and enclosed her within their outspread wings. And how beautiful their dancing was! How light their dainty steps as their feet scarcely touched the earth; and what fantastic measures they danced advancing, retreating, circling round with their beautiful wings keeping the rhythm of their feet! There was one figure that Dot thought the prettiest of all when they danced in line at the margin of the water; stepping, and bowing, and gracefully gyrating to their shadows, which were reflected with the pink clouds of evening on the surface of the creek.

Dot was very sorry, and hot, and breathless, when the dance came to an end. The sun had been gone a long time, and all the pink shades had slowly turned to grey; the creek had lost its radiant colour, and looked like a silver mirror, and so desolate and sombre, that no one could have imagined it to have been the scene of so much gaiety shortly before.

Dot hastily returned to the Kangaroo, and all the Native Companions came daintily, and made graceful adieus to them both. Afterwards, they spread their great, soft wings, and, stretching their long legs behind them, wheeled upwards to the darkening sky. Then all the birds in the bare trees preened their feathers, and settled down for the night; and the Kangaroo took her little Human charge back to the bush, where there was a cosy sheltering rock, under which to pass the night. Here they lay down together, with the stars peeping at them through the branches of the trees.

They had slept for a long time, as it seemed to Dot, when they were awakened by a little voice saying,

"Wake up, Kangaroo! You are in danger. Get away, as soon as possible!"

The moon was shining fitfully, as it broke through swift flying clouds. In the uncertain light, Dot could see a little creature near them, and knew at once that it was an Opossum.

"What is the matter?" said the Kangaroo, softly. "Blacks!" said the Opossum. And as it spoke, Dot heard a sound as of a half dingo dog howling and snapping in the distance. As that sound was heard, the Opossum made one flying leap to the nearest tree, and scrambled out of sight in a moment.

"I wish he had told us a little more," said the Kangaroo. "Still, for a possum, it was a good-natured act to wake me up. They are selfish, spiteful little beasts, as a rule. Now I wonder where these blacks are? I shall have to go a little way to sniff and listen. I won't go far, so don't be afraid, but stay quietly here until I come back."

Chapter 5 pages:   one  two
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