Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
It was terrible to Dot to see the Kangaroo hop off into the dark bush, and to find herself all alone; so she crawled out from under the ledge of rock into the moonlight, and sat on a stone where she could see the sky, and watch the black ragged clouds hurry over the moon. But the bush was not altogether quiet. She could hear an owl hooting at the moon. Not far off was a camp of quarrelsome Flying Foxes, and the melancholy Nightjar in the distance was fulfilling its mission of making all the bush creatures miserable with its incessant, mournful "mo-poke! mo-poke!" As Dot could understand all the voices, it amused her to listen to the wrangles of the Flying Foxes, as they ate the fruit of a wild fig tree near by. She saw them swoop past on their huge black wings with a solemn flapping. Then, as each little Fox approached the tree, the Foxes who were there already screamed, and swore in dreadfully bad language at the visitor. For every little Fox on the tree was afraid some other Flying Fox would eat all the figs, and as each visitor arrived he was assailed with cries of, "Get away you're not wanted here!"
"This is my branch, my figs!"
"Go and find figs for yourself!"
"These figs are not half ripe like the juicy ones on the other side of the tree!"
Then the new-comer Flying Fox, with a spiteful squeal, would pounce down on a branch already occupied, and angry spluttering and screams would arise, followed by a heavy fall of fighting Foxes tumbling with a crash through the trees. Then out into the open sky swept dozens of black wings, accompanied by abusive swearing from dozens of wicked little brown Foxes; and, as they settled again on the tree, all the fighting would begin again, so that the squealing, screaming, and swearing never ended.
As Dot was listening to the fighting of the Flying Foxes, she heard a sound near her that alarmed her greatly. It was impossible to say what the noise was like. It might have been the braying of a donkey mixed up with the clattering of palings tumbled together, and with grunts and snorts. Dot started to her feet in fright, and would have run away, only she was afraid of being lost worse than ever, so she stood still and looked round for the terrible monster that could make such extraordinary sounds. The grunts and clattering stopped, and the noise died away in a long doleful bray, but she could not see where it came from. Having peered into the dark shadows, Dot went more into the open, and sat with her back to a fallen tree, keeping an anxious watch all round.
"Perhaps," she thought, "It is the blacks. What would they do if they found me? What will happen if they have killed my dear Kangaroo?" And she covered her face with her hands as this terrible thought came into her head. Soon she heard something coming towards her stealthily and slowly. She would not look up she was so frightened. She was sure it was some fierce looking black man, with his spear, about to kill her. She shut her eyes closer, and held her breath. "Perhaps," she thought, "he will not see me." Then a cold shiver went through her little body, as she felt something claw hold of her hair, and she thought she was about to be killed. She kept her eyes shut, and the clawing went on, and then to her astonishment she heard an animal voice say in wondering tones:
"Why, it's fur! How funny it looked in the moonlight!"