voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .


"I'm so glad you have come back!" she exclaimed.

The Kangaroo was a little breathless and excited. "We are not in danger at present," she said, "but one never knows when one will be, so we must move; and that will be more dangerous than staying where we are."

"Then let us stay," said Dot.

"That won't do," replied the Kangaroo, "This is the conclusion I have jumped to. If we stay here, the blacks might come this way and their dingo dogs hunt us to death. To get to a safe place we must pass their camp. That is a little risky, but we must go that way. We can do this easily if the dogs don't get scent of us, as all the blacks are prancing about and making a noise, having a kind of game in fact, and they are so amused that we ought to get past quite safely. I've done it many times before at night."

Dot looked round to say good-bye to the Koala, but the little animal had heard the Kangaroo speak of blacks, and that word suggested to its empty little head that it must keep its skin whole, so, without waiting to be polite to Dot, it had sneaked up its gum tree and was well out of sight.

Without wasting time, Dot settled in the Kangaroo's pouch, and they started upon their perilous way.

For some distance the Kangaroo hopped along boldly, with an occasional warning to Dot to shut her eyes as they plunged through the bushes; but after crossing a watercourse, and climbing a stiff hill, she whispered that they must both keep quite silent, and told Dot to listen as she stopped for a moment.

Dot could hear to their right a murmuring of voices, and a steady beating sound.

"Their camp is over there," said the Kangaroo, "that is the sound of their game."

"Can't we go some other way?" asked Dot. "No," answered the Kangaroo, "because past that place we can reach some very wild country where it would be hard for them to pursue us. We shall have to pass quite close to their playground." So in perfect silence they went on.

The Kangaroo seemed to Dot to approach the whereabouts of the black fellows as cautiously as when they had visited the water-hole the first night. Dot's little heart beat fast as the sound of the blacks' corroboree became clearer and clearer, and they neared the scene of the dance. Soon she could hear the stamping of feet, the beating of weapons together, and the wild chanting; and sometimes there were the whimperings of dogs, and the cry of children at the camp a little distance from the corroboree ground.

The Kangaroo showed no signs of fear at the increasing noise of the blacks, but every sound of a dog caused it to stop and twist about its big ears and sensitive nose, as it sniffed and listened.

Soon Dot could see a great red glare of firelight through the trees ahead of their track, and she knew that in that place the tribe of black men were having a festive dance.

If they had gone on their way it is possible that they would have slipped past the blacks without danger. But although the Kangaroo is as timid an animal as any in the bush, it is also very curious, and Dot's Kangaroo wished to peep at the corroboree. She whispered to Dot that it would be nice for a little Human to see some other Humans after being so long amongst bush creatures, and said, also, that there would be no great danger in hopping to a rock that would command a view of the open ground where the corroboree was being held. Of course Dot thought this would be great fun, so the Kangaroo took her to the rock, where they peeped through the trees and saw before them the weird scene and dance.

Chapter 7 pages:  one   two   three
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