voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

After more dancing to the singing and noise of the on-lookers, a black fellow came from the little bower in the dim back-ground, with a battered straw hat on, and a few rags tied round his neck and wrist, in imitation of a collar and cuffs. The fellow tried to act the part of a white man, although he had no more clothes on than the old hat and rags. But, after a great deal of dancing, he strutted about, pulled up the rag collar, made a great fuss with his rag cuffs, and kept taking off his old straw hat to the other black fellows, and to the rest of the tribe, who kept up the noise on the other side of the fires.

"Now this is better!" said the Kangaroo, with a smile. "It's very silly, but Willy Wagtail says that is just the way Humans go on in the town. Black Humans can act being white Humans, but they are no good as Kangaroos."

Dot thought that if men behaved like that in towns it must be very strange. She had not seen any like the acting black fellow at her cottage home. But she did not say anything, for it was quite clear in her little mind that black fellows, Kangaroos, and willy wagtails had a very poor opinion of white people. She felt that they must all be wrong; but, all the same, she sometimes wished she could be a noble Kangaroo, and not a despised human being.

"I wish I were not a white little girl," she whispered to the Kangaroo.

The gentle animal patted her kindly with her delicate black hands.

"You are as nice now as my baby Kangaroo," she said sadly, "but you will have to grow into a real white Human. For some reason there have to be all sorts of creatures on the earth. There are hawks, snakes, dingoes and humans, and no one can tell for what good they exist. They must have dropped on to this world by mistake for another, where there could only have been themselves. After all," said the kind animal, "It wouldn't do for every one to be a Kangaroo, for I doubt if there would be enough grass; but you may become an improved Human."

"How could I be that?" asked Dot, eagerly.

"Never wear kangaroo leather boots never use kangaroo skin rugs, and" here it hesitated a little, as though the subject were a most unpleasant one to mention.

"Never do what?" enquired Dot, anxious to know all that she should do, so as to be improved.

"Never, never eat Kangaroo-tail soup!" said the Kangaroo, solemnly.

"I never will," said Dot, earnestly, "I will be an improved Hurnan."

This conversation had been so serious to both Dot and the Kangaroo, that they had quite forgotten the perilousness of their position. Perhaps this was because the Kangaroo cannot think, but it quickly jumped to the conclusion that they were in danger.

Whilst they had been peeping at the corroborees, and talking, the dingo dogs that had been prowling around the camp, had caught scent of the Kangaroo; and, following the trail, had set up an angry snapping and howling.

The instant this sound was heard by the Kangaroo, she made an immense bound, and as she seemed to fly through the bush, Dot could hear the sounds of the corroboree give place to a noise of shouting and disorder: the dingo dogs and the Blacks were all in pursuit, and Dot's Kangaroo, with little Dot in her pouch, was leaping and bounding at a terrific pace to save both their lives!

Chapter 7 pages:  one   two   three
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