voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .


It was fortunate the Kangaroo could not think of all that might befall them, or she never could have had courage for the wonderful feats of jumping she performed. Poor little Dot, whose busy brain pictured all kinds of terrible fates, was so overcome with fear that she seemed hardly to know what had, happened; and the more she thought, the more terrified she became.

The Kangaroo did not attempt to continue the upward ascent, but followed a slope of the rugged hill, leaping from rock to rock. This was better than trying to escape where the trees and shrubs would have prevented her making those astonishing bounds. But the clouds had left the moon clear for a while, so that the black fellows and dogs easily followed every movement, as they pursued the hunt on a smoother level below. The blacks were trying to hurry on, so as to cut off the Kangaroo's retreat at a spur of the hill, where, to get away, she would have to leave the rocks and descend towards them. In the meantime Dot's ears were filled with the sounds of snarling snaps from the dingo dogs, and hideous noises from the blacks, encouraging the animals to attack the Kangaroo. But what pained her most were the gasps and little moans of her good friend, as she put such tremendous power into every leap she made for their lives; crashing through twigs, and scattering stones and pebbles, in the wild speed of their flight.

Then Dot's busy little brain told her another thing, which made her more miserable. It was quite clear that the poor Kangaroo was getting rapidly exhausted, owing to her having to bear Dot's weight. Her panting became more and more distressing, and so did her sad moans and flecks of foam from her straining lips fell on Dot's face and hands. Dot knew that her Kangaroo was trying to save her at the risk of her own life. Without the little girl in her pouch, she might get away safely; but, with her to carry, they would both probably fall victims to the fierce blacks and their dogs.

"Kangaroo! Kangaroo!" she cried, "put me down; drop Dot anywhere, anywhere, but don't get killed yourself!"

But all Dot heard was a little hissing sound from the brave animal, which sounded like, "Never again!"

"You will be killed," moaned Dot.

"Together!" said the little hissing voice, as another great bound brought them to the spur of the hill; and then the Kangaroo had to pause.

In that moment Dot seemed to hear and see everything. They were perched on a rock, and the moonlight lit all their surroundings like day. To the right was a deep black chasm, with a white foaming waterfall pouring into the darkness below. In front was the same wide chasm, only less wide, and beyond it, on the other side of the great yawning cleft in the earth, was a wild spread of morass country a gloomy, terrible-looking place. To the left was a steep slope of small rocks and stones, leading downwards to the hollow of sedgy land that fringed the cliffs of the chasm. The only retreat possible was to pass down this declivity, and try to escape by the sedgy land, and this is what the black huntsmen had expected. It was a very weird and desolate place; and everything looked dark and dismal, under the moonlight, as it streamed between stormy black clouds. In that light Dot could see the blacks hurrying forward. Already one of the dogs had far outrun the others, and with wolfish gait and savage sounds, was pressing towards their place of observation.

Chapter 8 pages:  one   two   three   four   five
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