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Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

The panting, trembling Kangaroo saw the approaching dog, also, and leaped down from the crag. As she dropped to earth, she stooped, and quickly lifted Dot out of her pouch, and, almost before Dot could realize the movement, she found herself standing alone, whilst the Kangaroo hopped forward to the front of a big boulder, as if to meet the dog. Here the poor hunted creature took her stand, with her back close to the rock. Gentle and timid as she was, and unfitted by nature to fight for her life against fierce odds, it was brave indeed of the poor Kangaroo to face her enemies, prepared to do battle for the lives of little Dot and herself.

So noble did Dot's Kangaroo look in that desperate moment, standing erect, waiting for her foe, and conquering her naturally frightened nature by a grand effort of courage, that it seemed impossible that either dogs or men should be so cruel as to take her life. For a moment the dingo hound seemed daunted by her bravery, and paused a little way off, panting, with its great tongue lolling out of its mouth. Dot could see its sharp, wicked teeth gleaming in the moonlight. For a few seconds it hesitated to make the attack, and looked back down the slope, to see if the other dogs were coming to help; but they were only just beginning the ascent, and the shouting black fellows were further off still. Then the dog could no longer control its savage nature. It longed to leap at the poor Kangaroo's throat that pretty furry throat that Dot's arms had so often encircled lovingly, and it was impatient to fix its terrible teeth there, and hold, and hold, in a wild struggle, until the poor Kangaroo should gradually weaken from fear and exhaustion, and be choked to death. These thoughts filled the dog with a wicked joy. It wouldn't wait any longer for the other dingo hounds. It wanted to murder the Kangaroo all by itself; so, with a toss of its head, and a terrible snarl, it sprang forward ferociously, with open jaws, aiming at the victim's throat.

Dot clasped her cold hands together. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and her little voice, choking with sobs, could only wail, "Oh! dear Kangaroo! my dear Kangaroo! Don't kill my dear Kangaroo!" and she ran forward to throw herself upon the dog and try to save her friend.

But before the terrified little girl could reach the big rock, the dog had made its spring upon her friend. The brave Kangaroo, instead of trying to avoid her fierce enemy, opened her little arms, and stood erect and tall to receive the attack. The dog in its eagerness, and owing to the nature of the ground, misjudged the distance it had to spring. It failed to reach the throat it had aimed at, and in a moment the Kangaroo had seized the hound in a tight embrace. There was a momentary struggle, the dog snapping and trying to free itself, and the Kangaroo holding it firmly. Then she used the only weapon she had to defend herself from dogs and men the long sharp claw in her foot. Whilst she held the dog in her arms, she raised her powerful leg, and with that long, strong claw, tore open the dog's body. The dog yelped in pain as the Kangaroo threw it to the ground, where it lay rolling in agony and dying; for the Kangaroo had given it a terrible wound. The other dogs were still some distance below, and the cries of their companion caused them to pause in fear and wonder, while the black men could be seen advancing in the dim light, flourishing their spears and boomerangs. It was impossible to retreat that way; and where Dot and her Kangaroo were, they were hemmed in by a rocky cliff and the deep black chasm. The Kangaroo saw at a glance where lay their only chance of life. She picked up Dot, placed her in her pouch, and without a word leaped forward towards that fearful gulf of darkness and foaming waters. As they neared the spot, Dot saw that the hunted animal was going to try and leap across to the other side. It seemed impossible that with one bound she could span that terrible place and reach the sedged morass beyond; and still more impossible that it should be done by the poor animal with heavy Dot in her pouch. Again Dot cried, "Oh! darling Kangaroo, leave me here, and save yourself. You can never, never do it carrying me!"

Chapter 8 pages:  one   two   three   four   five
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