voices from the past

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Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

All she heard was something like "try," or "we'll die." She could not make out what the Kangaroo said, for the crashing of the waterfall, the whistling of the wind, and the scattering of stones as they dashed forward, made such a storm of noises in her ears. She could see when they reached the grassy fringe of the precipice, where the Kangaroo was able to quicken her pace, and literally seemed to fly to their fate. Then came the last bound before the great spring. Dot held her breath, and a feeling of sickness came over her. Her head seemed giddy, and she could not see, but she clasped her hands together and said, "God help my Kangaroo!" and then she felt the fearful leap with the rush through the air.

Yes! they had reached the other side. No! they had not quite: what was the matter? What a struggle! Stones falling, twigs and grasses wrenching, the courageous Kangaroo fighting for a foothold on the very brink of the precipice. What a terrible moment! Every second Dot felt sure they would fall backward and drop deep into the gully below, to be dashed to pieces on the rocks and the tree tops. But God did help Dot's Kangaroo; the little reeds and rushes held tightly in the earth, and the poor struggling animal, exerting all her remaining strength, gained the reedy slope safely. She staggered forward a few reeling hops, and then fell to the earth like a dead creature. In an instant Dot was out of the pouch and had her arm round the poor animal's neck, crying, as she saw blood and foam oozing from her mouth, and a strange dim look in her sad eyes.

"Don't die, dear Kangaroo! Oh, please don't die!" cried Dot, wringing her hands, and burying her face in the fur of the poor gasping creature.

"Dot," panted the Kangaroo, "make a noise! Cry loud! Not safe yet!"

The little girl didn't understand why the Kangaroo wanted her to make a noise, and she had, in her fear and sorrow, quite forgotten their pursuers. But now she turned, and could hear the blacks, urging on their dogs as they were making an attempt to skirt round the precipice, and gain the other side of the chasm. So Dot did as she was told, and screamed and cried like the most naughty of children; and the gasping Kangaroo told her to go on doing so.

Then what seemed to Dot a very terrifying thing happened; for she soon heard other cries mingle with hers. From the desolate morass, and from the gully in darkness below, came the sound of a bellowing. She stopped crying and listened, and could hear those awesome voices all around, and the echoes made them still more hobgoblinish. The Kangaroo's eyes brightened, as she restrained her panting, and listened also. "Go on," she said, "we're safe now," so Dot made more crying, and her noises and the others would have frightened anyone who had heard them in that lonely place, with the wind storming in the trees, and the black clouds flying over the moon. It frightened the black fellows directly.

Chapter 8 pages:  one   two   three   four   five
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