voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

They stopped in their headlong speed, shouting all together in their shrill voices, "The Bunyip! The Bunyip!" and they tumbled over one another in their hurry to get away from a place haunted, as they thought, by that wicked demon which they fear so much. At full speed they fled back to their camp, with the sound of Dot's cries, and the mysterious bellowing noise, following them on the breeze; and they never stopped running until they regained the light of their camp fires. There they told the gins, in awe-struck voices, how it had been no Kangaroo they had hunted, but the "Bunyip", who had pretended to be one. And the black gins' eyes grew wider and wider, and they made strange noises and exclamations, as they listened to the story of how the "Bunyip" had led the huntsmen to that dreadful place. How it had torn one of the dogs to pieces, and had leaped over the precipice into Dead Man's Gully, where it had cried like a picaninny, and bellowed like a bull. No one slept in the camp that night, and early the next morning the whole tribe went away, being afraid to remain so near the haunt of the dreaded "Bunyip."

Dot saw the flight of the blacks in the dim distance, and told the good news to the Kangaroo, who, however, was too exhausted to rejoice at their escape. She still lay where she had fallen, gasping, and with her tongue hanging down from her mouth like that of a dog.

In vain Dot caressed her, and called her by endearing names; she lay quite still, as if unable to hear or feel. Dot's little heart swelled within her, and taking the poor animal's drooping head on her lap, she sat quite still and tearless; waiting in that solitude for her one friend to die leaving her lonely and helpless.

Presently she was startled by hearing a brisk voice: "Then it was a human picaninny, after all! Well, my dear, what are you doing here?"

Dot turned her head without moving, and saw a little way behind her a brown bird on long legs, standing with its feet close together, with the self-satisfied air of a dancing master about to begin a lesson.

Dot did not care for any other creature in the Bush just then but her Kangaroo, and the perky air of the bird annoyed her in her sorrow. Without answering, she bent her head closer down to that of her poor friend, to see if her eyes were still shut, and wondered if they would ever open and look bright and gentle again.

The little brown bird strutted with ail important air to where it had a better view of Dot and her companion, and eyed them both in the same perky manner. "Friend Kangaroo's in a bad way," it said; "why don't you do something sensible, instead of messing about with its head?"

"What can I do?" whimpered Dot.

"Give it water, and damp its skin, of course," said the little Bird, contemptuously. "What fools Humans are," it exclaimed to itself. "And I suppose you will tell me there is no water here, when all the time you are sitting on a spring."

"But I'm sitting on grass," said Dot, now fully attentive to the bird's remarks.

"Well, booby," sneered the bird, "and under the grass is wet moss, which, if you make a hole in it, will fill with water. Why, I'd do it myself, in a moment, only your claws are better suited for the purpose than mine. Set about it at once!" it said sharply.

Chapter 8 pages:  one   two   three   four   five
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