Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
The Kangaroo, hopping very weakly, and little Dot trudging over the oozy ground, followed the Bittern's directions and found the cave, which proved a very snug retreat. Here they lay down together, full of happiness at their escape, and worn out with fatigue and excitement, they were soon fast asleep.
The next day, before the sun rose, the Bittern visited the cave. "Hullo, you precious lazy pair! I've been over there," and it tossed its beak in the direction of the blacks' camp. "They're off northward. Too frightened to stay. I thought you might like the news brought you, since you're too lazy to get it for yourselves!" and off it went again without saying good-bye.
"Now isn't he a kind little fellow?" said the Kangaroo." That's his way of telling us that we are safe."
"Thanks, Bittern! thanks!" they both cried, but the creamy brown bird paid no attention to their gratitude: it seemed absorbed in looking for frogs on its way.
All that day the Kangaroo and Dot stayed near the cave, so that the poor animal might get quite well again. The Kangaroo said she did not know that part of the country, and so she had better get her legs again before they faced fresh dangers. Neither of them was so bright and merry as before. The weather was showery, and Dot kept thinking that perhaps she would never get home, now she had been so long away, and she kept remembering the time when the little boy was lost and everyone's sadness.
The Kangaroo too seemed melancholy.
"What makes you sad?" asked Dot.
"I am thinking of the last time before this that I was hunted. It was then I lost my baby Kangaroo," she replied.
"Oh! you poor dear thing!" exclaimed Dot, "and have you been hunted before last night?"
"Yes," said the Kangaroo with a little weary sigh. "It was just a few days before I found you. White Humans did it that time."
"Tell me all about it," said Dot. "How did you escape?"
"I escaped then," said the Kangaroo, settling herself on her haunches to tell the tale, "in a way I could have done last night. But I will die sooner than do it again."
"Tell me," repeated Dot.
"There is not much to tell," said the Kangaroo. "My little Joey was getting quite big, and we were very happy. It was a lovely Joey. It was so strong, and could jump so well for its size. It had the blackest of little noses and hands and tail you ever saw, and big soft ears which heard more quickly than mine. All day long I taught it jumping, and we played and were merry from sunrise to sunset. Until that day I had never been sad, and I thought all the creatures must be wrong to say that in this beautiful world there could be such cruel beings as they said White Humans were. That day taught me I was wrong, and I know now that the world is a sad place because Humans make it so; although it was made to be a happy place. We were playing on the side of a plain that day, and our game was hide and seek in the long grass. We were having great fun, when suddenly little Joey said, 'strange creatures are coming, big ones.'