Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
The fourth day of Dot's wanderings in the Bush dawned brightly. The sun arose in a sky all gorgeous in gold and crimson, and flashed upon a world glittering with dewy freshness. Sweet odours from the aromatic bush filled the air, and every living creature made what noise it could, to show its joy in being happy and free in the beautiful Bush. Rich and gurgling came the note of the magpies, the jovial kookooburras saluted the sun with rollicking laughter, the crickets chirruped, frogs croaked in chorus, or solemnly "popped" in deep vibrating tones, like the ring of a woodman's axe. Every now and then came the shriek of the plover, or the shrill cry of the peeweet; and gayer and more lively than all others was the merry clattering of the big bush wagtail in the distance.
As soon as the Kangaroo heard the Bush Wagtail, she and Dot hurried away to find him. No Christy Minstrel rattling his bones ever made a merrier sound. "Click-i-ti-clack, click-i-ti-clack, clack, clack, clack, clack, click-i-ti-clack," he rattled away as fast as he could, just as if he hadn't a moment to waste for taking breath, and as if the whole lovely world was made for the enjoyment of Bush Wagtails.
When Dot and the Kangaroo found him, he was swaying about on a branch, spreading his big tail like a fan, and clattering gaily; but he stopped in surprise as soon as he saw his visitors.
After greetings, he opened the conversation by talking of the weather, so as to conceal his astonishment at seeing Dot and the the Kangaroo together.
"Lovely weather after the rain," he said; "the showers were needed very much, for insects were getting scarce, and I believe grass was rank, and not very plentiful. There will be a green shoot in a few days, which will be very welcome to Kangaroos. I heard about you losing your Joey — my cousin told me. I was very sorry; so sad. Ah! well, such things will happen in the bush to anyone. We were most fortunate in our brood; none of the chicks fell out of the nest, every one of them escaped the Butcher Birds and were strong of wing. They are all doing well in the world."
Then the vivacious bird came a little nearer to the Kangaroo, and, dropping his voice, said:
"But, friend Kangaroo, I'm sorry to see you've taken up with Humans. You know I have quite set my face against being on familiar terms with them, although my cousin is intimate with the whole race. Take my word for it, they're most uncertain friends. Two Kookooburras were shot last week, in spite of Government protection. Fact!" And as the bird spoke he nodded his head warningly towards the place where Dot was standing.
"This little Human has been lost in our Bush," said the Kangaroo; "one had to take care of her, you know."
"Of course, of course; there are exceptions to all rules," chattered the Wagtail. "And so this is really the lost little Human there has been such a fuss about!" added he, eyeing Dot, and making a long whistle of surprise. "My cousin told me all about it."