voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

Thus sang little Dot, tossing herself backwards and forwards, and the Kangaroo, squatting below, came to the conclusion that there was something very sweet about little Humans, and that Dot was certainly quite as nice as a Joey Kangaroo.

In the middle of one of these little swinging diversions, a bird about the size of a pigeon, with the most wonderfully shiny plumage, flew to the tree from which Dot's creeper swing hung. Dot was so struck by the bird's beautiful blue-black glossy appearance, and its brightly contrasting yellow beak and legs, that she stopped swinging at once.

"You ARE a pretty bird!" she said.

"I am a Satin Bower Bird," it said. "We heard you singing, and we thought, therefore, that you probably enjoy parties, so I have come to invite you to one of our assemblies which will take place shortly. Friend Kangaroo, we know, is of a somewhat serious nature, but probably she will do us the pleasure of accompanying you to our little entertainment."

"I shall have great pleasure in doing so," said the Kangaroo; "I have not been to any of your parties for a long time. You know, I suppose, that I lost my Joey very sadly."

"We heard all about it," replied the Bower Bird in a tone of exaggerated, almost ridiculous sadness, for it was so anxious that the Kangaroo should think that it felt very deeply for her loss. "We were in the middle of a meeting at the time the Wallaby brought the news, and we were so sad that we nearly broke up our assembly. But it would have been a pity to do so, really, as the young birds enjoy themselves so much at the 'Bower of Pleasure'. But," said the Satin Bird, with a sudden change of tone from extreme sorrow to one of vivacious interest I must show you the way to the bower, or you would never find it.

Dot jumped down from the swing, and she and the Kangaroo, guided by the Satin Bird, made their way through some very thickly-grown bush. The bird was certainly right in saying that they would never have found the Bower of Pleasure without a guide. It was carefully concealed in the most densely grown scrub. As they were pushing their way through a thicket of shrubs, before reaching the open space where the Satin Birds' bower was built, they beard an increasing noise of birds all talking to one another. The din of this chattering was enhanced considerably by the shrill sounds of tree frogs and crickets, and the hubbub made Dot feel like the little Native Bear as if her "head was empty."

"This will be a very pleasant party," said the Satin Bird, "there is plenty of conversation, so everyone's in a good humour."

"Do you think anyone is listening, or are they all talking?" enquired the Kangaroo timidly.

"Nobody would attempt to listen," answered the Satin Bird, "it would be impossible against the music of the tree frogs and crickets, so everyone talks."

"I should tell the tree frogs and crickets to be quiet," said Dot, "no one seems to care for their music."

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