Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
Editors Note: the original definition of the word "gay" is "very happy". Because Dot and the Kangaroo was written over 100 years ago, only the original definition was intended by the author.
. . . the story continues . . .
"Well, everyone says it's gay, and there is always a deal of noise, so I suppose it is," answered the Kangaroo.
"I'd rather be in your pouch, so let us go away," entreated Dot; and they left the bower place without any of the birds noticing their departure, for they were all busy gossiping, or discussing the great berry or digestion questions.
It was towards evening when they reached an open plain, and here they met an Emu. As both Dot and the Kangaroo were thirsty, they asked the Emu the way to a waterhole or tank.
"I am going to a tank now," replied the Emu; "let us proceed together."
"Do you think it will be safe to drink to-night;" enquired the Kangaroo anxiously.
"Well, to tell the truth," said the Emu lightly, "it is likely to be a little difficult. There is a somewhat strained feeling between the White Humans and ourselves just now. In consequence, we have to resort to a little strategy on our visits to the tanks, and we avoid eating anything tempting left about at camping places."
"Are they laying poison for you?" asked the Kangaroo in horrified tones.
"They are doing something of the kind, we think," answered the Emu airily, "for some of us have had most unpleasant symptoms after picking up morsels at camping grounds. Several have died. We were quite surprised, for hitherto there has been no better cure for Emu indigestion than wire nails, hoop iron, and preserved milk cans. The worst symptoms have yielded to scraps of barbed wire in my own case. But these Emus died in spite of all remedies."
"But I heard," said the Kangaroo, "that Emus were protected by the Government. I never understood why."
"We are protected," said the huge bird, "because we form part of the Australian Arms."
"So do we," said the Kangaroo, "and we are not protected."
"True," said the bird, "but the Humans can make some money out of you when you are dead, whereas we serve no purpose at all, excepting alive, when we add a charm to the scenery; and, moreover, each of our eggs will make a pound cake. But the time will come, friend, when there will be neither Emu nor Kangaroo for Australia's Arms; no creature will be left to represent the land but the Bunny Rabbit and the Sheep."
"I hate sheep!" said the Kangaroo, "they eat all our grass."
"You have not studied them as we have," answered the Emu. "They are most entertaining. We have great fun with them, and we've learnt some capital sheep games from those dogs Humans drive them with. It's really exciting to drive a big mob, when they want to break and scatter. We were chasing them, here and there, all over the plain to-day."