voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"I don't like sheep!" said Dot, "they are so stupid."

"So they are," agreed the Emu, "and that is what puzzles me. What is it about the sight of sheep that excites one so? When one gets into a big flock, one has to dance, one can't help oneself. We had a great dance in a flock to-day, and the lambs would get under our feet, so I'm sorry to say a good many of them were killed."

"Men will certainly kill you, if you do that," said Dot.

"We know it," chuckled the Emu; "that is why the tank is not quite safe just now. But this evening I will show you a new plan by which to learn if Humans are camped at a tank, or not. We have played the trick with great success for several nights."

Conversing thus, the Emu, the Kangaroo, and Dot wandered on until the Emu requested them to wait for a few minutes, whilst it peeped at the tank, which was still a long way off.

It presently returned and said that it felt quite suspicious, because everything looked so clear and safe. "From his point of high ground," said the bird, "you can watch our proceedings. I will now give the signal and return to my post here."

The Emu then ran at a great pace along the edge of the plain, and emitted a strange rattling cry. After disappearing from sight for a time, it returned hurriedly to where Dot and her friend were waiting.

"Now, see!" said the Emu, nodding at the distant side of the plain.

Dot's eyes were not so keen of sight as those of an Emu; but she thought she could see something like a little cloud of dust, far, far away across the dry brown grass of the plain. Soon she was quite sure that the little cloud was advancing towards her side of the plain, and in the direction of the tank. As it came nearer she could see the bobbing heads of Emus, popping up above the dust, and she could see some of the birds running round the little cloud.

"What is the cause of all that dust?" she asked the Emu.

"Sheep!" it answered with a merry chuckle.

"But what are the Emus doing with the sheep?" asked Dot and the Kangaroo, now fully interested in the Emu's manoeuvre.

"They are driving them to water at the tank," said the bird, highly delighted with the scheme. "The sheep will soon know that they are near water, and will go to it without driving. Then we shall watch, and if they quietly drink and scatter, it will be safe for us, but if they see anything unusual and break, and run well, we shan't drink at the tank to-night. There will be Humans and dogs there, and we don't cultivate their society just now."

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