voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"Really that is the cleverest thing I have heard for a long time," said the Kangaroo, full of admiration for the trick. "How did you jump to that conclusion?"

"The idea sprang upon us," answered the Emu, with an immense hop in the air, and a dancing movement when it came to the ground again. "Dear me!" it exclaimed, "the sight of those sheep is beginning to excite me, and I can hardly keep still! I wonder what there is so exciting about sheep!"

Dot could now see the advancing flock of sheep, with their attendant mob of Emu, quite well. The animals had got scent of the water, and with contented bleatings were slowly moving with a rippling effect across the dusty plain. The mob of Emu soon left the sheep to go their own way, and, grouped in a cluster, watched, with bobbing heads, every movement of the flock.

Dot, the Kangaroo, and the Emu looked towards the tank with silent interest. "I'm stationed here," whispered the bird, "to give a warning in case there is any danger in this direction. Emu are posted all round the tank on the same duty."

Dot could see the whole scene well, for beyond a few low shrubs on the opposite side of the sheet of water, there was no sheltering bush near the great tank which had been excavated on the bare plain.

Onward came the sheep, and quite stationary in the distance remained the Emu mob. Just as the first sheep were descending the deep slope of the tank, a Plover rose from amongst the bushes with a shrill cry. The Emu started at the sound, and whispered to the Kangaroo, "There'll be no drink to-night. Watch!"

The cry of the Plover seemed to arrest the advance of the timid sheep. They waited in a closely-packed flock, looking around. But presently the old leader gave a deep bleat, and they moved forward towards the water. "Shriek! Shriek!" cried the Plover from the bushes, screaming as they rose and flew away; and suddenly the flock of sheep broke and hurried back to the open plain. At the same instant Dot could hear the sharp barking of a sheep-dog, a noise that produced an instant effect on the creatures she was with. With lightning speed the Kangaroo had popped her into her pouch and was hopping away, and the Emu was striding with its long legs as fast as it could for the cover of the Bush.

Just as they entered the Bush shelter, Dot peeped out of the pouch, across the plain, and could see the mob of Emu in a cloud of dust, running, and almost out of sight.

When they had reached a place of safety, the friendly Emu bid the Kangaroo and Dot good night. "We shall have to be thirsty to-night," it said, "but there will be a heavy dew, and the grass will be wet enough to cool one's mouth. That pretty trick of ours was such a success that it is almost worth one's while to lose one's drink in proving it." Turning to Dot it said, "You will be able to tell the big Humans that we Emus are not such fools as they think, and that we find their flocks of silly sheep most useful and entertaining animals."

Chuckling to itself, the Emu strode off, leaving Dot and the Kangaroo to pass another night in the solitudes of the Bush.

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