Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
The next day they travelled a long distance. At about noon they came to a part of the country which the Kangaroo said she well knew. "But we must be careful," she added, "as we are very near Humans in this part."
As Dot was tired (for she had had to walk much more than usual) the Kangaroo suggested that she should rest at the pretty spot they had reached, whilst she herself went in search of Willy Wagtail. Dot had to promise the Kangaroo over and over again, not to leave the spot during her absence. She was afraid lest the little girl should get lost, like the little Joey.
After many farewells, and much hopping back to give Dot warnings, and make promises of returning soon, the Kangaroo went in search of Willy Wagtail; and the little girl was left all alone.
Dot looked for a nice shady nook, in which to lie down and rest; and she found the place so cheerful and pretty, that she was not afraid of being alone. She was in the hollow of an old watercourse. It was rather like an English forest glade, it was so open and grassy; and here and there were pretty shrubs, and little hillocks and hollows. At first Dot thought that she would sit on the branch of a huge tree that had but recently fallen, and lay forlornly clothed in withered leaves; but opposite to this dead giant of the Bush was a thick shrub with a decayed tree stump beside it, that made a nice sheltered corner which she liked better. So Dot laid herself down there, and in a few minutes she was fast asleep; though, as she dropped off into the land of dreams, she thought how wonderfully quiet that little glade was, and felt somewhat surprised to find no Bush creatures to keep her company.
Some time before Dot woke, her dreams became confused and strange. There seemed to be great crowds of them, and the murmur of many voices talking together. As she gradually awakened, she realised that the voices were real, and not a part of her dreams. There was a great hubbub, a fluttering of wings, and rustling of leaves and grass. Through all this confusion, odd sentences became clear to her drowsy senses. Such phrases as, "You'd better perch here?" "This isn't your place!" "Go over there!" "No! no! I'm sure I'm right! the Welcome Swallow says so." "Has anyone gone for the opossum?" "He says the Court ought to be held at night!" "Don't make such a noise or you will wake the prisoner!" "Who is to be the judge?" This last enquiry provoked such a noise of diverse opinions, that Dot became fully awake, and sitting up, gazed around with eyes full of astonishment.
When she had fallen asleep there had not been a creature near her; but now she was literally hemmed in on every side by birds and small animals. The branches of the fallen tree were covered with a feathered company, and in the open space between it and Dot's nook, was a constantly increasing crowd of larger birds, such as cranes, plover, duck, turkey-buzzards, black swan, and amongst them a great grave Pelican. The animals were few, and apparently came late. There was a little timid Wallaby, a Bandicoot, some Kangaroo Rats, a shy Wombat who grumbled about the daylight, as also did a Native Bear and an Opossum, who were really driven to the gathering by a bevy of screaming parrots.
Dot was wide awake at once with delight. Nearly every creature she had ever heard of seemed to be present, and the brilliant colours of the parrots and parakeets made the scene as gay as a rainbow in a summer noonday sky.