voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"Oh! you darlings!" she said, "how good of you all to come and see me!"

This greeting from Dot caused an instant silence amongst the creatures, and she could not help seeing that they looked very uncomfortable. There was soon a faint whispering from bird to bird, which rose higher and higher, until Dot made out that they were all saying, "She ought to be told!" "You tell her!" "No, you tell her yourself, it's not my business!" and every bird for it was the birds who by reason of their larger numbers took the lead in the proceedings seemed to be trying to shift an unpleasant task upon its neighbours.

Presently the solemn Pelican waddled forward and stood before Dot, saying to the assemblage, "I will explain our presence." Addressing the little girl it said, "We are here to place you on trial for the wrongs we Bush creatures have suffered from the cruelties of White Humans. You will meet with all fairness in your trial, as the proceedings will be conducted according to the custom of your own Courts of justice. The Welcome Swallow, having built its nest for three successive seasons under the eaves of the Gabblegabble Court House, is deeply learned in human law business, and will instruct us how to proceed. Your conviction will, therefore, leave you no room for complaint so far as your trial isconcerned."

All the birds clapped their wings in applause at the conclusion of this speech, and the Pelican was told by the Welcome Swallow that he should plead as Prosecutor.

"What do you mean by 'Plead as Prosecutor?'" asked the Pelican gravely.

"You've got to get the prisoner convicted as guilty, whether she is so or not," answered the Swallow, making a dart at a mosquito, which it ate with relish.

"Oh!" said the Pelican, doubtfully; and all the creatures looked at one another as if they didn't quite understand the justice of the arrangement.

"But," said the Pelican, hesitating a little, "suppose I don't think the prisoner guilty? She seems very small, and harmless."

"That doesn't matter at all, you've got to get her made out as guilty by the jury. It's good human law," snapped the Swallow, and all the creatures said "OH!" "Now for the defence," said the Swallow briskly; "there ought to be someone for that. Who is friendly with the Queen?"

"Who's the Queen?" asked all the creatures breathlessly.

"She's a bigger Human than the rest, and everybody's business is her business, so she's always going to law."

"I know," said the Magpie, and she piped out six bars of "God save the Queen."

"You are the one for the defence!" said the Swallow, quite delighted, as were all the other creatures, at the Magpie's accomplishment; "you must save the prisoner from the jury finding her guilty."

"But," objected the Magpie, "how can I, when only last fruit season my brother, and two sisters, and six cousins were shot just because they ate a few grapes?"

Chapter 11 pages:  one   two   three   four   five   six   seven   eight
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