voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"That doesn't matter! You've got to get her off, I tell you!" said the Swallow, irritably. "Go over there, and ask her what you are to say." So the Magpie flew over to Dot's side, and she at once began to teach it the rest of "God save the Queen."

"I like this game," Dot presently said to the Magpie.

"Do you?" said the Magpie with surprise. "It seems to me very slow, and there's no sense in it."

"Why are the birds all perching together over there?" asked Dot, pointing to a branch of the dead tree, "since they all hate one another and want to get away. The Galahs have pecked the Butcher Bird twice in five minutes, the Pee-weet keeps quarrelling with the Soldier Bird, and none of them can bear the English Sparrow."

"The Swallow says that's the jury," answered the Magpie. "Their business is to do just what they like with you when all the talking is done, and whether they find you guilty or not, will depend on if they are tired, or hungry, and feel cross; or if the trial lasts only a short time, and they are pleased with the grubs that will be brought them presently."

"How funny," said Dot, not a bit alarmed at all these preparations for her trial, for she loved all the creatures so much, that she could not think that any of them wished to hurt her.

"If this is human law," said the Magpie, "it isn't funny at all; it is mad, or wicked. Fancy my having to defend a Human!"

At this point of their conversation, the ill-feeling amongst the jury broke out into open fighting, because the English Sparrow was a foreigner, and they said that it would certainly sympathise with the Humans who had brought it to Australia. This was just an excuse to get rid of it. The Sparrow said that it wanted to go out of the jury, and had never wished to belong to it, and flew away joyfully. Then all the rest of the jury grumbled at the good luck of the Sparrow in getting out of the trial for they could see it picking up grass seed and enjoying itself greatly, whilst they were all crowded together on one branch, and were feeling hungry before the trial had even begun.

There was great suspense and quiet while the Judge was being chosen. Although Dot had eaten the berries of understanding, it was generally considered that, to be quite fair, the judge must be able to understand human talk; and, amidst much clapping of wings, a large white Cockatoo was appointed.

The Cockatoo lost no time in clambering "into position" on the stump near Dot. "You're quite sure you understand human talk?" said the little Wallaby to the Cockatoo. It was the first remark he had made, for he had been quite bewildered by all the noise and fuss.

"My word! yes," replied the Cockatoo, who had been taught in a public refreshment room. Then, thinking that he would give a display of his learning, he elevated his sulphur crest and gabbled off, "Go to Jericho! Twenty to one on the favourite! I'm your man! Now then, ma'am; hurry up, don't keep the coach awaiting! Give 'um their 'eds, Bill! So long! Ta-ra-ra, boom-di-ay! God save the Queen!"

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