voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

All the creatures present looked gravely at Dot, to see what effect this harangue in her own language would have upon her, and were somewhat surprised to see her holding her little sides, and rolling about with laughter.

The Cockatoo was quite annoyed at Dot's amusement. He fluffed out all his feathers, and let off a scream that could have been heard a quarter of a mile away. This seemed to impress every one with his importance, and the whole Court became attentive to the proceedings.

At this moment the Swallow skimmed overhead, and having caught the words "God save the Queen," called out, "That's the way to do it! keep that up" and the Cockatoo, thinking that the Swallow meant him to scream still more, set up another yell, which he continued until everyone felt deafened by the noise.

"We have chosen quite the right Judge," said an elegant blue crane to a wild duck; "he will make himself heard and respected." Whereat the Cockatoo winked at the Crane, and said, "You bet I will!"

The Pelican now advanced to the space before the stump, and there was a murmur of excitement, because it was about to open the trial by a recital of wrongs done to the Bush creatures by white humanity.

Dot could not realise that she was being tried seriously, and was delighted that the Pelican had come nearer to her stump, so that she had a better view of him. She thought him such an old, old looking bird, with his big bald head, and gigantic beak. She could not help thinking that his beak must be too heavy for him, and asked if he would like to rest it on the stump. The Pelican did not understand Dot's kindness, and gave her a look of offended dignity that was quite withering; so Dot did not speak to him again; but she longed to feel if the bag of skin that drooped under his beak had anything in it. The Pelican's legs seemed to Dot to be too frail and short to bear such a big bird, not to mention the immense beak; and, when the creature stood on one leg only, she laughed; whereat the Pelican gave her another offended look, which effectually prevented their becoming friends.

The Pelican was beginning to open his beak to speak (and, being such a large beak, opening it took some time), when the Welcome Swallow fussed into court, and said that "nothing could be done until they had some horsehair!"

This interruption, and the Swallow's repeated assurance that no human trial of importance could take place without horsehair, set all the creatures chattering with astonishment and questions. Some said the Swallow was joking; others said that it was making senseless delays, and that night would fall before they could bring the prisoner to justice. There was much grumbling on all sides, and complaints of hunger, and the jury began to clamour for the grubs that they had been promised, at which the Magpie whispered to Dot that she certainly would be found guilty. The fact was now quite clear to the jury before the trial began.

But the Swallow persisted that they must have horsehair.

"What for?" asked everyone, sulkily.

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