voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .

"Don't you see for yourselves," squeaked the Swallow, excitedly; "the judge looks like a Cockatoo."

"Well, of course he does," said all the creatures. "He is a Cockatoo, so he looks like one!"

"Yes," cried the Swallow, "but you must stick horsehairs on his head. Human justice must be done with horsehair. The prisoner won't believe the Cockatoo is a judge without. Good Gracious!" exclaimed the Swallow, "just look! The prisoner is scratching the judge's poll! We really must have horsehair!"

Dot, seeing the Swallow's indignation, drew away from the stump, and the Cockatoo tried to look as if he had never seen her before, and as if the idea of having his poll scratched by the prisoner was one that could never have entered his head.

"But, if we do put horsehair on the Cockatoo's head," argued the creatures, "what will it do?"

"It will impress the prisoner," said the Swallow.

"How?" they all asked curiously.

"Because the Cockatoo won't look like a Cockatoo," replied the Swallow, with exasperation.

"Then what will he look like?" asked every creature in breathless excitement.

"He won't look like any creature that ever lived," retorted the Swallow.

Perfect silence followed this explanation, for every bird and animal was trying to understand human sense and reason. Then the smallest Kangaroo Rat broke the stillness.

"If," said the Kangaroo Rat, "only a little horsehair can do that, surely the prisoner can imagine the judge isn't a cockatoo, without our having to wait for the horsehair. Let's get on with the trial."

This idea was received with applause, and the Swallow flew off in a huff; whilst the Kookooburra, on a tree near the Court, softly laughed to himself.

Once more the Pelican took up his position to open the trial. The Cockatoo puffed himself out as big as he could, fluffed out his cheek feathers, and half closed his eyes. His solemnly attentive attitude won the admiration of all the court, and the absence of horsehair was not felt by anyone. The Welcome Swallow, having got over its ill temper, returned to help the proceedings; and the jury all put their heads under their wings, and went to sleep.

"Fire away!" screamed the Cockatoo, and the trial began.

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