voices from the past


Dot and the Kangaroo

by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)

. . . the story continues . . .


Although the Kangaroo was longing to hear the reason why so many Bush creatures had collected round Dot whilst she was away, she was too anxious to carry her to Willy Wagtail before nightfall to wait and enquire what had happened. Dot, too, was so excited at hearing that her way home had been found, that she could only think of the delight of seeing her father and mother again. So the Kangaroo had hopped until she was tired and needed rest, before they spoke. Then Dot described the Trial, and made the Kangaroo laugh about the Cockatoo judge, but she did not say how it had all ended because the Kangaroo had forgiven Dot for Humans making rugs of her fur, boots of her skin, and soup of her tail. She was afraid of hurting her feelings by mentioning such delicate subjects. The Kangaroo never noticed that anything was left out, because she was bursting to relate her interview with Willy Wagtail.

She told Dot eagerly how she had found Willy Wagtail near his old haunt; how that gossiping little bird had told all the news of the Gabblegabble town and district in ten minutes, and how he had said he believed he knew Dot by sight, and that if such were the case he would show Dot and the Kangaroo the way to the little girl's home. Then Dot and the Kangaroo hurried on their way again, the little girl sometimes running and walking to rest the kind animal, and sometimes being carried in that soft cosy pouch that had been her cradle and carriage for all those days.

It was quite dusk by the time they arrived at a split-rail fence, and heard a little bird singing, "Sweet pretty creature! Sweet pretty creature!"

"That is Willy Wagtail making love," said the Kangaroo, with a humorous twinkle in her quiet eyes. "Peep round the bush," she said to Dot, "and you'll see them spooning."

Dot glanced through the branches, and saw two wagtails, who looked very smart with their black coats and white waistcoats, sitting on two posts of a fence a little way off. They were each pretending that their long big tails were too heavy to balance them properly, and they seemed to be always just saving themselves from toppling off their perch. Occasionally Willy would dart into the air, to show what an expert flyer he was; he would shoot straight upwards, turn a double somersault backwards, and wing off in the direction one least expected. Afterwards he would return to his post as calm and cool as if he had done nothing surprising and say "Pretty pretty Chip-pi-ti-chip!" that name meaning the other wagtail. Then Chip-pi-ti-chip showed off HER flying, and they both said to one another "Sweet pretty creature!"

At the sound of Dot and the Kangaroo's approach Chip-pi-ti-chip hid herself in a tree, and Willy Wagtail, not knowing who was disturbing them, scolded angrily; but when he saw the Kangaroo and the little girl, he gave them the most cordial greeting, and wobbled about on a rail as if he must tumble off every second.

Chapter 12 pages:  one   two   three
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