Dot and the Kangaroo
by Ethel C. Pedley (1860 - 1898)
. . . the story continues . . .
Two men were walking near a cottage in the winter sun-light of the early morning. There came to the door a young woman, who looked pale and tired. She carried a bowl of milk to a little calf, and on her way back to the cottage she paused, and shading her eyes, that were red with weeping, lingered awhile, looking far and near. Then, with a sigh, she returned indoors and worked restlessly at her household duties.
"It breaks my heart to see my wife do that," said the taller man, who carried a gun. "All day long she comes out and looks for the child. One knows, now, that the poor little one can never come back to us," and as the big man spoke there was a queer choking in his voice.
The younger man did not speak, but he patted his friend's shoulder in a kindly manner, which showed that he too was very sorry.
"Even you have lost heart, Jack," said the big bushman, "but we will find her yet; the wife shall have that comfort."
"You'll never do it now," said the young fellow with a mournful shake of the head. "There is not an inch of ground that so young a child could reach that we have not searched. The mystery is, what could have become of her?"
"That's what beats me," said the tall man, who was Dot's father. "I think of it all day and all night. There is the track of the dear little mite as clear as possible for five miles, as far as the dry creek. The trackers say she rested her poor weary legs by sitting under the blackbutt tree. At that point she vanishes completely. The blacks say there isn't a trace of man, or beast, beyond that place excepting the trail of a big Kangaroo. As you say, it's a mystery!"
As the men walked towards the bush, close to the place where Dot had run after the hare the day she was lost, neither of them noticed the fuss and scolding made by a Willy Wagtail; although the little bird seemed likely to die of excitement.
Willy Wagtail was really saying, "Dot and her Kangaroo are coming this way. Whatever you do, don't shoot them with that gun."
Presently the young man, Jack, noticed the little bird. "What friendly little chaps those wagtails are," he said, "and see how tame and fearless this one is. Upon my word, he nearly flew in your face that time!"
Dot's father did not notice the remark, for he had stopped suddenly, and was peering into the bush whilst he quietly shifted his gun into position, ready to raise it and fire.
"By Jove!" he said, "I saw the head of a Kangaroo a moment ago behind that iron-bark. Fancy it's coming so near the house. Next time it shows, I'll get a shot at it."
Both men waited for the moment when the Kangaroo should be seen again.