Part 2 out of 2
into the soft grass roots and moss, out of which water pressed, as if from
a sponge. She had soon made a little hole, and the most beautiful clear
water welled up into it at once. Then, in the hollows of her little hands,
she collected it, and dashed it over the Kangaroo's parched tongue, and,
further instructed by the kindly though rude little bird, she had soon well
wetted the suffering animal's fur. Gradually the breathing of the Kangaroo
became less of an effort, her tongue moistened and returned to the mouth,
and at last Dot saw with joy the brown eyes open, and she knew that her
good friend was not going to die, but would get well again. Whilst all
this took place, the little brown bird stood on one leg, with its head
cocked on one side, watching the Kangaroo's recovery with a comic
expression of curiosity and conceit. When it spoke to Dot, it did so
without any attempt at being polite, and Dot thought it the strangest
possible creature, because it was really very kind in helping to save the
Kangaroo's life, and yet it seemed to delight in spoiling its
kind-heartedness by its rudeness. Afterwards the Kangaroo told her that
the little Bittern is a really tender-hearted fellow, but he has an idea
that kindness in rather small creatures provokes the contempt of the big
ones. As he always wants to be thought a bigger bird than he is, he
pretends to be hard-hearted by being rough; consequently, nearly all the
Bush creatures simply regard him as a rude little bird, because bad manners
are no proof of being grown-up; rather the contrary.
"How do you feel now?" asked the Bittern, as the Kangaroo presently
struggled up and squatted rather feebly on her haunches, looking about in
a somewhat dazed way.
"I'm better now," said the Kangaroo, "but, dear me, how everything seems
to dance up and down!" She shut her eyes, for she felt giddy.
"That was rather a good jump of yours," said the Bittern, patronizingly,
as if jumps for life like that of Dot's Kangaroo were made every day, and
he was a judge of them!
"Ah, I remember!" said the Kangaroo, opening her eyes again and looking
round. "Where is Dot?"
"Umph, that silly!" exclaimed the Bittern, as Dot came forward, and she
and the Kangaroo rejoiced over each other's safety. "Much good she'd have
been to you with the blacks, and their dogs after you, if we Bitterns
hadn't played that old trick of ours of scaring them with our big voices.
He! he! he!" it chuckled, "how they did run when we tuned up! They thought
the Bunyip had got them this time. Didn't we laugh!"
"It was very good of you," said the Kangaroo gratefully, "and it is not
the first time you have saved Kangaroos by your cleverness. I didn't know
you Bitterns were near, so I told Dot to make a noise in the hope of
The Bittern was really touched by the Kangaroo's gratitude, and was
delighted at being called clever, so it became still more ungracious.
"You needn't trouble me with thanks," it said indifferently, "we didn't do
it to save you, but for our own fun. As for that little stupid," it
continued, with a nod of the head towards Dot, "her squeals were no more
good than the squeak of a tree frog in a Bittern's beak."
"But you were very kind," said Dot, "and showed me how to get water to
save Kangaroo's life."
The Bittern was greatly pleased at this praise, and in consequence it got
still ruder, and making a face at Dot, exclaimed, "Yah!" and stalked off.
But when it had gone a few steps it turned round and said to the Kangaroo,
roughly, "If you hop that way, keeping to the side of the sedges, and go
half a dozen small hops beyond that white gum tree, you'll find a little
cave. It's dry and warm, and good enough for Kangaroos." And without
waiting for thanks for this last kind act, it spread its wings and
The Kangaroo, hopping very weakly, and little Dot trudging over the oozy
ground, followed the Bittern's directions and found the cave, which proved
a very snug retreat. Here they lay down together, full of happiness at
their escape, and worn out with fatigue and excitement, they were soon
The next day, before the sun rose, the Bittern visited the cave. "Hullo,
you precious lazy pair! I've been over there," and it tossed its beak in
the direction of the blacks' camp. "They're off northward. Too frightened
to stay. I thought you might like the news brought you, since you're too
lazy to get it for yourselves!" and off it went again without saying
"Now isn't he a kind little fellow?" said the Kangaroo." That's his way
of telling us that we are safe."
"Thanks, Bittern! thanks!" they both cried, but the creamy brown bird paid
no attention to their gratitude: it seemed absorbed in looking for frogs
on its way.
All that day the Kangaroo and Dot stayed near the cave, so that the poor
animal might get quite well again. The Kangaroo said she did not know
that part of the country, and so she had better get her legs again before
they faced fresh dangers. Neither of them was so bright and merry as
before. The weather was showery, and Dot kept thinking that perhaps she
would never get home, now she had been so long away, and she kept
remembering the time when the little boy was lost and everyone's sadness.
The Kangaroo too seemed melancholy.
"What makes you sad?" asked Dot.
"I am thinking of the last time before this that I was hunted. It was
then I lost my baby Kangaroo," she replied.
"Oh! you poor dear thing!" exclaimed Dot, "and have you been hunted before
"Yes," said the Kangaroo with a little weary sigh. "It was just a few
days before I found you. White Humans did it that time."
"Tell me all about it," said Dot. "How did you escape?"
"I escaped then," said the Kangaroo, settling herself on her haunches to
tell the tale, "in a way I could have done last night. But I will die
sooner than do it again."
"Tell me," repeated Dot.
"There is not much to tell," said the Kangaroo. "My little Joey was
getting quite big, and we were very happy. It was a lovely Joey. It was
so strong, and could jump so well for its size. It had the blackest of
little noses and hands and tail you ever saw, and big soft ears which
heard more quickly than mine. All day long I taught it jumping, and we
played and were merry from sunrise to sunset. Until that day I had never
been sad, and I thought all the creatures must be wrong to say that in
this beautiful world there could be such cruel beings as they said White
Humans were. That day taught me I was wrong, and I know now that the
world is a sad place because Humans make it so; although it was made to be
a happy place. We were playing on the side of a plain that day, and our
game was hide and seek in the long grass. We were having great fun, when
suddenly little Joey said, 'strange creatures are coming, big ones.'
"I hopped up to the stony rise that fringed the plain, and I thought as I
did so that I could hear a new sound on the breeze. Joey hid in the grass,
but I went boldly into the open on the hillside to see where the danger
was. I saw, far off, Humans on their big animals that go so quickly, and
directly I hopped into the open, they raised a great noise like the blacks
did last night, and I could see by the movement in the grass that they had
those dreadful dogs they teach to kill us: they are far worse than
dingoes. Joey heard the shouting and bounded into my pouch, and I went
off as fast as I could. It was a worse hunt than last night, for it was
longer, and there was no darkness to help me. I gradually got ahead in
the chase, and I knew if I were alone I could distance them all; for we
had seen them a long way off. But little Joey was heavy, though not so
heavy as you are, and in the long distance I began to feel weak, as I did
"I knew if I tried to go on as we were, that those cruel Humans (doing
nothing but sit quietly on those big beasts, which have four legs and never
get tired) would overtake us, and their dogs (which carry no weight and go
so fast) would tear me down before their masters even arrived, for I was
going gradually slower. So I asked Joey if I dropped him into a soft bush
whether he would hide until I came back for him. It was our only chance.
I had an idea that if I did that he would be safe--even if I got killed;
as they would be more likely to follow me, and never think I had parted
from my little Joey. So we did this, and I crossed a creek, which put the
hounds off the scent, and I got away. In the dusk I came back again to
find Joey, but he had gone, and I could not find a trace of him. All
night and all day I searched, but I've never seen my Joey since," said the
Kangaroo sadly, and Dot saw the tears dim her eyes.
Dot could not speak all she felt. She was so sorry for the Kangaroo, and
so ashamed of being a Human. She realised too, how good and forgiving
this dear animal was; how she had cared for her, and nearly died to save
her life, in spite of the wrongs done to her by human beings.
"When I grow up," she said, "I will never let anyone hurt a bush creature.
They shall all be happy where I am."
"But there are so many Humans. They're getting to be as many as
Kangaroos." said the animal reflectively, and shook her head.
The fourth day of Dot's wanderings in the Bush dawned brightly. The sun
arose in a sky all gorgeous in gold and crimson, and flashed upon a world
glittering with dewy freshness. Sweet odours from the aromatic bush filled
the air, and every living creature made what noise it could, to show its
joy in being happy and free in the beautiful Bush. Rich and gurgling came
the note of the magpies, the jovial kookooburras saluted the sun with
rollicking laughter, the crickets chirruped, frogs croaked in chorus, or
solemnly "popped" in deep vibrating tones, like the ring of a woodman's
axe. Every now and then came the shriek of the plover, or the shrill cry
of the peeweet; and gayer and more lively than all others was the merry
clattering of the big bush wagtail in the distance.
As soon as the Kangaroo heard the Bush Wagtail, she and Dot hurried away
to find him. No Christy Minstrel rattling his bones ever made a merrier
sound. "Click-i-ti-clack, click-i-ti-clack, clack, clack, clack, clack,
click-i-ti-clack," he rattled away as fast as he could, just as if he
hadn't a moment to waste for taking breath, and as if the whole lovely
world was made for the enjoyment of Bush Wagtails.
When Dot and the Kangaroo found him, he was swaying about on a branch,
spreading his big tail like a fan, and clattering gaily; but he stopped in
surprise as soon as he saw his visitors.
After greetings, he opened the conversation by talking of the weather, so
as to conceal his astonishment at seeing Dot and the the Kangaroo together.
"Lovely weather after the rain," he said; "the showers were needed very
much, for insects were getting scarce, and I believe grass was rank, and
not very plentiful. There will be a green shoot in a few days, which will
be very welcome to Kangaroos. I heard about you losing your Joey--my
cousin told me. I was very sorry; so sad. Ah! well, such things will
happen in the bush to anyone. We were most fortunate in our brood; none
of the chicks fell out of the nest, every one of them escaped the Butcher
Birds and were strong of wing. They are all doing well in the world."
Then the vivacious bird came a little nearer to the Kangaroo, and,
dropping his voice, said:
"But, friend Kangaroo, I'm sorry to see you've taken up with Humans. You
know I have quite set my face against being on familiar terms with them,
although my cousin is intimate with the whole race. Take my word for it,
they're most uncertain friends. Two Kookooburras were shot last week, in
spite of Government protection. Fact!" And as the bird spoke he nodded
his head warningly towards the place where Dot was standing.
"This little Human has been lost in our Bush," said the Kangaroo; "one had
to take care of her, you know."
"Of course, of course; there are exceptions to all rules," chattered the
Wagtail. "And so this is really the lost little Human there has been such
a fuss about!" added he, eyeing Dot, and making a long whistle of surprise.
"My cousin told me all about it."
"Then your cousin, Willy Wagtail, knows her lost way," said the Kangaroo
joyfully, and Dot came a little nearer in her eagerness to hear the good
"Of course he does," answered the bird; "there's nothing happens that he
doesn't know. You should have hunted him up."
"I didn't know where to find him," said the Kangaroo, "and I got into this
country, which is new to me."
"Why he is in the same part that he nested in last season. It's no
distance off," exclaimed the Wagtail. "If you could fly, you'd be there
almost directly!" Then the bird gave a long description of the way they
were to follow to find his cousin Willy, and with many warm thanks the
Kangaroo and Dot bade him adieu.
As they left the Bush Wagtail they could hear him singing this song, which
shows what a merry, happy fellow he is:
Clack! clack! clack! clack!
Who could cry in such weather, 'alack!'
With a sky so blue, and a sun so bright,
Sing 'winter, winter, winter is back!'
Sportive in flight, chatter delight,
I'm so glad that I have the knack
Of singing clack! clack! clack!
If you wish to be happy, just follow my track,
Take this for a motto, this for a code,
Sing 'winter, winter, winter is back!'
Leave care to a toad, and live a la mode!
They had no difficulty in following the Wagtail's directions. They soon
struck a creek they had been told to pursue to its end, and about noon
they found themselves in very pretty country. It reminded Dot of the
journey they had made to find the Platypus, for there were the same
beautiful growths of fern and shrubs. There were also great trailing
creepers which hung down like ropes from the tops of the tall trees they
had climbed. These ropelike coils of the creepers made capital swings,
and often Dot clambered into one of the big loops and sat swinging herself
to and fro, laughing and singing, much to the delight and amusement of the
Swing! swing! a bird on the wing
Is not more happy than I!
Stooping to earth, and seeking the sky.
Swing! swing! swing!
See how high upward I fly!
Here, midst the leaves I swing;
Then, as fast to my swing I cling,
Down I come from the sky!
Swing! swing! a bird on the wing
Is not more happy than I!
Thus sang little Dot, tossing herself backwards and forwards, and the
Kangaroo, squatting below, came to the conclusion that there was
something very sweet about little Humans, and that Dot was certainly quite
as nice as a Joey Kangaroo.
In the middle of one of these little swinging diversions, a bird about the
size of a pigeon, with the most wonderfully shiny plumage, flew to the
tree from which Dot's creeper swing hung. Dot was so struck by the bird's
beautiful blue-black glossy appearance, and its brightly contrasting
yellow beak and legs, that she stopped swinging at once.
"You ARE a pretty bird!" she said.
"I am a Satin Bower Bird," it said. "We heard you singing, and we thought,
therefore, that you probably enjoy parties, so I have come to invite you
to one of our assemblies which will take place shortly. Friend Kangaroo,
we know, is of a somewhat serious nature, but probably she will do us the
pleasure of accompanying you to our little entertainment."
"I shall have great pleasure in doing so," said the Kangaroo; "I have not
been to any of your parties for a long time. You know, I suppose, that I
lost my Joey very sadly."
"We heard all about it," replied the Bower Bird in a tone of exaggerated,
almost ridiculous sadness, for it was so anxious that the Kangaroo should
think that it felt very deeply for her loss. "We were in the middle of a
meeting at the time the Wallaby brought the news, and we were so sad that
we nearly broke up our assembly. But it would have been a pity to do so,
really, as the young birds enjoy themselves so much at the 'Bower of
Pleasure'. But," said the Satin Bird, with a sudden change of tone from
extreme sorrow to one of vivacious interest I must show you the way to the
bower, or you would never find it.
Dot jumped down from the swing, and she and the Kangaroo, guided by the
Satin Bird, made their way through some very thickly-grown bush. The bird
was certainly right in saying that they would never have found the Bower
of Pleasure without a guide. It was carefully concealed in the most
densely grown scrub. As they were pushing their way through a thicket of
shrubs, before reaching the open space where the Satin Birds' bower was
built, they beard an increasing noise of birds all talking to one another.
The din of this chattering was enhanced considerably by the shrill sounds
of tree frogs and crickets, and the hubbub made Dot feel like the little
Native Bear--as if her "head was empty."
"This will be a very pleasant party," said the Satin Bird, "there is
plenty of conversation, so everyone's in a good humour."
"Do you think anyone is listening, or are they all talking?" enquired the
"Nobody would attempt to listen," answered the Satin Bird, "it would be
impossible against the music of the tree frogs and crickets, so everyone
"I should tell the tree frogs and crickets to be quiet," said Dot, "no one
seems to care for their music."
"Oh, without music it would be very dull," explained the Satin Bird. "No
one would care to talk. You understand, it would be awkward, someone
might overhear what was said."
As the bird spoke the trio reached the place where the bower was situated.
Dot thought it a most curious sight. In the middle of an open space the
birds had built the flooring of twigs, and upon that they had erected a
bower about three feet high, also constructed of twigs interwoven with
grass, and arranged so as nearly to meet at the top in an arched form.
"It's a new bower, and more commodious than our last," said the Satin Bird
with an air of great satisfaction. "What do you think of the decorations?"
In a temporary lull of the frog and cricket band and the conversation, Dot
and the Kangaroo praised the bower and its decorations, and enquired
politely how the birds had managed to procure such a collection of
ornaments for their pleasure hall. Several young bower birds came and
joined in the chat, and Dot was surprised to see how different their
plumage was from the satin blue-black of the old birds. These younger
members of the community were of a greenish yellow colour, with dark
pencillings on their feathers, and had no glossy sheen like their elders.
Each of them pointed out some ornament that it had brought with which to
deck the bower. One had brought the pink feathers of a Galah, which had
been stuck here and there amongst the twigs. Others had collected the
delicate shells of land snails, and put them round about the entrance.
But the birds that were proudest of their contributions were those who had
picked up odds and ends at the camps of bushmen.
"That beautiful bright thing I brought from a camp a mile away," said a
bird, indicating a tag from a cake of tobacco.
"But it isn't so pretty as mine," said another, pointing to the glass
stopper of a sauce bottle.
"Or mine," chimed in another bird, as it claimed a bright piece of tin
from a milk-can that was inserted in the twigs just above the entrance of
"Nonsense, children!" said a grave old Satin Bird, "your trifles are not
to be compared with that beautiful object I found to-day and arranged
along the top of the bower. The effect is splendid!"
As he spoke, Dot observed that, twined amidst the topmost twigs of the
construction was a strip of red flannel from an old shirt, a bedraggled
red rag that must have been found in an extinct camp fire, judging by its
The day Dot had lost her way she had been threading beads, and she still
had upon her finger a ring of the pretty coloured pieces of glass. She saw
the old Satin Bird look at this ring longingly, so she pulled it off, and
begged that it might be added to the other decorations. It was instantly
given the place of honour--over the entrance and above the piece of milk
This gift from Dot caused an immediate flow of conversation, because every
bird was pleased to have something to talk about. They all began to say
how beautiful the beads were. "Quite too lovely!" said one. "What a
charming little Human!" exclaimed another. "Just the finish that our
bower required," was a general remark, and a great many kept exclaiming,
"So tasteful!" "So sweet!" "How elegant!" "Exquisite!" "It's a love!"
"It's a dear!" and so on. A great deal more was said, but the oldest
bower bird, thinking that all the adjectives were getting used up, told
the frogs and crickets to start the music again, so as to keep the
excitement going, and all further observations were drowned in the noise.
Presently the younger birds flew down to the bower, and began to play and
dance. Like a troop of children, they ran round and round the bower, and
to and fro through it, gleefully chasing each other. Then they would
assemble in groups, and hop up and down, and dance to one another in what
Dot thought a rather awkward fashion; but she was thinking of the elegance
and grace of the Native Companions, who can make beautiful movements with
their long legs and necks, whilst these little bower birds are rather
ungainly in their steps.
What amused her was to see how the young cock birds showed off to the
little hens. They were conceited fellows, and only seemed happy when they
had five or six little hens looking admiringly at their every movement.
At such times they would dance and hop with great delight; and the little
hens, in a circle round them, watched their hops and steps with absorbed
interest. Immensely pleased with himself, the young dancer would fluff
out his feathers, so as to look as big as possible, and after strutting
about, would suddenly shoot out a leg and a wing, first on one side and
then on the other, then spring high into the air, and do a sort of step
dance when his feet touched the earth again. Endless were the tricks he
resorted to, to show off his feathers and dancing to the best advantage;
and the little hens watched it all with silent intentness.
In the meantime the frogs and crickets stopped to rest, and Dot could hear
the conversation of some of the old birds perched near her. A little
party of elderly hens were discussing the young birds who were dancing at
"I must say I don't admire that new step which is becoming so popular
amongst the young birds," said one elderly hen; and all her companions
rustled their feathers, closed their beaks tightly, and nodded their heads
in various ways. One said it was "rough," another that it was "ungainly,"
and others that it was "unmannerly."
"As for manners," said the first speaker, "the bower birds of this day
can't be said to have any!" and all her companions chorused, "No, indeed!"
"In my young day," continued the elderly hen, and all the group were
sighing, "Ah! in our young days!" when a young hen perched on a bough
above them, and interrupted pertly, "Dear me, can't you good birds find
anything more interesting to talk about than ancient history?" At this the
group of gossips whispered angrily to one another, "Minx!" "Hussy!"
"Wild cat!" etc., and the rude young bird flew back to her companions.
"What I object to most in young birds," said another elderly hen, "is
their appearance. Some of them do nothing all day but preen their
feathers. Look at the over-studied arrangements of their wing flights,
and the affected exactness of their tall feathers! One looks in vain for
sweetness and simplicity in the present-day young bower birds."
"Even that is better than the newer fashion of scarcely preening the
feathers at all," observed another of the group. "Many of the young birds
take no pride in their feathers whatever, but devote all their time to
studying the habits of out-of-the-way insects." A chorus of disapproval
from all present supported this remark. "Studies that interfere with a
young hen's appearance should not be permitted," said one bird.
"What is the good of knowing all about insects, when we live on berries
and fruit!" exclaimed another.
"The sight of insects gives one the creeps!" said a third.
"I am thankful to say all my little hens care for nothing beyond playing
at the Bower and preening their feathers," said an affectionate bower bird
mother. "They get a deal of attention paid to them."
No young Satin Bird would look at a learned little bower-hen, said the
bird who had first objected to untidy and studious young hens. "For my
part, I never allow a chick of mine even to mention insects, unless they
are well known beetles!"
Dot thought this chattering very stupid, so she went round a bush to where
the old fathers of the bower birds were perched. They were grave old
fellows, arrayed in their satin blue-black plumage, and she found them
all, more or less, in a grumbling humour.
"Birds at our time of life should not have to attend parties," said
several, and Dot wondered why they came. "How are you, old neighbour?"
said one to another. "Terribly bored!" was the reply. "How long must we
stay, do you think?" asked another. "Oh! until these young fools have
finished amusing themselves," answered its friend. The only satin birds
who seemed to Dot to be interested in one another, were some engaged in
discussing the scarcity of berries and the wrongs done to bower birds by
White Humans destroying the wild fig and lillipilli trees. This grievance,
and the question as to what berries or figs agreed best with each old
bower bird's digestion, were the only topics discussed with any animation.
Dot soon tired of listening to the birds, and returned to the Kangaroo,
who asked her if she cared to stay longer. The little girl said she had
seen and heard enough, and, judging by this one, she didn't care for
"Neither do I," whispered the Kangaroo; "they make me feel tired; and,
somehow, they seem to remind one of everything one knows that's sad, in
spite of all the gaiety."
"Is it gay?" enquired Dot, hesitating a little in her speech, for she had
felt rather dull and miserable.
"Well, everyone says it's gay, and there is always a deal of noise, so I
suppose it is," answered the Kankaroo.
"I'd rather be in your pouch, so let us go away," entreated Dot; and they
left the bower place without any of the birds noticing their departure,
for they were all busy gossiping, or discussing the great berry or
It was towards evening when they reached an open plain, and here they met
an Emu. As both Dot and the Kangaroo were thirsty, they asked the Emu the
way to a waterhole or tank.
"I am going to a tank now," replied the Emu; "let us proceed together."
"Do you think it will be safe to drink to-night;" enquired the Kangaroo
"Well, to tell the truth," said the Emu lightly, "it is likely to be a
little difficult. There is a somewhat strained feeling between the White
Humans and ourselves just now. In consequence, we have to resort to a
little strategy on our visits to the tanks, and we avoid eating anything
tempting left about at camping places."
"Are they laying poison for you?" asked the Kangaroo in horrified tones.
"They are doing something of the kind, we think," answered the Emu airily,
"for some of us have had most unpleasant symptoms after picking up morsels
at camping grounds. Several have died. We were quite surprised, for
hitherto there has been no better cure for Emu indigestion than wire
nails, hoop iron, and preserved milk cans. The worst symptoms have yielded
to scraps of barbed wire in my own case. But these Emus died in spite of
"But I heard," said the Kangaroo, "that Emus were protected by the
Government. I never understood why."
"We are protected," said the huge bird, "because we form part of the
"So do we," said the Kangaroo, "and we are not protected."
"True," said the bird, "but the Humans can make some money out of you when
you are dead, whereas we serve no purpose at all, excepting alive, when we
add a charm to the scenery; and, moreover, each of our eggs will make a
pound cake. But the time will come, friend, when there will be neither
Emu nor Kangaroo for Australia's Arms; no creature will be left to
represent the land but the Bunny Rabbit and the Sheep."
"I hate sheep!" said the Kangaroo, "they eat all our grass."
"You have not studied them as we have," answered the Emu. "They are most
entertaining. We have great fun with them, and we've learnt some capital
sheep games from those dogs Humans drive them with. It's really exciting
to drive a big mob, when they want to break and scatter. We were chasing
them, here and there, all over the plain to-day."
"I don't like sheep!" said Dot, "they are so stupid."
"So they are," agreed the Emu, "and that is what puzzles me. What is it
about the sight of sheep that excites one so? When one gets into a big
flock, one has to dance, one can't help oneself. We had a great dance in
a flock to-day, and the lambs would get under our feet, so I'm sorry to
say a good many of them were killed."
"Men will certainly kill you, if you do that," said Dot.
"We know it," chuckled the Emu; "that is why the tank is not quite safe
just now. But this evening I will show you a new plan by which to learn
if Humans are camped at a tank, or not. We have played the trick with
great success for several nights."
Conversing thus, the Emu, the Kangaroo, and Dot wandered on until the Emu
requested them to wait for a few minutes, whilst it peeped at the tank,
which was still a long way off.
It presently returned and said that it felt quite suspicious, because
everything looked so clear and safe. "From his point of high ground,"
said the bird, "you can watch our proceedings. I will now give the signal
and return to my post here."
The Emu then ran at a great pace along the edge of the plain, and emitted
a strange rattling cry. After disappearing from sight for a time, it
returned hurriedly to where Dot and her friend were waiting.
"Now, see!" said the Emu, nodding at the distant side of the plain.
Dot's eyes were not so keen of sight as those of an Emu; but she thought
she could see something like a little cloud of dust, far, far away across
the dry brown grass of the plain. Soon she was quite sure that the little
cloud was advancing towards her side of the plain, and in the direction of
the tank. As it came nearer she could see the bobbing heads of Emus,
popping up above the dust, and she could see some of the birds running
round the little cloud.
"What is the cause of all that dust?" she asked the Emu.
"Sheep!" it answered with a merry chuckle.
"But what are the Emus doing with the sheep?" asked Dot and the Kangaroo,
now fully interested in the Emu's manoeuvre.
"They are driving them to water at the tank," said the bird, highly
delighted with the scheme. "The sheep will soon know that they are near
water, and will go to it without driving. Then we shall watch, and if
they quietly drink and scatter, it will be safe for us, but if they see
anything unusual and break, and run--well, we shan't drink at the tank
to-night. There will be Humans and dogs there, and we don't cultivate
their society just now."
"Really that is the cleverest thing I have heard for a long time," said
the Kangaroo, full of admiration for the trick. "How did you jump to that
"The idea sprang upon us," answered the Emu, with an immense hop in the
air, and a dancing movement when it came to the ground again. "Dear me!"
it exclaimed, "the sight of those sheep is beginning to excite me, and I
can hardly keep still! I wonder what there is so exciting about sheep!"
Dot could now see the advancing flock of sheep, with their attendant mob
of Emu, quite well. The animals had got scent of the water, and with
contented bleatings were slowly moving with a rippling effect across the
dusty plain. The mob of Emu soon left the sheep to go their own way, and,
grouped in a cluster, watched, with bobbing heads, every movement of the
Dot, the Kangaroo, and the Emu looked towards the tank with silent
interest. "I'm stationed here," whispered the bird, "to give a warning in
case there is any danger in this direction. Emu are posted all round the
tank on the same duty."
Dot could see the whole scene well, for beyond a few low shrubs on the
opposite side of the sheet of water, there was no sheltering bush near the
great tank which had been excavated on the bare plain.
Onward came the sheep, and quite stationary in the distance remained the
Emu mob. Just as the first sheep were descending the deep slope of the
tank, a Plover rose from amongst the bushes with a shrill cry. The Emu
started at the sound, and whispered to the Kangaroo, "There'll be no drink
The cry of the Plover seemed to arrest the advance of the timid sheep.
They waited in a closely-packed flock, looking around. But presently the
old leader gave a deep bleat, and they moved forward towards the water.
"Shriek! Shriek!" cried the Plover from the bushes, screaming as they rose
and flew away; and suddenly the flock of sheep broke and hurried back to
the open plain. At the same instant Dot could hear the sharp barking of a
sheep-dog, a noise that produced an instant effect on the creatures she
was with. With lightning speed the Kangaroo had popped her into her pouch
and was hopping away, and the Emu was striding with its long legs as fast
as it could for the cover of the Bush.
Just as they entered the Bush shelter, Dot peeped out of the pouch, across
the plain, and could see the mob of Emu in a cloud of dust, running, and
almost out of sight.
When they had reached a place of safety, the friendly Emu bid the Kangaroo
and Dot good night. "We shall have to be thirsty to-night," it said, "but
there will be a heavy dew, and the grass will be wet enough to cool one's
mouth. That pretty trick of ours was such a success that it is almost
worth one's while to lose one's drink in proving it." Turning to Dot it
said, "You will be able to tell the big Humans that we Emus are not such
fools as they think, and that we find their flocks of silly sheep most
useful and entertaining animals."
Chuckling to itself, the Emu strode off, leaving Dot and the Kangaroo to
pass another night in the solitudes of the Bush.
The next day they travelled a long distance. At about noon they came to a
part of the country which the Kangaroo said she well knew. "But we must
be careful," she added, "as we are very near Humans in this part."
As Dot was tired (for she had had to walk much more than usual) the
Kangaroo suggested that she should rest at the pretty spot they had
reached, whilst she herself went in search of Willy Wagtail. Dot had to
promise the Kangaroo over and over again, not to leave the spot during her
absence. She was afraid lest the little girl should get lost, like the
After many farewells, and much hopping back to give Dot warnings, and make
promises of returning soon, the Kangaroo went in search of Willy Wagtail;
and the little girl was left all alone.
Dot looked for a nice shady nook, in which to lie down and rest; and she
found the place so cheerful and pretty, that she was not afraid of being
alone. She was in the hollow of an old watercourse. It was rather like
an English forest glade, it was so open and grassy; and here and there
were pretty shrubs, and little hillocks and hollows. At first Dot thought
that she would sit on the branch of a huge tree that had but recently
fallen, and lay forlornly clothed in withered leaves; but opposite to this
dead giant of the Bush was a thick shrub with a decayed tree stump beside
it, that made a nice sheltered corner which she liked better. So Dot laid
herself down there, and in a few minutes she was fast asleep; though, as
she dropped off into the land of dreams, she thought how wonderfully quiet
that little glade was, and felt somewhat surprised to find no Bush
creatures to keep her company.
Some time before Dot woke, her dreams became confused and strange. There
seemed to be great crowds of them, and the murmur of many voices talking
together. As she gradually awakened, she realised that the voices were
real, and not a part of her dreams. There was a great hubbub, a fluttering
of wings, and rustling of leaves and grass. Through all this confusion,
odd sentences became clear to her drowsy senses. Such phrases as, "You'd
better perch here?" "This isn't your place!" "Go over there!" "No! no! I'm
sure I'm right! the Welcome Swallow says so." "Has anyone gone for the
opossum?" "He says the Court ought to be held at night!" "Don't make such
a noise or you will wake the prisoner!" "Who is to be the judge?" This
last enquiry provoked such a noise of diverse opinions, that Dot became
fully awake, and sitting up, gazed around with eyes full of astonishment.
When she had fallen asleep there had not been a creature near her; but now
she was literally hemmed in on every side by birds and small animals. The
branches of the fallen tree were covered with a feathered company, and in
the open space between it and Dot's nook, was a constantly increasing
crowd of larger birds, such as cranes, plover, duck, turkey-buzzards,
black swan, and amongst them a great grave Pelican. The animals were few,
and apparently came late. There was a little timid Wallaby, a Bandicoot,
some Kangaroo Rats, a shy Wombat who grumbled about the daylight, as also
did a Native Bear and an Opossum, who were really driven to the gathering
by a bevy of screaming parrots.
Dot was wide awake at once with delight. Nearly every creature she had
ever heard of seemed to be present, and the brilliant colours of the
parrots and parrakeets made the scene as gay as a rainbow in a summer
"Oh! you darlings!" she said, "how good of you all to come and see me!"
This greeting from Dot caused an instant silence amongst the creatures,
and she could not help seeing that they looked very uncomfortable. There
was soon a faint whispering from bird to bird, which rose higher and
higher, until Dot made out that they were all saying, "She ought to be
told!" "You tell her!" "No, you tell her yourself, it's not my business!"
and every bird--for it was the birds who by reason of their larger numbers
took the lead in the proceedings--seemed to be trying to shift an
unpleasant task upon its neighbours.
Presently the solemn Pelican waddled forward and stood before Dot, saying
to the assemblage, "I will explain our presence." Addressing the little
girl it said, "We are here to place you on trial for the wrongs we Bush
creatures have suffered from the cruelties of White Humans. You will meet
with all fairness in your trial, as the proceedings will be conducted
according to the custom of your own Courts of justice. The Welcome
Swallow, having built its nest for three successive seasons under the
eaves of the Gabblegabble Court House, is deeply learned in human law
business, and will instruct us how to proceed. Your conviction will,
therefore, leave you no room for complaint so far as your trial is
All the birds clapped their wings in applause at the conclusion of this
speech, and the Pelican was told by the Welcome Swallow that he should
plead as Prosecutor.
"What do you mean by 'Plead as Prosecutor?'" asked the Pelican gravely.
"You've got to get the prisoner convicted as guilty, whether she is so or
not," answered the Swallow, making a dart at a mosquito, which it ate with
"Oh!" said the Pelican, doubtfully; and all the creatures looked at one
another as if they didn't quite understand the justice of the arrangement.
"But," said the Pelican, hesitating a little, "suppose I don't think the
prisoner guilty? She seems very small, and harmless."
"That doesn't matter at all, you've got to get her made out as guilty by
the jury. It's good human law," snapped the Swallow, and all the creatures
said "OH!" "Now for the defence," said the Swallow briskly; "there ought
to be someone for that. Who is friendly with the Queen?"
"Who's the Queen?" asked all the creatures breathlessly.
"She's a bigger Human than the rest, and everybody's business is her
business, so she's always going to law."
"I know," said the Magpie, and she piped out six bars of "God save the
"You are the one for the defence!" said the Swallow, quite delighted, as
were all the other creatures, at the Magpie's accomplishment; "you must
save the prisoner from the jury finding her guilty."
"But," objected the Magpie, "how can I, when only last fruit season my
brother, and two sisters, and six cousins were shot just because they ate
a few grapes?"
"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
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!"
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
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
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
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.
"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
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,
"Then what will he look like?" asked every creature in breathless
"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
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
"Fire away!" screamed the Cockatoo, and the trial began.
"My duty is a most painful one," said the Pelican; "for" ("whereas," said
the Swallow) "the prisoner known" ("named and described," added the
Swallow), "as Dot is now before you," ("to be tried, heard, determined and
adjudged," gabbled the Swallow) "on a charge of cruelty" ("and feloniously
killing and slaying," prompted the Swallow) "to birds and animals," ("the
term not applying to horse, mare, gelding, bull, ox, dog, cat, heifer,
steer, calf, mule, ass, sheep, lamb, hog, pig, sow, goat, or other
domestic animal," interposed in one breath the Swallow, quoting the
Cruelty to Animals Act) "she is" ("hereby," put in the Swallow) "brought
to trial on" ("divers," whispered the Swallow) "charges" ("hereinafter,"
said the Swallow) "to be named and described by the" ("aforesaid,"
interjected the Swallow) "birds and animals," ("hereinbefore mentioned,"
stated the Swallow) "the said animals being denizens of the Bush" ("and in
no wise relating to horse, mare, gelding, bull, ox--" began the Swallow
again, when the Cockatoo raised his crest, and screamed out "STOP THAT,
I TELL YOU!" and the Pelican continued stating the charge.) "Bush law"
("enacts," said the Swallow) "that" ("whereas," prompted the Swallow) "all
individual rights" ("whatsoever," put in the Swallow) "shall be according
to the statute Victoria--"
"Victoria! Twenty to one against the field," shouted the judge.
"Between you two," said the Pelican, looking angrily at the Swallow and
the Cockatoo, "I've forgotten everything I was going to say! I shan't
"Never mind," said the Swallow cheerfully, "You've said quite enough, and
no one has understood a word of the charge, so it's all right. Now then
for the witnesses."
As the Swallow spoke, there was a great disturbance amongst the creatures.
The swan, ducks, cranes, and water fowl, besides honeysuckers, and many
other birds, were all fanning the air with their wings, and crying, "Turn
him out!" "Disgusting!" "I never heard of such a thing in my life! the
smell of it always gives me a headache!" and there was such a noise that
the jury all woke up, and Dot covered her ears with her hands. The
Cockatoo, seeing Dot's distress at the screams and hubbub, and thinking
that she wanted to say something, but could not make herself heard in the
general riot, decided to speak for her; so he screamed louder than all the
rest, and shouted, "Apples, oranges, pears, lemonade, cigarettes, AND
cigars! I say! what's the row?"
When quiet was restored, it was explained that the Opossum had brought
into Court a pouch full of gum leaves, which it was eating. It had also
given some to the Native Bear, and Wallaby, and in consequence the whole
air was laden with the odour of eucalyptus.
"Oh, dear!" said Dot, "it smells just like when I have a cold!"
"Eating eucalyptus leaves in Court is contempt of Court," cried the
Swallow and everyone echoed, "Contempt of Court! Contempt of Court! Turn
"But they are witnesses," objected the Pelican.
"That doesn't matter!" shouted the Waterfowl, "It's a disgusting smell!
Turn them out!"
"Hurrah!" shouted the Wallaby, as it leaped off. "What luck!" laughed the
Opossum, as it cleared into the nearest tree. "I am glad," sighed the
Koala, as it slowly moved away; "that trial made my head feel empty."
"Well, there go three of the most important witnesses," grumbled the
"My eye, what a spree!" said the judge.
A Galah amongst the jury, wishing to be thought intelligent, enquired what
charge the Wallaby, Native Bear, and Opossum were to bear witness to.
"It is a matter of skins, included in the fur rugs clause, and the
wickedness known as 'Sport'," answered the Pelican.
Whilst the Pelican was making this explanation, the judge, who had been
longing to have his poll scratched again, sidled up to Dot, and whispered
softly, "Scratch Cockie's poll!" But, just as he was enjoying the
delicious sensation Dot's fingers produced amongst his neck feathers, as
he held his head down, the Pelican caught sight of the proceeding. The
Pelican said nothing, but stared at the judge with an eye of such
astonishment and stern contempt, that the Cockatoo Instantly remembered
that he was a judge, and, getting into a proper attitude, said hastily,
"Advance Australia! Who's the next witness?" And again the Kookooburra
laughed to himself on the tree.
"Fur first!" exclaimed a white Ibis. "Call the Platypus!"
"The Platypus won't come!" cried the Kangaroo Rat.
"Well, I never!" exclaimed the judge.
"It says that if a Court is held at all, it should be conducted by the
representative of Antediluvian custom, the most ancient and learned
creatures, such as the Iguana, the Snake, and Ornithorhyncus Paradoxus.
That it would prefer to associate with the meanest Troglodite, rather than
appear amongst the present company. I understood it to say," continued
the Kangaroo Rat, "that real law could only be understood by those deeply
learned in fossils."
"'Pon my word!" ejaculated the judge. "Shiver my timbers. What blooming
"Oh you naughty bird to use such words!" exclaimed Dot. But all the Court
murmured "How clever!" and the Cockatoo was pleased.
"Native Cat, next!" shouted the white Ibis. But at the first mention of
the Native Cat nearly every bird, and all the small game, prepared to get
"Why don't you call the Dingo at once?" laughed the Kookooburra, who was
really keeping guard over Dot, although she did not know it. "Humans kill
"The Dingo! The Dingo!" every creature repeated in horror and
consternation; and they all looked about in fear, while the Kookooburra
chuckled to himself at all the stir his words had made.
"It's quite true that animals and birds kill one another," said the Magpie,
who thought he ought to say something in Dot's defence, as that was his
part in the trial, "therefore it is the same nature that makes Humans kill
us. If it is the nature of Humans to kill, the same as it is the nature
of birds and animals to kill, where is the sense and justice of trying the
prisoner for what she can't help doing?"
"Good!" said the Welcome Swallow, "argued like a lawyer."
At this unexpected turn of the trial the Judge softly whistled to himself,
"Pop goes the weasel."
"Don't talk to us about nature and justice and sense," replied the Pelican,
contemptuously. "This is a Court of law, we have nothing to do with any
The Court all cheered at this reply, and the Magpie subsided in the sulks.
"Call the Kangaroo!" cried the white Ibis.
"It's no good," jeered the Kookooburra.
"Kangaroo and Dot are great friends. She won't come if you called----"
"Till all's blue!" interrupted the judge and he went on with "Pop goes
the Weasel." This news caused a buzz of excitement. Everyone was
astounded that the Kangaroo, who had the heaviest grievances of all,
wouldn't appear against the prisoner.
"Is it possible," said the Pelican, addressing the Kookooburra in slow
stern accents, "Is it possible that the Kangaroo has forgiven all her
"All," said the Kookooburra.
"The hunting?" asked the Pelican.
"Yes," answered the Kookooburra.
"And," said the Pelican, still more solemnly and slowly, while all the
Court listened in breathless attention, "and has she forgiven KANGAROO-TAIL
"Yes! she's forgiven that too," answered the Kookooburra cheerfully.
"Then," said the Pelican, hotly, "I throw up the case," and he spread his
huge black wings, and flapped his way up into the sky and away.
"What a go!" said the judge; and he might have said more, only Dot could
not hear anything on account of the racket and confusion. The trial had
failed, and every creature was making all the noise it could, and
preparing to hurry away. In the middle of the turmoil, Dot's Kangaroo
bounded into the open space, panting with excitement and delight.
"Dot! Dot!" she cried, "I've found Willy Wagtail, and he knows your way!
Come along at once!" And, putting Dot in her pouch, the Kangaroo leaped
clean over the judge and carried her off!
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
"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.
"This is Dot," said the Kangaroo a little anxiously, and rather breathless
with the speed she had made.
"Just as I had expected!" exclaimed Willy Wagtail, with a jerk of the tail
which nearly sent him headlong off the rail. "I should know you anywhere,
little Human, though you do look a bit different. You want preening,"
This last remark was in allusion to Dot's appearance, which certainly was
most untidy and dirty, for, beyond an occasional lick from the Kangaroo,
she had been five days without being tidied and cleaned.
"I couldn't do it better," said the Kangaroo apologetically.
"It doesn't matter at all," said Dot, putting her tangled curls back from
"Well! I know where you live," gabbled off the Wagtail. "It's the second
big paddock from here, if you follow the belt of the she-oak trees over
there. It's a house just like those things in Gabblebabble township.
There's a yellow sheep dog, who's very good tempered, and a black one that
made a snap at my tail the other day. There is an old grey cart horse,
an honest fellow, but rather dull; and a bay mare who is much better
company. There is a little red cow who is a great friend of mine, and she
had a calf a few days before you were lost. Dear me!" exclaimed the
gossiping bird, "what a fuss there has been these five days over trying to
find you! I've been over there every day to see the sight. Such a lot of
Humans! And such horses. I enjoyed myself immensely, and made a lot of
friends amongst the horses, but I didn't care so much for the dogs; I
thought them a nasty quarrelsome lot.
"I went a couple of days with the whole turn out to see the search.
Goodness, the distances they went, and the noise and the big fires they
made. It WAS exciting fun! They brought over some black Humans--'Trackers'
is what they are called, at least the Mounted Troopers' horses told me so
(my word the Troopers' horses are jolly fellows!) Well, these black
trackers went in front of each party just like dogs, with their heads to
the ground, and they turned over every leaf and twig, and said if a Human,
a horse or a Kangaroo had broken it or been that way, they would have
found your track fast enough, but one evening it came to an end quite
suddenly, and weren't they all surprised! I heard from a Trooper's
horse--(such a nice horse he was!)--that the trackers and white Humans
said it was just as if you had disappeared into the sky! There was just a
bit of your fur on a bush, and nothing anywhere else but a Kangaroo's
trail. No one could make it out."
"That was when I took you in my pouch!" exclaimed the Kangaroo.
"Now," said the Wagtail, "most of them have given up the search. Just
this evening Dot's father and a few other Humans came back, and the yellow
sheep dog told me the last big party is to start at noon to-morrow, and
after that there will be no more attempt to find Dot. Only the sheep dog
said he heard his master say he would go on hunting alone, until he found
her body. I haven't been over there to-day," wound up the bird, "they are
all so miserable and tired, it gave me the blues yesterday."
"What are we to do? It is quite dark and late!" asked the Kangaroo.
"You had better stay here," counselled the Wagtail. "One night more or
less doesn't matter, and I don't like leaving Chip-pi-ti-chip at
night-time. She likes me to sing to her all night, because she is
nervous. I will go with you to-morrow morning early, if you will wait
here until then."
"Having found your lost way so far!" said the Kangaroo to Dot, "it would
be a pity to risk losing it again, so we had better wait for Willy Wagtail
to guide us to-morrow."
To tell the truth, the Kangaroo was very glad of the excuse to keep Dot
one night more before parting from her. "It will seem like losing my
little Joey again, when I am once more alone," she said sadly.
"But you will never go far away," said Dot. "I should cry, if I thought
you would never come to see me. You will live on our selection, won't you?"
But the Kangaroo looked very doubtful, and said that she loved Dot, but
she was afraid of Humans and their dogs.
After a supper of berries and grass, Dot and the Kangaroo lay down for the
night in a little bower of bushes. But they talked until very late, of
how they were to manage to reach Dot's home without danger from guns and
dogs. At last when they tried to sleep, they could not do so on account
of Willy Wagtail's singing to his sweetheart, "Sweet pretty creature!
Sweet pretty creature!" without stopping for more than five minutes at
"I wonder Chip-pi-ti-chip doesn't get tired of that song," said Dot.
"She never does," yawned the Kangaroo, "and he never tires of singing it."
"Sweet pretty creature," sang Willy Wagtail.
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
"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.
The next instant the Kangaroo bounded out of the Bush into the open
paddock. Swift as lightning up went the cruel gun, but, as it exploded
with a terrible report, the man, Jack, struck it upwards, and the fatal
bullet lodged in the branch of a tall gum tree.
"Great Scott!" exclaimed Jack, pointing at the Kangaroo.
"Dot!" cried her father, dropping his gun, and stumbling blindly forward
with outstretched arms, towards his little girl, who had just tumbled out
of the Kangaroo's pouch in her hurry to reach her father.
"Hoo! hoo! ho! ho! he! he! ha! ha! ha! ha!" laughed a Kookooburra on a
tree, as he saw Dot clasped in her father's great strong arms, and the
little face hidden in his big brown beard.
"Wife! wife!" shouted Dot's father, "Dot's come back! Dot's come back!"
"Dot's here!" yelled the young man, as he ran like mad to the house. And
all the time the good Kangaroo sat up on her haunches, still panting with
fear from the sound of the gun, and a little afraid to stay, yet so
interested in all the excitement and delight, that she couldn't make up
her mind to hop away.
"Dadda," said Dot, "You nearly killed Dot and her Kangaroo! Oh if you
killed my Kangaroo, I'd never have been happy any more!"
"But I don't understand," said her father. "How did you come to be in the
"Oh! I've got lots and lots to tell you!" said Dot; "but come and stroke
dear Kangaroo, who saved little Dot and brought her home."
"That I will!" said Dot's father, "and never more will I hurt a Kangaroo!"
"Nor any of the Bush creatures," said Dot. "Promise, Dadda!"
"I promise," said the big man, in a queer-sounding voice, as he kissed
Dot over and over again, and walked towards the frightened animal.
Dot wriggled down from her father's arms, and said to the Kangaroo, "It's
all right; no one's ever going to be shot or hurt here again!" and the
Kangaroo looked delighted at the good news.
"Dadda," said Dot, holding her father's hand, and, with her disengaged
hand touching the Kangaroo's little paw. "This is my own dear Kangaroo."
Dot's father, not knowing quite how to show his gratitude, stroked the
Kangaroo's head, and said, "How do you do?" which, when he came to think
of it afterwards, seemed rather a foolish thing to say. But he wasn't
used, like Dot, to talking to Bush creatures, and had not eaten the
berries of understanding.
The Kangaroo saw that Dot's father was grateful, and so she was pleased,
but she did not like to be stroked by a man who let off guns, so she was
glad that Dot's mother had run to where they were standing, and was
hugging and kissing the little girl, and crying all the time; for then
Dot's father turned and watched his wife and child, and kept doing
something to his eyes with a handkerchief, so that there was no attention
to spare for Kangaroos.
The good Kangaroo, seeing how happy these people were, and knowing that
her life was quite safe, wanted to peep about Dot's home and see what it
was like--for Kangaroos can't help being curious. So presently she
quietly hopped off towards the cottage, and then a very strange thing
happened. Just as the Kangaroo was wondering what the great iron tank by
the kitchen door was meant for, there popped out of the open door a joey
Kangaroo. Now, to human beings, all joey Kangaroos look alike, but
amongst Kangaroos there are no two the same, and Dot's Kangaroo at once
recognised in the little Joey her own baby Kangaroo. The Joey knew its
mother directly, and, whilst Dot's Kangaroo was too astonished to move,
and not being able to think, was trying to get at a conclusion why her
Joey was coming out of a cottage door, the little Kangaroo, with a
hop-skip-and-a-jump, had landed itself comfortably in the nice pouch Dot
had just vacated.
Then Dot's mother, rejoicing over the safe return of her little girl, was
not more happy than the Kangaroo with her Joey once more in her pouch.
With big bounds she leapt towards Dot, and the little girl, suddenly
looking round for her Kangaroo friend, clapped her hands with delight as
she saw a little grey nose, a pair of tiny black paws, and the point of a
black little tail, hanging out of the pouch that had carried her so often.
"Why!" exclaimed Dot's mother, "if she hasn't got the little Joey Jack
brought me yesterday! He picked it up after a Kangaroo hunt some time
"It's her Joey; her lost Joey!" cried Dot, running to the Kangaroo. "Oh,
dear Kangaroo, I am so glad!" she said, "for now we are all happy; as
happy as can be!" Dot hugged her Kangaroo, and kissed the little Joey,
and they all three talked together, so that none of them understood what
the others were saying, only that they were all much pleased and delighted.
"Wife" said Dot's father, "I'll tell you what's mighty queer, our little
girl is talking away to those animals, and they're all understanding one
another, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to treat
Kangaroos as if they were human beings!"
"I expect," said his wife, "that their feelings are not much different
from ours. See how that poor animal is rejoicing in getting back its
little one, just as we are over having our little Dot again."
"To think of all the poor things I have killed," said Dot's father sadly,
"I'll never do it again."
"No," said his wife, "we must try and get everyone to be kind to the bush
creatures, and protect them all we can."
This book would never come to an end if it told all that passed that day.
How Dot explained the wonderful power of the berries of understanding, and
how she told the Kangaroos all that her parents wanted her to say on their
behalf, and what kind things the Kangaroo said in return.
All day long the Kangaroo stayed near Dot's home, and the little girl
persuaded her to eat bread, which she said was "most delicious, but one
would get tired of it sooner than grass."
Every effort was made by Dot and her parents to get the Kangaroo to live
on their selection, so that they might protect her from harm. But she
said that she liked her own free life best, only she would never go far
away and would come often to see Dot. At sunset she said good-bye to Dot,
a little sadly, and the child stood in the rosy light of the after-glow,
waving her hand, as she saw her kind animal friend hop away and disappear
into the dark shadow of the Bush.
She wandered about for some time listening to the voices of birds and
creatures, who came to tell her how glad everyone was that her way had
been found, and that no harm was to befall them in future. The news of
her safe return, and of the Kangaroo's finding her Joey, had been spread
far and near, by Willy Wagtail and the Kookooburra; and she could hear the
shouts of laughter from kookooburras telling the story until nearly dark.
Quite late at night she was visited by the Opossum, the Native Bear, and
the Nightjar, who entered by the open window, and, sitting in the
moonlight, conversed about the day's events. They said that their whole
rest and sleep had been disturbed by the noise and excitement of the day
creatures spreading the news through the Bush. The Mo-poke wished to sing
a sad song because Dot was feeling happy, but the Opossum warned it that
it was sitting in a draught on the window sill and might spoil its
beautiful voice, so it flew away and only sang in the distance. The
Native Bear said that the story of Dot's return and the finding of
Kangaroo's Joey was so strange that it made its head feel quite empty.
The Opossum inspected everything in Dot's room, and tried to fight itself
in the looking glass. It then got the Koala to look into the mirror also,
and said it would get an idea into its little empty head if it did. When
the Koala had taken a timid peep at itself, the Opossum said that the
Koala now had an idea of how stupid it looked, and the little bear went
off to get used to having an idea in its head. The Opossum was so pleased
with its spiteful joke that it hastily said good night, and hurried away
to tell it to the other possums.
Gradually the voices of the creatures outside became more and more faint
and indistinct; and then Dot slept in the grey light of the dawn.
When she went out in the morning, the kookooburras were gurgling and
laughing, the magpies were warbling, the parrakeets made their twittering,
and Willy Wagtail was most lively; but Dot was astonished to find that she
could not understand what any of the creatures said, although they were
all very friendly towards her. When the Kangaroo came to see her she made
signs that she wanted some berries of understanding, but, strange as it
may seem, the Kangaroo pretended not to understand. Dot has often
wondered why the Kangaroo would not understand, but, remembering what that
considerate animal had said when she first gave her the berries, she is
inclined to think that the Kangaroo is afraid of her learning too much,
and thereby getting indigestion. Dot and her parents have often sought
for the berries, but up to now they have failed to find them. There is
something very mysterious about those berries!
During that day every creature Dot had known in the Bush came to see her,
for they all knew that their lives were safe now, so they were not afraid.
It greatly surprised Dot's parents to see such numbers of birds and animals
coming around their little girl, and they thought it very pretty when in
the evening a flock of Native Companions settled down, and danced their
graceful dance with the little girl joining in the game.
"It seems to me, wife," said Dot's father with a glad laugh, "that the
place has become a regular menagerie!"
Later on, Dot's father made a dam to a hollow piece of ground near the
house, which soon became full of water, and is surrounded by beautiful
willow trees. There all the thirsty creatures come to drink in safety.
And very pretty it is, to sit on the verandah of that happy home, and see
Dot playing near the water surrounded by her Bush friends, who come and go
as they please, and play with the little girl beside the pretty lake. And
no one in all the Gabblebabble district hurts a bush creature, because
they are all called "Dot's friends."
Before putting away the pen and closing the inkstand, now that Dot has
said all she wishes to be recorded of her bewildering adventures, the
writer would like to warn little people, that the best thing to do when
one is lost in the bush, is to sit still in one place, and not to try to
find one's way home at all. If Dot had done this, and had not gone off in
the Kangaroo's pouch, she would have been found almost directly. As the
more one tries to find one's way home, the more one gets lost, and as
helpful Kangaroos like Dot's are very scarce, the best way to get found
quickly, is to wait in one place until the search parties find one. Don't
forget this advice! And don't eat any strange berries in the bush, unless
a Kangaroo brings them to you.