|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||Dodo and Daisy|
DODO AND DAISY.
Ei M. E.
She was a tins* child, and looked ail the smaller, surrouuded by the great solemn gum-trees amongst which the was wandering. Not another human i eing was in sight as she toddied along the cattle track crooning a little song. She was alone, but not lonely, not frightened, as a town-bred child would have I been. When the laughing jackasses laughed ' at her irom the tree-tops, instead of being
startled, she laughed hack again, mocking them with the queerest little 6hriU imitation of their uncanny cachiuations. And when the bright paroquets and the 6creainiug cockatoos llew by her, she called out to them to come and play with her and Daisy. And she held up Daisy, a poor little battered rag doll, to see the " petty tockies." Even the lizards, though she didu't like them, only made her stamp her foot and say in her most determined manner,'* Do away, nasty sings." Once only she felt really scared. She heard a rustle in the grass by the side of the track, and along, black, sinuous, twining body, with two lierce yellow eyes and an open month full ot gleaming teeth, seemed to be rushing ather. With a cry of " JU udder, mudder. Snake, snake," she ran along as quickly as her little legs would carry her. Luckily, the snake was as frightened of her as 6he was of it, and only wanted to he left alone, and quickly disappeared into its hole. This incident made her pick her steps carefully, and ex plaining to herself, and whom it might con cern, that " Daisy was very frightened of snakes." She cuddled up her doll more closely, and proceeded cautiously on her way. She was on an exploring expedition. For nights she had listened to her father and Hugh Strong talking at the camp fire after tea of "grand country" that lay "away yonder" waiting to he taken up, and to which they were then travelling, and they had seemed to her to point over the ridge of hills at the back of the camp. Her little heart was filled with the determination to see this " grand country." She knew that it was use less to ask permission, as she was never allowed to go any place alone, so she waited until her mother had gone down to the creek for water, and then, naughty little gipsy that she was, she had started off in the direction of the range.
The cattle track made a beaten road for her little feet, and seeured to lead in the direction in which she wished to go, so she followed it joyously along across the creek llat, then over a quartz ridge, then where it
dipped through a swamp, luckily now almost dry, though here and there a treacherous
mud-hole took her over her ankles as she marched bravely through the tussocks, hold ing on her little ielt hat with one hand against the wind, which seemed to wish to
blow it and her tangled golden curls away back to the camp. She had got on the great track which the mountain cattle used when going down to water, and she had no diffi culty in following it as it wound ont of the swamp up a long gully, where quaint, ogly grass trees and honeysuckle took the place of the sheoak and the gam.
Up, ever up, winding in and ont along the gully's side, the track went, and at length reached the top at the gup leading into the innermost hills, in whose broken volleys and almost inaccessible recesses the " warrigal" cattle hot rarely heard the echo of the stock man's whip. Daisy's little mother, as she called herself, was tired now with her long tramp beneath the hot sun; but her desire to see the " grand country " was unabated, and spying a knoll that Btood a little higher than the track she bravely clambered to the summit.
If 6he had been taught Greek she would have cried " Eureka." If she had been familiar with her British poets she would have remembered (which I can't) some verses descriptive of a Highlander lookiug down from the Grampians "on the wind tug stream, the peaceful vale, once the birthright of the Gael" But, as it was, she only gazed around her triumphantly, and held up Daisy to see "the grand country, all for hmdder and fadder, and me and Daisy." And it was worth looking at To the right great masses of piled up mountains wooded to the peaks, with here and there a wet granite crag, peep ing through wrhich the suns rays caught and made to flame like burnished Bilver. Be neath her to tlie left the tumbling hills seemed to fall into the plain, which spread from her feet away to the distant horizon, one great meadow, now yellow, indeed, and burned up by the lierce summer bud, but mag nificent in jts vastuess. Far apart solitary mountains stood up like islands in that great sea of grass, aud iu the midst of it a calm and placid lake lay Bleepiug; whilst, like a silver thread, the great river, fed by a hundred mountain streams, wound through the plain and round the bases of the hills. But, alas, for our young explorer, surely that is a column of smoke rising yonder from the rivpr bank, and it comes, not from a black's signal lire, but from the chimneys of a squatter's homestead. She is not alone in her pastoral Eden.
When Daisy had been shown the land scape, and her owner was a little rested, she turned to go back to tell "fa-ar" about her discovery. But now her misadventures began. She had not the slightest idea of the direction in which the track lay. She at tempted to .descend where the hill was steepest^ flipped, dropped her dolL tore a great piece ont of her dress, lost her hat, tumbled down, and cut her hands in a very short space of time. All the courage oozed ont of her little heart, and she made the forest ring with her waiiings and cries of " Madder, come to me; I want you," as Bhe
Sicked up her doll and mechanically tied on
er hat Yet she still went doggedly on, her
cries changing gradually to a low moaning. Suddenly a moving form met her eye. At a little distance from her a stately emu was stalking slowly along.
41 Oh Jacob, Jacob 1" she cried, using the bosh pet name for the bird, as she made ov$c towards it It drew itself up, gave a shrill whistle, andoh, wonder and delight, etghtlittle fluffy, Btripedemucfaickensran to theirmother. The child forgot in a moment all ber misery. For a while she stood with a hand on each knee, screaming with joy, she had never > seen each a sight before, Xhen eta made •
wild dash after the brood, who, however, easily eluded her, and followed their mother
oat of sight
But in that moment, by a strange chance, the whole fortunes of our little friend were
changed. Up till then she had been steadily
and most inaccessible
late i snow not.
emus, who were on their way from th<e . . to the open plains, ehe unwiUing >
to me open pituue, v :"
her direction, and following ? > af which they went, she eventually armed
the catastrophe oi my story.
But now the aun was almost set, the
shadows of the trees seemed to 6tretch out on
' »*« l-inohinnr every Bide like giant
ocked now, loudly prodaimea jackasses, unmocked —, -- - -, . ?
the hour, and the air was tilled «uh
oi cockatoos and parrots as they wiuged tueir
ways to their nests.
Our little wanderer spied a long war off a hut, as she thought, by the sale of a little mountain creek. Wearily she made her way to it, to find that it was only a huge block of granite The disappointment was too much for her. She could go no iurtber. For the first time, she seemed to realise that she was lost Up to that point she had fulty ex pected that the camp and her mother would appear at every turn of the track. Now she felt that ahe would never see either again ; and ahe threw herself on the ground in an
agony of fear and despair, whilst her screams
" i-wi.lJ.l. „nn»
filled the forest, and startled the birds taking
tlipir pvonintr hath in the stream. 1 his inooa their evening bath in the stream,
fortunately did not last: the cries died away into a whimper, and her deep grief exhausted was succeeded by a strange calm. She looked round. The sun was about to set. ' 111 camp here, and boil billy," she thought. Then it struck her that she had no billy, and that mother didn't allow her to make fires, i even if she had matches. Luckily in her i pocket she found a piece of currant-cake, 1 which she bad placed there at dinner, and i forgotten. She eat this with avidity; not ! lorgetting, however, to otYer Daisy a bite | every now and then ; and a draught of the
I clear cold water of the creek conipjeted ] her frugal repast She then took oil her
pinafore, and spread it over the long, soft grass close to the great stone, as
she had saeq the blankets placed round j the camp-fire, and prepared to be down
in her not uncomfortable bed. There was [ one duty, though, that she did not forget, poor little mite. She knelt down, and clasp ing her tiny hands, sobbed out her accustomed prayer, "Dod bess ladder and mudder, and me and Daisy, and make me a dood child. And, oh Dod 1" she added earnestly, "please find me." Then clasping Daisy tightly in her arms, and pulling the pinafore over her, she sank down into the soft grass, and, worn out with her exertions, was soon fast asleep; fortunately before the twilight had faded away, and exposed her to the horrors of dark
ness. And the 'possums shrieked in their j nightly gambols, the great mopoke owl hooted solemnly to his solemn mate, the curlews,
wailing like spirits unblessed, sailed by, the I cruel and cowardly dingoes bowled in discor-; daut chorus, the thousand voices of the night resounded on every side, till the night itself passed away, and the returning sunlight, streaming down upon the eyelids of our sleeper, woke her from the profound slumber in which she had been plunged. "Mudder," she called oat, " I want you." But no mother replied. And as returning conscious ness came to her, she looked round and remembered all her misery. Bitterly
weeping she rose, and, faint with hanger and wild with despair, yet doggedly pressed on
her way. As she toddled mechanically along |
the cattle track there was not a more forlorn
little mite in Christendom. Her feet were I swollen by her long walk, so that at first she conld hardly pat them to the ground; her dress was torn, her hat all awry, her eyes red with cry ing, her hair diehevelled. and the faithful Daisy almost in pieces, but still clutched tightly to her breast Altogether she was a very different picture from the brave young explorer who had lett the camp. From time to time she threw herself on the ground and sobbed and shrieked in anguish ; but she never remained long in one spot—a spirit of nnrest bad seized her, and urged her along as if she were pur sued. If she had been older she probably wonld have wandered round and round in a circle, as people lost in the bash generally do, but she was so small thatjthe cattle tracks formed regular paths for her, and she fol lowed them without thought of whither they were leading her, too tired and too dispirited
to think at alL
Bright-plumaged birds flaunted past licr, the great kangaroos stopped and stared at her with inquisitive eyes, a cunning dingo patiently iollowed iu her track, far up in the upper air two fierce eagleliawks wheeled their
great circles, crossing and recrossing each ; other, pursuing her with an ominous per sistence that would have made an older person shudder, but she heeded them not Everything swam before her dazed eyes as she dragged one weary foot after the other, intent only on getting somewhere'-, or some how reaching home and mother.
High noon was at hand, and 6he had travelled miles down the sloping range, through the thick forest country, when the track turned again to toe bank of the creek,
there nmcb broader and deeper than where j she bad slept She was almost done up now,
but the sight of the water revived her, and j she made eagerly for the stream, a burning j thirst having taken possession of ber. As she reached the bank she stopped with a little cry of joy. "Oh, Daisy, tanoo," she said. Sure enough, just afloat in the stream, fastened to the paddle, which was stuck in the bank was a blaefcfellow's bark canoe. "Floraga, Floragu," she colled out, "turn to me," expecting to Bee appear the lubra nurse, who bad so otten paddled her on toe bosom of a great river a thousand miles away. But no Flora appeared.
Sobbing bitterly in ber disappointment, she lay down, and, burying her face in the water, drank until she could drink no more Then she rose, and drawing the light canoe to the i bank, stepped in cautiously, and threw her self at full length on the freshly-plucked ferns (hat covered the bottom. As she did so ber hand atruck against something hard, it was a " billy," and in it, to her great joy, were a hunk of damper and a handful of coaree ration sugar. She "annexed" them immediately, without thought of meant or tuum, and enjoyed the moat delicious
repast tnat ever fell to her lot
Her hunger appeased, fatigue asserted its sway, and, rocked by the gentle motion of tbe Btream, she fell asleep, bedded in the
soft luxurious fern fronds.