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I "WILDERNESS I j ORPHAN"
I ____ :
j The Story Of Chut, j
} The Kangaroo, j
S BY ¡
11 Dorothy Cottrell \
Then halt the men in the shed were
on him, beating him with rails, prod- ding him with wool hooke. He dropped thc badly clawed yardman, and wheeled
-to receive a rain of blows.
His swift anger was already over. All he wanted was to go home. He burst through the threatening circle and hopped majestically out of the wool room door, moving homeward ponder-
ously and rhythmically, covering a steady fifteen feet at a leap.
One man fired after him, but the shots went wide.
It was ot this stage that Tom rode' up to thc shed, to be horrified by the talc of Chut's ferocity and the spectacle of thc bleeding man. With relief he found that no vital injury bad been done, but it was with a heavy heart that he at last rode home. « ' ' ' the shearers, none of whom had observed the cigarette, had assured him that the yardman had simply been inviting Chut to a friendly sparring bout!
If Chut could make such an unex- pected attack he was not safe.
Mrs Henton was likewise shocked at
the account of thc yardman's injuries,
but she refused to believe thst Chut's
anger had been unprovoked. " We simply couldn't shoot him!" she said passionately. " Why, if he could tell us what happened, he could explain everything. Oh, Tom, he is so dear and funny!"
"We can't get his side of it," said the man, "and the fact remains that if he hadn't been beaten off he might
have killed someone."
"You can't shoot him!"
"I can't see how we can keep him. I'd be afraid for you. And I'd sooner shoot him than cage him."
"I know he wouldn't hurt people un- less they hurt him!" she cried. But Tom looked away with troubled face.
"You know how we would feel if there was an accident,'» he said.
"Well, don't do it yeti Promise you won't do anything till we talk not till after dinner."
The evening meal passed in silence. As they rose from the table she said:
"Oh, Tom, you can't!"
"I'll have to,'» said Tom. Suddenly she took hie erm.
"Come and see him before ve make up our minda." They passed along the veranda to the old outside fireplace. Chut was lying on his back beside the faded remains of the trousers that had mothered him. His eyes were soft and
sad with dreams.
As the man end woman looked down
at him he reached up to catch at bis
With tears and laughter mingling in her voice, the woman said: "Oh, Tom, he can't bs dangerous. Look at him I"
" He doesn't look it,'1 said the man.
Just then the girl fell swiftly to ber knees, her fingers searching the velvet fur just above the kangaroo's quivering
nose. "Look!" she cried. "Look!"
The man held the lamp closer. On Chut's nose there was a small, deep, raw pit in the flesh. About the edges of the rawness the hair was singed and
"Couldn't that have been done by a cigarette!" she questioned.
"Yon bet it was!" he replied.
"Well," she said, "that's his side of the story for you, Tom. Oh, I'm so glad!»
They stood up.
"I'm sorry Chut's done such a good job with the yardman that he hasn't left me a chance!" said Tom Henton.
By the time he was three years old, Chut was magnificent. A creature of strength and grace, ponderous force, and lamblike gentleness. His weight wss a good three hundred pounds. He stood almost seven feet when he drew
himself up to the lower arch of bis great tail and the tip's of his hopper toes. His forearms swelled like those of a man, and the muscles rippled and rolled beneath his fur. His ears were veined and tremulous, his great eyes dark and soft as a deer's. His coat toned from vivid chestnut on the back to warm buff and cream across the chest and belly.
Those who did not know him were afraid of his strength. Tom Henton and his wife knew the big kangaroo as a creature of most docile tractability, with a touching, childish passion for bread and sugar. Old kangaroo hun- ters said that he was thc finest red 'roo they had ever seen.
Tom Henton, coining home of an rtcning, would call: "Where's my boxing partner:'* And Chut would come to the enclosure gate and make tittle dancing movements on the tips of toes and tail, and throw out ¡tit ehest and chut with eagerness. And then get in Tom Henton's way as thc man walked to the grassy stretch bj the well, where they wrestled. Thert they swayed and hugged and sparred until the man broke up the game tc go for his shower.
While Tom showered. Chut would stretch his great length, on the grasi and lick his forearms to the scmblanei of dark rubber, or hop majesties!!.' about the enclosure thudding his tai upon the ground as a warning to othei " old men " kangaroos that he wai ready for them.
"Chut!" he would exclaim, "Chut ch-ch!" All of which very much im pressed his two docB.
But for some reason the big kan garoo had never mated. He playei with Zodie and Blue Baby; was eve ready to defend them from strang' dogs; and he usually slept with on arm about Blue Baby's neck. Yet perhaps because he had grown up wit! them instead of meeting them nfte the hot stir of some wilderness con flict, he never paid court to theiq.
His days passed in long, dream; hours under the big peppcr-trecs, i games of tag with Zodie, In fur
nubblin^ intimacies with Blue Babj who still had a lameness which pr« vented her from racing with thc othe two. At meal times he came into th dining-room, cager for bread and sugai
The first time that Shorty McGee, th owner of a second-rate bnekjump shov offered to buy Chut, Tom Hento laughed at him.
" You couldn't buy that 'roo ior an money!" he said.
Shorty reviewed the possibilities f stealing Chut, decided that It was ut fortunately impossible, and went awa;
Hut because Chut could box bett« than any other kangaroo had ever bee able to box. Shorty did not forget. An not long afterwards drought settle down upon the West.
Sven Chut noticed that the countrj
beyond tbe artificial green of the ir^ rigations waa bleached and withered, while the red duet fanned up from it under hot winda. But he did not feel any pinch of drought-until Tom be- gan to come home too tired "and wor- ried to play with him.
For a while the etock were fed by cutting sqrub-but at last the scrub
lost its leaves and became withered twig6. Then Tom bought lucerne, at evcr-riBlng prices-until there was no lucerne left to buy. At last he bought corn and began a still more costly feed- ing. His credit gave out at about thc
time that rain at last seemed very near. For months he had been working eighteen hours a day snd he was ex- hausted.
" I guess this ls the finish," he said.
. It was then ttiat Shorty McGee came back. He stood by the veranda and pointed over his shoulder with a dirty
"I'll give you three hundred pounds for them two 'roos-the purty hlue one an' the fightin1 red one,*' he said. He added, noticing the way Tom looked at Chut: "I'll take care of him like a baby, I will."
AH that night Tom and his wife talked it out. But they had known what their answer must be from the be- ginning-for here was succour for the starving sheep, new hope, another
In the morning when Chut came in for his breakfast, they fed him much more than was good for him, but did
not look at him-and their own break- fasts stood untouched.
McGee brought up the empty pony van and Chut went out to see it, as he always went to see any new or Btrange thing. It waB only when McGee and his men Iried to drive him into it that he rebelled, drawing himself up to his magnificent height and chut tinp with offended dignity.
" We must rope and throw him," said Shorty McGee. At that Tom Henton's wife came forward, crying: "Oh. no!"
TearB were streaming down her pretty face, but she climbed into thc van and called; and with perfect trust,
Chut followed her.
Then Bhe slipped out, and ss they shut the door on him she ran away, whispering: "He will always think I meant to do It! He will always think that I wanted to do it to him . . . Oh,
After Chut's cage was fastened the men lifted Blue Baby Into the forward compartment of thc' van. And then Shorty and his assistants climbed on to the front seat and the van rumbled away-little fat Zodie was left to play alone in the house enclosure. During the days that followed she tried many ruses to bring tne others back; racing and hiding: darting under boughE but they never looked for her, never answered her chirrup*.
The sheep were fed, however, and not long afterwards came rain, in grey,
(Continued on Monday. )