THE OLD MAN KANGAROO

Not always was the Kangaroo as we see him now, but a different animal with four short legs. He was grey and he was woolly, and he was very proud of himself: he danced on the sand in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Little God Nqa at six o'clock before breakfast, and he said, "Make me different from all other animals by five o'clock this afternoon."

Up jumped Nqa and shouted, "Go away!"

He was grey and he was woolly, and he was very proud of himself: he danced on the sand in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Middle God Nquing.

He went to Nquing at eight o'clock after breakfast, and he said, "Make me different from all other animals and make me also popular by five o'clock this afternoon."

Up jumped Nquing and shouted, "Go away!"

He was grey and he was woolly, and he was very proud of himself: he danced on the sand in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Big God Nqong.

He went to Nqong at ten o'clock before dinner-time, and he said, "Make me different from all other animals, make me popular and run after by five o'clock this afternoon."

Up jumped Nqong and shouted, "Yes, I will! I will make you different from all other animals."

Nqong called DingoYellow-Dog Dingoalways hungry, and showed him Kangaroo. Nqong said, "Dingo! Wake up, Dingo! Do you see that gentleman who is dancing on the sand? He wants to be different from all other animals; he wants to be popular and run after. Dingo, make him so!"

Up jumped DingoYellow-Dog Dingoand said, "What, that grey animal who looks like a big rabbit?"

Off ran DingoYellow-Dog Dingoalways hungry, very angry,ran after Kangaroo.

Off went the proud Kangaroo on his four little legs like a rabbit.

This is the end of the first part of the tale!


He ran through the desert; he ran through the mountains; he ran through the bushes; he ran through the valleys; he ran till his front legs ached.

He had to!

Still ran DingoYellow-Dog Dingoalways hungry, very angry,ran after Kangaroo.

He had to!

Still ran KangarooOld Man Kangaroo. He ran through the forests; he ran through the valleys; he ran through the long grass; he ran through the short grass; he ran till his hind legs ached.

He had to!

Still ran DingoYellow-Dog Dingohungrier and hungrier, with his mouth wide open, never getting nearer, never getting farther; and they came to the Wollgong River.

Now, there was no bridge, and there was no boat, and Kangaroo didn't know how to get over; so he stood on his hind legs and hopped.

He had to!

He hopped through the mountains; he hopped through the forests; he hopped through the deserts in the middle of Australia. He hopped like a Kangaroo!

First he hopped one yard; then he hopped three yards; then he hopped five yards; his legs grew stronger; his legs grew longer. He had no time for rest or dinner, and he was very tired and very hungry.

Still ran DingoYellow-Dog Dingovery angry, very hungry,ran after Kangaroo.

He had to!

Still hopped KangarooOld Man Kangaroo. He lifted up his front legs; he hopped on his hind legs; and he hopped through the middle of Australia.

He had to!

Still ran DingoTired Dog Dingohungrier and hungrier, very angry,ran after Kangaroo.

Then came Nqong and said, "It's five o'clock."

Down sat DingoPoor Dog Dingoalways hungry, very angry,hung out his tongue and sighed.

Down sat KangarooOld Man Kangarooand said, "Oh, at last that's finished!"

Then said Nqong, who is always a gentleman: "Why don't you thank Yellow-Dog Dingo? Why don't you thank him for all he has done for you?"

Then said KangarooTired Old Kangaroo: "He ran after me through the deserts and mountains, through the forests and bushes; he made me hungry and tired; he changed my shape and I'll never get it back; and now my front legs are short and my hind legs are long."

Then said Nqong, "Perhaps I'm mistaken, but didn't you ask me to make you different from all other animals by five o'clock this afternoon? Didn't you ask me to make you popular and run after? And now it is five o'clock."

"Yes," said Kangaroo. "I am sorry that I asked you to do so. I thought you could do it by magic, but you played a trick on me."

"Trick!" said Nqong. "Say that again and I'll whistle up my dog Dingo and he'll run after you until you have no legs at all."

"No," said the Kangaroo. "Excuse me. Legs are legs, and you must not change them any more. I only wanted to tell you that I've had nothing to eat since morning, and I'm very hungry indeed."

"Yes," said DingoYellow-Dog Dingo"I am also very hungry. I've made him different from all other animals; but what shall I have for dinner?"

Then said Nqong, "Come and ask me about it tomorrow, because now I'm going to wash."

So they were left in the middle of Australia, Old Man Kangaroo and Yellow-Dog Dingo, and each said, "That's your fault."



A. Who said it? When did they say it?

  1. "Make me different from all other animals by five o'clock this afternoon."
  2. "Make me different from all other animals and make me also popular by five o'clock this afternoon."
  3. "Go away!"
  4. "Yes, I will! I will make you different from all other animals."
  5. "What, that grey animal who looks like a big rabbit?"
  6. "Oh, at last that's finished!"
  7. "Why don't you thank Yellow-Dog Dingo?"
  8. "I am sorry that I asked you to do so."
  9. "Legs are legs, and you must not change them any more."
  10. "I've made him different from all other animals; but what shall I have for dinner?"

B. Answer the questions.

  1. What did the kangaroo look like?
  2. What was he like?
  3. What did he ask the Little God Nqa?
  4. What did he ask the Middle God Nquing?
  5. What did he ask the Big God Nqong?
  6. Whom did the Big God Nqong call?
  7. What did he tell him to do?
  8. What changes happened to the kangaroo?
  9. Why did they happen?
  10. Was the kangaroo thankful to the Big God Nqong? Why?
  11. How did the dingo feel? Why?

C. Fill in the missing words.

boat, bushes, bridge, fault, shape, middle, tongue, trick, valleys, angry, different, front, hungry, hind, proud, popular, woolly, ached, hopped, sighed

  1. The kangaroo was grey, and he was , and he was very of himself.
  2. He wanted to be from all other animals, and run after.
  3. The Big God Nqong told Yellow-Dog Dingoalways , very ,to run after the kangaroo.
  4. They ran through the desert, through the mountains, through the , through the and through the forests.
  5. The kangaroo ran till his front and hind legs .
  6. When they came to the river, there was no , and there was no , and the kangaroo didn't know how to get over; so he stood on his hind legs and .
  7. The kangaroo lifted up his legs and he hopped on his legs.
  8. When Nqong said it was five o'clock, dingo sat down, hung out his and .
  9. The kangaroo thought that the Big God Nqong would change his by magic, but Nquong had played a on him.
  10. Old Man Kangaroo and Yellow-Dog Dingo were left in the of Australia, and each said, "That's your ."

D. Answer the questions.

  1. What is the setting of the story?
  2. Who is the main character?
  3. What does the main character want from the gods?
  4. Which words have a double meaning?
  5. Does Nqong do what the kangaroo asks him to do?
  6. How does the kangaroo change? Is it a positive or a negative change?
  7. Is the kangaroo pleased with the result? Why?
  8. What is the main idea of the story?
  9. What elements of a traditional tale can you find in this story?

E. Retell the story.

F. Tell the story from the point of view of:

a) the kangaroo; b) the dingo; c) Nqong.