The one-armed kangaroo
A brave Knight
It was winter in Australia. The beaches in the south of the continent
were empty. Further inland, where gentle hills and rolling meadows dominated the
landscape, an icy cold wind blew. The sky was grey. Heavy clouds rolled down
upon the meadows, almost touching the tip of the grasses. A kangaroo was tangled
up in a barbed wire fence, separating the paddock from the forest. It had been
trapped in there for several days, its eyes closed as if it was asleep. To its
feet, a baby kangaroo - or joey - lay curled up in the wet grass. The joey was
freezing and very, very hungry.
“Hungry,” it whined, the wind carrying away its cry for help before
anyone could hear it.
In the distance, a car pulled up. Its shiny bonnet together with the
blinding headlights looked like the face of a greedy monster. The joey was
scared, trying to hide in its mother’s pouch.
“Mummy,” it cried, stretching its little arms. The mother would not hear
it. The Joey could not reach her pouch without her help. It ran off instead. It
dashed through the wet grass but tumbled over its own legs and fell on its nose.
Two giant hands picked it up. A voice said:
“Don’t be afraid. I will not do you any harm.”
The Joey looked up and saw a strange face. A mouth so flat, it was
impossible to imagine that it could suck a teat. A nose so small, there was no
way it could sniff a mother’s warm pouch. And the ears were not on the head they
were stuck on either side. How terrible, thought the joey, not knowing that this
was the face of a human being.
“I am the farmer,” said the human being. “I am the owner of the paddock.
Don’t be afraid, poor thing. I’ll take you home. My house is warm and my wife
will give you a bottle of warm milk.”
The farmer put the joey on the back seat of his car. Wrapped it up in a
woollen blanket and drove off. The Joey was
unable to move, could not kick its legs or wiggle its arms. Helpless, it glanced
through the rear window, looking for its mother who became smaller and smaller
the further they drove.
“Mummy,” it cried, “Wake up.”
“Don’t worry,” said the farmer, patting the joey’s head.
The blanket felt soft and warm. Soon the joey closed its eyes and fell
asleep. It dreamed of curling up in its mother’s snugly pouch.
As the joey woke up it was sure it had latched on to its mother’s teat.
It started to suck. But there was an unfamiliar taste. And no milk was flowing.
It opened its eyes and was stunned to see another strange looking creature, the
“It believes my finger is a teat,” said the farmer’s wife.
“That’s good,” said the farmer. “It means the little bugger is
“I prepared some warm milk for you,” said the farmer’s wife to the joey.
“Be a good boy and drink.” She put the bottle in its mouth. The milk tasted
good. The joey was so hungry; it forgot to be scared of the farmer’s wife.
Still, it kept an eye on her, wondering if it could trust her, while it greedily
sucked the bottle.
“We should give it a name,” said the farmer’s wife.
“How about Lancelot?” suggested the farmer. “Lancelot was a noble and
brave knight. And this little bugger is very brave.”
“Sounds wonderful,” said the farmer’s wife, smiling. “From now on your
name shall be Lancelot.”
“Lancelot?” Lancelot asked himself. “Why are the saying Lancelot all the
time. It must be the stuff I’m drinking.”
The milk was delicious. Warming his stomach, appeasing his
“Yummy! Lancelot tastes yummy,” said Lancelot to himself and scratched
his tummy. “I could drink another bottle of Lancelot. Right now.”
The farmer’s wife put Lancelot in a pouch she had made, using an old
blanket. She hooked it on the wall behind the wood heater. The warmth crawled
slowly and steadily into Lancelot’s body. He felt safe. He curled up, his mind
It was spring. The days had become warmer and Lancelot grew into a
handsome kangaroo. He had forgotten the incident at the fence and also forgotten
his mother. Nothing was clearer to him than the fact that the farmer’s wife was
his mother. Her name was Emmy. Of course the farmer was his father. His name was
Bill. Lancelot had grown out of the woolen pouch. He was big and brave enough to
sleep in the laundry on a bail of straw. Like any other kangaroo he slept in the
afternoon and stayed up all night. He had also learned how to eat on his own and
did so mainly at night. He loved apples, pear, apricots and even melon which
Emmy sometimes gave him when she felt like spoiling him. But first of all he ate
grass, like any other kangaroo. There was an abundance of grass on the farm. In
the garden around the house, and in the horse paddock.
Sometimes, Lancelot was full of mischief. He did naughty things like
eating the leaves from the rosebush, growing under the kitchen window.
“How can it possibly grow if you chew up all its leaves?” Emmy told him
off, after she had caught him red-handed.
And sometimes he sneaked up to a horse from behind, to give it a
The horse trembled. “You little devil. Don’t you dare to give me such a
“Let’s play,” Lancelot demanded.
“I am in no mood to be childish,” the horse said.
“Grumpy-head. You are a grumpy-head.”
“Play with me. Play with me.”
Alarmed by the bickering, the other horses in the paddock came running at
a gallop and formed a circle around Lancelot.
“What’s wrong with you?” Lancelot asked. Now he was scared. “Aren’t we
supposed to be friends?”
“Not when you give us a fright,” said the brown horse.
“We horses are sensitive creatures,” said the black one.
Neighing they bared their enormous, yellow teeth. Lancelot cringed,
jumped between their legs and hopped away as fast as he could.