M. Skeel

The Story of Mullet, The One-Eyed Wallaby
Chapter 2
Butch Cassidy - Pew

     It was very early on a Sunday morning. M'Gee and FatherFigure were still in bed. Pew was safe in his Aviary. Suddenly the dogs started barking and a car pulled up. M'Gee pulled on some clothes and went down to see what was going on. Regina, the policeman's wife, was at the door.

     "I'm sorry to bother you so early, but there is a wallaby on the side of the road near the Canoe Centre. It is sitting up but it has blood running down its face and it seems stunned." Regina motioned towards her car and said, "I would have tried to pick him up but I have the dog in the car…" M'Gee looked. There was a huge Great Dane in the back seat with a big doggy grin on its face.

     "That’s ok" M'Gee said. "I'll go get it."

     Regina apologised. "I'm sorry to bother you but I went to the Canoe Centre and they said to tell you…"

     M'Gee grinned and shrugged. "It really is ok. I don’t mind. I'll go see what I can do."

     Regina thanked her and headed off to town. M'Gee yawned and stretched and then finished getting dressed. She got a dog blanket and her purse and drove fifteen kilometers down the road to the Canoe Centre. Sure enough, there next to the road was a stunned wallaby. He was upright which was a good sign, but blood was running down his face from his right eye.

     M'Gee pulled up next to him in her car. She got out slowly, keeping the car between her and the wallaby so he would not get frightened. He took no notice though. She got the big red blanket out of the car and came round the back so she was behind him. She bent over and crept closer. The wallaby took no notice of her or the car. When she got right behind him, she gently lowered the blanket over him but still he did not move. She bundled it around him and picked him up. He struggled feebly then relaxed. She carried him round and put him in the back of the station wagon. She laid him down carefully, making sure that his head stayed covered. He made no attempt to get up.

     Quietly M'Gee closed the back of the wagon, got in the car and drove slowly home. There was no reaction under the blanket. When she got home, M'Gee parked in the shade and then looked under the blanket. The little wallaby lay still as still, eyes closed. M'Gee carefully wiped the blood from his eye and put a newspaper underneath his head to catch any more blood. Then she covered him up again and closed the back of the car. There was nothing more she could do for now but let him rest. "At least you have a quiet, safe place to die" she said to him softly "if that is what you have to do."

     Every hour after that, M'Gee went out to the car to check on the wallaby. Each time she lifted the blanket, she expected him to be dead. Each time she checked though, the little wallaby was still breathing. About the fourth time out, she found him sitting up. "Well it looks like you want to live" she whispered.

     She went down to the barn and got a hessian bag. Young wallabies, like all marsupials, feel safest in a pouch. She decided to bag him to see if that helped him rest. She put the bag over his head and body and picked him up. She carefully slung the bag over her shoulder and carried him to the garage, feeling for all the world like Santa Claus. She hung the bag up in the shade and left him for another hour.

     The trouble with the hessian bag was that she could not tell if he was alive or not. After an hour she took the bag down and carried it into the laundry. She spread newspapers over the floor and put the hessian bag down on them. Then she reached inside and felt the wallaby. He was still breathing.

     When she came back an hour later, the wallaby was standing beside the bag. He had peed and pooped on the newspapers. M'Gee cleaned up the messes and offered the little wallaby a drink of water. He lapped a little bit when she held the bowl under his mouth. "That's a good sign" she thought. "He can still poop and drink. If everything is all right in between then perhaps he will live. At least his legs aren't broken." M'Gee knew that if the back legs were broken the wallaby would have had to be put down. Like horses, it is almost impossible to keep a wallaby still enough for a break to heal and then the strains on the leg bones are so great, the leg would almost certainly break again.

     She left him alone to rest some more. When she came back, he was lying down on the red blanket. She let him rest until evening and then she decided to give him a drink of milk. She mixed up the special low lactose marsupial milk that she used and offered him a drink. He lapped up about a quarter of a cup and this elated M'Gee. She was talking to some friends on the internet and she told them about the little wallaby. "If he is drinking milk, he just might live," she said.

     But when she went back to check him, the wallaby was stretched out on the blanket again and did not appear to be breathing. Perhaps the milk had been too much for him. M'Gee was not ready to give up though. She pressed on his chest and forced the old air out. She cupped her hands around his nose and blew in fresh air. She pressed on his chest and felt his heart. It was still pumping, though only slowly and faintly. She pressed and blew a few more times and suddenly the wallaby took a deep breath and started breathing again.

     M'Gee checked the wallaby several more times before she went to bed but there was no change in his condition. In the morning she went straight to the laundry when she got up, expecting him to have died in the night, but he was still alive. She gave him several drinks of milk before she went to work.

     As soon as work finished, she raced home. The wallaby was still alive. That evening she gave him milk every half hour. He only drank a little bit at each feed but M'Gee was sure it was giving him strength.

     The next two days were much the same. M'Gee fed the wallaby before she went to work and when she came home. She cleaned up his messes and kept the laundry as clean as she could. She offered him solid food too but he could not eat. She got some antibiotic cream from the vet for his eye and put that in twice a day. She gently felt his jaws to see if they were broken but they seemed to be all right. A broken jaw was as fatal as a broken leg.

     After three days the wallaby was still alive but still stunned. The vet had said that a blow to the head caused swelling and bruising of the brain so that it might be days before M'Gee would be able to tell whether it was going to get better or whether it had permanent brain damage. The most worrying thing was that the little wallaby would not drink unless M'Gee held the bowl right up under its mouth. Even if the bowl were only a few centimetres away, the wallaby ignored it.

     Still, it seemed determined to survive, so M'Gee bestowed a name on him. She called him Mullet because in Australia when someone in shock, they say he is a stunned mullet. She called her friend Jacky who had raised several baby wallabies and asked her about food. Jacky suggested horse pellets and a mix of oats, honey and peanut butter. She also said wallabies liked apples and carrots. M'Gee could see that Mullet was losing weight even though she was spending hours each day feeding him. She had to get solid food into him somehow.

     She offered him apple and carrot but he ignored it. She made up some oats, honey and peanut butter and found if she stuck it in his mouth, he would chew it. But the amount she could get in his little mouth was too small to give him much nutrition. She offered him some horse pellets but he ignored them. So she mixed the pellets with the milk until it turned to mush. When she held this under his nose, he ate it.

     The next day was a school holiday so M'Gee spent the entire day with Mullet. She spend hours holding the bowl for him so he could get as much mush into him as he wanted. She cleaned out the bird cage where Pew was living, but new mulch down and moved Mullet out of the laundry and into the big walk-in aviary.

     Pew had been there for two weeks and was getting quite wild. He tried to fly away whenever M'Gee came near so all she did was leave his food for him. He sat on the perch and watched M'Gee move the wallaby into the cage. Then Pew pooped on the wallaby as if to say: "he is not my kind."

     M'Gee laughed and said to Pew "don’t worry. You won't have to put up with him for long. I'm going to turn you loose this weekend. There are lots of bugs out now. You might as well get out there and learn to hunt for yourself. You can certainly fly well enough now."

     For the next day, whenever M'Gee was in the cage with Mullet, she left the door wide open. Twice Pew went out and she watched him. Then she carefully herded him back in. Then on the Saturday she decided to turn Pew loose. She waited for a warm rainless day and took him out by the balcony. She put him in the Silky Oak tree, left him some meat strips and warned him to watch out for snakes as well as Kookaburras. He was still there several hours later, but higher up. He had eaten the meat which was a comfort to M'gee. Good Luck and may the gods of small animals protect you she told him softly as she left him for the night. The next morning he was gone but when she called to him he answered her from the big Ironbark tree. M'Gee called to him several times that day. After that she did not see him again for weeks…

Chapter 3Chapter 2

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