Edward Lear

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What is the kangaroo's fear in "The Duck and the Kangaroo"?

Quick answer:

In “The Duck and the Kangaroo,” the kangaroo's fear is that he will get rheumatism from having the duck's cold, wet feet should he give him a ride on his back. Eventually, however, the duck manages to persuade the kangaroo to give him a ride, and off they go.

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In “The Duck and the Kangaroo,” the duck is mightily impressed by the kangaroo's remarkable ability to hop over fields and water. It's as if he'd never stop.

Life is such a bore for the duck in his nasty little pond, and he wants to explore the big wide world. But for this, he'll need to hitch a ride aboard the kangaroo's back. So the duck politely asks the kangaroo if he might give him a ride. He assures him that he'll be quiet and still and will say nothing but “Quack” throughout the entire journey.

But the kangaroo's initially none too keen on the idea. He's worried that he might contract the “roo-Matiz”—by which he obviously means rheumatism—from the duck's cold, wet feet on his back.

Undeterred, the duck insists that this won't be a problem as he has four pairs of worsted socks that fit his webbed feet quite neatly. And to keep out the cold he'll smoke a cigar every day.

Suitably won over, the kangaroo is ready to embark on a journey with the duck, but he insists that the duck sits steady at the end of his tail to provide some balance. With that, the duck and the kangaroo head off on their journey, and they hop the whole world three times.

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