voices from the past


The Magic Pudding

Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 - 1969)

. . . the story continues . . .

The fact is,' said the Bunyip, 'I have decided to see the world, and I cannot make up my mind whether to be a Traveller or a Swagman. Which would you advise?'

Then said the Poet —

'As you've no bags it's plain to see
A traveller you cannot be;
And as a swag you haven't either
You cannot be a swagman neither.
For travellers must carry bags,
And swagmen have to hump their swags
     Like bottle-ohs or ragmen.
As you have neither swag nor bag
You must remain a simple wag,
     And not a swag- or bagman.'

'Dear me,' said Bunyip Bluegum, 'I never thought of that. What must I do in order to see the world without carrying swags or bags?'

The Poet thought deeply, put on his eyeglass, and said impressively —

'Take my advice, don't carry bags,
For bags are just as bad as swags;
They're never made to measure.
To see the world, your simple trick
Is but to take a walking-stick —
Assume an air of pleasure,
And tell the people near and far
You stroll about because you are
A Gentleman of Leisure.'

'You have solved the problem,' said Bunyip Bluegum, and, wringing his friend's hand, he ran straight home, took his Uncle's walking-stick, and assuming an air of pleasure, set off to see the world.

He found a great many things to see, such as dandelions, and ants, and traction engines, and bolting horses, and furniture being removed, besides being kept busy raising his hat, and passing the time of day with people on the road, for he was a very well-bred young fellow, polite in his manners, graceful in his attitudes, and able to converse on a great variety of subjects, having read all the best Australian poets.

Unfortunately, in the hurry of leaving home, he had forgotten to provide himself with food, and at lunch time found himself attacked by the pangs of hunger.

'Dear me,' he said, 'I feel quite faint. I had no idea that one's stomach was so important. I have everything I require, except food; but without food everything is rather less than nothing.

'I've got a stick to walk with.
I've got a mind to think with.
I've got a voice to talk with.
I've got an eye to wink with.
I've lots of teeth to eat with,
A brand new hat to bow with,
A pair of fists to beat with,
A rage to have a row with.
No joy it brings
To have indeed
A lot of things
One does not need.
Observe my doleful plight.
For here am I without a crumb
To satisfy a raging tum —
O what an oversight!'

As he was indulging in these melancholy reflexions he came round a bend in the road, and discovered two people in the very act of having lunch. These people were none other than Bill Barnacle, the sailor, and his friend, Sam Sawnoff, the penguin bold.

Bill was a small man with a large hat, a beard half as large as his hat, and feet half as large as his beard. Sam Sawnoff's feet were sitting down and his body was standing up, because his feet were so short and his body so long that he had to do both together. They had a pudding in a basin, and the smell that arose from it was so delightful that Bunyip Bluegum was quite unable to pass on.

'Excuse me,' he said, raising his hat, 'but am I right in supposing that this is a steak-and-kidney pudding?'

'At present it is,' said Bill Barnacle.

'It smells delightful,' said Bunyip Bluegum.

'It is delightful,' said Bill, eating a large mouthful.

Bunyip Bluegum was too much of a gentleman to invite himself to lunch, but he said carelessly, 'Am I right in supposing that there are onions in this pudding?'

Before Bill could reply, a thick, angry voice came out of the pudding, saying —

'Onions, bunions, corns and crabs,
Whiskers, wheels and hansom cabs,
Beef and bottles, beer and bones,
Give him a feed and end his groans.'

'Albert, Albert,' said Bill to the Puddin', 'where's your manners?'

'Where's yours?' said the Puddin' rudely, 'guzzling away there, and never so much as offering this stranger a slice.'

'There you are,' said Bill. 'There's nothing this Puddin' enjoys more than offering slices of himself to strangers.'

'How very polite of him,' said Bunyip, but the Puddin' replied loudly —

'Politeness be sugared, politeness be hanged,
Politeness be jumbled and tumbled and banged.
It's simply a matter of putting on pace,
Politeness has nothing to do with the case.'

'Always anxious to be eaten,' said Bill, 'that's this Puddin's mania. Well, to oblige him, I ask you to join us at lunch.'

'Delighted, I'm sure,' said Bunyip, seating himself. 'There's nothing I enjoy more than a good go in at steak-and-kidney pudding in the open air.'

'Well said,' remarked Sam Sawnoff, patting him on the back. 'Hearty eaters are always welcome.'

'You'll enjoy this Puddin',' said Bill, handing him a large slice. 'This is a very rare Puddin'.'

'It's a cut-an'-come-again Puddin',' said Sam.

'It's a Christmas, steak, and apple-dumpling Puddin',' said Bill.

'It's a — Shall I tell him?' he asked, looking at Bill. Bill nodded, and the Penguin leaned across to Bunyip Bluegum and said in a low voice, 'It's a Magic Puddin'.'

'No whispering,' shouted the Puddin' angrily. 'Speak up. Don't strain a Puddin's ears at the meal table.'

'No harm intended, Albert,' said Sam, 'I was merely remarking how well the crops are looking. Call him Albert when addressing him,' he added to Bunyip Bluegum. 'It soothes him.'

'I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Albert,' said Bunyip.

'No soft soap from total strangers,' said the Puddin', rudely.

'Don't take no notice of him, mate,' said Bill. 'That's only his rough and ready way. What this Puddin' requires is politeness and constant eatin'.'

They had a delightful meal, eating as much as possible, for whenever they stopped eating the Puddin' sang out —

'Eat away, chew away, munch and bolt and guzzle,
Never leave the table till you're full up to the muzzle.'

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