voices from the past


The Magic Pudding

Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 - 1969)

Australian writer

. . . the story continues . . .


The Society of Puddin'-owners  were up bright and early next morning, and had the billy on and tea made before six o'clock, which is the best part of the day, because the world has just had his face washed, and the air smells like Pears' soap.

'Aha,' said Bill Barnacle, cutting up slices of the Puddin', 'this is what I call grand. Here we are, after a splendid night's sleep on dry leaves, havin' a smokin' hot slice of steak-and-kidney for breakfast round the camp fire. What could be more delightful?'

'What indeed?' said Bunyip Bluegum sipping tea.

'Why, as I always say,' said Bill, 'if there's one thing more entrancin' than sittin' round a camp fire in the evenin' it's sitting round a camp fire in the mornin'. No bed and blankets and breakfast tables for Bill Barnacle. For as I says in my "Breakfast Ballad" —

'If there's anythin' better than lyin' on leaves,
It's risin' from leaves at dawnin',
If there's anythin' better than sleepin' at eve,
It's wakin' up in the mawnin'.

'If there's anythin' better than camp firelight,
It's bright sunshine on wakin'.
If there's anythin' better than puddin' at night,
It's puddin' when day is breakin'.

'If there's anythin' better than singin' away
While the stars are gaily shinin',
Why, it's singin' a song at dawn of day,
On puddin' for breakfast dinin'.'

There was a hearty round of applause at this song, for as Bunyip Bluegum remarked, 'Singing at breakfast should certainly be more commonly indulged in, as it greatly tends to enliven what is on most occasions a somewhat dull proceeding.'

'One of the great advantages of being a professional Puddin'-owner,' said Sam Sawnoff, 'is that songs at breakfast are always encouraged. None of the ordinary breakfast rules, such as scowling while eating, and saying the porridge is as stiff as glue and the eggs are as tough as leather, are observed. Instead, songs, roars of laughter, and boisterous jests are the order of the day. For example, this sort of thing,' added Sam, doing a rapid back-flap and landing with a thump on Bill's head. As Bill was unprepared for this act of boisterous humour, his face was pushed into the Puddin' with great violence, and the gravy was splashed in his eye.

'What d'yer mean, playin' such bungfoodlin' tricks on a man at breakfast?' roared Bill.

'What d'yer mean,' shouted the Puddin', 'playing such foodbungling tricks on a Puddin' being breakfasted at?'

'Breakfast humour, Bill, merely breakfast humour,' said Sam hastily.

'Humour's humour,' shouted Bill, 'but puddin' in the whiskers is no joke.'

'Whiskers in the Puddin' is worse than puddin' in the whiskers,' shouted the Puddin', standing up in his basin.

'Observe the rules, Bill,' said Sam hurriedly. 'Boisterous humour at the breakfast table must be greeted with roars of laughter.'

'To Jeredelum with the rules,' shouted Bill. 'Pushing a man's face into his own breakfast is beyond rules or reason, and deserves a punch in the gizzard.'

Seeing matters arriving at this unpromising situation, Bunyip Bluegum interposed by saying, 'Rather than allow this happy occasion to be marred by unseemly recriminations, let us, while admitting that our admirable friend, Sam, may have unwittingly disturbed the composure of our admirable friend, Bill, at the expense of our admirable Puddin's gravy, let us, I say, by the simple act of extending the hand of friendship, dispel in an instant these gathering clouds of disruption. In the words of the poem —

'Then let the fist of Friendship
Be kept for Friendship's foes.
Ne'er let that hand in anger land
On Friendship's holy nose.'

These fine sentiments at once dispelled Bill's anger. He shook hands warmly with Sam, wiped the gravy from his face, and resumed breakfast with every appearance of hearty good humour.

The meal over, the breakfast things were put away in the bag, Sam and Bill took Puddin' between them, and all set off along the road, enlivening the way with song and story. Bill regaled them with portions of the 'Ballad of the Salt Junk Sarah', which is one of those songs that go on for ever. Its great advantage, as Bill remarked, was that as it hadn't got an ending it didn't need a beginning, so you could start it anywhere.

'As for instance,' said Bill, and he roared out —

'Ho, aboard the Salt Junk Sarah,
Rollin' home across the line,
The Bo'sun collared the Captain's hat
And threw it in the brine.
Rollin' home, rollin' home,
Rollin' home across the foam,
The Captain sat without a hat
The whole way rollin' home.'

Entertaining themselves in this way as they strolled along, they were presently arrested by shouts of 'Fire! Fire!' and a Fireman in a large helmet came bolting down the road, pulling a fire hose behind him.

'Aha!' said Bill. 'Now we shall have the awe-inspirin' spectacle of a fire to entertain us,' and, accosting the Fireman, he demanded to know where the fire was.

'The fact is,' said the Fireman, 'that owing to the size of this helmet I can't see where it is; but if you will kindly glance at the surrounding district, you'll see it about somewhere.'

They glanced about and, sure enough, there was a fire burning in the next field. It was only a cowshed, certainly, but it was blazing very nicely, and well worth looking at.

'Fire,' said Bill, 'in the form of a common cowshed, is burnin' about nor'-nor'-east as the crow flies.'

'In that case,' said the Fireman, 'I invite all present bravely to assist in putting it out. But,' he added impressively, 'if you'll take my advice, you'll shove that Puddin' in this hollow log and roll a stone agen the end to keep him in, for if he gets too near the flames he'll be cooked again and have his flavour ruined.'

'This is a very sensible feller,' said Bill, and though Puddin' objected strongly, he was at once pushed into a log and securely fastened in with a large stone.

'How'd you like to be shoved in a blooming log,' he shouted at Bill, 'when you was burning with anxiety to see the fire?' but Bill said severely, 'Be sensible, Albert, fires is too dangerous to Puddin's flavours.'

No more time was lost in seizing the hose and they set off with the greatest enthusiasm. For, as everyone knows, running with the reel is one of the grand joys of being a fireman. They had the hose fixed to a garden tap in no time, and soon were all hard at work, putting out the fire.

Of course there was a great deal of smoke and shouting, and getting tripped up by the hose, and it was by the merest chance Bunyip Bluegum glanced back in time to see the Wombat in the act of stealing the Puddin' from the hollow log.

'Treachery is at work,' he shouted.

'Treachery,' roared Bill, and with one blow on the snout knocked the Fireman endways on into the burning cinders, where his helmet fell off, and exposed the countenance of that snooting, snouting scoundrel, the Possum.

The Possum, of course, hadn't expected to have his disguise pierced so swiftly, and, though he managed to scramble out of the fire in time to save his bacon, he was considerably singed down the back.

2nd Slice pages:   one   two   three   four
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