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The Magic Pudding

Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 - 1969)

. . . the story continues . . .

No harm whatever,' said the Possum, and he held the bag open invitingly. The Puddin'-owners hesitated a moment, but the temptation was too strong, and they all looked in together. It was a fatal act. The Possum whipped the bag over their heads, the Wombat whipped a rope round the bag, and there they were, helpless.

'What a frightful calamity,' groaned Bill giving way to despair.

'It's worse than being chased by natives on the Limpopo River,' said Sam.

'It's worse than fighting Arabs single-handed,' croaked Bill.

'It's almost as bad as being pecked on the head by eagles,' said Sam, and in despair they sang in muffled tones —

'O what a fearful fate it is,
O what a frightful fag,
To have to walk about like this
All tied up in a bag.

'Our noble confidence has sent
Us on this fearful jag;
In noble confidence we bent
To look inside this bag.

'Deprived of air, in dark despair
Upon our way we drag;
Condemned for evermore to wear
This frightful, fearsome bag.'

Bunyip Bluegum reproved this faint-heartedness, saying, 'As our misfortunes are due to exhibiting too great a trust in scoundrels, so let us bear them with the greater fortitude. As in innocence we fell, so let our conduct in this hour of dire extremity be guided by the courageous endurance of men whose consciences are free from guilt.'

These fine words greatly stimulated the others, and they endured with fortitude, walking on Sam's feet for an hour and a half, when the sound of footsteps apprised them that a traveller was approaching.

This traveller was a grave, elderly dog named Benjimen Brandysnap, who was going to market with eggs. Seeing three people walking in a bag he naturally supposed they were practising for the sports, but on hearing their appeals for help he very kindly undid the rope.

'Preserver,' exclaimed Bill, grasping him by the hand.

'Noble being,' said Sam.

'Guardian angel of oppressed Puddin'-owners,' said Bunyip Bluegum.

Benjimen was quite overcome by these expressions of esteem, and handed round eggs, which were eaten on the spot.

'And now,' said Bill, again shaking hands with their preserver, 'I am about to ask you a most important question. Have you seen any puddin'-thieves about this mornin'?'

'Puddin'-thieves,' said Benjimen. 'Let me see. Now that you mention it, I remember seeing two puddin'-thieves at nine-thirty this morning. But they weren't stealing puddin's. They were engaged stealing a bag out of my stable. I was busy at the time whistling to the carrots, or I'd have stopped them.'

'This is most important information,' said Bill. 'It proves this must be the very bag they stole. In what direction did the scoundrels go, friend, after stealing your bag?'

'As I was engaged at the moment feeding the parsnips, I didn't happen to notice,' said Benjimen. 'But at this season puddin'-thieves generally go south-east, owing to the price of onions.'

'In that case,' said Bill, 'we shall take a course north-west, for it's my belief that havin' stolen our Puddin' they'll make back to winter quarters.'

'We will pursue to the north-west with the utmost vigour,' said Bunyip.

'Swearin' never to give in till revenge has been inflicted and our Puddin' restored to us,' said Bill.

'In order to exacerbate our just anger,' said Bunyip Bluegum, 'let us sing as we go —

THE PUDDIN'-OWNERS' QUEST

'On a terrible quest we run north-west,
In a terrible rage we run;
With never a rest we run north-west

Till our terrible work is done.
Without delay
Away, away,
In a terrible rage we run all day.

'By our terrible zest you've doubtless guessed
That vengeance is our work;
For we seek the nest with terrible zest
Where the puddin'-snatchers lurk.

With rage, with gloom,
With fret and fume,
We seek the puddin'-snatchers' doom.'

They ran north-west for two hours without seeing a sign of the puddin'-thieves. Benjimen ran with them to exact revenge for the theft of his bag. It was hot work running, and having no Puddin' they couldn't have lunch, but Benjimen very generously handed eggs all round again.

'Eggs is all very well,' said Bill, eating them in despair, 'but they don't come up to Puddin' as a regular diet, and all I can say is, that if that Puddin' ain't restored soon I shall go mad with grief.'

'I shall go mad with rage,' said Sam, and they both sang loudly —

'Go mad with grief or mad with rage,
It doesn't matter whether;
Our Puddin's left this earthly stage,
So in despair we must engage
To both go mad together.'

'I have a suggestion to make,' said Bunyip Bluegum, 'which will at once restore your wonted good-humour. Observe me.'

He looked about till he found a piece of board, and wrote this notice on it with his fountain pen —

A GRAND PROCESSION OF
THE AMALGAMATED SOCIETY OF
PUDDINGS WILL PASS HERE
AT 2.30 TO-DAY

This he hung on a tree. 'Now,' said he, 'all that remains to be done is to hide behind this bush. The news of the procession will spread like wildfire through the district, and the puddin'-thieves, unable to resist such a spectacle, will come hurrying to view the procession. The rest will be simply a matter of springing out on them like lions.'

'Superbly reasoned,' said Bill, grasping Bunyip by the hand.

They all hid behind the bush and a crow, who happened to be passing, read the sign and flew off at once to spread the news through the district.

In fifteen minutes, by Bill's watch, the puddin'-thieves came running down the road, and took up a position on a stump to watch the procession. They had evidently been disturbed in the very act of eating Puddin', for the Possum was still masticating a mouthful; and the Wombat had stuck the Puddin' in his hat, and put his hat on his head, which clearly proved him to be a very ill-bred fellow, for in good society wearing puddin's on the head is hardly ever done.

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