voices from the past


The Magic Pudding

Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 - 1969)

. . . the story continues . . .

Bill and Same, who were like bloodhounds straining at the leash, sprang out and confronted the scoundrels, while Bunyip and Ben got behind in order to cut off their retreat.

'We've got you at last,' said Bill, sparring up at the Possum with the fiercest activity. 'Out with our Puddin', or prepare for a punch on the snout.'

The Possum turned pale and the Wombat hastily got behind him.

'Puddin',' said the Possum, acting amazement. 'What strange request is this?'

'What means this strange request?' asked the Wombat.

'No bungfoodlin',' said Bill sternly. 'Produce the Puddin' or prepare for death.'

'Before bringing accusations,' said the Possum, 'prove where the Puddin' is.'

'It's under that feller's hat,' roared Bill, pointing at the Wombat.

'Prove it,' said the Wombat.

'You can't wear hats that high, without there's puddin's under them,' said Bill.

'That's not puddin's,' said the Possum; 'that's ventilation. He wears his hat like that to keep his brain cool.'

'Very well,' said Bill. 'I call on Ben Brandysnap, as an independent witness whose bag has been stolen, to prove what's under that hat.'

Ben put on his spectacles in order to study the Wombat carefully, and gravely pronounced this judgement —

'When you see a hat
Stuck up like that
You remark with some surprise,
"Has he been to a shop,
And bought for his top
A hat of the largest size?"

'Or else you say,
As you note the way
He wears it like a wreath,
"It cannot be fat
That bulges his hat;
He's got something underneath."

'But whether or not
It's a Puddin' he's got
Can only be settled by lifting his pot.
Or by taking a stick,
A stone or a brick,
And hitting him hard on the head with it quick.
If he yells, you hit fat,
If he doesn't, well that
Will prove it's a Puddin' that's under his hat.'

'Now are you satisfied?' asked Bill, and they all shouted—

'Hurrah! hurray!
Just listen to that;
He knows the way
To bell the cat.
You'd better obey
His judgement pat,

'Without delay
Remove the hat;
It's tit-for-tat,
We tell you flat,
You'll find it pay
To lift your hat.

'Obey the mandate of our chosen lawyer,
Remove that hat, or else we'll do it faw yer.'

'No, no,' said the Possum, shaking his head. 'No removing people's hats. Removing hats is larceny, and you'll get six months for it.'

'No bashing heads, either,' said the Wombat. 'That's manslaughter, and we'll have you hung for it.'

Bill scratched his head. 'This is an unforeseen predicament,' he said. 'Just mind them puddin'-thieves a minute, Ben, while we has a word in private.' He took Sam and Bunyip aside, and almost gave way to despair. 'What a frightful situation,' wailed he. 'We can't unlawfully take a puddin'-thief's hat off, and while it remains on who's to prove our Puddin's under it? This is one of the worst things that's happened to Sam and me for years.'

'It's worse than being chased by wart-hogs,' said Sam.

'It's worse than rolling off a cowshed,' said Bill.

'It's worse than wearing soup tureens for hats,' said Sam.

'It's almost as bad as swallowing thistle buttons,' said Bill, and both sang loudly —

'It's worse than running in a fright,
Pursued by Polar bears;
It's worse than being caught at night
By lions in their lairs.

'It's worse than barrel organs when
They play from night till morn;
It's worse than having large-sized men
A-standing on your corn.

'It's worse than when at midnight you
Tread on a silent cat,
o have a puddin'-snatcher who
Will not remove his hat.'

'All is not yet lost,' said Bunyip Bluegum. 'Without reverting to violent measures, I will engage to have the hat removed.'

'You will?' exclaimed Bill, grasping Bunyip by the hand.

'I will,' said Bunyip firmly. 'All I ask is that you strike a dignified attitude in the presence of these scoundrels, and, at a given word, follow my example.'

3rd Slice pages:   one   two   three   four
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