voices from the past


The Magic Pudding

Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 - 1969)

. . . the story continues . . .

As usual, our friend here solves the problem in a few well-chosen words,' said Bill, and preparations were made at once for trying the case. After a sharp struggle, in which it was found necessary to bend the Possum's snout severely in order to make him listen to reason, the puddin'-thieves were forced into the dock. Their top-hats and frock-coats were taken away, for fear the jury might take them for undertakers, and not scoundrels. The Mayor and the Constable were pushed into the jury box to perform the duties of twelve good men and true, and the others took seats about the Court as witnesses for the prosecution.

There was some delay before the proceedings began, for Bill said, 'Here's me, the Crown Prosecutor, without a wig. This'll never do.' Fortunately, a wig was found in the Judge's private room, and Bill put it on with great satisfaction.

'I'm afraid this is unconstitutional,' said the Mayor to the Constable.

'It is unconstitutional,' said the Constable; 'but it's better than getting a punch on the snout.'

The Mayor turned so pale at this that the Constable had to thrust a banana into his mouth to restore his courage.

'Thank you,' said the Mayor, peevishly; 'but, on the whole, I prefer to be restored with peeled bananas.'

'Order in the jury box,' said Bill, sharply, and the Mayor having hurriedly bolted his banana, peel and all, proceedings commenced.

'Gentlemen of the Jury,' said Bill, 'the case before you is one aboundin' in horror and amazement. Persons of the lowest morals has disguised themselves in pot-hats in order to decoy a Puddin' of tender years from his lawful guardians. It is related in the archives of the Noble Order of Puddin'-owners that previous to this dastardly attempt a valuable bag, the property of Sir Benjimen Brandysnap, had been stolen and the said Puddin'-owners invited to look at a present inside it. The said bag was then pulled over their heads, compelling the Puddin'-owners aforesaid to endure agonies of partial suffocation, let alone walkin' on each other's corns for several hours. Had not Sir Benjimen, the noble owner, appeared like a guardian angel and undone the bag, it is doubtful if Sir Samuel Sawnoff's corns could have stood the strain much longer, his groans bein' such as would have brought tears to the eyes of a hard-boiled egg.'

'A very moving story,' said the Constable, and the Mayor was so affected that the Constable had to stuff a banana into his mouth to prevent him bursting into tears.

'I now propose to call Sir Benjimen Brandysnap as first witness for the prosecution,' said Bill. 'Kindly step into the witness-box, Sir Benjimen, and relate the circumstances ensuin' on your bag bein' stole.'

Benjimen stepped into the box, and, taking a piece of paper from his egg basket, said solemnly: 'I was very busy that morning, Gentlemen of the Jury, owing to the activity of the vegetables, as hereunder described —

'On Tuesday morn, as it happened by chance,
The parsnips stormed in a rage,
Because the young carrots were singing like parrots
On top of the onions' cage.

'The radishes swarmed on the angry air
Around with the bumble bees,
While the brussels-sprouts were pulling the snouts
Of all the young French peas.

'The artichokes bounded up and down
On top of the pumpkins' heads,
And the cabbage was dancing the highland fling
All over the onion beds.

'So I hadn't much time, as Your Honour perceives,
For watching the habits of puddin'-thieves.'

'Tut, tut, Sir Benjimen,' said Bill, 'stir up your memory, sir; cast your eye over them felons in the dock, and tell the Court how you seen them steal the bag.'

'The fact is,' said Benjimen, after studying the puddin'-thieves carefully, 'as they had their backs turned to me when they were engaged in stealing the bag, I should be able to judge better if they were turned round.'

'Officer,' said Bill to Bunyip Bluegum, 'kindly turn the felons' backs to the witness.'

The Possum and the Wombat objected, saying there wasn't room enough in the witness-box to turn round, so it was found necessary to twist their snouts the opposite way.

'From this aspect,' said Ben, 'I have no hesitation in saying that those are the backs that stole the bags.'

'Make a note of that, Gentlemen of the Jury,' said Bill, and the Constable obligingly made a note of it on his banana bag.

'The identity of the bag-stealers bein' now settled,' went on Bill, 'I shall kindly ask Sir Benjimen to step down, and call on Sir Samuel Sawnoff to ascend the witness-box.'

Sam stepped up cheerfully, but, as the witness-box was the wrong size for Penguins, they had to hand him a chair to stand on.

'Now, Sir Samuel,' said Bill, impressively, 'I am about to ask you a most important leadin' question. Do you happen to notice such a thing as a Puddin' in the precinks of the Court?'

Sam shaded his eyes with his flapper and, seeing the Puddin' on the bench, started back dramatically.

'Do my eyes deceive me, or is yon object a Puddin'?' he cried.

'Well acted,' said the Mayor, and the Constable clapped loudly.

'I am now about to ask you another leadin' question,' said Bill. 'Do you recognize that Puddin'?'

'Do I recognize that Puddin'?' cried Sam in thrilling tones. 'That Puddin', sir, is dearer to me than an Uncle. That Puddin', sir, an' me has registered vows of eternal friendship and esteem.

'That Puddin', sir, an' me have sailed the seas,
Known tropic suns, and braved the Arctic breeze,
We've heard on Popocatepetl's peak
The savage Tom-Tom sharpenin' of his beak,
We've served the dreadful Jim-Jam up on toast,
When shipwrecked off the Coromandel coast,
And when we heard the frightful Bim-Bam rave,
Have plunged beneath the Salonican wave.
We've delved for Bulbuls' eggs on coral strands,
And chased the Pompeydon in distant lands.
That Puddin', sir, and me, has, back to back,
Withstood the fearful Rumty Tums' attack,
And swum the Indian Ocean for our lives,
Pursued by Oysters, armed with oyster knives.
Let me but say, e'er these adventures cloy,
I've knowed that Puddin' since he were a boy.'

'All lies,' sang out the Puddin', looking over the rim of his basin. 'For well you know that you and old Bill Barnacle collared me off Curry and Rice after rolling him off the iceberg.'

'Albert, Albert,' said Bill, sternly. 'Where's your manners: interruptin' Sir Samuel in that rude way, and him a-performin' like an actor for your deliverance!'

'How much longer do you expect me to stay up here, bein' guzzled by these legal land-crabs?' demanded the Puddin'.

'You shall stay there, Albert, till the case is well and truly tried by these here noble Peers of the Realm assembled,' said Bill, impressively.

'Too much style about you,' said the Puddin', rudely, and he threw the Judge's glass of port into Bill's face, remarking: 'Take that, for being a pumpkin-headed old shellback.'

There was a great uproar over this very illegal act. The Judge was enraged at losing his port, and the Mayor was filled with horror because Bill wiped his face on the mayoral hat. Sam had to feign amazement at being called a liar, and the puddin'-thieves kept shouting: 'Time, time; we can't stand here all day.'

In desperation, Bill bawled at the top of his voice: 'I call on Detective Bluegum to restore order in the Court.'

Bunyip ran into the witness-box and, with a ready wit, shouted: 'I have dreadful news to impart to this honourable Court.'

All eyes, of course, turned on Bunyip, who, raising his hand with an impressive gesture, said in thrilling tones: 'From information received, it has been discovered that the Puddin' was poisoned at ten-thirty this morning.'

This news restored order at once. The Judge turned pale as lard, and the Usher, having a darker complexion, turned as pale as soap. The Puddin' couldn't turn pale, so he let out a howl of terror.

'Poisoned,' said the Usher, feebly. 'How, how?'

4th Slice pages:   one   two   three   four (end of story)
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