Written and Illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1879 – 1969)
. . . the story continues . . .
Iwill,’ 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.’
They all struck a dignified attitude in front of the puddin’-thieves, and Bunyip Bluegum, raising his hat, struck up the National Anthem, the others joining in with superb effect.
‘Hats off in honour to our King,’ shouted Bill, and off came all the hats. The puddin’-thieves, of course, were helpless. The Wombat had to take his hat off, or prove himself disloyal, and there was Puddin’ sitting on his head.
‘Now who’s a liar?’ shouted Bill, hitting the Possum a swinging blow on the snout, while Sam gave the Wombat one of his famous over-arm flip flaps that knocked all the wind out of him. The Wombat tried to escape punishment by shouting, ‘Never strike a man with a Puddin’ on his head’; but, now that their guilt was proved, Bill and Sam were utterly remorseless, and gave the puddin’-thieves such a trouncing that their shrieks pierced the firmament. When this had been done, all hands gave them an extra thumping in the interests of common morality. Eggs were rubbed in their hair by Benjimen, and Bill and Sam attended to the beating and snout-bending, while Bunyip did the reciting. Standing on a stump, he declaimed —
‘The blows you feel we do not deal
In common, vulgar thumping;
To higher motives we appeal —
It is to teach you not to steal,
Your head we now are bumping.
You need not go on pumping
Appeals for kinder dealing,
We like to watch you jumping,
We like to hear you squealing.
We rather think this thumping
Will take a bit of healing.
We hope these blows upon the nose,
These bended snouts, these tramped-on toes,
These pains that you are feeling
The truth will be revealing
How wrong is puddin’-stealing.’
Then, with great solemnity, he recited the following fine moral lesson —
‘A puddin’-thief, as I’ve heard tell,
Quite lost to noble feeling,
Spent all his days, and nights as well,
In constant puddin’-stealing.
‘He stole them here, he stole them there,
He knew no moderation;
He stole the coarse, he stole the rare,
He stole without cessation.
‘He stole the steak-and-kidney stew
That housewives in a rage hid;
He stole the infant’s Puddin’ too,
The Puddin’ of the aged.
‘He lived that Puddin’s he might lure,
Into his clutches stealthy;
He stole the Puddin’ of the poor,
The Puddin’ of the wealthy.
‘This evil wight went forth one night
Intent on puddin’-stealing,
When he beheld a hidden light
A secret room revealing.
‘Within he saw a fearful man,
With eyes like coals a-glowing,
Whose frightful whiskers over-ran
His face, like weeds a-blowing;
‘And there this fearful, frightful man,
A sight to set you quaking,
With pot and pan and curse and ban,
Began a Puddin’ making.
”Twas made of buns and boiling oil,
A carrot and some nails-O!
A lobster’s claws, the knobs off doors,
An onion and some snails-O!
‘A pound of fat, an old man rat,
A pint of kerosene-O!
A box of tacks, some cobbler’s wax,
Some gum and glycerine-O!
‘Gunpowder too, a hob-nailed shoe,
He stirred into his pottage;
Some Irish stew, a pound of glue,
A high explosive sausage.
‘The deed was done, that frightful one,
With glare of vulture famished,
Blew out the light, and in the night
Gave several howls, and vanished.
‘Our thieving lout, ensconced without,
Came through the window slinking;
He grabbed the pot and on the spot
Began to eat like winking.
‘He ate the lot, this guzzling sot —
Such appetite amazes —
Until those high explosives wrought
Within his tum a loud report,
And blew him all to blazes.
‘For him who steals ill-gotten meals
Our moral is a good un.
We hope he feels that it reveals
The danger he is stood in
Who steals a high explosive bomb,
Mistaking it for Puddin’.’
The puddin’-thieves wept loudly while this severe rebuke was being administered, and promised, with sobs, to amend their evil courses, and in the future to abstain from unlawful puddin’-snatching.
‘Your words,’ said the Possum, ‘has pierced our brains with horror and remorse’; and the Wombat added: ‘From this time onwards our thoughts will be as far removed from Puddin’ as is the thoughts of angels.’
‘We have heard that before,’ said Bunyip Bluegum; ‘but let us hope that this time your repentance is sincere. Let us hope that the tenderness of your snouts will be, if I may be permitted a flight of poetic fancy, a guiding star to lure your steps along the path of virtue —
‘For he who finds his evil course is ended
By having of his snout severely bended,
Along that path of virtue may be sent
Where virtuous snouts are seldom ever bent.’
With that the puddin’-thieves went over the hill, the sun went down and evening arrived, punctual to the minute.
‘Ah,’ said Bill. ‘It’s a very fortunate thing that evenin’s come along at this time, for, if it hadn’t, we couldn’t have waited dinner any longer. But, before preparin’ for a night of gaiety, dance, and song, I have a proposal to put before my feller Puddin’-owners. I propose to invite our friend Ben here to join us round the camp fire. He has proved himself a very decent feller, free with his eggs, and as full of revenge against puddin’-thieves as ourselves.’
‘Hospitably spoken,’ said Bunyip Bluegum, and the Puddin’-owners sang —
‘Come join us we intreat,
Come join us we implore,
In Friendship’s name our guest we claim,
And Friendship’s name is law.
‘We’ve Puddin’ here a treat,
We’ve Puddin’ here galore;
Do not decline to stay and dine,
Our Puddin’ you’ll adore.
‘Our Puddin’, we repeat,
You really cannot beat,
And here are we its owners three
Who graciously intreat
You’ll be at our request,
The Puddin’-owners’ guest.’
‘For these sentiments of esteem, admiration, and respect,’ said Ben, ‘I thank you. As one market-gardener to three Puddin’-owners, I may say I wouldn’t wish to eat the Puddin’ of three finer fellers than yourselves.’
With this cordial understanding they set about preparing the camp fire, and the heartiest expressions of friendship were indulged in while the Puddin’ was being passed round. As Bunyip aptly remarked —
‘All Fortune’s buffets he can surely pardon her,
Who claims as guest our courteous Market Gardener.’
To which Benjimen handsomely replied —
‘Still happier he, who meets three Puddin’-owners,
Whose Puddin’ is the equal of its donors.’
And, indeed, a very pleasant evening they had round the camp fire.