“After our experience of yesterday,” said Bill Barnacle as the company of Puddin’-owners set off along the road with their Puddin’, “we shall have to be particularly careful. For what with low puddin’ thieves disguisin’ themselves as firemen, and low Wombats sneakin’ our Puddin’ while we’re helpin’ to put out fires, not to speak of all the worry and bother of tryin’ to get information out of parrots an’ bandicoots an’ hedgehogs, why, it’s enough to make a man suspect his own grandfather of bein’ a puddin’-snatcher.”
“As for me,” said Sam Sawnoff, practising boxing attitudes as he walked along. “I feel like laying out the first man we meet on the off-chance of his being a puddin’-thief.”
“Indeed,” observed Bunyip Bluegum, “to have one’s noblest feelings outraged by reposing a too great trust in unworthy people, is to end by regarding all humanity with an equal suspicion.”
“If you ask my opinion,” said the Puddin’ cynically, “them puddin’-thieves are too clever for you; and what’s more, they’re better eaters than you. Why,” said the Puddin’, sneering at Bill, “I’ll back one puddin’-thief to eat more in a given time than three Puddin’owners put together.”
“These are very treacherous sentiments, Albert,” said Bill, sternly. “These are very ignoble and shameless words,” but the Puddin’ merely laughed scornfully, and called Bill a bun-headed old beetle-crusher.
“Very well,” said Bill, enraged, “we shall see if a low puddin’ thief is better than a noble Puddin’-owner. When you see the terrible suspicions I shall indulge in to-day you’ll regret them words.”
To prove his words Bill insisted on closely inspecting everybody he met, in case they should be puddin’-thieves in disguise.
To start off with, they had an unpleasant scene with a Kookaburra, a low larrikin who resented the way that Bill examined him.
“Who are you starin’ at, Poodle’s Whiskers?” he asked.
“Never mind,” said Bill. “I’m starin’ at you for a good an’ sufficient reason.”
“Are yer? " said the Kookaburra. “Well, all I can say is that if yer don’t take yer dial outer the road I’ll bloomin’ well take an’ bounce a gibber off yer crust,” and he followed them for quite a long way, singing out insulting things such as, “You with the wire whiskers,” and “Get onter the bloke with the face fringe.”
Bill, of course, treated this conduct with silent contempt. It was his rule through life, he said, never to fight people with beaks.
The next encounter they had was with a Flying-fox who, though not so vulgar and rude as the Kookaburra was equally enraged because, as Bill had suspicions that he was the Possum disguised, he insisted on measuring him to see if he was the same length.
“Nice goings on, indeed,” said the Flying-fox, while Bill was measuring him, “if a man can’t go about his business without being measured by total strangers. A nice thing, indeed, to happen to Finglebury Flying-fox, the well-known and respected fruit stealer.”