But the Possum shook his head. “No, no, Bill,” he said, “no glancing,” and the Wombat added: “To prove that no deception is intended, all heads must look in the bag together.”
“What’s to be done about this astoundin’ predicament?” said Bill. “If there is a present, of course we may as well have it. If there ain’t a present, of course we shall simply have to punch their snouts as usual.”
“One must confess,” said Bunyip Bluegum, “to the prompting of a certain curiosity as to the nature of this present;” and Sam added, “Anyway, there’s no harm in having a look at it.”
“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.
The worst of it was that the Puddin’, being too short to look in, was left outside, and the puddin’-thieves grabbed him at once and ran off like winking. To add to the Puddin’-owners’ discomfiture there was a considerable amount of bran in the bag; and, as Bill said afterwards, if there’s anything worse than losing a valuable Puddin’, it’s bran in the whiskers. They bounded and plunged about, but soon had to stop that on account of treading on each others toes-especially Sam’s, who endured agonies, having no boots on.
“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.