“Preserver,” exclaimed Bill, grasping him by the hand. “Noble being,” said Sam.
“Guardian angel of oppressed Puddin’-owners,” said Bunyip Bluegum.
Benjimen was quite overcome by these expressions of esteem, and handed round eggs, which were eaten on the spot.
“And now,” said Bill, again shaking hands with their preserver,” I am about to ask you a most important question. Have you seen any puddin’-thieves about this mornin’?”
“Puddin’-thieves, “said Benjimen. “Let me see. Now that you mention it, I remember seeing two puddin’-thieves at nine-thirty this morning. But they weren’t stealing puddin’s. They were engaged stealing a bag out of my stable. I was busy at the time whistling to the carrots, or I’d have stopped them.”
“This is most important information,” said Bill. “It proves this must be the very bag they stole. In what direction did the scoundrels go, friend, after stealing your bag?”
“As I was engaged at the moment feeding the parsnips, I didn’t happen to notice,” said Benjimen. “But at this season puddin’ thieves generally go south-east, owing to the price of onions.”
“In that case,” said Bill, “we shall take a course north-west, for it’s my belief that havin’ stolen our Puddin’ they’ll make back to winter quarters.”
“We will pursue to the north-west with the utmost vigour,” said Bunyip.
“Swearin’ never to give in till revenge has been inflicted and our Puddin’ restored to us,” said Bill.
“In order to exacerbate our just anger,” said Bunyip Bluegum, “let us sing as we go—
THE PUDDIN’-OWNERS’ QUEST
“On a terrible quest we run north-west,
In a terrible rage we run;
With never a rest we run north-west
Till our terrible work is done.
In a terrible rage we run all day.
“By our terrible zest you’ve doubtless
That vengeance is our work;
For we seek the nest with terrible zest
Where the puddin’-snatchers lurk.
With rage, with gloom,
With fret and fume,
We seek the puddin’-snatchers’ doom.”
They ran north-west for two hours without seeing a sign of the Puddin’-thieves. Benjimen ran with them to exact revenge for the theft of his bag. It was hot work running, and having no Puddin’ they couldn’t have lunch, but Benjimen very generously handed eggs all round again.
“Eggs is all very well,” said Bill, eating them in despair, “but they don’t come up to Puddin’ as a regular diet, and all I can say is, that if that Puddin’ ain’t restored soon I shall go mad with grief.”
“I shall go mad with rage,” said Sam, and they both sang loudly—
“Go mad with grief or mad with rage,
It doesn’t matter whether;
Our Puddin’s left this earthly stage,
So in despair we must engage
To both go mad together.”