This was immediately effective, and Bill with the greatest heartiness roared out:
“Ho, aboard the Salt Junk Sarah
Rollin’ round the ocean wide,
The bo’sun’s mate, I grieve to state,
He kissed the bo’sun’s bride.
Rollin’ home, rollin’ home,
Home across the foam;
The bo’sun rose and punched his nose
And banged him on the dome.”
At about the fifteenth verse they came to the town of Tooraloo, and that put a stop to the singing, because you can’t sing in the public streets unless you are a musician or a nuisance. The town of Tooraloo is one of those dozing, snoozing, sausage-shaped places where all the people who aren’t asleep are only half awake, and where dogs pass away their lives on the footpaths, and you fall over cows when taking your evening stroll.
There was a surprise awaiting them at Tooraloo, for the moment they arrived two persons in bell-toppers and long-tailed coats ran out from behind a fence and fell flat on their backs in the middle of the road, yelling “Help, help! thieves and ruffians are at work!”
The travellers naturally stared with amazement at this peculiar conduct. The moment the persons in bell-toppers caught sight of them they sprang up, and striking an attitude expressive of horror, shouted:
“Behold the puddin’-thieves!”
“Behold the what?” exclaimed Bill.
“Puddin’-thieves,” said one of the bell-topperers. “For well you know that that dear Puddin’ in your hand has been stolen from its parents and guardians which is ourselves.” And the other bell-topperer added, “Deny it not, for with that dear Puddin’ in your hand your guilt is manifest.”
“Well, if this ain’t enough to dumbfound a codfish,” exclaimed Bill. “Here’s two total strangers, disguised as undertakers, actually accusin’ us of stealin’ our own Puddin’. Why, it’s outside the bounds of comprehension!”
“It’s enough to stagger the senses,” said Sam.
“It’s enough to daze the mind with horror,” said Bill.
“Come, come,” said the bell-topperers, “cease these expressions of amazement and hand over the stolen Puddin’.”
“What d’ yer mean,” exclaimed Bill, “by callin’ this a stolen Puddin’? It’s a respectable steak-and-kidney, apple-dumplin’, grand digestive Puddin’, and any fellers in pot-hats sayin’ it’s a stolen Puddin’ is scoundrels of the deepest dye.”
“Never use such words to people wearing bell-toppers,” said one of the bell-topperers, and the other added, “With that dear Puddin’ gazing up to heaven, how can you use such words?”
“All very fine, no doubt,” sneered Bill, “but if you ain’t scoundrels of the deepest dye, remove them hats and prove you ain’t afraid to look us in the eye.”
“No, no,” said the first bell-topperer. “No removing hats at present on account of sunstroke, and colds in the head, and doctor’s orders. My doctor said to me only this morning, ‘Never remove your hat.’ Those were his words. ’Let it be your rule through life,’ he said, ’to keep the head warm, whatever happens.’”