So Puddin’ was bundled into the bag, and Bill said, hurriedly “Brilliant as our friend Bunyip has proved himself with his ready wit, it remains for old Bill to suggest the brightest idea of all. Here is our friend Ben, a market gardener of the finest description. Very well. Why not build our house in his market garden. The advantages are obvious. Vegetables free of charge the whole year round, and fruit in season. Eggs to be had for the askin’, and a fine, simple, honest feller like Ben, to chat to of an evening. What could be more delightful?”
Ben looked very grave at this proposal, and began: “I very much doubt whether there will be enough bed clothes for four people, let alone the carrots are very nervous of strangers—” when Bill cut him short with a hearty clap on the back.
“Say no more,” said Bill, handsomely. “Rough, good-humoured fellers like us don’t need apologies, or any social fal-lals at all. We’ll take you as we find you. Without more ado, we shall build a house in your market garden.”
And, without more ado, they did.
The picture opposite saves the trouble of explaining how they built it, and what a splendid house it is. In order that the Puddin’ might have plenty of exercise, they made him a little Puddin’ paddock, whence he can shout rude remarks to the people passing by; a habit, I grieve to state, he is very prone to.
Of course, at night they pull up the ladder in case a stray puddin’-thief happens to be prowling around. If a friend calls to have a quiet chat, or to join in a sing-song round the fire, they let the ladder down for him.
And a very pleasant life they lead, sitting of a summer evening on the balcony while Ben does his little market-garden jobs below, and the Puddin’ throws bits of bark at the cabbages, and pulls faces at the little pickle onions, in order to make them squeak with terror.
On winter nights there is always Puddin’ and hot coffee for supper, and many’s the good go-in I’ve had up there, a-sitting round the fire. I didn’t mean to let on that I knew their address, on account of so many people wanting to have a go at the Puddin’. However, it’s out now.
When the wind blows and the rain comes down, it’s jolly sitting up aloft in the snug tree-house, especially when old Bill is in good form and gives us “The Salt Junk Sarah”, with all hands joining in the chorus.
“Oh, rolling round the ocean,
From a far and foreign land,
May suit the common notion
That a sailor’s life is grand.
“But as for me, I’d sooner be
A roaring here at home
About the rolling, roaring life
Of them that sails the foam.
“For the homeward-bounder’s chorus,
Which he roars across the foam,
Is all about chucking a sailor’s life,
And settling down at home.
“Home, home, home,
That’s the song of them that roam,
The song of the roaring, rolling sea
Is all about rolling home.”