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Title:      Blinky Bill
Author:     Dorothy Wall
eBook No.:  0400571.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          July 2004
Date most recently updated: July 2004

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Title:      Blinky Bill
Author:     Dorothy Wall












[Illustration: This is Me]


The New Arrival

The bush was alive with excitement. Mrs Koala had a brand new baby, and
the news spread like wildfire. The kookaburras in the highest gum-trees
heard of it, and laughed and chuckled at the idea. In and out of their
burrows the rabbits came scuttling, their big brown eyes opening wide
with wonder as they heard the news. Over the grass the message went
where Mrs Kangaroo was quietly hopping towards her home. She fairly
leapt in the air with joy. "I must tell Mr Kangaroo!" she cried and
bounded away in great hops and leaps. Even Mrs Snake, who was having a
nap, awoke, gave a wriggle, and blinked her wicked little eyes. The
whole bushland was twittering with the news, for a baby bear was a great
event. Mrs Koala had a baby every two years, and as Mrs Rabbit had
very, very many during that time, you can just imagine how surprised
everyone was. In the fork of a gum-tree, far above the ground, Mrs Koala
nursed her baby, peeping every now and then at the tiny creature in her
pouch. This little baby was the funniest wee creature. He was only about
an inch long and covered with soft baby fur, had two big ears, compared
to the size of the rest of him, a tiny black nose, and two beady eyes.
His mother and father always had a surprised look on their faces, but
they looked more surprised than ever now as they gazed at their baby.

He peeped at them and blinked, as much as to say, "Aren't you glad I'm

Mr Koala puffed out his cheeks with pride, and his wife hugged her baby
tighter than ever.

There had been quite a lot of quarrelling and jealousy among the bush
folk as to who should be the baby's nurse.

Mrs Kookaburra was the first to offer her services, and she came flying
over to the tree where the Koalas lived. Knocking on the tree with her
strong beak she asked if she might come in.

"Certainly," said Mrs Bear, "if you don't laugh and wake the baby up."

"Do you want a nurse for him?" Mrs Kookaburra anxiously inquired.

"Yes, I do," Mrs Bear replied.

"Will I do?" Mrs Kookaburra asked.

"Oh, no!" said Mrs Bear. "Your laugh is so loud and you chuckle so long
that you'd wake the baby up."

Poor Mrs Kookaburra was very disappointed and flew off to tell Mrs
Magpie about it.

"I'll go over and see if I can be the nurse," said Mrs Magpie. "Mrs Bear
is very particular and I'm sure I will suit." She gave her feathers a
fluff and sharpened her beak, then straight to the Koalas' home she

[Illustration: "Go away Mrs. Snake!"]

"Come in," called Mrs Bear on hearing the peck at the tree.

"Good morning, Mrs Koala. I hear you are wanting a nurse for the baby.
I'm sure I could keep the young scamp in order as I've had a few dozen

"Thank you, Mrs Magpie," said Mrs Bear very politely, "but I don't like
the look of your beak. You could give a very nasty peck with it."

"They all want a peck sometimes," said Mrs Magpie in a very cross tone.
At this the baby bear popped his head right out of his mother's pouch
and blinked very hard.

[Illustration: "They all want a peck sometimes." said Mrs. Magpie.]

"If you are so particular, I'll send along a friend of mine who will
suit you very well." And saying this Mrs Magpie gave the tree a savage
peck and flew off. Imagine Mrs Koala's surprise when she peeped down the
tree later on and saw Mrs Snake slowly wriggling her way upwards. Oh,
she was frightened!

"Go away, Mrs Snake!" she called in a loud voice.

"I've come to nurse the baby; Mrs Magpie sent me." And Mrs Snake
wriggled higher up the tree. Right on to the branch where Mrs Koala sat
she came, and coiled herself round the fork.

"I don't want a nurse." And poor frightened Mrs Bear tried to push the
baby's head back in the pouch. But he _would_ peep out.

"He's a nice little fellow, and like his daddy," said Mrs Snake slyly.
"I can take him along on my back for such lovely rides up and down trees
and in and out big black holes."

Hearing this Mrs Bear nearly fell off the tree with fright, and began to

Now Mr Koala had been listening to Mrs Snake as he sat on a branch just
round the corner. Slowly he climbed over to Mrs Snake and caught her in
his claws. Before anyone had time to see what was happening he pushed
her off the branch and she went tumbling to the ground below. Two very
frightened bears peeped down from the tree, and there they saw Mrs Snake
slowly crawling away in the grass.

They were just beginning to recover from this fright when a thump,
thump, thump, was heard on the ground at the foot of the tree.

"Who's there?" called Mrs Bear in a very frightened voice.

"It's just me!" came the reply.

"Who's me?" growled Mr Bear.

"Angelina Wallaby," called a very soft voice.

"Come up, come up," Mrs Bear replied.

"I can't climb; my tail is all wrong," said Angelina.

"Well, I'll come down, if Mrs Snake is nowhere about," said Mrs Bear.
And she slowly started to scramble down the tree. Very carefully she
went, always grasping the tree with her strong claws, her back showing
all the time, while she cleverly looked over her shoulder now and then
to see that all was safe below. It took her quite a time to reach the
ground and she felt very nervous.

Angelina Wallaby hopped over to her and gazed in wonderment at the baby.

"What a dear little fellow!" she said, her great brown eyes rounding
with excitement. At the same time she put out her paws to touch him.

"Oh, don't!" cried Mrs Bear. "He is so small and your nails might hurt

"I've been all the morning blunting them on a stone so that I could pat
him," said Angelina in a disappointed voice.

"Oh, I'm sorry," said Mrs Bear. "I did not mean to be rude, but Mrs
Snake gave me such a fright."

"I'll be ever so gentle," said Angelina, "if you let me pat him just
this once."

"Very well," smiled Mrs Bear as she opened her pouch.

Angelina Wallaby patted him twice, then sniffed him all over with her
soft muzzly nose. Now her eyelashes caught in his little toes: but
Angelina did not mind, as she had had babies herself and knew just what
to do.

"I wish I could mind him for you sometimes, Mrs Bear. I'd be so gentle
with him."

"I'm sure you would be the very kindest nurse," replied Mrs Bear. "But
what could you do for him?"

"I would come along in the evenings, and take him out for a walk. I've
got a pouch just like yours, and I'd tuck him in it and hop along very
gently, so he wouldn't feel the bumps."

"I think that is a good idea," said Mrs Bear.

So it was arranged that Mrs Bear should climb down the tree every
evening and meet Angelina Wallaby who would take the baby for a walk in
the bush.

Imagine how proud Angelina felt! She hopped home very quickly that
evening to tell her friends the news.

Next day, just as the sun was setting, she came to the foot of the
gum-tree and thumped three times on the ground with her tail. Mrs Bear
peeped around the corner of her home and, seeing Angelina at the foot of
the tree, called out:

"I'm coming down with the baby, so watch for Mrs Snake." Then she
carefully and slowly climbed to the bottom of the tree.

"Is the coast clear?" she anxiously asked.

"Yes, Mrs Bear. I passed Mrs Snake on the road a mile away."

"Well, do be careful, Angelina; and bring him back before the day
breaks. Is your pouch warm?" And Mrs Bear inspected Angelina's pouch.

"Yes, Mrs Bear. It may be a trifle large, so I padded it well with
grass; but it's very warm and not a bit draughty."

So the baby was carefully taken from his mother's pouch and gently
placed in Angelina's.

Waving a paw to Mrs Bear she took a hop and then peeped down at the baby
to see what he thought of it. Taking several more hops she soon started
away for the bush track and in no time came to Mrs Rabbit's home.
Thumping her tail on the ground, she waited a moment. Mrs Rabbit popped
her head out of the burrow.

"Good evening, Mrs Rab. I've brought the baby to show you."

"Good gracious, how lovely!" said Mrs Rabbit as Angelina gently drew the
baby bear from her pouch. Several more bunnies came round to inspect the
new arrival.

"Just look at his ears!" cried Mrs Rabbit. "I'm sure I'd never hear with
those furry things. And, oh dear, no tail!--Well, well! Take care he
does not catch cold. I really think he should have a tail to keep him
warm. I have a spare one hanging on the wall of the burrow. Poor Mr
Rabbit was shot, and I found his skin near by; but I managed to bite
off the tail and bring it home." Here poor Mrs Rabbit burst into tears.

[Illustration: "Here's just the thing!" Mrs. Rabbit cried.]

"Never mind, my dear," said Angelina soothingly. "If it will please you,
we will tie it on the baby."

Mrs Rabbit dried her eyes with her paw and went sniffling down into the

"I won't be a moment," she called from somewhere down under the ground.

Up she came in a very short time carrying the tail in her two front

"What can we sew it on with?" inquired Angelina.

"We'll tie it on with a piece of grass." And Mrs Rabbit hopped round
until she found a nice long piece.

"Here's just the thing!" she cried, and came hopping back with it in her

Angelina excitedly pulled the baby out of her pouch, and together they
fastened the tail on. It did look funny, as it was almost as long as the
baby; but it certainly would keep him warm.

Bidding her friend good night she hopped on her way. The moon was now
shining brightly and all the bush was hushed, except for the sound of
those little animals who are always busy at night-time. Angelina sniffed
the night air with delight and felt very happy as she thought of the
baby in her pouch. Hopping along between the great grey gum-trees she
was suddenly startled to see Mrs Snake lying right across her pathway.

"Ha, ha, Mrs Wallaby," called the wicked Mrs Snake, "so you're the
baby's nurse. Well, I want to have a look at him."

"Oh, you can't!" cried Angelina. "He'll catch cold if I take him out of
my pouch."

"No, he won't, the night is warm," said Mrs Snake. "Show him to me at

Angelina thought very quickly, and darting her paws into her pouch she
untied the rabbit's tail and pulled it out.

"There you are, Mrs Snake," she cried. "Isn't he beautiful?"

Mrs Snake did not stop to look. She sprang at the tail and bit it

[Illustration: She sprang at the tail and bit it savagely]

"Ha, ha, ha," she laughed, "there will be no baby to take home now."

Poor Angelina got such a fright she did not waste a moment, but hopped
away as fast as her legs could carry her. On and on she went, breathless
with fear, not daring to look behind. She reached the foot of the
gum-tree and thumped wildly with her tail. Mrs Bear came scurrying down
the tree and listened to the story. Then grabbing her baby she quickly
climbed to safety. Angelina waited at the foot of the tree until she saw
Mrs Bear safely home, then hopped away to the bushland.

After that, Mrs Koala decided to keep her baby at home. Every day he
grew bigger and stronger, until he was six months old. Then his mother
thought it quite time he learnt to ride on her back, as the pouch was
getting too small to hold such a big baby. So with Mr Bear's help they
taught the baby to cling to the long fur of her back and only during the
cold nights was he allowed to climb into her pouch. He was now growing
very big. When eight months old he could no longer crawl into the snug
pouch at all. So his baby days were over. He became very cunning too.
When his mother was feeding, he learnt to stretch out his arms and pull
the tenderest leaves into his mouth. He soon reached the age of one
year, and measured ten inches, while his weight was about three pounds.
Strange as it may seem, Mrs Koala had not thought of a name for her
baby. Now, she thought it quite time he was christened; so one day she
talked the matter over with his father. "Shall we call him 'Walter' or
'Bluegum'?" she inquired.

"No," grunted Mr Koala. "Let's call him 'Blinky Bill'." So Blinky Bill
he became from that moment.

"Well, my dear, I'll arrange about the christening," said Mrs Koala. "My
cousin the Reverend Fluffy Ears will perform the ceremony. And, of
course, we must choose his godfather and godmother."

"Jacko Kookaburra will be his godfather," said Mr Bear. "We will send
him a message over the wireless, as he is so well known; and Angelina
Wallaby would be sure to jump with joy if we asked her to be godmother."

So that night when all was quiet Mr Koala tapped out a message on the
gum-leaves calling the Gippsland bush folk.

"Will Mr Jacko Kookaburra speak, please--Koala senior is calling."

Rat-a-tat-tat--came the reply on the leaves.

"Jacko here. What can I do for you?"

"Will you be Blinky Bill's godfather?" Mr Koala tapped back.

"Only too pleased," came the quick reply.

"I'll be along next week. Sorry I'm broadcasting every night this

Angelina, who seldom uttered a sound, purred with pleasure when she was
asked to be godmother, and hurried home to make a present for the

The great day arrived. In a quiet corner of the bush, down by a little
stream surrounded with bells and flannel flowers, everyone came from far
and near to see young Bill christened.

The Reverend Fluffy Ears looked very important with a white collar made
from the bark of the paper-tree. He also held in his paws a book of
gum-leaves, from which he read.

[Illustration: "Silence!" roared the Reverend Fluffy Ears]

Mr and Mrs Koala smiled at everyone, and everyone smiled at Blinky Bill.
Jacko looked spick and span, and of course, being a widely travelled
gentleman, he took things very quietly. At the same time, he gave a dig
in the ground with his beak every now and then and swallowed a fat worm.
Angelina looked sweet in her nut-brown coat, and her large eyes watched
Blinky Bill all the time. She had made a ball of fur for him to play
with, and he cuddled and hugged it closely all the time.

Mrs Rabbit rang the bells and everyone sat down or perched.

The Reverend Fluffy Ears spoke as he took Blinky Bill in his arms.

"What shall I name this young bear?" he asked.

"Blinky Bill," said Mr Koala.

At once the bush was filled with laughter. Wild kookaburras who were no
relation to Jacko had flown into a nearby tree, and they made a
terrible din, chuckling and laughing at the top of their voices. Nobody
could speak for the noise.

"Silence!" roared the Reverend Fluffy Ears. But it was useless. They
took no notice.

"I'll speak to the young larrikins," said Jacko, and he gave the call
for all to listen.

Immediately the laughter ceased.

"I'm Jacko," he said, "and if you birds up in that tree don't keep quiet
I'll tell everyone over the radio what rude kookaburras you are and that
you are no relation to me."

Hearing this, the wild kookaburras became very quiet, as they wanted
everyone to think they were related to Jacko. He was such a wonderful
bird that if they were asked in turn who was their cousin or uncle all
would reply--"Jacko". So you see, they had good reason to keep quiet.
Blinky Bill had water from the stream sprinkled on his head, much to his
surprise, and the ceremony ended without any more interruptions. He was
carried home again on his mother's back, feeling very important after
all the fuss and petting. That night up in the fork of the white
gum-tree Mrs Koala told him that he was now a youth and that if he were
a human being he would be put in knickerbockers.


A Tragedy

The Koala family lived so happily; never thinking of harm, or that
anything could happen to disturb their little home, as all they asked
for were plenty of fresh gum-leaves and the warm sun. They had no idea
such things as guns were in the world or that a human being had a heart
so cruel that he would take a pleasure in seeing a poor little body
riddled with bullets hanging helplessly from the tree-top. And they had
no idea this same being would walk away, after shooting a bear, content
to see him dead, no matter if he fell to the ground or not. That same
being might just as well take his gun and shoot baby kookaburras, so
helpless were they all and so trusting.

[Illustration: They sat patiently waiting for him to wake.]

Poor Mr Koala one day was curled up asleep in his favourite corner, when
the terrible thing happened. Bang! He opened his eyes in wonder. What
was that? Did the limb of the tree snap where that young cub of his was
skylarking? He moved very slowly to take a look and, bang! again. This
time he felt a stinging pain in his leg. What could it be? And peering
over the bough of the tree he saw a man on the ground with something
long and black in his arms. He gazed down in wonderment. Whatever was
that, and how his little leg hurt. Another bang and his ear began to
hurt. Suddenly a great fear seized him, he slowly turned and tried to
hide round the tree, peering at the ground as he did so. Bang! again,
and now his poor little body was stinging all over. He grunted loudly
and slowly climbed up the tree, calling Mrs Koala and Blinky as he went.
He managed to reach the topmost branch and now turned to see where his
family were. Tears were pouring down his poor little face. He brushed
them away with his front paws and cried just like a baby. Fortunately
Mrs Koala and Blinky Bill were hiding in the leaves, quite motionless,
and the shadows of the tree made them appear as part of it. The man with
the gun stood and waited a long time, then walked away, whistling as he
went--the only sound to be heard in the bush except the cries of a
little bear far up in the tree.

All that day and night the little family lay huddled together, not
daring to move, or to think of the sweet gum-leaves that hung from the
tree inviting them to supper. As the sun rose the birds woke with a
great chattering, the earth stirred with the feet of small animals
running backwards and forwards; but up in the gum-tree a mother bear and
her baby sat staring in surprise at another bear who did not move. They
grunted and cried, and even felt him with their soft paws, but he still
did not move. All that day and the next night they sat patiently waiting
for him to wake, then at last Mrs Bear seemed to understand that her
husband was dead. She climbed down the tree, with Blinky following close
behind, and went to another tree where they had a good meal of young
leaves and tender shoots.

"Why are we eating so much?" Blinky inquired.

"We are going away, dear," Mrs Bear replied. "We must find a tree
farther in the bush where those men with guns can't come, and as we may
be a long time in finding a suitable home, these leaves will keep us
from feeling hungry."

Together the mother and her cub slowly climbed down the tree, and great
was their surprise to find Angelina Wallaby waiting for them.

"Where are you going, Mrs Bear?" she asked.

"Far into the bush with Blinky, away from the man with his gun," Mrs
Bear replied.

"What will I do?" asked Angelina. "I shall miss Blinky terribly." And
her big eyes filled with tears.

"Come with us," grunted Blinky.

"Oh, that will be splendid," said Angelina. "I know a gum-tree far away
with a baby in it just like Blinky. Blinky can crawl up on to my back
when his legs are tired, and I'll carry him along--you too, Mrs Bear, if
you feel the journey too long."

Thanking her the three started away. Mrs Bear turned and gave one
sorrowful look at the tree that had been their home for so long. It had
been a kind tree, sheltering them through all weathers and feeding them
every day of the year, but not strong enough to protect them from

After travelling for a mile or more the bears began to feel very tired,
as they were not used to walking along the ground. Very rarely they
leave the branches of the trees; occasionally one will climb down to
feed on some vegetation in the grass; but they feel very strange having
to use their four legs to walk with. It is so different to sitting on a
limb of a tree, hind paws firmly grasping the branch while the two front
paws are busily pulling down tender leaves to their mouths. So it was no
wonder when Mrs Koala and Blinky began to limp.

"Let us rest here under this bush," said Angelina, hopping up to a thick
scrubby tree. "We can have a sleep, and when the moon is up we will go

"I think you are wonderful," said Mrs Koala, and all three lay at the
foot of the bush, the two little Koalas glad to rest sore little toes
and tired little legs.

In the cool shade they slept until the sun went down, then waking up,
and feeling very hungry, Mrs Koala and Blinky climbed a sapling. Blinky
rushed ahead as they neared the top and stuffed his mouth as full as

"Don't gobble," said Mrs Bear, cuffing his ear.

"They're so juicy," said young Blinky, as he peered over the branch and
threw a few leaves down to Angelina.

"They are nice," said Angelina, as she munched them ever so gently, "I
have never tasted these leaves before; but we must not stop here any
longer. This is strange country, and we have a long way to go."

"I don't want to go," wailed Blinky, "I'm tired."

"Both of you hop on my back and we'll be there in no time. I can leap
along in the moonlight like a kangaroo."

After some arguing over the matter, Mrs Bear and Blinky climbed on her
back, and away they went. It was great fun. Flop, flop, flop, through
the grass, ducking their heads to miss the branches and twigs of
low-growing trees, and then racing along through open country.

Many a rabbit looked up in surprise from his supper-table to see the
strange sight, and possums screeched in the branches as they looked down
at some new kind of wallaby, as they thought. At last, breathless and
tired Angelina stopped at the foot of a tall, straight gum-tree. Silver
white it stood in the moonlight with branches spread far up in the sky.

"Here is your new home," said Angelina.

"How beautiful," murmured Mrs Bear, as she and Blinky crawled down from
their friend's back.

[Illustration: Tears were pouring down his poor little face.]

"It is safe, and you will be very happy here, and Blinky will have a
playmate." Angelina flopped on the grass, her long legs sprawled out,
and she panted loudly.

"Where are you going to live?" Mrs Bear inquired. "We want you near us,

"I'm going to live just round the corner," said Angelina. "I have a
friend who is waiting for me."

"Is she a relation?" asked Mrs Bear kindly. "No!" replied Angelina. "She
is a he!" And, blushing, she looked very slowly down at her paws; then
suddenly turned and hopped away.

"Dear, dear," grunted Mrs Bear, "the world is full of surprises."

"Now, you young scamp, come here and climb this tree with me," and
Blinky scrambled on to his mother's back.

"I think it's quite time you used your own legs," said Mrs Bear. But she
made no attempt to shake him off.

Slowly she crawled up. A new tree was no joke, and this one was ever so
high and straight. With many grunts she eventually reached a fork in the
branches and stopped to take in her surroundings.

Everything seemed very quiet, but her eyes glistened as she looked at
the young gum-tips. A young cub to feed was a matter of no light
concern, and he was so particular. Only the youngest leaves he ate.

Blinky was the first to discover other tenants in the tree. "Look,
mother," he whispered. "There's a little bear, just like me."

Sure enough, peeping at them from between leaves above their heads, two
funny eyes and a small black nose could be seen.

"Now, no quarrelling!" said Mrs Bear sternly. "I've had enough for one
day, and I want peace."

Another climb and they came to a branch where sat Master Bear.

"Hulloa," called Blinky.

"Hullo," replied the other.

"Where's your mother?" Mrs Bear asked. "Tell her I would like to speak
with her."

He crawled up the tree slowly. Then many grunts were heard to come from
that direction until Mother Bear looked down and called in high-pitched

"Come up, and bring your son to tea."

[Illustration: She brought her young son Snubby with her.]

It did not take Mrs Koala and Blinky long to find the way, and there all
night the little bears ate and gossiped. Mrs Koala told her story, and
it was agreed that she and Blinky should have the branch two limbs
higher up for their new home. Very carefully she told Blinky he must
behave as a good little cub should: "Don't rush about; lift your feet
when you walk; don't slide down the boughs; and don't drop your food
over the side of the tree as Mrs Bear below us might object."

"I'll be a good cub," said Blinky very seriously, and straightaway
started to nibble some young leaves.

During the evening Mrs Koala's friend came up to see how she and Blinky
liked their new home. She brought her young son, Snubby, with her, and a
dear little chap he was. About the same age as Blinky, and in fact so
like him that it was hard to tell the two apart.

"Now you two young eucalyptus pots, run off and have a game," said
Snubby's mother. "I want to talk to Mrs Koala."

Blinky and Snubby needed no second bidding, and were up the branches
playing and climbing in the most dangerous corners in no time.

"You have not told me your name," said Mrs Koala to her friend.

"My name is Mrs Grunty."

"Oh, what a nice name. I'm sure you must be proud of it," said Mrs

"Well, no--not exactly," said Mrs Grunty. "I got the name while I was in

"Good gracious! Where is that?" asked Mrs Koala.

"Have you never heard of it? Is it possible?" said Mrs Grunty. And she
looked more surprised than ever. "Well, I must tell you my experiences.
I was taken from my mother when I was about six months old, by a man who
was trapping bears. I don't know how I escaped from being killed like
all my relations; but I heard the man say to his friend as he caught me
and popped me in a sack: 'This little fellow's a pretty one and I've
been promised a ten-bob note for a baby'. The sack was very dark inside
and I felt very frightened as I was slung over a horse's side and
carried for many miles in this manner. I knew when we left the bush
track, because the smell of the gum-trees faded away; and all I could
smell for many miles after seemed to be horse. Sometimes he snorted and
I could have jumped out of the sack with fright if there had been a hole
to jump through. After many hours we stopped, and I was taken out of the
sack and handed to a lady and a little girl who were waiting outside a
big house by the roadside."

"Isn't he a darling!" said the little girl as she patted me. "None of
them seemed to think I might be a little girl. They all called me 'he'.
I was squeezed and hugged and petted; and needless to tell you Mrs
Koala, I scrambled up her arm and on to her shoulder. It was the nearest
thing to a gum-tree I could see; but, alas, no gum-leaves grew
there--only funny stuff all round me called hair. The little girl's
mother and father said I looked 'so surprised'. Well now, Mrs Koala,
wouldn't any bear be surprised to find herself up a gum-tree that

Mrs Koala was too amazed to reply. She just grunted.

"The next thing that happened," continued Mrs Grunty, "was to place me
on a thing they called a cushion. It certainly was soft and cosy--but
where was my snug tree-corner I wondered, and I also felt very hungry."

"Oh, I forgot to ask the trapper for leaves for the pet," said the lady.

"Give him some cake" said the man.

"They offered me some dreadful looking stuff, and of course I could not
eat it, and I began to cry for my gum-tips. Then the little girl said
perhaps I would like bread and milk, and she ran away to get it. I was
so hungry that I ate a little and then fell asleep, as the jogging about
on the horse had made my body ache and I felt very tired. They placed me
in a box with a bear just like me, only he didn't breathe and his eyes
didn't blink, and he had no smell of eucalyptus; but he was soft and
cuddly like my mother. I woke in the morning, and what do you think they
brought me for breakfast? Bananas!"

"How shocking!" gasped Mrs Koala. "And still no leaves?"

"No leaves," sighed Mrs Grunty. "And as the day went by they became
concerned about me. They offered me cheese, lollies, and even pudding to
add to my sorrowful plight. I heard the little girl's father talking
about something he read in a paper in which it said: 'During the year
1920 to 1921, two hundred and five thousand six hundred and seventy-nine
koalas were killed and their skins sold to the fur market, under the
name of wombat'."

Hearing this Mrs Koala gave a jump with fright and nearly fell off her

"Oh! how dreadful! It is only a short time ago that my husband was shot.
And we are supposed to be protected and allowed to live. What will I do
if Blinky is killed?"

"You need not worry," said Mrs Grunty, patting her paw in a comforting
way. "We are safe here. No man ever comes into this part of the bush.
But I must tell you the rest of my story. These people were really
trying to be kind to me. They did not wish to lose me, but it was the
worst kind of kindness. As you know, I would die very quickly if I had
no gum-leaves to feed on. After two more days of tempting me with
everything they could think of, they became alarmed and decided I must
go back to the bush."

"We would never forgive ourselves, if the dear wee thing died," the
mother and father said. "But the little girl began to cry. She brought
me her best dolly and put it in my arms to try and comfort me, but I
felt too sick and hungry to take any notice of it."

"That night when she was asleep, her father put me in the sack again and
once more I was on a horse's back, but he rode with me this time and
rode all through the night. Just as day was breaking I smelled the bush
and, oh, the gum-trees! Already I felt better, for I knew I was home
again. Very soon the horse stopped and once more I was taken from the
sack. I blinked my eyes, scarcely able to believe that I was in my own
world again."

"The little girl's father put me down on the ground at the foot of a
tall gum."

"'There you are, little fellow!' he said. 'I hope you are happy now. And
I'll do my best to see no more of you are trapped. So long!' And staying
just long enough to see me on my way up the tree, he turned on his horse
and rode through the bush."

"And how did you find your way home?" asked Mrs Koala.

"It took me a long time, as I was very weak," said Mrs Grunty, "and I
had to find our own white gum-tree, as you know. But I travelled
gradually, at night-time, and went on travelling until I found this very
tree, which I liked so much that I stayed here. And besides," she gave a
little giggle, "Mr Grunty happened to be in the branches."

[Illustration: It was great fun.]


Naughty Escapades

Mrs. Grunty's story was interrupted by a sharp whack on the nose.

"Good heavens! What's that?" she cried, rubbing the sore spot with her

"Those young imps are fighting already," said Mrs Koala, peering up
above at the branches.

But Mrs Koala was wrong. Blinky and Snubby were having a lovely game,
dodging in and out the leaves, and pelting everything visible with

"Let's have a shot at mother," whispered Blinky, his beady eyes
twinkling with mischief.

"You go first," said Snubby under his breath.

"I'll hit her right on the nose," whispered Blinky as he took aim; but
he was giggling so much, his shot went wide, and hit Mrs Grunty's nose

"O-o-h!" he whispered. "I've hit the wrong nose."

"Chew leaves quickly," advised Snubby. So when Mrs Koala eventually
spied the naughty cubs, they looked the picture of innocence, quietly
perched on a limb chewing like two little cherubs.

"Must have been a stray nut falling," said Mrs Grunty. "They do

"The bush seems to be very quiet here," Mrs Koala said as she looked

"Pretty quiet," said Mrs Grunty, "except when the possums give a party.
Their screeching makes me sick sometimes, such a lot of jabbering and
rushing about. What for, I don't know. They are not nearly so rare as we
are. Do you know, we are the only bears in this bush for miles around?"

"Can it be true?" Mrs Koala murmured in surprise. "You see, I've never
been one to travel. I am content to stay in the same tree for a very
long time."

"I've lived in the district for ten years," said Mrs Grunty, "and you
and Blinky are the only bears I've seen during that time. I remember
well the little girl's father telling her when they first saw me that
not so many years ago the bush was alive with us bears from Queensland
to the south of Victoria. Now, we are so rare that we have become a
curiosity, something to be put in zoos, for children to see; and
actually in museums. I believe our grandparents sit there in glass
cases, stuffed with something inside to make them appear alive, and, oh
dear, glass eyes. In New South Wales, I think we could wander for miles
from one corner to another and never meet a bear. I don't know why we
were all killed. As you know, we don't eat the farmers' crops or ruin
their orchards. All we asked for were our own gum-trees."

Mrs Koala moved nervously. "I hope we are safe here," she whimpered.
"How are we to know when a man may come along with a gun?"

"I know we are safe," said Mrs Grunty contentedly. "The nearest human
being to us is a lady who keeps a store a good many miles away.
Sometimes I have ventured out to peep at the motor cars as they rush
along the road, and I've heard men asking her: 'Are there any possums or
bears in this bush?'"

"'No!' she says in a snappy voice. 'Only snakes!'"

"Snakes!" cried Mrs Koala. "Where?"

"Oh, they are quite harmless, if left alone. But of course, if animals
and humans go poking about them, they naturally become very angry. I've
passed many in the bush; but I mind my own business, and they take no
notice of me."

The days and nights came and went, and Blinky grew into a strong bear.
Always up to some mischief, he kept the older bears in a constant state
of watchfulness. He was very venturesome and scrambled up to the highest
twig on the tree, or out to the farthest branch, scrapping and hugging
his playmate or grabbing a nice tender leaf from him just as it was
about to pop into Snubby's mouth.

One night Mrs Koala and Mrs Grunty decided to go for a walk. They
gathered their cubs together and in a stern voice Mrs Koala gave her

"I'm going for a walk over the hill, Blinky, and don't you move out of
this tree. No skylarking and romping while I'm away; and be good to

"Yes, mother," said Blinky demurely, "I'll mind Snubby till you come

So Mrs Koala and Mrs Grunty climbed down the tree and, after ambling
along the ground in a comical way, they disappeared over the rise of the

Blinky had been watching their progress and he also had heard Mrs Grunty
telling his mother about the store on the road where the motor cars went
past, and he had a great longing to see these things.

"Stuck in a tree all the time!" he grunted. "I'm for adventure, snakes
or no snakes. I'm not afraid."

"What are you saying?" inquired Snubby in a tone of wonder.

"I'm going to see those motor cars and the store," said Blinky in a bold

"Oh! you can't," said Snubby, quite frightened at the idea. "Our mothers
will be very angry, and besides you'll get lost!"

"I'm going!" said naughty Blinky in a bold voice, "and you may come too
if you like."

"No! I couldn't," said Snubby in a terrified whisper. "Mrs Snake might
chase us."

"If we don't poke faces at her, she won't," said Blinky. "I'm going."

"_Please_ don't go, Blinky," implored Snubby.

"Cry-baby," mocked Blinky. "Just show me which way the road lies."

"Over there," said little Snubby, pointing his paw to the direction.

"I'll be back in no time; and while I'm away, don't fall out of the
tree." And Blinky started down the tree with a very brave look in his

[Illustration: He was soft and cuddly--like my mother.]

At the foot of the tree some of the braveness left him. Everything was
so strange and the world seemed so large. Even the bushes appeared to
look like big trees, and he fancied he could see all kinds of strange
faces looking at him round the corners and through the grass. A cricket
popped up, just at his feet. Blinky stood still with fright, his heart
going pit-a-pat at a great rate.

"Good evening, young bear, and where do you think you're going?" the
cricket inquired.

"To see the motor cars and the store," Blinky replied in a very subdued

"Great hoppers!" said the cricket. "A very bold lad, that's what I think
you are."

"A fellow can't stay at home all the time," replied Blinky.

"Well, take care you don't come to harm!" And the cricket hopped on its

"Cheek," muttered Blinky to himself. "Why can't a bear go and see motor

On he went, sometimes stopping to nibble at a plant that looked extra
sweet. It was a great adventure to taste something new and see and smell
the bush flowers. After travelling many miles he began to feel tired, so
looked around for a gum-tree where a little bear could have a nap in

Finding just the kind he wanted, up he climbed, and there, in a cosy
fork between two large branches, he cuddled up and went to sleep, his
head snuggled down on his tummy, and his two front paws folded over his
ears. He looked just like a ball of fur, but to anyone trying to spy him
in that tree--well, it was impossible. Towards daylight he opened his
eyes, and was a little surprised to find himself in a strange land. He
had to think quite hard for a time to find out where he really was, then
remembering he was on an adventure, he snatched a few leaves and gobbled
them up in a great haste, for he wanted to travel before the sun rose
too high in the sky. Very carefully he climbed down the tree, as a slip
would mean a broken leg or arm, and Mr Blinky knew how to use those
strong claws of his. He spread them out in a masterful way, not losing
his grip with one leg until he was sure of the other. Once on the
ground, he gambolled along just like a toy bear on being wound up with a

As the sun climbed higher in the sky he found the tall trees growing
thinner, farther apart, and more open ground, also the bush tracks
branched off into other tracks. It was puzzling to know which to take,
but he kept in mind the direction Snubby had pointed. Another rest
during the midday and he felt that his journey must be nearing its end.
He could now hear strange noises, and smell the dust.

"I must be near the motor cars and store," he thought as slowly he
crawled up a tree to see what was in view.

There just ahead of him was the road, and that surely must be the store.

"What a funny place," thought Blinky.

Down he came, out of the tree, and toddled to the edge of the bush.
There he lay in the scrub, waiting to see all the wonders of the outside
world. The sun was setting and something came rushing along the road
with two bright lights twinkling. Astonished, Blinky gazed at it.
Bu-r-r-r and it was gone, leaving behind a cloud of red dust that nearly
blinded him.

"If that's a motor car, I'm sorry I came," said Blinky slowly, as he
brushed the dust from his nose.

Peeping through the bushes again he saw lights in the store and some
strange being moving about inside. Waiting until all was quiet, he
walked across the roadway. Here was adventure indeed, and just the
smallest quake of fear ran through him. Glancing over his shoulder he
looked to see how far the bush lay behind, in case he needed to run back
at any moment, and then walked right on to the veranda. Over the door
were large letters that looked like this:


Puzzled, he gazed at everything, never once thinking of his home that
lay many miles behind him. He poked his little nose round the doorway.
No one was about, and what a lovely lot of new things to see. Rows and
rows of strange things in tins and jars.

Bottles on a shelf filled with pretty colours. Some marked "Raspberry"
and others "Orange". And good gracious! there were some gum-tips in a
bottle standing on the counter.

"I must eat those," said Blinky to himself, "they look very juicy."

Softly he scrambled on to a box, and then another climb, and he stood on
the counter.

Looking round all the time to see that no one came unawares, he tiptoed
to the gum-tips. From his position behind the bottle he could see Miss
Pimm moving about in her kitchen, and judging by the smells that reached
his nose she was cooking her dinner. He ate and ate and ate those
gum-tips. Such a wonderful "tuck-in" he had. His tummy grew very round
until at last he found he could see Miss Pimm very clearly, as only a
few stalks stuck out of the neck of the bottle. They looked very strange
standing there, without a leaf to show, and a fat little bear gazing
through them all the while. Next to him stood some big jars of sweets.
All labelled in the same strange writing: "Boiled Lollies", "Ginger",
"Chocolates", "Caramels", "Peppermints".

"They look nice," thought Blinky, as he touched the jar with his paws.
"P-e-p-p-e-r-m-i-n-t-s. Perhaps they are really gum-leaves," he thought,
and very quietly lifted the lid. His claws were handy for more things
than climbing gum-trees.

He scooped a pawful out of the jar, and cautiously tasted one. Finding
it hot and very like some plants he had tasted in the bush, he ate more.
He went on eating Miss Pimm's peppermints and put in his paw to gather
more from the jar. Just as he did so, the lid on which he had been
standing slipped from under him, and down it rolled with a terrible
thump and bang.

Miss Pimm came rushing through the house.

"What a smell of eucalyptus! I must have upset a bottle," she cried to
someone in the kitchen.

Blinky got a dreadful fright. He was too frightened to move and just sat
there and blinked, one paw in the peppermint jar and the other in his

"Oh, you robber!" shrieked Miss Pimm, as she caught sight of him.
"Stealing my peppermints. I'll teach you--you young cub," and she
grasped a ruler that lay on the shelf.

"It's life or death," thought Blinky very quickly, and made a dart off
the counter and round the corner, right into a large tin of biscuits.
Fortunately the tin was nearly empty, so there was plenty of room to

"You young scallawag," cried Miss Pimm, "wait until I catch you. All my
gum-tips gone as well." This seemed to put new vigour into her actions
and she fairly flew round the shop. To Blinky, hiding away in the
biscuit tin she sounded more like an elephant rushing round than
anything else. Round the corner she came and then, catching sight of
Blinky in the tin, she banged the lid down with an awful crash.

"I've got you now, you young thief," she called out triumphantly. "You
won't get out of there in a hurry, and to make sure of you, I'll get a
box to put you in."

[Illustration: "Good Heavens! What was that?" Mrs. Grunty cried.]

Blinky was breathless. Whatever was going to happen? Would he be killed
or taken to one of those zoos that Mrs Grunty spoke about?

I must get out of here, he thought, and waste no time about it.

Listening with his ear to the side of the tin, he heard Miss Pimm's
footsteps going towards the kitchen, then pushing open the lid a little
way with his head he peeped out. Everything was safe. She was still
away, but he could hear her talking and rummaging about outside. Quickly
he climbed out of the tin and was walking round the back of the counter
looking for a good place to hide when he heard Miss Pimm's footsteps
coming back again.

"Oh dear, what shall I do?" he panted. "She'll catch me for sure this
time." He dived into a sack of potatoes just as she came through the

"You'll stay in this box now, young man," said Miss Pimm, "and I'll sell
you to the first person who wants a young thief." She tramped round to
the biscuit tin. Imagine her rage when she found the tin open and no
bear there.

"He's the devil himself," she cried, and started to open every tin she
could find. Next she looked round the boxes of fruit, and under the
counter, then sniffing loudly, she came to the sack of potatoes. "So
you'd make all my potatoes taste of eucalyptus. Well, we'll see about
that. Where's my box?" She rushed over to the door to get the box, and
at the same moment Blinky jumped out of the sack of potatoes. But she
saw him. Round the counter she came, the box under her arm, and round
the other way rushed Blinky.

"Stop! Stop! I tell you," she screamed. But Blinky had no idea of
stopping. He popped in and out of corners, over tins, under bags, and
Miss Pimm after him. It was a terrible scuttle and the whole shop
seemed to shake. Bottles and tins rattled on the shelves, the door
banged, papers flew everywhere, and in the middle of all the din Miss
Pimm tripped over a broom that was standing against the counter. Down
she fell, box and all. The clatter was dreadful and her cries were
worse. Blinky was terrified. How he wished a gum-tree would spring up
through the floor. Suddenly, all in a twinkling, he saw a big bin
standing open beside him and without any thought of what might be
inside, he climbed up the side and flopped in. It was half full of

Using both paws as quickly as he could, he scratched a hole in the
oatmeal, wriggled and wriggled down as far as he could until he was
quite hidden: all that could be seen was a little black nose breathing
very quickly. He kept his eyes closed very tightly, and felt very
uncomfortable all over: but he was safe at last.

Miss Pimm slowly picked herself up. Her side was hurt and her leg was
bruised. The box was broken and also the broom handle. She seemed quite
dazed and felt her head. Then, holding on to the counter with one hand
she limped round the back of it once more.

"You'll die this time, when I get you," and she seemed to choke the
words out.

Every tin, every sack, and every box was moved and examined, but no bear
was to be found. She didn't stop to have her tea, but went on searching,
hour after hour, and all the store had to be tidied up again. After a
very long time she locked the door leading on to the roadway, and
Blinky, feeling the benefit of his rest and becoming bolder each minute,
peeped over the top of the oatmeal bin. He saw Miss Pimm taking a
little packet from a case marked "A.S.P.R.O." He popped down again as he
felt quite safe in the bin, but he listened with his large ears to any
sound she made.

[Illustration: He ate--and ate--and ate those gum-tips.]

Presently the lights went out, and after mumbling to herself about the
"young cub", she went through to the kitchen. Blinky could see the moon
shining through the window-panes and he very, very quietly and gently
crawled out of the bin. A shower of oatmeal flew over the floor as he
landed on his feet and shook his coat and ears, so that oatmeal was
everywhere. Right on to the window-ledge he climbed, trod all over the
apples in the window that Miss Pimm had so carefully polished, and sat
down for a few minutes on a box of chocolates, then noticing more
peppermints in the window he pushed a pawful into his mouth and munched
away in great content. The window was open half way up so he climbed up
the side and sat on the open sill, feeling very brave and happy. What a
tale he would have to tell Snubby when he reached home.

[Illustration: He sat down for few minutes on a box of chocolates.]

"Click!" The light in the store was on.

Blinky wasted no more time on thoughts. He was off that window-ledge and
across the road in a few seconds. He reached the edge of the bush
safely and turned round to see what was happening. Miss Pimm stood in
front of the store with a big policeman, pointing to the open window,
and then they looked across the roadway to the bush where Blinky lay
hidden behind a tree.

"Well, it's a pity he got away," Blinky heard the policeman say, "as the
Zoo would have paid you well to have had that young bear. I didn't know
there were any about here; and I've lived in the district for thirty

"I'd have given him gladly to the Zoo and no payment in return," said
Miss Pimm savagely, "if they had offered to replace the peppermints and

The next day when some motorists stopped at Miss Pimm's store and bought
some biscuits, they wondered why the biscuits had such a strong taste of

Blinky now felt a "man of the world"; but he thought it wise to go home
before any more adventures came his way. So walking along and running
sometimes as fast as his funny little legs would take him, he came to
the tall tree where he had rested the night before.

Climbing up to the same branch he was asleep in no time and slept all
through the night until the birds woke him at dawn, with their
chattering. Two kookaburras flew into the tree where he lay and laughed
very loudly as they saw Blinky curled up in the corner.

"I'll tell Jacko, if you laugh at me," he said, in a loud voice. "He's
my godfather."

"We were only laughing at the white stuff on your nose," the kookaburras
explained. "It looks so funny." Blinky rubbed his nose with his paw,
and found it still covered with oatmeal, then grunting angrily he stood
up and gave himself a shake. "I must be going," he said. And down the
tree he climbed and on to the ground again.

He wondered if he had been away from home very long, and began to feel a
little uncomfortable about his greeting when he did arrive. Would mother
be very angry? Perhaps she was still away with Mrs Grunty. But his fears
did not last very long, as a bee flew across his pathway, and he became
very curious about that bee. It flew to a flower to gather the pollen.
Blinky trotted along to see what it was doing and watched very closely
as the bee buzzed about dipping its small head into the heart of the
flower. Something warned him not to touch it; but being a little boy
bear, he just couldn't watch any longer without giving a poke. So out
came his paw, and he reached to pat it. He tried to play with it; but
the bee objected, and with a loud buzz stung him right on the nose. Oh,
how he cried, and danced about, rubbing his nose with his paws. He ran
on blindly, not looking to see where he was going, and after some
minutes, when the pain stopped, he found he had lost his way. He had
taken a wrong turning on the bush track, and now--what would happen?

Blinky sat down to think things over. While he was puzzling his brain,
and wondering which way to turn, a kind little green lizard peeped
through the grass and said in a very small voice:

"What's the matter, Blinky? You look very sorry for yourself!"

"I'm lost," replied Blinky, "and I don't know how to find my way home."

"I know where you live," said the lizard joyfully. "You follow me, and
I'll lead the way."

"I'm so glad I met you," Blinky replied. And, as the lizard walked
ahead, he followed, never taking his eyes off her. In and out of the
grass and under bushes she ran at an amazing speed, until they reached
the path again.

[Illustration: "I know where you live," said the lizard joyfully.]

"You're safe now," she said, turning to Blinky, "keep straight ahead and
your gum-tree is not far away."

"Thank you, Miss Lizard," said Blinky politely. "I must hurry as my
mother is waiting for me."

On he ran. It seemed a long way to him, and how he wished Angelina would
hop along and take him on her back.

As he came to the top of the hill, he saw his home down in the hollow,
and he was quite sure he could hear his mother calling for him.

Hurrying along, faster than ever, he now heard grunts and cries, and his
heart went pit-a-pat as though it would jump out of his skin.

Suddenly his mother saw him. She grunted loudly with joy, and Mrs Grunty
and Snubby joined in the chorus.

"I'm here, mother," Blinky called. "I'm at the foot of the tree."

"Oh, you naughty cub. Where have you been? Just wait until you climb up
the tree--"

"Don't smack me, mother," Blinky whimpered. "I'll never run away

Bit by bit he climbed the tree, all the time imploring his mother not to
spank him. He was so long in reaching the branch where Mrs Koala and Mrs
Grunty and Snubby were waiting, and they were so pleased to see him
safely home, that Mrs Koala forgot to spank him. She hugged him and
petted him and Snubby laughed and danced on the branch. It was good to
be home, but Blinky still wondered if his mother would remember to
punish him. But she didn't. She did not forget. Mother's don't do those
things, but she wanted Blinky to think she did.

"Where have you been all this time?" she inquired.

"I saw Miss Pimm and a big policeman," Blinky said in a loud voice. "And
I ate Miss Pimm's peppermints."

"Wonder it did not kill the young lubber," said Mrs Grunty.

Snubby's eyes nearly fell out of his head as he listened to Blinky's
story, when later on in the evening they sat together in the fork of the
tree whispering and giggling as Blinky told him all about his
adventures. When at last he cuddled up and went to sleep, close to his
mother, Mrs Koala could be seen rubbing a gum-leaf over a very swollen
little nose.


Frog Hollow

Now a good little bear would have been quite contented to live for ever
quietly and safely up in his tree, after exciting adventures like those
of Blinky's--but not he! As the weeks went past he became tired of
climbing and playing on the same branches, and even grew tired of
Snubby. He quarrelled, and kicked, and sometimes, I'm sorry to say,
actually bit his playmate's nose. Of course Snubby immediately cried,
and Blinky teased him all the more.

Poor Mrs Koala had a very trying time in keeping the peace. Sometimes
Mrs Grunty got quite snappy and wouldn't speak, which upset Mrs Koala
very much, as she knew it was all Blinky's fault.

"That boy of yours will come to no good!" said Mrs Grunty one day. "If
he was mine, I'd try a little of the stick around his hind parts."

"What am I to do?" sighed Mrs Koala. "I can't smack him all the time.
Where he gets this wild manner of his from I don't know. I believe his
great-grandfather was very wild--on his father's side of course. My
people were always very quiet."

"Well, most probably he'll grow out of it, if he doesn't fall out of
it," said Mrs Grunty. "Have one of these leaves and forget all about
it." So the mother bears patched up their little differences, until
naughty Blinky did something extra bad and mischievous; then all the
trouble started again. Mrs Grunty loved to have her noonday snooze, and
became very irritable if she did not get it, or was disturbed during
that time.

"A mother must have a few minutes to herself, otherwise she becomes old
and wrinkled, and goodness knows my nose is funny enough without lines
round it," she mumbled away, as she crawled to her favourite corner.

Sometimes just as she got to sleep, all nicely curled up, and was
dreaming of peaceful things, Mr Blinky would creep along the branch, and
nip her ear, or poke her side with his paw.

"Go away, go away, or I'll eat you!" Mrs Grunty would growl as she
reached out to cuff his ear, but Blinky was always too quick for her and
would dodge behind the tree.

"Impertinent young fellow," Mrs Grunty would mumble as she dozed off

One day, never to be forgotten, she was awakened from her snooze by
muffled giggles and grunts. Cautiously she opened one eye slowly and
peeped around. What was that peculiar feeling in her ears? Brushing her
head quickly with her paws she found a bunch of gum-tips poking out from
each ear. It was too much for Mrs Grunty, and she decided to take action
quickly. Blinky by this time was far up on a topmost branch, safely away
from angry mothers.

"Come down at once," commanded Mrs Grunty and Mrs Koala together.

But Blinky pretended he was deaf and took no notice of their angry

"Blinky, come down this minute!" Mrs Koala demanded.

"I'll go up and get him," said Mrs Grunty in a determined voice. "No
bear of that age will get the better of me." And she stamped a hind leg
on the tree to show that she really meant it.

Blinky began to feel things were getting a little uncomfortable, and he
really didn't want to go on eating so many leaves all at once, so he
decided to face the enemy.

"Are you looking for some nice young leaves, Mrs Grunty?" he inquired in
a polite voice.

"No!" snapped Mrs Grunty, "I'm looking for a bad young bear!"

"Snubby's not up here," Blinky replied in an innocent tone.

"Now, no cheek," grunted Mrs Grunty, "you're bad enough as it is; come
down out of that branch!"

"Just wait a minute," Blinky replied, "and I'll bring you some beautiful
juicy leaves."

[Illustration: Down she fell--box and all.]

"Where are they?" Mrs Grunty asked excitedly, quite forgetting her

"Up here," said Blinky. "Would you like a few?"

"Yes, I would," replied Mrs Grunty. "And bring some for your mother; she
has a bad headache."

Blinky gathered the very freshest tips he could find and, chatting gaily
all the while (for he was a cunning young bear), he came down the tree
and held them out to Mrs Grunty.

"You're a dear little bear!" said Mrs Grunty as she nibbled the leaves.
"I'd be proud to have a son like you."

Naughty Blinky stood behind her back and screwed up his nose at her, and
Snubby, who was watching from a branch close by, gave a loud, squealing

"Well, well, how kind of Blinky!" said Mrs Koala, as she munched the
leaves with her friend. "He is a thoughtful son."

But life seemed very monotonous to Blinky. He knew every branch, twig,
and leaf of that tree off by heart, and Snubby never seemed to think of
any new games, so he decided to start on another adventure. The more he
thought of it, the braver he grew, until one evening, when the moon
shone extra brightly, and the leaves looked silvery-green, he decided
the time had come to make a start. His mother and Mrs Grunty and Snubby
were sitting together away out on a distant branch, quite out of view,
so stealthily and quickly Blinky slid down the tree and on to the
ground. "Ha, ha, it's good to be away again," he said to himself as he
looked around. How pretty everything looked in the moonlight, and the
dew on the grass and leaves sparkled so brightly.

"I love mother and Snubby very much," Blinky murmured; "but they don't
seem to think I'm grown up and want to see things. And what a funny bear
Snubby is. I'm beginning to think he must be a girl, as he never wants
to go adventuring."

"Hi, there!" called a loud voice from somewhere in the bushes. "What do
you think you're doing down here?"

"Who are you?" panted Blinky with fright, for certainly he didn't expect
anything to happen so soon.

"Who am I? Come over here and see," came the reply in a gruff voice.

"You won't eat me, will you?" Blinky asked in a frightened voice.

"Eat a bear. Ha, ha! Well I've never tasted one, and I'm not going to
start now. I'm not too fond of swallowing fur and eucalyptus in one

And just as he said those words Mr Wombat shuffled out of the bushes.

"Oh!" gasped Blinky, "what a big fellow you are! What's your name?"

[Illustration: To a stranger like you--I am _Mr._ Wombat.]

"The cheeky young rabs call me 'Womby'; but to a stranger like you I am
_Mr_ Wombat."

"Where do you live?" Blinky inquired, still just a little nervous at
seeing so large an animal standing right in front of him.

"That's a secret," replied Mr Wombat. "But if you know how to keep
quiet about those things I'll take you to see my home."

[Illustration: "That boy of yours will come to no good." said Mrs.

"I won't tell a soul, Mr Wombat," Blinky whispered.

"Very good! Well, come this way," said Mr Wombat. He led Blinky through
the thick undergrowth, crashing the bracken down with his sturdy legs,
and grunting loudly as he went. It was rather difficult for Blinky to
keep pace with him, as he went at such a rate; but he paused now and
then to give a glance over his shoulder and waited for his little friend
to catch up with his steps.

The bush grew thicker, but presently Blinky noticed the ground had a
"dug-up" look about it. Roots of bushes had been undermined, plants
eaten down to the ground, and altogether everything looked very untidy.

Right ahead a very large tree grew up to the sky, and Blinky thought he
had never seen such a big gum. The trunk was enormous and the roots
spread out in all directions.

"This is my home," said Mr Wombat proudly. "Don't you think it fine?"

"Yes," replied Blinky. "It's a very grand place. But how do you climb
that huge trunk?"

"Climb!" said Mr Wombat scornfully, "I've no need to do any stunts here.
I live under the roots."

"Oh!" gasped Blinky, "not in that big black hole?"

"Yes! That's my home," replied Mr Wombat. "And the rain can come down as
hard as it likes and the wind blow and shake the tree as long as it
likes; but I just lie here underneath, safer than all the bears up in
the trees."

"Come in and have a look round."

"Everything's lovely and dark; and there's a very nice muddy smell

"I don't think I'll come in, Mr Wombat," said Blinky in a quiet voice.
"I'm in rather a hurry. But if you don't mind I'll sit down on the
ground for a few minutes to rest my legs."

"Please yourself," said Mr Wombat rather gruffly. But seeing Blinky's
startled eyes, he felt sorry for the little bear and offered to hunt
round for a few shoots of plants to eat.

"I'm not hungry," Blinky said. "But I wish you would tell me all about
that big black hole," pointing to Mr Wombat's home.

Mr Wombat at once came and sat down beside Blinky and started to tell
him the story.

"Well," he began, "I've lived here for many years now. Long ago I lived
out in the open near Farmer Brown's house; but it became too dangerous.
He was a bad-tempered man, and had no time for a wombat. He sowed his
fields full of potatoes and peas, and juicy carrots and turnips, then
expected a wombat to look at them and not come near."

"How silly!" interrupted Blinky. "I'd have eaten all his peas up in one

Mr Wombat turned suddenly to have a look at Blinky's mouth, then
shrugged his shoulders and went on with his story.

"Yes, he was silly. He even fenced his paddocks with very strong wire,
and didn't I laugh to myself as I lay behind an old tree-stump hearing
men digging in the hot sunshine, then ramming down posts and nailing
wire all round them."

"What did you do?" Blinky inquired.

"I waited until the night came, as I'm as blind as a bat during the day,
then I crept silently over to the new fence, and had a look at it. Poof!
I burrowed under it in a few minutes and had a great supper of potato
roots; then just to show Farmer Brown how strong I was, I burrowed
another hole from the inside of the fence to get out again. In the
morning as I lay in bed I heard Farmer Brown and his men shouting loudly
and using very strange words."

"One night I had a narrow escape. Carefully treading over the ground, I
had just reached my favourite roots, when, snap! something caught the
tip of my toe. I howled with pain and rage. What new trick was this of
Farmer Brown's? Then to make matters worse men came running from all
directions, shouting and calling at the top of their voices. Dear me,
how excited they were--and all over a wombat in a potato patch!"

"What did you do?" asked Blinky breathlessly.

"Huh! I just gave a tug at my paw, and out it came. I lost a
toenail--but what's that! Then the excitement rose. Guns began to crack
and a bullet flew past me very close to my ear--too close for my liking.
Fortunately for me it was a dark night, with only the stars overhead,
and luckily I remembered just where my burrow was under the fence. I
raced along, wild calls coming behind me and heavy boots thudding the
ground. But I won! Under the fence I rushed; out the other side, and
into the bush I raced. I did not stop at my home; but kept running for
miles, as far away from Farmer Brown as I could manage. When I finally
fell down exhausted, my foot was causing me a great deal of pain, so I
licked it for a long time and then fell asleep. After that adventure I
decided to look for a new home, and here I am."

"Well, you're safe here, Mr Wombat," said Blinky. "And if I were you I'd
stay here and never wander again."

"I'm safe enough," replied Mr Wombat. "But the food is not up to much,
and pretty dry in the summer; but I manage to scrape along. I'm not in
fear of my life like my grandparents were."

"Why, what happened to them?" Blinky asked anxiously. "They lived up in
the north-west," said Mr Wombat, "a wild place if you like! The black
people there used to hunt them with yam-sticks. Poor grandad and grandma
were in constant danger of being killed."

"How?" asked Blinky.

"Well," continued Mr Wombat, "the black people would go out in hunting
parties and when a wombat-hole was found a boy was usually chosen to go
down feet first. As he wriggled his way down the burrow he tapped on the
roof of the tunnel with his hands. Those above the ground were listening
and followed the taps as he went, until at last when the boy's feet
touched a wombat, he would give a signal and then the men above would
quickly dig down into the earth and right on to the wombat. A few
moments and he was dead. No chance of escape at all----"

"It's just as well for you, Mr Wombat, there are no black fellows here,"
said Blinky.

"And just as well for you too!" replied his new friend. "But where are
you going, anyway? You haven't told me yet."

"Well, I don't know," Blinky said in a doubtful tone. "Do you know of
any adventures round here?"

"Adventures! What do you mean exactly?" Mr Wombat asked.

"Oh, you know--things to see--not gum-leaves all the time," replied

"Ho, ho," laughed Mr Wombat. "So you're looking for new sights, are you?
Well, now I come to think of it, there's Mrs Spotty's school down in the

[Illustration: "I don't think I'll come in Mr. Wombat." said Blinky in
a quiet voice.]

"Who is Mrs Spotty?" Blinky asked.

"Mrs Spotty Frog. She has a boarding-school for young frogs and
tadpoles. A very select school, so I'm told, and there's lots to be seen
if you happen to pass that way."

"I'll go that way, Mr Wombat," said Blinky with a smile. "Is it down
this track?"

"Yes, follow your nose, and you can't miss the place. You'll hear it
long before you come to it." And Mr Wombat grunted with disapproval.

So bidding him good-bye, Blinky started down the track towards Frog

It was not a great distance, and before very long sounds of croaking and
gurgling reached his ears. Scrambling along, he came to a clearing in
the bush, and what a sight met his eyes! He held his breath in
astonishment. There, right in front of him was a large pool, surrounded
with bells and every bush flower he had ever seen. It was a green pool
with water-lilies floating on the surface and round the edges brown and
green rushes stood very erect: but strangest of all--hundreds and
hundreds of frogs. All sizes, from the babies upwards, were squatting on
the lily-leaves, or poking their heads just through the green water. The
noise was deafening. Every frog croaked. Big frogs with deep throaty
croaks, smaller ones with a shrill note, and baby frogs piping in
unison. On a large leaf in the centre of the pool Mrs Spotty waved her
leg. Every frog watched her with the greatest attention.

"One, two, three," she called, and waved her leg in a downward motion.
The croaks came loud and long.

"Stop!" she called in a shrill voice. Instantly the frogs were silent.

"Miss Greenlegs, fourth from the left in the back row, you're flat. Flat
as a lily-leaf. Take your note and try it alone."

Turning to a large frog that sat a little to the right of her, she
waved her leg.

He drew a straw across a blade of grass and listened intently, his head
bent sideways against the grass. A tiny note floated across the pool
and, reaching Miss Greenlegs's ears, she puffed out her throat and gave
a beautiful croak. It was clearness itself.

"Excellent," exclaimed Mrs Spotty. "Now, all together please." And again
she waved her leg.

"Croak, croak, croak," every frog puffed and rolled his eyes in a
wonderful way.

Blinky was spellbound. Slowly he tiptoed nearer to the pool. But a twig
snapped under his feet. Instantly every frog dived into the water. Not a
sound was heard, and only a few ripples and bubbles broke the surface of
the pool. Blinky gazed and gazed. Where have they gone? he thought, and
ran down as fast as his legs would carry him to the reedy bank. Not a
frog was in sight. But he felt that somewhere down in that pool eyes
were watching him very closely. He kept perfectly still, hardly daring
to breathe, watching a few bubbles floating to the surface only to burst
and leave nothing at all. It seemed hours to Blinky before he saw a
green body silently lift itself out of the water and slide on to a
lily-leaf where Mrs Spotty had stood. The big frog eyed Blinky
curiously, never moving and ready to slip back again into the water at a
moment's notice.

[Illustration: The big frog eyed Blinky curiously.]

"Are you Mrs Spotty?" Blinky quietly inquired.

"Yes, that's me," came the reply. "What do you want?"

"I came to see your school and hear the frogs sing, and I wish you'd let
me come to school too," said Blinky plaintively.

"We don't have bears in our school as a rule," said Mrs Spotty; "but
I've no objection to you joining the class if you behave yourself. Have
you been to school before?"

"No, Mrs Spotty," Blinky replied, "but I've travelled quite a long way."

"Can you play leap-frog and swim?" asked Mrs Spotty. "No, I can't do any
of those things," Blinky replied, "but I can climb gum-trees."

Mrs Spotty's eyes looked more like those motor-car lights down by Miss
Pimm's store than anything else he had ever seen, Blinky thought; and
they were such poppy ones too.

"Can you jump?" she asked.

"Yes," said Blinky joyfully, "I can jump very high."

"How high?" asked Mrs Spotty.

"Oh, as high as a tree," Blinky replied.

"Well, I think you may be of assistance to me in teaching the tadpoles
how to jump. Come over to me, while I have a good look at you. But
stop!" and Mrs Spotty turned three shades paler in green. Balancing
herself on the edge of the leaf she looked at Blinky and said in a very
slow voice:


"I've never tasted them, so I don't know," Blinky replied.

"Well, don't start," Mrs Spotty said in a cross voice. "Now you may come
over and sit on the leaf beside me."

"I can't swim. I told you I couldn't," Blinky wailed.

"Oh, well, sit on the bank and watch me put the class through their
paces. By the way, what's that funny looking thing in the middle of your

"That's my nose," Blinky replied, trying to look very unconcerned.

"A queer looking nose," said Mrs Spotty rudely. "But never mind, I'll
call the class for the swimming lessons."

She gave three loud croaks, and at once dozens and dozens of frogs
popped up from beneath the water and out from the rushes. They eyed
Blinky nervously, until Mrs Spotty told them he did not eat frogs.

"Now, you young gentlemen with the slender legs, take your places ready
for the diving."

"Don't push and crowd, it's very rude and if I find any frog standing on
another's tail or causing an unprepared-for jump, I'll punish him

The frogs arranged themselves on the leaves and waited for the word to
start. A great commotion was taking place up in the shallow end of the
pool, and Mrs Spotty looked sternly in that direction.

"Tadpoles!" she cried, "stop that mud-larking and pay attention to your

"Now! One, two, three--Dive!" she called at the top of her voice, and
dozens of green slippery legs flew through the air and into the pool.

"Too much splashing!" Mrs Spotty declared. "Again: one, two,
three--Dive!" And once more the green legs and bodies sprang into the

"That's better. Now for a swim." And leaning over the leaf she called
her directions to the frogs.

"Scissors! Scissors! Scissors!" she cried as they swam round her leaf,
and back again to the starting-point.

"Now for the Tads." And Mrs Spotty lined them up in a row, the fattest
ones to the front and the tiny ones at the back.

They behaved like young outlaws--pushing and wriggling and flipping
about in a very bold way.

"Not so much of that tail waggling; and, Jimmy Tadpole, don't use your
tummy for pushing. Oh! dear, I'm sure I'll never make ladies and
gentlemen of you," sighed Mrs Spotty. "You're the most brazen lot of
Tads I've ever had in my school."

But the tadpoles didn't care, all they thought about was swimming.

Mrs Spotty gave them their lesson and sent them back again to their own
end of the pool, much to the relief of the frogs, as no self-respecting
gentleman could swim in the same place as a tadpole.

Blinky by this time had come right to the edge of the pond, and was
enjoying himself immensely, until an extra large frog suddenly leaped
right on his back.

"Oh, oh, you gave me such a fright!" Blinky cried. "Get down please. I'm
not a log!"

The frog took no notice whatever, but hopped on his head instead. Blinky
touched him with his paw, and jumped with fright. He was so cold and
slippery--not a scrap like touching Snubby.

"Get down at once!" called Mrs Spotty in a stern voice. And to Blinky's
further surprise the frog went helter skelter down his nose and into
the water.

"Let's use his nose for a spring-board," the frog called out at the top
of his voice.

The very thought of such a thing sent shudders down Blinky's back. Just
imagine hundreds of frogs sliding down his nose, one after the other!

"You'll do no such thing!" retorted Blinky indignantly.

"Well let's use his back for leap-frog," another cried. "I don't mind
that," said Blinky, "as long as I have a turn too. I could jump over one
of your backs."

"That is a fair thing," said Mrs Spotty. "Now get in places, please."

One after the other the frogs lined up behind Blinky croaking and
hopping about, treading on one another's toes and goggling their eyes
with excitement.

"Bend down, please," Mrs Spotty called to Blinky. He bent over, making
sure his nose was well out of the way.

"Flip--flop--" and the frogs started, one behind the other, jump after
jump; and the highest hops were greeted with croaks from the onlookers.

"I wish you'd warm your toes first," said Blinky. But still they came.

When the last frog had jumped over his back, Blinky raised his head.

"It's my turn now," he cried. "And I want to jump over the biggest frog
of all."

Mrs Spotty's pupils looked rather nervous and eyed one another to see
which was the largest.

"Go on, Fatty," they called to one big fellow. "You know, you had more
mosquitoes for tea than anyone else."

Fatty looked very uncomfortable and glanced at his tummy.

"It's not mosquitoes," he said crossly, "it's muscles----"

"All the better," called Mrs Spotty. "Stand over here and be ready."

Fatty frog hopped beside Mrs Spotty and stood there quaking. What if he
slipped! That bear on top of him would be nothing to laugh about.

[Illustration: Plonk! right on top of Mrs. Spotty.]

Blinky stood ready, and Mrs Spotty, who was standing in front of Fatty,
called out in a loud croak:

"Ready! Go!"

Blinky made a funny little run, then a few stumbles and with a grunt he
flopped over Fatty, and plonk! right on top of Mrs Spotty. She fell with
a dreadful thud, and tried to croak; but she was smothered in fur.

Blinky rolled over and over with laughter. When he managed to stand
up--there he saw a very flat looking frog that had once been Mrs Spotty.

"Oh, I've killed her!" he cried in a frightened voice. "Come and pick
her up!"

All the pupils hopped to Mrs Spotty's assistance. She certainly did look
flat; but her throat was puffing and one eye moved a little.

"Water! water!" the big frogs called as they dragged her to the edge of
the pool.

"Push her in!" cried naughty Blinky, and before any frog had time to
think, he gave her a push with his paw, and in she went, head first.

"Now you've done it!" called the frogs in cries of horror. "We'll tell
the policeman."

"Policeman," thought Blinky, "where have I heard that name?" And then he
remembered Miss Pimm's store.

In the excitement, while the frogs were hopping about and trying to
rescue Mrs Spotty, he hurried away to the edge of the bush. Peeping
behind a log he saw the frogs hunting everywhere for him; under leaves,
behind the rushes and even down in the pool.


The Rabbits' Party

"I think I'd better be going home," thought Blinky. "Anyway I'm not
sorry for Mrs Spotty, she had such googly eyes."

He glanced at the sky and noticed the moon was sinking, so thought it
time to make haste, as perhaps his mother may be looking for him by now.
Past the gum-trees and thick bushes he scrambled, and just as he reached
a clearing in the trees he paused to listen.

"The crickets are busy to-night," he thought as their chirruping came
through the bush. "I'll just see what they're up to."

Quietly he tiptoed into the grass, and suddenly stood quite still. In
front of him, not many yards away the crickets were holding a cricket

[Illustration: The batsman had a leaf for a bat.]

Blinky chuckled as he looked at them. The batsman had a leaf for his
bat, while the bowler had a spider's cocoon for a ball. They were too
interested in their game to notice Blinky; but he missed nothing. A
deafening chirruping rent the air. Most of the spectators were perched
on the blades of grass, as high up as they could climb, and were waving
their legs in the air, and shaking the grass they stood on.

"He's bumping the ball!" they shrieked in cricket voices. "Pull him out!
Pull him out," they shouted, and at once the umpire hopped over to the
bowler and soundly boxed his ears with his front leg.

The bowler lost his temper, and jumped on the cricket ball, breaking it
in pieces.

"Shame! Shame!" shouted the crickets. And in the next instant they
surged on to the ground. Springing in the air they pounced on him and
gave him a terrible kicking; and as Blinky turned to walk away he saw
them piling earth on top of the bowler.

"I must hurry now, as I'm sure it's getting late," he thought, and he
was beginning to feel very shaky. What if his mother found he was
missing. That Mrs Grunty could be very cross at times, and she might
persuade his mother to use a stick round his hind parts, as she once
suggested. In his haste he stumbled over a stone and hurt his foot, so
sat down to wait until the pain left him. Just behind the stump he was
sitting on, a rabbit had made her home, and as she came scurrying
through the grass she did not notice Blinky sitting so quietly. Between
her teeth she carried some flannel flowers and a sprig of boronia.

[Illustration: "Did you pull my tail?" Madam Hare demanded.]

"Good evening," said Blinky.

"Oh! What a fright you gave me!" whispered the rabbit. "I know who you
are all the same."

"Who?" asked Blinky.

"You're Blinky Bill, and my mother knows your mother," said the rabbit.

"Then you are only a bunny," said Blinky gladly. "How old are you and
where do you live?"

"I'm one year old, and I live in that burrow right behind this log."

"What's your name?" Blinky asked.

"Bobbin!" the bunny replied.

"That's a silly name," said Blinky quite rudely.

"That's my christened name, and my mother says it is very suitable for

"What does suitable mean?" Blinky asked.

"Well, mother says I'm always bobbin' about, and never still. I make her
quite nervy at times."

"What does she do when you run away?" Blinky asked rather anxiously.

"Run away!" said Bobbin, looking very surprised. "I never run away. Only
bad children do that!"

"Well, where have you been, and why have you those flowers? You look
very stupid carrying them in your mouth," Blinky remarked.

"I've been gathering flowers for the birthday party," replied Bobbin;
"and how can I carry them without breaking their petals, if I don't hold
them between my teeth?"

"Haven't you a pouch or a pocket somewhere?" Blinky retorted. "But am I
mistaken? Did you mention a birthday party?"

"Yes," said Bobbin excitedly. "It's my brother's party, and ever so many
friends are coming, and there's lots and lots to eat. Thistle cakes,
with the prickles all over the tops; dandelion milk, lovely and frothy,
that's to be drunk through a grass straw; daisy creams with pink edges;
and, oh! best of all, buttercups, full of butter. And I nearly
forgot--gum-leaves to chew, for those who like chewing-gum. Then last of
all, there's grass salad for the mothers and fathers."

Bobbin hopped about with glee and twitched her ears in a most surprising
manner, while Blinky's eyes bulged with excitement.

"Could _I_ come to the party?" he inquired breathlessly.

"You haven't a present to bring!" Bobbin answered.

"I know that," replied Blinky sorrowfully; "but I'll let them play with
my ears if they like."

Bobbin looked at his ears and considered the matter for a moment.

[Illustration: "Do you eat frogs?" Mrs Spotty asked.]

"Well, perhaps that will do," she replied. "We could hide the peanut in
them when we play 'hunt the slipper'."

It sounded rather a muddle to Blinky; but he was prepared to take any
risks if only he could get to the party.

"Could we go now?" he inquired anxiously.

"Yes, but wipe your feet on the grass, before we go inside, as mother's
been cleaning all night long," Bobbin advised.

Blinky did as he was told, and followed Bobbin through the doorway.
Fortunately for him the burrow was a large one, so he had no difficulty
in crawling along.

"Isn't it dark!" he said in a frightened voice.

"You'll soon get used to that," Bobbin replied cheerfully, as she padded
ahead. "Do you hear the scraping and thumping? That's the party," she
said excitedly.

"What are they doing?" Blinky asked.

"Dancing!" Bobbin replied. "Let's hurry ..."

In and out of passages they ran, round corners, up and down, and at last
came to a large cave. The floor and the walls were bare earth, but over
the ground a carpet of grass was spread, and the ceiling was bright with
flowers. From the centre a bunch of Christmas bells hung, and directly
underneath, the table was spread with all the party cakes and drinks. In
the middle of the table a birthday cake stood, glittering with dewdrops
that fell from the flowers surrounding it. It was made from corn husks
and thistledown, so you can imagine how crunchy it must have tasted.

As Blinky and Bobbin appeared the guests stood and gazed in wonderment;
their large brown eyes opened very widely and nervous noses sniffed the

"Here's Blinky Bill," Bobbin called as she hopped to the middle of the
cave, "and he's come to see the party."

"You're very welcome, I'm sure," kind Mrs Rabbit said, as she took
Blinky's paw. "Come along and meet my friends. This is Madam Hare; shake
paws with her. She is very shy, but is an old friend of mine; and this
is Brer Rabbit, my husband, who is a great hunter; and here is Bunchy,
my son, whose birthday it is." Each one shook paws with Blinky, and he
wondered if it would ever come to an end, and the party start, as he was
feeling very hungry and wanted to taste those gum-tips. Bunchy thought
it great fun to have a bear at his party and followed Blinky wherever he

"You've lost your tail!" he said in surprise as he hopped round him.

"Don't wear a tail," Blinky mumbled.

"Why does everyone pass remarks about my tail or my nose," he wondered.

"Tea's ready," Mrs Rabbit called. And everyone made a rush for the

"Don't rush, and don't grab," Brer Rabbit thundered in a loud voice.

Madam Hare may have been shy, but Blinky noticed she reached the table
as soon as he, and rather rudely pushed her way right beside Brer

"The bold hussy," someone whispered and gave her tail a nip. She gave a
little scream and spitefully bit the ear of the rabbit who sat next to
her; but it wasn't Brer Rabbit's ear.

"Order! Order!" Brer Rabbit commanded. "This is a party, and no
fighting, please. If your tails are in the way, sit on them."

The party went on pleasantly after that command. Everyone nibbled and
munched, except Blinky who forgot his manners completely and gobbled
the gum-leaves as fast as he could. It was just as well nobody else
liked them, for in a very short time they had all vanished. The cake was
a great success and Bunchy handed a piece to each guest, quickly taking
a nibble from one or two when nobody was looking.

His mother gave him a sharp nip on the ear when she found him poking his
paw in the dandelion milk, and slyly sucking it when he thought he was
safely hidden from view.

"You naughty young rab!" she exclaimed. "Didn't I tell you a dozen times
to behave yourself, and not to poke the cakes and things, and _not_ to
put your paws on the table? And while I think of it, eat with your mouth
closed, and _don't_ lick your whiskers. Now take that dandelion milk
that you've had your paws in round to Madam Hare; only don't tell her
what you did."

"No, mother," said Bunchy obediently, and he hopped to Madam Hare and
handed her the milk.

"You dear little rab!" she cried in a very high voice. "I _do_ like
dandelion milk."

"So do I," remarked Bunchy as he hopped away.

"What's that? What's that?" said Brer Rabbit in between mouthfuls of
grass salad.

"Father, you're speaking with your mouth full; and it's so bad for the
children to see," gently reprimanded Mrs Rabbit, much to Blinky's
amusement, as his mother had often corrected him for exactly the same

"Can't we have games, Mrs Rabbit?" he asked when at last he sat before
an empty plate.

"Games and dancing--that's the idea," roared Brer Rabbit. "Clear the

Everyone helped, and Blinky gave Madam Hare's tail another pull as he
passed her with an armful of grass.

"Dear, dear, I think there are rats about," she said in an injured tone.
"My poor tail has been pulled again, and you all know it's moulting
time. I'll catch a dreadful cold is I lose any more fur."

Nobody seemed to take any notice of Madam Hare's complaints, and Blinky
and Bunchy both agreed to give it another pull later on in the evening.

When the last piece of grass was cleaned from the floor Mrs Rabbit
clapped her paws three times and a dozen large locusts appeared out of
the ground. It _was_ a surprise, as nobody expected anything like that
to happen.

"Who are they?" Blinky whispered to Bobbin.

"That's the orchestra," she cried jumping up and down excitedly.

Each locust walked to a corner of the cave and quietly sat down with an
expectant look on his face. The conductor, who was a "double drummer",
scraped his hind legs on his wings. "Gurra-gurra-gurra" Came the
vibrating notes. That was the signal, and instantly all the other
locusts started scraping their legs.

[Illustration: Girr!! Girr!! Girr!! Gurra!! Gurra!! Gurra!!]

"Girr--girr--girr--gurra--gurra--gurra." The cave echoed with the
drumming noise and beads of perspiration rolled down the conductor's
face as he worked himself up (or down, to be correct) to a slow deep
"Gurra". The air throbbed with the music. It was really inspiring, and
soft furry rabbit feet began to thump the ground. Lady rabbits looked
coyly at the gentlemen, and odd little twitches of the ears and twinks
of the whiskers were to be noticed.

"Take your partners for 'The Bunny Hug'," Brer Rabbit called in a deep

There was a scampering and rushing, as each rabbit grabbed a partner.
Madam Hare didn't even wait to be asked to dance, but seized Brer Rabbit
in her arms and began rolling from one side to the other, also jerking
her arms up and down in a forward manner.

"That Madam Hare is not as shy as I thought she was," murmured Mrs
Rabbit as she was led away by an elderly partner.

Blinky was delighted. His very first dance. Now he would have something
to tell Snubby when he reached home. Taking Bobbin in his paws he rolled
from one side to the other, just like Madam Hare, whom he kept watching

"You're treading on my toes," whimpered Bobbin.

Blinky looked down at her paws quite alarmed.

"Your toe-nails are too long," he said rudely.

"They're not!" Bobbin replied indignantly. "How could I dig burrows with
short toe-nails?"

"I forgot," said Blinky politely. "But look out, here comes Madam Hare,
and I'm going to pull her tail again."

Bobbin began to giggle, as she did not like Madam Hare a bit. She
"showed off" such a lot.

As the dancers neared Blinky he cautiously grabbed Madam Hare's tail
and gave it a very hard pull, so hard in fact that a pawful of fur flew
into the air.

Before Madam Hare knew what she was doing, she boxed Brer Rabbit's ears.
He was astonished, and looked very pained.

"Did you pull my tail?" Madam Hare demanded in an angry voice.

"Certainly not!" Brer Rabbit replied. "And I'm not going to dance any
longer with you."

That was the end of everything for Madam Hare. She hopped right into the
middle of the floor and kicked every one as they passed in their dance.
It was the beginning of a wild fight. Fur flew through the air, teeth
gnashed. And, oh, the savage kicks! Everyone kicked, and the dust began
to make them sneeze and cough. The orchestra made a gallant attempt to
soothe the ruffled dancers, and dinned louder than ever; but the scuffle
grew worse.

Bobbin thought it time to tell her father who it really was that had
caused all the trouble. When Brer Rabbit heard her story he at once made
for the culprit.

Blinky saw him coming and tried to hide; but Brer Rabbit never moved his
eyes from that young bear. Tapping another big rabbit on the shoulder he
asked for his assistance and together they grabbed Blinky, firmly
holding his front paws. Blinky kicked with his hind legs as hard as he
could, but he was handicapped.

"Let go!" he screamed. "You're hurting me."

"You young trouble maker!" Brer Rabbit cried, as he gave Blinky's arm a
pinch. "Out you go!"

[Illustration: "Come down here!" Mrs Koala ordered.]

By this time all the other rabbits had ceased fighting and stood
watching the excitement. The orchestra kept playing and an angry note
crept into their drumming.

"I've a good mind to take the young bounder to old Mother Ferrit," Brer
Rabbit exclaimed.

"No, don't do that," called out Madam Hare. "Let me punish the young

Blinky shivered with fear. Madam Hare had such big feet and could give a
very big kick. How he wished he had a tail round his hind parts.
Scowling and showing her teeth Madam Hare pounced on Blinky.

"You little wretch!" she screamed, "you've ruined my tail, and its
moulting time. I'll have none for a long time now."

"You're a bully, and I'm glad I did it," roared Blinky trying to kick

"Hold his arms!" Madam Hare commanded, as she turned her back to Blinky;
then quickly looking over her shoulder she measured her distance.

Blinky waited for the kick. His eyes screwed up tightly and he tried to
tuck in the part where his tail should have been.

"Thud! Thud! Thud!" Madam Hare certainly forgot to be shy.

"Oh! Oh!" wailed Blinky, "Stop! Stop!"

[Illustration: Madam Hare gave him a parting kick as he shot through the

Roars of laughter came from all the rabbits.

"Throw him out! Throw him out!" they called loudly.

Blinky was pushed towards the opening of the cave and Madam Hare gave
him a parting kick as he shot through the doorway.

He landed on his paws quite ten feet away. But thank goodness he was
safe from the angry rabbits and Madam Hare.

He shook himself and gently patted the place where the kicks had struck.

"Savage animal!" he called at the top of his voice; and at once a head
appeared in the opening.

"Chase him! Chase him!" the rabbits cried; but Blinky did not wait to be
chased. He was running as fast as he could, colliding with corners,
bumping his head and snubbing his nose.

Panting, he reached the entrance of the burrow; but oh! horror of
horrors, Madam Hare's large feet came thudding behind him.

"I'll catch you; I'll catch you!" she called. "And off to Mrs Ferrit
you'll go!"

Blinky nearly fainted with fright. He felt quite giddy, and his breath
seemed to catch in his throat.

His heart pounded and thumped and his legs would _not_ go fast enough.

Out into the moonlight he raced, crying and whimpering, stopping just a
moment to look behind to see where that Madam Hare was.

Now her head came through the burrow and on she raced.

"Save me! Save me!" Blinky called at the top of his voice; but he hadn't
the faintest idea who could rescue him.

Suddenly the branches cracked and a brown form came hurriedly hopping
through the undergrowth. It was Angelina Wallaby.

"Quick! Quick! Angelina," Blinky called. "Madam Hare's going to take me
to Mrs Ferrit."

"Is she? Well, she's not," said Angelina in a determined voice. "Here!
hop on my back as quickly as you can. Hurry up. She's coming!"

Blinky scrambled on to Angelina's back as quick as winking, and before
he'd settled down safely she gave a hop and away they went.

Madam Hare was stupid enough to think she could hop as quickly as
Angelina and she plunged through the bushes calling wildly; but
Angelina's hops were too long for her, and very soon Madam Hare gave up
the chase.

She looked a sorry sight with her stumpy tail showing bone, where only a
few hours ago a beautiful white tuft reposed, her whiskers were bent and
broken, and her ears hung limply sideways. Her coat, that had taken
hours to polish and brush, was covered with dust and tiny twigs, and her
eyes were blood-shot.

She flung herself on the ground and kicked the dust in temper. If only
she could have seen Blinky at that moment, she would have eaten anything
that chanced to pass her by, for he was having a beautiful ride, flying
along on Angelina's back--not caring tuppence for Madam Hare and her

"Lucky for you, Master Blinky, I happened to be out looking for supper,"
said Angelina in between hops.

"I'm so glad, dear Angelina, you came along. That Madam Hare has a very
nasty temper."

"And what about your mother's when you arrive home?" chuckled Angelina.

"Do you think she'll be very angry?" Blinky inquired, quite frightened
at the thought of it now.

"She's ramping," exclaimed Angelina, "and so is Mrs Grunty."

"What will I do?" asked Blinky in a whisper.

"Oh, tell the truth!" said Angelina. "If she spanks you, well--you know
you really deserve it."

Things must be pretty bad at home thought Blinky when Angelina speaks
like that. However, if he was to have a spanking, the sooner it was over
the better. Very soon Angelina hopped to the bottom of the tree where
Blinky lived. The moon had sunk behind the hill, and the first
kookaburra's chuckle could be heard. A galah screeched in the tree as
she looked at Blinky and Angelina.

"Stop that noise!" Blinky grunted as he shook his paw at her.

Everything was extraordinarily still. No Mrs Koala was to be seen, no
Mrs Grunty and no Snubby.

"They must be asleep!" Angelina whispered in a low voice. "Climb up to
your bed quickly and don't make a noise."

"All right, Angelina," Blinky replied. "Good night, and thank you for
saving me."

"Good night," Angelina purred. "Keep sitting if your mother spanks you."
After giving this good advice she hopped away into the bush.

Blinky climbed quietly--ever so quietly up the tree. He peeped over the
branch where his mother usually slept. There she was, and Mrs Grunty
with Snubby too, all curled up together, sound asleep, with their noses
snuggly tucked down on their tummies.

Up past them Blinky climbed, hardly daring to breathe, and he kept
climbing until he reached the highest branch, then, too tired to think
any more about a spanking, he fell asleep.

Mrs Koala awoke when the sun peeped over the hill. "Oh, dear," she
sighed, "that naughty Blinky! I wonder where he is. Now I'll have to
start hunting for him, and when I _do_ find the young cub he'll know all
about it."

Peering up among the branches to see if any leaves would tempt her for
breakfast, she was astonished to see a furry body that looked very much
like her son.

"Blinky!" she called in a stern voice, "is that you?"

"Yes, mother," came a meek little reply.

"Come down here!" she ordered.

Blinky thought it wise to do as he was told, so slowly climbed down to
his mother.

"Where have you been?" Mrs Koala demanded.

"Looking for some leaves," Blinky replied, his nose quivering with

"Now, no stories, my son, where have you been?"

Blinky had never seen his mother look so angry, so he decided to tell
the truth.

By this time Mrs Grunty and Snubby were awake and sat staring with eyes
of amazement.

"Smack him!" Mrs Grunty exclaimed.

[Illustration: "Not Mrs Spotty's?" Blinky asked in a frightened voice.]

"Wait till I hear his story," Mrs Koala replied, and she felt rather
annoyed with Mrs Grunty, as it was not her business to tell her what to
do with her own son.

Blinky told his story, keeping several parts to himself, about pushing
Mrs Spotty in the pool, and grabbing Madam Hare's tail.

"Very well, Blinky," Mrs Koala said when he had finished his tale, "you
are going to boarding-school after this."

"Not Mrs Spotty's?" Blinky asked in a frightened voice.

"No!" Mrs Koala replied, "you'll go to Mrs Magpie's!"

[Illustration: Just as this book was going to press, the publisher
asked me for another drawing of Blinky Bill. I wrote to Blinky asking
for his latest portrait and this is what he sent me.]

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Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall

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