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Title:      Blinky Bill Grows Up
Author:     Dorothy Wall
eBook No.:  0400591.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
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Date first posted:          July 2004
Date most recently updated: July 2004

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Title:      Blinky Bill Grows Up
Author:     Dorothy Wall






[Illustration: "I'm grown up now."]









Blinky Runs Away

Mrs Koala and Mrs Grunty had talked matters over for nearly a whole
night, and towards the dawn had decided upon a plan.

"You know, my dear," said Mrs Grunty, "Blinky needs a firm hand over him
now that he has grown up; and who could you find better than Mrs Magpie
to give him just the discipline that all young bears require?"

Mrs Grunty used all her powers of persuasion. She secretly longed to
give Blinky a good smack occasionally, and at times found her right paw
fairly itching to be used hard on that naughty bear's pants.

"And you know, Mrs Koala," she continued, "Snubby is a different child
since Blinky came here. He was always so good and obedient before, but
now--" and she sighed deeply, right down in her bear tummy.

"Well," replied Mrs Koala, "I wouldn't change Blinky for fifteen
Snubbies." And she gave a decided sniff.

"Of course not! I quite see your side of the question," Mrs Grunty
answered. "But this everlasting mending of pants and cleaning of ears,
while all the time wondering when I'll get a hit on the nose again with
a gum-nut.--Well, it's too much for any mother bear."

"But think of all the lovely gum-tips Blinky has brought you to eat,"
said Mrs Koala, bristling with indignation. "All the same, I must admit
he has been very trying lately. I sometimes think it is the new pair of
knickerbockers that is to blame, because he's been twice as naughty ever
since the day he first put them on."

"Then take them off again," growled Mrs Grunty. "They're always hanging
half-way down his legs, never fastened as they should be. If there's one
thing I can't stand it's knickerbockers half-mast."

"Oh, I don't mind that so much," Mrs Koala replied. "Every real bear at
that age seems to wear them that way; but he loses the buttons, and I
can't find any at all now."

"We don't seem to be any further ahead in our discussion," said Mrs
Grunty coldly.

"If I send Blinky to Mrs Magpie's school for a month, perhaps he'll
return a little quieter," Mrs Koala said sorrowfully. "But you'll never
make a man of Snubby!"

"What did you say!" Mrs Grunty exclaimed snappily.

"You'll never make a man of Snubby!" and Mrs Koala glared as she
repeated her remark.

"Come, come, my dear, we must not quarrel over our children," said Mrs
Grunty kindly. "After all it will do Blinky no harm and give you a good

So it was decided. Blinky was to be packed off to Mrs Magpie's school
the next evening and the two mother bears became friends again.

Up in the gum-tree snuggled together, two little bears had listened to
all this with big ears opened wide.

"Did you hear that, Snubby?" Blinky asked with wide open eyes. "I'm to
be sent to Mrs Magpie's!"

[Illustration: "I tell you, I'm not going to school, now or never."]

"How dreadful! She'll peck you ever so hard," Snubby whispered.

"She won't, 'cause I won't go!" Blinky boldly replied.

"You'll have to. Your mother will make you," Snubby answered.

"I'm nearly as big as she is; and besides I'm grown up now. Look at my
bockers!" And Blinky proudly pulled them a little farther down his short
stubby legs.

"I wish my mother would make me a pair of bockers," sighed Snubby.

"I'll leave you mine, 'cause I won't be wearing them again," Blinky

"Oh, you can't go to school undressed!" And Snubby looked very shocked.

"I tell you, I'm not going to school, now or _never_. I'm going to run
away; but I think I'll take my bockers with me as you'd look silly in
them." With that Blinky puffed out his tummy till a few stitches gave

"Where are you going?" Snubby inquired in a frightened voice.

"Oh, just away, over there." And Blinky waved a little paw in all

"That's where the men are!" Snubby whispered, holding his breath.

"And adventures, too," Blinky replied excitedly.

[Illustration: "I know where the flying squirrel plays."]

"I know where Mr Smifkins's farm is and I know where Mr Willie Wagtail
lives, and where the flying squirrel plays, and lots of other things,
and best of all where the lyre-bird dances. I'll go and see all these
things, while you're up here in the gum-tree just eating leaves all
night long and listening to old Mrs Grunty growling."

Snubby longed to go too, but he was such a good little bear. When he
thought of all that Blinky said, his heart went pit-a-pat so loudly that
he became frightened at the very thought of running away. Much better to
be safe in a tree even if his mother did growl sometimes. But he knew he
would miss his playmate and tears slowly trickled down his little face.

"How could you wear bockers when you're crying?" said Blinky scornfully.

Snubby brushed the tears away with his paw.

"I don't think I'm crying," he said bravely. "Mother's eyes go like that
when she has lost her glasses."

"What will you eat while you're away, and where will you sleep?"

"There are juicy plants to find and I'll sleep in a tree; but if I get
to Mr Smifkins's place I'll find a cosy corner in his house. But I can't
tell you any more just now--it's wasting time. The sun will be up soon
and I must hide before mother finds I'm gone. Just watch how quickly I
slide down this tree."

The naughty bear climbed down past Mrs Koala and Mrs Grunty, who were
snoozing in a corner. Quickly and silently he slid to the ground leaving
a patch of his bockers on the last branch as he went. He looked very
funny, pattering over the ground, one leg of his bockers torn and
draggled. But he didn't care a fig--anything was better than Mrs
Magpie's school.

"The old pecker!" he mumbled to himself as he trotted along. "And it's
all through Mrs Grunty. I wish I'd hidden her glasses before I left!"

The sun peeped through the bush warming the leaves on Blinky's pathway,
and shy little lizards poked their heads out from under the stones,
surprised to find a bear wandering through their bushland.

Blinky began to stumble, and his knickerbockers caught in every bramble
and twig on the way. At last, feeling so tired, he decided to find a
suitable tree for a sleep.

A large gum stood straight in his pathway, just the kind made for bears.
Smooth and tall, protecting branches high up from the ground, and
hundreds of leaves to shelter a little chap like himself. Struggling
along he reached the foot of the tree and began to climb. He was an
expert climber, much stronger now than when we first knew him, and his
claws were longer so that his grip on the trunk of the tree was very
sure and strong. Up and up he climbed and had almost reached the top
when he heard a great commotion.

"Goodness! What's that!" he exclaimed. "Sounds like Mrs Grunty again,"
and pausing just under a branch he peeped round the bough to see what
all the noise was about.

Feathers were flying in all directions, pecks and squawks disturbed the
morning air and the leaves of the tree trembled with fright. Strangest
of all, rows and rows of little dead birds hung from the twigs. It
looked like a jeweller's shop. The sun caught the bright colours of
beautiful feathers on the breasts and wings of tiny feathered folk.
Little heads hung down with dull eyes that had glistened only a short
time before, and teeny claws curled up--gripping nothing. Tears came to
Blinky's eyes. Something terrible had happened. The bush he knew was so
kind, everything was alive and sparkling, rustling with life and
twittering with gladness; but here everything was still and songless,
except for the dreadful fight that was in progress. Two butcher-birds
were fighting savagely, each trying to knock the other out of the tree.
At last Blinky could not bear to look on any longer.

"Here, you two birds," he shouted, "stop fighting and pecking one

He really felt terribly brave, but was surprised to hear his own voice
sounding so loud.

"Oh, it's funny nose!" called out one of the butcher-birds.

"What do you think you're doing in our tree?"

Blinky thought very quickly for a moment, then, summoning up all his
courage, replied:

"I just called to show you my knickerbockers!"

"Is that the name of the funny looking thing on your face?" called back
the rude butcher-birds again.

This was too much for Blinky. He scrambled on to the branch where the
birds stood, and glared at them savagely.

"I might have a funny nose," he cried, "but I've got very sharp claws."

The butcher-birds twittered and trembled. Their hooked beaks opened with
fright and they clung to the tree very tightly.

"What's all the noise about?" Blinky demanded in a gruff tone.

[Illustration: "Look at me--no tail--no whiskers."]

"Well, you see--it's this way," the largest bird began. "Mrs Possum is
holding a bazaar in aid of the poor rabbits who came through the
bush-fire. Their homes have been wiped out and all the grass burnt, so
that there is no food. Some even had their whiskers and tails singed."

[Illustration: "What's all the noise about?" Blinky demanded in a gruff

"They shouldn't have whiskers and tails," Blinky remarked. "Look at
me--no tail--no whiskers. Tails are stupid things," he said rudely,
gazing at the butcher-birds' tails. "Always getting in the way and
making animals squeak and yelp when they're trodden on. And, besides,
think of the extra washing to be done; as it is my ears take an awful
time to clean."

"What polish do you use for your nose?" the butcher-birds asked.

"No polish," Blinky grunted, "only paws." But feeling the conversation
was becoming personal he asked more about the bazaar.

"Where is the bazaar to be held?"

"Down in the gully," both birds echoed.

"What's a bazaar, anyway?" Blinky asked, pretending not to be very

"We all sell things and make things, and there's lots to see and hear.
Last bazaar Mrs Thrush sang for us, and Gertrude Spider spun her finest
web and showed us how to catch flies, and Mrs Spotty Frog's pupils gave
an exhibition of jumping."

"Yes," chimed in the other butcher-bird, "and just to make things more
exciting Mrs Snake shed her skin, her very own skin--even the part that
covered her eyes!"

"It must have been wonderful!" exclaimed Blinky in wonderment. "And what
did you do?"

"We help to supply the supper," said the big bird, "and that's just what
we were talking about when you came along."

"It seemed to be an angry talk," Blinky replied.

"It's all your fault!" the little bird piped looking at his companion.
"He stole my nicest bird that took me hours and hours to catch."

"Stuff and nonsense!" croaked the big bird. "Look at the fine birds I've
caught, and yours was such a teeny thing."

"But it has the brightest feathers," complained the little bird.

"I think you're both very cruel," said Blinky, looking at the rows of
dead birds. "If I had a gun I'd shoot you!"

Hearing this, the big bird put back his head and pealed with laughter.
Blinky stood amazed. Such beautiful clear flute-like notes rang through
the air. There was Mr Butcher-bird, the cruellest of birds, singing as
no other bird could sing, except of course, Mrs Thrush. Note after note
rang out and his mate joined in the chorus. The trees seemed to hush
their rustling leaves to listen to such beautiful music.

When the song had finished all thoughts of unkindness had left Blinky's
mind. Everything had its own way of being cruel and kind he thought, and
after all he must not say rude things to the butcher-birds as he wanted
to see the bazaar.

He sat down in a corner of the tree and presently began to nod his
little head. His eyes blinked and wouldn't stay open. The tree was so
comfortable and he was so tired. He fell asleep and into dreamland. A
dreamland of bears. His mother, Mrs Koala, seemed to be patching
bockers, and Mrs Grunty, with her spectacles perched right on the tip of
her nose, was shaking her paw and saying over and over again:

"He's a bad lad, that boy of yours--he'll be the death of us all!"

Snubby was there, too, peeping timidly round the back of the tree. He
looked different, though; something was wrong with his face. And, as
Blinky dreamed, he had another look at Mrs Grunty and his mother. Oh,
how funny they looked! Their noses had turned into ears and their ears
into noses. "How dreadful!" whispered Blinky to himself. "I wonder if my
nose is a nose still?"

[Illustration: "He's a bad lad that boy of yours--He'll be the death of
us all!"]

And putting up his paw, he woke up to find himself patting that part of
his face in a very doubtful manner.

"Hey! you butcher-birds," he called out, "is my nose still here?"

"Still there!" the big bird replied scornfully, "I should say it was.
Who wants to steal that? We don't hang up noses in our tree!"

"Well, don't you dare to touch it!" muttered Blinky angrily. "By the
way, when is the bazaar?"

"Tonight!" the birds replied.

"May I come?" Blinky smiled his sweetest smile.

"You'll have to take something or do something if you come, there's no
free admittance. Mrs Possum is very strict about that. Last bazaar Percy
Bull Ant tried to sneak in by clinging to Mrs Rabbit's tail and only
that he nearly lost his balance and fell off and gave Mrs Rabbit such a
nip, he'd have sneaked in. Mrs Rabbit gave a tremendous leap, and let
out such a squeal, that of course he was discovered."

[Illustration: Mrs. Rabbit gave a tremendous leap.]

"There you are!" cried Blinky excitedly. "Just what I said about tails.
Always in the way."

"Just as well she _had_ a tail or the sting might have been much more
serious," the big bird replied. "What would happen to you I'd like to
know, if a bull ant stung you where your tail ought to be? Tails are a
great comfort at times."

"Oh! I didn't mean to be rude," Blinky quickly answered. "But if Mrs
Rabbit hadn't had a tail Percy Bull Ant might have chosen a gum-leaf to
hide him."

"Not him!" the butcher-bird scoffed. "Why, he even stood up to fight and
waved his front legs at Sergeant Hornet when he was ordered to put him
out. Such boldness. It caused so much commotion that Mrs Possum fell in
the lucky dip and the Rev. Fluffy Ears had to help her out. There she
was, covered in sand from head to foot and some impertinent young
fellow, who I really believe was Willie Wagtail, called out at the top
of his voice: 'Sweet pretty little creature'. Oh, it was really
terrible! And all through Percy Bull Ant trying to get in free!"

"I can't take anything and I can't do anything," said Blinky
sorrowfully. "But I could look after the lucky dip for them if they want

"That's a good idea," said both butcher-birds together. "There'll have
to be someone this time to keep an eye on things, and watch most
carefully that Mr Wombat does not burrow under the 'dip'. He's a cunning
fellow and always has an excuse ready. He walks round and round the
refreshment stall, sniffing everything and pretending he doesn't like
the look of juicy leaves; and just as Mrs Wallaby thinks he is quite
safe and turns her back to have a chat with some friend, he snatches a
mouthful of the very best he can see."

"Well, that's settled!" said Blinky gladly. "Now I think I'll have
another sleep. I always feel dozy in the daytime, and this corner is so
warm and soft. Be sure you wake me in time for the bazaar."


The Bazaar

Down in the gully hidden from view by tall gum-trees, banksias, and
tea-trees, right against a huge rock the bazaar was held. Dozens and
dozens of birds, insects, and animals, all dressed in their very best,
chattering and squeaking, calling and singing, spreading their goods out
on the rock, under it, and around it. No little boy or girl could see
this wonder show, unless they wandered far off the beaten track, through
the tall spear grass, deep, deep in the heart of the bush, away from all
noises and people, and far down the valley where the maidenhair fern
grows. Then you may be lucky enough to see a bush bazaar. But faces must
be clean, hands washed, and hair combed, as every animal and bird has
plumed and preened himself and herself to look their very best. But
hush! the Rev. Fluffy Ears is ready to make a speech and declare the
bazaar open.

He looks splendid! I'm sure he has been hours and hours brushing his
ears, they look so silky. There he is perched on the branch of a tree
looking down on all the bush folk, as they sit and hop around, trying to
find a patch of grass or rock to rest upon. There is very little room
left for even a grasshopper to squeeze in, and some grumpy old ladies
like Mrs Owl and Miss Goanna, glare at the younger ones as they try to
find a spare seat. The colours are wonderful. Red and orange and purple
berries are clustered in huge piles over the rock. Bright green leaves
and the softest brown toadstools lie together. Birds' eggs of every
colour imaginable are there in dozens to be sold and right up against
them are the little dead birds the butcher-birds have brought. This is
the produce store and guarding it with glittering eyes is Mrs Wallaby.
Woe betide any creature who tries to steal even a berry. Farther away is
a wonderful collection of birds' nests, all shapes and sizes, with a
notice standing in the centre:


Then there were small piles of grit, some red, others black and brown.
The notice above these read:


Under the ledge of the rock sat Miss Gertrude Spider with a very patient
look on her face. But cunning, crafty eyes spoilt her appearance. Every
hair on her legs was shining, and her body was polished like a
door-knob. She had dozens and dozens of webs for sale, and knew very
well that the fairies and goblins would be her best customers. Such folk
dwell in the gullies and wait eagerly their chance of buying new webs
for their clothes. Some webs were made of the finest thread (far finer
than silk the silk-worm spins) and were glittering with dewdrops. These
were the very best and most expensive: only for fairy queens and
princesses. Others were just as beautiful, though a little coarser, and
had no dewdrops. But, as Gertrude said, they will "stand wear and
tear". Every now and then she pulled a web, tugging it this way and that
to show how strong it really was. Curly leaves on the ground were
crammed full of flies--some dead, some alive. Others held mosquitoes and
sand-flies and some even held small beetles. These were labelled
according to their value:

[Illustration: Gertrude's cunning crafty eyes spoilt her appearance.]


Another was labelled:


The beetles had a special notice above them:


Gertrude Spider had dozens of customers round her stall. But the beetles
who had come to see the bazaar stood aside in small groups, whispering
in undertones and glancing nervously in her direction. Farther away in a
dark musty corner hidden from view by a huge web was her parlour, and
she even had the boldness to suggest to small customers that they should
"walk into my parlour". Just as if no one knew what _that_ meant!

The frogs were in charge of the swimming-pool and had a grand
slippery-dip made from a rock covered with slithery moss. Their
customers were mostly frog friends, but wild ducks also patronized the
slippery-dip. A swoop and a swish and one after another they splashed
into the pool, amidst jeering and croaking from the onlookers. The
bravest frogs did double-bankers and back somersaults and all kinds of
fancy flips and flops. Right across the centre of the pool a branch of a
tree rested on either side, and on it squatted a big fat mosquito. This
was the greasy pole, and the fellow who was lucky enough to keep his
balance while he crossed, had the thought of that fine fat mosquito for
a prize.

The mosquito was tied to the branch by the finest spider-web; so he was
a prisoner, trembling from head to foot as he watched each new frog take
his few steps, lose his balance and go flopping into the pool.

Shh! Shh! There was a sudden silence, and all the bush folk turned to
look at the Rev. Fluffy Ears. He waved his paw and flicked his ears,
then spoke in a clear dignified tone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, spend all your money at this bazaar, as you know
it is in aid of our poor friends who are homeless through the fire.
Those who have no money can give their services free. Mrs Possum has
worked hard for months to make this bazaar a success, so I hope to see a
friendly spirit among you all. Don't spoil things by scratching or
kicking your neighbour (as I saw Mrs Magpie and Mrs Peewit doing) or
biting and nipping a friend's tail when his back is turned. It is not
kind. And above all remember there is to be no stealing."

A flutter in the tree and an angry voice from Mrs Flying Fox prevented
Rev. Fluffy Ears from speaking further.

"A nice thing to suggest!" she screamed. "Stealing indeed! As if anyone
would do such a thing!"

A painful look came over the Rev. Fluffy Ears' face, he patted his nose,
and felt his collar.

"It's an insult! That's what it is," roared Mrs Flying Fox. And she made
a lunge at the Rev. Fluffy Ears.

"It's time I interfered," muttered Blinky to himself. Up to the present
he had been sitting very quietly in a corner of the tree, too surprised
and amazed at everything he saw to speak or even show himself. But he
was not going to see another bear get the worst of a fight with all
these creatures looking on.

"Stop that!" he commanded at the top of his voice. "Stop at once, or
I'll push you out of the tree!"

Mrs Flying Fox darted round to see where the voice came from.

"Oh, it's only you, is it? Another one of the Koala family poking his
big nose into other people's affairs." Blinky became very angry, and
poor Fluffy Ears began to cry.

"Someone stand below and catch her when I push her off!" he shouted; and
before Mrs Flying Fox could believe her ears she was given a kick that
sent her flying out of the tree; but to everyone's horror Blinky's
bockers caught in a twig just as he gave the kick, and there he hung,
suspended in mid-air.

"Help! Help!" he screamed. "I'm falling."

A rip and a split and Blinky parted from the best part of his
knickerbockers. Down he fell--thud, right in the middle of a squealing
and kicking crowd. It was not on the programme to find a fat, plump bear
squashing and kicking everyone within reach.

"Grab her legs!" Blinky shouted, but no one could get near enough, as he
seemed to be raising all the dust it was possible for anyone to do.

"I'll settle this hubbub!" said Percy Bull Ant, blowing out his chest
and advancing cautiously with his two front legs waving threateningly.
Edging round the fighters he managed at last to get a grip on Blinky's
paw. Nip, nip, nip he bit with all his might. Blinky gave a spring in
the air and came down right on top of Mrs Possum.

Mrs Possum bit him savagely and naughty Blinky at once kicked her,
scratching and ripping her best hat to shreds.

"Oh!" wailed Mrs Possum. "Look at my hat, my very best hat!"

"It wasn't his fault; it's all through Mrs Flying Fox."

Here was Angelina Wallaby of all people, and you can imagine how pleased
Blinky was to see her.

"Oh! dear Angelina. Where did you come from?"

"I happened to be watching you from the bush, and when I saw you fall, I
thought it high time I came along to save you. Just look at your best
bockers! What will your mother say?"

"I-I don't know," Blinky said nervously, feeling the back of his pants.

"Is it a _very_ large hole, Angelina?"

"It's so large, that you've no bockers at the back at all!"

"Serve you right! I hope you get a good smacking when you arrive home.
_I hope your mother wallops you_."

"You!" Blinky exclaimed, too surprised for further words.

[Illustration: Guarding it with glittering eyes is Mrs. Wallaby.]

It was Mrs Flying Fox speaking. She grinned spitefully at Blinky.
Certainly, she was bruised after her bump on the ground; but what's a
bump or two, and now, there she stood as cheeky as ever....

"It's time to start the lucky-dip," called out Blinky, and trotted over
to his stall.

The lucky-dip was a wonderful attraction. A burnt-out stump of a great
gum-tree was filled with marvellous things, all tied up in gum-leaves.
Everyone who wanted a dip had first to place a present at Blinky's feet,
and a row of bull ants kept guard over these.

The first customer was Miss Silver-eye.

"Please may I have a dip?" she inquired.

"Where's your present?" asked Blinky.

"Here it is!" she piped as she placed a beautiful red berry at his feet.

[Illustration: "Here it is!" she said, and placed a dead fly at his

"Hurry up and have your dip," Blinky commanded. So Miss Silver-eye
dipped her beak into the lucky-dip.

"What's in it?" everyone demanded.

"A feather!" said Miss Silver-eye delightedly. "Just what I want for my

"Next please!" shouted Blinky.

Up came Mrs Lizard.

"Where's your present?" Blinky asked.

"Here it is," she said, and placed a dead fly at his feet. Crawling into
the bin she came out with a parcel between her teeth.

"Open it!" they all cried, craning their necks to see what treasure it

"Poof! It's only a stone," said Mrs Lizard disgustedly. "I think the
dip's a take-down." And tossing her head in the air she wriggled away.

There seemed to be an air of dissatisfaction at once among the customers
who waited their turn as each had come with a present that had taken
quite a deal of thinking about, to say nothing of the hunting for it.

"No remarks are allowed in future," said Blinky. "Take the good with the
bad. Now who is next?"

"Me!" called out a tiny voice.

"I can't see you. Stand in front please," Blinky shouted in his bassiest

"I'm here!" came the reply. Looking down Blinky saw Master Trapdoor
Spider at his feet.

"Where's your present?" he asked.

"I haven't brought one," Master Trapdoor said boldly. "But if you don't
let me have a dip I'll poison you."

"A nasty fellow! Let him have his dip," whispered Mrs Possum.

"I'll get your prize out for you," said Blinky, in a generous voice, and
Master Trapdoor's eyes glistened with excitement.

[Illustration: "Help! help!" he screamed, "I'm falling."]

Blinky pulled out a parcel, unwrapped the leaf and a huge frog jumped

In a twinkling he had gobbled up Master Trapdoor.

"That's what comes through being rude!" said Blinky, as he eyed the rest
of the customers sternly.

Several very quietly crawled or flew away, as they evidently did not
want the same thing to happen to them.

"Come on, who's next?" Blinky called.

"I am!" cried Madam Hare.

"Where's your present?" Blinky asked.

"Here it is, and a very valuable one too!" Madam Hare replied, as she
placed a whisker at his feet.

"Looks as though it's been used," muttered Blinky. "Take your dip
quickly please." He had good cause to remember Madam Hare, and thought
it best to be polite.

With a bound Madam Hare sprang right on top of the dip. Blinky bit his
lip and clenched his paws, he was feeling so savage.

Madam Hare gave a kick with her hind legs and sent dozens of parcels
flying out of the dip.

"Hey! Stop that!" cried Blinky angrily. But Madam Hare only gave another
kick. Out came more parcels.

"Stop it! Stop it at once!" cried Blinky, and pounced on Madam Hare,
biting her ear.

She turned suddenly and sprang out of the bin with two parcels in her

"Catch her! Catch her!" Blinky called, as he raced away after the thief.

Madam Hare was too quick for him. Away she bounded, over the stalls,
knocking things down as she went and not caring a button for the shouts
and screams behind her. Into the bush she raced and didn't stop until
she came to her home. There she untied the parcels, and savagely kicked
them about when she saw what they contained. One was a bundle of straw
and the other the leaf of a stinging-nettle.

"The robbers!" she cried, as she kicked them again and again.

Losing no time, Blinky raced back to the lucky-dip, just in time to find
all the customers opening the parcels that Madam Hare had kicked out.

"Put them down! Put them down!" he roared. The customers scampered away,
each carrying a prize. As Blinky stood and gazed at the empty lucky-dip,
feeling very sorry about it all, and still very angry, his friends the
butcher-birds hopped round.

"Was it a success?" they inquired.

Blinky said nothing.

"Where are all the presents?" they asked.

"Go away, or I'll _eat_ you both," Blinky growled.

"He's in a bad temper!" whispered the butcher-birds, and flew off while
it was safe.

Curling himself up in a corner Blinky decided to have a sleep, as
chasing Madam Hare and fighting Mrs Flying Fox had made him very tired.

Nodding his little head, and curling his toes up he was soon dreaming
again of Mrs Koala and Mrs Grunty. He did not wake until daylight, and
looking around he was surprised to find all the bush folk had vanished.
The presents and goods had all gone too, and only an old owl gazed at
him from a nearby tree.

"It's time you made a start for home," said the owl.

"I'm not going home," replied Blinky.

"Wise little bears won't stay here too long," said the owl.

"Why?" asked Blinky.

"This is Mr Smifkins's favourite shooting-place," replied the old owl.
"He has a gun and a big dog, and when they come along and find you here
you'll be rabbit pie in two twos."

"Where does Mr Smifkins live?" Blinky inquired.

"Down behind the moon! Whoo! Whoo!" answered the owl.

"Whoo! Whoo!" echoed Blinky. "I'm not afraid of Mr Smifkins. I'm going
to see where he lives."

"Whoo! Whoo!" cried the owl.

[Illustration: "You'll be rabbit pie in two twos," said the old owl.]

"I beg your pardon?" said Blinky.

"Whoo! Whoo!" the old owl called again, his great round eyes gazing at

"Will you show me the way to Mr Smifkins's, _please_, Mr Owl?" Blinky

"Follow me. Whoo! Whoo!" the owl answered and flew away to another tree.

Blinky trotted along, his funny little legs going wobbly, wobbly as he

The old owl waited patiently until his little friend was under the
tree, then crying whoo, whoo, off he flew again to the next tree.

Here he waited for Blinky and flew to the ground to meet him.

"Little bear," he cried softly, "it is too light for me to see farther,
we must sleep now until the sun goes down. I am as blind as a bat in the
day time and here is a tree with nice young gum-leaves on it waiting for
you to taste."

"I'm very hungry," said Blinky. "They never think to have food for bears
at bazaars. Only nasty flies and frogs and mosquitoes."

"Well, come up into the branches and I will show you gum-leaves made
specially for young bears," said the kind old owl.

Blinky climbed up the tree and sat next to his friend chewing young
tender leaves until he could eat no more.

"Whoo! Whoo! It's time to sleep!" said the owl.

"I feel tired, too," replied Blinky. And so cuddled together, a
strange-looking pair, they snoozed and waited until the moon arose.

[Illustration: "Little bear," he cried softly, "it is too light for me
to see farther."]


Mr. Smifkin's Farm

Blinky was awakened by a soft "whoo, whoo". He sat up and blinked his
eyes. There was the moon shining through the leaves like a big golden
penny and Mr Owl's eyes looked almost as large as he gazed at Blinky.

"Time to get up," he said very quietly.

"Is Mr Smifkins's far away?" Blinky inquired.

"About six tree stops from here," Mr Owl replied. "We'd better make a
start while the bush is cool."

Grunting with glee Blinky crawled down the tree and as he reached the
ground the old owl flew on ahead. After they had reached six-stopping
places Blinky looked up in the tree as Mr Owl hooted.

"This is as far as I come," he said.

"Where is the farm?" Blinky asked.

"Follow the track you are now on and in a very short time you will come
to a fence. That is where the Smifkinses live."

"Thank you so much, Mr Owl, for showing me the way," Blinky called out.

"Whoo, whoo!" the old owl cried and on noiseless wings he was gone.

"Seems to be very quiet and lonely just here," Blinky thought as he
pattered along.

Presently he came to an opening in the tree and peering through he saw
the fence just a few yards ahead. Farther on he could see a house with a
light gleaming in the window and smoke rising from the chimney. Under
the fence he crawled and through a potato patch, then very quietly he
crept through the orchard. Here he sat and waited. Mr Smifkins's dog was
barking and Blinky remembered what Mr Owl had said about that dog.

He waited until the light went out in the window and then crept nearer
and nearer the house. On to the veranda he climbed and softly tiptoed
round to the back door. Everything was locked up there, so he decided to
explore the side of the house.

Peeping round the corner he saw a bed on the veranda and thought he'd
have a look to see what was in it. So softly as a cat he went and
sniffed the end of the blanket. Some very funny sounds came from under
that blanket.

Blinky held his breath with fright.

"What a dreadful noise!" he thought. "I must see where it is coming

Climbing up on the bed he crawled along the side, and--oh dear, what a
funny sight he saw!

Mr Smifkins was fast asleep making such queer noises with his mouth
open; and over his head was a long white net.

Blinky gazed and gazed at him. Never had he seen anything so funny. Why,
he even had whiskers just like Mr Wombat, only much thicker, and they
drooped all over his chin, while Mr Wombat's stuck out straight and

"I must take some of those whiskers to show Mr Wombat," Blinky whispered
to himself. Wouldn't Mrs Grunty like some to pad her gum-leaf cushion
with! and then his mother could make use of them for sewing on buttons.

[Illustration: Mr. Smifkins took one leap off the verandah, the net all
over him.]

Snore, snore. Mr Smifkins had no idea he had a visitor.

Lifting the net very cautiously, Blinky put out his paw and made a sharp
tug at the whiskers.

"Good heavens!" Mr Smifkins jumped six feet in the air.

[Illustration: Blinky put out his paw and made a sharp tug at the

"Gee whizzikins! What the dickens was that?" he cried.

As he shouted he made a leap out of bed quite forgetting the
mosquito-net over his head. Down it came, right over him, tangling up
his legs and arms. He seemed to have six pairs of legs and dozens of

Blinky made a dive under the bed, terrified beyond words, and lay there
panting with fright.

"Fancy whiskers doing that!" he murmured.

The whole bed was shaking in an alarming manner, and such terrible
words and growls came from Mr Smifkins.

"To billy-o with his net!" he roared; while rips and kicks rent the air.

Just as the commotion was at its worst Mr Smifkins's dog came round the
corner, snarling and growling. Blinky did not want to see what was going
to happen. He raced from under the bed and down off the veranda and
right into the legs of Mrs Smifkins.

"Burglars!" she screamed at the top of her voice, and kept on screaming.

Hearing this, Mr Smifkins took one leap off the veranda, the net all
over him, and as he rushed along he waved his arms, frantically trying
to get rid of it.

Poor Mrs Smifkins took one look and raced for her life round the house.

"Ghosts! Ghosts!" she yelled, as she tore round to the back door, with
Mr Smifkins in hot pursuit. "Help! Help! Burglars! Ghosts!" she kept
calling at the top of her voice, and ran right into old Neddy the
draught-horse, who was snoozing under the kitchen window. He looked up,
surprised to hear such dreadful screams on such a quiet night, and
caught one glimpse of Mr Smifkins coming round the corner.

Hoosh! Up went his hind legs and with a frightened neigh he raced off
for the paddock, crashing over the lettuce bed, through the tomato
frames, and away into the night.

Mrs Smifkins reached the back door in a flash. Bang! and she was inside,
still screaming "Ghosts!"

All this time Mr Smifkins was using those strange words at the top of
his voice. He roared like a bull and made mad lunges at things that got
in his way. Just as he rushed past the old apple-tree the net caught in
the branches and thank goodness it stayed there. Mr Smifkins's dog added
to the uproar with his yelps and barks and tried very hard to bite his
master's legs as the chase was in progress.

Panting and very, very cross, Mr Smifkins banged on the back door as his
wife had locked him out.

"Don't be a fool!" he roared. But Mrs Smifkins refused to open the door.

She _knew_ it was a ghost she had seen.

Suddenly Mr Smifkins thought of the cause of all this trouble. What on
earth could have pulled his whiskers? So once again he set off to

Blinky was very thankful that Mr Smifkins's dog chased his master, as it
gave him a chance to hide.

After colliding with Mrs Smifkins he was nearly collapsing with fright.
Over the garden he rushed and through a gate that had foolishly been
left open. Here was shelter at last he thought, as he saw a shed in
front of him. Stumbling and rushing on he darted through a hole in the
wall, and--landed right in the middle of the fowl-house where all the
silly old hens and roosters were asleep. They cackled and crowed with
fright; fell off their perches, and floundered around all over the
fowl-house in the dark. You never heard such a row!

Somewhere Blinky was in the middle of it. Feathers flew, and the old
hens became hysterical. To make matters worse Mr Smifkins and his dog
were coming.

"I'll have you, whatever you are!" he called at the top of his voice.

"A fox. I'll bet my hat it is!" he cried as he came nearer and nearer.
Blinky was lucky in being able to see in the dark and through the
feathers and straw that flew about he spied a box in the corner.

With a bound he was in, and, ugh! something soft cracked under him. He
did not know he was in a nest and had sat on Mrs Speckles's best egg. He
lay there huddled up, straw and feathers all over him, one eye peeping
round the corner watching for Mr Smifkins. It was a terrible moment and
his breath seemed to leave him altogether.

"What the dickens did I do with my matches?" Mr Smifkins growled, as he
crawled into the fowl-house. His entrance caused more cackling and the
poor old hens flapped about madly. They were not used to midnight
visitors. But Mr Smifkins took no heed of the cackling and squawking, he
was determined to find the animal that had caused all this disturbance.
Worst of all he called his dog in.

"Here Bluey! Skeech him out of it," he ordered at the top of his voice.

Bluey was a cattle-dog and it did not take him many moments to nose his
way to the nest.

Blinky scratched his nose as hard as he could and kicked with all his
might. Bluey yelped with pain and fright and darted round to the back of
the box.

"Here, let me there!" called Mr Smifkins, who had found his matches by
now and was holding the light in his hands. Carefully peering into the
box he saw Blinky, shuddering with fright, one paw raised, ready to

"Well, I'll be blowed!" Mr Smifkins cried in astonishment. "A koala--of
all things. You young beggar. Come out of it my lad, and let me have a
look at you."

But Blinky had no intention of coming out. He growled louder and louder.

Mr Smifkins bent his head lower to have an extra good look at the
mischief maker. At the same moment, Blinky kicked out a bundle of straw,
feathers, and a broken egg, right into Mr Smifkins's face. The match
went out and--oh! Mr Smifkins lost his temper.

"You young devil!" he roared. "You bad young egg-stealer! You'll come
along with me now, and I'll teach you how to behave like a gentleman.
Sneaking round a fellow's bed in the dark--frightening the wits out of
his wife and hens, and driving old Neddy into twenty fits all at once.
Come out of it or I'll rake you out!"

Blinky only huddled up all the closer in the nest and growled his

"So you won't come out!" shouted Mr Smifkins, seizing the rake he kept
to clean the fowl-house with. "Out you come, and no nonsense," he cried
as he poked the end of the rake in the box. Blinky bit it and scratched
with rage. Mr Smifkins poked harder and poked Blinky right in the tummy.

This was too much for him. With a scurry and flurry he bounded out of
the box. But Mr Smifkins was waiting and grabbed him by a hind leg as he
tried to dart past.

"I've got you! I've got you!" he yelled. "You bad young turnip!"

Blinky was too angry to be frightened any longer. He turned like
lightning and bit Mr Smifkins on the arm, at the same time clawing and
scratching for all he was worth.

"A nice kettle of fish, you are!" Mr Smifkins cried. "Just wait a moment
my boy, and we'll soon settle this argument."

With one hand firmly holding Blinky's hind leg he managed with the other
to take off his pyjama trousers. Wrapping them tightly round Blinky, he
crawled out of the fowl-house with a struggling, kicking bundle under
his arm.

He did look funny, as he walked away, his shirt-tails flapping behind
him and his pyjama coat torn in patches.

Blinky kicked and kicked; but it was useless. He was held a prisoner.
Goodness knows what would happen now. Perhaps he would be made into
rabbit pie as wise old Mr Owl said.

Mr Smifkins stumped home with a very determined step, saying the most
frightful things all the time. He hammered on the back door.

"Who's there?" Mrs Smifkins called.

"Open the door at once!" her husband replied. "I've caught the burglar!"

"Has he any guns on him?" she asked in a frightened voice.

"No! but he's got claws like a tiger," Mr Smifkins replied.

"We can't keep a tiger here!" his wife screamed. "Shoot him! Kill him

"Open the door!" Mr Smifkins roared. "I'm catching cold in the legs."

Very slowly the door opened an inch or two and Mrs Smifkins peered out
with one eye.

"Where's the tiger?" she asked trembling.

"Here he is!" said Mr Smifkins, pushing the door wide open with his foot
and holding up the struggling bundle.

"Whatever is it?" Mrs Smifkins asked, her eyes wide with amazement.

"A young bear, and a very lively one, too!" her husband replied as he
walked into the kitchen and carefully placed the bundle on the floor.

"Oh, how beautiful!" Mrs Smifkins cried. "I'll have him for a pet."

"Will you!" Blinky thought to himself as he struggled to get free.

"He's as fat as a young pig," Mr Smifkins remarked as he untied the
pyjama trousers.

"Good heavens! He's in knickerbockers," Mrs Smifkins cried. "He must
belong to some child."

At last Blinky was free. He looked a sorry sight. Torn bockers, fur all
rumpled, and straw and egg sticking all over him.

"I'll give the poor little thing a bath!" said kind Mrs Smifkins.

"Indeed you won't," thought Blinky, as he darted away under the table.

"I don't think it would be wise to bathe him to-night," Mr Smifkins
advised. "Wait till the morning and we'll have a good clean up then."

"Where will he sleep?" Mrs Smifkins then asked. "Will I take him in my
bed? Or perhaps he'd be happier in yours, as he knows you better."

"To billy-o with the bed!" said Mr Smifkins. "Look what he's done to
mine already."

"Well, I'll find a nice little box and he can stay here by the stove.
That'll keep him warm and comfy," said Mrs Smifkins.

"That's a good idea," said Mr Smifkins.

So a box was placed by the stove with an old jacket in it to keep Blinky
warm. But, he had been watching preparations carefully, and had made up
his mind that no box would be his bed, as the last box caused him to be
caught. He looked all round the kitchen trying to find some way of
escape, but there seemed to be none. The window was closed and the door

"Come to your bed, little bear," called Mrs Smifkins kindly.

Blinky only grunted savagely and glared at her.

"Leave the little chap alone, he'll find his way into the box when we
put the light out." So Mr Smifkins and his wife said good night to
Blinky, turned out the lamp, closed the door again and were gone.

"Thank goodness!" sighed Blinky. "Now I can explore." He waited till his
little heart stopped pounding so loudly, then softly crept from under
the table. There was the box, all cosy and warm. Blinky took one look at
it, growled, and walked around the kitchen to see if there was a way of

"Yes!" he thought, as he came to a door not quite shut, "here's where I

Pushing his little fat body through the opening he was disappointed to
find himself in another room, much smaller, with rows and rows of
shelves running all round it.

"Looks like a shop!" he said to himself. "I'll find out what's in

Climbing on a chair he stood on tiptoe and had a good look all round.

There were dozens of jars of jam and preserves, boxes with lids on, bags
filled with things, and piles of apples and oranges.

He sniffed an orange, and felt it with his paw. "Don't like the smell of
it," he thought, then finding he could squeeze himself on to the shelf,
he had a look at the bottles of jam.

Plum, apricot, orange, peach, loganberry, pineapple, and melon. Each
bottle was labelled. But Blinky did not stop to read the name--he did
not know the meaning anyhow. So the quickest way, he thought, to find
out the contents was to taste. The plum jam was the nearest. Breaking
the paper top with his claws he dipped his paw in and scooped up the
lovely red jam. He tasted it, licked his lips and decided to try the
next bottle. Loganberry it was labelled; scratching away the top, in
went his paw and out came the sticky jam. It dropped all over the shelf
and down Blinky's front. But it was good! So the next bottle must be
tasted. Every pot of jam was sampled, and that naughty bear's paws and
face were covered with a mixture unlike anything ever seen before. All
his pretty fur on his chest and tummy dripped jam. Every bottle was
covered with the sticky stuff and the shelf too. As he carefully walked
in and out of the things on the shelf he left jammy foot-prints behind.

He quite forgot to look for an escape as he was having such a glorious

Suddenly he caught sight of a dish full of eggs. "They look funny
things. I must see what they are," he murmured.

Patting one with his paw he found it cold and hard, and decided to taste
it; but he could not catch it in his paw so put out his claws to get a
firmer hold.

Crack! The egg broke and out came everything.

"That's funny!" laughed Blinky, and gave another egg a smack with his
paw. Crack! It went just like the other one.

"Goodness! What silly things!" And Blinky laughed. Then he stood on his
hind legs and with his two front paws came down smack! smack! on all the
eggs. Oh, what an awful mess there was! Eggs and jam were all over his
paws; and such nasty things, too, for a little bear to have on his fur.
He licked one paw after another to shake the sticky stuff off.

Poor Mrs Smifkins's best tea-cups, standing so neatly on the shelf, in a
jiffy were spattered with eggs and jam.

Still exploring the wonderful shelf, he found a jug of milk. In went the
paw and up to his mouth. "Um, um," Blinky grunted, as he licked his paw
all over. The milk tasted good, another dip in the jug and another lick
followed. Finding it so nice, he stuck his head in the jug to have a
good long drink. The milk was the best taste of all.

[Illustration: "Ker-chew! Ker-chew!" he sneezed as the milk ran up his

"Ker-chew! Ker-chew!" Blinky sneezed as the milk came up his nose, but
he drank and drank until the jug was empty. Then, grunting with
satisfaction, he sat down to see what next he could taste.

Some cakes under a wire cover looked very nice, and just as Blinky was
crawling along the shelf to try one, he caught sight of a tiny mouse
peeping out of his hole.

Blinky gave a grunt.

The mouse popped his head back in his hole. In a few minutes he had
another look out.

Blinky gave another grunt. But the mouse became brave and gazed up at
Blinky with bright little eyes.

"Good evening, Mr Bear," he said in a tiny squeaking voice.

"Good evening, Mr Mouse," Blinky replied. "What are you doing in here?"

"I've come to look for my supper."

"Do you like sticky things?"

"No, Mr Bear," the mouse answered. "I like cheese and crumbs."

"Cheese? What's that?"

"The best thing in the world to make your whiskers grow," the mouse
replied. "And I smell some somewhere."

"Then come out of your hole and I'll help you to find it," Blinky said

"You won't eat me, will you?" the little mouse asked anxiously.

"No," said Blinky softly. "I've seen Mrs Kookaburra eat dozens of your
relations, but I don't like tails!"

"I'll find you some cheese, then," said Mr Mouse. "And once you've
tasted it, you'll eat nothing else."

Coming out of his hole Mr Mouse scurried here and there; into corners he
popped, and bags and boxes he'd gnaw so quickly and silently that Blinky
was astounded.

"Wait a minute, Mr Mouse," he whispered. "I'll come down and help you."

Very carefully he walked round the shelf again, all through the sticky
muddle until he reached the chair. He climbed down, leaving jam
everywhere. The pretty blue chair that Mrs Smifkins had just painted was
decorated with paw marks and blobs.

"What a fat bear you are!" Mr Mouse remarked.

"I've just had a nice drink," Blinky replied. "But where's this cheese?"

"Let's look over in that corner behind the sugar-bin," Mr Mouse advised.

"You go first," Blinky whispered.

Mr Mouse scampered away and Blinky saw his tail disappear round the bin.

"Here it is! Come and smell," Mr Mouse called. Blinky crawled over to
the corner, but he was far too big and fat to squeeze round behind the

"Let's have a look," he said in a whisper.

"See, here it is, right in the corner!" Mr Mouse said, pointing to a
funny looking object.

"It looks like wood to me," Blinky replied as he squeezed his nose and
eye round the end of the bin.

"It looks different to what it usually is," said Mr Mouse. "But I can
smell it, and the smell's the same."

"Stick your paw in and see," advised Blinky.

"All right," said Mr Mouse. "You keep an eye open for Mrs Smifkins."

"Hurry up, then," said Blinky. "She may be in any minute." Really and
truly he had forgotten all about the Smifkinses, and now that Mr Mouse
mentioned them, he felt rather nervous.

Mr Mouse crept closer to the strange object. He put out his whiskers and
sniffed. Yes, it was cheese, and no mistake.

"Grab it," Blinky whispered.

Mr Mouse became braver and made a dart at the cheese.


"Goodness! What was that?" Blinky asked, frightened beyond everything.
Mr Mouse made no reply.

"What was that noise?" Blinky asked again. But still Mr Mouse did not

"Are you gobbling up all the cheese?" Blinky asked angrily. Still Mr
Mouse did not reply.

Becoming alarmed at his friend's silence, Blinky pushed his other eye
into the narrow space and--oh, how dreadful! He turned pale with fright
and sprang out of the corner.

Poor Mr Mouse was lying on the floor, his head caught in the trap and
his body as flat as a pancake. Even his tail looked dead, Blinky
thought. It lay so still and straight.

"Well, if that's cheese, I don't want any," he muttered to himself. "And
I'm getting out of this Smifkins place. It is too dangerous."

[Illustration: "Well, if that's cheese, I don't want any," he muttered
to himself.]

Trembling with fright and still quite pale, he pattered around the
pantry, and imagine his joy when he saw a tiny window open not far above
the shelf. He wasted no time in climbing up again, and in his
excitement knocked down Mrs Smifkins's very best fruit dish.

"Poof!" he said as he took a hurried glance at the broken dish. "Serves
her right for killing Mr Mouse." Up to the window-ledge he climbed. It
was a very small window, just large enough as it happened for him to
squeeze through, and best of all, outside stood a big gum-tree, with one
branch right up against the window. Blinky was in that tree in no time.
But when he had time to think about matters, he thought it wisest to go
right away from the Smifkinses' house; so softly he climbed down out of
the tree. Over the orchard he went, and back into the bush again.

Oh, dear! it was beautiful to see all the gum-trees again. And he felt
very, very happy as he heard the different birds calling to one another
just as day broke. Finding a comfortable tree, one that was very tall
and straight, he climbed to the topmost branch and there, cuddled up in
a corner, closed his tired little eyes and went to sleep.


Blinky Meets Willie Wagtail

Tug, tug, tug. "Whatever is that?" Blinky thought as he opened his eyes
and looked around, still feeling rather sleepy. Something had pulled his

Before he had time to make quite sure that he was not dreaming, another
tug fully awakened him.

"Could it be Mr Smifkins again," he wondered, and carefully put up his
paw to feel his ear.

Imagine his surprise when he felt a little bird, and screwing up his
eyes he tried to see what cheeky fellow was trying to nest there.

All he could see was a very pretty tail that kept bobbing about, first
in one direction and then in another.

"Ah! I know who you are!" Blinky said very cheerily. "You're Willie

"Quite true," came the reply. "I'm sorry I woke you, Mr Koala, but I'm
in such a hurry to finish my nest. My wife is growing quite impatient
because she wants to lay her eggs and the nest is not quite ready. Do
you mind if I gather a few more hairs from your ears? They are so silky
and pretty, and besides, I think the colour will look very well with the
grass I have gathered."

"Go ahead," Blinky answered. "Only don't pull too many at once."

"Thank you very much," Willie replied. "You know it is very difficult to
gather the necessary materials for our nest right here in the middle of
the bush."

"How is that?" Blinky inquired, as the tug, tug at his ears proceeded.

"There are no cattle or sheep," Willie replied.

"What use are they to you?" said Blinky curiously.

"Why, we gather the hair from the cows' and horses' backs, and the wool
from the sheep," Willie Wagtail explained. "It makes a nest so cosy when
lined with wool, and of course the hair binds the grass together."

"Don't pull so hard!" Blinky cried impatiently. "And for goodness' sake
keep that tail of yours still."

"Sorry," said Willie in an apologetic voice. "I forgot for the moment
that I was plucking a bear's ears and not a cow's back. Their hair is
much harder to pull. Do you know, I actually pulled hair from the back
of Mr Smifkins's cat once."

"You were brave."

"Yes, it was rather a daring thing to do," Willie replied. "But the cat
did not seem to mind."

"Did you ever try pulling Mr Smifkins's whiskers?" Blinky asked with a
twinkle in his eye.

"Goodness gracious, no! I wouldn't be so bold!" Willie replied.

"Well, I did," said naughty Blinky, "and he did get cross. In fact, he
went quite mad for a time."

"You must be a brave bear," said Willie. And he gave an extra sharp tug
at Blinky's ear.

"That's enough!" Blinky cried. "You'll leave me bald soon; and I've been
very kind to give you so many."

"You have, indeed," Willie said politely. "You've no idea how pleased
Mrs Wagtail will be with these hairs. They are quite a novelty."

"How often does your wife lay eggs?" Blinky inquired. "Because if you
are short at any time I know where you can get heaps and heaps."

"She lays them twice a year," Willie replied. "But I never know the day
when she will stop, so I'd be pleased to know where I could find
some--just in case of emergency."

[Illustration: "That's strange!" said Willie Wagtail, "I wonder if my
wife has been 'laying away'?"]

"Well, you fly into Mrs Smifkins's pantry," advised Blinky, "and you'll
see dozens and dozens of them."

"That's strange," said Willie Wagtail. "I wonder if my wife has been
'laying away'?"

"These are huge eggs, some white and some brown," explained Blinky, who
began to realize he may have said something that was not quite right.

"Oh, then they are none of ours," said Willie. "You mean hen eggs, I

"I believe you're right," said Blinky, "because now I come to think of
it, I sat on one in a nest in the fowl-house."

"Oh! Whatever did Mr Smifkins say?" Willie asked in a shocked tone.

"Nothing, nothing at all!" Blinky carelessly murmured. "By the way,
Willie, what do you do with all your children? You must have hundreds of
them by now."

"Possibly," said Willie, very seriously. "But as soon as they are old
enough to feed and take care of themselves, we shoo them off. One can't
feed dozens of birds all the time, you know!"

"Well, my mother has only me for a child, and she says: 'Thank goodness
there are no more.' That is, of course, when she is angry with me. But
at other times she says: 'I don't know what I'd do without my son. I
wish I had more.'" Blinky's eyes had a far-away look in them as he
talked to Willie.

"That's just like all mothers," said Willie Wagtail, knowingly. "But
I'll have to be going, or I'll get into trouble."

"Take care of those hairs," Blinky called as Willie flew off.

"Of course I shall," called back Willie, and Blinky watched him as he
darted this way and that until he was out of sight.

"A nice little fellow," said Blinky softly, still watching the trees
through which his friend had flown.

"I beg your pardon. Were you speaking to me?" said a tiny voice.

Blinky turned round in surprise. He thought he was alone.

"Oh, it's you, Miss Possum! How are you?" he said bravely. He was not
going to let anyone see he had been startled.

"Very well, thank you," Miss Possum replied. "You're a long way from
home, aren't you?" she asked.

"Oh, no, not so very far," said naughty Blinky. "Anyway, a change of
trees is good for a chap."

"Quite so," agreed Miss Possum, "providing you're in the right one."

[Illustration: "Don't pull so hard!" Blinky cried impatiently.]

"Is this a private tree?" Blinky inquired.

"Not exactly," Miss Possum replied. "But we don't allow all the ragtag
to come here."

"Who are the ragtag?" Blinky asked.

"Well, there's Mrs Snake, and old Granny Goanna, and a few more grumbly
things. We don't want them in our tree. They're always crotchety and
creeping around, peering round corners when we least expect them; and
their eyes seem to be everywhere. If we make the least noise, they
complain and hiss."

"Why don't you push them out?" Blinky asked.

"We did," said Miss Possum proudly. "And what do you think we found when
they had gone?"

"Don't know," Blinky said carelessly.

"They left a note to say that they would come back some day and steal
our babies." And Miss Possum's eyes nearly dropped out with fright.

"The old thieves," Blinky exclaimed. "Old Granny Goanna would eat a
possum as soon as look at it, and as for Mrs Snake, she tried to kill me
when I was a baby."

"How dreadful!" cried Miss Possum. "What do you think we could do to
frighten them away?"

Blinky thought very hard for a minute, his nose wrinkled and his eyes
blinking rapidly.

"I know!" he cried. "We'll dig a big hole at the bottom of the tree and
when the rain comes it will fill, and then, when they come to steal the
babies, they'll fall in and be drowned."

"But Mrs Snake and Granny Goanna can swim," exclaimed Miss Possum

"Well, that won't do," said Blinky. "I'll have to think of something

"We could carry stones up the tree and when they come along, pelt them
with big ones and kill them."

"I can't carry stones and climb as well," Miss Possum replied.

"Oh, well," Blinky said impatiently, "I'll have to go and see Mr Owl.
Perhaps he could think of something to do."

"I'll come with you if you'd like me to," Miss Possum said quietly.

"No thanks!" Blinky replied. "I'll manage by myself, and I'll be back
before long."

Down the tree he climbed and scrambled through the bush, gazing up at
every tall gum-tree in search of Mr Owl. Presently he heard away in the
distance a soft "Whoo, whoo."

"That's him!" thought Blinky and hurried along as fast as he could.
Nearer and nearer came the call of Mr Owl, and in a very short time
Blinky saw him sitting away up in a very high tree. He trotted along to
the tree, and then began to climb. Half-way up, just as he reached the
lowest branch, Mr Owl flew down to meet him.

"Hulloa, little friend," he said. "I see you've returned safely from Mr

"Yes," replied Blinky, "but I've come to ask you a very serious

"What can it be?" the old owl asked.

"Miss Possum is very frightened," Blinky explained. "She says that Mrs
Snake and old Granny Goanna are going to steal the babies, and we don't
know what to do. Could you advise us?"

"Whoo! whoo!" Mr Owl said, as his eyes opened wider than ever. "They're
a wicked old pair. Just you wait a moment while I go away to think."

Dear old Mr Owl flew into a branch higher up. Here he sat very, very
still, gazing at nothing really. His eyes never blinked, and not a
feather on his body stirred. Presently he shook his head and called
"whoo! whoo!" then down he flew to where Blinky was waiting.

"Have you thought of something?" Blinky asked excitedly.

"Yes, little bear," replied Mr Owl. "But tell me first, do you know
where Percy Bull Ant lives?"

"Yes, I know," replied Blinky.

"Well, go to him and tell him everything," Mr Owl said softly. "You can
say I sent you, and give him my respects at the same time. Tell him I
thought the matter over, and decided that an army of his relations, if
hidden in suitable places, could suddenly march out and attack Mrs Snake
and Granny Goanna, as they come to steal the babies."

"That's a fine idea," cried Blinky. "I don't know why I didn't think of
it. Good-bye, Mr Owl, and thank you ever so much."

"Whoo! whoo!" said Mr Owl, and flew off immediately.

Blinky hurried through the bush in the direction of Percy Bull Ant's
home. All along the way he passed the homes of Percy's relations, and as
hundreds lived in one nest he could see a very large army mustered when
they all marched to fight the old robbers. Not a bull ant was to be seen
above ground, they were all so busy in their homes, nursing the babies,
storing the food, and cleaning out the parlour.

At last Blinky reached Percy's home. It was not much to look at. A
litter of tiny sticks and twigs, small pieces of charcoal, loose sand
and clay, all heaped in a mound; and everything about it looked very dry
and ugly. It certainly looked quite harmless, just as other mounds did;
but as Blinky gave a poke at it with his paw, it instantly bristled with
life. Angry ants rushed out from nowhere, big red fellows, bristling
with indignation, to see who had had the impudence to disturb their

"Ah! Percy Bull Ant," said Blinky as he cautiously moved backwards a
little. "I've come with a message for you from Mr Owl, and he sends his

An ant larger than the rest advanced to Blinky and eyed him curiously,
still waving a leg in a dangerous manner, and a nasty fighting look
about his whole body. Blinky did not feel too safe and moved another
step backwards.

"Look here, Percy," he said very politely, "kindly put that leg of yours
down, and don't look so bristly."

"You're Blinky Bill, aren't you, if I'm not mistaken?" said Percy Bull

"Yes, I am," replied Blinky. "And for goodness' sake send all your
brothers back in their nest. I feel quite nervous. They seem to have
such a lot of legs."

"Oh, they're harmless," said Percy in an off-hand manner. "All the same,
I'll do as you wish."

"Back to your work, all of you!" ordered Percy, and instantly they
disappeared back to nowhere. "Now, my lad, tell me what Mr Owl said."
And Percy carelessly picked up a stick and started chewing the end of
it, his head on one side and his wicked big eyes pausing to gaze at
Blinky in a cold rude manner.

"Please, Percy," Blinky began, "Miss Possum is very frightened. Mrs
Snake and Granny Goanna are coming to steal all the babies that live in
her tree. She's nearly dead with fright, and fainted twice while I was
speaking to her."

"Dear, dear," said Percy Bull Ant.

"Yes, Percy, it's very serious, and Mr Owl thought the best thing to do
would be for you to gather all your relations together and fight the old
robbers when they came for the babies."

"Um," said Percy, as he threw down the stick he had been chewing, "so
that's their caper, is it? Well, I'll hold a meeting and let you know
what we decide to do about it. Hold on a minute, I'll not be long." And
Percy disappeared into nowhere.

Blinky waited patiently, keeping his eyes glued on the ant-nest. He did
not trust any of them.

In a very short time Percy appeared again and slowly advanced to Blinky
with a decided tread. His head was downcast, and anyone at a glance
could see he was deep in thought. He kicked a grain of sand out of his
pathway, and nearly fell over a tiny ball of clay.

"Ants' pants!" he shouted. "I nearly broke my big toe."

"I'm sorry," said Blinky in a whisper, as he did not feel a little bit
safe. Percy Bull Ant was such a queer fellow. Good-natured one moment,
and bad tempered the next; in fact, he was what is known as

"Oh, quite all right, old fellow," said Percy. "Some careless ant has
left things about where they've no business to be. Now about this matter
of the babies. I've had a talk to all the young bloods down there, and
they're keen for a fight. At the moment they are sharpening their
nippers and filling up with poison at the bowser. How would a couple of
thousand warriors do?"

[Illustration: "Leave it to me!" said Percy, winking an eye.]

"Splendid!" cried Blinky, dancing around with glee. "How pleased Miss
Possum will be! And I hope you kill Mrs Snake and old Granny Goanna."

"Leave it to me," said Percy, winking an eye.

"When will you come?" Blinky inquired.

"In a few moments," Percy replied. "You'd better lead the way, or get
back as quickly as you can. When the boys are on the fighting track
they're pretty nasty." Blinky did not wait to hear more. He hurried as
fast as he could. The more distance between Percy's boys and himself the
better for any bear, he thought. He puffed as he ran, and felt terribly
hot, but came to the tree where Miss Possum waited in a very excited

"I'm nearly dead with fright," she called from the topmost branch. "I'm
sure Mrs Snake is not far away. I can almost smell her."

"Stuff and nonsense!" Blinky exclaimed as he excitedly climbed the tree.
"I've good news for you," he said as he plumped himself down beside her.

"What is it? Do tell me," she cried excitedly as she clapped her paws

"Well," said Blinky, with a brave air, "Percy Bull Ant is bringing along
two thousand soldiers. They'll be here any minute now and then Mrs Snake
and Granny Goanna will be feeling pretty sick I think. They're coming
armed to the teeth, with a fresh supply of poison and extra sharp

"You're wonderful!" said Miss Possum, blushing, and Blinky just managed
in time to avoid being hugged.

"Gosh!" he exclaimed. "Don't you ever dare to do that again. I'll tell
Percy if you do, and he'll set all his boys on to you."

"Oh, don't, don't, _please_!" cried Miss Possum. "I was so excited for
the moment, that I quite forgot you were a bear, and grown up, too."

"It was bold of you!" said Blinky sternly. "And, anyhow, I hate girls."

"Oh, how dreadful," sighed Miss Possum. "I _am_ sorry."

"Here they come! Here come the soldiers!" shouted Blinky, as he danced
up and down and nearly knocked Miss Possum out of the tree.

Blinky was right. Percy Bull Ant marched at the head of a vast army,
bent on business.

"Left, right, left, right," Percy called. There seemed to be hundreds of
thousands of bull ants as they advanced along the pathway. Everything
scurried out of their way. Lizards rushed helter-skelter and many
dropped their tails with fright. Some of the soldiers stopped to taste
the tails; but, Percy, catching sight of them, ordered in a stern voice:

"No eating at present. Drop the loot and attend to business." The ants
cast wistful eyes at the tails they had to leave behind.

"Such waste!" they murmured to one another.

When they came to the foot of the tree where Blinky and Miss Possum were
sitting, Percy gave his order in a ringing voice and he looked every
inch a soldier, as he stood as stiff as a poker.

"Halt!" he called. Immediately the long line came to a standstill.

"Form fours!" he ordered, and the soldiers obeyed in a twinkling.

"Numbers 674 and 675 stop kicking, and stand to attention. Now, boys,"
Percy called, "listen to me, and carefully follow my instructions.
There's to be no fighting among yourselves. Keep your nippers sharp, and
don't waste your poison, as you'll need it later on. When I give the
order, advance four at a time and climb half-way up this tree. Each four
must take its place until the trunk of the tree is a living mass of
soldiers. When Mrs Snake and Granny Goanna come along wait for my order
to advance. Keep perfectly still; don't blink an eye; then, when I call
out 'Charge!' fight and poison with all your might."

[Illustration: "Look here Percy," he said very politely, "put that leg
of yours down, and don't look so bristly."]

"Good, captain!" came the chorus.

"For the present, stand at ease," Percy called.

Every ant lounged in the most amusing way. Some twisted hind legs round
one another; others leaned on his neighbour's shoulder, and many were
tempted to use their nippers.

"Attention," called Percy. Instantly heels clicked, and there stood the
bristling army ready for attack. "Advance," he ordered in an anty voice.
"Left, right, left, right--keep in step--left, right." Up the tree they
swarmed; nearer and nearer to Blinky and Miss Possum they came.

"Let's climb higher," Blinky whispered. "They look so dreadful." So Miss
Possum immediately took his advice and a higher branch was sought.

Percy waited at the foot of the tree, watching and ordering the army
into position, until the last ant was off the ground. The tree was a
living mass of bull ants, right up to the first branch.

"Silence!" roared Percy as he gazed at the soldiers; then creeping very
quietly away into the bushes, he lay in wait for the robbers.

He had not to wait long. Presently a hissing and slithering announced
the coming of Mrs Snake and her companion. Percy kept very, very still
and listened intently.

"You steal Mrs Ringtail's baby and I'll steal Mrs Siever's," whispered
old Granny Goanna.

"What a fine supper they'll make," hissed Mrs Snake. "That'll teach them
a lesson for chasing us out of the tree."

Softly they crept nearer and nearer, and Percy Bull Ant quivered with
rage. He tiptoed back to the tree and called in a very quiet voice:
"They're coming, boys; prepare to kill and poison."

Not an ant stirred. The tree looked lifeless, and Percy hid behind a
stone at the foot.

Hiss! Hiss! Along came the old robbers; stealthily they crept through
the bushes.

"The tenth joint in my tail is rather stiff," grumbled Mrs Snake. "It
makes things very awkward for me."

"My nails are not as sharp as they were," replied Granny Goanna, "but
I've a few good teeth left."

Nearer the tree they came, and both paused to whisper.

"Seems to me," said Granny Goanna, "that the tree looks redder than
usual. Do you think we've made a mistake?"

"No, no," replied Mrs Snake. "This is the right tree. Don't I know it

"Well, my eyesight must be failing," sighed Granny Goanna, "because I'll
bet my last scale that the tree looks very red."

"Nonsense!" said Mrs Snake impatiently. "You've no doubt got dust in
your eyes."

"Maybe, maybe," sighed Granny Goanna, as she floundered along.

"Now, then, boys, be ready for your order," called Percy in a whisper.

Right along to the bottom of the tree came the two old robbers. Old
Granny was actually licking her lips, as she thought of the supper in
store. She slobbered at the very idea of a baby possum.

"Come along, dear," she called to Mrs Snake. "Everything is quiet and

"You go first," whispered Mrs Snake, "and I'll follow."

Granny Goanna placed her two front legs on the tree and prepared to
climb. Mrs Snake waved her wicked head to and fro and gave Granny a
nudge which had the desired effect, for she made a plunge and lifted her
hind legs from the ground. Mrs Snake gave a wriggle and started up
behind her.

Percy Bull Ant sprang out from his hiding-place and called in a
terrible voice:


Like lightning, the whole tree became alive. The soldiers sprang at the
enemy. In a second they were swarming all over Granny Goanna and Mrs

"Oh, my tail!" screamed Mrs Snake as she tried to wriggle away, lashing
her body in the air in agony.

"For heaven's sake save me, save me!" moaned Granny Goanna, as she
hissed until all her hisses had gone.

"Go for them, boys!" shouted Percy. "Kill them as quickly as you can."

No order was necessary, as the ants covered the robbers from head to
tail. They bit with all their power. Several were killed as Mrs Snake's
tail and Granny Goanna's lashed them against the tree; but the numbers
seemed never to end.

"Oh! Oh! I'm dying!" groaned Mrs Snake, and she fell with a thud to the
ground. In another second down plopped Granny Goanna, as dead as a

"Eat them up!" ordered Percy. At once the feast started, and hungry
soldiers bit and ate all through the night until only skeletons of the
two wicked old things were left.

"It's time we went down and had a look," said Blinky to Miss Possum,
just as daylight was dawning. So, scrambling down excitedly, they were
just in time to see Percy marshalling his soldiers in readiness to

"How is that for good work?" said Percy Bull Ant proudly, as he pointed
to the skeletons.

"Wonderful!" cried Miss Possum and Blinky together. "Your soldiers are
very brave."

"They're a husky lot," said Percy, blowing out his chest. "Would you
care to have a look at our homes? They're very interesting, although you
may not be received with open arms."

[Illustration: "It's time we went down and had a look," said Blinky
Bill to Miss 'Possum.]

"Thank you very much," replied Blinky nervously, "but I really must
hurry home now. I've been away for a long time and I'm sure I can hear
my mother calling me this very minute." And he began shuffling about
very uncomfortably.

"Well, good-bye," called Percy, as he gave the order to march, much to
the relief of Blinky and Miss Possum.

"Gosh!" sighed Blinky. "That was a narrow squeak!"

"I think you're awfully clever," said Miss Possum. "Perhaps you'd like
to come back and meet my mother. She'd be so pleased to thank you for
saving the babies."

"Sorry, I can't," said Blinky, looking very important. "I've such a lot
of people to see before I go home. Good-bye." And hurriedly looking
around him, he darted into the bush.

"Stupid creature!" he muttered to himself. "All possums are silly,
specially girls."

"Hey! Where are you going?" Oh, dear, whatever was that? The bush seemed
to be full of voices when one least expected them.

"Where are you?" Blinky called. "I can't see you."

"Just here," came the reply.

Then something pricked Blinky's paw and gave him such a fright that he
fell head over heels in the dust.

"Good gracious! What a stupid fellow you are!" said the voice.

Thoroughly annoyed, Blinky picked himself up and gazed about.

"Why, it's Mr Hedgehog!" he cried gladly. "You did give me a fright. I
thought for a moment one of Percy Bull Ant's soldiers had bitten me."

Mr Hedgehog raised his bristles in surprise.

"Indeed!" he said. "As if I'd hurt you on purpose. Where are you going,
by the way?"

"Home," said Blinky meekly.

"Did you run away?" Mr Hedgehog inquired.

"Oh, no, I just wanted to see a friend," Blinky replied coolly.

"Come and see my home. It's so snug and cosy," said Mr Hedgehog, "and
I'm sure you must be tired. You could have a sleep and then, when the
moon rises, go on your way."

"I'd really like to, Mr Hedgehog, if it's not very far away, 'cause I'm
dreadfully tired," Blinky replied.

"It's just over here," said Mr Hedgehog, "in amongst that bracken fern."

"Thank you! I'll come," said Blinky, as Mr Hedgehog led the way.

"Mr Hedgehog is such a long word to say. Couldn't I call you something
else?" Blinky inquired.

"I'm generally called Spikey round here," Mr Hedgehog replied. "Mrs
Snake is called 'Snakey'; Miss Goanna, 'Ganna'; Mr Wombat, 'Womby'; and
Miss Wallaby, 'Walley'. So what does it matter?"

"Did you know Mrs Snake and Granny Goanna were killed?" Blinky said in a

"Good heavens! Is that true?" Spikey could hardly believe his ears. "Who
did it?"

"Why, Percy Bull Ant and his soldiers!" Blinky replied.

"Well, that's great news," said Spikey. "If I'd only known about it in
time, what a feast of ants I'd have had!"

"You don't eat ants, do you?" Blinky asked, his eyes nearly popping out
of his head.

"I should just say I do. Why, they're the finest meal I know of--except
perhaps a few fat worms."

"Ugh! Don't you eat gum-tips?"

"What's the good of those things to me?" Spikey laughed scornfully.
"But I can tell you like them. You smell like a gum-tree."

"And you smell like a thousand ants!" said Blinky rudely.

"Get out!" Spikey replied. "Why I haven't had more than six dozen

"Well, they must have been the smelly kind, 'cause you _do_ smell of
ants," Blinky answered sharply.

[Illustration: "You don't eat ants do you?" Blinky asked, his eyes
nearly popping out of his head.]

"Look at my house, and don't be so grumpy. Isn't it a beautiful place?"
And Spikey raised all his quills with pride.

Blinky bent down to peep inside, just as Spikey raised his quills, and
gave a loud cry of pain.

"Oh, that's my nose!" he screamed. "Can't you see I've got a nose?"

"No one could miss it for one minute," Spikey said, very annoyed. "It's
nearly your whole face."

Blinky felt very angry and raised his paw to hit Spikey; but the quills
bristled more than before.

[Illustration: "Follow me and don't start any capers, because I feel
rather bilious to-night," Spikey said in an irritable way.]

"Can't you put those things down?" he asked in a very rude manner.

"Yes, when you ask me nicely I will," Spikey replied.

"Oh, well, _please_ put those things away," Blinky said. But he still
felt very annoyed. His nose was actually bleeding where the spike had
pierced it.

"Use your handkerchief," Spikey advised.

Blinky grabbed the torn leg of his knickerbockers and wiped his poor
little nose.

"Now come inside and rest," said Spikey as he flattened all his

"You look very nice now," Blinky remarked as he crawled inside the

"Isn't it cosy!" Spikey said proudly, as he curled himself up in a ball.

"Yes, it's very pretty and warm," Blinky replied as he looked around.

The house was just a snug hole under the bracken fern. A few twigs and
dried grass helped to make it cosy, and no one could believe that a
little home was hidden away under the ferns so safely.

The sun made everything warm, and a drowsy little bear fell asleep, in a
nest not meant for koalas.


The Lyre-Bird's Home

"It's time to get up!"

Blinky rubbed his eyes. Where was he? Oh, yes, of course. There was
Spikey standing a few feet away eyeing him very seriously.

"Don't you feel hungry?" he asked.

"Yes, I do. And I'm going to look for some supper," Blinky replied.
"These nests are all very well for folk like you, but I like my own home
best. I've only to wake up and climb a few branches and my supper is all

"Well, I'm going ant-hunting now, so I'll bid you good night," and
Spikey raised all his quills and proceeded to walk away.

"Hey! Wait a moment," Blinkey called. "I want you to show me the way

"I'm going the other way," Spikey answered.

"Which way?" Blinky inquired.

"Down by the Lyre-bird's home," Spikey replied.

"Could I come, too?" Blinky asked in his most polite tone.

"S'pose you can," Spikey replied. It was certainly not a very pressing
invitation, but Blinky was a bear who poked himself everywhere, whether
welcome or not. He was out to see the world, and if he waited for
invitations--well, he'd see very little.

"Follow me. But don't start any capers, because I feel rather bilious
to-night," Spikey said in an irritable way. "I think I'll have to give
up eating sugar ants. This is the second time they've upset me lately,
and my head's splitting."

"I'm very sorry," Blinky answered. "Is there anything I can do for you?
Mrs Grunty always has bad headaches, specially when she's been extra

"What does she do for them?" Spikey inquired as he slowly crawled along,
dragging one leg after the other in a very painful manner.

"Oh, she just wants us all to fuss around her, and pretend we're awfully
sorry. But I'm terribly glad and wish she'd have two headaches all at
once," Blinky retorted.

"You're not very kind," Spikey mumbled.

"Well, you shouldn't eat ants. It's a wonder you don't get tummy ache,
too!" said naughty Blinky. "But I s'pose it couldn't get in your tummy
through all those spikes."

"That's enough!" Spikey roared in anger, and his quills stood straight
up and quivered with rage.

"Dear me, I'm sorry," said Blinky, quite frightened. "But those spikes
sticking out of you from everywhere, must be the cause of your
headaches. What if someone stroked you the wrong way?"

"Hump!" growled Spikey. "They'd better not try."

"Is it very far away to the Lyre-bird's home?" Blinky asked.

"No," his friend replied. "I don't travel far from my home, just keep on
behind me and you'll be surprised how soon we'll be there."

The little animals pattered along, brushing the ferns and grass aside as
they went. The moon showed the way, shining through the trees and only
the soft pad, pad of Blinky could be heard.

Suddenly quite close at hand a kookaburra laughed.

"Jacko's very merry to-night!" Blinky remarked.

"That's not Jacko," Spikey replied. "That's Mrs Lyre-bird. She's so
clever at mimicking all the bush birds that sometimes she deceives me
for a minute."

"She must be clever," Blinky replied. "I could bet that was Jacko

"She's mighty clever," Spikey replied. "I've heard her mimic the
butcher-birds so that you couldn't tell the difference; and she simply
loves to call like the magpie and old Mr Owl. There isn't a noise in the
bush that she can't imitate. Why! One night when I was prowling round,
looking for a few ants I got a terrible fright. I made sure Mr
Smifkins's dog was chasing me. The yelping and barking drew closer and
closer as I neared the Lyre-bird's home, and I hurried along, to see if
they would shelter me. Imagine my surprise when I found Mrs Lyre-bird
imitating the Smifkinses' dog. I was very annoyed at first, as I was all
out of breath, and hot, and my bristles were cold with fright. But it
was a relief all the same to find I had been mistaken."

"Did you tell Mrs Lyre-bird how she had frightened you?" Blinky asked

"Yes, and she only laughed. She said she'd frightened many bush folk
that way; and just to show me how really clever she was she made a noise
like Mr Smifkins chopping wood. Then, seeing me more surprised, she
pretended to strike matches. I had to laugh. It sounded so funny."

"Listen! What's that?" Blinky stopped still, and listened very closely.

"That's a train coming up the hill," Spikey replied. "There are no
trains here," Blinky answered. "Chuff, chuff, chuff, chuff," came the
noise again.

"Well, they must have put a train here in the night," Spikey laughed,
as they trotted along.

Nearer and nearer came the chuff, chuff until Blinky became quite
frightened. He'd never seen or heard a train in his life and he wondered
if it would eat him. He grew quite pale, and held on to his
knickerbockers very tightly.

"Ha, ha!" laughed Spikey. "She's tricked you, too!"

"Is that Mrs Lyre-bird?" Blinky was astounded. But before he could make
any further remark, he saw with his own eyes that Spikey was right.

At the feet of some tall trees a wonderful sight was seen. Just close
your eyes for a minute and try to imagine you're in Blinky's place.

Great gum-trees standing erect, with the moon peeping through the
leaves, out of a blue, blue sky. The grass and bracken a soft brown,
fading away to grey, and right in front of you, only a few yards distant
four grown-up lyre-birds and six little ones.

A dancing lesson was in progress and the ground was cleared for a little
space, to give the dancers room to perform. That is what Blinky saw, as
he gazed at the enchanting scene.

"Shh!" whispered Spikey. "Keep very quiet, and you'll see wonderful

The mothers and fathers were dancing in the daintiest way, stepping ever
so lightly, and then running backwards and forwards, pirouetting,
bowing, and hopping, while the little ones looked on, watching every
movement, and occasionally giving a little squeak of delight.

"Come, children," called Mrs Lyre-bird. "It is time you learned to

The little ones twittered with delight, as they took their places in the
centre of the ring.

"One, two, three; hop, skip, and a jump," called one of their mothers,
and the children very clumsily tried to imitate their parents.

[Illustration: The mothers and fathers were dancing in the daintiest

 They toppled over one another, fell on the ground and squawked with
delight when one managed to pirouette for a moment.

The parents were very patient and showed them over and over again how to

At last one little chap did a surprisingly clever dance and the mothers
and fathers became very excited, as they danced up and down, encouraging
the dancer, and calling to him all kinds of nice things. As time went on
the children became quite clever and the dancing lesson ended with very
happy results.

Nearby was the playground. Here a wonderful collection of toys--in the
shape of pretty leaves, pebbles, and bright feathers--were spread on the
ground. The children and the parents played all kinds of games, until
Blinky disturbed their peace and fun by stumbling over a stone.

"Hey! It's only me," he called as the birds ran for safety. But all his
pleadings and promises to be friendly were useless. Being very timid,
they vanished into the bushes and had no intention of coming out again.

"They're very scared!" Blinky remarked, as he turned to Spikey. But
Spikey had vanished too.

"Gosh! The place must be haunted," Blinky muttered to himself, as he
nervously glanced around. "A fellow's all by himself."

"Well, I'll go home," he decided. And he suddenly thought what a long
time it was since he had left his mother and Mrs Grunty.

He looked at his bockers, and tried to pat them, or what remained of
them, into shape. They were just hanging by threads, and a very sorry
spectacle he looked.

"I s'pose old Mother Grunty will say all sorts of things when she sees
me," he growled. "I'm not going to stand it any longer. If she growls
very hard at me, I'll run away again--and I'll get married next time.
Then they'll be sorry, and want me home again." And Blinky gave a savage
kick at the grass.

"Spikes and scissors! Look where you're going with your big feet!" a
little voice cried.

"What's up now?" Blinky said, as he came to a standstill. "As if there's
not enough growling without you starting, too!"

"Well, look what you've done to my web, and I've been hours and hours
weaving it. Now it's all spoilt, and I'll never catch my supper, and I'm

"Are you another ant-eater?" Blinky asked rudely.

"No, I'm not!" snapped the spider. "I eat gnats and mosquitoes."

"Gnats! I've never heard of them before," Blinky said. "Do they taste

"Not as good as you'll taste if you don't get your big feet out of my
way," the spider growled as he glared at Blinky.

"Oh! I see you've a red spot on your back, so I think I'll be going."

Blinky very quietly stepped aside and continued on his way. The moon was
kind and showed him the pathway quite clearly and he thought by
travelling all night he would reach home by daylight. But he had not
considered what may be round the corner.

On he went, one minute feeling very brave as he thought of what he'd do
to Mrs Grunty if she grunted, and the next, feeling rather frightened as
he imagined her cross face round the gum-tree.

Pit-a-pat! Pit-a-pat! Someone was coming through the bush, and someone
in a great hurry, too.

"Oh, dear! I'll be late, I'll be late," said a voice that came nearer
and nearer.

"What for?" Blinky called out from behind a tree where he had hidden.

"For the meeting," came the reply. "But what's it got to do with you?
Who are you?"

Blinky cautiously peeped round the tree and there stood Belinda Fox of
all people, dressed in her best coat of brown, with a very fine tail.

"You're up to mischief, I'll bet!" Blinky said as he came from his

"Me!" said Belinda Fox in surprise. "Why, I've not tasted a fowl for
ages and ages."

"Where's the meeting?" Blinky asked.

"Down at the flat, under the trees," Belinda answered. "And I'll be
later than ever if I stop and talk to you."

"What's on at the meeting?" Blinky called as Belinda started to walk
away. "Stop a moment and tell me."

"It's those rabbits," Belinda complained. "They're holding a meeting--a
race-meeting, I mean--and I'm just about tired of their noise. So I'm
going to act as umpire, and the very first one I catch, I'll eat, toes
and all."

"Good gracious!" Blinky exclaimed. "You're feeling very annoyed."

"Annoyed is no name for it!" Belinda answered sharply. "And what's more,
I'm hungry."

"Well, what about some juicy gum-tips? They're scrumptious!"

"Huh!" Belinda grumbled. "Gum-tips, indeed! A juicy young rab is what
I'm after. So good night to you, Mr Koala. I'm in a hurry."

"Yes," said Blinky to himself, "I'm in a hurry, too. I'll take a short
cut down to the flat and tell the rabbits all about it. Belinda Fox will
have no young rab for supper if I can help it."

Dashing into the bush he scampered along at a great rate.

[Illustration: Off raced Belinda Fox]

Down the track, through the saplings, and over the hill, until the flat
came in view. There the bunnies were--mothers and fathers and their
babies, grandmothers and grandfathers and bunny uncles and aunts. Such a
crowd of them! And they scampered backwards and forwards, frightfully
excited, their little white tails bobbing about ever so prettily and
their long ears twitching with the thought of all the fun.

"Oh, dear, I hope I'm not too late!" Blinky thought, as he rushed down
to the flat.

A line of baby bunnies were standing in a row, waiting for the signal to
start the race.

Mr Grandfather Rabbit stood at the farther end of the flat against a
blackberry-bush. He waited with one paw raised, ready to wave a "four
o'clock" as the signal to start. The young rabs were skylarking and
delaying matters considerably, for just as everything seemed ready for
the word "Go!" some young scamp rushed away before his time and then the
whole line had to wait again until all was ready.

Blinky dashed across the flat and right into the middle of the
spectators. He was breathless.

[Illustration: "Oh dear, I hope I'm not too late."]

"Stop! Stop!" he cried. "Don't let the babies go!"

At once there was great excitement. Rabbits scuffled and hopped around
him, their eyes popping with curiosity.

"What's the matter?" they cried. "What have you come for?"

"For goodness' sake don't let the babies race," Blinky gasped. "Belinda
Fox is coming along, and she's going to catch the first one and eat

"Shiver my whiskers!" a father rabbit called out in alarm. "That Belinda
Fox is just a bit too smart. She's been poking her nose round here too
much lately."

"Well, hurry up and do something," Blinky cried. "She'll be here any

"Just a moment, dearie," piped up old Great Granny Rabbit, "I've an
idea, a splendid idea."

"What is it, granny?" all the rabbits asked.

"I've a surprise for Miss Belinda Fox. Just you wait here while I get
it. I won't be a moment," and she hobbled away to her burrow.

[Illustration: "I've an idea, a splendid idea," piped up old great
granny rabbit.]

The rabbits crowded round the entrance waiting to see what great
granny's idea could be.

"I suppose it's one of those stale old turnips she's been collecting for
weeks," said one bold young rab.

"Or perhaps an old tuft of grass," another chimed in.

The rabbits danced with excitement as they waited and one of them
thumped impatiently on the door-way with his hind leg.

"Don't do that, you silly old pop-eye," said a big father sternly.
"She'll think it's the alarm signal and never come out."

But great granny rabbit was not a scrap alarmed and presently she
appeared tugging and pulling at something almost as big as herself. The
others rushed to her assistance and imagine their surprise when they
pulled out a dead rabbit, very fat, so fat indeed that he looked as
though he'd had twenty suppers.

"Gee whiskers!" they exclaimed. "Where did you get this old fellow?
What's he for?"

"Ah ha!" great granny smiled; "he's very very old; but he'll make a fine
supper for Belinda Fox. I've had him longer than any of you young
fellows can remember, and I've kept him for just such an occasion as

"He's very fat!" Blinky said, as he patted him with his paw. "And--oh!
he's prickly!"

"He's prickly right enough," great granny chuckled. "Haven't I stuffed
him with Scotch thistles and nettles? Just you wait and see the
surprised look on Belinda's face when she takes the first bite."

"Oh, lovely, lovely! That's a wonderful supper for Belinda!" said the
rabbits, laughing.

"Give me a hand to push him along!" great granny called.

She was nearly knocked over in the rush, as all the rabbits scrambled
and pushed, and tugged the old thing full of prickles.

[Illustration: "If he belonged to me I'd warm his pants for him, my
word I would."]

Away down to the flat they rolled it, and over to where the bunny still
stood with his paw raised ready to give the signal.

"Prop him up here!" great granny called as she pointed to the
blackberry-hush, "and then Belinda Fox can have a good look at him
before she dines."

The rabbits all helped, and stood old Prickles up on his hind legs. They
placed one of his ears over the back of his head and the other over one
eye. Then they stuffed a few blades of grass in his mouth to make him
look just as though he were eating his supper. They pushed him a little
farther into the blackberry-bush so that he seemed to be peeping out.
Then, quite satisfied with all they had done, they scampered back to the
starting place. Just as they lined up, ready once more for the race,
Miss Belinda Fox strutted into view. Down she came lipperty-lop,
lipperty-lop, until she reached the bunnies.

"Good evening, young rabs," she said politely, with a wicked smile on
her face. "I see you're having a race, and a fine night you have for

"Good evening, Miss Belinda," the rabbits replied. "We're so glad to see

"I'm sure you are," Belinda replied, with a sly look at the babies. "I
came along to see if I could be umpire."

"So Blinky was telling us," said an old rabbit, scratching his ear, and
looking very unconcerned. "Well, I think it's a fine idea, and shows a
very kind nature. We've just been having an argument as to who should
act as umpire, and now the question is settled. We'll gladly accept your

"Just tell me what to do, and I'll be only too pleased to help," Belinda
replied with eyes glistening. Such a fine plump lot of babies she'd
never seen before. What a feast she was going to have!

"Their tails and all I'll gobble," she thought to herself as she patted
one gently on the nose.

"I'll line up the babies," Blinky said, as he trembled with excitement.
"And you, Belinda Fox, walk down to the other end of the flat; and when
we're ready, give the signal to start."

"What's the signal?" Belinda asked slobbering all down her front, and
showing her cruel teeth while eyeing the babies all the time.

"Oh, just wag your tail, that'll do," Blinky replied. Off raced Belinda
Fox, down to the end of the flat. She was so thrilled that she didn't
bother to look around, but came to a halt just in front of the

"Get ready," Blinky called to the babies. "But when you're half-way down
the flat, run very slowly, and if Belinda has not seen old Prickles by
then, turn round and race back to your burrows as quickly as you can."

"Hurry up. Can't you move things along?" Belinda called impatiently, as
she waited, panting and moving about restlessly. She turned suddenly to
look behind as something made a scratching noise. Now the cunning rabs
had ordered one of their number to squat behind old Prickles and at the
right moment to scratch the ground, so that Belinda would turn round to
see for herself what a fine fat rabbit awaited her. Needless to say, the
scratcher was well hidden from view and ready to make his escape at a
moment's notice.

[Illustration: "Their toils and all I'll gobble." she thought to

Scratch, scratch, scratch, came the noise.

"Gobble me up!" Belinda exclaimed in rapture, "if that's not a fine
supper right under my very nose, and much fatter than the babies all put
together! The silly old grass-eater must be blind."

Pretending she did not see Prickles, she hastily turned round and faced
the crowd at the far end, but she kept old Prickles in view out of the
corner of her eye.

Such a fine supper was not going to escape her, she thought and dribbled
most terribly.

"The silly old flop ears," she remarked aloud, "fancy thinking he could
hide from me."

"Are you ready?" Blinky called at the top of his voice, beckoning to

"Yes. Let them go!" And she gave her tail a very frisky wag.

"Ready! ... Set! ... GO!" called Blinky in a loud voice.

Away raced the bunnies, their tails bobbing up and down as they went
helter-skelter down the flat.

At the same moment Belinda Fox made a spring in the blackberry-bush, and
with a snap, grabbed Prickles in her teeth. As it happened she grabbed
him right round the tummy in the most prickly part. She gave a leap in
the air and a scream of agony, as she shook her head from side to side.
She could not cry as her mouth was full of prickles. They stuck between
her teeth and pierced her tongue, and as she swallowed with rage they
stuck in her throat. With a yell of anger she made another bite at old
Prickles and shook him violently, so violently that he came in halves.
Then realizing that a trick had been played on her, she raced round and
round, biting at the air and snapping at the remains of Prickles. She
coughed and spluttered, and tried to tear the prickles out of her mouth,
but it was useless, they pricked like a thousand needles. Exhausted at
last, she fell in a heap, right in the middle of the blackberry-bush and
lay there gasping for air.

The baby rabbits seeing what had happened when half-way down the flat,
turned and raced back to their burrows, chuckling with glee, and dancing
around on their hind legs.

"She's caught this time!" Blinky laughed. "Let's go down and have a look
at her."

Even old great granny joined in the rush. Her left hind foot was swollen
with rheumatism, caused through living in a very dark and damp burrow,
but she forgot all about it for the moment and trotted along on her
three legs with a queer hop now and again. Her old whiskers (the few she
had left) twitched with enjoyment and her eyes looked brighter. She
grinned and showed her poor old teeth, worn to the gums with many years
of hard work on tough grasses and plants.

"Come on, great granny!" a baby bunny called. "Shake a leg, or you'll
miss the fun."

"I'm shaking the three of them as fast as I can," she chuckled, and gave
an extra spurt just to show the cheeky young rabs what she _could_ do.

Belinda Fox heard the rabbits coming and took a look to make sure. Oh,
how mad she was! She kicked the blackberry-bush with all her legs at
once and only added more prickles to her skin.

The rabbits stood round in a circle laughing at the top of their voices,
poking fun, and calling her names.

"And now, Miss Belinda Fox," old great granny cackled, "how do you like
rabbit for supper?"

Belinda gave a leap and tried to grab great granny, but she fell back
in the blackberry-bush with a cry of pain and closed her eyes.

Blinky felt sorry for Belinda, because it was not really her fault that
she liked rabbit for supper. "Perhaps," he thought, "if I'd been a fox
I'd like rabbit, too." So, walking quietly up to Belinda, who looked as
though she were dead, he said in very kind tones:

"If I help to pick the prickles out of you, will you promise to _never
never_ eat bunnies again?"

Belinda opened one eye and looked at him sorrowfully. She could not
speak, so nodded her head weakly.

"How do I know you'll keep your promise?" Blinky asked. But Belinda
could not answer; she only nodded again.

"Cross your paws," Blinky commanded. "Then I'll know you mean it."

Belinda raised her front paws very slowly and crossed them.

"Now, I'll pick all the prickles out, and you'll be able to run home."
And Blinky cautiously stepped up to Belinda and sat down beside her.

The rabbits were amazed to see Belinda Fox so sorry and offered to help
with the prickles. But Blinky ordered them home, saying:

"Go while the going's good."

And the rabbits wisely took his advice.

All night long, until daylight, Blinky picked the prickles out. There
was such a pile of them; but as Belinda's mouth and throat were clear
after Blinky had spent two whole hours unpricking, she felt better and
sat up and helped to pick the nasty things from her paws and tail.

"How do you feel now?" Blinky asked when all but a few were out.

"Much better, Mr Koala," Belinda answered. "Now I think I'll go home.
And I'll never come down this way again."

And Belinda Fox ever after kept well away from the flat. Even when she
was terribly hungry, she would not for a moment look at a rabbit. If one
happened to cross her pathway as she rambled through the bush, she
immediately sat on her haunches, crossed her front paws, and looked the
other way.

Blinky's life was certainly full of adventure. But once more he set out
to find his way home, feeling very happy that he had done a good deed,
and saved the baby bunnies from a horrible death.


Blinky Returns Home

"What's that noise?" said Mrs Grunty, as she peered through the

"Must be a possum," Mrs Koala replied as she also gazed through the

"That's no possum," Mrs Grunty answered in a decided tone. "I wouldn't
mind betting my spectacles it's that son of yours returning."

"Oh, how wonderful!" Mrs Koala cried, "Do you really think the dear
little chap has come home?"

"Dear little chap," sniffed Mrs Grunty with a stern look on her face.
"I'd like to see Snubby running away from home! He wouldn't do it the
second time. And I'd also like to know what you intend to do with that
son of yours?"

"I suppose I'll have to spank him," and Mrs Koala sighed very deeply.

"Suppose, indeed!" Mrs Grunty scoffed. "Why, if he belonged to me I'm
warm his pants for him. My word I would!" And she folded her paws over
her tummy in a very determined way, and glared through the branches

[Illustration: Blinky decided there and then that he'd fight.]

"Is anyone there?" she snapped and nearly fell headlong out of the tree
as she bent over to look.

"Just keep cool. This is my business," Mrs Koala said firmly, as she
broke a twig off the tree.

"It's my business, too," Mrs Grunty growled. "I won't have that young
runaway playing with Snubby. Goodness knows what ideas he'll put in his

"There isn't room in his head for many ideas!" Mrs Koala said snappily
as she began to climb down the tree.

"Dear, dear," Mrs Grunty sighed. "More trouble. That boy of hers will be
the death of her yet."

Mrs Koala quietly climbed down from one branch to the other.

"Blinky!" she called in a whisper. "Is that you?"

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

"Come up here at once!" Mrs Koala ordered.

"I'm not coming if Mrs Grunty's there," naughty Blinky answered.

"Do as I tell you this minute," his mother commanded.

"Shan't," Blinky answered in a very trembly voice.

"Well, I'll soon see about that!" And Mrs Koala climbed right down the
tree to the ground where Blinky stood. What a sight met her eyes! A
grubby little bear, bockers torn to ribbons and dirty; dirty paws and

"Good heavens!" Mrs Koala cried. "Where have you been? Just look at you.
Dirt from head to foot. It's no use, its no use!" poor mother bear
cried. "I _can't_ keep you clean."

"It's only dirt," Blinky whimpered, as he looked at his mother very

"Where have you been all this time?" Mrs Koala asked angrily. "I've been
worried almost to death, and my hair's turned grey with fright."

"I didn't want to go to Mrs Magpie's school, and I hate Mrs Grunty.
She's always growling," Blinky said, and a tear ran down his face.

[Illustration: "It's only dirt," Blinky whimpered, as he looked at his
mother very sorrowfully.]

Mrs Koala put her paws behind her back and gently dropped her stick on
the ground.

"She is an old growler. You're right, Blinky. I think we'll both go away
from her," and Mrs Koala patted Blinky's head.

"Oh, do let's go!" Blinky implored, "and I'll never run away again."

"Very well, dear," Mrs Koala said kindly. "We'll go to-night."

"Oh, good!" Blinky cried as he hugged his mother.

"Wait here until I go up and collect a few leaves, as we'll probably
need them on the way," Mrs Koala said kindly.

"Say good-bye to Mrs Grunty for me, and give her a scratch," naughty
Blinky called out as his mother climbed up the tree again.

"Don't be cheeky, Blinky," Mrs Koala replied. "Mrs Grunty can't help

"She's got an extra big growler inside her," Blinky mumbled. He waited
patiently until his mother returned. Her apron was full of juicy
gum-tips and she seemed very pleased at the prospect of leaving.

"Where are we going?" Blinky inquired.

"I don't know," his mother replied. "You should know a good place for
us to make a new home after all your travels."

"I know of lots!" Blinky cried joyfully, and danced up and down.

Just as they were ready to start a big gum-nut came hurtling down and
hit Blinky right on his nose. He looked up at the tree in surprise.
Surely Snubby wouldn't do a thing like that. He was such a good little

"It's that horrid Mrs Grunty," he said at the top of his voice, as he
caught sight of her hiding among the leaves, and looking down at him.
She was shaking her paw savagely.

"Hope you fall out of the tree," Blinky called to her.

"It'll be a bad day for you if I do," she called back.

"Good-bye, old Grunty legs!" he answered, and scrambled after his
mother, who had started on the pathway into the bush.

"It's good to have you back again," dear old Mrs Koala said. "I'm sure
we'll be happy now."

"As happy as spiders," Blinky replied. "I know a beautiful big gum-tree,
away from Mrs Grunty."

The two bears trotted on and on, the stars shining seemed to wink and
laugh at them, and a breeze dancing through the bush played with them as
she blew leaves in their faces.

"Shh!" Mrs Koala whispered. "I can hear voices, I'm sure."

"It's only Mr Owl."

"No, no! There are men coming," Mrs Koala whispered again. "Where shall
we hide?"

"Behind this bush," Blinky replied. "Quickly, mother, and don't

The two bears crawled under a wattle-tree and waited with thumping
hearts to see what would happen.

"Here they come!" Blinky whispered. "Don't move an eyelash." He was
right. Two men with guns and sacks came tramping through the bush,
crushing the leaves underfoot and whistling loudly.

"It's a funny thing we haven't seen a possum yet," one remarked.

"Bears are what I'm after," the other replied.

"Oh, is that all!" the first one answered. "Well, you'll have a long
tramp after them. There are none round here."

Blinky and his mother looked at one another terrified. "What if they
find us?" Blinky whispered.

"We're safe, if you keep very still." And Mrs Koala patted Blinky in a
comforting way.

"How about boiling the billy?" one man suggested as they stopped right
opposite the wattle-tree where the two bears were hiding.

"A good idea," his friend replied. "I feel like a cup of tea. Here's a
good tree to rest under." And pointing to the wattle, he flung his sacks
down only a few inches from Blinky and his mother.

"You'd better have a look round for snakes, before you sit there," the
first man advised.

Mrs Koala gave Blinky's arm a squeeze. They were trembling with fright.

The man who had thrown his sacks down started to kick away the leaves
and twigs. Nearer and nearer his boots came to the little bears, until
he kicked Blinky on the back.

"Hulloa! What have I struck?" he called out. "Something soft, and not a

"A possum, you may be sure," his friend replied as he dashed over to
have a look.

Pushing aside the low branches of the wattle, they discovered Blinky and
his mother, huddled up together and growling savagely.

"Well, I'll be blowed!" said one of the men. "If it isn't Mrs Koala and
her son! What luck!"

"Get the sack and be very gentle with them," his friend replied.
"They're grand little fellows and I wouldn't hurt a hair on their

"Very healthy looking bears, especially the young chap," the other man

"You grab one and I'll get the other, then we'll put them in the sacks,"
the first man said.

"Easier said than done, I think," his friend remarked as he approached
Blinky and Mrs Koala. They growled louder than ever, and snarled at the

"Come here, old chap," the man said kindly as he reached towards Blinky;
but Blinky decided there and then that he'd fight before he'd be popped
in a sack.

"So you want a scrap, do you?" the man asked, as he tried to pat Blinky.

With a growl Blinky darted out his paw and scratched the man's arm.

"You young beggar!" the man cried. "It's time your toenails were cut."
And as quick as lightning he grabbed Blinky by the back of the neck.

"Caught!" the man called excitedly. "Now for the mother."

When Mrs Koala saw Blinky caught she wisely decided to give no trouble,
but to go with her son, wherever they were taken to. She allowed the
other man to catch her and stroke her pretty ears. In fact, she rather
liked the feel of those hands. They were very gentle and the man spoke
kind words. Surely no harm would come to them from these men.

But Mr Blinky thought otherwise. He was mad. Fancy being caught just as
he was out on another adventure! And he had such a wonderful lot of
things to show his mother.

"This young fellow's like a jack-in-the-box and as savage as a lion,"
the man remarked who held him.

"Pop him into the sack," his friend replied, "but be very careful not to
hurt him. His mother's behaving like a little lady."

Blinky was put in the sack, feet first.

"Tie the bag round his neck, and let the little fellow see his mother,"
the first man said, so a string was tied round the bag, and Blinky
looked very funny as he was propped up against the tree, with just his
head showing. His ears looked larger than ever and his eyes glistened
with anger. He kicked and kicked the sack and altogether behaved

The men laughed loudly as they watched his antics.

"The young nipper's in a bad temper," one remarked. "I'll sit beside him
with his mother on my lap. That might quieten him." He did so, and Mrs
Koala put out a paw and patted Blinky's nose. It was hot and dry. "Dear
me, Blinky," she said. "Don't get so angry. You're making yourself quite

"They'll kill us," Blinky cried.

"No, I'm sure they are kind men. I heard them say something about a zoo
just now," his mother replied.

"Well, I don't want to go to a zoo," he wailed.

"Oh, we'd have great fun!" Mrs Koala said. "We would meet other bears
and see all kinds of strange things."

"It sounds like an adventure, and I suppose we'd be taken great care of,
and if you're with me, mother, I don't think I'd mind so much," Blinky
replied quite cheerfully.

"That's the boy!" Mrs Koala said. "Now, if you stop that kicking and
growling and behave very nicely, perhaps the men will take you out of
that sack."

Blinky did as his mother advised, and sat there as quiet as it was
possible for him to sit. Presently, after the men had finished their
tea, one turned to look at Blinky.

"The little fellow's quite tame now," he remarked. "I guess he's tired
after all that kicking."

"Poor little chap!" the other said kindly. "How about letting him out
for a while?"

"Do you think it wise?" his friend asked. "I wouldn't lose him for the

"He won't wander away while his mother's here," the other replied. "Let
him out and see what he'll do." So Blinky was taken out of the sack and
held in kind arms up to his mother.

"Don't kick or scratch," Mrs Koala whispered, "or they'll pop you back
in the sack again."

But Blinky was cunning enough to know that, and instead kept very still
until at last the man placed him on the ground. He cuddled up to his
mother and felt ever so much happier.

[Illustration: "Don't kick, or scratch," Mrs. Koala whispered.]

"Well, it's time we made tracks home again," one of the men remarked, as
he stamped out the smouldering fire. "Pop the two of them in the sacks
and we'll ride very carefully."

A long journey followed through the bush; to Blinky it seemed days and
days. The gum-trees were gradually left behind, and in their place green
fields and houses came into view. The earth had not the sweet smell of
the bushland, the air seemed dusty, and the songs of the birds
disappeared altogether.

Both bears were held very gently and patted and talked to in a
caressing way by the men, so all fear of harm had left them. Indeed,
they were enjoying this new adventure, especially dear Mrs Koala, who
had never been from home before. She could hardly believe her eyes when
she saw the first train pass by in the distance, and wonder after wonder
caused her and Blinky to utter queer little grunts as they came nearer
to the township. The next day, the men took the bears on the train and
it was very amusing to Blinky to have such a fuss made of him. It was
better than any adventure he'd ever had before. Mrs Koala enjoyed it,
too, and in her mind wondered however she had lived so long with crabby
Mrs Grunty. After the train journey they were carried on board a boat
and taken across the water.

"Good gracious!" Mrs Koala exclaimed, as she gazed on Sydney harbour.
"They seem to have a great deal of rain here. I've never seen such a lot
of water over the ground before. The rabbits will be in a bad way."

Blinky was too surprised to reply. He tried to look at everything at
once--boats, people, flags, wharves, and very tall buildings. It was
really marvellous. He was too surprised to even grunt. The men still
carried them in their arms, and patted them as before.

The boat drew alongside a jetty and the men carried the bears ashore.
Through a big gate they went and along paths bordered with beautiful
flowers, and oh, joy! gum-trees grew all around.

Mrs Koala and Blinky were enraptured as they saw the trees of the
bushland, and every moment they became happier as an old friend was

"Why, there's Mrs Wallaby, I do believe!" Mrs Koala cried in excitement.
"And, oh, dear, what a great number of children she has now! When I
first knew her she had only one; now she has dozens."

"Good heavens!" she cried in alarm as they passed along the path. "Just
look at Mrs Snake. How fat she's grown since last I saw her! And I'm
sure as can be _she_ hadn't all those children then. Oh, there's her
husband, I suppose. See, Blinky, that big snake lying asleep in the

"That's not our Mrs Snake," Blinky replied with a worldly air. "She's
dead and eaten by the bull ants."

"Dear me," Mrs Koala sighed. "I've heard so little living away in the
bush. There's no doubt about it we koalas have seen very little."

"I hear Jacko!" Blinky cried with excitement. "He's here, too!"

Sure enough--the kookaburras were giving the little bears a grand bush
welcome to their new home.

"Good afternoon," Mrs Koala called. "You've also added to your family,
Mr Kookaburra, since I saw you last."

Another hearty laugh greeted Mrs Koala's words.

"Great gum-trees! What on earth is that?" said Mrs Koala, pointing to a

"Well, well, I've never seen a tree like that before. What a funny
looking branch that is growing out of the stump. It's spotted like the
gum, but the spots are larger. Good gracious, Blinky, it's moving! Look
at the branches walking along the ground. And, oh, the spotted branch
has eyes and ears on the top!"

"Silly!" Blinky retorted. "That's not a tree. That's an animal, mother."

"And is that huge thing over there an animal?" Mrs Koala asked as she
pointed to an elephant. "I've never seen an animal with a nose like
that! Just look at it--all crumpled and so very, very, long. I'm sure
it's not an animal."

"Look! Look!" Blinky cried excitedly. "He's picking up something with
his nose! And now he's curled it into his mouth!"

"That's _not_ a nose," Mrs Koala said decidedly. "It's some kind of
fishing-line he's stuck on his face. Whoever saw anyone pick up things
with their nose?"

Blinky and his mother had no further time for argument as the men
carried them into a building, where they were at once surrounded by
several more men who admired them, patted them, and offered some
delicious fresh gum-tips for refreshments.

"Remember your manners, Blinky, and don't eat so quickly," Mrs Koala
whispered, as she nibbled her leaves.

"They are so good, mother, and it's such a long time since we've had our
own gum-tips. I hope we'll get plenty more." And Blinky crammed his
mouth with leaves until a smart smack on the nose from Mrs Koala made
him remember his manners.

"Aren't they the quaintest little bears," someone said as Blinky and his
mother continued their meal. "And what a delight for the children!"

They have indeed been a delight and joy to thousands of children--and
grown-ups as well--in Taronga Park. Such cuddly, trusting, amusing
little bears. How many of you children who visit the zoo long to steal
Blinky just for your very own? No wonder, especially when he reaches out
a furry paw to shake hands with you. But while you are longing to cuddle
and steal him, remember how sad he would be if parted from his mother.
He would die in a very short time, as his natural food is most
necessary, that is--his special gum-tips; and although Blinky has been
through so many bold adventures, he must have his bushland surroundings
to make his life happy.

As I walked past the koalas one day recently when paying a visit to the
zoo, I asked Mrs Koala how she liked her new home. Before she could
reply naughty Blinky pushed his way in front of her, held out a paw for
me to shake, and said in a very cheeky voice:

"It's just the juicy gum-tip!"

So there I left the two little koalas with other friends from the bush
feeling very happy and looking quite contented.

[Illustration: "Good-bye, my mother wants to see me privately."]

End of this Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook
Blinky Bill Grows Up by Dorothy Wall

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