The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)
The People of Pudding Hill — No. 6
[All Rights Reserved.]
Miss Amelia'S Birthday Party.
The Animals of Pudding Hill were all very excited about Miss Amelia's birthday party which was to be in a few days’ time.
Up in the gorse hedge, the Hedgehog babies, Sam and Sue, were practising a dance which they were going to do. It was a great secret, but most of the Animals knew they were up to something.
On a fence post Johnny Black was making up the song which he had promised to sing about the Field Mice who had once rescued him from the Butcher's Boy. This also was a secret, but Johnny Black always made up his songs out loud, and the Field Mice knew all about it. They were gathered in a circle round the bottom of the post making all kinds of remarks.
“No more when the sun is shining,” sang Johnny Black.
“No more when the skies are blue,
Will Johnny the beautiful blackbird
Be able to sing to you.”
“We thought it was going to be a song about us,” squeaked the Field Mice.
“I'm coming to that in a minute,” said Johnny Black, and he went on singing,—
“Oh! who will get him out of the box?
The People of Pudding Hill cried.
And Johnny Black was rescued
When the humble Field Mice tried.”
The Field Mice didn't like that either.
“We aren't humble,” they cried, “and we don't think your song is much good.”
“Very well,” said Johnny Black, who never minded what anyone said as long as he could keep on singing. “We'll try again.”
Miss Amelia, the tortoise, was busily writing invitations for the Birthday Party. She had chosen the Rose bed as the best place in which to do this, because she was able to use the fallen petals as paper, and a long sharp thorn as a pen. She had nearly finished and was just about to make a capital “D” for Daisy the lizard, when she heard what sounded like a loud sneeze, and something rushed along the path and jumped right over her.
Quick as winking she drew inside her shell, and the thing, whatever it was, landed with a bump, and sent her carefully written notes scattering in all directions.
She could not think what had happened, but presently she heard Mr. Tom, the tabby cat, who had been lying on the path, spitting and hissing in a great rage.
“Who are you, and where did you come from?” she heard him cry.
Then she heard a bark and she knew it must be a dog that was causing all the commotion. She poked her head out and looked around her. There was Mr. Tom standing with his back arched and his tail straight up in the air. Bouncing up and down in front of him was a little black dog with bright beady eyes and a rough coat. Every now and again he would stop bouncing and creep backwards, then he would growl and make a spring, but he was always very careful to keep just out of the way of Mr. Tom's claws.
“I'm Jock,” he kept barking. “I've come to live here. I'll make you all frightened of me.”
Presently, however, seeing that he could not make Mr. Tom frightened, he scampered off. Mr. Tom put his back down and stopped spitting, although he was still very angry. He came over to Miss Amelia who was sadly collecting up her scattered rose petals.
“The young ruffian,” he exclaimed, “did you hear what he said to me?”
Miss Amelia was nearly in tears.
“What is to be done?” she cried, “we were all so happy together, he will frighten all the other animals away.”
“You leave him to me,” said Mr. Tom. “I'll teach him his manners.”
In the days that followed, however, the animals were badly upset by this rowdy little dog who had come to live amongst them.
He frightened the Field Mice so much that they all ran away and hid in the long grass. He tried to play with Horace Hedgehog, but Horace curled himself into a ball and pricked his nose. He chased Peter Possum up into his tree and made such a noise in the daytime that Joe the Morepork could get no sleep at all. The animals began to feel that their happy days on Pudding Hill were over. None of them could go out without fear of being pounced on, and they began to talk of going away.
Now Jock, for all his roughness, did not really mean to do anyone harm, and when he found that all the animals hid from him, he became very lonely, for there was no one to bark at or play with.
On the morning of her birthday party, Miss Amelia, knowing that none of her friends would leave their homes to come to it, was sitting sadly in the garden.