Just So Stories
by Rudyard Kipling
HOW THE WHALE
GOT HIS THROAT
HOW THE CAMEL
GOT HIS HUMP
HOW THE LEOPARD
GOT HIS SPOTS
THE SING-SONG OF
OLD MAN KANGAROO
THE BEGINNING OF
HOW THE FIRST
HOW THE ALPHABET
THE CRAB THAT
PLAYED WITH THE
THE CAT THAT
HOW THE WHALE GOT HIS THROAT
IN the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a
Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and
the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and
his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly
twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate
with his mouth--so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in
all the sea, and he was a small 'Stute Fish, and he swam a little
behind the Whale's right ear, so as to be out of harm's way. Then the
Whale stood up on his tail and said, 'I'm hungry.' And the small
'Stute Fish said in a small 'stute voice, 'Noble and generous
Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?'
'No,' said the Whale. 'What is it like?'
'Nice,' said the small 'Stute Fish. 'Nice but nubbly.'
'Then fetch me some,' said the Whale, and he made the sea froth up
with his tail.
'One at a time is enough,' said the 'Stute Fish. 'If you swim to
latitude Fifty North, longitude Forty West (that is magic), you will
find, sitting _on_ a raft, _in_ the middle of the sea, with nothing on
but a pair of blue canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must
_not_ forget the suspenders, Best Beloved), and a jack- knife, one
ship-wrecked Mariner, who, it is only fair to tell you, is a man of
So the Whale swam and swam to latitude Fifty North, longitude
Forty West, as fast as he could swim, and _on_ a raft, _in_ the
middle of the sea, _with_ nothing to wear except a pair of blue
canvas breeches, a pair of suspenders (you must particularly remember
the suspenders, Best Beloved), _and_ a jack-knife, he found one
single, solitary shipwrecked Mariner, trailing his toes in the water.
(He had his mummy's leave to paddle, or else he would never have done
it, because he was a man of infinite- resource-and-sagacity.)
Then the Whale opened his mouth back and back and back till it
nearly touched his tail, and he swallowed the shipwrecked Mariner,
and the raft he was sitting on, and his blue canvas breeches, and the
suspenders (which you _must_ not forget), _and_ the jack-knife--He
swallowed them all down into his warm, dark, inside cup-boards, and
then he smacked his lips--so, and turned round three times on his
But as soon as the Mariner, who was a man of infinite-resource-
and-sagacity, found himself truly inside the Whale's warm, dark,
inside cup-boards, he stumped and he jumped and he thumped and he
bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged,
and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled
and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he
sighed, and he crawled and he bawled, and he stepped and he lepped,
and he danced hornpipes where he shouldn't, and the Whale felt most
unhappy indeed. (_Have_ you forgotten the suspenders?)
So he said to the 'Stute Fish, 'This man is very nubbly, and
besides he is making me hiccough. What shall I do?'
'Tell him to come out,' said the 'Stute Fish.
So the Whale called down his own throat to the shipwrecked
Mariner, 'Come out and behave yourself. I've got the hiccoughs.'
'Nay, nay!' said the Mariner. 'Not so, but far otherwise. Take me
to my natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and I'll think about
it.' And he began to dance more than ever.
'You had better take him home,' said the 'Stute Fish to the Whale.
'I ought to have warned you that he is a man of
So the Whale swam and swam and swam, with both flippers and his
tail, as hard as he could for the hiccoughs; and at last he saw the
Mariner's natal-shore and the white-cliffs-of-Albion, and he rushed
half-way up the beach, and opened his mouth wide and wide and wide,
and said, 'Change here for Winchester, Ashuelot, Nashua, Keene, and
stations on the _Fitch_burg Road;' and just as he said 'Fitch' the
Mariner walked out of his mouth. But while the Whale had been
swimming, the Mariner, who was indeed a person of
infinite-resource-and-sagacity, had taken his jack-knife and cut up
the raft into a little square grating all running criss- cross, and he
had tied it firm with his suspenders (_now_, you know why you were not
to forget the suspenders!), and he dragged that grating good and tight
into the Whale's throat, and there it stuck! Then he recited the
following _Sloka_, which, as you have not heard it, I will now proceed
By means of a grating I have stopped your ating.
For the Mariner he was also an Hi-ber-ni-an. And he stepped out on
the shingle, and went home to his mother, who had given him leave to
trail his toes in the water; and he married and lived happily ever
afterward. So did the Whale. But from that day on, the grating in his
throat, which he could neither cough up nor swallow down, prevented
him eating anything except very, very small fish; and that is the
reason why whales nowadays never eat men or boys or little girls.
The small 'Stute Fish went and hid himself in the mud under the
Door-sills of the Equator. He was afraid that the Whale might be
angry with him.
The Sailor took the jack-knife home. He was wearing the blue
canvas breeches when he walked out on the shingle. The suspenders
were left behind, you see, to tie the grating with; and that is the
end of _that_ tale.
WHEN the cabin port-holes are dark and green
Because of the seas outside;
When the ship goes _wop_ (with a wiggle between)
And the steward falls into the soup-tureen,
And the trunks begin to slide;
When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
You're 'Fifty North and Forty West!'
HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP
NOW this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big
In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, and
the Animals were just beginning to work for Man, there was a Camel,
and he lived in the middle of a Howling Desert because he did not want
to work; and besides, he was a Howler himself. So he ate sticks and
thorns and tamarisks and milkweed and prickles, most 'scruciating
idle; and when anybody spoke to him he said 'Humph!' Just 'Humph!' and
Presently the Horse came to him on Monday morning, with a saddle
on his back and a bit in his mouth, and said, 'Camel, O Camel, come
out and trot like the rest of us.'
'Humph!' said the Camel; and the Horse went away and told the Man.
Presently the Dog came to him, with a stick in his mouth, and
said, 'Camel, O Camel, come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.'
'Humph!' said the Camel; and the Dog went away and told the Man.
Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on his neck and said,
'Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest of us.'
'Humph!' said the Camel; and the Ox went away and told the Man.
At the end of the day the Man called the Horse and the Dog and the
Ox together, and said, 'Three, O Three, I'm very sorry for you (with
the world so new-and-all); but that Humph-thing in the Desert can't
work, or he would have been here by now, so I am going to leave him
alone, and you must work double-time to make up for it.'
That made the Three very angry (with the world so new-and-all),
and they held a palaver, and an _indaba_, and a _punchayet_, and a
pow-wow on the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing on
milkweed _most_ 'scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then he said
'Humph!' and went away again.
Presently there came along the Djinn in charge of All Deserts,
rolling in a cloud of dust (Djinns always travel that way because it
is Magic), and he stopped to palaver and pow-pow with the Three.
'Djinn of All Deserts,' said the Horse, 'is it right for any one
to be idle, with the world so new-and-all?'
'Certainly not,' said the Djinn.
'Well,' said the Horse, 'there's a thing in the middle of your
Howling Desert (and he's a Howler himself) with a long neck and long
legs, and he hasn't done a stroke of work since Monday morning. He
'Whew!' said the Djinn, whistling, 'that's my Camel, for all the
gold in Arabia! What does he say about it?'
'He says "Humph!"' said the Dog; 'and he won't fetch and carry.'
'Does he say anything else?'
'Only "Humph!"; and he won't plough,' said the Ox.
'Very good,' said the Djinn. 'I'll humph him if you will kindly
wait a minute.'
The Djinn rolled himself up in his dust-cloak, and took a bearing
across the desert, and found the Camel most 'scruciatingly idle,
looking at his own reflection in a pool of water.
'My long and bubbling friend,' said the Djinn, 'what's this I hear
of your doing no work, with the world so new-and-all?'
'Humph!' said the Camel.
The Djinn sat down, with his chin in his hand, and began to think
a Great Magic, while the Camel looked at his own reflection in the
pool of water.
'You've given the Three extra work ever since Monday morning, all
on account of your 'scruciating idleness,' said the Djinn; and he
went on thinking Magics, with his chin in his hand.
'Humph!' said the Camel.
'I shouldn't say that again if I were you,' said the Djinn; you
might say it once too often. Bubbles, I want you to work.'
And the Camel said 'Humph!' again; but no sooner had he said it
than he saw his back, that he was so proud of, puffing up and puffing
up into a great big lolloping humph.
'Do you see that?' said the Djinn. 'That's your very own humph
that you've brought upon your very own self by not working. To-day is
Thursday, and you've done no work since Monday, when the work began.
Now you are going to work.'
'How can I,' said the Camel, 'with this humph on my back?'
'That's made a-purpose,' said the Djinn, 'all because you missed
those three days. You will be able to work now for three days without
eating, because you can live on your humph; and don't you ever say I
never did anything for you. Come out of the Desert and go to the
Three, and behave. Humph yourself!'
And the Camel humphed himself, humph and all, and went away to
join the Three. And from that day to this the Camel always wears a
humph (we call it 'hump' now, not to hurt his feelings); but he has
never yet caught up with the three days that he missed at the
beginning of the world, and he has never yet learned how to behave.
THE Camel's hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
We climb out of bed with a frouzly head
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;
And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know there is one for you)
When we get the hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;
And then you will find that the sun and the wind.
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump--
The horrible hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
I get it as well as you-oo-oo--
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo--
We all get hump--
Kiddies and grown-ups too!
HOW THE RHINOCEROS GOT HIS SKIN
ONCE upon a time, on an uninhabited island on the shores of the
Red Sea, there lived a Parsee from whose hat the rays of the sun were
reflected in more-than-oriental splendour. And the Parsee lived by the
Red Sea with nothing but his hat and his knife and a cooking-stove of
the kind that you must particularly never touch. And one day he took
flour and water and currants and plums and sugar and things, and made
himself one cake which was two feet across and three feet thick. It
was indeed a Superior Comestible (that's magic), and he put it on
stove because he was allowed to cook on the stove, and he baked it and
he baked it till it was all done brown and smelt most sentimental. But
just as he was going to eat it there came down to the beach from the
Altogether Uninhabited Interior one Rhinoceros with a horn on his
nose, two piggy eyes, and few manners. In those days the Rhinoceros's
skin fitted him quite tight. There were no wrinkles in it anywhere.
He looked exactly like a Noah's Ark Rhinoceros, but of course much
bigger. All the same, he had no manners then, and he has no manners
now, and he never will have any manners. He said, 'How!' and the
Parsee left that cake and climbed to the top of a palm tree with
nothing on but his hat, from which the rays of the sun were always
reflected in more-than-oriental splendour. And the Rhinoceros upset
the oil-stove with his nose, and the cake rolled on the sand, and he
spiked that cake on the horn of his nose, and he ate it, and he went
away, waving his tail, to the desolate and Exclusively Uninhabited
Interior which abuts on the islands of Mazanderan, Socotra, and
Promontories of the Larger Equinox. Then the Parsee came down from his
palm-tree and put the stove on its legs and recited the following
Sloka, which, as you have not heard, I will now proceed to relate:--
Them that takes cakes Which the Parsee-man bakes Makes dreadful
And there was a great deal more in that than you would think.
Because, five weeks later, there was a heat wave in the Red Sea,
and everybody took off all the clothes they had. The Parsee took off
his hat; but the Rhinoceros took off his skin and carried it over his
shoulder as he came down to the beach to bathe. In those days it
buttoned underneath with three buttons and looked like a waterproof.
He said nothing whatever about the Parsee's cake, because he had eaten
it all; and he never had any manners, then, since, or henceforward. He
waddled straight into the water and blew bubbles through his nose,
leaving his skin on the beach.
Presently the Parsee came by and found the skin, and he smiled one
smile that ran all round his face two times. Then he danced three
times round the skin and rubbed his hands. Then he went to his camp
and filled his hat with cake-crumbs, for the Parsee never ate anything
but cake, and never swept out his camp. He took that skin, and he
shook that skin, and he scrubbed that skin, and he rubbed that skin
just as full of old, dry, stale, tickly cake-crumbs and some burned
currants as ever it could possibly hold. Then he climbed to the top of
his palm-tree and waited for the Rhinoceros to come out of the water
and put it on.
And the Rhinoceros did. He buttoned it up with the three buttons,
and it tickled like cake crumbs in bed. Then he wanted to scratch,
but that made it worse; and then he lay down on the sands and rolled
and rolled and rolled, and every time he rolled the cake crumbs
tickled him worse and worse and worse. Then he ran to the palm-tree
and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed himself against it. He rubbed so much
and so hard that he rubbed his skin into a great fold over his
shoulders, and another fold underneath, where the buttons used to be
(but he rubbed the buttons off), and he rubbed some more folds over
his legs. And it spoiled his temper, but it didn't make the least
difference to the cake-crumbs. They were inside his skin and they
tickled. So he went home, very angry indeed and horribly scratchy; and
from that day to this every rhinoceros has great folds in his skin and
a very bad temper, all on account of the cake-crumbs inside.
But the Parsee came down from his palm-tree, wearing his hat, from
which the rays of the sun were reflected in more-than-oriental
splendour, packed up his cooking-stove, and went away in the direction
of Orotavo, Amygdala, the Upland Meadows of Anantarivo, and the
Marshes of Sonaput.
THIS Uninhabited Island
Is off Cape Gardafui,
By the Beaches of Socotra
And the Pink Arabian Sea:
But it's hot--too hot from Suez
For the likes of you and me
Ever to go
In a P. and 0.
And call on the Cake-Parsee!
HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS
IN the days when everybody started fair, Best Beloved, the Leopard
lived in a place called the High Veldt. 'Member it wasn't the Low
Veldt, or the Bush Veldt, or the Sour Veldt, but the 'sclusively bare,
hot, shiny High Veldt, where there was sand and sandy-coloured rock
and 'sclusively tufts of sandy- yellowish grass. The Giraffe and the
Zebra and the Eland and the Koodoo and the Hartebeest lived there; and
they were 'sclusively sandy-yellow-brownish all over; but the Leopard,
he was the 'sclusivest sandiest-yellowish-brownest of them all--a
greyish-yellowish catty-shaped kind of beast, and he matched the
'sclusively yellowish-greyish-brownish colour of the High Veldt to one
hair. This was very bad for the Giraffe and the Zebra and the rest of
them; for he would lie down by a 'sclusively
yellowish-greyish-brownish stone or clump of grass, and when the
Giraffe or the Zebra or the Eland or the Koodoo or the Bush-Buck or
the Bonte-Buck came by he would surprise them out of their jumpsome
lives. He would indeed! And, also, there was an Ethiopian with bows
and arrows (a 'sclusively greyish-brownish-yellowish man he was then),
who lived on the High Veldt with the Leopard; and the two used to hunt
together--the Ethiopian with his bows and arrows, and the Leopard
'sclusively with his teeth and claws--till the Giraffe and the Eland
and the Koodoo and the Quagga and all the rest of them didn't know
which way to jump, Best Beloved. They didn't indeed!
After a long time--things lived for ever so long in those
days--they learned to avoid anything that looked like a Leopard or an
Ethiopian; and bit by bit--the Giraffe began it, because his legs were
the longest--they went away from the High Veldt. They scuttled for
days and days and days till they came to a great forest, 'sclusively
full of trees and bushes and stripy, speckly, patchy-blatchy shadows,
and there they hid: and after another long time, what with standing
half in the shade and half out of it, and what with the slippery-slidy
shadows of the trees falling on them, the Giraffe grew blotchy, and
the Zebra grew stripy, and the Eland and the Koodoo grew darker, with
little wavy grey lines on their backs like bark on a tree trunk; and
so, though you could hear them and smell them, you could very seldom
see them, and then only when you knew precisely where to look. They
had a beautiful time in the 'sclusively speckly-spickly shadows of the
forest, while the Leopard and the Ethiopian ran about over the
'sclusively greyish-yellowish-reddish High Veldt outside, wondering
where all their breakfasts and their dinners and their teas had gone.
At last they were so hungry that they ate rats and beetles and
rock-rabbits, the Leopard and the Ethiopian, and then they had the
Big Tummy-ache, both together; and then they met Baviaan--the
dog-headed, barking Baboon, who is Quite the Wisest Animal in All
Said Leopard to Baviaan (and it was a very hot day), 'Where has
all the game gone?'
And Baviaan winked. He knew.
Said the Ethiopian to Baviaan, 'Can you tell me the present
habitat of the aboriginal Fauna?' (That meant just the same thing,
but the Ethiopian always used long words. He was a grown-up.)
And Baviaan winked. He knew.
Then said Baviaan, 'The game has gone into other spots; and my
advice to you, Leopard, is to go into other spots as soon as you
And the Ethiopian said, 'That is all very fine, but I wish to know
whither the aboriginal Fauna has migrated.'
Then said Baviaan, 'The aboriginal Fauna has joined the aboriginal
Flora because it was high time for a change; and my advice to you,
Ethiopian, is to change as soon as you can.'
That puzzled the Leopard and the Ethiopian, but they set off to
look for the aboriginal Flora, and presently, after ever so many
days, they saw a great, high, tall forest full of tree trunks all
'sclusively speckled and sprottled and spottled, dotted and splashed
and slashed and hatched and cross-hatched with shadows. (Say that
quickly aloud, and you will see how very shadowy the forest must have
'What is this,' said the Leopard, 'that is so 'sclusively dark,
and yet so full of little pieces of light?'
'I don't know, said the Ethiopian, 'but it ought to be the
aboriginal Flora. I can smell Giraffe, and I can hear Giraffe, but I
can't see Giraffe.'
'That's curious,' said the Leopard. 'I suppose it is because we
have just come in out of the sunshine. I can smell Zebra, and I can
hear Zebra, but I can't see Zebra.'
'Wait a bit, said the Ethiopian. 'It's a long time since we've
hunted 'em. Perhaps we've forgotten what they were like.'
'Fiddle!' said the Leopard. 'I remember them perfectly on the High
Veldt, especially their marrow-bones. Giraffe is about seventeen feet
high, of a 'sclusively fulvous golden-yellow from head to heel; and
Zebra is about four and a half feet high, of a'sclusively grey-fawn
colour from head to heel.'
'Umm, said the Ethiopian, looking into the speckly-spickly shadows
of the aboriginal Flora-forest. 'Then they ought to show up in this
dark place like ripe bananas in a smokehouse.'
But they didn't. The Leopard and the Ethiopian hunted all day; and
though they could smell them and hear them, they never saw one of
'For goodness' sake,' said the Leopard at tea-time, 'let us wait
till it gets dark. This daylight hunting is a perfect scandal.'
So they waited till dark, and then the Leopard heard something
breathing sniffily in the starlight that fell all stripy through the
branches, and he jumped at the noise, and it smelt like Zebra, and it
felt like Zebra, and when he knocked it down it kicked like Zebra, but
he couldn't see it. So he said, 'Be quiet, O you person without any
form. I am going to sit on your head till morning, because there is
something about you that I don't understand.'
Presently he heard a grunt and a crash and a scramble, and the
Ethiopian called out, 'I've caught a thing that I can't see. It
smells like Giraffe, and it kicks like Giraffe, but it hasn't any
'Don't you trust it,' said the Leopard. 'Sit on its head till the
morning--same as me. They haven't any form--any of 'em.'
So they sat down on them hard till bright morning-time, and then
Leopard said, 'What have you at your end of the table, Brother?'
The Ethiopian scratched his head and said, 'It ought to be
'sclusively a rich fulvous orange-tawny from head to heel, and it
ought to be Giraffe; but it is covered all over with chestnut
blotches. What have you at your end of the table, Brother?'
And the Leopard scratched his head and said, 'It ought to be
'sclusively a delicate greyish-fawn, and it ought to be Zebra; but it
is covered all over with black and purple stripes. What in the world
have you been doing to yourself, Zebra? Don't you know that if you
were on the High Veldt I could see you ten miles off? You haven't any
'Yes,' said the Zebra, 'but this isn't the High Veldt. Can't you
'I can now,' said the Leopard. 'But I couldn't all yesterday. How
is it done?'
'Let us up,' said the Zebra, 'and we will show you.
They let the Zebra and the Giraffe get up; and Zebra moved away to
some little thorn-bushes where the sunlight fell all stripy, and
Giraffe moved off to some tallish trees where the shadows fell all
'Now watch,' said the Zebra and the Giraffe. 'This is the way it's
done. One--two--three! And where's your breakfast?'
Leopard stared, and Ethiopian stared, but all they could see were
stripy shadows and blotched shadows in the forest, but never a sign
of Zebra and Giraffe. They had just walked off and hidden themselves
in the shadowy forest.
'Hi! Hi!' said the Ethiopian. 'That's a trick worth learning. Take
a lesson by it, Leopard. You show up in this dark place like a bar of
soap in a coal-scuttle.'
'Ho! Ho!' said the Leopard. 'Would it surprise you very much to
know that you show up in this dark place like a mustard-plaster on a
sack of coals?'
'Well, calling names won't catch dinner, said the Ethiopian. 'The
long and the little of it is that we don't match our backgrounds. I'm
going to take Baviaan's advice. He told me I ought to change; and as
I've nothing to change except my skin I'm going to change that.'
'What to?' said the Leopard, tremendously excited.
'To a nice working blackish-brownish colour, with a little purple
in it, and touches of slaty-blue. It will be the very thing for
hiding in hollows and behind trees.'
So he changed his skin then and there, and the Leopard was more
excited than ever; he had never seen a man change his skin before.
'But what about me?' he said, when the Ethiopian had worked his
last little finger into his fine new black skin.
'You take Baviaan's advice too. He told you to go into spots.'
'So I did,' said the Leopard. I went into other spots as fast as I
could. I went into this spot with you, and a lot of good it has done
'Oh,' said the Ethiopian, 'Baviaan didn't mean spots in South
Africa. He meant spots on your skin.'
'What's the use of that?' said the Leopard.
'Think of Giraffe,' said the Ethiopian. 'Or if you prefer stripes,
think of Zebra. They find their spots and stripes give them per-feet
'Umm,' said the Leopard. 'I wouldn't look like Zebra--not for ever
'Well, make up your mind,' said the Ethiopian, 'because I'd hate
to go hunting without you, but I must if you insist on looking like a
sun-flower against a tarred fence.'
'I'll take spots, then,' said the Leopard; 'but don't make 'em too
vulgar-big. I wouldn't look like Giraffe--not for ever so.'
'I'll make 'em with the tips of my fingers,' said the Ethiopian.
'There's plenty of black left on my skin still. Stand over!'
Then the Ethiopian put his five fingers close together (there was
plenty of black left on his new skin still) and pressed them all over
the Leopard, and wherever the five fingers touched they left five
little black marks, all close together. You can see them on any
Leopard's skin you like, Best Beloved. Sometimes the fingers slipped
and the marks got a little blurred; but if you look closely at any
Leopard now you will see that there are always five spots--off five
fat black finger-tips.
'Now you are a beauty!' said the Ethiopian. 'You can lie out on
the bare ground and look like a heap of pebbles. You can lie out on
the naked rocks and look like a piece of pudding-stone. You can lie
out on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the
leaves; and you can lie right across the centre of a path and look
like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!'
'But if I'm all this,' said the Leopard, 'why didn't you go spotty
'Oh, plain black's best for a nigger,' said the Ethiopian. 'Now
come along and we'll see if we can't get even with Mr. One-Two-
So they went away and lived happily ever afterward, Best Beloved.
That is all.
Oh, now and then you will hear grown-ups say, 'Can the Ethiopian
change his skin or the Leopard his spots?' I don't think even
grown-ups would keep on saying such a silly thing if the Leopard and
the Ethiopian hadn't done it once--do you? But they will never do it
again, Best Beloved. They are quite contented as they are.
I AM the Most Wise Baviaan, saying in most wise tones,
'Let us melt into the landscape--just us two by our lones.'
People have come--in a carriage--calling. But Mummy is there....
Yes, I can go if you take me--Nurse says she don't care.
Let's go up to the pig-sties and sit on the farmyard rails!
Let's say things to the bunnies, and watch 'em skitter their
Let's--oh, anything, daddy, so long as it's you and me,
And going truly exploring, and not being in till tea!
Here's your boots (I've brought 'em), and here's your cap and
And here's your pipe and tobacco. Oh, come along out of it
THE ELEPHANT'S CHILD
IN the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no
trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he
could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things
with it. But there was one Elephant--a new Elephant--an Elephant's
Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked
ever so many questions. And he lived in Africa, and he filled all
Africa with his 'satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the
Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the
Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard claw. He asked his tall uncle,
the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the
Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full
of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus,
why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked
him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the
Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon,
spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of
'satiable curtiosity! He asked questions about everything that he saw,
or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his
aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!
One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes
this 'satiable Elephant's Child asked a new fine question that he had
never asked before. He asked, 'What does the Crocodile have for
dinner?' Then everybody said, 'Hush!' in a loud and dretful tone, and
they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a
By and by, when that was finished, he came upon Kolokolo Bird
sitting in the middle of a wait-a-bit thorn-bush, and he said, 'My
father has spanked me, and my mother has spanked me; all my aunts and
uncles have spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity; and still I want
to know what the Crocodile has for dinner!'
Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, 'Go to the banks of
the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with
fever-trees, and find out.'
That very next morning, when there was nothing left of the
Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to
precedent, this 'satiable Elephant's Child took a hundred pounds of
bananas (the little short red kind), and a hundred pounds of
sugar-cane (the long purple kind), and seventeen melons (the
greeny-crackly kind), and said to all his dear families, 'Goodbye. I
am going to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about
with fever-trees, to find out what the Crocodile has for dinner.' And
they all spanked him once more for luck, though he asked them most
politely to stop.
Then he went away, a little warm, but not at all astonished,
eating melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick
He went from Graham's Town to Kimberley, and from Kimberley to
Khama's Country, and from Khama's Country he went east by north,
eating melons all the time, till at last he came to the banks of the
great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with
fever-trees, precisely as Kolokolo Bird had said.
Now you must know and understand, O Best Beloved, that till that
very week, and day, and hour, and minute, this 'satiable Elephant's
Child had never seen a Crocodile, and did not know what one was like.
It was all his 'satiable curtiosity.
The first thing that he found was a Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake
curled round a rock.
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but have
you seen such a thing as a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'
'Have I seen a Crocodile?' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake,
in a voice of dretful scorn. 'What will you ask me next?'
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but could you kindly tell
me what he has for dinner?'
Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake uncoiled himself very
quickly from the rock, and spanked the Elephant's Child with his
scalesome, flailsome tail.
'That is odd,' said the Elephant's Child, 'because my father and
my mother, and my uncle and my aunt, not to mention my other aunt,
the Hippopotamus, and my other uncle, the Baboon, have all spanked me
for my 'satiable curtiosity--and I suppose this is the same thing.
So he said good-bye very politely to the
Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, and helped to coil him up on the rock
again, and went on, a little warm, but not at all astonished, eating
melons, and throwing the rind about, because he could not pick it up,
till he trod on what he thought was a log of wood at the very edge of
the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with
But it was really the Crocodile, O Best Beloved, and the Crocodile
winked one eye--like this!
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but do you
happen to have seen a Crocodile in these promiscuous parts?'
Then the Crocodile winked the other eye, and lifted half his tail
out of the mud; and the Elephant's Child stepped back most politely,
because he did not wish to be spanked again.
'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile. 'Why do you ask
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child most politely, 'but my
father has spanked me, my mother has spanked me, not to mention my
tall aunt, the Ostrich, and my tall uncle, the Giraffe, who can kick
ever so hard, as well as my broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and my hairy
uncle, the Baboon, and including the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake,
with the scalesome, flailsome tail, just up the bank, who spanks
harder than any of them; and so, if it's quite all the same to you, I
don't want to be spanked any more.'
'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'for I am the
Crocodile,' and he wept crocodile-tears to show it was quite true.
Then the Elephant's Child grew all breathless, and panted, and
kneeled down on the bank and said, 'You are the very person I have
been looking for all these long days. Will you please tell me what you
have for dinner?'
'Come hither, Little One,' said the Crocodile, 'and I'll whisper.'
Then the Elephant's Child put his head down close to the
Crocodile's musky, tusky mouth, and the Crocodile caught him by his
little nose, which up to that very week, day, hour, and minute, had
been no bigger than a boot, though much more useful.
'I think, said the Crocodile--and he said it between his teeth,
like this--'I think to-day I will begin with Elephant's Child!'
At this, O Best Beloved, the Elephant's Child was much annoyed,
and he said, speaking through his nose, like this, 'Led go! You are
Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake scuffled down from the bank
and said, 'My young friend, if you do not now, immediately and
instantly, pull as hard as ever you can, it is my opinion that your
acquaintance in the large-pattern leather ulster' (and by this he
meant the Crocodile) 'will jerk you into yonder limpid stream before
you can say Jack Robinson.'
This is the way Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.
Then the Elephant's Child sat back on his little haunches, and
pulled, and pulled, and pulled, and his nose began to stretch. And
the Crocodile floundered into the water, making it all creamy with
great sweeps of his tail, and he pulled, and pulled, and pulled.
And the Elephant's Child's nose kept on stretching; and the
Elephant's Child spread all his little four legs and pulled, and
pulled, and pulled, and his nose kept on stretching; and the
Crocodile threshed his tail like an oar, and he pulled, and pulled,
and pulled, and at each pull the Elephant's Child's nose grew longer
and longer--and it hurt him hijjus!
Then the Elephant's Child felt his legs slipping, and he said
through his nose, which was now nearly five feet long, 'This is too
butch for be!'
Then the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake came down from the bank,
and knotted himself in a double-clove-hitch round the Elephant's
Child's hind legs, and said, 'Rash and inexperienced traveller, we
will now seriously devote ourselves to a little high tension, because
if we do not, it is my impression that yonder self-propelling
man-of-war with the armour-plated upper deck' (and by this, O Best
Beloved, he meant the Crocodile), 'will permanently vitiate your
That is the way all Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snakes always talk.
So he pulled, and the Elephant's Child pulled, and the Crocodile
pulled; but the Elephant's Child and the
Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake pulled hardest; and at last the
Crocodile let go of the Elephant's Child's nose with a plop that you
could hear all up and down the Limpopo.
Then the Elephant's Child sat down most hard and sudden; but first
he was careful to say 'Thank you' to the
Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake; and next he was kind to his poor
pulled nose, and wrapped it all up in cool banana leaves, and hung it
in the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo to cool.
'What are you doing that for?' said the
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but my nose is badly out
of shape, and I am waiting for it to shrink.
'Then you will have to wait a long time, said the
Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'Some people do not know what is good
The Elephant's Child sat there for three days waiting for his nose
to shrink. But it never grew any shorter, and, besides, it made him
squint. For, O Best Beloved, you will see and understand that the
Crocodile had pulled it out into a really truly trunk same as all
Elephants have to-day.
At the end of the third day a fly came and stung him on the
shoulder, and before he knew what he was doing he lifted up his trunk
and hit that fly dead with the end of it.
''Vantage number one!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.
'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Try and eat a
Before he thought what he was doing the Elephant's Child put out
his trunk and plucked a large bundle of grass, dusted it clean
against his fore-legs, and stuffed it into his own mouth.
'Vantage number two!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake. 'You
couldn't have done that with a mear-smear nose. Don't you think the
sun is very hot here?'
'It is,' said the Elephant's Child, and before he thought what he
was doing he schlooped up a schloop of mud from the banks of the
great grey-green, greasy Limpopo, and slapped it on his head, where
it made a cool schloopy-sloshy mud-cap all trickly behind his ears.
'Vantage number three!' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake.
'You couldn't have done that with a mere-smear nose. Now how do you
feel about being spanked again?'
''Scuse me,' said the Elephant's Child, 'but I should not like it
'How would you like to spank somebody?' said the Bi-
'I should like it very much indeed,' said the Elephant's Child.
'Well,' said the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, 'you will find
that new nose of yours very useful to spank people with.'
'Thank you,' said the Elephant's Child, 'I'll remember that; and
now I think I'll go home to all my dear families and try.'
So the Elephant's Child went home across Africa frisking and
whisking his trunk. When he wanted fruit to eat he pulled fruit down
from a tree, instead of waiting for it to fall as he used to do. When
he wanted grass he plucked grass up from the ground, instead of going
on his knees as he used to do. When the flies bit him he broke off the
branch of a tree and used it as fly-whisk; and he made himself a new,
cool, slushy-squshy mud-cap whenever the sun was hot. When he felt
lonely walking through Africa he sang to himself down his trunk, and
the noise was louder than several brass bands.
He went especially out of his way to find a broad Hippopotamus
(she was no relation of his), and he spanked her very hard, to make
sure that the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake had spoken the truth about
his new trunk. The rest of the time he picked up the melon rinds that
he had dropped on his way to the Limpopo--for he was a Tidy Pachyderm.
One dark evening he came back to all his dear families, and he
coiled up his trunk and said, 'How do you do?' They were very glad to
see him, and immediately said, 'Come here and be spanked for your
'Pooh,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I don't think you peoples know
anything about spanking; but I do, and I'll show you.' Then he
uncurled his trunk and knocked two of his dear brothers head over
heels. 'O Bananas!' said they, 'where did you learn that trick, and
what have you done to your nose?'
'I got a new one from the Crocodile on the banks of the great
grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,' said the Elephant's Child. 'I
asked him what he had for dinner, and he gave me this to keep.'
'It looks very ugly,' said his hairy uncle, the Baboon.
'It does,' said the Elephant's Child. 'But it's very useful,' and
he picked up his hairy uncle, the Baboon, by one hairy leg, and hove
him into a hornet's nest.
Then that bad Elephant's Child spanked all his dear families for a
long time, till they were very warm and greatly astonished. He pulled
out his tall Ostrich aunt's tail-feathers; and he caught his tall
uncle, the Giraffe, by the hind-leg, and dragged him through a
thorn-bush; and he shouted at his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, and
blew bubbles into her ear when she was sleeping in the water after
meals; but he never let any one touch Kolokolo Bird.
At last things grew so exciting that his dear families went off
one by one in a hurry to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy
Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to borrow new noses
from the Crocodile. When they came back nobody spanked anybody any
more; and ever since that day, O Best Beloved, all the Elephants you
will ever see, besides all those that you won't, have trunks precisely
like the trunk of the 'satiable Elephant's Child.
I Keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five.
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men:
But different folk have different views:
I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
THE SING-SONG OF OLD MAN KANGAROO
NOT always was the Kangaroo as now we do behold him, but a
Different Animal with four short legs. He was grey and he was woolly,
and his pride was inordinate: he danced on an outcrop in the middle of
Australia, and he went to the Little God Nqa.
He went to Nqa at six before breakfast, saying, 'Make me different
from all other animals by five this afternoon.'
Up jumped Nqa from his seat on the sandflat and shouted, 'Go
He was grey and he was woolly, and his pride was inordinate: he
danced on a rock-ledge in the middle of Australia, and he went to the
Middle God Nquing.
He went to Nquing at eight after breakfast, saying, ' Make me
different from all other animals; make me, also, wonderfully popular
by five this afternoon.'
Up jumped Nquing from his burrow in the spinifex and shouted, 'Go
He was grey and he was woolly, and his pride was inordinate: he
danced on a sandbank in the middle of Australia, and he went to the
Big God Nqong.
He went to Nqong at ten before dinner-time, saying, 'Make me
different from all other animals; make me popular and wonderfully run
after by five this afternoon.'
Up jumped Nqong from his bath in the salt-pan and shouted, 'Yes, I
Nqong called Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--always hungry, dusty in the
sunshine, and showed him Kangaroo. Nqong said, 'Dingo! Wake up,
Dingo! Do you see that gentleman dancing on an ashpit? He wants to be
popular and very truly run after. Dingo, make him SO!'
Up jumped Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--and said, 'What, that
Off ran Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--always hungry, grinning like a
coal-scuttle,--ran after Kangaroo.
Off went the proud Kangaroo on his four little legs like a bunny.
This, O Beloved of mine, ends the first part of the tale!
He ran through the desert; he ran through the mountains; he ran
through the salt-pans; he ran through the reed-beds; he ran through
the blue gums; he ran through the spinifex; he ran till his front legs
He had to!
Still ran Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--always hungry, grinning like a
rat-trap, never getting nearer, never getting farther,--ran after
He had to!
Still ran Kangaroo--Old Man Kangaroo. He ran through the ti-trees;
he ran through the mulga; he ran through the long grass; he ran
through the short grass; he ran through the Tropics of Capricorn and
Cancer; he ran till his hind legs ached.
He had to!
Still ran Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--hungrier and hungrier, grinning
like a horse-collar, never getting nearer, never getting farther; and
they came to the Wollgong River.
Now, there wasn't any bridge, and there wasn't any ferry-boat, and
Kangaroo didn't know how to get over; so he stood on his legs and
He had to!
He hopped through the Flinders; he hopped through the Cinders; he
hopped through the deserts in the middle of Australia. He hopped like
First he hopped one yard; then he hopped three yards; then he
hopped five yards; his legs growing stronger; his legs growing
longer. He hadn't any time for rest or refreshment, and he wanted
them very much.
Still ran Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo--very much bewildered, very much
hungry, and wondering what in the world or out of it made Old Man
For he hopped like a cricket; like a pea in a saucepan; or a new
rubber ball on a nursery floor.
He had to!
He tucked up his front legs; he hopped on his hind legs; he stuck
out his tail for a balance-weight behind him; and he hopped through
the Darling Downs.
He had to!
Still ran Dingo--Tired-Dog Dingo--hungrier and hungrier, very much
bewildered, and wondering when in the world or out of it would Old Man
Then came Nqong from his bath in the salt-pans, and said, 'It's
Down sat Dingo--Poor Dog Dingo--always hungry, dusky in the
sunshine; hung out his tongue and howled.
Down sat Kangaroo--Old Man Kangaroo--stuck out his tail like a
milking-stool behind him, and said, 'Thank goodness that's finished!'
Then said Nqong, who is always a gentleman, 'Why aren't you
grateful to Yellow-Dog Dingo? Why don't you thank him for all he has
done for you?'
Then said Kangaroo--Tired Old Kangaroo--He's chased me out of the
homes of my childhood; he's chased me out of my regular meal-times;
he's altered my shape so I'll never get it back; and he's played Old
Scratch with my legs.'
Then said Nqong, 'Perhaps I'm mistaken, but didn't you ask me to
make you different from all other animals, as well as to make you
very truly sought after? And now it is five o'clock.'
'Yes,' said Kangaroo. 'I wish that I hadn't. I thought you would
do it by charms and incantations, but this is a practical joke.'
'Joke!' said Nqong from his bath in the blue gums. 'Say that again
and I'll whistle up Dingo and run your hind legs off.'
'No,' said the Kangaroo. 'I must apologise. Legs are legs, and you
needn't alter 'em so far as I am concerned. I only meant to explain to
Your Lordliness that I've had nothing to eat since morning, and I'm
very empty indeed.'
'Yes,' said Dingo--Yellow-Dog Dingo,--'I am just in the same
situation. I've made him different from all other animals; but what
may I have for my tea?'
Then said Nqong from his bath in the salt-pan, 'Come and ask me
about it tomorrow, because I'm going to wash.'
So they were left in the middle of Australia, Old Man Kangaroo and
Yellow-Dog Dingo, and each said, 'That's your fault.'
THIS is the mouth-filling song
Of the race that was run by a Boomer,
Run in a single burst--only event of its kind--
Started by big God Nqong from Warrigaborrigarooma,
Old Man Kangaroo first: Yellow-Dog Dingo behind.
Kangaroo bounded away,
His back-legs working like pistons--
Bounded from morning till dark,
Twenty-five feet to a bound.
Yellow-Dog Dingo lay
Like a yellow cloud in the distance--
Much too busy to bark.
My! but they covered the ground!
Nobody knows where they went,
Or followed the track that they flew in,
For that Continent
Hadn't been given a name.
They ran thirty degrees,
From Torres Straits to the Leeuwin
(Look at the Atlas, please),
And they ran back as they came.
S'posing you could trot
From Adelaide to the Pacific,
For an afternoon's run
Half what these gentlemen did
You would feel rather hot,
But your legs would develop terrific--
Yes, my importunate son,
You'd be a Marvellous Kid!
THE BEGINNING OF THE ARMADILLOS
THIS, O Best Beloved, is another story of the High and Far-Off
Times. In the very middle of those times was a Stickly- Prickly
Hedgehog, and he lived on the banks of the turbid Amazon, eating
shelly snails and things. And he had a friend, a Slow- Solid Tortoise,
who lived on the banks of the turbid Amazon, eating green lettuces and
things. And so that was all right, Best Beloved. Do you see?
But also, and at the same time, in those High and Far-Off Times,
there was a Painted Jaguar, and he lived on the banks of the turbid
Amazon too; and he ate everything that he could catch. When he could
not catch deer or monkeys he would eat frogs and beetles; and when he
could not catch frogs and beetles he went to his Mother Jaguar, and
she told him how to eat hedgehogs and tortoises.
She said to him ever so many times, graciously waving her tail,
'My son, when you find a Hedgehog you must drop him into the water
and then he will uncoil, and when you catch a Tortoise you must scoop
him out of his shell with your paw.' And so that was all right, Best
One beautiful night on the banks of the turbid Amazon, Painted
Jaguar found Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog and Slow-Solid Tortoise sitting
under the trunk of a fallen tree. They could not run away, and so
Stickly-Prickly curled himself up into a ball, because he was a
Hedgehog, and Slow-Solid Tortoise drew in his head and feet into his
shell as far as they would go, because he was a Tortoise; and so that
was all right, Best Beloved. Do you see?
'Now attend to me,' said Painted Jaguar, 'because this is very
important. My mother said that when I meet a Hedgehog I am to drop
him into the water and then he will uncoil, and when I meet a Tortoise
I am to scoop him out of his shell with my paw. Now which of you is
Hedgehog and which is Tortoise? because, to save my spots, I can't
'Are you sure of what your Mummy told you?' said Stickly-Prickly
Hedgehog. 'Are you quite sure? Perhaps she said that when you uncoil
a Tortoise you must shell him out the water with a scoop, and when you
paw a Hedgehog you must drop him on the shell.'
'Are you sure of what your Mummy told you?' said Slow-and-Solid
Tortoise. 'Are you quite sure? Perhaps she said that when you water a
Hedgehog you must drop him into your paw, and when you meet a Tortoise
you must shell him till he uncoils.'
'I don't think it was at all like that,' said Painted Jaguar, but
he felt a little puzzled; 'but, please, say it again more
'When you scoop water with your paw you uncoil it with a
Hedgehog,' said Stickly-Prickly. 'Remember that, because it's
'But,' said the Tortoise, 'when you paw your meat you drop it into
a Tortoise with a scoop. Why can't you understand?'
'You are making my spots ache,' said Painted Jaguar; 'and besides,
I didn't want your advice at all. I only wanted to know which of you
is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise.'
'I shan't tell you,' said Stickly-Prickly. 'but you can scoop me
out of my shell if you like.'
'Aha!' said Painted Jaguar. 'Now I know you're Tortoise. You
thought I wouldn't! Now I will.' Painted Jaguar darted out his
paddy-paw just as Stickly-Prickly curled himself up, and of course
Jaguar's paddy-paw was just filled with prickles. Worse than that, he
knocked Stickly-Prickly away and away into the woods and the bushes,
where it was too dark to find him. Then he put his paddy-paw into his
mouth, and of course the prickles hurt him worse than ever. As soon as
he could speak he said, 'Now I know he isn't Tortoise at all.
But'--and then he scratched his head with his un-prickly paw--'how do
I know that this other is Tortoise?'
'But I am Tortoise,' said Slow-and-Solid. Your mother was quite
right. She said that you were to scoop me out of my shell with your
'You didn't say she said that a minute ago, said Painted Jaguar,
sucking the prickles out of his paddy-paw. 'You said she said
something quite different.'
'Well, suppose you say that I said that she said something quite
different, I don't see that it makes any difference; because if she
said what you said I said she said, it's just the same as if I said
what she said she said. On the other hand, if you think she said that
you were to uncoil me with a scoop, instead of pawing me into drops
with a shell, I can't help that, can I?'
'But you said you wanted to be scooped out of your shell with my
paw,' said Painted Jaguar.
'If you'll think again you'll find that I didn't say anything of
the kind. I said that your mother said that you were to scoop me out
of my shell,' said Slow-and-Solid.
'What will happen if I do?' said the Jaguar most sniffily and most
'I don't know, because I've never been scooped out of my shell
before; but I tell you truly, if you want to see me swim away you've
only got to drop me into the water.
'I don't believe it,' said Painted Jaguar. 'You've mixed up all
the things my mother told me to do with the things that you asked me
whether I was sure that she didn't say, till I don't know whether I'm
on my head or my painted tail; and now you come and tell me something
I can understand, and it makes me more mixy than before. My mother
told me that I was to drop one of you two into the water, and as you
seem so anxious to be dropped I think you don't want to be dropped. So
jump into the turbid Amazon and be quick about it.'
'I warn you that your Mummy won't be pleased. Don't tell her I
didn't tell you,' said Slow-Solid.
'If you say another word about what my mother said--' the Jaguar
answered, but he had not finished the sentence before Slow-and-Solid
quietly dived into the turbid Amazon, swam under water for a long way,
and came out on the bank where Stickly-Prickly was waiting for him.
'That was a very narrow escape,' said Stickly-Prickly. 'I don't
rib Painted Jaguar. What did you tell him that you were?'
'I told him truthfully that I was a truthful Tortoise, but he
wouldn't believe it, and he made me jump into the river to see if I
was, and I was, and he is surprised. Now he's gone to tell his Mummy.
Listen to him!'
They could hear Painted Jaguar roaring up and down among the trees
and the bushes by the side of the turbid Amazon, till his Mummy came.
'Son, son!' said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving
her tail, 'what have you been doing that you shouldn't have done?'
'I tried to scoop something that said it wanted to be scooped out
of its shell with my paw, and my paw is full of per-ickles,' said
'Son, son!' said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving
her tail, 'by the prickles in your paddy-paw I see that that must
have been a Hedgehog. You should have dropped him into the water.
'I did that to the other thing; and he said he was a Tortoise, and
I didn't believe him, and it was quite true, and he has dived under
the turbid Amazon, and he won't come up again, and I haven't anything
at all to eat, and I think we had better find lodgings somewhere else.
They are too clever on the turbid Amazon for poor me!'
'Son, son!' said his mother ever so many times, graciously waving
her tail, 'now attend to me and remember what I say. A Hedgehog curls
himself up into a ball and his prickles stick out every which way at
once. By this you may know the Hedgehog.'
'I don't like this old lady one little bit,' said Stickly-Prickly,
under the shadow of a large leaf. 'I wonder what else she knows?'
'A Tortoise can't curl himself up,' Mother Jaguar went on, ever so
many times, graciously waving her tail. 'He only draws his head and
legs into his shell. By this you may know the tortoise.'
'I don't like this old lady at all--at all,' said Slow-and-Solid
Tortoise. 'Even Painted Jaguar can't forget those directions. It's a
great pity that you can't swim, Stickly-Prickly.'
'Don't talk to me,' said Stickly-Prickly. 'Just think how much
better it would be if you could curl up. This is a mess! Listen to
Painted Jaguar was sitting on the banks of the turbid Amazon
sucking prickles out of his Paws and saying to himself--
'Can't curl, but can swim-- Slow-Solid, that's him! Curls up, but
can't swim-- Stickly-Prickly, that's him!'
'He'll never forget that this month of Sundays,' said
Stickly-Prickly. 'Hold up my chin, Slow-and-Solid. I'm going to try
to learn to swim. It may be useful.'
'Excellent!' said Slow-and-Solid; and he held up Stickly-Prickly's
chin, while Stickly-Prickly kicked in the waters of the turbid Amazon.
'You'll make a fine swimmer yet,' said Slow-and-Solid. 'Now, if
you can unlace my back-plates a little, I'll see what I can do
towards curling up. It may be useful.'
Stickly-Prickly helped to unlace Tortoise's back-plates, so that
by twisting and straining Slow-and-Solid actually managed to curl up
a tiddy wee bit.
'Excellent!' said Stickly-Prickly; 'but I shouldn't do any more
just now. It's making you black in the face. Kindly lead me into the
water once again and I'll practice that side-stroke which you say is
so easy.' And so Stickly-Prickly practiced, and Slow-Solid swam
'Excellent!' said Slow-and-Solid. 'A little more practice will
make you a regular whale. Now, if I may trouble you to unlace my back
and front plates two holes more, I'll try that fascinating bend that
you say is so easy. Won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!'
'Excellent!' said Stickly-Prickly, all wet from the turbid Amazon.
'I declare, I shouldn't know you from one of my own family. Two holes,
I think, you said? A little more expression, please, and don't grunt
quite so much, or Painted Jaguar may hear us. When you've finished, I
want to try that long dive which you say is so easy. Won't Painted
Jaguar be surprised!'
And so Stickly-Prickly dived, and Slow-and-Solid dived alongside.
'Excellent!' said Slow-and-Solid. 'A leetle more attention to
holding your breath and you will be able to keep house at the bottom
of the turbid Amazon. Now I'll try that exercise of putting my hind
legs round my ears which you say is so peculiarly comfortable. Won't
Painted Jaguar be surprised!'
'Excellent!' said Stickly-Prickly. 'But it's straining your
back-plates a little. They are all overlapping now, instead of lying
side by side.'
'Oh, that's the result of exercise,' said Slow-and-Solid. 'I've
noticed that your prickles seem to be melting into one another, and
that you're growing to look rather more like a pinecone, and less like
a chestnut-burr, than you used to.'
'Am I?' said Stickly-Prickly. 'That comes from my soaking in the
water. Oh, won't Painted Jaguar be surprised!'
They went on with their exercises, each helping the other, till
morning came; and when the sun was high they rested and dried
themselves. Then they saw that they were both of them quite different
from what they had been.
'Stickly-Prickly,' said Tortoise after breakfast, 'I am not what I
was yesterday; but I think that I may yet amuse Painted Jaguar.
'That was the very thing I was thinking just now,' said Stickly-
Prickly. 'I think scales are a tremendous improvement on prickles--to
say nothing of being able to swim. Oh, won't Painted Jaguar be
surprised! Let's go and find him.'
By and by they found Painted Jaguar, still nursing his paddy-paw
that had been hurt the night before. He was so astonished that he
fell three times backward over his own painted tail without stopping.
'Good morning!' said Stickly-Prickly. 'And how is your dear
gracious Mummy this morning?'
'She is quite well, thank you,' said Painted Jaguar; 'but you must
forgive me if I do not at this precise moment recall your name.'
'That's unkind of you,' said Stickly-Prickly, 'seeing that this
time yesterday you tried to scoop me out of my shell with your paw.'
'But you hadn't any shell. It was all prickles,' said Painted
Jaguar. 'I know it was. Just look at my paw!'
'You told me to drop into the turbid Amazon and be drowned,' said
Slow-Solid. 'Why are you so rude and forgetful to-day?'
'Don't you remember what your mother told you?' said Stickly-
'Can't curl, but can swim-- Stickly-Prickly, that's him! Curls
up, but can't swim-- Slow-Solid, that's him!'
Then they both curled themselves up and rolled round and round
Painted Jaguar till his eyes turned truly cart-wheels in his head.
Then he went to fetch his mother.
'Mother,' he said, 'there are two new animals in the woods to-
day, and the one that you said couldn't swim, swims, and the one that
you said couldn't curl up, curls; and they've gone shares in their
prickles, I think, because both of them are scaly all over, instead of
one being smooth and the other very prickly; and, besides that, they
are rolling round and round in circles, and I don't feel comfy.'
'Son, son!' said Mother Jaguar ever so many times, graciously
waving her tail, 'a Hedgehog is a Hedgehog, and can't be anything but
a Hedgehog; and a Tortoise is a Tortoise, and can never be anything
'But it isn't a Hedgehog, and it isn't a Tortoise. It's a little
bit of both, and I don't know its proper name.'
'Nonsense!' said Mother Jaguar. 'Everything has its proper name. I
should call it "Armadillo" till I found out the real one. And I should
leave it alone.'
So Painted Jaguar did as he was told, especially about leaving
them alone; but the curious thing is that from that day to this, O
Best Beloved, no one on the banks of the turbid Amazon has ever called
Stickly-Prickly and Slow-Solid anything except Armadillo. There are
Hedgehogs and Tortoises in other places, of course (there are some in
my garden); but the real old and clever kind, with their scales lying
lippety-lappety one over the other, like pine-cone scales, that lived
on the banks of the turbid Amazon in the High and Far-Off Days, are
always called Armadillos, because they were so clever.
So that; all right, Best Beloved. Do you see?
I'VE never sailed the Amazon, I've never reached Brazil; But the
Don and Magdelana, They can go there when they will!
Yes, weekly from Southampton, Great steamers, white and gold, Go
rolling down to Rio (Roll down--roll down to Rio!) And I'd like to
roll to Rio Some day before I'm old!
I've never seen a Jaguar, Nor yet an Armadill O dilloing in his
armour, And I s'pose I never will,
Unless I go to Rio These wonders to behold-- Roll down--roll down
to Rio-- Roll really down to Rio! Oh, I'd love to roll to Rio Some
day before I'm old!
HOW THE FIRST LETTER WAS WRITTEN
ONCE upon a most early time was a Neolithic man. He was not a Jute
or an Angle, or even a Dravidian, which he might well have been, Best
Beloved, but never mind why. He was a Primitive, and he lived cavily
in a Cave, and he wore very few clothes, and he couldn't read and he
couldn't write and he didn't want to, and except when he was hungry he
was quite happy. His name was Tegumai Bopsulai, and that means,
'Man-who-does-not-put-his-foot- forward-in-a-hurry'; but we, O Best
Beloved, will call him Tegumai, for short. And his wife's name was
Teshumai Tewindrow, and that means,
'Lady-who-asks-a-very-many-questions'; but we, O Best Beloved, will
call her Teshumai, for short. And his little girl-daughter's name was
Taffimai Metallumai, and that means,
'Small-person-without-any-manners-who-ought-to-be-spanked'; but I'm
going to call her Taffy. And she was Tegumai Bopsulai's Best Beloved
and her own Mummy's Best Beloved, and she was not spanked half as much
as was good for her; and they were all three very happy. As soon as
Taffy could run about she went everywhere with her Daddy Tegumai, and
sometimes they would not come home to the Cave till they were hungry,
and then Teshumai Tewindrow would say, 'Where in the world have you
two been to, to get so shocking dirty? Really, my Tegumai, you're no
better than my Taffy.'
Now attend and listen!
One day Tegumai Bopsulai went down through the beaver-swamp to the
Wagai river to spear carp-fish for dinner, and Taffy went too.
Tegumai's spear was made of wood with shark's teeth at the end, and
before he had caught any fish at all he accidentally broke it clean
across by jabbing it down too hard on the bottom of the river. They
were miles and miles from home (of course they had their lunch with
them in a little bag), and Tegumai had forgotten to bring any extra
'Here's a pretty kettle of fish!' said Tegumai. 'It will take me
half the day to mend this.'
'There's your big black spear at home,' said Taffy. 'Let me run
back to the Cave and ask Mummy to give it me.'
'It's too far for your little fat legs,' said Tegumai. 'Besides,
you might fall into the beaver-swamp and be drowned. We must make the
best of a bad job.' He sat down and took out a little leather
mendy-bag, full of reindeer-sinews and strips of leather, and lumps
of bee's-wax and resin, and began to mend the spear.
Taffy sat down too, with her toes in the water and her chin in her
hand, and thought very hard. Then she said--'I say, Daddy, it's an
awful nuisance that you and I don't know how to write, isn't it? If we
did we could send a message for the new spear.'
'Taffy,' said Tegumai, 'how often have I told you not to use
slang? "Awful" isn't a pretty word, but it could be a convenience,
now you mention it, if we could write home.'
Just then a Stranger-man came along the river, but he belonged to
a far tribe, the Tewaras, and he did not understand one word of
Tegumai's language. He stood on the bank and smiled at Taffy, because
he had a little girl-daughter Of his own at home. Tegumai drew a hank
of deer-sinews from his mendy-bag and began to mend his spear.
'Come here, said Taffy. 'Do you know where my Mummy lives?' And
the Stranger-man said 'Um!' being, as you know, a Tewara.
'Silly!' said Taffy, and she stamped her foot, because she saw a
shoal of very big carp going up the river just when her Daddy
couldn't use his spear.
'Don't bother grown-ups,' said Tegumai, so busy with his
spear-mending that he did not turn round.
'I aren't, said Taffy. 'I only want him to do what I want him to
do, and he won't understand.'
'Then don't bother me, said Tegumai, and he went on pulling and
straining at the deer-sinews with his mouth full of loose ends. The
Stranger-man--a genuine Tewara he was--sat down on the grass, and
Taffy showed him what her Daddy was doing. The Stranger-man thought,
this is a very wonderful child. She stamps her foot at me and she
makes faces. She must be the daughter of that noble Chief who is so
great that he won't take any notice of me.' So he smiled more politely
'Now,' said Taffy, 'I want you to go to my Mummy, because your
legs are longer than mine, and you won't fall into the beaver-swamp,
and ask for Daddy's other spear--the one with the black handle that
hangs over our fireplace.'
The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) thought, 'This is a very,
very wonderful child. She waves her arms and she shouts at me, but I
don't understand a word of what she says. But if I don't do what she
wants, I greatly fear that that haughty Chief,
Man-who-turns-his-back-on-callers, will be angry.' He got up and
twisted a big flat piece of bark off a birch-tree and gave it to
Taffy. He did this, Best Beloved, to show that his heart was as white
as the birch-bark and that he meant no harm; but Taffy didn't quite
'Oh!' said she. 'Now I see! You want my Mummy's living-address? Of
course I can't write, but I can draw pictures if I've anything sharp
to scratch with. Please lend me the shark's tooth off your necklace.'
The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) didn't say anything, So
Taffy put up her little hand and pulled at the beautiful bead and
seed and shark-tooth necklace round his neck.
The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) thought, 'This is a very,
very, very wonderful child. The shark's tooth on my necklace is a
magic shark's tooth, and I was always told that if anybody touched it
without my leave they would immediately swell up or burst, but this
child doesn't swell up or burst, and that important Chief,
Man-who-attends-strictly-to-his-business, who has not yet taken any
notice of me at all, doesn't seem to be afraid that she will swell up
or burst. I had better be more polite.'
So he gave Taffy the shark's tooth, and she lay down flat on her
tummy with her legs in the air, like some people on the drawing-room
floor when they want to draw pictures, and she said, 'Now I'll draw
you some beautiful pictures! You can look over my shoulder, but you
mustn't joggle. First I'll draw Daddy fishing. It isn't very like him;
but Mummy will know, because I've drawn his spear all broken. Well,
now I'll draw the other spear that he wants, the black-handled spear.
It looks as if it was sticking in Daddy's back, but that's because the
shark's tooth slipped and this piece of bark isn't big enough. That's
the spear I want you to fetch; so I'll draw a picture of me myself
'splaining to you. My hair doesn't stand up like I've drawn, but it's
easier to draw that way. Now I'll draw you. I think you're very nice
really, but I can't make you pretty in the picture, so you mustn't be
'fended. Are you 'fended?'
The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) smiled. He thought, 'There
must be a big battle going to be fought somewhere, and this
extraordinary child, who takes my magic shark's tooth but who does
not swell up or burst, is telling me to call all the great Chief's
tribe to help him. He is a great Chief, or he would have noticed me.
'Look,' said Taffy, drawing very hard and rather scratchily, 'now
I've drawn you, and I've put the spear that Daddy wants into your
hand, just to remind you that you're to bring it. Now I'll show you
how to find my Mummy's living-address. You go along till you come to
two trees (those are trees), and then you go over a hill (that's a
hill), and then you come into a beaver-swamp all full of beavers. I
haven't put in all the beavers, because I can't draw beavers, but I've
drawn their heads, and that's all you'll see of them when you cross
the swamp. Mind you don't fall in! Then our Cave is just beyond the
beaver-swamp. It isn't as high as the hills really, but I can't draw
things very small. That's my Mummy outside. She is beautiful. She is
the most beautifullest Mummy there ever was, but she won't be 'fended
when she sees I've drawn her so plain. She'll be pleased of me because
I can draw. Now, in case you forget, I've drawn the spear that Daddy
wants outside our Cave. It's inside really, but you show the picture
to my Mummy and she'll give it you. I've made her holding up her
hands, because I know she'll be so pleased to see you. Isn't it a
beautiful picture? And do you quite understand, or shall I 'splain
The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) looked at the picture and
nodded very hard. He said to himself,' If I do not fetch this great
Chief's tribe to help him, he will be slain by his enemies who are
coming up on all sides with spears. Now I see why the great Chief
pretended not to notice me! He feared that his enemies were hiding in
the bushes and would see him. Therefore he turned to me his back, and
let the wise and wondetful child draw the terrible picture showing me
his difficulties. I will away and get help for him from his tribe.' He
did not even ask Taffy the road, but raced off into the bushes like
the wind, with the birch-bark in his hand, and Taffy sat down most
Now this is the picture that Taffy had drawn for him!
'What have you been doing, Taffy?' said Tegumai. He had mended his
spear and was carefully waving it to and fro.
'It's a little berangement of my own, Daddy dear,' said Taffy. 'If
you won't ask me questions, you'll know all about it in a little time,
and you'll be surprised. You don't know how surprised you'll be,
Daddy! Promise you'll be surprised.'
'Very well,' said Tegumai, and went on fishing.
The Stranger-man--did you know he was a Tewara?--hurried away with
the picture and ran for some miles, till quite by accident he found
Teshumai Tewindrow at the door of her Cave, talking to some other
Neolithic ladies who had come in to a Primitive lunch. Taffy was very
like Teshumai, especially about the upper part of the face and the
eyes, so the Stranger-man--always a pure Tewara--smiled politely and
handed Teshumai the birch-bark. He had run hard, so that he panted,
and his legs were scratched with brambles, but he still tried to be
As soon as Teshumai saw the picture she screamed like anything and
flew at the Stranger-man. The other Neolithic ladies at once knocked
him down and sat on him in a long line of six, while Teshumai pulled
'It's as plain as the nose on this Stranger-man's face,' she said.
'He has stuck my Tegumai all full of spears, and frightened poor Taffy
so that her hair stands all on end; and not content with that, he
brings me a horrid picture of how it was done. Look!' She showed the
picture to all the Neolithic ladies sitting patiently on the
Stranger-man. 'Here is my Tegumai with his arm broken; here is a spear
sticking into his back; here is a man with a spear ready to throw;
here is another man throwing a spear from a Cave, and here are a whole
pack of people' (they were Taffy's beavers really, but they did look
rather like people) 'coming up behind Tegumai. Isn't it shocking!'
'Most shocking!' said the Neolithic ladies, and they filled the
Stranger-man's hair with mud (at which he was surprised), and they
beat upon the Reverberating Tribal Drums, and called together all the
chiefs of the Tribe of Tegumai, with their Hetmans and Dolmans, all
Neguses, Woons, and Akhoonds of the organisation, in addition to the
Warlocks, Angekoks, Juju-men, Bonzes, and the rest, who decided that
before they chopped the Stranger-man's head off he should instantly
lead them down to the river and show them where he had hidden poor
By this time the Stranger-man (in spite of being a Tewara) was
really annoyed. They had filled his hair quite solid with mud; they
had rolled him up and down on knobby pebbles; they had sat upon him in
a long line of six; they had thumped him and bumped him till he could
hardly breathe; and though he did not understand their language, he
was almost sure that the names the Neolithic ladies called him were
not ladylike. However, he said nothing till all the Tribe of Tegumai
were assembled, and then he led them back to the bank of the Wagai
river, and there they found Taffy making daisy-chains, and Tegumai
carefully spearing small carp with his mended spear.
'Well, you have been quick!' said Taffy. 'But why did you bring so
many people? Daddy dear, this is my surprise. Are you surprised,
'Very,' said Tegumai; 'but it has ruined all my fishing for the
day. Why, the whole dear, kind, nice, clean, quiet Tribe is here,
And so they were. First of all walked Teshumai Tewindrow and the
Neolithic ladies, tightly holding on to the Stranger-man, whose hair
was full of mud (although he was a Tewara). Behind them came the Head
Chief, the Vice-Chief, the Deputy and Assistant Chiefs (all armed to
the upper teeth), the Hetmans and Heads of Hundreds, Platoffs with
their Platoons, and Dolmans with their Detachments; Woons, Neguses,
and Akhoonds ranking in the rear (still armed to the teeth). Behind
them was the Tribe in hierarchical order, from owners of four caves
(one for each season), a private reindeer-run, and two salmon-leaps,
to feudal and prognathous Villeins, semi-entitled to half a bearskin
of winter nights, seven yards from the fire, and adscript serfs,
holding the reversion of a scraped marrow-bone under heriot (Aren't
those beautiful words, Best Beloved?). They were all there, prancing
and shouting, and they frightened every fish for twenty miles, and
Tegumai thanked them in a fluid Neolithic oration.
Then Teshumai Tewindrow ran down and kissed and hugged Taffy very
much indeed; but the Head Chief of the Tribe of Tegumai took Tegumai
by the top-knot feathers and shook him severely.
'Explain! Explain! Explain!' cried all the Tribe of Tegumai.
'Goodness' sakes alive!' said Tegumai. 'Let go of my top-knot.
Can't a man break his carp-spear without the whole countryside
descending on him? You're a very interfering people.'
'I don't believe you've brought my Daddy's black-handled spear
after all,' said Taffy. 'And what are you doing to my nice
They were thumping him by twos and threes and tens till his eyes
turned round and round. He could only gasp and point at Taffy.
'Where are the bad people who speared you, my darling?' said
'There weren't any,' said Tegumai. 'My only visitor this morning
was the poor fellow that you are trying to choke. Aren't you well, or
are you ill, O Tribe of Tegumai?'
'He came with a horrible picture,' said the Head Chief,--'a
picture that showed you were full of spears.'
'Er-um-Pr'aps I'd better 'splain that I gave him that picture,'
said Taffy, but she did not feel quite comfy.
'You!' said the Tribe of Tegumai all together.
'Taffy dear, I'm afraid we're in for a little trouble,' said her
Daddy, and put his arm round her, so she didn't care.
'Explain! Explain! Explain!' said the Head Chief of the Tribe of
Tegumai, and he hopped on one foot.
'I wanted the Stranger-man to fetch Daddy's spear, so I drawded
it,' said Taffy. 'There wasn't lots of spears. There was only one
spear. I drawded it three times to make sure. I couldn't help it
looking as if it stuck into Daddy's head--there wasn't room on the
birch-bark; and those things that Mummy called bad people are my
beavers. I drawded them to show him the way through the swamp; and I
drawded Mummy at the mouth of the Cave looking pleased because he is a
nice Stranger-man, and I think you are just the stupidest people in
the world,' said Taffy. 'He is a very nice man. Why have you filled
his hair with mud? Wash him!'
Nobody said anything at all for a longtime, till the Head Chief
laughed; then the Stranger-man (who was at least a Tewara) laughed;
then Tegumai laughed till he fell down flat on the bank; then all the
Tribe laughed more and worse and louder. The only people who did not
laugh were Teshumai Tewindrow and all the Neolithic ladies. They were
very polite to all their husbands, and said 'Idiot!' ever so often.
Then the Head Chief of the Tribe of Tegumai cried and said and
sang, 'O Small-person-with-out-any-manners-who-ought-to-be-spanked,
you've hit upon a great invention!'
'I didn't intend to; I only wanted Daddy's black-handled spear,'
'Never mind. It is a great invention, and some day men will call
it writing. At present it is only pictures, and, as we have seen
to-day, pictures are not always properly understood. But a time will
come, O Babe of Tegumai, when we shall make letters--all twenty-six of
'em,--and when we shall be able to read as well as to write, and then
we shall always say exactly what we mean without any mistakes. Let the
Neolithic ladies wash the mud out of the stranger's hair.'
'I shall be glad of that,' said Taffy, 'because, after all, though
you've brought every single other spear in the Tribe of Tegumai,
you've forgotten my Daddy's black-handled spear.'
Then the Head Chief cried and said and sang, 'Taffy dear, the next
time you write a picture-letter, you'd better send a man who can talk
our language with it, to explain what it means. I don't mind it
myself, because I am a Head Chief, but it's very bad for the rest of
the Tribe of Tegumai, and, as you can see, it surprises the stranger.'
Then they adopted the Stranger-man (a genuine Tewara of Tewar)
into the Tribe of Tegumai, because he was a gentleman and did not
make a fuss about the mud that the Neolithic ladies had put into his
hair. But from that day to this (and I suppose it is all Taffy's
fault), very few little girls have ever liked learning to read or
write. Most of them prefer to draw pictures and play about with their
Daddies--just like Taffy.
THERE runs a road by Merrow Down--
A grassy track to-day it is
An hour out of Guildford town,
Above the river Wey it is.
Here, when they heard the horse-bells ring,
The ancient Britons dressed and rode
To watch the dark Phoenicians bring
Their goods along the Western Road.
And here, or hereabouts, they met
To hold their racial talks and such--
To barter beads for Whitby jet,
And tin for gay shell torques and such.
But long and long before that time
(When bison used to roam on it)
Did Taffy and her Daddy climb
That down, and had their home on it.
Then beavers built in Broadstone brook
And made a swamp where Bramley stands:
And hears from Shere would come and look
For Taffimai where Shamley stands.
The Wey, that Taffy called Wagai,
Was more than six times bigger then;
And all the Tribe of Tegumai
They cut a noble figure then!
HOW THE ALPHABET WAS MADE
THE week after Taffimai Metallumai (we will still call her Taffy,
Best Beloved) made that little mistake about her Daddy's spear and
the Stranger-man and the picture-letter and all, she went carp-fishing
again with her Daddy. Her Mummy wanted her to stay at home and help
hang up hides to dry on the big drying-poles outside their Neolithic
Cave, but Taffy slipped away down to her Daddy quite early, and they
fished. Presently she began to giggle, and her Daddy said, 'Don't be
'But wasn't it inciting!' said Taffy. 'Don't you remember how the
Head Chief puffed out his cheeks, and how funny the nice Stranger-man
looked with the mud in his hair?'
'Well do I,' said Tegumai. 'I had to pay two deerskins--soft ones
with fringes--to the Stranger-man for the things we did to him.'
'We didn't do anything,' said Taffy. 'It was Mummy and the other
Neolithic ladies--and the mud.'
'We won't talk about that,' said her Daddy, 'Let's have lunch.'
Taffy took a marrow-bone and sat mousy-quiet for ten whole
minutes, while her Daddy scratched on pieces of birch-bark with a
shark's tooth. Then she said, 'Daddy, I've thinked of a secret
surprise. You make a noise--any sort of noise.'
'Ah!' said Tegumai. 'Will that do to begin with?'
'Yes,' said Taffy. 'You look just like a carp-fish with its mouth
open. Say it again, please.'
'Ah! ah! ah!' said her Daddy. 'Don't be rude, my daughter.'
'I'm not meaning rude, really and truly,' said Taffy. 'It's part
of my secret-surprise-think. Do say ah, Daddy, and keep your mouth
open at the end, and lend me that tooth. I'm going to draw a
carp-fish's mouth wide-open.'
'What for?' said her Daddy.
'Don't you see?' said Taffy, scratching away on the bark. 'That
will be our little secret s'prise. When I draw a carp-fish with his
mouth open in the smoke at the back of our Cave--if Mummy doesn't
mind--it will remind you of that ah-noise. Then we can play that it
was me jumped out of the dark and s'prised you with that noise--same
as I did in the beaver-swamp last winter.'
'Really?' said her Daddy, in the voice that grown-ups use when
they are truly attending. 'Go on, Taffy.'
'Oh bother!' she said. 'I can't draw all of a carp-fish, but I can
draw something that means a carp-fish's mouth. Don't you know how they
stand on their heads rooting in the mud? Well, here's a pretence
carp-fish (we can play that the rest of him is drawn). Here's just his
mouth, and that means ah.' And she drew this. (1.)
'That's not bad,' said Tegumai, and scratched on his own piece of
bark for himself; but you've forgotten the feeler that hangs across
'But I can't draw, Daddy.'
'You needn't draw anything of him except just the opening of his
mouth and the feeler across. Then we'll know he's a carp-fish, 'cause
the perches and trouts haven't got feelers. Look here, Taffy.' And he
drew this. (2.)
'Now I'll copy it.' said Taffy. 'Will you understand this when you
'Perfectly,' said her Daddy.
And she drew this. (3.) 'And I'll be quite as s'prised when I see
it anywhere, as if you had jumped out from behind a tree and said
'Now, make another noise,' said Taffy, very proud.
'Yah!' said her Daddy, very loud.
'H'm,' said Taffy. 'That's a mixy noise. The end part is
ah-carp-fish-mouth; but what can we do about the front part? Yer-
yer-yer and ah! Ya!'
'It's very like the carp-fish-mouth noise. Let's draw another bit
of the carp-fish and join 'em,' said her Daddy. He was quite incited
'No. If they're joined, I'll forget. Draw it separate. Draw his
tail. If he's standing on his head the tail will come first. 'Sides,
I think I can draw tails easiest,' said Taffy.
'A good notion,' said Tegumai. "Here's a carp-fish tail for the
yer-noise.' And he drew this. (4.)
'I'll try now,' said Taffy. ''Member I can't draw like you, Daddy.
Will it do if I just draw the split part of the tail, and the
sticky-down line for where it joins?' And she drew this. (5.)
Her Daddy nodded, and his eyes were shiny bright with 'citement.
'That's beautiful,' she said. 'Now make another noise, Daddy.'
'Oh!' said her Daddy, very loud.
'That's quite easy,' said Taffy. 'You make your mouth all around
like an egg or a stone. So an egg or a stone will do for that.'
'You can't always find eggs or stones. We'll have to scratch a
round something like one.' And he drew this. (6.)
'My gracious!' said Taffy, 'what a lot of noise-pictures we've
made,--carp-mouth, carp-tail, and egg! Now, make another noise,
'Ssh!' said her Daddy, and frowned to himself, but Taffy was too
incited to notice.
'That's quite easy,' she said, scratching on the bark.
'Eh, what?' said her Daddy. 'I meant I was thinking, and didn't
want to be disturbed.'
'It's a noise just the same. It's the noise a snake makes, Daddy,
when it is thinking and doesn't want to be disturbed. Let's make the
ssh-noise a snake. Will this do?' And she drew this. (7.)
'There,' she said. 'That's another s'prise-secret. When you draw a
hissy-snake by the door of your little back-cave where you mend the
spears, I'll know you're thinking hard; and I'll come in most
mousy-quiet. And if you draw it on a tree by the river when you are
fishing, I'll know you want me to walk most most mousy-quiet, so as
not to shake the banks.'
'Perfectly true,' said Tegumai. And there's more in this game than
you think. Taffy, dear, I've a notion that your Daddy's daughter has
hit upon the finest thing that there ever was since the Tribe of
Tegumai took to using shark's teeth instead of flints for their
spear-heads. I believe we've found out the big secret of the world.'
'Why?' said Taffy, and her eyes shone too with incitement.
'I'll show,' said her Daddy. 'What's water in the Tegumai
'Ya, of course, and it means river too--like Wagai-ya--the Wagai
'What is bad water that gives you fever if you drink it--black
'Yo, of course.'
'Now look,' said her Daddy. 'S'pose you saw this scratched by the
side of a pool in the beaver-swamp?' And he drew this. (8.)
'Carp-tail and round egg. Two noises mixed! Yo, bad water,' said
Taffy. ''Course I wouldn't drink that water because I'd know you said
it was bad.'
'But I needn't be near the water at all. I might be miles away,
hunting, and still--'
'And still it would be just the same as if you stood there and
said, "G'way, Taffy, or you'll get fever." All that in a
carp-fish-tail and a round egg! O Daddy, we must tell Mummy, quick!'
and Taffy danced all round him.
'Not yet,' said Tegumai; 'not till we've gone a little further.
Let's see. Yo is bad water, but So is food cooked on the fire, isn't
it?' And he drew this. (9.)
'Yes. Snake and egg,' said Taffy 'So that means dinner's ready. If
you saw that scratched on a tree you'd know it was time to come to the
Cave. So'd I.'
'My Winkie!' said Tegumai. 'That's true too. But wait a minute. I
see a difficulty. SO means "come and have dinner," but sho means the
drying-poles where we hang our hides.'
'Horrid old drying-poles!' said Taffy. 'I hate helping to hang
heavy, hot, hairy hides on them. If you drew the snake and egg, and I
thought it meant dinner, and I came in from the wood and found that it
meant I was to help Mummy hang the two hides on the drying-poles, what
would I do?'
'You'd be cross. So'd Mummy. We must make a new picture for sho.
We must draw a spotty snake that hisses sh-sh, and we'll play that
the plain snake only hisses ssss.'
'I couldn't be sure how to put in the spots,' said Taffy. 'And
p'raps if you were in a hurry you might leave them out, and I'd think
it was so when it was sho, and then Mummy would catch me just the
same. No! I think we'd better draw a picture of the horrid high
drying-poles their very selves, and make quite sure. I'll put them in
just after the hissy-snake. Look!' And she drew this. (10.)
'P'raps that's safest. It's very like our drying-poles, anyhow,'
said her Daddy, laughing. 'Now I'll make a new noise with a snake and
drying-pole sound in it. I'll say shi. That's Tegumai for spear,
Taffy.' And he laughed.
'Don't make fun of me,' said Taffy, as she thought of her
picture-letter and the mud in the Stranger-man's hair. 'You draw it,
'We won't have beavers or hills this time, eh?' said her Daddy,
'I'll just draw a straight line for my spear.' and he drew this.
'Even Mummy couldn't mistake that for me being killed.'
'Please don't, Daddy. It makes me uncomfy. Do some more noises.
We're getting on beautifully.'
'Er-hm!' said Tegumai, looking up. 'We'll say shu. That means
Taffy drew the snake and the drying-pole. Then she stopped. 'We
must make a new picture for that end sound, mustn't we?'
'Shu-shu-u-u-u!' said her Daddy. 'Why, it's just like the
round-egg-sound made thin.'
'Then s'pose we draw a thin round egg, and pretend it's a frog
that hasn't eaten anything for years.'
'N-no,' said her Daddy. 'If we drew that in a hurry we might
mistake it for the round egg itself. Shu-shu-shu! 'I tell you what
we'll do. We'll open a little hole at the end of the round egg to show
how the O-noise runs out all thin, ooo-oo-oo. Like this.' And he drew
'Oh, that's lovely ! Much better than a thin frog. Go on,' said
Taffy, using her shark's tooth. Her Daddy went on drawing, and his
hand shook with incitement. He went on till he had drawn this. (13.)
'Don't look up, Taffy,' he said. 'Try if you can make out what
that means in the Tegumai language. If you can, we've found the
'Snake--pole--broken--egg--carp--tail and carp-mouth,' said Taffy.
'Shu-ya. Sky-water (rain).' Just then a drop fell on her hand, for the
day had clouded over. 'Why, Daddy, it's raining. Was that what you
meant to tell me?'
'Of course,' said her Daddy. 'And I told it you without saying a
word, didn't I?'
'Well, I think I would have known it in a minute, but that
raindrop made me quite sure. I'll always remember now. Shu-ya means
rain, or "it is going to rain." Why, Daddy!' She gotup and danced
round him. 'S'pose you went out before I was awake, and drawed shu-ya
in the smoke on the wall, I'd know it was going to rain and I'd take
my beaver-skin hood. Wouldn't Mummy be surprised?'
Tegumai got up and danced. (Daddies didn't mind doing those things
in those days.) 'More than that! More than that!' he said. 'S'pose I
wanted to tell you it wasn't going to rain much and you must come down
to the river, what would we draw? Say the words in Tegumai-talk
'Shu-ya-las, ya maru. (Sky-water ending. River come to.) what a
lot of new sounds! I don't see how we can draw them.'
'But I do--but I do!' said Tegumai. 'Just attend a minute, Taffy,
and we won't do any more to-day. We've got shu-ya all right, haven't
we? But this las is a teaser. La-la-la' and he waved his shark-tooth.
'There's the hissy-snake at the end and the carp-mouth before the
snake--as-as-as. We only want la-la,' said Taffy.
'I know it, but we have to make la-la. And we're the first people
in all the world who've ever tried to do it, Taffimai!'
'Well,' said Taffy, yawning, for she was rather tired. 'Las means
breaking or finishing as well as ending, doesn't it?'
'So it does,' said Tegumai. 'To-las means that there's no water in
the tank for Mummy to cook with--just when I'm going hunting, too.'
'And shi-las means that your spear is broken. If I'd only thought
of that instead of drawing silly beaver pictures for the Stranger!'
'La! La! La!' said Tegumai, waiving his stick and frowning. 'Oh
'I could have drawn shi quite easily,' Taffy went on. 'Then I'd
have drawn your spear all broken--this way!' And she drew. (14.)
'The very thing,' said Tegumai. 'That's la all over. It isn't like
any of the other marks either.' And he drew this. (15.)
'Now for ya. Oh, we've done that before. Now for maru.
Mum-mum-mum. Mum shuts one's mouth up, doesn't it? We'll draw a shut
mouth like this.' And he drew. (16.)
'Then the carp-mouth open. That makes Ma-ma-ma! But what about
this rrrrr-thing, Taffy?'
'It sounds all rough and edgy, like your shark-tooth saw when
you're cutting out a plank for the canoe,' said Taffy.
'You mean all sharp at the edges, like this?' said Tegumai. And he
''Xactly,' said Taffy. 'But we don't want all those teeth: only
'I'll only put in one,' said Tegumai. 'If this game of ours is
going to be what I think it will, the easier we make our sound-
pictures the better for everybody.' And he drew. (18.)
'Now, we've got it,' said Tegumai, standing on one leg. 'I'll draw
'em all in a string like fish.'
'Hadn't we better put a little bit of stick or something between
each word, so's they won't rub up against each other and jostle, same
as if they were carps?'
'Oh, I'll leave a space for that,' said her Daddy. And very
incitedly he drew them all without stopping, on a big new bit of
'Shu-ya-las ya-maru,' said Taffy, reading it out sound by sound.
'That's enough for to-day,' said Tegumai. 'Besides, you're getting
tired, Taffy. Never mind, dear. We'll finish it all to- morrow, and
then we'll be remembered for years and years after the biggest trees
you can see are all chopped up for firewood.'
So they went home, and all that evening Tegumai sat on one side of
the fire and Taffy on the other, drawing ya's and yo's and shu's and
shi's in the smoke on the wall and giggling together till her Mummy
said, 'Really, Tegumai, you're worse than my Taffy.'
'Please don't mind,' said Taffy. 'It's only our secret-s'prise,
Mummy dear, and we'll tell you all about it the very minute it's done;
but please don't ask me what it is now, or else I'll have to tell.'
So her Mummy most carefully didn't; and bright and early next
morning Tegumai went down to the river to think about new sound
pictures, and when Taffy got up she saw Ya-las (water is ending or
running out) chalked on the side of the big stone water-tank, outside
'Um,' said Taffy. 'These picture-sounds are rather a bother!
Daddy's just as good as come here himself and told me to get more
water for Mummy to cook with.' She went to the spring at the back of
the house and filled the tank from a bark bucket, and then she ran
down to the river and pulled her Daddy's left ear--the one that
belonged to her to pull when she was good.
'Now come along and we'll draw all the left-over sound-pictures,'
said her Daddy, and they had a most inciting day of it, and a
beautiful lunch in the middle, and two games of romps. When they came
to T, Taffy said that as her name, and her Daddy's, and her Mummy's
all began with that sound, they should draw a sort of family group of
themselves holding hands. That was all very well to draw once or
twice; but when it came to drawing it six or seven times, Taffy and
Tegumai drew it scratchier and scratchier, till at last the T-sound
was only a thin long Tegumai with his arms out to hold Taffy and
Teshumai. You can see from these three pictures partly how it
happened. (20, 21, 22.)
Many of the other pictures were much too beautiful to begin with,
especially before lunch, but as they were drawn over and over again
on birch-bark, they became plainer and easier, till at last even
Tegumai said he could find no fault with them. They turned the
hissy-snake the other way round for the Z-sound, to show it was
hissing backwards in a soft and gentle way (23); and they just made a
twiddle for E, because it came into the pictures so often (24); and
they drew pictures of the sacred Beaver of the Tegumais for the
B-sound (25, 26, 27, 28); and because it was a nasty, nosy noise, they
just drew noses for the N-sound, till they were tired (29); and they
drew a picture of the big lake-pike's mouth for the greedy Ga-sound
(30); and they drew the pike's mouth again with a spear behind it for
the scratchy, hurty Ka-sound (31); and they drew pictures of a little
bit of the winding Wagai river for the nice windy-windy Wa-sound (32,
33); and so on and so forth and so following till they had done and
drawn all the sound-pictures that they wanted, and there was the
Alphabet, all complete.
And after thousands and thousands and thousands of years, and
after Hieroglyphics and Demotics, and Nilotics, and Cryptics, and
Cufics, and Runics, and Dorics, and Ionics, and all sorts of other
ricks and tricks (because the Woons, and the Neguses, and the
Akhoonds, and the Repositories of Tradition would never leave a good
thing alone when they saw it), the fine old easy, understandable
Alphabet--A, B, C, D, E, and the rest of 'em--got back into its proper
shape again for all Best Beloveds to learn when they are old enough.
But I remember Tegumai Bopsulai, and Taffimai Metallumai and
Teshumai Tewindrow, her dear Mummy, and all the days gone by. And it
was so--just so--a little time ago--on the banks of the big Wagai!
OF all the Tribe of Tegumai Who cut that figure, none remain,--
On Merrow Down the cuckoos cry The silence and the sun remain.
But as the faithful years return And hearts unwounded sing again,
Comes Taffy dancing through the fern To lead the Surrey spring again.
Her brows are bound with bracken-fronds, And golden elf-locks fly
above; Her eyes are bright as diamonds And bluer than the skies
In mocassins and deer-skin cloak, Unfearing, free and fair she
flits, And lights her little damp-wood smoke To show her Daddy where
For far--oh, very far behind, So far she cannot call to him,
Comes Tegumai alone to find The daughter that was all to him.
THE CRAB THAT PLAYED WITH THE SEA
BEFORE the High and Far-Off Times, O my Best Beloved, came the
Time of the Very Beginnings; and that was in the days when the Eldest
Magician was getting Things ready. First he got the Earth ready; then
he got the Sea ready; and then he told all the Animals that they could
come out and play. And the Animals said, 'O Eldest Magician, what
shall we play at?' and he said, 'I will show you. He took the
Elephant--All-the-Elephant-there-was--and said, 'Play at being an
Elephant,' and All-the-Elephant-there-was played. He took the
Beaver--All-the-Beaver-there-was and said, 'Play at being a Beaver,'
and All-the Beaver-there-was played. He took the Cow--All-the
Cow-there-was--and said, 'Play at being a Cow,' and
All-the-Cow-there-was played. He took the Turtle--All-the-Turtle
there-was and said, 'Play at being a Turtle,' and
All-the-Turtle-there-was played. One by one he took all the beasts and
birds and fishes and told them what to play at.
But towards evening, when people and things grow restless and
tired, there came up the Man (With his own little
girl-daughter?)--Yes, with his own best beloved little girl-daughter
sitting upon his shoulder, and he said, 'What is this play, Eldest
Magician?' And the Eldest Magician said, 'Ho, Son of Adam, this is the
play of the Very Beginning; but you are too wise for this play.' And
the Man saluted and said, 'Yes, I am too wise for this play; but see
that you make all the Animals obedient to me.'
Now, while the two were talking together, Pau Amma the Crab, who
was next in the game, scuttled off sideways and stepped into the sea,
saying to himself, 'I will play my play alone in the deep waters, and
I will never be obedient to this son of Adam.' Nobody saw him go away
except the little girl-daughter where she leaned on the Man's
shoulder. And the play went on till there were no more Animals left
without orders; and the Eldest Magician wiped the fine dust off his
hands and walked about the world to see how the Animals were playing.
He went North, Best Beloved, and he found
All-the-Elephant-there-was digging with his tusks and stamping with
his feet in the nice new clean earth that had been made ready for him.
'Kun?' said All-the-Elephant-there-was, meaning, 'Is this right?'
'Payah kun,' said the Eldest Magician, meaning, 'That is quite
right'; and he breathed upon the great rocks and lumps of earth that
All-the-Elephant-there-was had thrown up, and they became the great
Himalayan Mountains, and you can look them out on the map.
He went East, and he found All-the-Cow there-was feeding in the
field that had been made ready for her, and she licked her tongue
round a whole forest at a time, and swallowed it and sat down to chew
'Kun?' said All-the-Cow-there-was.
'Payah kun,' said the Eldest Magician; and he breathed upon the
bare patch where she had eaten, and upon the place where she had sat
down, and one became the great Indian Desert, and the other became the
Desert of Sahara, and you can look them out on the map.
He went West, and he found All-the-Beaver-there-was making a
beaver-dam across the mouths of broad rivers that had been got ready
'Kun?' said All-the-Beaver-there-was.
'Payah kun,' said the Eldest Magician; and he breathed upon the
fallen trees and the still water, and they became the Everglades in
Florida, and you may look them out on the map.
Then he went South and found All-the-Turtle-there-was scratching
with his flippers in the sand that had been got ready for him, and
the sand and the rocks whirled through the air and fell far off into
'Kun?' said All-the-Turtle-there-was.
'Payah kun,' said the Eldest Magician; and he breathed upon the
sand and the rocks, where they had fallen in the sea, and they became
the most beautiful islands of Borneo, Celebes, Sumatra, Java, and the
rest of the Malay Archipelago, and you can look them out on the map!
By and by the Eldest Magician met the Man on the banks of the
Perak river, and said, 'Ho! Son of Adam, are all the Animals obedient
'Yes,' said the Man.
'Is all the Earth obedient to you?'
'Yes,' said the Man.
'Is all the Sea obedient to you?'
'No,' said the Man. 'Once a day and once a night the Sea runs up
the Perak river and drives the sweet-water back into the forest, so
that my house is made wet; once a day and once a night it runs down
the river and draws all the water after it, so that there is nothing
left but mud, and my canoe is upset. Is that the play you told it to
'No,' said the Eldest Magician. 'That is a new and a bad play.'
'Look!' said the Man, and as he spoke the great Sea came up the
mouth of the Perak river, driving the river backwards till it
overflowed all the dark forests for miles and miles, and flooded the
'This is wrong. Launch your canoe and we will find out who is
playing with the Sea,' said the Eldest Magician. They stepped into
the canoe; the little girl-daughter came with them; and the Man took
his kris--a curving, wavy dagger with a blade like a flame,--and they
pushed out on the Perak river. Then the sea began to run back and
back, and the canoe was sucked out of the mouth of the Perak river,
past Selangor, past Malacca, past Singapore, out and out to the Island
of Bingtang, as though it had been pulled by a string.
Then the Eldest Magician stood up and shouted, 'Ho! beasts, birds,
and fishes, that I took between my hands at the Very Beginning and
taught the play that you should play, which one of you is playing with
Then all the beasts, birds, and fishes said together, 'Eldest
Magician, we play the plays that you taught us to play--we and our
children's children. But not one of us plays with the Sea.'
Then the Moon rose big and full over the water, and the Eldest
Magician said to the hunchbacked old man who sits in the Moon
spinning a fishing-line with which he hopes one day to catch the
world, 'Ho! Fisher of the Moon, are you playing with the Sea?'
'No,' said the Fisherman, 'I am spinning a line with which I shall
some day catch the world; but I do not play with the Sea.' And he went
on spinning his line.
Now there is also a Rat up in the Moon who always bites the old
Fisherman's line as fast as it is made, and the Eldest Magician said
to him, 'Ho! Rat of the Moon, are you playing with the Sea?'
And the Rat said, 'I am too busy biting through the line that this
old Fisherman is spinning. I do not play with the Sea.' And he went on
biting the line.
Then the little girl-daughter put up her little soft brown arms
with the beautiful white shell bracelets and said, 'O Eldest
Magician! when my father here talked to you at the Very Beginning,
and I leaned upon his shoulder while the beasts were being taught
their plays, one beast went away naughtily into the Sea before you had
taught him his play.
And the Eldest Magician said, 'How wise are little children who
see and are silent! What was the beast like?'
And the little girl-daughter said, 'He was round and he was flat;
and his eyes grew upon stalks; and he walked sideways like this ; and
he was covered with strong armour upon his back.'
And the Eldest Magician said, 'How wise are little children who
speak truth! Now I know where Pau Amma went. Give me the paddle!'
So he took the paddle; but there was no need to paddle, for the
water flowed steadily past all the islands till they came to the
place called Pusat Tasek--the Heart of the Sea--where the great
hollow is that leads down to the heart of the world, and in that
hollow grows the Wonderful Tree, Pauh Janggi, that bears the magic
twin nuts. Then the Eldest Magician slid his arm up to the shoulder
through the deep warm water, and under the roots of the Wonderful
Tree he touched the broad back of Pau Amma the Crab. And Pau Amma
settled down at the touch, and all the Sea rose up as water rises in
a basin when you put your hand into it.
'Ah!' said the Eldest Magician. 'Now I know who has been playing
with the Sea;' and he called out, 'What are you doing, Pau Amma?'
And Pau Amma, deep down below, answered, 'Once a day and once a
night I go out to look for my food. Once a day and once a night I
return. Leave me alone.'
Then the Eldest Magician said, 'Listen, Pau Amma. When you go out
from your cave the waters of the Sea pour down into Pusat Tasek, and
all the beaches of all the islands are left bare, and the little fish
die, and Raja Moyang Kaban, the King of the Elephants, his legs are
made muddy. When you come back and sit in Pusat Tasek, the waters of
the Sea rise, and half the little islands are drowned, and the Man's
house is flooded, and Raja Abdullah, the King of the Crocodiles, his
mouth is filled with the salt water.
Then Pau Amma, deep down below, laughed and said, 'I did not know
I was so important. Henceforward I will go out seven times a day, and
the waters shall never be still.'
And the Eldest Magician said, 'I cannot make you play the play you
were meant to play, Pau Amma, because you escaped me at the Very
Beginning; but if you are not afraid, come up and we will talk about
'I am not afraid,' said Pau Amma, and he rose to the top of the
sea in the moonlight. There was nobody in the world so big as Pau
Amma--for he was the King Crab of all Crabs. Not a common Crab, but a
King Crab. One side of his great shell touched the beach at Sarawak;
the other touched the beach at Pahang; and he was taller than the
smoke of three volcanoes! As he rose up through the branches of the
Wonderful Tree he tore off one of the great twin fruits--the magic
double kernelled nuts that make people young,-- and the little
girl-daughter saw it bobbing alongside the canoe, and pulled it in and
began to pick out the soft eyes of it with her little golden scissors.
'Now,' said the Magician, 'make a Magic, Pau Amma, to show that
you are really important.'
Pau Amma rolled his eyes and waved his legs, but he could only
stir up the Sea, because, though he was a King Crab, he was nothing
more than a Crab, and the Eldest Magician laughed.
'You are not so important after all, Pau Amma,' he said. 'Now, let
me try,' and he made a Magic with his left hand--with just the little
finger of his left hand--and--lo and behold, Best Beloved, Pau Amma's
hard, blue-green-black shell fell off him as a husk falls off a
cocoa-nut, and Pau Amma was left all soft--soft as the little crabs
that you sometimes find on the beach, Best Beloved.
'Indeed, you are very important,' said the Eldest Magician. 'Shall
I ask the Man here to cut you with kris? Shall I send for Raja Moyang
Kaban, the King of the Elephants, to pierce you with his tusks, or
shall I call Raja Abdullah, the King of the Crocodiles, to bite you?'
And Pau Amma said, 'I am ashamed! Give me back my hard shell and
let me go back to Pusat Tasek, and I will only stir out once a day
and once a night to get my food.'
And the Eldest Magician said, 'No, Pau Amma, I will not give you
back your shell, for you will grow bigger and prouder and stronger,
and perhaps you will forget your promise, and you will play with the
Sea once more.
Then Pau Amma said, 'What shall I do? I am so big that I can only
hide in Pusat Tasek, and if I go anywhere else, all soft as I am now,
the sharks and the dogfish will eat me. And if I go to Pusat Tasek,
all soft as I am now, though I may be safe, I can never stir out to
get my food, and so I shall die.' Then he waved his legs and lamented.
'Listen, Pau Amma,' said the Eldest Magician. 'I cannot make you
play the play you were meant to play, because you escaped me at the
Very Beginning; but if you choose, I can make every stone and every
hole and every bunch of weed in all the seas a safe Pusat Tasek for
you and your children for always.'
Then Pau Amma said, 'That is good, but I do not choose yet. Look!
there is that Man who talked to you at the Very Beginning. If he had
not taken up your attention I should not have grown tired of waiting
and run away, and all this would never have happened. What will he do
And the Man said, 'If you choose, I will make a Magic, so that
both the deep water and the dry ground will be a home for you and
your children--so that you shall be able to hide both on the land and
in the sea.'
And Pau Amma said, 'I do not choose yet. Look! there is that girl
who saw me running away at the Very Beginning. If she had spoken
then, the Eldest Magician would have called me back, and all this
would never have happened. What will she do for me?'
And the little girl-daughter said, 'This is a good nut that I am
eating. If you choose, I will make a Magic and I will give you this
pair of scissors, very sharp and strong, so that you and your children
can eat cocoa-nuts like this all day long when you come up from the
Sea to the land; or you can dig a Pusat Tasek for yourself with the
scissors that belong to you when there is no stone or hole near by;
and when the earth is too hard, by the help of these same scissors you
can run up a tree.'
And Pau Amma said, 'I do not choose yet, for, all soft as I am,
these gifts would not help me. Give me back my shell, O Eldest
Magician, and then I will play your play.'
And the Eldest Magician said, 'I will give it back, Pau Amma, for
eleven months of the year; but on the twelfth month of every year it
shall grow soft again, to remind you and all your children that I can
make magics, and to keep you humble, Pau Amma; for I see that if you
can run both under the water and on land, you will grow too bold; and
if you can climb trees and crack nuts and dig holes with your
scissors, you will grow too greedy, Pau Amma.'
Then Pau Amma thought a little and said, 'I have made my choice. I
will take all the gifts.'
Then the Eldest Magician made a Magic with the right hand, with
all five fingers of his right hand, and lo and behold, Best Beloved,
Pau Amma grew smaller and smaller and smaller, till at last there was
only a little green crab swimming in the water alongside the canoe,
crying in a very small voice, 'Give me the scissors!'
And the girl-daughter picked him up on the palm of her little
brown hand, and sat him in the bottom of the canoe and gave him her
scissors, and he waved them in his little arms, and opened them and
shut them and snapped them, and said, 'I can eat nuts. I can crack
shells. I can dig holes. I can climb trees. I can breathe in the dry
air, and I can find a safe Pusat Tasek under every stone. I did not
know I was so important. Kun?' (Is this right?)
'Payah-kun,' said the Eldest Magician, and he laughed and gave him
his blessing; and little Pau Amma scuttled over the side of the canoe
into the water; and he was so tiny that he could have hidden under the
shadow of a dry leaf on land or of a dead shell at the bottom of the
'Was that well done?' said the Eldest Magician.
'Yes,' said the Man. 'But now we must go back to Perak, and that
is a weary way to paddle. If we had waited till Pau Amma had gone out
of Pusat Tasek and come home, the water would have carried us there by
'You are lazy,' said the Eldest Magician. 'So your children shall
be lazy. They shall be the laziest people in the world. They shall be
called the Malazy--the lazy people;' and he held up his finger to the
Moon and said, 'O Fisherman, here is the Man too lazy to row home.
Pull his canoe home with your line, Fisherman.'
'No,' said the Man. 'If I am to be lazy all my days, let the Sea
work for me twice a day for ever. That will save paddling.'
And the Eldest Magician laughed and said, 'Payah kun' (That is
And the Rat of the Moon stopped biting the line; and the Fisherman
let his line down till it touched the Sea, and he pulled the whole
deep Sea along, past the Island of Bintang, past Singapore, past
Malacca, past Selangor, till the canoe whirled into the mouth of the
Perak River again. Kun?' said the Fisherman of the Moon.
'Payah kun,' said the Eldest Magician. 'See now that you pull the
Sea twice a day and twice a night for ever, so that the Malazy
fishermen may be saved paddling. But be careful not to do it too
hard, or I shall make a magic on you as I did to Pau Amma.'
Then they all went up the Perak River and went to bed, Best
Now listen and attend!
From that day to this the Moon has always pulled the sea up and
down and made what we call the tides. Sometimes the Fisher of the Sea
pulls a little too hard, and then we get spring tides; and sometimes
he pulls a little too softly, and then we get what are called
neap-tides; but nearly always he is careful, because of the Eldest
And Pau Amma? You can see when you go to the beach, how all Pau
Amma's babies make little Pusat Taseks for themselves under every
stone and bunch of weed on the sands; you can see them waving their
little scissors; and in some parts of the world they truly live on the
dry land and run up the palm trees and eat cocoa-nuts, exactly as the
girl-daughter promised. But once a year all Pau Ammas must shake off
their hard armour and be soft-to remind them of what the Eldest
Magician could do. And so it isn't fair to kill or hunt Pau Amma's
babies just because old Pau Amma was stupidly rude a very long time
Oh yes! And Pau Amma's babies hate being taken out of their little
Pusat Taseks and brought home in pickle-bottles. That is why they nip
you with their scissors, and it serves you right!
CHINA-GOING P's and 0's
Pass Pau Amma's playground close,
And his Pusat Tasek lies
Near the track of most B.I.'s.
U.Y.K. and N.D.L.
Know Pau Amma's home as well
As the fisher of the Sea knows
'Bens,' M.M.'s, and Rubattinos.
But (and this is rather queer)
A.T.L.'s can not come here;
O. and O. and D.O.A.
Must go round another way.
Orient, Anchor, Bibby, Hall,
Never go that way at all.
U.C.S. would have a fit
If it found itself on it.
And if 'Beavers' took their cargoes
To Penang instead of Lagos,
Or a fat Shaw-Savill bore
Passengers to Singapore,
Or a White Star were to try a
Little trip to Sourabaya,
Or a B.S.A. went on
Past Natal to Cheribon,
Then great Mr. Lloyds would come
With a wire and drag them home!
You'll know what my riddle means
When you've eaten mangosteens.
Or if you can't wait till then, ask them to let you have the
outside page of the Times; turn over to page 2 where it is marked
'Shipping' on the top left hand; then take the Atlas (and that is the
finest picture-book in the world) and see how the names of the places
that the steamers go to fit into the names of the places on the map.
Any steamer-kiddy ought to be able to do that; but if you can't read,
ask some one to show it you.
THE CAT THAT WALKED BY HIMSELF
HEAR and attend and listen; for this befell and behappened and
became and was, O my Best Beloved, when the Tame animals were wild.
The Dog was wild, and the Horse was wild, and the Cow was wild, and
the Sheep was wild, and the Pig was wild--as wild as wild could
be--and they walked in the Wet Wild Woods by their wild lones. But the
wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and
all places were alike to him.
Of course the Man was wild too. He was dreadfully wild. He didn't
even begin to be tame till he met the Woman, and she told him that
she did not like living in his wild ways. She picked out a nice dry
Cave, instead of a heap of wet leaves, to lie down in; and she strewed
clean sand on the floor; and she lit a nice fire of wood at the back
of the Cave; and she hung a dried wild-horse skin, tail-down, across
the opening of the Cave; and she said, 'Wipe you feet, dear, when you
come in, and now we'll keep house.'
That night, Best Beloved, they ate wild sheep roasted on the hot
stones, and flavoured with wild garlic and wild pepper; and wild duck
stuffed with wild rice and wild fenugreek and wild coriander; and
marrow-bones of wild oxen; and wild cherries, and wild grenadillas.
Then the Man went to sleep in front of the fire ever so happy; but the
Woman sat up, combing her hair. She took the bone of the shoulder of
mutton--the big fat blade-bone--and she looked at the wonderful marks
on it, and she threw more wood on the fire, and she made a Magic. She
made the First Singing Magic in the world.
Out in the Wet Wild Woods all the wild animals gathered together
where they could see the light of the fire a long way off, and they
wondered what it meant.
Then Wild Horse stamped with his wild foot and said, 'O my Friends
and O my Enemies, why have the Man and the Woman made that great light
in that great Cave, and what harm will it do us?'
Wild Dog lifted up his wild nose and smelled the smell of roast
mutton, and said, 'I will go up and see and look, and say; for I
think it is good. Cat, come with me.'
'Nenni!' said the Cat. 'I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all
places are alike to me. I will not come.'
'Then we can never be friends again,' said Wild Dog, and he
trotted off to the Cave. But when he had gone a little way the Cat
said to himself, 'All places are alike to me. Why should I not go too
and see and look and come away at my own liking.' So he slipped after
Wild Dog softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear
When Wild Dog reached the mouth of the Cave he lifted up the dried
horse-skin with his nose and sniffed the beautiful smell of the roast
mutton, and the Woman, looking at the blade-bone, heard him, and
laughed, and said, 'Here comes the first. Wild Thing out of the Wild
Woods, what do you want?'
Wild Dog said, 'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, what is this that
smells so good in the Wild Woods?'
Then the Woman picked up a roasted mutton-bone and threw it to
Wild Dog, and said, 'Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, taste and
try.' Wild Dog gnawed the bone, and it was more delicious than
anything he had ever tasted, and he said, 'O my Enemy and Wife of my
Enemy, give me another.'
The Woman said, 'Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, help my Man to
hunt through the day and guard this Cave at night, and I will give
you as many roast bones as you need.'
'Ah!' said the Cat, listening. 'This is a very wise Woman, but she
is not so wise as I am.'
Wild Dog crawled into the Cave and laid his head on the Woman's
lap, and said, 'O my Friend and Wife of my Friend, I will help Your
Man to hunt through the day, and at night I will guard your Cave.'
'Ah!' said the Cat, listening. 'That is a very foolish Dog.' And
he went back through the Wet Wild Woods waving his wild tail, and
walking by his wild lone. But he never told anybody.
When the Man waked up he said, 'What is Wild Dog doing here?' And
the Woman said, 'His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First
Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and
always. Take him with you when you go hunting.'
Next night the Woman cut great green armfuls of fresh grass from
the water-meadows, and dried it before the fire, so that it smelt
like new-mown hay, and she sat at the mouth of the Cave and plaited a
halter out of horse-hide, and she looked at the shoulder of
mutton-bone--at the big broad blade-bone--and she made a Magic. She
made the Second Singing Magic in the world.
Out in the Wild Woods all the wild animals wondered what had
happened to Wild Dog, and at last Wild Horse stamped with his foot
and said, 'I will go and see and say why Wild Dog has not returned.
Cat, come with me.'
'Nenni!' said the Cat. 'I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all
places are alike to me. I will not come.' But all the same he followed
Wild Horse softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear
When the Woman heard Wild Horse tripping and stumbling on his long
mane, she laughed and said, 'Here comes the second. Wild Thing out of
the Wild Woods what do you want?'
Wild Horse said, 'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, where is Wild
The Woman laughed, and picked up the blade-bone and looked at it,
and said, 'Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, you did not come here
for Wild Dog, but for the sake of this good grass.'
And Wild Horse, tripping and stumbling on his long mane, said,
'That is true; give it me to eat.'
The Woman said, 'Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, bend your wild
head and wear what I give you, and you shall eat the wonderful grass
three times a day.'
'Ah,' said the Cat, listening, 'this is a clever Woman, but she is
not so clever as I am.' Wild Horse bent his wild head, and the Woman
slipped the plaited hide halter over it, and Wild Horse breathed on
the Woman's feet and said, 'O my Mistress, and Wife of my Master, I
will be your servant for the sake of the wonderful grass.'
'Ah,' said the Cat, listening, 'that is a very foolish Horse.' And
he went back through the Wet Wild Woods, waving his wild tail and
walking by his wild lone. But he never told anybody.
When the Man and the Dog came back from hunting, the Man said,
'What is Wild Horse doing here?' And the Woman said, 'His name is not
Wild Horse any more, but the First Servant, because he will carry us
from place to place for always and always and always. Ride on his back
when you go hunting.
Next day, holding her wild head high that her wild horns should
not catch in the wild trees, Wild Cow came up to the Cave, and the
Cat followed, and hid himself just the same as before; and everything
happened just the same as before; and the Cat said the same things as
before, and when Wild Cow had promised to give her milk to the Woman
every day in exchange for the wonderful grass, the Cat went back
through the Wet Wild Woods waving his wild tail and walking by his
wild lone, just the same as before. But he never told anybody. And
when the Man and the Horse and the Dog came home from hunting and
asked the same questions same as before, the Woman said, 'Her name is
not Wild Cow any more, but the Giver of Good Food. She will give us
the warm white milk for always and always and always, and I will take
care of her while you and the First Friend and the First Servant go
Next day the Cat waited to see if any other Wild thing would go up
to the Cave, but no one moved in the Wet Wild Woods, so the Cat walked
there by himself; and he saw the Woman milking the Cow, and he saw the
light of the fire in the Cave, and he smelt the smell of the warm
Cat said, 'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy, where did Wild Cow
The Woman laughed and said, 'Wild Thing out of the Wild Woods, go
back to the Woods again, for I have braided up my hair, and I have
put away the magic blade-bone, and we have no more need of either
friends or servants in our Cave.
Cat said, 'I am not a friend, and I am not a servant. I am the Cat
who walks by himself, and I wish to come into your cave.'
Woman said, 'Then why did you not come with First Friend on the
Cat grew very angry and said, 'Has Wild Dog told tales of me?'
Then the Woman laughed and said, 'You are the Cat who walks by
himself, and all places are alike to you. Your are neither a friend
nor a servant. You have said it yourself. Go away and walk by yourself
in all places alike.'
Then Cat pretended to be sorry and said, 'Must I never come into
the Cave? Must I never sit by the warm fire? Must I never drink the
warm white milk? You are very wise and very beautiful. You should not
be cruel even to a Cat.'
Woman said, 'I knew I was wise, but I did not know I was
beautiful. So I will make a bargain with you. If ever I say one word
in your praise you may come into the Cave.'
'And if you say two words in my praise?' said the Cat.
'I never shall,' said the Woman, 'but if I say two words in your
praise, you may sit by the fire in the Cave.'
'And if you say three words?' said the Cat.
'I never shall,' said the Woman, 'but if I say three words in your
praise, you may drink the warm white milk three times a day for always
and always and always.'
Then the Cat arched his back and said, 'Now let the Curtain at the
mouth of the Cave, and the Fire at the back of the Cave, and the
Milk-pots that stand beside the Fire, remember what my Enemy and the
Wife of my Enemy has said.' And he went away through the Wet Wild
Woods waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.
That night when the Man and the Horse and the Dog came home from
hunting, the Woman did not tell them of the bargain that she had made
with the Cat, because she was afraid that they might not like it.
Cat went far and far away and hid himself in the Wet Wild Woods by
his wild lone for a long time till the Woman forgot all about him.
Only the Bat--the little upside-down Bat--that hung inside the Cave,
knew where Cat hid; and every evening Bat would fly to Cat with news
of what was happening.
One evening Bat said, 'There is a Baby in the Cave. He is new and
pink and fat and small, and the Woman is very fond of him.'
'Ah,' said the Cat, listening, 'but what is the Baby fond of?'
'He is fond of things that are soft and tickle,' said the Bat. 'He
is fond of warm things to hold in his arms when he goes to sleep. He
is fond of being played with. He is fond of all those things.'
'Ah,' said the Cat, listening, 'then my time has come.'
Next night Cat walked through the Wet Wild Woods and hid very near
the Cave till morning-time, and Man and Dog and Horse went hunting.
The Woman was busy cooking that morning, and the Baby cried and
interrupted. So she carried him outside the Cave and gave him a
handful of pebbles to play with. But still the Baby cried.
Then the Cat put out his paddy paw and patted the Baby on the
cheek, and it cooed; and the Cat rubbed against its fat knees and
tickled it under its fat chin with his tail. And the Baby laughed;
and the Woman heard him and smiled.
Then the Bat--the little upside-down bat--that hung in the mouth
of the Cave said, 'O my Hostess and Wife of my Host and Mother of my
Host's Son, a Wild Thing from the Wild Woods is most beautifully
playing with your Baby.'
'A blessing on that Wild Thing whoever he may be,' said the Woman,
straightening her back, 'for I was a busy woman this morning and he
has done me a service.'
That very minute and second, Best Beloved, the dried horse-skin
Curtain that was stretched tail-down at the mouth of the Cave fell
down--whoosh!--because it remembered the bargain she had made with the
Cat, and when the Woman went to pick it up- -lo and behold!--the Cat
was sitting quite comfy inside the Cave.
'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy,' said the
Cat, 'it is I: for you have spoken a word in my praise, and now I can
sit within the Cave for always and always and always. But still I am
the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.'
The Woman was very angry, and shut her lips tight and took up her
spinning-wheel and began to spin. But the Baby cried because the Cat
had gone away, and the Woman could not hush it, for it struggled and
kicked and grew black in the face.
'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy,' said the
Cat, 'take a strand of the wire that you are spinning and tie it to
your spinning-whorl and drag it along the floor, and I will show you a
magic that shall make your Baby laugh as loudly as he is now crying.'
'I will do so,' said the Woman, 'because I am at my wits' end; but
I will not thank you for it.'
She tied the thread to the little clay spindle whorl and drew it
across the floor, and the Cat ran after it and patted it with his
paws and rolled head over heels, and tossed it backward over his
shoulder and chased it between his hind-legs and pretended to lose
it, and pounced down upon it again, till the Baby laughed as loudly as
it had been crying, and scrambled after the Cat and frolicked all over
the Cave till it grew tired and settled down to sleep with the Cat in
'Now,' said the Cat, 'I will sing the Baby a song that shall keep
him asleep for an hour. And he began to purr, loud and low, low and
loud, till the Baby fell fast asleep. The Woman smiled as she looked
down upon the two of them and said, 'That was wonderfully done. No
question but you are very clever, O Cat.'
That very minute and second, Best Beloved, the smoke of the fire
at the back of the Cave came down in clouds from the roof--puff!-
-because it remembered the bargain she had made with the Cat, and
when it had cleared away--lo and behold!--the Cat was sitting quite
comfy close to the fire.
'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of My Enemy,' said the
Cat, 'it is I, for you have spoken a second word in my praise, and now
I can sit by the warm fire at the back of the Cave for always and
always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and
all places are alike to me.'
Then the Woman was very very angry, and let down her hair and put
more wood on the fire and brought out the broad blade-bone of the
shoulder of mutton and began to make a Magic that should prevent her
from saying a third word in praise of the Cat. It was not a Singing
Magic, Best Beloved, it was a Still Magic; and by and by the Cave grew
so still that a little wee-wee mouse crept out of a corner and ran
across the floor.
'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy,' said the
Cat, 'is that little mouse part of your magic?'
'Ouh! Chee! No indeed!' said the Woman, and she dropped the
blade-bone and jumped upon the footstool in front of the fire and
braided up her hair very quick for fear that the mouse should run up
'Ah,' said the Cat, watching, 'then the mouse will do me no harm
if I eat it?'
'No,' said the Woman, braiding up her hair, 'eat it quickly and I
will ever be grateful to you.'
Cat made one jump and caught the little mouse, and the Woman said,
'A hundred thanks. Even the First Friend is not quick enough to catch
little mice as you have done. You must be very wise.'
That very moment and second, O Best Beloved, the Milk-pot that
stood by the fire cracked in two pieces--ffft--because it remembered
the bargain she had made with the Cat, and when the Woman jumped down
from the footstool--lo and behold!--the Cat was lapping up the warm
white milk that lay in one of the broken pieces.
'O my Enemy and Wife of my Enemy and Mother of my Enemy, said the
Cat, 'it is I; for you have spoken three words in my praise, and now
I can drink the warm white milk three times a day for always and
always and always. But still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and
all places are alike to me.'
Then the Woman laughed and set the Cat a bowl of the warm white
milk and said, 'O Cat, you are as clever as a man, but remember that
your bargain was not made with the Man or the Dog, and I do not know
what they will do when they come home.'
'What is that to me?' said the Cat. 'If I have my place in the
Cave by the fire and my warm white milk three times a day I do not
care what the Man or the Dog can do.'
That evening when the Man and the Dog came into the Cave, the
Woman told them all the story of the bargain while the Cat sat by the
fire and smiled. Then the Man said, 'Yes, but he has not made a
bargain with me or with all proper Men after me.' Then he took off his
two leather boots and he took up his little stone axe (that makes
three) and he fetched a piece of wood and a hatchet (that is five
altogether), and he set them out in a row and he said, 'Now we will
make our bargain. If you do not catch mice when you are in the Cave
for always and always and always, I will throw these five things at
you whenever I see you, and so shall all proper Men do after me.'
'Ah,' said the Woman, listening, 'this is a very clever Cat, but
he is not so clever as my Man.'
The Cat counted the five things (and they looked very knobby) and
he said, 'I will catch mice when I am in the Cave for always and
always and always; but still I am the Cat who walks by himself, and
all places are alike to me.'
'Not when I am near,' said the Man. 'If you had not said that last
I would have put all these things away for always and always and
always; but I am now going to throw my two boots and my little stone
axe (that makes three) at you whenever I meet you. And so shall all
proper Men do after me!'
Then the Dog said, 'Wait a minute. He has not made a bargain with
me or with all proper Dogs after me.' And he showed his teeth and
said, 'If you are not kind to the Baby while I am in the Cave for
always and always and always, I will hunt you till I catch you, and
when I catch you I will bite you. And so shall all proper Dogs do
'Ah,' said the Woman, listening, 'this is a very clever Cat, but
he is not so clever as the Dog.'
Cat counted the Dog's teeth (and they looked very pointed) and he
said, 'I will be kind to the Baby while I am in the Cave, as long as
he does not pull my tail too hard, for always and always and always.
But still I am the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike
'Not when I am near,' said the Dog. 'If you had not said that last
I would have shut my mouth for always and always and always; but now I
am going to hunt you up a tree whenever I meet you. And so shall all
proper Dogs do after me.'
Then the Man threw his two boots and his little stone axe (that
makes three) at the Cat, and the Cat ran out of the Cave and the Dog
chased him up a tree; and from that day to this, Best Beloved, three
proper Men out of five will always throw things at a Cat whenever they
meet him, and all proper Dogs will chase him up a tree. But the Cat
keeps his side of the bargain too. He will kill mice and he will be
kind to Babies when he is in the house, just as long as they do not
pull his tail too hard. But when he has done that, and between times,
and when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by
himself, and all places are alike to him. Then he goes out to the Wet
Wild Woods or up the Wet Wild Trees or on the Wet Wild Roofs, waving
his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.
PUSSY can sit by the fire and sing,
Pussy can climb a tree,
Or play with a silly old cork and string
To'muse herself, not me.
But I like Binkie my dog, because
He Lnows how to behave;
So, Binkie's the same as the First Friend was,
And I am the Man in the Cave.
Pussy will play man-Friday till
It's time to wet her paw
And make her walk on the window-sill
(For the footprint Crusoe saw);
Then she fluffles her tail and mews,
And scratches and won't attend.
But Binkie will play whatever I choose,
And he is my true First Friend.
Pussy will rub my knees with her head
Pretending she loves me hard;
But the very minute I go to my bed
Pussy runs out in the yard,
And there she stays till the morning-light;
So I know it is only pretend;
But Binkie, he snores at my feet all night,
And he is my Firstest Friend!
THE BUTTERFLY THAT STAMPED
THIS, O my Best Beloved, is a story--a new and a wonderful story--a
story quite different from the other stories--a story about The Most
Wise Sovereign Suleiman-bin-Daoud--Solomon the Son of David.
There are three hundred and fifty-five stories about Suleiman-
bin-Daoud; but this is not one of them. It is not the story of the
Lapwing who found the Water; or the Hoopoe who shaded
Suleimanbin-Daoud from the heat. It is not the story of the Glass
Pavement, or the Ruby with the Crooked Hole, or the Gold Bars of
Balkis. It is the story of the Butterfly that Stamped.
Now attend all over again and listen!
Suleiman-bin-Daoud was wise. He understood what the beasts said,
what the birds said, what the fishes said, and what the insects said.
He understood what the rocks said deep under the earth when they bowed
in towards each other and groaned; and he understood what the trees
said when they rustled in the middle of the morning. He understood
everything, from the bishop on the bench to the hyssop on the wall,
and Balkis, his Head Queen, the Most Beautiful Queen Balkis, was
nearly as wise as he was.
Suleiman-bin-Daoud was strong. Upon the third finger of the right
hand he wore a ring. When he turned it once, Afrits and Djinns came
Out of the earth to do whatever he told them. When he turned it twice,
Fairies came down from the sky to do whatever he told them; and when
he turned it three times, the very great angel Azrael of the Sword
came dressed as a water-carrier, and told him the news of the three
And yet Suleiman-bin-Daoud was not proud. He very seldom showed
off, and when he did he was sorry for it. Once he tried to feed all
the animals in all the world in one day, but when the food was ready
an Animal came out of the deep sea and ate it up in three mouthfuls.
Suleiman-bin-Daoud was very surprised and said, 'O Animal, who are
you?' And the Animal said, 'O King, live for ever! I am the smallest
of thirty thousand brothers, and our home is at the bottom of the sea.
We heard that you were going to feed all the animals in all the world,
and my brothers sent me to ask when dinner would be ready.'
Suleiman-bin-Daoud was more surprised than ever and said, 'O Animal,
you have eaten all the dinner that I made ready for all the animals in
the world.' And the Animal said, 'O King, live for ever, but do you
really call that a dinner? Where I come from we each eat twice as much
as that between meals.' Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud fell flat on his face
and said, 'O Animal! I gave that dinner to show what a great and rich
king I was, and not because I really wanted to be kind to the animals.
Now I am ashamed, and it serves me right. Suleiman-bin-Daoud was a
really truly wise man, Best Beloved. After that he never forgot that
it was silly to show off; and now the real story part of my story
He married ever so many wifes. He married nine hundred and
ninety-nine wives, besides the Most Beautiful Balkis; and they all
lived in a great golden palace in the middle of a lovely garden with
fountains. He didn't really want nine-hundred and ninety-nine wives,
but in those days everybody married ever so many wives, and of course
the King had to marry ever so many more just to show that he was the
Some of the wives were nice, but some were simply horrid, and the
horrid ones quarrelled with the nice ones and made them horrid too,
and then they would all quarrel with Suleiman-bin-Daoud, and that was
horrid for him. But Balkis the Most Beautiful never quarrelled with
Suleiman-bin-Daoud. She loved him too much. She sat in her rooms in
the Golden Palace, or walked in the Palace garden, and was truly sorry
Of course if he had chosen to turn his ring on his finger and call
up the Djinns and the Afrits they would have magicked all those nine
hundred and ninety-nine quarrelsome wives into white mules of the
desert or greyhounds or pomegranate seeds; but Suleiman-bin-Daoud
thought that that would be showing off. So, when they quarrelled too
much, he only walked by himself in one part of the beautiful Palace
gardens and wished he had never been born.
One day, when they had quarrelled for three weeks--all nine
hundred and ninety-nine wives together--Suleiman-bin-Daoud went out
for peace and quiet as usual; and among the orange trees he met Balkis
the Most Beautiful, very sorrowful because Suleiman- bin-Daoud was so
worried. And she said to him, 'O my Lord and Light of my Eyes, turn
the ring upon your finger and show these Queens of Egypt and
Mesopotamia and Persia and China that you are the great and terrible
King.' But Suleiman-bin-Daoud shook his head and said, 'O my Lady and
Delight of my Life, remember the Animal that came out of the sea and
made me ashamed before all the animals in all the world because I
showed off. Now, if I showed off before these Queens of Persia and
Egypt and Abyssinia and China, merely because they worry me, I might
be made even more ashamed than I have been.'
And Balkis the Most Beautiful said, 'O my Lord and Treasure of my
Soul, what will you do?'
And Suleiman-bin-Daoud said, 'O my Lady and Content of my Heart, I
shall continue to endure my fate at the hands of these nine hundred
and ninety-nine Queens who vex me with their continual quarrelling.'
So he went on between the lilies and the loquats and the roses and
the cannas and the heavy-scented ginger-plants that grew in the
garden, till he came to the great camphor-tree that was called the
Camphor Tree of Suleiman-bin-Daoud. But Balkis hid among the tall
irises and the spotted bamboos and the red lillies behind the
camphor-tree, so as to be near her own true love, Suleiman-bin-Daoud.
Presently two Butterflies flew under the tree, quarrelling.
Suleiman-bin-Daoud heard one say to the other, 'I wonder at your
presumption in talking like this to me. Don't you know that if I
stamped with my foot all Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Palace and this garden
here would immediately vanish in a clap of thunder.'
Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud forgot his nine hundred and ninety-nine
bothersome wives, and laughed, till the camphor-tree shook, at the
Butterfly's boast. And he held out his finger and said, 'Little man,
The Butterfly was dreadfully frightened, but he managed to fly up
to the hand of Suleiman-bin-Daoud, and clung there, fanning himself.
Suleiman-bin-Daoud bent his head and whispered very softly, 'Little
man, you know that all your stamping wouldn't bend one blade of grass.
What made you tell that awful fib to your wife?--for doubtless she is
The Butterfly looked at Suleiman-bin-Daoud and saw the most wise
King's eye twinkle like stars on a frosty night, and he picked up his
courage with both wings, and he put his head on one side and said, 'O
King, live for ever. She is my wife; and you know what wives are like.
Suleiman-bin-Daoud smiled in his beard and said, 'Yes, I know,
'One must keep them in order somehow, said the Butterfly, and she
has been quarrelling with me all the morning. I said that to quiet
And Suleiman-bin-Daoud said, 'May it quiet her. Go back to your
wife, little brother, and let me hear what you say.'
Back flew the Butterfly to his wife, who was all of a twitter
behind a leaf, and she said, 'He heard you! Suleiman-bin-Daoud
himself heard you!'
'Heard me!' said the Butterfly. 'Of course he did. I meant him to
'And what did he say? Oh, what did he say?'
'Well,' said the Butterfly, fanning himself most importantly,
'between you and me, my dear--of course I don't blame him, because
his Palace must have cost a great deal and the oranges are just
ripening,--he asked me not to stamp, and I promised I wouldn't.'
'Gracious!' said his wife, and sat quite quiet; but
Suleiman-bin-Daoud laughed till the tears ran down his face at the
impudence of the bad little Butterfly.
Balkis the Most Beautiful stood up behind the tree among the red
lilies and smiled to herself, for she had heard all this talk. She
thought, 'If I am wise I can yet save my Lord from the persecutions of
these quarrelsome Queens,' and she held out her finger and whispered
softly to the Butterfly's Wife, 'Little woman, come here.' Up flew the
Butterfly's Wife, very frightened, and clung to Balkis's white hand.
Balkis bent her beautiful head down and whispered, 'Little woman,
do you believe what your husband has just said?'
The Butterfly's Wife looked at Balkis, and saw the most beautiful
Queen's eyes shining like deep pools with starlight on them, and she
picked up her courage with both wings and said, 'O Queen, be lovely
for ever. You know what men-folk are like.'
And the Queen Balkis, the Wise Balkis of Sheba, put her hand to
her lips to hide a smile and said, 'Little sister, I know.'
'They get angry,' said the Butterfly's Wife, fanning herself
quickly, 'over nothing at all, but we must humour them, O Queen. They
never mean half they say. If it pleases my husband to believe that I
believe he can make Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Palace disappear by stamping
his foot, I'm sure I don't care. He'll forget all about it to-morrow.'
'Little sister,' said Balkis, 'you are quite right; but next time
he begins to boast, take him at his word. Ask him to stamp, and see
what will happen. We know what men-folk are like, don't we? He'll be
very much ashamed.'
Away flew the Butterfly's Wife to her husband, and in five minutes
they were quarrelling worse than ever.
'Remember!' said the Butterfly. 'Remember what I can do if I stamp
'I don't believe you one little bit,' said the Butterfly's Wife.
'I should very much like to see it done. Suppose you stamp now.'
'I promised Suleiman-bin-Daoud that I wouldn't,' said the
Butterfly, 'and I don't want to break my promise.'
'It wouldn't matter if you did,' said his wife. 'You couldn't bend
a blade of grass with your stamping. I dare you to do it,' she said.
Stamp! Stamp! Stamp!'
Suleiman-bin-Daoud, sitting under the camphor-tree, heard every
word of this, and he laughed as he had never laughed in his life
before. He forgot all about his Queens; he forgot all about the
Animal that came out of the sea; he forgot about showing off. He just
laughed with joy, and Balkis, on the other side of the tree, smiled
because her own true love was so joyful.
Presently the Butterfly, very hot and puffy, came whirling back
under the shadow of the camphor-tree and said to Suleiman, 'She wants
me to stamp! She wants to see what will happen, O Suleiman-bin-Daoud!
You know I can't do it, and now she'll never believe a word I say.
She'll laugh at me to the end of my days!'
'No, little brother,' said Suleiman-bin-Daoud, 'she will never
laugh at you again,' and he turned the ring on his finger--just for
the little Butterfly's sake, not for the sake of showing off,--and, lo
and behold, four huge Djinns came out of the earth!
'Slaves,' said Suleiman-bin-Daoud, 'when this gentleman on my
finger' (that was where the impudent Butterfly was sitting) 'stamps
his left front forefoot you will make my Palace and these gardens
disappear in a clap of thunder. When he stamps again you will bring
them back carefully.'
'Now, little brother,' he said, 'go back to your wife and stamp
all you've a mind to.'
Away flew the Butterfly to his wife, who was crying, 'I dare you
to do it! I dare you to do it! Stamp! Stamp now! Stamp!' Balkis saw
the four vast Djinns stoop down to the four corners of the gardens
with the Palace in the middle, and she clapped her hands softly and
said, 'At last Suleiman-bin-Daoud will do for the sake of a Butterfly
what he ought to have done long ago for his own sake, and the
quarrelsome Queens will be frightened!'
The the butterfly stamped. The Djinns jerked the Palace and the
gardens a thousand miles into the air: there was a most awful
thunder-clap, and everything grew inky-black. The Butterfly's Wife
fluttered about in the dark, crying, 'Oh, I'll be good! I'm so sorry I
spoke. Only bring the gardens back, my dear darling husband, and I'll
never contradict again.'
The Butterfly was nearly as frightened as his wife, and
Suleiman-bin-Daoud laughed so much that it was several minutes before
he found breath enough to whisper to the Butterfly, 'Stamp again,
little brother. Give me back my Palace, most great magician.'
'Yes, give him back his Palace,' said the Butterfly's Wife, still
flying about in the dark like a moth. 'Give him back his Palace, and
don't let's have any more horrid.magic.'
'Well, my dear,' said the Butterfly as bravely as he could, 'you
see what your nagging has led to. Of course it doesn't make any
difference to me--I'm used to this kind of thing--but as a favour to
you and to Suleiman-bin-Daoud I don't mind putting things right.'
So he stamped once more, and that instant the Djinns let down the
Palace and the gardens, without even a bump. The sun shone on the
dark-green orange leaves; the fountains played among the pink
Egyptian lilies; the birds went on singing, and the Butterfly's Wife
lay on her side under the camphor-tree waggling her wings and panting,
'Oh, I'll be good! I'll be good!'
Suleiman-bin-Daolld could hardly speak for laughing. He leaned
back all weak and hiccoughy, and shook his finger at the Butterfly
and said, 'O great wizard, what is the sense of returning to me my
Palace if at the same time you slay me with mirth!'
Then came a terrible noise, for all the nine hundred and
ninety-nine Queens ran out of the Palace shrieking and shouting and
calling for their babies. They hurried down the great marble steps
below the fountain, one hundred abreast, and the Most Wise Balkis went
statelily forward to meet them and said, 'What is your trouble, O
They stood on the marble steps one hundred abreast and shouted,
'What is our trouble? We were living peacefully in our golden palace,
as is our custom, when upon a sudden the Palace disappeared, and we
were left sitting in a thick and noisome darkness; and it thundered,
and Djinns and Afrits moved about in the darkness! That is our
trouble, O Head Queen, and we are most extremely troubled on account
of that trouble, for it was a troublesome trouble, unlike any trouble
we have known.'
Then Balkis the Most Beautiful Queen--Suleiman-bin-Daoud's Very
Best Beloved--Queen that was of Sheba and Sable and the Rivers of the
Gold of the South--from the Desert of Zinn to the Towers of
Zimbabwe--Balkis, almost as wise as the Most Wise Suleiman-bin-Daoud
himself, said, 'It is nothing, O Queens! A Butterfly has made
complaint against his wife because she quarrelled with him, and it
has pleased our Lord Suleiman-bin-Daoud to teach her a lesson in
low-speaking and humbleness, for that is counted a virtue among the
wives of the butterflies.'
Then up and spoke an Egyptian Queen--the daughter of a Pharoah--and
she said, 'Our Palace cannot be plucked up by the roots like a leek
for the sake of a little insect. No! Suleiman-bin-Daoud must be dead,
and what we heard and saw was the earth thundering and darkening at
Then Balkis beckoned that bold Queen without looking at her, and
said to her and to the others, 'Come and see.'
They came down the marble steps, one hundred abreast, and beneath
his camphor-tree, still weak with laughing, they saw the Most Wise
King Suleiman-bin-Daoud rocking back and forth with a Butterfly on
either hand, and they heard him say, 'O wife of my brother in the air,
remember after this, to please your husband in all things, lest he be
provoked to stamp his foot yet again; for he has said that he is used
to this magic, and he is most eminently a great magician--one who
steals away the very Palace of Suleirnan-bin-Daoud himself. Go in
peace, little folk!' And he kissed them on the wings, and they flew
Then all the Queens except Balkis--the Most Beautiful and Splendid
Balkis, who stood apart smiling--fell flat on their faces, for they
said, 'If these things are done when a Butterfly is displeased with
his wife, what shall be done to us who have vexed our King with our
loud-speaking and open quarrelling through many days?'
Then they put their veils over their heads, and they put their
hands over their mouths, and they tiptoed back to the Palace most
Then Balkis--The Most Beautiful and Excellent Balkis--went forward
through the red lilies into the shade of the camphor-tree and laid her
hand upon Suleiman-bin-Daoud's shoulder and said, 'O my Lord and
Treasure of my Soul, rejoice, for we have taught the Queens of Egypt
and Ethiopia and Abyssinia and Persia and India and China with a great
and a memorable teaching.'
And Suleiman-bin-Daoud, still looking after the Butterflies where
they played in the sunlight, said, 'O my Lady and Jewel of my
Felicity, when did this happen? For I have been jesting with a
Butterfly ever since I came into the garden.' And he told Balkis what
he had done.
Balkis--The tender and Most Lovely Balkis--said, 'O my Lord and
Regent of my Existence, I hid behind the camphor-tree and saw it all.
It was I who told the Butterfly's Wife to ask the Butterfly to stamp,
because I hoped that for the sake of the jest my Lord would make some
great magic and that the Queens would see it and be frightened.' And
she told him what the Queens had said and seen and thought.
Then Suleiman-bin-Daoud rose up from his seat under the
camphor-tree, and stretched his arms and rejoiced and said, 'O my
Lady and Sweetener of my Days, know that if I had made a magic against
my Queens for the sake of pride or anger, as I made that feast for all
the animals, I should certainly have been put to shame. But by means
of your wisdom I made the magic for the sake of a jest and for the
sake of a little Butterfly, and--behold--it has also delivered me from
the vexations of my vexatious wives! Tell me, therefore, O my Lady and
Heart of my Heart, how did you come to be so wise?' And Balkis the
Queen, beautiful and tall, looked up into Suleiman-bin-Daoud's eyes
and put her head a little on one side, just like the Butterfly, and
said, 'First, O my Lord, because I loved you; and secondly, O my
Lord, because I know what women-folk are.'
Then they went up to the Palace and lived happily ever afterwards.
But wasn't it clever of Balkis?
THERE was never a Queen like Balkis,
From here to the wide world's end;
But Balkis tailed to a butterfly
As you would talk to a friend.
There was never a King like Solomon,
Not since the world began;
But Solomon talked to a butterfly
As a man would talk to a man.
She was Queen of Sabaea--
And he was Asia's Lord--
But they both of 'em talked to butterflies
When they took their walks abroad!