How the Whale Got His Throat by Rudyard Kipling
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!'