The Pig-Tale

BY this time the appetites of the guests seemed to be nearly satisfied, and even Bruno had the resolution to say, when the Professor offered him a fourth slice of plum-pudding, `I thinks three helpings is enough!'

Suddenly the Professor started as if he had been electrified. `Why, I had nearly forgotten the most important part of the entertainment! The Other Professor is to recite a Tale of a Pig -- I mean a Pig-Tale,' he corrected himself. `It has Introductory Verses at the beginning, and at the end.'

`It ca'n't have Introductory Verses at the end, can it?' said Sylvie.

`Wait till you hear it,' said the Professor: `then you'll see. I'm not sure it hasn't some in the middle, as well.' Here he rose to his feet, and there was an instant silence through the Banqueting-Hall: they evidently expected a speech.

`Ladies, and gentlemen,' the Professor began, `the Other Professor is so kind as to recite a Poem. The title of it is "The Pig-Tale". He never recited it before!' (General cheering among the guests.) `He will never recite it again!' (Frantic excitement, and wild cheering all down the hall, the Professor himself mounting the table in hot haste, to lead the cheering, and waving his spectacles in one hand and a spoon in the other.)

Then the Other Professor got up, and began:

Little Birds are dining
   Warily and well,
   Hid in mossy cell:
Hid, I say, by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters --
   I've a Tale to tell.

Little Birds are feeding
   Justices with jam,
   Rich in frizzled ham:
Rich, I say, in oysters
Haunting shady cloisters --
   That is what I am.

Little Birds are teaching
   Tigresses to smile,
   Innocent of guile:
Smile, I say, not smirkle--
Mouth a semicircle,
   That's the proper style.

Little Birds are sleeping
   All among the pins,
   Where the loser wins:
Where, I say, he sneezes
When and how he pleases--
   So the Tale begins.

There was a Pig that sat alone
   Beside a ruined Pump:
By day and night he made his moan--
It would have stirred a heart of stone
To see him wring his hoofs and groan,
   Because he could not jump.

A certain Camel heard him shout--
   A Camel with a hump.
`Oh, is it Grief, or is it Gout?
What is this bellowing about?'
That Pig replied, with quivering snout,
   `Because I cannot jump!'

That Camel scanned him, dreamy- eyed.
   `Methinks you are too plump.
I never knew a Pig so wide--
That wobbled so from side to side--
Who could, however much he tried,
   Do such a thing as jump!

`Yet mark those trees, two miles away,
   All clustered in a clump:
If you could trot there twice a day,
Nor ever pause for rest or play,
In the far future--Who can say?--
   You may be fit to jump.'

That Camel passed, and left him there,
   Beside the ruined Pump.
Oh, horrid was that Pig's despair!
His shrieks of anguish filled the air.
He wrung his hoofs, he rent his hair,
   Because he could not jump.

There was a Frog that wandered by--
   A sleek and shining lump:
Inspected him with fishy eye,
And said `O Pig, what makes you cry?
And bitter was that Pig's reply,
   `Because I cannot jump!'

That Frog he grinned a grin of glee,
   And hit his chest a thump.
`O Pig,' he said, `be ruled by me,
And you shall see what you shall see.
This minute, for a trifling fee,
   I'll teach you how to jump!

`You may be faint from many a fall,
   And bruised by many a bump:
But, if you persevere through all,
And practise first on something small,
Concluding with a ten-foot wall,
   You'll find that you can jump!'

That Pig looked up with joyful start:
   `Oh Frog, you are a trump!
Your words have healed my inward smart--
Come, name your fee and do your part:
Bring comfort to a broken heart,
   By teaching me to jump!'

`My fee shall be a mutton-chop,
   My goal this ruined Pump.
Observe with what an airy flop
I plant myself upon the top!
Now bend your knees and take a hop,
   For that's the way to jump!'

Uprose that Pig, and rushed, full whack,
   Against the ruined Pump:
Rolled over like an empty sack,
And settled down upon his back,
While all his bones at once went `Crack!'
   It was a fatal jump.

When the Other Professor had recited this Verse, he went across to the fire-place, and put his head up the chimney. In doing this, he lost his balance, and fell head-first into the empty grate, and got so firmly fixed there that it was some time before he could be dragged out again.

Bruno had had time to say `I thought he wanted to see how many peoples was up the chimbley.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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