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- Fables for the Frivolous - 4/7 -


AND

THE SUBURBAN RAT

A metropolitan rat invited His country cousin in town to dine: The country cousin replied, "Delighted." And signed himself, "Sincerely thine." The town rat treated the country cousin To half a dozen Kinds of wine.

He served him terrapin, kidneys devilled, And roasted partridge, and candied fruit; In Little Neck Clams at first they revelled, And then in Pommery, _sec_ and _brut_; The country cousin exclaimed: "Such feeding Proclaims your breeding Beyond dispute!"

But just as, another bottle broaching, They came to chicken _en casserole_ A ravenous cat was heard approaching, And, passing his guest a finger-bowl, The town rat murmured, "The feast is ended." And then descended The nearest hole.

His cousin followed him, helter-skelter, And, pausing beneath the pantry floor, He glanced around at their dusty shelter And muttered, "This is a beastly bore. My place as an epicure resigning, I'll try this dining In town no more.

"You must dine some night at my rustic cottage; I'll warn you now that it's simple fare: A radish or two, a bowl of pottage, And the wine that's known as _ordinaire_, But for holes I haven't to make a bee-line, No prowling feline Molests me there.

"You smile at the lot of a mere commuter, You think that my life is hard, mayhap, But I'm sure than you I am far acuter: I ain't afraid of no cat nor trap." The city rat could but meekly stammer, "Don't use such grammar, My worthy chap."

He dined next night with his poor relation, And caught dyspepsia, and lost his train, He waited an hour in the lonely station, And said some things that were quite profane. "I'll never," he cried, in tones complaining, "Try entertaining That rat again."

It's easy to make a memorandum About THE MORAL these verses teach: _De gustibus non est dispuiandum;_ The meaning of which Etruscan speech Is wheresoever you're hunger quelling Pray keep your dwelling In easy reach.

THE IMPECUNIOUS CRICKET

AND

THE FRUGAL ANT

There was an ant, a spinster ant, Whose virtues were so many That she became intolerant Of those who hadn't any: She had a small and frugal mind And lived a life ascetic, Nor was her temperament the kind That's known as sympathetic.

I skip details. Suffice to say That, knocking at her wicket, There chanced to come one autumn day A common garden cricket So ragged, poor, and needy that, Without elucidation, One saw the symptoms of a bat Of several months' duration.

He paused beside her door-step, and, With one pathetic gesture, He called attention with his hand To both his shoes and vesture. "I joined," said he, "an opera troupe. They suddenly disbanded, And left me on the hostel stoop, Lugubriously stranded.

"I therefore lay aside my pride And frankly ask for clothing." "Begone!" the frugal ant replied. "I look on you with loathing. Your muddy shoes have spoiled the lawn, Your hands have soiled the fence, too. If you need money, go and pawn Your watch--if you have sense to."

THE MORAL is: Albeit lots Of people follow Dr. Watts, The sluggard, when his means are scant, Should seek an uncle, not an ant!

THE PAMPERED LAPDOG

AND

THE MISGUIDED ASS

A woolly little terrier pup Gave vent to yelps distressing, Whereat his mistress took him up And soothed him with caressing, And yet he was not in the least What one would call a handsome beast.

He might have been a Javanese, He might have been a Jap dog, And also neither one of these, But just a common lapdog, The kind that people send, you know, Done up in cotton, to the Show.

At all events, whate'er his race, The pretty girl who owned him Caressed his unattractive face And petted and cologned him, While, watching her with mournful eye, A patient ass stood silent by.

"If thus," he mused, "the feminine And fascinating gender Is led to love, I, too, can win Her protestations tender." And then the poor, misguided chap Sat down upon the lady's lap.

Then, as her head with terror swam, "This method seems to suit you," Observed the ass, "so here I am." Said she, "Get up, you brute you!" And promptly screamed aloud for aid: No ass was ever more dismayed.

[Illustration: "SAID SHE, 'GET UP, YOU BRUTE YOU!'"]

They took the ass into the yard And there, with whip and truncheon, They beat him, and they beat him hard, From breakfast-time till luncheon. He only gave a tearful gulp, Though almost pounded to a pulp.

THE MORAL is (or seems, at least, To be): In etiquette you Will find that while enough's a feast A surplus will upset you. _Toujours, toujours la politesse_, if The quantity be not excessive.

THE VAINGLORIOUS OAK

AND

THE MODEST BULRUSH

A bulrush stood on a river's rim, And an oak that grew near by Looked down with cold _hauteur_ on him, And addressed him this way: "Hi!" The rush was a proud patrician, and He retorted, "Don't you know, What the veriest boor should understand, That 'Hi' is low?"

This cutting rebuke the oak ignored. He returned, "My slender friend,


Fables for the Frivolous - 4/7

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