an ebook published by Project Gutenberg Australia
Title: Mother Goose’s Menagerie
Author: Carolyn Wells
eBook No.: 2301001h.html
Date first posted: September 2023
Most recent update: September 2023
This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore
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With Illustrations By Peter Newell
Tim and Tilly
Mother Hubbard’s Dog
Miss Muffett’s Spider
The Five Little Pigs
Red Ridinghood’s Wolf
The Cow that Jumped over the Moon
The Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds
The Three Blind Mice
The Frog who would a-wooing Go
The Three Bears
The Pussy-Cat who Visited the Queen
The Mouse that Ran up the Clock
The Lion and the Unicorn
The Little Dog that Laughed
Two little children, once there were,
Whose names were Tim and Tilly.
His skin was brown and rosy; her
Fair face was like a lily.
And they were just as good as gold,
And always did as they were told.
Their pretty ways
Deserve much praise,
Dear little Tim and Tilly.
One summer morning, hand in hand
Along the roadside walking,
Tilly and Tim went singing, and
When, being tired, they thought it best
Upon a stone to sit and rest.
To them there came
An aged Dame
Along the roadside walking.
“Good-morning,” said she, “children dear;”
“Good-day,” said they, politely.
Her dress was just a trifle queer,
Though not at all unsightly.
She wore a quilted petticoat,
A cap with buckles at the throat,
A peaked hat,
With brim quite flat,
But not at all unsightly.
“Perhaps, my dears, you don’t know me;”
“No, ma’am,” they answered, smiling.
“Why, I am Mother Goose,” said she
(Her manner was beguiling).
“I’m on a journey to my Zoo,
I’m sure that it would interest you,
And if you’d care
To visit there — ”
“Yes, ma’am!” they answered, smiling.
“Jump on my broomstick, then,” she cried,
“Dear little Tim and Tilly,
’Twill be a long and rapid ride,
I hope you won’t be chilly.”
They took their places nothing loth,
She wrapped her cloak about them both;
With wild delight
They held on tight
And were not even chilly.
After they’d gone a mile or three,
They reached their destination;
And Mother Goose said pleasantly,
“Welcome to my plantation.”
Then every kind of sound was heard,
The purr of cat and song of bird,
The bark of dog
And croak of frog,
Around the whole plantation.
Joyfully Tim and Tilly spied
Animals of all ages;
Some walking with a stately stride,
And some shut up in cages.
In kennels, stables, stalls, and pens,
In coops and holes and caves and dens,
In ponds and brooks,
In nests and nooks,
Were creatures of all ages.
Now Tilly, as I must admit,
Was just a trifle fearful;
But Tim said, “I don’t mind a bit,
They’re all so kind and cheerful.”
And this was true. You never saw
Animals that inspired less awe;
Even the Bears
Sat in their lairs
With aspect kind and cheerful.
“Dear Mother Goose,” then Tilly said,
“May we not interview them?
That dog, and lamb, and robin red,
I feel as if I knew them!”
Said Mother Goose, “No doubt you do;
I rather think they know you, too.
Just try and see
How glad they’ll be
To have you interview them.”
So Tim and Tilly, hand in hand,
Into the Zoo went bravely;
They met a dog who nodded, and
Regarded them quite gravely.
A handsome dog, and so well-bred,
With big brown eyes and noble head.
Upon a mat
He calmly sat,
Regarding them quite gravely.
“I think, dear,” Tilly said to Tim,
“We’ll interview this fellow;
Somehow I like the looks of him
With his gay coat of yellow.”
“All right,” said Tim, “let’s have a chat
With Mr. Dog upon his mat;
We’ll draw him out
And I’ve no doubt,
He’ll prove a merry fellow.”
Said Tilly and Tim, “We’ll speak to him now,
And hear what he has to say.”
To the well-dressed dog they made a bow,
And said, in their pleasantest way:
“Doggy, pray how do you do?
Grant us an interview;
We’ re going the rounds
Of these wide-spreading grounds,
And we want to begin with you.”
The dog arose, and, bowing low,
Said with a cordial smile,
“I’m Old Mother Hubbard’s dog, you know,
That’s why I’m dressed in style.”
“Oho!” said Tilly and Tim,
Greatly admiring him,
“Pray tell how you came
To live with the dame,—
Was it a frivolous whim?”
“Well,” said the dog, “’twas thus, you see
When I was a tiny pup,
Somehow it always seemed to me
I’d be famous when I grew up.
In the dog-days I was born,
When the dog-star shone in the morn
And what do you s’pose?
A little dog-rose
Did always my collar adorn.
“I lived in a dog-wood, dark and drear,
Where nothing to eat I spied
But a dog-berry now and then, or
I fear I frequently might have died.
When one fine day, by chance,
I saw Mother Hubbard advance.
To her then I ran,
And quickly began
To turn somersaults and dance.
“ ‘Oho,’ said the dear old dame, said she,
‘A dog like you, I think,
I’d like to adopt to live with me.’
Said I as quick as a wink:
‘Oh, Mother Hubbard, pray do
Take me to live with you;
You’ll certainly find
I’m gentle and kind,
Faithful and honest and true.’
“ ‘To that,’ said the old dame, ‘I agree.’
She adopted me then and there,
And for many years she gave to me
The best and kindest care.
She bought me fruit and bread,
She bought me this jacket red;
She was satisfied,
And filled with pride
If I danced or stood on my head.
“She was always giving me beautiful things,
And buying me this and that;
She loaded me with dog-watches and rings,
And bought me a feathered hat.
She bought me fine stockings and shoes,
And neckties of various hues;
She bought me a wig
If I danced her a jig,
Which of course I would never refuse.
“But, alas and alack, it happened one day,
In spite of her thoughtful care,
That somebody stole all her food away
And left her cupboard bare;
And rather than face the dame
Saddened with grief and shame,
The ocean I crossed,
Not a moment I lost,
But to Mother Goose I came.
“Cordially Mother Goose welcomed me,
And said, ‘How do you do?
I’m sure in my spacious menagerie
I can find room for you.’
So I stayed here, you see,
And I’m happy as I can be;
For I’ll be bound
That here I have found
The very best place for me.
“Of course I’ve made in this good home
Many and excellent friends;
No more abroad I care to roam,
And so,—my story ends.”
“But tell us,” said Tilly and Tim,
As they narrowly looked at him,
“Why weren’t you lost
When the ocean you crossed?
Are you a sea-dog? Can you swim?”
“Well,” said the dog, “I came in a craft
That has never been seen by men.
It wasn’t a steamer, a barge, or a raft.”
Said Tilly and Tim, “What, then?”
Said the dog, “I’ll confide to you,—
A canoe brought me here to the Zoo.”
“Birchbark?” they cried.
“No,” he replied,
“I came in a dog-bark canoe!”
With laughter and glee, Tim and Tilly
Continued to stray
In a wandering way,
Till they came to a field rather hilly,
With daisies and buttercups gay.
They looked in, and, running to greet them,
Came sheep by the score,
Some hundreds or more,
Who said they were happy to meet them,
And begged they’d come in and explore.
“Who are you?” said Tim, pleased by their actions.
“Why, we are the sheep
Of little Bo-Peep;
We’re one of the Zoo’s chief attractions,
And we live on this mountain-side steep.”
“You do?” answered Tilly, delighted;
“Well, I hope I won’t fall
Getting over this wall;
But since we’re so kindly invited,
We’ll certainly make you a call.”
Then over the high wall they scrambled;
Of course they both fell,
And tumbled pell-mell,
While about them the sheep gayly gambolled,
As if trying their smiles to compel.
Then Tilly and Tim jumped up laughing.
“We’re all right,” said they;
“Now tell us, we pray,—
And tell us without any chaffing,
In an honest and straightforward way.
“How it happens you’re here in this garden;
Whence came you and why?
We pause for reply, —
If we’re too abrupt, we beg pardon,
But we’re really obliged to be spry.”
Said a sheep, “Very gladly I’d answer
These questions you ask,
But it’s no easy task.
However, I know one who can, sir;
He sits over there by that cask.”
Then said Tim to the old sheep, politely,
“How was it you came
To this Temple of Fame?”
The sheep looked at him, and said brightly,
“Baa-baa, Black Sheep, kind sir, is my name.”
“You’ve heard of me doubtless in story?”
“In our books we have read
Of you often,” Tim said.
“Well, that’s how I’ve won fame and glory,”
Said Baa-baa, a-shaking his head.
“The rest of the sheep in the fold, sir,
Have ample claims, too,
To a home in this Zoo,
For all except one, I’ve been told, sir,
Belonged to Bo-Peep or Boy Blue.”
Said Tim, “Well, and what about that one?”
And Baa-baa said, “Oh,
Well, that one, you know,
Was Mary’s own lamb, — such a fat one,
And its fleece is as white as the snow.”
“Mary’s Lamb!” exclaimed Tilly, excited.
“Oh, bring it to me,
I’m sure it must be
A dear little thing! I’m delighted
That beautiful lambkin to see.”
Then Tilly and Tim heard a tinkle,—
A soft ting-a-ling,
Like a silver bell’s ring, —
And with its soft eyes all a-twinkle,
Mary’s Lamb bounded up with a spring.
Indeed ’twas a beautiful creature;
Blue ribbons its neck
Did gaily bedeck,—
Intelligence shone in each feature,
And ’twas white as the snow without speck.
A little bell hung from its collar;
And one could well guess,
From its fluent address,
That the lamb was without doubt a scholar,
Quite able its thoughts to express.
Said the lamb, “It affords me great pleasure
Some new friends to find
Of an erudite mind,
For of course I am pained beyond measure
At the ignorance of my own kind.
“I’ll confide to you, dear Tim and Tilly,
That lambs, as a rule,
Care nothing for school;
Why, the average lamb is quite silly;
Indeed, I may say it’s a fool.
“Now I have a great deal of knowledge,
For the school I went through
Ere I came to this Zoo,
Well, —it wasn’t exactly a college,
But a pretty good school, I tell you.
“ ’Twas the same one that Mary attended, —
And between us, my dear,
’Twas exceedingly queer,
And I never have quite comprehended
Why they cut short my college career.
“I went there with Mary one morning,
And attempted to pass
To the head of the class,
When the teacher, without any warning,
Just put me outside on the grass!
“Of course I felt great indignation;
My ambitions were foiled,
My career was quite spoiled;
And really, to get education,
O’er my books I would gladly have toiled.
“But though I loved Mary quite dearly,
I left her, ’tis true,
And came to this Zoo;
And of course, dears, you both must see,
There was no other course to pursue.
“The parting was not very pleasant;
I bade her good-bye
With a tear in my eye.
She gave me this bell for a present,
And also this blue ribbon tie.
“You appreciate, sir, my position?
I learn very fast,
And I wished to be classed
As a scholarly metaphysician,
Whose fame should eternally last.”
“We’re laughing,” said Tim, “but don’t blame us.
You would be a fool
To follow that rule,
When so easily you became famous
By just being turned out of school.”
“Is that so?” said the lamb, highly flattered,
And filled with amaze
At this unforeseen praise.
“Well, then, though my ideals are shattered,
I’ll be happy the rest of my days.”
A beautiful spider his web had just spun.
Said Tilly to Tim,
“Let’s interview him.”
“We’ll do it,” Tim answered; “I think ’twould, be fun.
Ho, Spider! don’t run!”
But the Spider said, “Son,
I’m a very emotional motional one;
“And unless you approach me with manner refined,
With low, gentle voice,
And epithets choice,
You’ll find to your chatter I’ll not be inclined,
Nor even resigned;
My methodical mind
Is of such an excitable, citable kind.”
Said Tim, “May I please be permitted to speak?
We’re asking of you
A brief interview,
And on your convenience we’ll cheerfully wait;
Then your life up to date
We beg you’ll relate,
At a very deliberate, liberate rate.”
Said the Spider “You see I’m exceedingly frail,
But I’ll tell you, my dear,
How I came to be here,
Though I’m sure at my story your cheek will turn pale,
And my fate you’ll bewail
When your ears I regale
With my very remarkable, markable tale.”
“Proceed, sir,” said Tilly; and Tim said, “I think
We can stand very well
Any tale you may tell;
And from the recital we’ll try not to shrink,
Or under it sink;”
This he said with a wink,
A sort of a jocular, ocular blink.
“Ah, well,” sighed the Spider, “we’ll see about that;
’Twas one summer day
I happened to stray
In Miss Muffett’s small garden, and there on a mat,
Or tuffet, she sat;
I took off my hat,
And sat down for permissible, missible chat.
“Well, it seems my intentions she greatly mistook;
Before I could speak
She gave one awful shriek, —
How well I remember! ’Twas down by the brook,
In a flowery nook;
With terror she shook,
Giving me an antagonized, agonized look.
“Now a beautiful bowl did Miss Muffett possess,
And she had it that day
Full of white curds and whey,—
She thought ’twas delicious; but nevertheless,
For my part, I confess,
I never could guess
How she ate that incredible, edible mess!
“Well, I had no intention of sharing her food,
I provide my own meals,
But she took to her heels,
And left so abruptly I thought her quite rude;
And feeling tabooed,
I sat there to brood
In a very indifferent, different mood.
“If you will believe me, I sat there a year!
But, alas and alack,
She never came back,
And so I felt awfully lonesome and drear,
With no one to cheer,—
I came over here;
And I live on this crockery, rockery queer.”
The Spider ceased talking: He seemed to coerce
From Tilly and Tim
A sympathy grim;
But Tilly said brightly: “I’m glad it’s no worse.
Now I think we’ll disperse,
Since we’ve heard you rehearse
Your tale in symmetrical, metrical verse.”
Now, dear sister Tilly,” said Tim,
“Suppose, for our next little visit,
We leisurely wander
To the pigs I see yonder;
If you’ve any objection, what is it?”
“Indeed,” said his sister to him,
“I haven’t the slightest objection;
So don’t stay here talking,
But let us be walking
At once in the piggies’ direction.”
Then kind Tim his sister’s steps guided
To the sty where the piggies resided.
’Twas a beautiful pigsty, with roses adorning, —
And the five little pigs said, “Good-morning!”
Said the First Little Pig: “I’m the one
Who always went after provision.
And oh, what a lark it
Was, going to market,
And purchasing food with precision!
And it was the jolliest fun
To bring home the sausage and scrapple;
The prunes and potatoes,
The tripe and tomatoes,
And pies made of pumpkin or apple.
Of course I was very hard-working,
For I never was given to shirking;
But that is all past, and my market-days over,
And now I am living in clover.”
Said the Second Small Pig: “I’m the chap
Who always stayed home with my mother;
I never delighted
In being invited
To travel about like my brother.
I liked to lie down for a nap, —
I think that my nature is dozy;
It suited my pleasure
To lounge at my leisure,
Or curl up in corners so cosy.
And as I am rather inactive,
I find this Zoo very attractive;
And this sty is so flowery and leafy and twiggy,
I’m a very content little piggy*”
Said the Third Little Pig: “Look at me;
I’m the one who had Roast Beef for dinner;
I’m big and I’m bulky,
I’m plump and I’m hulky,
A corpulent, fat little sinner.
Roast Beef is the reason, you see,
For three times a day I would ask it;
My favorite diet,
My brother would buy it,
And fetch it to me in a basket.
And so I accepted admission
To this pleasant Zoo, on condition
That Roast Beef is furnished, — with plenty of juice, too,—
As good as the kind I’ve been used to.”
Said the Fourth Little Pig: “I’m afraid
My brother’s a bit of a glutton;
Now I am unable
To eat beef at table,
Though I might take a taste of boiled mutton.
I’m fond, too, of pink lemonade,
I like to drink cocoa or coffee;
I love ham and mustard,
I dote on a custard,
And I just adore Everton toffee.
But still,” — here his voice fell a trifle,
As he tried his sad longing to stifle, —
“I would eat beef gladly, but—here’s what’s the matter,
My brother takes all on the platter!”
Said the Fifth Little Pig: “They say I
Am constantly crying. But maybe
They’re simply forgetful
That I should be fretful
Because, don’t you see, I’m the baby.
Why, a baby’s expected to cry.
And I’m pretty sure they will find, too,
That I will still venture,
In spite of their censure,
To cry all that I have a mind to.
And besides, when I’m left by my brother,
And can’t find my way home to mother,
In streets strange and dark, where the shadows are fearful,
I’m sure any pig would be tearful.”
Said Tilly to Tim, “I’m amazed;
I didn’t know pigs were so funny;
So affably gracious,
Sweet-tempered, good-natured, and sunny.”
Tim also the Five Piggies praised,
And said, “We regret we must leave you,
But don’t sigh so sadly,
We’ll call again gladly.”
Said the Pigs, “We’ll be pleased to receive you.”
Then Tilly and Tim went off, laughing,
And merrily chatting and chaffing;
Said Tim, “Since from parlours they’re always abolished
It’s surprising that Pigs are so polished.”
Onward Tim and Tilly trotted,
Blithe and gay,
O’er the fields with daisies dotted;
But when they
Spied a wolf, of strength undoubted,
He and she
Then the Wolf, with a suspicion
Of a frown,
Said, “I hold a high position
But I have a sort of notion
That your evident emotion
Is a proof of your devotion;
Pray, sit down.”
Tim and Tilly, shaking slightly,
To the Wolf replied, politely,
“We have come
Your acquaintance to be making,
If you please.”
(Still the children both were shaking,
At their knees.)
Then the Wolf said, very gently,
“Why, my dears,
I’m surprised that evidently
You have fears
Of my amiable intention;
Can it be you’ve apprehension?
Gracious! At the very mention,
I shed tears!”
Sure enough the Wolf was weeping,
Though one eye
At the children slyly peeping
They could spy.
Tilly, finding self-possession,
Said, “Dear Sir,” —
And the Wolf, with kind expression,
Looked at her,—
“We were scared to see you stalking
’Neath these trees;
But you’ve put us, by your talking,
Quite at ease.
Now, Sir, won’t you tell the story
Of your rise to fame and glory?
But don’t make it very gory.
If you please.”
Said the Wolf, with smiling features,
“My dear child,
I’m the most benign of creatures,
I’m not wild.
I will tell you very gladly
Of my life;
It will not affect you sadly,—
There’s no strife;
Not a hint or even rumour
Of a vice,
Just a bit of tricksy humour
Once or twice.
I am sure that its relation
Will compel your admiration,
And you’ll call my whole narration
“Sir,” said Tom, “your statement truly
Cheers my heart.
For I feared, perhaps unduly,
That a part
Of your story might be frightful;
So I’m glad
That it’s going to be delightful
And not sad.”
“Yes,” the Wolf said, “I assure you
’Tis a tale
That of blues would quickly cure you,
Why, ’twould cure an old Egyptian
Mummy of a bad conniption,—
Now your ears with the description
“Once Red Ridinghood went walking
Through a wood;
And I by her side was stalking,
Mild and good.
I was hired for her protector,
As you know;
’Twas my duty to direct her
Where to go.
We set out for Grandma’s cottage
On a run,
With a little bowl of pottage
And a bun.
She proposed that I should race her.
Well, — as I’m a famous pacer,
And of course she knew the way, sir,
Just for fun
I went flying ’way apast her,
And you see
I kept going fast and faster,
Laughing cried, ‘I give the race up,
‘Nonsense,’ I called back, ‘oh, brace up!’
On I sped.
At the cottage, cool and shady,
And I asked the dear old lady
How she thrived.
‘Well,’ she answered, ‘where’s my treasure?’
‘Oh, she’s coming at her leisure;’
Then a joke for Redhood’s pleasure
“Granny’s nightcap I tied quickly
On my head;
Then I cuddled, looking sickly,
In her bed.
Redhood came, with childish patter,
At the door she made a clatter,
Granny, in the cupboard hidden,
Chuckled when she heard her bidden,
‘Come right in!’
Redhood entered, without speaking,—
Spied me! Then with laughter shrieking,
My poor ears she soon was tweaking,
And my chin.
“Well, you see, ’twas just a silly
Bit of fun.
You play often, Tim and Tilly,
Such a one.
And with Redhood I’d have tarried
All my life;
But when she grew up and married,
As a wife
She’d no use for my fond service,
As of yore,
And I made her husband nervous;
In his way, so stern and mannish,
That I’d kindly quickly vanish,
For the Wolf he wished to banish
From his door.
“So of course it was the only
Thing to do,
And I came, forlorn and lonely,
To this Zoo;
But my neighbors proved so pleasant,
Gay and kind,
That to stay here for the present
I’ve a mind.”
“Thank you, Wolf,” said Tilly, gazing
Straight at him,
“For your tale, which though amazing,
And I trust,”—her smile was gracious,—
“That your story is veracious,
Though it sounds a bit mendacious.
Come on, Tim.”
When Tim and Tilly, still onward going
Decided to make a call
On a corpulent cow,
With intelligent brow,
Who lived in a handsome stall.
They heard the beautiful creature lowing
A welcome as they came by.
She invited them in
With a gratified grin,
And a twinkle in either eye.
“Oh, courteous Cow,” they said,
“Our steps to you we’ve sped,
Because we hear you can stand on your head
We hear you can stand on your head;
And if you can, oh, Cow,
(Though it’s difficult to see how,)
We beg of you please to do it now,
Oh, please to do it now.”
Then Tim and Tilly each took a chair;
But as for the cow herself,—
She said she’d prefer,
As it just suited her,
A seat on the mantelshelf!
She swung herself up with a careless air,
And Tilly and Tim expressed
Their great surprise
That a cow of her size
Such agility possessed.
“Oh,” said she, “I’m a cow, you’ll find,
Of a very superior kind;
And I am athletically inclined,
Why, one fine day last June,
On a summer afternoon,
I assure you, my dears, I jumped over the moon,
My dears, I jumped over the moon!”
The children chuckled. “Oh, Cow,” they cried,
“Do tell us about that day!
How you jumped so high,
’Way up in the sky, —
Oh, tell us the tale, we pray.”
“I will,” said the Cow, with a conscious pride,
“For it was truly fine;
And I know very well
You’ll never hear tell
Of a feat to compare with mine!
And really it is but meet
I should feel a just conceit
When I think of that rash and audacious feat,
That rash and audacious feat.
And I’ll confide to you,
That my only regret in this Zoo
Is, that I have nothing like that to do,
I’ve nothing like that to do.
“But to return to the tale. Let’s see,—
As I’ve said, ’twas a summer day;
A cat on a fiddle
Played ‘Hey, diddle, diddle,’
While I was munching hay.
When suddenly it occurred to me
To see how high I could jump;
I sprang from the ground,
Cleared the moon with one bound,
And came down with a terrible thump!
Now of course, my ponderous weight,
Projected at such a rate,
Made a force you cannot appreciate,
You cannot appreciate;
But you can understand,
Though the jump itself was grand,
That thump was something I hadn’t planned,
Was something I hadn’t planned.
“And, Tilly and Tim, as you may suppose,
I was terribly bruised and jarred;
I fell on some stones,
Broke several bones,
And my face was fearfully scarred.
I scratched my ears and bumped my nose,—
Oh, I was a sight to see!
My little dog laughed,
And merrily chaffed,
In saucy, impertinent glee.
But worst of all, that day
My Dish and Spoon were at play,
And they were so frightened they ran away,
So frightened they ran away.
And this is what made me wince,
That Dish and Spoon, fit for a prince,
Have never been seen or heard of since,
Have never been heard of since!
“I followed in vain every possible clue,
To recover that Dish and Spoon.
I grieved beyond measure;
It spoiled all my pleasure
At having jumped over the moon.
And so I decided to come to the Zoo
To pass the rest of my days;
’Tis a quiet place, this,
And somehow I miss
My athletic, agile ways.
But still I’m satisfied
When I look back with pride
And think of what I achieved when I tried,
Of what I achieved when I tried.”
Then with a farewell bow,
She said, “Good-morning, now.”
And Tilly and Tim said, “Good-by, dear Cow,”
They said, “Good-by, dear Cow.”
Down by the riverside,
With branches spreading wide,
There grew a tree,
Which naturally made
A cool and pleasant shade,
Tempting to see.
The boughs hung low,
And to and fro
In passing breezes swayed.
Tilly and Tim drew near
And said, “We’ll tarry here
To rest a while.”
When suddenly they heard
The twitter of a bird, —
Tim, with a smile,
Just pointed to
A branch in view,
Not uttering a word.
And then they saw a score
Of birds, or maybe more,
As black as ink;
Tilly said, “Tim, my dear,
How clever they appear!
I really think
Those birds could tell
A story well,
That we’d be glad to hear.”
At that the birds broke out
Into a sort of shout,—
A sort of shriek;
A sort of croak and growl,
A hiss, a hoot, a howl,
A squawk, a squeak.
They seemed to be
A dozen kinds of fowl.
Tim put his fingers in
His ears to drown the din,
And Tilly too;
Said Tim, “Of all we’ve met,
You are the rudest yet,
In this whole Zoo!”
The birds said, “Oh,
Don’t flare up so,
You fill us with regret!”
And then they further said,
“We’re really quite well-bred;
But long ago
They baked us in a pie,
And that’s the reason why
Our temper’s so
And in a huff
We sometimes seem to fly.”
“Oh,” Tilly said, “are you
The Four-and-Twenty who
Were set before
A wise old King one day?”
“We are the same,” said they,
“And what is more,
We are just bright
Enough for flight,
And safely got away.”
Said Tim, excited now,
“Dear Birds, do tell us how
You made escape.”
“Well,” said the Birds, “that pie
Was wide and deep and high,
Of oval shape.
Oh, how we fussed
Beneath that crust,
Because we couldn’t fly!
“Until our cruel fate
Had made us so irate,
We all avowed
Soon as the knife should reach
That piecrust, we would each
Squawk very loud.
So, when the King
Attacked the thing,
We all began to screech.
“The King, in fright and rage,
Called quickly to a page,
‘Remove this pie!’
But ere the page could do
What he was ordered to,
We rose to fly!
And with a will
We flew, until
We safely reached the Zoo.
“Now, Tim and Tilly, dear,
If you would like to hear
Some music good,
I really think you’ll find
That we, when we’re inclined,
Sing as we should.”
Said Tim, “I long
To hear a song,
If you will be so kind.”
From four-and-twenty throats
Then poured forth sweetest notes,
Chirps, twitters, trills;
A piping, chanting song
Of cadence true and strong,
With quavering thrills.
Tilly and Tim
With earnest vim
Applauded loud and long.
And to each little bird
They said, “Your song we’ve heard
With greatest joy;
’Tis true beyond a doubt
You only shriek and shout
When you’d annoy.”
“Oh,” said a bird,
“Upon my word,
You’ve found us out!”
Said Tilly to Tim, as they sauntered on,
“This Zoo is very nice.”
“It is,” said Tim, in his hearty way;
“I’m glad we came. Oh, Tilly, I say!
Just look at those dear little mice!”
“Oh, oh!” Tilly cried,
And her eyes opened wide
As three meek-looking, sleek-looking mice she espied,
Who contentedly sat on a bench side by side.
“Why, they are the Three Blind Mice!”
Then the Mice began to flutter and fuss.
“Who is it,” cried one, “who is talking to us?”
Said Tim, Have no fear;
We’re just stopping here
To talk a few minutes with you and your brothers
Before we go on to visit the others.
We’re Tilly and Tim, and we’re going the rounds
Of Old Mother Goose’s Menagerie grounds;
And now, if we may,
With you we will stay
Until we have heard all you may have to say.”
“We like you,” the Mice said, “your voices are kind,
But alas! we can’t see you because we are blind.
But if you care to hear
About our career,
We’ll tell you. It’s quite interesting, you’ll find.”
The Mice spoke in concert. As you may suspect,
It gave to their words a line, thrilling effect.
“Dear children,” they said,
Each shaking his head,
“We suppose what you’re really most anxious to know
Is how we became blind and how long we’ve been so.
Well, this is the way
It happened one day:
We were three little Mousies and all fond of play,
Not naughty, of course, but just full of fun,
And ready for mischief, every one.
Our mother reproved us, and frequently gave
Instructions to each of us how to behave;
But we three small Mousies were awfully heedless,
And treated her precepts as something quite needless.
Well, one night, as we three were starting for bed,
Mother called us all to her and earnestly said,
‘My children, it causes me deepest distress
That you’re all so untidy in person and dress;
Your faces are not clean, your hands are a sight,
And your hair goes unbrushed from morning till night.
This state of affairs no longer I’ll stand,
You each must obey my explicit command.
You must keep yourselves clean,
And fit to be seen,
And strive to acquire a more dignified mien.
And now some imperative rules I’ll lay down.’
Then our mother announced, with a terrible frown,
‘Brush smoothly your hair,
Brush your teeth with great care,
Brush carefully all of the clothing you wear,
And every morning as soon as you rise,
Wash your hands and your faces and wash out your eyes.’
We meekly obeyed her commands to the letter,
And the washing and brushing did make us look better.
But to our surprise,
When we washed out our eyes,
We couldn’t replace them! With piteous cries,
We ran to our mother. Too frightened to speak,
She gave a loud shriek,
A squeal and a squeak,
Then took to her bed and was ill for a week.
Well, one day, being blind, ’twas our unlucky hap
To get caught in a horrible, terrible trap!
A farmer’s wife saw us! Unheeding our wails,
With a knife she cut off our long, beautiful tails!
But let us not dwell on these dreadful details.
From that old farmer’s wife,
With her glittering knife,
We managed at last to escape with our life,
And ran for protection right here to this Zoo,
Where we’ve lived very happily, we can tell you!
Mother Goose is a dear;
She welcomed us here,
And offered us freely the best of good cheer.
We each wear a placard,
‘PLEASE PITY THE BLIND,’
And we find all our neighbours exceedingly kind.
Whene’er we walk out,
They lead us about,
And of their affection we haven’t a doubt.
Then we’re given each day abundance of cheese,
Of which we can nibble as much as we please.
And so you see we
Quite happy can be,
For there’s nothing especial that we care to see.
And we’re sure, Tim and Tilly, you never will find
Three happier mice, though we’re tailless and blind.”
“Thanks,” said Tim and Tilly; “you’ve been very nice.
We’ve enjoyed the strange tale of the tailless mice.”
The children then
Walked on again
Or paused to rest and dally;
They skipped and hopped, —
At last they stopped
Down in a flowery valley,
Where on a log
There sat a frog
Of aspect most despairing;
Though he was dressed
All in his best,
A gorgeous costume wearing.
A very fine frog he seemed to be,
A rich and elegant frog was he.
But he looked so sad, and he didn’t speak,
And a tear was rolling down each cheek.
Tilly and Tim
And said, “Good-day, old fellow;
You’re gaily dressed,
With your red vest,
And satin coat of yellow.”
But Froggy sighed,
And sadly eyed
The children blithe and merry,
And said with groans
And doleful moans,
“My life’s a hard one, — very.
I am the most despondent frog
Who ever sat upon a log.
So doleful and so sad am I
I really think I’d like to die!”
“Oho,” said Tim,
“That sounds quite grim,
But I confess I doubt it.
Come, cease your sighs,
And dry your eyes,
And tell us all about it.”
“Yes, Froggy dear,
We’d like to hear,
So tell us all,” said Tilly,
“Because your croaks
And sobs and chokes
Sound really rather silly.”
“Silly, indeed!” the frog exclaimed,
“I think you ought to be ashamed
To talk like that! Wait till you know
The cause of all my grief and woe.
“I used to be
Quite gay, you see,
And fond of fun and frolic;
But sorrows deep
Have made me weep,
And I’ve grown melancholic.”
Said Tilly, “Wait,
We wish you’d state
The cause of this boo-hooing.”
“Well,” the frog said,
“I wished to wed,
And so I went a-wooing.
And oh, my dears, I must confess
My wooing met with no success.
For her father, who was an awful brute,
Declared that his daughter would ‘smile on my suit!’
“Now, true’s I live,
And when ’twas thus asserted
She’d laugh at my clothes,
As you may suppose
I was angry and disconcerted.
Toward home I turned,
And coldly spurned
In ire and rage
I took the stage
That runs to this plantation.
Of course you see how I was placed,—
That fearful insult to my taste
Was something I can not forgive
Unto the longest day I live!”
Said Tilly, “Oh,
You try me so,
I’d really like to shake you!
Her father meant
No ill intent,
He only meant she’d take you.”
“Of course,” Tim said,
Nodding his head,
“Your taste is most exquisite,
Go back to her,
And I’ll aver
She will receive your visit.”
The Frog looked sadly at Tilly and Tim;
He frowned at her, and he frowned at him:
“You mean well, dears, without a doubt,
But you don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Three Bears, of mild and mannerly appearance,
Meandering toward them Tim and Tilly saw;
“I beg you’ll pardon seeming interference,”
The biggest Bear said, offering his paw.
“Oh, that’s all right,” said Tim, “we’re glad you met us;
You see, we’re idly wandering round the Zoo,—”
“Yes,” said the Bear, “and, fearing you’d forget us,
We purposely sought out this interview.
For I’m sure you are aware
That a self-respecting bear
Desires good conversation when it may be;
I’m not unknown to fame,—
Big Bruin is my name, —
Allow me to present my wife and baby.”
His wife was middle-sized and grizzled slightly,
Her woolly hair was sort of yellow-buff;
She bowed respectfully and most politely,
And murmured softly, “I am Mammy Muff”
The little bear was very fat and cunning.
“Here,” said his father, “make your manners, Bub!”
The baby bear with grinning face came running,
Bowed awkwardly, and said, “I’m Tiny Cub.”
“You’re a darling,” Tilly said,
Patting Tiny’s woolly head,
“And I’m very glad with bears to get acquainted;
For I’ve always thought them bold,
Fierce and dreadful to behold,—
But you’re really not as black as you’ve been painted.”
A smile crept o’er Big Bruin’s woolly features.
“Have you had that impression, Tim?” he said;
“Though I can’t answer for my fellow creatures,
My family’s exceedingly well-bred;
And we have come to hear your conversation
In order that we may improve our mind.
We’ll gladly listen now to your oration,
If it is in your hearts to be so kind.”
But Tilly then cried out,
“’Tis the other way about!
And what we want is just to hear your story;
And if you’re willing now,
We beg you’ll tell us how
You reached your present state of fame and glory.”
Big Bruin looked a trifle disconcerted,
But being, as he hinted, quite well-bred,
His graphic powers he willingly exerted,
And to his eager auditors he said:
“Well, once upon a time, — ’twas long ago, sir,—
I built for me and mine a little cot
Deep in a jungle wood, where, as you know, sir,
One often finds a lovely flowery spot.
Well, we lived there year by year,
Without danger, without fear,
Until one day,— I think ’twas in September,—
We all had gone away
To a friend’s to spend the day,—
Where was it, Mammy Muff; do you remember?”
“Indeed, I do!” cried Mammy Muff, delighted
To have her share in telling of the tale;
“You, Tiny Cub, and I, were all invited
To visit neighbor Grizzly in the vale;
When we returned, and to our rest were creeping,
Surprised, we saw young Goldilock’s fair head
Upon the pillow! she was calmly sleeping
In Little Tiny Cub’s own trundle-bed.
Such a pretty little guest,
And so quietly at rest,
I’m sure no picture ever could be fairer;
When suddenly her eyes
She opened in surprise,
And at the sight of us screamed out in terror!”
Said Tiny Cub, “Let me tell some about it, —
She ate up all the porridge from my bowl!
And so I had to go to bed without it;
I only had some honey and a roll.
She broke my little rocking-chair to pieces ” —
“Tut, tut!” said Mammy Muff, “don’t grumble so!
’Tis true she was a creature of caprices,
But we felt very sad to see her go.”
“Yes,” said Big Bruin, “yes,
’Twas fearful, I confess,
When through the window Goldilocks went flying;
We followed her, you know,
And hunted high and low,
But not a sign of her could we be spying.”
“But still,” said Mammy Muff, “we kept on going
O’er hill and dale, and over field and glade;
We wandered on, unheeding and unknowing
How far from home we gradually strayed.
Till suddenly there loomed right up before us
This handsome, big, and hospitable Zoo,
And Bruin, Cub, and I exclaimed in chorus,
‘Why, that’s the very place for me and you!’
And so we hurried in,
And ever since we’ve been
Among the honoured guests of the plantation;
For Mother Goose declares
We’re really famous Bears.”
Said Tim and Tilly, “Thanks for your narration.”
Tim and Tilly sauntered on,
Happy as could be;
Ere they very far had gone,
Tim said, “Goodness me!
See that dapper little cat,
Very sleek and very fat,
With a gorgeous Paris hat,
Goodness, gracious me!
See that little Pussy-Cat
Then the little cat advanced,
And her twinkling eyes
With a merry humour danced
At the boy’s surprise.
“Don’t you know me, then, you two?
I’m the daring kitten, who
Went to London for a view
Of the Queen so wise.
Prithee, don’t despise
The enterprising kitten
And the Queen so wise.”
Tim and Tilly laughed aloud
At this kitten fat,
At the way she grandly bowed,
And her pompous chat.
But they answered, with a smile,
“Won’t you, pray, sit down awhile,
And let us admire the style
Of your Paris hat?
For the Pussy-Cat,
Whose favorite possession
Is a Paris hat.”
Said the Kitten, “Would you know
All about my trip?
It was many years ago,—
How the time does slip!
I crossed the ocean wide
For to reach the other side,
So of course I had to ride
On a great big ship!
How that boat did tip!
Such a little Pussy Kitten
On a great big ship!
“We sailed a year or more,
As it seemed to me;
Then at last I went ashore
On a London quay.
I advanced with boldness great,
To the Minister of State,
Saying, ‘Sir, I’ve come to wait
On Her Majesty.’
It was nice to be
A little kitten, waiting
On Her Majesty!
“The Queen said, ‘How-de-do,’
And she winked her eye
At a courtier or two
Standing meekly by;
When I saw a mouse, I swear,
Underneath the Royal chair,
And I pounced right then and there
On that mouse so sly!
We were both quite spry,
The enterprising kitten
And the mouse so sly.
“I bit the mouse’s tail
And it made him squeak!
The Queen turned very pale
And she gave a shriek.
And she fainted dead away;
Then what happened, I can’t say,
But the dickens was to pay,
So I thought I’d sneak!
In a fit of pique
I went across to Paris,
Where I stayed a week.
“But by the Paris sights
I was overawed;
I feared I’d lose my rights
By deceit and fraud.
So I bought a hat or two,
And I came back to this Zoo,
Quite delighted to be through
With my trip abroad.”
Let us all applaud
The celebrated kitten
And her trip abroad!
More creatures yet
The children met,
And one was very stately;
Though ’twas a little mouse
Who from his tiny house,
Of aspect bland,
With hat in hand,
Came walking forth sedately;
He nodded his small head,
And to the children said:
“My little dears,
How do you do?
Pray have no fears,
I won’t hurt you.
Would honor me, —
Come in and spend the day;
I am a most
Oh, visit me, I pray.”
This speech absurd
The children heard,
And, bursting into laughter,
They followed the small mouse
Into his tiny house.
The door he oped,
And said he hoped
That they would follow after;
And they replied, “Oh, yes,
We’ll follow you, I guess!”
They entered then
A room quite small,
A sort of den,
Office or hall,
And here they sate
In solemn state
While Mouse his speech began,
And with a squeak
Said, “I will speak
As briefly as I can.
“You little chaps
Have heard perhaps
Of the ‘ Hickory, Dickory, Dock’ case?
And then he looked at Tim,
Who said ’twas known to him.
“Well, well, my son,
I am the one
Who ran up that old clock case!”
Tilly said, “Deary me!”
And Tim, “By Jiminee!”
“So I’ve a claim,
Of course you see,
To this great fame
That’s come to me.”
Said Tilly, “I
Wish to know why
You climbed the clock, and then
Pray tell us too,
We beg of you,
Why you ran down again.”
The Mouse seemed pleased
Thus to be teased
To dilate on his story;
He said, “The clock was tall,
And I was very small;
And I’ll agree
It seemed to me
A feat of greatest glory
To climb a great high clock,
That thundered ‘tick-a-tock.’
One day its door
Was open wide!
I, on the floor,
My chance espied,—
I gave a spring
Into the thing,
The pendulum I grasped;
By might and main
I climbed the chain,
The clock’s great hands I clasped.
“I shook with fear,
For I could hear
Somebody come to wind it!
And ’twas a dangerous place
For me on that clock’s face;
I had to think
As quick as wink,
But I jumped in behind it,—
And, as you may suppose,
The cogwheels scratched my nose.
The works went round
With whiz and whir,
But I soon found
If I should stir
I would be killed!
With fear I thrilled,
Though I had lots of pluck;
When with a clang!
A sudden whang!
The old clock loudly struck.
“Well, I was scared,
And I prepared
To get away right quickly;
For I can tell you both
That I was nothing loth
To leave the clock.
The sudden shock
Had made me feel quite sickly;
And down the chain I sped,
And from that place I fled;
With right good-will
Away I flew,
Nor stopped until
I reached this Zoo.
Now I’ve been here
For many a year,
And all my great renown
Is really due,
I’m certain, to
The clock that I ran down.”
Then Tilly and Tim saw a great big cage
In which was a lion in a roaring rage;
But when he saw his visitors he sweetly smiled,
And he said, “I’m always happy when I see a child.
So, children dear,
Just step in here,
For I’d like to receive a social call;
And there is another,
Whom I call my brother,
Though he really is no relative of mine at all;
And he’ll welcome you, as I do, to this spacious hall.”
Now Tilly was just a wee bit scared;
To call on a lion she scarcely dared.
She said, “Are you gentle and good, dear sir?”
And the Lion smiled kindly as he said to her,
“My little maid,
Don’t be afraid,
I’m very, very gentle, and I’m kind and mild;
Why, there’s no one present
In this Zoo so pleasant
Who’s the least bit dangerous or fierce or wild,
So have no fear of any one, my pretty child.”
“All right,” said Tim, “we’ll come in and see
What kind of a host a lion can be.
And where is this brother of whom you tell?
We’d be very much delighted to see him as well.”
The Lion said, “He
Is the dearest old fellow that ever was born;
Though not a creature
Of attractive feature,
For out of his forehead there grows one horn, —
In fact, dear Tim and Tilly, he’s the Unicorn!
“Oho,” said Tim, “why, then he ought
To be the enemy that once you fought.”
“He is,” said the Lion, “the very same,
And he and I are known to fame,
Because, you see,
The time that we
Fought against each other for the victor’s crown
Has been oft narrated,
And so truly stated,
That it in history is handed down
As a feat of valor and renown.”
Just then the Unicorn came in,
With a bland expression and a gracious grin;
His mien was merry and his manner gay,
And he greeted both the children in a hearty way.
With a pompous air
He took a chair,
And said, “If you will listen, I will tell about
The fight tremendous
That came near to end us, —
Oh, it was, dear children, a most fearful rout,
The worst you’ve ever heard of, I have no doubt.”
Said the Lion, “I think you ought to give
Me a chance to assist in this narrative.”
Said the Unicorn, “You never can tell it right!”
And then and there they both began to fight.
“Stop that!” cried Tim.
They looked at him,
And with a merry chuckle they at once obeyed;
They cried, “Dear Brother!”
And embraced each other,
Saying, “Tim and Tilly, do not be dismayed,
Pray overlook the temper that we’ve just displayed.”
Said the Lion, in an apologetic way,
“Oh, children dear, excuse us, pray.
But you see it is my custom every morn
To have a little fight with the Unicorn.
We think it wise
And as we’re pugnacious, we enjoy, you see,
A little tussle
To improve our muscle,
So I fight the Unicorn and he fights me,—
But we’re really just as friendly as we can be.”
“But you want,” said the Unicorn, “the tale of our life, — ”
“Well, you see for the crown we were at strife;
’Twas a most good-natured fight, you know,
But the townspeople didn’t think it so.
Well, then they said
They’d give us bread,
Some offered white bread and some offered brown,
And some were slicing
Plum-cake with icing
Which they said they’d give us if we’d leave the town,
And discontinue fighting for the crown.”
Said the Lion, “We had no wish to stay,
We took our hats and we said ‘Good-day.’
I said to the Unicorn, ‘What shall we do?’
He said, ‘Let’s go to Mother Goose’s Zoo.’
So here we came,
And the good old dame
Was pleased to see us, and she took us in.
And we’re so happy,—
Are we not, old chappie?”
The Unicorn answered with a grin,
“Well, I am only happy when the fight I win.”
Tim and Tilly shortly after
Heard a sound of merry laughter.
“What is that?” said Tilly, harking,
“Sounds just like a dog a-barking!”
“Sure enough, it is,” said Tim,
But the laughter puzzled him.
Suddenly, the corner rounding,
Such a funny dog came bounding;
All his body writhed and wriggled,
As with mirth he gasped and giggled,
And he really seemed to be
Overcome with fun and glee.
“Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha!”
Not a terrier,
Not a collie,
And more jolly;
Just a cur
With soft brown fur,
Who said, “Dear Sir,
Excuse my folly;
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
Pray, dear Sir,
Excuse my folly!”
“Well,” said Tilly, smiling gently,
“Something’s funny, evidently.”
“Sissy,” said the Dog, “and Sonny,
Everything,—ha, ha,—is funny!”
“But,” said Tim, “what’s happened now,
That you’re making such a row?”
Said the Dog, “Dear Tim and Tilly,
Pray, don’t think me very silly;
’Tis my natural condition,
I’ve a merry disposition;
Every single thing I see,
Droll and funny seems to me.
“Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha!
No one should be
Glum and croaking,
When he could be
There is none
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
Every one is
“You’re right, Doggy,” Tim made answer,
“Tell your story, if you can, sir,
But make haste, for time is pressing,
We can’t wait for slow digressing.”
“Ho,” said Doggy with a smile,
“I can do it in quick style.
For there’s really little in it;
I can tell it in a minute.
When a puppy, I lived yonder
With a cow who was a wonder.
I have never seen her beat
At an acrobatic feat.
“Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha!
How that cow did
Run and ramble!
Through a crowded
Street she’d scramble;
How she’d trip,
Dance and dip,
And gaily gambol!
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
How she’d skip
And gaily gambol!
“Well, that Cow kept up her dancing,
Pirouetting, jumping, prancing,
Till one night, her prowess trying,
At the moon, Sir, she went flying!
And although it sounds absurd,
She went over like a bird!
That performance seemed to me, Sir,
Comical as it could be, Sir;
Not a moment did I tarry,
But I ran the news to carry
To the neighbors all around,
Of the Cow’s stupendous bound!
“Ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha, ha!
To what shelter
I was blowing.
I came to
This dear old Zoo.
And now I’m through,
I must be going.
Ha, ha, ha!
Ho, ho, ho!
My tale is through;
I must be going.”
Project Gutenberg Australia