THE TAILOR AND THE ELEPHANT
A tailor was sitting at work one day,
His shop window open, beside the way
Which an elephant took to the river's brink
To indulge in his usual bath and drink.
The tailor was merry as merry could be,
The elephant playful and merry as he ;
His trunk, thrust inside, gave the stitcher a poke,
Intending no evil, but only a joke.
But the tailor, so merry, at bottom a fool,
Who ne'er had learned manners at home or in school,
At once thought it bright, and a very fine trick,
To give with his needle the trunk a deep prick.
The fool, in his folly, what could he expect,
If not, that enraged, with proboscis erect,
The elephant would fracture his poor little skull
For being at once both malicious and dull ?
But the elephant, wiser than many a man,
Conceived in an instant a much better plan ;
He turned on his heel, to the river he went,
As though he had never on mischief been bent.
He first took a drink, then he waded in deep,
Then swam up and down with a powerful sweep,
Till thoroughly washed, when he drank once again,
And filled up his trunk like a big water main.
With deep satisfaction impressed on his brow,
The elephant turned from the river's brink now ;
His eye beamed with pleasure, his footstep was light,
As onward he went, feeling sure he was right ;
The swim of his trunk and the wag of his tail
Kept time as he marched on the clothes-mender's trail.
The tailor still sat at his window, all smiles,
And dreamed not of elephant's wisdom or wiles.
He smiled as he sat and his own wit admired,
When suddenly came, as from cannon's mouth fired,
A stream of cold water, and hit him full tilt ;
And knocked from his work-bench, as if he'd been spilt,
The tailor now scrambled and kicked on the floor ;
And still the floods poured, and kept pouring still more,
Till rising, as though to inundate the town,
They threatened in wrath the poor tailor to drown.
And had they but risen a single inch more,
The life of the tailor no man could restore,
The elephant, who with his trunk had done this,
Thus spake to the tailor : (who'd take it amiss?)
Whenever in anger or spite, little folks
Do venture on great ones to practise their jokes,
The least that can happen to little folks, then,
Is to suffer the jeers and the laughter of men.