Katie lived in the forest. When her father died her uncle sent her there. He thought the animals would kill her, but they did n't. In fact, they took great care of her. There was John, the elephant; James, the crocodile; the tiger who had no name, and the monkey who had a great many; and they all were very kind, and helped her build her house and cook her breakfast. There was the alligator, George, who was sulky; but the crocodile was a dear. One day Katie said to him:" Crocodile, Crocodile, give me a ride,One day Katie was walking by the waterside, and there she saw a water-wagtail. He looked so happy that she thought he must have had something very good to eat; and so she asked him:
And the elephant Johnny will run by our side;
We'll swim up the river together, and then
You'll turn your long tail, dear, and swim down again.
"We'll swim up the river and through the dark wood,
For there lives the tiger, so gentle and good.
He'll give us some cake and he'll make us some tea;
You know he is always good-natured to me.
"For I met him one day,-- I was quite a small girl,--
And his poor coat and whiskers were all out of curl;
So I combed him and brushed him as fine as a prince,
And he's always been so much obliged to me since.
"He's very old now, dear, but once he was young,
And fought with a lion, and climbed trees and sung;
He can sing a bit still, and his tea is so nice,
And perhaps he will give us a strawberry ice.
"So stand still, my Jimmy, and let me get on,
For the day is so fine and my lessons are done.
We'll swim up the river together, and then
You'll turn your long tail, dear, and swim down again.""Little Water-Wagtail, running by the lake,To which the water-wagtail answered (for he was a truthful bird):
For your little tea and dinner, oh! tell me what you take?"" A little lady beetle in a little purple gown,One day when the elephant came out of the woods his behavior was very strange indeed,-- so strange that Katie said:
And a little drop of water to wash the beetle down.""Who's that by the banyan tree,But the most dreadful thing happened when Katie and John and James all came back from a journey together and Katie made the tea. James, the crocodile, never talked much; he thought a great deal -- at least, so Katie said to herself, and it is certain he was always eating. He liked all sorts of things, from pork to strawberries. He liked pork best, but when Katie offered them he never refused strawberries. But that day he would n't touch them nor anything else, and so Katie said:
Humming like a bumblebee,
Jumping like a dancing bear,
Lifting up his trunk in air;
And his howdah all aslant?
Why, it's John, the elephant!""Crocodile, what is the matter, my dear?It was quite true that the alligator made himself very unpleasant by teasing, and no one disliked him more than Jim, the crocodile.
Please tell me what is it about. Do you hear?
I've offered you strawberries, treacle, and cake;
Oh, crocodile dear, is there nothing you'll take?
"What can be the matter, oh, what can it be?
Oh, is n't he sad and pathetic to see?
He looks just as if he were going to cry,
And I really believe there's a tear in his eye.
"His mouth is turned down and his eyes are turned up --
John, reach me your trunk dear, and hand him the cup.
What, no! won't he take it? Oh, dear, what a bore!
He never refused tea and sugar before.
"Come here by my side, Jim, and tell me your woes.
I'll stroke your old paws and I'll tickle your nose.
He's looking quite cross, and he always has been
The best-natured crocodile ever was seen.
"Perhaps it is temper, perhaps it is pride,
Perhaps it's a pain in his little inside.
Never mind, Jim, I know that one always is sad --
Why, every one is -- when his stomach is bad.
"Perhaps that old turtle was hard to digest
If you swallow them whole they are gritty at best;
And pelican meat is delicious, they say,
But you should n't eat more than a dozen a day.
"Or, perhaps, by mistake you have swallowed a stone
Instead of a toad; that's provoking,
I own. Or perhaps you're in love -- but you're gouty and fat,
And I'm sure that you can't be as foolish as that.
"What is it, my darling? I wish you'd explain.
Has the old alligator been teasing again?
I know that his language is often provoking,
But then it's his way to be laughing and joking.
"Come here! Can't you move, dear? What makes you keep still?
I'm afraid you must really be dreadfully ill.
Why! what is the monkey there laughing at so?
I must really myself go and look at you -- oh!
"Oh, John, you old booby, what are you about?
Do look where you're sitting, you clumsy old lout;
No wonder poor Jimmy looks sorry and pale --
You've been sitting an hour on the crocodile's tail!""Said George, the alligator, to James, the crocodile,But that same evening a parrot came and settled on Katie's shoulder and talked in her ear. She said to James, "Hide yourself in the mud, James, there's danger"; and then she said to John:
'I really don't believe, Jim, I ever saw you smile.
They say it is their conscience which makes some people sad,
But I really can't believe, Jim, you are so very bad.'"" Elephant, elephant, reach me your trunk,But Katie's wicked uncle heard she was alive, and sent to fetch her; and this is what happened to his messengers:
You have eaten two trees, you have washed, you have drunk;
And I know when you've started you never will tire --
And you'll need all your strength, for the forest's afire!
"The north wind is blowing, and high overhead
The smoke cloud is rising, a column of red.
The parrots are shrieking -- the parrots can see;
And you know how they tell all their secrets to me.
"Oh, gallop, my Johnny, there's no time to think,
There's no time for stopping to eat or to drink;
Through thicket and jungle, through cactus and mire,
Oh, gallop, my Johnny, the forest's afire!
"It's coming, it's coming, there's red in the sky!
The silly birds chatter and scream as they fly.
The monkeys are shrieking -- I know what they say--
'Our favorite tree will be ashes to-day!'
"The forest is falling. Oh, hark! What a crash!
You can see the flames now --how they flicker and flash!
The sparks are all over your beautiful back.
Oh, gallop, my Johnny, there's death on our track!
"Oh, look! There's the tiger! Oh, tiger, come here!
We both are delighted to see you, my dear!"
How he bounded and leapt! How he roared as he came! --
And his yellow coat shone like a garment of flame!
"We've come to the river-- the river at last.
Just one effort more, and the danger is passed.
My Johnny is clever, my Johnny can swim.
The brown rushing water is nothing to him.
"And now we've touched ground -- we are climbing the bank.
Oh, whom should I praise, John, and whom should I thank?
And whom should I kiss if I should n't kiss you,
My swift-footed Johnny, the strong and the true?
"And I'll never forget how the forest took fire,
And how nothing could stop you and nothing could tire --
And how fresh you looked, too, when the journey was done,
And how Katie was saved by the elephant John.""One, two, three -- one, two, three,
The wicked men creep silently --
Over rock and fallen tree.
The wicked king across the sea
Has sent them here for me.
"All alone, all alone,--
They have left me all alone.
Jim, the crocodile, has gone,
So has naughty John;
And through the thicket, up the brook,
And past my garden--look!
The wicked men come on.
"Nearer, nearer! I can see
Each cruel, ugly face.
Here's a hollow tree,
Here's a hiding-place!
Will they see me? Will they find me?
I look before me and behind me.
Oh, what shall I do?
Oh, if Johnny only knew!
And what will Jimmy say
When he finds me stolen away?
"Nearer, nearer, nearer yet!
How their cruel brows are set!
Now they've gone inside my house.
I'll lie as quiet as a mouse.
Now they're coming out!
Now they look about;
Now they're talking-- they're in doubt.
They wonder where I'm gone.
But where are Jim and John?
They have left me all alone.
Grows each face and cruel eye.
Oh, Jim and John,
Where are you gone?
Come at least to say good-by!
"What's that yellow streak?
I dare not breathe or speak.
There's the tiger -- there he lies,
Waiting with his quiet eyes,
Hidden in the thicket near.
How I love you, tiger dear!
"With a roar, with a bound,
Like lightning through the air,
While the woods echo round.
He leaps from his lair.
Oh, who can stay the path
Of my tiger in his wrath?
Oh, who can stand before
His rage, when his roar
Shakes the ground?
"One, two, three; one, two, three;
The wicked men they turn and flee --
They run with might and main,
And they'll not come here again.
"Oh, tiger, tiger, is that you? --
My tiger brave and strong and true --
And did you leave your quiet cave,
And lose your sleep to come and save
Your poor deserted little friend?
Oh, give your paw to me, and bend
Your head that I may stroke your ear.
I am so glad to see you, dear!
I'll come and brush you every week,
And make your coat so nice and sleek.
I'll make you fine as fine can be,
And feed you well, and make your tea,
And you'll repeat those funny rhymes
And tell me stories of old times --
About the lion whom you beat --
While I am sitting at your feet;
And John and I will work for hours,
And gather moss and leaves and flowers
To make you up the finest bed,
And heap a pillow for your head;
And you will teach me how to climb,
And we shall have the finest time!
My tiger, brave and strong and true --
Oh, tiger, I am proud of you!"
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