THE CAT AND OLD RAT (III, 18)
I in some fabulist have read the fame
Of Rodilard,* the second of that name,
Great Alexander, Attila of cats,
The scourge and terror of both mice and rats,
Who finally reduced them to despair :
I've read, I say, I don't remember where,
That this exterminating cat was feared
A league around, where mice his actions heard.
To them a Cerberus his dreadful face,
As if he meant to root out all the race :
Rat-poisons, traps, and all discoveries new,
Were sport to what great Rodilard could do.
Now as he turned the matter in his mind,
And saw the mice all prisoners, confined
Within their holes, such terror had he spread,
He hanged himself, pretending to be dead.
Downward his head suspended from a board,
But the rogue's claws held fast a hidden cord.
The mice applauding, now together thronged,
Thought he was strung for stealing roast or cheese,
For some one murdered, scratched to death, or wronged.
“ Tucked up at last,” they cried, “ for crimes like these ! ”
But all agreed to have a day of mirth,
When Rodilard was buried in the earth.
They showed their heads, and cried, “ Fine news for cats ! ”
Ran in again to tell it to the rats.
Again they ventured out, four steps or so,
At last for food a wandering they go.
But soon a different festival came on ;
The gallows-rogue whom they thought dead and gone,
Came back to life, and soon was down,
And made the hindmost all his own.
“ Not to one trick,” heo said, “ am I confined,”
And like a glutton on his captives dined.
“ Such tricks in ancient wars were aye required,
Nor shall the swiftest, to their holes retired,
Escape me long ; and I give notice now,
I'll have them somewhere and somehow ! ”
Grimalkin's prophecy was realised :
He changed his tactics ; and, again disguised,
Rolled in a flour-chest, looked as white as snow,
And thus entrenched in silence watched the foe.
A deep device.
Soon to their ruin came the trotting mice.
One rat alone kept prudently afar ;
An invalid, experienced in war ;
For in some battle he had lost a tail :
“ That block of flourbut puts me on my guard,”
He called aloud to General Rodilard ;
“ I smell some trick, but it shall not avail ;
For were ye sack of flour, d'ye hear ?
I should not choose to venture near.”
The rat was right, for well knew he,
Distrust's the parent of security.