Far back within an age remote,
Which common history fails to note,
When dogs could talk, and pigs could sing,
And frogs obeyed a wooden king,
There lived a tribe of rats so mean,
That such a set was never seen.
For during all the livelong day
They fought and quarrelled in the hay,
And then at night they robbed the mice,
Who always were so kind and nice.
They stole their bread, they stole their meat,
And all the jam they had to eat;
They gobbled up their pies and cake,
And everything the mice could bake;
They stuffed themselves with good fresh meal,
And ruined all they could not steal;
They slapped their long tails in the butter
Until they made a frightful splutter;
Then, sleek and fine in coats of silk,
They swam about in buttermilk.
They ate up everything they found,
And flung the plates upon the ground.
And catching three mice by their tails,
They drowned them in the water-pails;
Then seeing it was morning light,
They scampered home with all their might.
The mouse-tribe living far and near,
At once this awful thing did hear,
And all declared with cries of rage,
A war against the rats they'd wage.
The mouse-king blew a trumpet blast,
And soon the mice came thick and fast
From every place, in every manner,
And crowded round the royal banner.
Each had a sword, a bow and arrow;
Each felt as brave as any sparrow,
And promised, in the coming fight,
To die or put the rats to flight.
The king put on a coat of mail,
And tied a bow-knot to his tail;
He wore a pistol by his side,
And on a bull-frog he did ride.
"March on!" he cried. And, hot and thick,
His army rushed, in double quick.
And hardly one short hour had waned,
Before the ranks the rat-camp gained,
With sounding drum and screaming fife,
Enough to raise the dead to life.
The rats, awakened by the clatter,
Rushed out to see what was the matter,
Then down the whole mouse-army flew,
And many thieving rats it slew.
The mice hurrahed, the rats they squealed,
And soon the dreadful battle-field
Was blue with smoke and red with fire,
And filled with blood and savage ire.
The rats had eaten so much jam,
So many pies and so much ham,
And were so fat and sick and swollen
With all the good things they had stolen
That they could neither fight nor run;
And so the mice the battle won.
They threw up rat-fur in the air;
They piled up rat-tails everywhere;
And slaughtered rats bestrewed the ground
For ten or twenty miles around.
The rat-king galloped from the field
When all the rest were forced to yield;
But though he still retained his skin,
He nearly fainted with chagrin,
To think that in that bloody tide
So many of his rats had died.
Fierce anger blazed within his breast;
He would not stop to eat or rest;
But spurring up his fiery steed,
He seized a sharp and trusty reed--
Then, wildly shouting, rushed like hail
To cut off little mouse-king's tail.
The mouse-king's face turned red with passion
To see a rat come in such fashion,
For he had just that minute said
That every thieving rat was dead.
The rat was scared, and tried to run,
And vowed that he was just in fun;
But nought could quell the mouse-king's fury--
He cared not then for judge or jury;
And with his sharp and quivering spear,
He pierced the rat right through the ear.
The rat fell backward in the clover,
Kicked up his legs, and all was over.
The mice, with loud and joyful tones,
Now gathered all the bad rats' bones,
And with them built a pyramid,
Down which their little children slid.
And after that eventful day
The mice in peace and joy could play,
For now no wicked rats could steal
Their cakes and jam and pies and meal,
Nor catch them by their little tails,
And drown them in the water-pails.