A gaunt and relentless wolf, possessed
Of a quite insatiable thirst,
Once paused at a stream to drink and rest,
And found that, bound on a similar quest,
A lamb had arrived there first.
The lamb was a lamb of a garrulous mind
And frivolity most extreme:
In the fashion common to all his kind,
He cantered in front and galloped behind.
And troubled the limpid stream.
"My friend," said the wolf, with a winsome air,
"Your capers I can't admire."
"Go to!" quoth the lamb. (Though he said not where,
He showed what he meant by his brazen stare
And the way that he gambolled higher.)
"My capers," he cried, "are the kind that are
Invariably served with lamb.
Remember, this is a public bar,
And I'll do as I please. If your drink I mar,
I don't give a tinker's ----."
He paused and glanced at the rivulet,
And that pause than speech was worse,
For his roving eye a saw-mill met,
And, near it, the word which should be set
At the end of the previous verse.
Said the wolf: "You are tough and may bring remorse,
But of such is the world well rid.
I've swallowed your capers, I've swallowed your sauce,
And it's plain to be seen that my only course
Is swallowing you." He did.
THE MORAL: The wisest lambs they are
Who, when they're assailed by thirst,
Keep well away from a public bar;
For of all black sheep, or near, or far,
The public bar-lamb's worst!