BETA

THE RABBIT AND THE TEAL.

(From the French.)

In friendship close and fair1
Once lived a happy pair :2
A Rabbit and a Teal,3
Who sought each other’s weal.4
On the border of a park, with a streamlet by its side,5
The Rabbit had its burrow, and at morn and eventide6
The friends full often met, choosing now the water’s edge,7
Or finding sheltered corner ’mid the rustling foliage.8
There, taking their repose they would talk of many things,9
Repeating what they loved the most, which deepest pleasure brings.10
All things they held in common : loss and sorrow, joy and pain11
They shared, and by the sharing each a double joy did gain.12
Such the life they lived, till one day—Oh, day of sorrow dire !13
When the Rabbit came to dinner at the Teal’s express desire,14
He found the chamber empty, and in agony he cried ;15
But to his dolorous callings all answer was denied.16
Completely stunned with fright,17
He was a piteous sight,18
Running here and there, and turning oft times amid the reeds ;19
It might have seemed he wholly lacked a method in his deeds ;20
And when he came to water’s edge, he would have plunged in,21
If with strength and life he could have hoped the other shore to win,22
And find his friend, but suddenly with impulse sharp he ran23
Along the marshy water’s edge, each wonted nook to scan.24
O dear companion, sister,” he fervently appealed,25
I would that I might see thee, though then my eyes were sealed ;26
Far rather I would die than know that thou art suffering now.27
I tremble sadly for thy fate : a pain is in my brow.”28
At last, in all its grace,29
Rose the Château of the place,30
Before him as he stood31
In melancholy mood,32
Not knowing how to turn, or what pathway to prefer,33
As he found himself in midst of a beautiful parterre.34
Looking round him very wary,35
He espied an aviary,36
Where a thousand birds disported o’er a basin bright and gay,37
And, Love imparting courage, to the grating he made way.38
He looked and recognised39
Oh, the friendship that he prized40
His sister Teal, and suddenly he raised a cry of joy.41
But better methods also he was ready to employ :42
His four feet setting vigorously to earth without delay,43
To join his friend by hollowing out a subterranean way.44
Soon by this path he entered without a scratch or scar,45
Like to some skilful miner taking armed place of war.46
The birds, all frightened, pressed and flew47
To see a face so strange and new !48
But soon the Teal was led to the entrance of the way,49
And by help of careful feeling was quickly led to day,50
And to share all freedom’s treasure :51
He was like to die for pleasure !52
What a moment for the friends !53
Who, deeming all was safe, to themselves would make amends54
For the grief that both had known55
In a confab all alone.56
But angry was the master when he became aware57
Of the sad destruction wrought upon his aviary fair.58
He cried, “ My guns and ferrets, have them ready quick, and come !”59
And dogs and keepers marchèd out, as if to tuck of drum ;60
The terriers following after through the brushwood filled the train,61
And all the rabbits that appeared did die in throes of pain.62
That day the banks of Styx by their manes was bordered thick :63
But the master of his massacre was very far-from sick,64
And fixed to-morrow morning afresh the war to wage65
Against the wretched rabbits, and to finish the carnage !66
Our Rabbit trembling waited, all through this dreary while67
Cowering ’mid the thick-set reeds, close by his friend, the Teal ;68
Imploring that his sister should fly to the other shore69
Should he be stricken mortally or wounded-her before.70
In the middle of a lake, a rabbit perches on a collection of sticks beside a teal bird with its wings spread out. Behind the two animals, reeds and trees surround the lake. A building is visible in the distance. Full page width and 1/2 page height.
I will not leave thee ever,” said the faithful sister Teal ;71
Death only shall divide us, my words with life I’ll seal !72
Ah, if thou wert but able to cross the stream ; but stay !73
I think that I am equal to find for thee a way !”74
She quickly left. The Rabbit stood, more wildly beat his breast ;75
The Teal returnèd shortly, dragging after her a nest ;76
With the stems of reeds made stronger for the work it was to do,77
Pressed and pierced by feet and beak, rough woven through and through :78
A little boat in state79
To support a heavy weight :80
And to the tiny vessel a rope of rush she bound81
For a cable thus to drag her through the water safe and sound.82
And when the little boat83
By the Teal was set afloat,84
The Rabbit entered gently and sat him down with ease,85
Whilst before him swam the Teal, drawing on by slow degrees,86
And directing very skilfully the skiff to him so dear.87
At last they cross and, landing, throw off all thoughts of fear,88
And they found at little distance a much-desired retreat ;89
Where happily they dwelt for years alike in cold and heat,90
And the joys of life were doubled thro’ the sorrows undergone,91
For in the deepest heart and soul the friends were truly one.92
Symmetrical vegetal pattern along a straight horizontal line. 1/16 page.