“TOUCH HIM IF YOU DARE.”
A TALE OF THE HEDGE.
We advise you to take care.
He lodges with us, so we know him well,
And can tell
You all about him,
And we strongly advise you not to flout him.”
“At my time of life,”
said the Dandelion,
“I keep an eye on
The slightest sign of disturbance and riot,
For my one object is to keep quiet
The reason I take such very great care,”
The old Dandy went on, “is because of my hair.
It was very thick once, and as yellow as gold;
But now I am old,
It is snowy-white,
And comes off with the slightest fright.
As to using a brush—
My good dog! I beseech you, don’t rush,
Go quietly by me, if you please
You’re as bad as a breeze.
I hope you’ll attend to what we’ve said;
And—whatever you do—don’t touch my head,
In this equinoctial, blustering weather
You might knock it off with a feather.”
Said the Thistle, “I can tickle,
But not as a Hedgehog can prickle;
Even my tough old friend the Moke
Would find our lodger no joke.”
“I have thorns,”
sighed the Rose,
“But they don’t protect me like those;
He can pull his thorns right over his nose.”
“My sting,” said
“Is nothing to his when he’s put on his mettle.
No nose can endure it,
No dock-leaves will cure it.”
“All this fuss about a Hedgehog?
Though I never saw one before—
There’s my paw!
Good-morning, Sir! Do you never stir?
You look like an overgrown burr.
Will you have a game of play?
With your humped-up back and your spines on end,
You remind me so of an intimate friend,
The Persian Puss
Who lives with us.
How well I know her tricks!
The dear creature!
Just when you’re sure you can reach her,
In the twinkling of a couple of sticks
She saves herself by her heels,
And looks down at you out of the apple-tree, with eyes like catherine
The odd part of it is,
I could swear that I could not possibly miss
Her silky, cumbersome, traily tail,
And that’s just where I always fail.
But you seem to have nothing, Sir, of the sort;
And I should be mortified if you thought
That I’m stupid at sport;
I assure you I don’t often meet my match,
Where I chase I commonly catch.
I’ve caught cats,
And (between ourselves) I once caught a sheep,
And I think I could catch a weasel asleep.”