There once was a Badger that found an old house
that nobody lived in – not even a mouse.
He was tired, cold, and sad, and he went round the back
where he found that the door was left open a crack;
so he pushed with his nose, and he pushed with his paws,
until all of his black-and-white form was indoors;
he was far from his sett, and could never go back,
so he lay on the floor, on a piece of old sack.
He awoke at the sound of small feet by his snout,
and as dawn’s early sunlight began to come out,
he beheld with surprise an indignant fixed stare
on the face of a Mongoose that couldn’t be there.
“Mr Badger,” she said, with a show of sharp teeth;
“I’m obliged if you’d stick to the hill and the heath;
whether rain, wind or hailstones have driven you here,
it’s my house, and mine only. Please leave by the rear.”
The Badger just stared, for he couldn’t make sense
of her splendid attire; it appeared no expense
had been spared in designing from jewels and silk
what she wore; and no doubt she had more of this ilk.
“Very well,” he sighed sadly. “But first, I’d have said
you appear very rich and extremely well bred -
yet this house is a wreck – it’s a terrible mess!
You could surely afford to repair it for less
than the price of that jewel you wear as a pin;
the mere sight of it puts my old head in a spin!
Oh, it redly reflects all the dawn’s early light,
and enhances your dress; such a beautiful sight!”
The Mongoose was pleased. “It’s a sari,” she said.
“Made in India. Jewels are rarely so red,
as this ruby. But true, I need help; be a dear -
do you happen to know any tradesmen round here?”
The Badger got up, and he paced round the floor.
He had noticed the cracks in the tiles by the door,
and the copious litter that lay all around,
while the wallpaper fell in great sheets to the ground.
“I’m not local,” he grimaced. “I’ve lost my own home,
and the gasmen have left me forever to roam
in the world far away from my friendly old sett,
in a world full of sadness and empty regret.”
The Mongoose was mystified. “Tell me,” she said,
“what the gasmen have done?” “All my family’s dead,”
sighed the Badger. “They heard we had all got T.B.,
and cows caught it from us. Wrong way round! But you see,
we were killed on a whim at some farmer’s remark
to a clueless official who’s all in the dark
about cows and the countryside, badgers and setts;
I alone got away. That’s as bad as it gets,
when your family’s gassed, just because some poor cows
give less milk than a farmer’s impatience allows.”
The Mongoose was moved. “You can stay,” she exclaimed;
“if one animal’s ill, others shouldn’t be blamed.”