“Now look here,” said the Mongoose. “We have to act fast,
or our time here will soon be a thing of the past.
We must look like the humans to gain their respect,
and it’s wearing their clothes that will have most effect.”
“But that man took no notice,” said Badger. “Yes, yes,”
said the Mongoose. “The letterbox hid this nice dress,
and he saw nothing more than my sharp little teeth
without hint of the sumptuous fabrics beneath.”
“All right,” said the Badger. “But what shall I wear?
I need to look normal, not make people stare;
and how can I get any clothes for a start
when I’ve no earthly means to look decent and smart?”
“I shall make you a suit,” she announced. “For upstairs
all the stuff that I need can be found; no repairs
have been made to this building for many long years -
but the curtains, though dusty, are quite without smears.
I always take with me, wherever I go,
a small kit of things to embroider and sew
to keep all of my clothes in the finest of shape;
so stand still, and I’ll measure you up with my tape.”
When she’d done, the poor Badger was puzzled and tense;
so he went on downstairs, and looked over the fence
at the world full of humans, who’d gassed all his folks
on account of concerns that were merely a hoax.
Yet all round the house there was little to see
but a field full of mud, and great heaps of debris.
Well, they’d got a near neighbour – but was she the one
who had cried ‘infestation’ although there was none?
He sighed as he thought of his dear little cubs,
and his wife, and his friends, who were happy with grubs,
and had never objected to cows in the field,
or imagined through them that their fate would be sealed.
He looked round the floor; in a crack by the wall
lay a comb. He had never yet used one at all,
but the humans who’d walked past the end of his sett
clearly thought they were things that one should not forget.
At the back of the kitchen, a door made of glass
showed his face; so he tried with the comb to surpass
what the wind and the weather had done to his hide;
and he looked at his new centre parting with pride.
His black-and-white face looked quite strange with a tuft,
but he struck a fine pose there, as if he was stuffed;
in his mind he’d become a bold Badger of style!
And no doubt his new friend would agree in a while.
The Mongoose came down, and she let out a shriek;
it was quite some time longer before she could speak,
doubled up on the floor with no breath to be spared,
while the newly groomed Badger was baffled, and stared.
The kindest response she could find was to smile
“We must get you a cap!” Then she dressed him in style,
as she saw it. She made him stand up like a man,
and announced, with great pride, the success of her plan.
The curtains were green with bold flowers of bright yellow;
the Mongoose declared him a capital fellow,
and busied herself with the hang of his sleeves,
which were covered in blossoms, and flourishing leaves.
But Badger was puzzled to find that his shirt
reached right down to his feet (though not quite in the dirt),
and although he could see that the trousers made sense,
he was lost for all words without causing offence.
“It’s a little bit warm for this time of the year,”
he announced with great care. “And your efforts are near
to success, but please give me those scissors you hold,
and I’ll change it a bit, if I might make so bold.”
He went out, and hacked hard at the hem of his shirt
to remove what amounted to quite a good skirt,
and two tubes from his trousers he cut with great care,
till they seemed to him right for a Badger to wear.
Then he checked he could step with no falls and no trips,
and the way that the clothing was hung round his hips,
till with great trepidation, he went back inside -
but the Mongoose sat down on the floor, and she cried.
“A sherwani is just what a Badger should wear -
now you look like a surfer! Oh, how they will stare;
they will think that you’ve been on the beach all the day,
and not bothered to change. Oh, please take it away!”
Now the curtains were gone, and their options used up.
She looked so forlorn that he brought her a cup
of clean water he’d found in a bottle marked ‘Gin’,
that was left, almost empty, right next to the bin.