Mr Asp was “in chambers,” and so it was there
that the Mongoose first met him. She gave him a stare,
and he asked why she looked at him so. “Are you fake?”
she enquired; “For they said Mister Asp was a snake!”
He evilly grinned, and exclaimed, “So it’s said.
In a courtroom I generally bite till they’re dead;
and I like it that way. So they call me a snake,
but I don’t eat my victims; I’d rather have steak.”
The Mongoose just shuddered, but this was the way
she must fight for her rights; by the end of the day
they must give a judge reason for saving her home,
or else back to the zoo or the roadways she’d roam.
Asp looked at her papers, especially those
that were writ by the Rajah. Admiring her clothes,
he exclaimed that she looked quite the part she must act
whilst he used all his flattery, blather and tact.
“It seems Human Rights are the heart of the case,”
said young Asp. “If the Rajah, it seems, could embrace
a whole fam’ly of Mongeese, and give them all slaves,
how can others reject how a Rajah behaves?”
“Not ‘Mongeese’, it’s ‘Mongooses’,” sadly she said.
“Most likely the rest of my family’s dead.
We were kept in a cage in the Warrington Zoo,
and were speechless with rage. What could anyone do?”
“You escaped, so I’m told,” said the man. “Tell me, how
did you come to be caged? Are the rest of them now
still in Warrington Zoo? Are you all that is left?
Did you have any help to escape? Was it theft?”
“Long ago,” she said sadly, “my mother explains
that the Rajah was ousted, and taken in chains
to a Zoo meant for humans – they call it a prison;
it’s only since then that the problem’s arisen.
We looked very dignified, dressed up so fine,
but the slaves that he’d given us chose to resign.
We had ruled them with kindness and sense and with care,
but they put us in boxes, whilst all unaware
in our sleep. I was born in the Zoo; mother said
that she’d wanted her children to live, so we led
all our lives in captivity, up to this time,
though we never committed the least little crime.”
Her barrister thought. “So the ruby was hid
in the box, with your clothes? And whatever you did,
as a dignified species, you’d never complain;
you were waiting in silence until they’d explain?”
“Yes, that’s it,” said the Mongoose. “My mother and I
were the last to be left. For the others would die,
time to time, from the climate, and some from the shame.
For our captors had even denied us our name -
they called us all ‘meerkats’, because that made money,
exploiting the crowds - but I don’t think it’s funny
to capture an animal, laugh at its name,
and then leave it to die in a cage full of shame.
My mother was old, and she told me to leave.
‘I can’t stand that I’d leave you alone here to grieve -
so go now, while I’m able to wish you goodbye’
she insisted. She’d hate me to watch her just die.”
Her barrister thought quite a while. Then he rose -
“We must act right away. If we cannot compose
every detail this case should include by tonight,
it’s too late. We must go as we are, and we’ll fight.”
The Mongoose loved fighting; how strange that this man
who was named for a snake was supporting her plan –
but she ran by his side to the courts of the law
with her parasol high, and his hand in her paw.