The Tail

tail1A rat family lived in a cave filled with goods.

The rats were there very well, because there were many good things to eat, especially soap and candle.

There were also barrels there. The rats did not know what they contained. But one day the mother Rat discovered a barrel whose drain was open. She sniffed, then plunged his cock in the hole and withdrew to taste.

“What luck!” she cried, “it’s currant syrup. Quick, my little ones, treat yourself!”

But the pups slipped on the belly of the barrel and could not reach the top. Stayed down, they wept with anger and greed.

Then the mother Rat had an idea. She went again and plunge his tail in the hole; then, when his tail was well soaked in syrup, she ran to the edge of the barrel and turned, she let the tail hang.

The little rats, in rising on the hind legs, could reach, and each in turn licked the tip of the tail, as if it were a candy.

Twenty times, a hundred times, the mother Rat went to the edge of the bung barrel. Within days the barrel was half empty, and the tail of the Rat mother was not long enough to soak in what remained of syrup.

But a little further there was another barrel that had the top half open.

“It will be even more convenient,” says the mother rat.

And, without taking the precaution to sniff, she plunged her tail in the barrel.

But when she tried to remove it, she let out a cry of pain. His tail did not come, his tail was stuck, his tail was buried in a barrel of glue.


(Translated and adapted from ABC – Petits Contes, by Jules Lemaître)

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