A NANNY-GOAT and a Tigress were near neighbours in a certain wood, and fast friends to boot. The Tigress had two tiger-cubs; and the family of the Nanny-goat were four frolicksome kids, named Roley, Poley, Skipster, and Jumpster.
But the Tigress was jealous of her friend the Nanny-goat, because Nanny had four young ones, while she had only two. One day, as she was musing on the injustice of her fate, she thought to herself, "What if I eat up two of Nanny's kids, and then things will be equal? They do say, friends have all things in common." So to Nanny-goat she hied, and said she--
"Sister Nanny, my little ones have gone out, and I am very lonely at home. Do let one of your dear kiddies come and sleep with me, for company. Will you, please?"
"Gladly will I, sister," said honest Nanny-goat, thinking no evil of her friend. Then she ran out to the fields, where Roley and Poley were rolling over each other, and Jumpster was jumping over the back of Skipster.
"Children, children!" said Nanny-goat, "a treat for you! A kind friend has asked one of you out to spend the night."
"Baa baa baa!" cried the Kids, running up; and then three of them called out all together, dancing about old Nanny, "Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!" But the fourth, who was a wise little imp (and Roley it was, to be sure), asked in a quiet tone, "Who is it, Mammy Nanny-goat?"
"Why, who should it be but your Aunt Yellowstripe?" said Nanny.
At this they all looked rather crestfallen; for although Nanny-goat loved her friend dearly, all the youngsters were afraid of her, for what reason they could not say. Children have a way of finding out their friends; and these Kids had noticed at times a gleam in the eyes of Auntie Yellowstripe, which boded ill to little Kids.
"No-o, thank you, Mammy Nanny-goat," said Skipster, skipping away.
"No-o-o, thank you, Mammy," said Jumpster, and jumped after her.
"No-o-o-o, thank you," said Poley, and rolled away by himself.
Why did Poley roll away by himself? Because Roley stayed behind. Roley did not say No, thank you; on the contrary, he said Yes. Why Roley said yes instead of no, was his own concern; and I think Roley knew what he was about.
This was how Roley went with the Tigress; and that night the Tigress put him to sleep by her side. She cuddled him up, and made a great fuss of him, thinking to herself, "Soft words cost nothing; and when he is fast asleep, we shall see what we shall see."
But Roley was no such fool as the Tigress thought him. So he did not go to sleep, but only pretended; and no sooner did Dame Yellowstripe begin to snore, than up jumps Roley, as soft as you please, and fetches out one of Yellowstripe's own cubs, who were sleeping away at the back of the cave. He laid the cub in his own place, and went into the corner to sleep with the other cub.
About midnight the Tigress awoke, and as she felt the warm little thing nestling beside her, she chuckled to herself. Then she gave him one tap with her mighty paw; crack! went his neck, and his dancing days were over; the Tigress gobbled him up, skin, bones, and teeth. It was pitch dark, you know, and she could not see that she was eating her own cub. "One less of the brood now," thought the Tigress; turned over, and went to sleep again.
Next morning, they all woke up; and Yellowstripe, to her dismay, saw that Roley was rolling about, right as a trivet. She looked round for her own cubs, and lo and behold! one was missing. At first she could not make it out in the least; but when it dawned upon her what had happened, she nearly turned yellow all over with rage and disappointment.
"Did you have a good night, Roley dear?" said she in a wheedling tone to the Kid.
"Oh yes, Auntie," said the little Kid, "only a gnat bit me."
This astonished the Tigress, who thought that the Kid must be stronger than he appeared to be. "Never mind," said she to herself; "come to-night, we shall see what we shall see."
That night all went as before; only this time Roley put a huge stone in his place, and then he ran off as fast as his legs could carry him. When the Tigress awoke, she gave a pat to the stone: it hurt her paw sadly.
"Good heavens," said she, "what a mighty Kid it is, to be sure! I must make short work of him now I have the chance, or there is no knowing what may happen. When he grows up, he may kill me." So she gave a fierce bite at the stone, and broke all her front teeth.
Now the Tigress' fury knew no bounds. She went raging about the cave, hunting in every corner for Roley; but Roley was not to be found, because, as I have told you, he was not there. So the Tigress was forced to wait until morning for her revenge.
All night long the Tigress lay awake with the pain of her teeth; and when morning came, she sought out a familiar friend to take counsel with. This friend was an old one-eyed Tiger. The Tigress and the one-eyed Tiger talked for a long time together, and as they talked they walked. When they came to the end of their talk, their walk was also at an end, and they found themselves at the mouth of Yellowstripe's den. There in the den, as calm as you please, playing with the one remaining Tiger cub, was Roley.
"Ha ha," laughed One-eye, "so there you are. Let us sit down, and I will tell you a story."
"Do, do, Nuncle One-eye," cried Roley.
So they all sat down, and One-eye began. "When I eat little Kids," said One-eye, "four of them make me a mouthful; and I'm coming one of these days to make one mouthful of you and your brother and sisters."
"Capital, capital, Nuncle One-eye!" said Roley, clapping his paws; "what good stories you do tell, Nuncle One-eye! Now I'll tell you a story. When you come to eat us up, Skipster will hold you by the forelegs, and Jumpster will hold you by the hind legs, and Poley will hold your head, and Roley will chop it off, if only mother will give us a light."
This terrified One-eye extremely, for he was a great coward. He thought it all as true as gospel, so he took to his heels, and left Yellowstripe in the lurch.
On the way, he met six other Tigers, friends of his. "Oh my friends!" said he, "I have such a treat for you! A fine fat Kid, crying out to be killed! Come along, come along, I'll show you the way, and all I ask is the pleasure of serving you." Cunning old One-eye!
The six Tigers believed all that One-eye said, and away they all trotted together towards the place where Roley lived. They knew he would go home sooner or later; and indeed he was there already, and saw them coming, so he climbed up a tree. Goats are wonderfully good at climbing rocks, but I think most of them cannot climb trees; still, whatever may be true of other goats, Roley could. If it were not so, this story would never have been written. So Roley climbed up a tree, and sat on a branch, with his legs all dangling in the air.
The first Tiger gave a jump, and missed him. Number two gave a jump, and missed him. They all jumped, one after another, and not one of them could touch Roley; who sat and laughed at them so heartily, that he nearly fell off his perch.
At last, when they were tired of jumping, and jumping, up gets old One-eye, and says, "I know how to get at him. I'll stand here, and you get on my back, and then the rest of you one a-top of another, and then we shall catch him nicely." They all thought this an excellent idea; so One-eye propped his old carcass against the tree, and the other Tigers mounted one on another's shoulders, until there they were, all seven in a pyramid. Then the topmost Tiger stretched out his paw, and all but got hold of Roley.
Thereupon One-eye cocked up his solitary eye, to see how things were going on up aloft; and seeing this, Roley called out--
"Mother, give me a lump of mud, and I'll hit the brute in his sound eye, and then we will finish him off."
When One-eye heard this, he gave a great start, and
down toppled the whole seven in a heap, one a-top of
the next, spitting and roaring and scratching. They
were so much taken aback, that they imagined all sorts
of powerful beasts to be fighting with them, when it was
only their own selves, biting each other; and the
end of all was, that as soon as the seven Tigers
had each got his four legs to himself, off
they went helter-skelter into the forest,
and never more troubled Mammy
Nanny-goat and her four