One day Tom was going along the rocks in three-fanthom water, watching the pollock catch prawns, and the wrasses nibble barnacles off the rocks, shells and all, when he saw a round cage of green withes; and inside it, looking very much ashamed of himself, sat his friend the lobster, twiddling his horns, instead of his thumbs.
“What, have you been naughty, and have they put you in the lock-up ?“asked Tom.
The Lobster felt a little indignant at such a notion, but he was too much depressed in spirits to argue; so he only said, “I can’t get out.”
“Why, did you get in ?”
“After that nasty piece of dead fish.”He had thought it looked and smelt very nice when he was outside, and so it did, for a lobster: but now he turned around and abused it because he was angry with himself.
“Where did you get in ? “
“Through that round hole at the top.”
“Then why don’t you get out throught it ? “
“Because I can’t,”and the lobster twiddled his horns more fiercely than ever, but he was forced to confess.
“I have jumped upwards, downwards, backwards and sideways, at least four thousand times ; and I can’t get out: I always get up underneath there, and can’t find the hole.”
“Stop a bit,”said Tom. “Turn your tail up to me, and I’ll pull you throught\ hindforemost, and then you won’t stick in the spikes.”
But the lobster was so stupid and clumsy that he couldn’t hit the hole in the lobster-pot. Like a great many fox-hunters, he was very sharp as long as he was in his own country; but as soon as they get out of it they lose their heads ; and so the lobster, so to speak, lost his tail.
Tom reached and crawled down the hole after him, till he caught hold of him; and then, as was to be expected, the clumsy lobster pulled him in head foremost.
But they had not got half the spikes away when they saw a great dark cloud over them ; and lo, and behold, it was the otter. How she did grin and grin.
“Hullo ! here is a pretty business,”said Tom. “Now take you great claws, and break the points off those spikes, and then we shall both get out easily.”
“Dear me, I never thought of that,”said the lobster; “and after all the experience of life that I have had !”
You see, experience is of very little good unless a man, or a lobster, has wit enough to make use of it.
But they had not got half the spikes away when they saw a great dark cloud over them: and lo, and behold, it was the otter.
How she did grin and grin when she saw Tom. “Yar ! “said she, “you little meddlesome wretch, I have you now ! I will serve you out for telling the salmon where I was!”And she crawled all over the pot to get in.
Tom was horribly frightened, and still more frightened when she found the hole in the top, and squeezed herself right down through it, all eyes and teeth. But no sooner was her head inside than valiant Mr. Lobster caught her by the nose and held on.
And there they were all three in the post, rolling over and over, and very tight packin g it was. And the lobster tore at the otter, and the otter tore at the lobster, and both squeezed and thumped poor Tom till he had no breath left in his body ; and I don’t know what would have happened to him if he had not at lsst got on the otter’s back, and safe out of the hole.
He was right glad when he got out: but he would not desert his friend who had saved him; and the first time he saw his tail uppermost he caught hold of it, and pulled with all his might.
But the lobster would not let go.
“Come along,”said Tom; “don’t you see she is dead ?“And so she was, quite drowned and dead.
And that was the end of the wicked otter. but the lobster would not let go.
“Come along, you stupid old stick-in-the-mud,”crid Tom, “or the fisherman will catch you !”And that was true, for Tom felt someone above beginning to haul up the pot.
But the lobster would not let go.
Tom saw the fisherman haul him up to the boatside, and thought it was all up with him. But when Mr. Lobster saw the fisherman he gave such a furious and tremendous snap that he snapped out of his hand, and out of the pot, and safe into the sea. But he left his knobbed claw behind him; for it never came into his stupid head to let go after all, so he just shook his claw off as the easier method.Share