Lewis Carroll: The Hunting of the Snark

5. Fit the Fifth: THE BEAVER'S LESSON

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
     They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
     They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Then the Butcher contrived an ingenious plan
     For making a separate sally;
And fixed on a spot unfrequented by man,
     A dismal and desolate valley.

But the very same plan to the Beaver occurred:
     It had chosen the very same place:
Yet neither betrayed, by a sign or a word,
     The disgust that appeared in his face.

Each thought he was thinking of nothing but "Snark"
     And the glorious work of the day;
And each tried to pretend that he did not remark
     That the other was going that way.

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,
     And the evening got darker and colder,
Till (merely from nervousness, not from goodwill)
     They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Then a scream, shrill and high, rent the shuddering sky,
     And they knew that some danger was near:
The Beaver turned pale to the tip of its tail,
     And even the Butcher felt queer.

He thought of his childhood, left far far behind--
     That blissful and innocent state--
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind
     A pencil that squeaks on a slate!

"'Tis the voice of the Jubjub!" he suddenly cried.
     (This man, that they used to call "Dunce.")
"As the Bellman would tell you," he added with pride,
     "I have uttered that sentiment once.

"'Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
     You will find I have told it you twice.
'Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
     If only I've stated it thrice."

The Beaver had counted with scrupulous care,
     Attending to every word:
But it fairly lost heart, and outgrabe in despair,
     When the third repetition occurred.

It felt that, in spite of all possible pains,
     It had somehow contrived to lose count,
And the only thing now was to rack its poor brains
     By reckoning up the amount.

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