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not think much of them. They were meddlesome little creatures that went about helping fisil and shells which got into scrapes. Well, for his part, he should be ashamed to be helped by little, soft 5 creatures that had not even a shell on their backs. He had lived quite long enough in the world to take care of himself.”
He was a conceited fellow, the old lobster, and not very civil to Tom; and you will hear how he 10 had to alter his mind before he was done, as con
ceited people generally have. But he was so funny, and Tom so lonely, that he could not quarrel with him; and they used to sit in holes in the rocks and chat for hours.
alter (al'ter): change
fanciful (fan'si ful): imaginary barnacles (bar'na klz): tiny shell- holidays (hol'i dāz)
fish that fasten themselves to ingenious (in jēnʼyus): clever, smart hard objects in the water
knobbed (nõbd): rough bogy-painters (bo'gy-pānt'erz): paint- mightily (mit'i ly): strongly
ers of dwarfs, elves, and so ou ridiculous (ri dik'ū lus) : absurd conceited (kon sēt'ed): thinking too scientific (si en tif'ik): agreeing with well of oneself
the rules of science conscience (kon'shns): sense of right twiddled (twžd'did): wiggled or duty
Victoria Cross: an emblem or badge distinguished (dis tỉn'gwisht): fa- given in England for great bravery
One day Tom was going along the rocks in three-fathom water, when all of a sudden he saw a round
of green withes, and inside it, looking very much ashamed of himself, sat his friend the lobster, twiddling his horns, instead of 5 thumbs.
“What! have you been naughty, and have they put you in the lockup?” 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 15 he turned round 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 through it ? ” 20 “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, 5 and I can't get out. I always get up underneath there, and can't find the hole."
Tom looked at the trap, and, having more wit than the lobster, he saw plainly enough what was the matter; as you may if you look at a lobsterpot.
Stop a bit,” said Tom. “ Turn your tail up to me, and I'll pull you through 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. Like a great many fox15 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 clawed down the hole after 20 him till he caught hold of him; and then, as was to be expected, the clumsy lobster pulled him in headforemost.
“Hullo! here is a pretty business," said Tom. “ Now take your 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 5 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, 10 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 tell- 15 ing 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 20 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 pot, rolling over and over, and very tight packing it was. And the lobster tore at the otter, and the otter tore at the lobster, and both squeezed and 6 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 last got on the otter's back, and safe out of the hole.
He was right glad when he got out, but he 10 would not desert his friend who had saved him ;