Poets of John Company/The Adjutant and the Crow



The Adjutant and the Crow.

Once on a time, the story goes,
A flock of noisy idle crows,
Of what to do, for very want.
Got round about an Adjutant,
And tried who most could tease this king
Of all the birds, that ply the wing
From muddy Hooghly's swampy shores.
To Delhi's princely halls and doors.
At first, the crows, at distance due,
Around the stately giant drew,
And hopp'd, and caw'd their very best
To break their sovereign's noon-tide rest:
But he, unmindful of such fry.
With in-drawn neck, and half-closed eye
And only one leg on the ground,
Enjoy'd the creaking hackery's sound,
Which reach'd him on the sunny bank,
Loll-diggee of thy spacious tank:
And, every now and then, he'd wake,
And just a dainty morsel take
Of a dead cat, which he had found
That morning near the burying ground.
By suff 'ranee, soon much bolder grown.
The crows thought all the fun their own.
One, at his tail, began the attack,
Another perch'd upon his back;
And while a third beside him sat,
A fourth was trying to steal his cat.

Incens'd at such unlook'd-for jokes,
The bird let fly some random strokes,
Disabled two unlucky crows.
And dealt, besides, some awkward blows;
But scarce had time to rest, before
The crows began to tease once more;
For coming now, in greater numbers,
They fairly spoilt his kingship's slumbers.
That little imps, like these, should dare
To pass a joke, was something rare;
But that they'd chosen him to be
Food for their mirth, was far too free;
And thinking thus, he judg'd it best,
To put the thing at once to rest,
That crows might, thenceforth, learn to know
How much he differed from a crow;
So, just as one unlucky wight
Was landing from his downward flight,
He open'd wide his ample bill,
And soon the crow was snug and still
Within that dark and dreary bourne,
Whence Cats and Crows can ne'er return.

From this let every jester learn
His proper objects to discern;
It is not safe to pass one's jokes
On Kings, and Queens, and such-like folks;
For though the great may relish wit,
They may not choose to furnish it;
And jesters who have any sense.
Will seldom jest at their expense.