SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG 563
and when Phantasy comes, I shall find an opportunity to pinch his wings, and to pull out a little feather. Take that—no better is given to any poet—and it will be enough for you ! "
' And when Phantasy came the feather was plucked, and I seized it,' said the little Mouse. ' I held it in water, till it grew soft. It was very hard to digest, but I nibbled it up at last. It is not at all easy to gnaw oneself into being a poet, there are so many things one must take into oneself. Now I had these two things, imagination and understanding, and through these I knew that the third was to be found in the library ; for a great man has said and written that there are romances whose sole and single use is that they relieve people of their superfluous tears, and that they are, in fact, like sponges sucking up human emotion. I remembered a few of these old books, which had always looked especially palatable, and were much thumbed and very greasy, having evidently absorbed a great deal of feeling into themselves.
11 betook myself back to the library, and devoured nearly a whole novel—that is, the essence of it, the soft part, for I left the crust or binding. When I had digested this, and a second one in addition, I felt a stirring within me, and I ate a bit of a third romance, and now I was a poet. I said so to myself,and told the others also. I had headache, and stomach-ache, and I can't tell what aches besides. I began thinking what kind of stories could be made to refer to a sausage-peg ; and many pegs came into my mind —the ant queen must have had a particularly fine understanding. I remembered the man who took a white peg in his mouth, and then both he and the peg were invisible. I thought of being screwed up a peg, of standing on one's own pegs, and of driving a peg into one's own coffin. All my thoughts ran upon pegs ; and when one is a poet (and I am a poet, for I have worked most terribly hard to become one) a person can make poetry on these subjects. I shall therefore be able to wait upon you every day with a poem or a history—and that's the soup I have to offer.'
' Let us hear what the third has to say,' said the Mouse King.
1 Peep ! peep ! ' was heard at the kitchen door, and