Killing Rats

My skirt swishing to and fro
I walked toward the manor
Bucket, knife, and poison in tow
There were many rats I killed this morning
Recalling, “What are rats?”  I ask.
“They are terrible hairy creatures,” replies my mistress
She wants them dead
What my mistress orders I carry out
I kill the rats; it is my favorite sport
The poison is laid, the rats eat
Squirming and twitching on their backs
I slit their throats before they die
Piled high in my bucket they squirm no more
They will soon be burned behind the shed

I hate rats! They are evil I believe
They find their way to the servants’ quarters
To the maids’ rooms they stay and plant their seed
Baby rodents soon appear
My older sister got a rat just yesterday
“Let me kill it,” I say
“It’s just a babe,” she exclaims
“But it’s a rat,” I reply
She says that its name is Teddy
I say that it must die
“It does not look like a rat, it has no hair,” she says
“It will grow and become hairy and do all the things that rats do,” I reply
She carries the hairless rodent from the room

Sitting my load behind the shed I hear them call
“Someone has killed the master,” they say
I follow the gardener to the scene
There lay the master among the evergreen
His feet sticking out between the rose bushes
The farm boy pushes me away
“Somebody done slit his throat,” he whispers in my ear
Mistress comes rushing out her dress stained red
She had spilt her wine so she says
Peeking down at her husband she then turns to me
Did she venture into the garden this morning?
Did she do more then smell her red roses?
Two maids help her back inside the house
If I listen close I can hear her weep

There stands my bother looking down at the corpse
Grim satisfaction distorts his features
Our eyes meet and he winks
Did he follow the master to the garden?
Was he hiding among the shrubbery?
Later they carry the corpse inside
There he lay on the bed still in his clothes
No one is around; they are preparing for a funeral
I sneak into the room and peek at the dead
His neck bears a gash from ear to ear
The top of his shirt is undone
He had been out playing
Short black hair fills the gap
He is so hairy

That night I meet the farm boy in the barn
“How many rats did ye kill today?” He asks
“Lots,” I say
“Any biggins?” He asks
“Yes,” I reply, “one big one.”
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