The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash

Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.

Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink was strategically mouseholed.

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.

The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.

Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

Short Summary

This is a story of a girl Belinda, who has some strange pets. They have queer names. She calls the black kitten Ink, the little grey mouse as Blink, the yellow dog as ‘Mustard’ and the cowardly dragon ‘Custard’. Belinda’s, kitten, mouse and dog were very brave but the dragon was a coward.

One day, a pirate came armed with a pistol into their house. Except the dragon, Custard, all the others were terrified of the pirate. Custard attacked the pirate and gobbled him up. Belinda then embraced him while Mustard licked him. Even after this brave incident, Custard did not give up his cowardly ways. He still kept on crying for a safe cage.

Summary

In the beginning stanza of the poem, the characters of the poem are introduced. They are: Belinda, who lived in a little white house with her pets and a wagon. Her pets include a black kitten, a little grey mouse, a little yellow dog and a little dragon.

Belinda called her little black kitten as Ink and her little grey mouse was called Blink. The colour of the dog was as sharp and yellow as mustard. Her dragon was called Custard. He was not brave like other pets but a coward.

This stanza describes all the members of the house. Belinda as brave as many bears combined together into one. Ink and Blink had the power to chase away someone as strong as a lion. Belinda’s dog’s bravery is compared to that of a tiger. But Custard was just opposite to his physical appearance. He was not at all brave, but he always looked for a nice safe cage.

Belinda tickled the dragon quite cruelly to make it laugh. The dragon was named Percival by Ink, Blink and Mustard. Seeing the dragon, react to the tickling, made all of them laugh and they laughed sitting in the wagon at the cowardly dragon.

Belinda laughed a lot at the dragon. She laughed so loudly that it appeared that the house was shaking due to her laughter. Blink, the mouse said, ‘Week’ which is the giggling sound of the mouse. Ink and Mustard asked the dragon’s age to make fun of him as he always behaved like a kid. But Custard the dragon only wanted a nice safe cage for himself.

When all the members were busy making fun of Custard, suddenly there came an unpleasant sound from the house. Mustard, the dog growled and looked around it for the sound. Ink cried ‘Meowch’ and Belinda cried ‘Ooh’ when they all saw a pirate, climbing the window of the house to rob it.

The pirate looked very dangerous as he was carrying many weapons with him. He had pistol in both his hands. He also held a sharp blade between his teeth. He had black beard and a wooden leg. His looks and gesture made it quite clear that he meant to harm the house and the people living in it.

When Belinda looked at the pirate, she turned pale with fear and cried loudly for help. All her brave pets fled from the place. Mustard cried and ran away. Ink silently went to the bottom of the house and Blink very smartly disappeared in a mouse hole, leaving Belinda all alone.

When all the pets hid themselves, it was the coward dragon, Custard, who came to their rescue. He jumped in front of the pirate and made huge sounds like an engine, in anger. He moved his tail and made clattering sounds like an iron rod striking the walls of a prison in a dungeon. Making all these dangerous sounds, he followed the pirate like a robin who follows a worm to eat it.

The pirate was shocked to see Belinda’s dragon. He gaped at him and drank some wine from a bottle that he carried in his pocket. The pirate then took out his pistol and fired two bullets at Custard. But he failed to hit him and Custard was unharmed. Then Custard swallowed the whole of the pirate, without leaving any trace of him.

Everyone was surprised to see Custard eating the pirate. There was joy all over the house. Belinda embraced him to express her gratitude for saving everyone. Mustard licked the dragon to show his love. Everyone celebrated the death of the pirate. They were all happy. Ink and Blink started dancing around the dragon out of happiness.

After the pirate incident, it was quite clear who was brave and who was coward. But, Mustard gave an excuse for his cowardice and said that he would have been twice as brave as Custard if he had not got nervous; when the pirate came. Ink and Blink said that they would have been thrice as brave as the dragon. They started giving excuses for their running away. The humble dragon accepted that he was the most coward and everyone was braver than him.

Belinda still lives in her little white house with her pets and a wagon. Her pets include a black kitten, a little grey mouse, a little yellow dog and a little dragon.

Belinda is as brave as many bears combined together into one. Ink and Blink had the power to chase away someone as strong as a lion. Belinda’s dog’s bravery is compared to that of a tiger. But Custard is still just opposite to his physical appearance. He is not at all brave, but he always looked for a nice safe cage.

Poetic Devices

Simile:

  • Mouth like a fireplace
  • Belinda was as brave as a barrel
  • Shorting like an engine
  • Dashed his tail like irons in a danger

Went at pirate like a robin at the worm.

Repetition:

  • Suddenly, suddenly they heard
  • She cried Help! Help!

Alliteration: And he held in his teeth.

Rhyme Scheme:

  • Stanza 1 to 12 – aabb
  • Stanza 13 – aabbcc
  • Stanza 14 & 15 – aabb

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