Tom was going along the rocks in three-fathom water, watching the Pollock catch prawns, and the wrasses nibble barnacles off the rocks, shells and all, when he saw a round cage of green withes; and inside it, looking very much ashamed of himself, sat his friend the lobster, twiddling his horns, instead of thumbs.
“What, have you been naughty, and have they put you in the lock-up?” 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 smelled very nice when he was outside, and so it did, for a lobster: but now he turned around 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?”
“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; 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 will look at a lobster-pot.
“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 the he couldn’t hit the hole. Like a great many fox-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 him, till he caught hold of him; and then, as was to be expected, the clumsy lobster pulled him in head foremost.