Now this is the story (and all of ye hark!)
Of what was the Best and Worst Nail in the Ark:
When Noah was building this Ark, as ye know,
A rumble of thunder surprised him, and so
To have the boat ready in time for the rain
He took on a Wright of the Children of Cain--
A terrible sinner, like all of the rest,
And still, as a Carpenter, one of the best.
This Person was hammering hard at the stem
When up strolls the Patriarch, Japheth, and Shem;
And what does that impudent Carpenter do
But ask to be taken as one of the crew.
Sez he, "I am wishful to sail in yer boat
Along with yer Elephant, Camel, and Goat."
But Noah he answers him, "None of yer jokes!
Ye'll stay in the wet with the rest of yer folks!"
The Carpenter grinned and the Carpenter laughed;
He watched till the Party was all of them aft,
Then screwed up one eyebrow and twisted his lip
And pulled a big nail from the bow of the Ship!
He pulled out a Nail, did that Offspring of Sin,
Which left a fine hole for the tide to creep in.
Now, up comes the Animals, marching in pairs,
And with them the Devil sneaks in unawares--
They say with the Mule, for she hadn't a mate--
And hides in the hold with the rest of the freight.
But whist! when the waters were boiling around
And rocking the Ark from her place on the ground,
Old Noah stood up while the elements roared
And asked a strong Blessing on all things aboard.
Now Blessings, for cause that I needn't explain,
Are what the old Devil can't hear without pain;
And so the poor Devil tore wildly about
Prospecting in vain for a place to get out,
When what should he spy, when of reason bereft,
But that one fine hole that the Carpenter left!
He altered his form to the shape of a Worm
And right through that nail-hole he tried for to squirm;
But--talk as they do of the Devil's own luck--
As tight as a rivet the poor Devil stuck!
He stuck and he stayed for the whole of the trip
Excluding the wet from the hold of the Ship.
The waters might heave and the waters might roll,
But still the poor Devil kept plugging that hole
And saving them all from the wave and the shark--
So he was the Best and Worst Nail in the Ark!