This is my retelling of Rudyard Kiplings Just So Story, 'How the Rhino Got His Skin'
Long time ago, there was an uninhabited island (well almost uninhabited save for a sole man named Pestonjee Bomonjee who was a Parsee and who ate cake). The island was on the shores of the red sea and the sun shone bright all year long. Because of this the Parsee, Pestonjee Bomonjee wore a brightly coloured hat. All he had was his brightly coloured hat, a knife and an oil stove for cooking (Rudyard Kipling says this stove was of the particular kind that you should never ever touch because it got very hot, I suspect and that made it dangerous) One day the Parsee made a large cake with
flour and water and sugar and dried fruit like raisins, plums and cherries. The cake was 2 feet across and 3 feet thick. He cooked it on the stove and cooked it some more until it was brown and smelled delicious. The Parsee was Hungry - as you recall all he ate was Cake, and this was to be his tea.
Just as Pestonjee Bomonjee was about to tuck in, a Rhinoceros with a horn upon his nose and 2 piggy eyes AND very bad manners (he never said please or thank you!) barged in from the ‘Altogether Uninhabited Interior’ (uninhabited for no animals wanted to live there ‘cept the rude Rhino of course) Back then long time ago, the Rhinoceros’s skin fitted him very snug indeed, with no wrinkles in it anywhere, apart from this he looked the same as he does today AND he had bad manners then and he still has bad manners today (he never says please or thank you!) The Parsee caught a fright at the sight of the Rhino and leapt up a palm tree. The Rhino barged in, knocking over the oil-stove with his nose so that the Parsee’s delicious smelling cake fell on the sand. The rhino spiked the cake with his horn and then ate it… the whole confection, without so much as a please or thank you, and then he turned and trotted away with his tail in the air.
Pestonjee Bomonjee scaled down the tree and stomped his foot in the sand and then he said, to quote a quote:
‘Them that takes cakes
Which the Parsee man bakes
Makes dreadful mistakes’
Some weeks later there came a very hot day and the Parsee took off his hat and fanned his face. The Rhino came down and took off his skin (that long time ago it had 3 buttons underneath) and went to bathe in the sea, leaving his skin on the beach as he blew bubbles.
The Parsee saw his skin and smiled a very big smile and danced a happy dance. He went back to his camp and filled his hat with cake crumbs (remember he only ever ate cake so there was lots and he wasn’t a very tidy Parsee man either so there really were LOTS of crumbs from cake)
He took that close fitting rhino skin and rubbed and scrubbed and filled it with old and dry and stale scratchy cake crumbs, as many as it would fit. Then he climbed up the palm tree again and watched and waited for the rude Rhino.
Eventually the Rhino shclopped out of the water and pulled his skin back on taking care with the 3 buttons underneath, and he noticed straight away how it tickled and scratched and itched, and the more he scratched the worse it seemed to get. So he rolled in the sand, and with every roll, all the dry, stale and scratchy Parsee-man cake crumbs scratched him even more. He trundled to the palm tree and rubbed and scratched and rubbed, he did this so much and so hard that he rubbed his skin into great flaps and folds over his shoulders and haunches and he rubbed the buttons off from underneath and made another fold there. The rude Rhino was now in a very bad temper all because of those scratchy cake crumbs and he huffed off home to the ‘Altogether Uninhabited Interior’ The Parsee man came down the palm tree, and began to mix another cake. And that is how the Rhinoceros got his skin.
And as Rudyard Kipling always finishes and ‘It was Just So’
A Parsee (ref Wikipedia) refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community.
(ref Wikipedia) Rhinoceros (pronounced /rai?n?s?r?s/), often abbreviated as rhino, is a group of five extant species of knee-less, odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia.
(ref Wikipedia) The IUCN Red List identifies three of the species as critically endangered.