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Department of Linguistics

Australian English: Pronunciation and Transcription

Felicity Cox

Cambridge University Press, 2012.


Arthur the Rat

Adapted from an original story by Sellon (1876:52-55) cited by MacMahon (1991).

1. audio Once upon a time, there was a young rat named Arthur who couldn't make up his mind.
2. audio Whenever the other rats asked him if he would like to go out hunting with them,
3. audio he would answer in a soft voice, ‘I don't know.’
4. audio And when they said, ‘Would you rather stay inside?’
5. audio he wouldn't say yes or no either. He'd always avoid making a choice.
6. audio One fine day, his aunt Zelda appealed to him,
7. audio ‘Now look here! No one is going to care about you if you carry on like this.
8. audio You have no more mind of your own than a greasy old blade of grass!’
9. audio Arthur coughed and looked wise as usual, but said nothing.
10. audio ‘Don't you think so?’ said Zelda, stamping her foot,
11. audio for she couldn't bear to see the poor little rat so coldblooded.
12. audio ‘I don't know,’ was all he ever answered,
13. audio and then he'd walk off to think for an hour or more about whether he would stay in his hole in the ground or go up into the loft.
14. audio One night the rats heard a loud noise. They lived in a very dark and dreary old place.
15. audio The roof let the rain come washing in, making shallow pools on the muddy floor.
16. audio The beams and rafters were all rotten through, so eventually the whole structure was quite unsafe.
17. audio At last, one of the joists gave way and the beams fell down.
18. audio The walls shook and the ceiling collapsed with a loud bang.
19. audio The rats shrieked and their fur stood on end with fear and horror.
20. audio ‘This won't do,’ said their leader with a scowl.
21. audio ‘We can't stay cooped up here any longer.’
22. audio So he sent out scouts to search for a new home.
23. audio A little later in the evening they came back, having found an old-fashioned barn near a stone house where there would be room, board and food for all of them.
24. audio There, they saw a kindly mare named Alberta, a cow, and some birds in the garden with an elm tree in the middle.
25. audio The leader gave the order at once, ‘Company, fall in!’.
26. audio The rats crawled out of their holes right away and the sad mob stood on the floor in a long line.
27. audio Just then, the old rat caught sight of young Arthur.
28. audio He wasn't in the line, and he wasn't exactly outside it;
29. audio he stood just nearby, ears pricked.
30. audio ‘Come on, get in line!’ growled the old rodent, unamused.
31. audio ‘You are coming too, aren’t you?’
32. audio ‘I don't know,’ said Arthur calmly.
33. audio ‘Why, the idea of it! You don't think it's safe here anymore, do you?’
34. audio ‘I'm not certain,’ said Arthur, undaunted. ‘The roof may not fall down yet.’
35. audio ‘Well,’ said the old rat, ‘you would be stupid not to join us.’
36. audio Then he turned to the assembled group and shouted, ‘Right about face! March!’
37. audio and the long line marched out of the barn while the young rat watched them.
38. audio ‘I think I'll go tomorrow,’ he said to himself,
39. audio ‘but then again, perhaps I won't - it's so nice and snug here.
40. audio I guess I'll go back to my hole under the log for a while before I make up my mind.’
41. audio But during the night there was a big crash. Down came beams, rafters, joists—the whole business—in a pile of rubble.
42. audio Next morning, there was a foggy dew. Some boys and girls ran to the barn and a man in boots came to view the damage.
43. audio It seemed odd that the old building was not haunted by rats.
44. audio But at last one of the children happened to nudge a board
45. audio and he saw a puny rat, quite dead, tail half in and half out of his hole.
46. audio Thus the coward got his due, and there was no mourning him.