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    The Voyage of the Beagle: A Very Short Tail

    It was the dogwatch when the crew slunk across the poop deck, tails between their legs. Old Scratch led, lifting his leg on the mainmast as he passed. The captain contemptuously exposed a canine.

    “Me and the others decided, Cap,” barked the old sea dog, pulling out a dog-eared document. “We all put our paw prints right here.”

    “He made us, Cap’n,” whined Wiggles, crouching low and piddling on the poop.

    “You yellow dog!” Scratch snapped at the cur. “Longer rations, Cap. And that keg o’ doggy biscuits you got buried.”

    “I’ll give you a short leash, you hound!” growled the captain.

    “Meet our demands, Cap,” said Scratch, “or you’ll wish you had fleas!”

    “No dirty mongrel threatens me,” the captain snarled.

    The lookout yelped, “Ship ahoy! Flying a cat’s paw!”

    The sight of the floating cat house made the crew pant, tongues hanging from their mouths.

    “To your stations, you dogs,” cried the captain. “There’ll be enough little Friskies for all! Bring her around! Hoist the Jolly Rover!”

    As the skull and Milk Bones rose, the pack trotted off, Scratch dragging his tail.

    The captain watched him go. “I’m gonna run that puppy through one day,” he muttered.