(Ed. note: Rudyard Kipling submitted these "Just Not So Stories" to his editor in 1895. They were rejected. Following his editor's suggestion, he reworked them into a book called "Just So Stories" which was finally published in 1902. We were fortunate enough to find these drafts among his papers.)
(Disclaimer: OK, I admit it; These are from my book, "Fishducky's Fables" and I've run some of these before, but, hey, I'm 82. You can't expect me to run a new post five times a week. At least I've reworked them and the cartoons are all new!!)
Many years ago rhinos had skin that was a lovely shade of pink and as soft as velvet. They used to get very bad sunburns, because at that time suntan creams had very low SPF numbers and they believed, probably rightly so, that carrying a parasol to ward off the sun would make them look like wimps to the other animals.
One particular rhinoceros, whose name was Rodney, was desperate. He badly needed something to cover his extremely sensitive skin. He went online and although it took him a long time to type in anything correctly on his computer because of the size of his hooves, he eventually found a listing for Angelo Anteater, an Italian tailor. Fortunately, he was listed under “a” because it was too difficult for Rodney to scroll down to anything under “x”, “y” or “z”. He called an Uber driver with a van (it was a tight fit but, as you know, rhinos aren’t allowed on buses) and went to see him.
He introduced himself formally to the tailor. He said, “I am of the kingdom animalia, the phylum chordate, the class mammalia, the infraclass euthena, the order perissodactylia, the suborder ceratomorpha, and the superfamily rhinocerotoidea, but you can call me Rodney.” He explained his problem to Angelo. He told him how easily he sunburned. He said he realized that was probably because he spent so much time wallowing in mud holes instead of under a tree, but that was the only way he could cool down. He told him that he liked wallowing so much that he would probably keep doing it, even if he was cool.
He asked Angelo if he could possibly make some kind of a suit for him. Angelo thought and thought and then said, “I believe I can, signore. It would have to be waterproof and soil resistant, because of the mud holes. The fabric would have to be thick enough to keep the sun out. I don't mean to insult you, but you realize that since you are a plus size it will require a lot of fabric, so there will be an extra charge. There will have to be a hole in it so your horn will stick out, but I think I can do it!” He tied several tape measures together and took Rodney’s measurements and told him to come back in three weeks.
When Rodney returned, Angelo was apologetic. The tailor brought out the pieces for Rodney’s suit. They were all cut, but not sewn together. Angelo told him that he had broken several sewing machine needles trying to sew them, but that he hadn’t been able to find one that was strong enough to go through two layers of the thick material. He didn’t know what to do and even though Rodney was brilliant for a rhino (see his introduction to Angelo), neither did he. They were both puzzled.
It was then that Oliver Owl came into the shop to pick up the new feather coat he had ordered. He looked at the other two and saw that they seemed confused about something. He said, “Got a problem, guys? Haven’t you heard how wise owls are? Maybe I can help you.” They explained about the thickness of the fabric and the broken sewing machine needles. Oliver said, “Easy, peasy—that’s a hoot!! If you don’t mind leaving it on, Angelo can put it on you piece by piece with Super Glue. That should work just fine! The glue's waterproof so you can rinse it off by going into the river. Bye bye, gotta fly!” He slipped into his new coat, paid Angelo and flew away.
Rodney said that would be fine with him, since staying clean wasn't high on the list of any rhino that he knew. Angelo glued the new suit on Rodney, who loved it! Because of its weight, he did move a little slower, but he didn’t mind that. Then there were those little oxpecker birds (members of the Sturnidae family, he found out) that kept hitching rides on his back, but that was OK with him, too. He couldn’t feel them through the suit and they ate the crumbs that fell inside the seams. Most importantly, he could wallow all day and never get sunburned!!
He sent all of his relatives to Angelo, who changed the name of his business to Rhinos R Us, patented the suits and made a fortune. If you see a rhino today, he’s probably wearing one of Angelo’s suits!!