The Tale of Custard the Dragon is a 14-stanza ballad which tells about a dragon which was coward initially but proved to be courageous and brave.
In the poem, Belinda is a girl who has many pets including a cat, a mouse, a dog, a wagon and a dragon. All the animals had their names. Let us discuss the poet in detail.
According to the poet, a girl named Belinda lived in a little white house. She had a little black kitten, a little gray house, a little yellow dog and a little red red wagon (vehicle) and also a dragon (which was realio i.e. real and trulio i.e. true).
The name of black kitten was Ink, gray mouse was called Blink, the dog was named as Mustard as it was sharp and as the dragon was coward and shy, it was named as Custard.
In this stanza, the poet describes the appearance of the dragon. According to him, Custard had big and sharp teeth. It had spikes (thin pointed nails) on its top and scales (thorny bones) underneath (in the lower area).
The mouth of dragon was like a fireplace (i.e. it produced fire) and nose was like a chimney. In addition it had daggers (knife-like nails) on its toes.
In this stanza, the poet talks about the bravery of Belinda and other pets animals which she owned. According to him, Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears (i.e. she had power equal to that of many bears).
Ink (the kitten) and Blink (the mouse) were so strong and brave that they could chase lions down the stairs. Mustard (the dog) was as brave as an angry tiger. However Custard was coward and kept weeping and crying for a nice safe cage.
So, Belinda and all the animals were brave and strong except the dragon which always cried for a safe cage.
Belinda used to tickle (irritate) the dragon unmercifully. Ink, Blink and Mustard also made fun of dragon and rudely called him Percival. (Percival was an illiterate person who desired to become a knight of King Arthur. He was made fun of by others.)
Belinda and other animals used to laughed at the dragon while sitting in the red wagon (vehicle) who was a coward.
Whenever Custard cried for a nice safe cage, Belinda would giggle (laugh) so loudly that the whole house would echo with her voice. Blink would also laugh by uttering “Week!” (its way of laughing). Ink and Mustard would ask the dragon about his age in order to irritate him.
One day, suddenly, Belinda and her pet animals heard a nasty (unpleasant) sound. All of them got frightened. Mustard growled (cried) and all of them started looking around for the one who was making that sound. Both Ink and Belinda raised a hue as they saw a pirate that was climbing in the winda (window).
The pirate had pistols in both his hands. There was a bright cutlass (sharp blade) in his teeth. His beard was black and one of his legs was made up of wood. His appearance made it clear that he was not a good person.
Seeing the pirate, Belinda‘s face got paled and she started crying for help. However Mustard got frightened and ran away making noise. Ink and Blink also ran to their holes and hid themselves.
While all other animals ran away to save themselves, Custard came forward at once and was snorting (making fearful sounds) like an engine and clashed (moved swiftly) its tail like irons in dungeon i.e. it was making fierce noise.
The dragon made a clatter and a clank i.e. huge noise and a jangling squirm i.e. twisted the body and attacked the pirate like a robin (bird) attacks the worm.
The pirate moved towards the dragon and drank some grog (wine) which he took from his pocket flagon (vessel). Then, he fired two bullets but they did not hit Custard. But Custard attacked him and tore him into pieces.
Belinda, in excitement, embraced the Custard, Mustard licked him. Ink and Blink gyrated i.e. danced around the dragon in glee (excitement) as it ate the pirate. No one of them was sad for the pirate which was in pieces now.
According to the poet, Belinda still lives in her white house with her kitten, a mouse, a yellow dog, a red wagon and of course her real and true pet dragon.
Stanza 4 is repeated here. Please refer to the stanza 4 for the explanation.