Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 3 🐈

kjskjskjhs

Blackie soon grew tired of running, and slowed down into a walk.

“It doesn’t really matter much what I do, as long as I keep on going away,” thought the black cat. “I can walk or run, so Speckle said, and he ought to know, for he has run away a number of times.”

Blackie walked on and on, down the city street. Soon she came to a corner, and she stood there a moment, looking up and down, wondering which way she had better go. She had come past many houses, and had passed many persons in the street, mostly women and men, for all the children were at school. No one did more than look at Blackie, for they were all too busy, I suppose.

As Blackie stood on the corner she saw a cat on the porch of a house nearby. Blackie knew this cat a little, for once the cat, whose name was Muffins, had come walking in Blackie’s yard. And, once or twice, Blackie had been as far as this corner herself. So she knew Muffins a little.

“Hello, Blackie!” meowed Muffins. “You’re quite a stranger. I haven’t seen you in some time. Where are you going?”

“I’m running away,” answered Blackie.

“Running away! You surprise me,” cried the other cat. “What is the matter? Did they treat you badly at your home? Didn’t they give you enough to eat?”

“Oh, yes, plenty,” said the black cat. “And they treated me very kindly, too.”

“Then why in the world are you running away?” Muffins wanted to know.

“I want to have some adventures, as Speckle did.”

“What are adventures, and who is Speckle?” asked Muffins.

“Adventures are things that happen to you,” replied Blackie, “and you never can have them happen as long as you are around the house. You have to run away to get them. That’s why I’m running away. And Speckle is the cat who lives next door to me.”

“I don’t know him,” spoke Muffins.

“He just moved there,” went on Blackie, “and he was only just let up out of the cellar.”

“Hum!” said Muffins. “Well, run away if you like, but, as for me, I can find plenty of adventures around the house. Why, only a little while ago, the cook dropped a bottle of cream and spilled it on the kitchen floor. I was there and I licked up all the cream. Oh, it was so good! I’d invite you in to have some, only it’s all gone now. That was an adventure, I can tell you!”

“Yes, cream is good,” said Blackie, “but I don’t call that an adventure.”

“No?” asked Muffins. “Then, tell me, what is an adventure?”

“Oh, when a dog chases you and makes you jump a higher fence than you ever before leaped over,” said Blackie. “That is an adventure.”

“Yes, I should say so,” agreed Muffins. “It’s a kind I shouldn’t like to have. I’d rather have our cook drop another bottle of cream.”

“Oh, well, of course all adventures that come to you when you have run away aren’t dog-chasing ones,” said Blackie. “I only spoke of that one because Speckle told me. I really never had any adventures myself so I can’t tell you about them. But, anyhow, I am running away. Would you like to come along?” asked Blackie politely of Muffins.

“No, thank you. I’m going to stay here. Home is good enough for me. But where are you going to run to, if I may ask?”

“Oh, not any special place,” answered the black cat. “I am just going to run, that’s all.”

“What? And not know where you’re going? That’s strange. I should think if you ran away you’d have to have a place to run to.”

“Not at all,” said Blackie. “Speckle ran away many times, and he never said anything about going to a special place.”

Muffins shook her head. “It doesn’t seem right,” she said. “I’d want to know where I was going, even if I ran away.”

“That’s part of the adventure, not knowing where you’re going,” said Blackie. “Now I can go up the street, or down the street, just as I please. If I had picked out a place to run to I’d have to go there whether I wanted to or not. No, it’s best to run away just as Speckle did, and then see what happens. So you won’t come with me?”

“Thank you, no.”

“Then I must go alone, I suppose. Well, when I come back I will tell you all my adventures,” Blackie promised.

“Yes, do,” invited Muffins. “I shall like to hear about them, even if I can not go myself.”

Then the two cats said goodbye, in cat-talk, and Blackie turned down the side street. She had never been there before. It was like going to a new world for her.

“Now my adventures will begin!” thought the black cat.

She went slowly along the street, keeping close to the fences, for this street was a bigger one, and busier than that on which Blackie lived. There were trolley cars on it, and many wagons, also.

Once Blackie saw a boy going along with a basket on his arm. From the basket came a lovely smell of meat, and, what Blackie liked best of all, liver. She ran toward the boy with the basket, thinking he might give her a bit, as Arthur often did.
But when the butcher-boy saw the cat he cried: “Scat!” and looked around for a stone to throw.

“My, you’re awfully stingy with your meat,” thought Blackie, as she ran behind a tree so the boy could not hit her. “I don’t see why you wouldn’t give me a bit.”
But of course the meat in the basket was for the family that had bought it, and the boy could not give any away. If Blackie had gone to the butcher shop the man there might have given her a bit of liver.

“Scat! Scoot!” cried the boy, as he ran up to the tree, and he made a hissing noise through his teeth. Blackie was afraid he would hurt her, so she climbed up the tree as fast as she could, knowing quite well how to do that with her sharp claws.

“Ha! Go up a tree, will you?” cried the boy. “If I had time I’d make you come down! Trying to get my meat! The idea!”
“Oh, I never tried to get any of his meat!” thought Blackie, for she heard what the butcher-boy said. “But you might have given me a little.”

However, Blackie was now safely up the tree, and she stayed there until the boy went off whistling down the street. Blackie was about to come down when she happened to see a dog on the ground below. The dog did not look to be a kind and gentle one.

“I guess I’ll just stay up here until he is gone,” Blackie said to herself. “Safety first!”

The dog sniffed around the tree a little and then, as he saw another dog down the street, ran away.

“Now is my chance,” thought Blackie, and down she came, running along close to the fence as she had done before.

“Well, that was two little adventures,” the black cat said after a while, “being chased by the butcher-boy up a tree, and seeing a dog under me. Though I suppose Speckle would not think much of them. Still I may have other things happen to me. I must keep on.”

By this time Blackie was getting hungry and thirsty, so she looked around for something to eat. She saw no nice saucer of milk, as she would have seen had she been at home, for one can’t find saucers of milk in the street. Nor was there any nice liver, or bit of fish, lying around.

“Still one can’t have everything one wants when one runs away,” Blackie said.

The cat came to a fountain in a little park, and there she drank some water. But before she had finished along came a dog, and chased her away. Blackie ran into the bushes. “Oh, dear!” she thought, her heart beating very fast. “Running away isn’t as nice as I thought it would be. Still it may be nicer later on.”

Farther on down the street walked Blackie, looking from side to side for something to eat. But though she passed butcher and grocery stores she did not feel like going in and mewing to show that she wanted to eat.
“I ought to have asked Speckle what he did for food when he ran away,” thought Blackie. “I forgot about it. I may find something soon.”

A little later Blackie passed a house that had the door open.
“That looks inviting,” thought the black cat. “I am sure kind people must live there, or they would not leave a door open for cats or dogs to go in. I’ll go in, and maybe they’ll give me something to eat.”

Blackie looked all around, to make sure there were no dogs about, and then she went up the front steps. In through the front door of the house she went, and there she saw something that surprised her. There was no furniture in the house, and no one was in sight.

“Nobody lives here,” said Blackie. “But perhaps they are just going to move in, as Speckle’s folks did. I’ll wait a bit. That’s what must be going to happen. They had the door open to bring in the furniture. When the people come they’ll give me some milk, I’m sure.”
Blackie walked through the empty rooms of the house. She went out to the kitchen, and no one was there. Then she went up to the second floor, no one was there.

While up on the second floor Blackie heard the front door being shut with a bang.
“Oh, perhaps that’s the folks moving in,” she meowed. “I’ll run down and see.”

Down the stairs scampered the black cat, but there was no one in the house. The front door was shut, and Blackie, of course, could not open it. “Well, I wonder what happened?” thought Blackie. “Perhaps the wind blew the door shut.”

She jumped up on a window sill and looked out. She saw a man going down the front steps of the house.

“He must have shut the door,” thought Blackie, and the man had. He owned the house, and he had come that day to see if it had been cleaned when the people moved out. He had opened the door, gone in and looked about. When he came out, to look around the back yard, he left the front door open. It was then that Blackie went in. Then the man, not seeing the cat in his house, shut the door, locking Blackie in, and he went away.

“Well, if I can’t get out the front door I’ll go to the back,” said Blackie. She ran to the back door. That was locked too, and all the windows were closed.

“Oh, dear!” thought Blackie. “I guess I’m in trouble. I’m locked in an empty house!”

The Tale of Peter Rabbit 🐇

kjskjskjhs

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits, and their names were— Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.

They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.

‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’

‘Now run along, and don’t get into mischief. I am going out.’

Then old Mrs. Rabbit took a basket and her umbrella, and went through the wood to the baker’s. She bought a loaf of brown bread and five currant buns.

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries: but Peter, who was very naughty, ran straight away to Mr. McGregor’s garden, and squeezed under the gate!

First he ate some lettuce and some French beans; and then he ate some radishes; and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.

But round the end of a cucumber frame, whom should he meet but Mr. McGregor!

Mr. McGregor was on his hands and knees planting out young cabbages, but he jumped up and ran after Peter, waving a rake and calling out, ‘Stop thief!’

Peter was most dreadfully frightened; he rushed all over the garden, for he had forgotten the way back to the gate.

He lost one of his shoes among the cabbages, and the other shoe amongst the potatoes.

After losing them, he ran on four legs and went faster, so that I think he might have got away altogether if he had not unfortunately run into a gooseberry net, and got caught by the large buttons on his jacket. It was a blue jacket with brass buttons, quite new.

Peter gave himself up for lost, and shed big tears; but his sobs were overheard by some friendly sparrows, who flew to him in great excitement, and implored him to exert himself.

Mr. McGregor came up with a sieve, which he intended to pop upon the top of Peter; but Peter wriggled out just in time, leaving his jacket behind him.

And rushed into the tool-shed, and jumped into a can. It would have been a beautiful thing to hide in, if it had not had so much water in it.

Mr. McGregor was quite sure that Peter was somewhere in the tool-shed, perhaps hidden underneath a flower-pot. He began to turn them over carefully, looking under each.

Presently Peter sneezed—’Achoo!’ Mr. McGregor was after him in no time.

And tried to put his foot upon Peter, who jumped out of a window, upsetting three plants. The window was too small for Mr. McGregor, and he was tired of running after Peter. He went back to his work.

Peter sat down to rest; he was out of breath and trembling with fright, and he had not the least idea which way to go. Also he was very damp with sitting in that can.

After a time he began to wander about, going lippity—lippity—not very fast, and looking all round.

He found a door in a wall; but it was locked, and there was no room for a fat little rabbit to squeeze underneath.

An old mouse was running in and out over the stone doorstep, carrying peas and beans to her family in the wood. Peter asked her the way to the gate, but she had such a large pea in her mouth that she could not answer. She only shook her head at him. Peter began to cry.

Then he tried to find his way straight across the garden, but he became more and more puzzled. Presently, he came to a pond where Mr. McGregor filled his water-cans. A white cat was staring at some goldfish, she saw very, very still, but now and then the tip of her tail twitched as if it were alive. Peter thought it best to go away without speaking to her; he had heard about cats from his cousin, little Benjamin Bunny.

He went back towards the tool-shed, but suddenly, quite close to him, he heard the noise of a hoe—scr-r-ritch, scratch, scratch, scritch.

Peter scuttered underneath the bushes. But presently, as nothing happened, he came out, and climbed upon a wheelbarrow and peeped over. The first thing he saw was Mr. McGregor hoeing onions. His back was turned towards Peter, and beyond him was the gate!

Peter got down very quietly off the wheelbarrow; and started running as fast as he could go, along a straight walk behind some black-currant bushes.

Mr. McGregor caught sight of him at the corner, but Peter did not care. He slipped underneath the gate, and was safe at last in the wood outside the garden.

Mr. McGregor hung up the little jacket and the shoes for a scare-crow to frighten the blackbirds.

Peter never stopped running or looked behind him till he got home to the big fir-tree.

He was so tired that he flopped down upon the nice soft sand on the floor of the rabbit-hole and shut his eyes. His mother was busy cooking; she wondered what he had done with his clothes. It was the second little jacket and pair of shoes that Peter had lost in a fortnight!

I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.

His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter! ‘One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.’

But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 2

kjskjskjhs

That cat is a good jumper,” thought Blackie when her new friend had gone. “He went over that fence easily. I wonder if I could do it?”
Blackie tried, but she could not jump all the way to the top of the fence as Speckle had done.

“I suppose it must be because he ran away once or twice,” thought Blackie, as she again went back to rest in the shade, after having tried two or three times to leap to the top of the fence in one jump.

“It must be that running away makes one a good jumper. Yes, I certainly must run away, or walk away, as Speckle called it. I wonder what would happen to me? I suppose Mabel and Arthur would miss me, and I would miss them. But I need not run very far away, and, and I can run back when I want to.”

Blackie did not know much about things outside of her own nice home, you see. Running away never made a cat a good jumper that I ever heard of, though some cats, who have no homes, learn to jump fences easily because, I suppose, they are chased by dogs or boys so often that they just have to know how to make big jumps.

“Yes, I certainly must try what running away will teach me,” thought Blackie as she went in the house where, near the stove in the kitchen, set her saucer of milk. “Then I will have things to tell Speckle when I come back. I must ask him more about it the next time I see him.”

That afternoon, just before Arthur and Mabel came home from school, Blackie saw Speckle out on the fence again.

“Wait a minute, Speckle!” called the black cat. “I want to ask you about running away,” and she hurried out in the yard.

“Oh, I’m not going to run away for some time,” said the other cat. “I’ve just moved here and I want to see what sort of a place it is before I run away. Perhaps I shan’t run away at all. Anyhow I shall not for a long time. I never run away until I get tired of a place, and then I don’t often stay away more than a day or so.”

“Oh, I wasn’t going to ask you to run away,” said Blackie. “But I want to know if running away makes a cat a good fence-jumper?”
Speckle thought for a few seconds and then said, slowly: “Well, yes, I suppose it does. I know the first time I ran away I could not jump very well. And then a dog chased me. I ran into a yard, and in front of me was a fence. The only chance to get out of the dog’s way was by jumping the fence. I had never jumped so high a fence before, but I did that time, and the dog could not get me, so I got away.”

“My gracious!” exclaimed Blackie. “Something happened to you that time! Was that an adventure?”

“Yes,” answered Speckle, thinking a moment, “I suppose you could call that an adventure. But I had many more after that.”

“Do dogs always chase you when you run away?” Blackie wanted to know.

“Oh, no, not always,” answered the gray cat. “But that is one of the things that may happen when you run away.”

“I shan’t like that part of it,” spoke Blackie. “There is a dog in the house on the other side of ours, and the family that lived in the house into which your folks just moved also kept one. He used to chase me until I scratched his nose with my sharp claws one day, and after that he let me alone. I was sorry to scratch him, but it was the only thing to do.”

“Yes, of course,” agreed Speckle. “It is a good thing we have sharp claws. They are especially for scratching dogs that chase us.”
“I wonder if there is any other way of scaring a dog besides scratching him?” asked Blackie.

“Perhaps there may be,” said Speckle. “It would be nice if there was. I may learn how to do that if I run away to look for adventures.”

“Oh, so you are going to run away; are you, Blackie?”

“Well, I’m thinking of it. Will you come?”

“Not right away—at least I think I will not,” said the other cat. “Still you might call over the fence to me when you go, and perhaps I’ll come along. Hello, who are they?” asked Speckle quickly as he saw a boy and girl coming into the yard.

“Oh, that’s Arthur and Mabel, my little master and mistress,” explained Blackie, but Speckle did not stop to listen. With a jump he was on top of the fence.

“Excuse me!” called the gray cat to Blackie, “but that boy looks just like one who once tied a tin can to my tail!”

“The idea!” meowed Blackie. “Arthur is a good boy, and loves cats. He’d never do anything like that to me, nor to you or any other animal.”

“You never can tell,” said Speckle. “Safety first, as I hear they are teaching the children in school. I’ll just stay on my side of the fence until I see what kind of a boy he is,” and though Blackie kept saying that Arthur was a good boy, and would not plague cats, Speckle would not stay.

Of course Mabel and her brother did not understand what their cat said to the other one, for they did not know animal language, though Blackie and other cats know what boys and girls say to them, or a great deal of it, I think.

“Did you see that strange cat?” asked Mabel of her brother.

“Yes, I guess it belongs to the folks next door,” spoke Arthur. “Now I am going to teach Blackie to stand on her hind legs.”

Arthur picked Blackie up, and rubbed her under the ears. Cats like to be rubbed under the ears, and they will purr if you do it to them. And when a cat purrs it shows it is happy.

Just why cats like to be rubbed, or tickled, under the ears I do not know, any more than I know why a pig likes to be scratched on his back. I only know that this is so. A hoptoad likes to be scratched on his back, also. Many a time I have gone quietly up to a toad in the grass, and, with a little twig, have scratched his back. And Mr. Toad will sit there quietly, and will puff himself out like a little balloon, because he is so pleased to have his back scratched. But you must do it very gently.

Anyhow Arthur rubbed Blackie under her ears, and the black cat liked it and purred in the boy’s arms. “And now for your trick, Blackie,” said Arthur.

It is not easy to teach a cat to stand on her hind legs, as Arthur very soon found out. Cats do not learn tricks as easily as dogs do, though I have seen performing cats on the stage of a theater. They climbed ladders, walked a tightrope, and did many other little tricks.
Blackie did not know exactly what Arthur wanted her to do. The little boy put the black cat in a corner, so she could lean her back against the sides of the room, and not fall over. Then he lifted her front feet off the floor so that she was resting on her hind ones.

“Now stand up that way!” Arthur said, speaking kindly.

Blackie did it, for a few seconds, and then she got down on all four feet as she was in the habit of standing.

“No! Not that!” said Arthur, lifting her up again. “Stand on your hind legs, Blackie.”

But Blackie did not do it very well.

“Let me try,” said Mabel, who was watching her brother. “She will jump through my hands, and perhaps she will stand up for me.”

“I’ll try once more,” said Arthur, “and then you may have a turn, Mabel.”

But neither Arthur nor his sister could make Blackie stand up on her hind legs. Blackie just did not want to do it, or perhaps she could not.

“Maybe when I come back, after having run away, I’ll do it for them,” thought the black cat, as she rubbed up against Mabel’s legs.

“Now jump through my hands, Blackie!” called Mabel, and she made a loop of her arms in front of Blackie. This trick the black cat knew very well.

“If she would only do the standing on her hind legs trick as well as she does yours she would be a fine cat,” Arthur said.

“Blackie is a nice cat anyhow, and I love her,” spoke Mabel, cuddling the cat in her arms.

That night, when the children were studying their lessons, Blackie lay on a soft cushion at their feet, purring happily. And, all the while, the black cat was thinking about running away.

“I suppose Mabel and Arthur will feel badly at first,” thought Blackie, “but I won’t be away very long, at least not the first time. I think I’ll run off to-morrow.”

The next day came, and after breakfast, when Arthur and Mabel had gone to school, Blackie went out in the yard. She had made up her mind to run away, and she wanted to see if Speckle might not like to go along.

Blackie did not have to pack up any clothes, or take anything to eat with her, when she started to run away. Cats can’t do those things. The only clothes they need is their coat of fur, and that is always with them. I have seen dogs with little blankets on, and even a sort of overcoat, but cats are different and do not wear them.

And Blackie could not take with her anything to eat. She thought she would have no trouble in picking up what she wanted as she went along.

“I may even stop in a house some day, and get milk,” the black cat said to herself. Out in the yard she went, close to the fence.

“Meow!” called Blackie to Speckle. “Come on out; I want to speak to you.”

“What is it?” asked the gray cat, sticking his head up over the fence.

“I’m going to run away,” answered Blackie. “Don’t you want to come along?”

“My goodness! Run away!” exclaimed Speckle. “So you have made up your mind, have you?”

“Yes, I’m going. Will you come?”

“Hum! No, I think not,” Speckle said slowly. “I don’t believe I’ll run away to-day. You see I have hardly gotten to know all the cats around here yet. I’ll wait a while. But don’t let me keep you from running if you really want to go.”

“Yes, I do want to go,” Blackie said. “Perhaps when I come back I may be able to jump a fence as well as you, and I may do the standing on my hind legs trick that Arthur tried to teach me.”

“Perhaps,” said Speckle. “Well, good luck to you!”

“Thank you,” answered Blackie. Then she looked toward the house. No one was watching her. Blackie went slowly down the front walk to the street.

“I don’t need to run at first,” she thought. “I’ll begin to run when I get out of sight of the house. The children can’t see me, for they are at school, and I am glad of it, as they might cry if they saw me going. But I’ll soon be back, only I can’t tell them so.”
Blackie went slowly to the front gate. She went out in the street. Then she went slowly down the sidewalk, and when she was out of sight of her house she began to run.

“Now,” said Blackie to herself, “at last I am really running away!”

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 1

kjskjskjhs

Chapter One – Blackie hears something.

Blackie was a cat. Now that I have told you this much I think you can guess why that was her name. It was because she was as black as a coal, or a bit of tar from the barrel which stood on the street when the men were fixing the roof. Blackie did not have so much as a speck, or a single hair, of white in her glossy coat of fur, and on a dark night, if you were to look for Blackie I think you would not have found her. For she looked just like a bit of the dark itself.

When you first looked at Blackie you might have thought she was just like other cats, but she was not. She was a very smart cat, and so many things happened to her, and she had so many adventures, that I am going to tell you about them.

Once upon a time, not so very many years ago, Blackie lived in a fine large house with a little boy and girl, named Arthur and Mabel. Of course the papa and mamma of Arthur and Mabel lived in the house too, but as the children were the ones who played with Blackie, and looked after her, giving her milk and good things to eat, it seems best to say that Blackie lived with them.

“Now it’s your turn to feed Blackie,” Mabel would call to her brother.

“All right,” Arthur would answer. “I’ll get her the milk right away.”

The children never had to be told twice to look after their pet cat, for they loved Blackie very much. Though the children’s father or mother often had to tell them twice, or perhaps even three times, to go to the store, or run on an errand, just one telling was enough when it was about Blackie.

“I certainly have a good home here,” thought the black cat, “and Arthur and Mabel are very kind to me. Yes, I certainly am a lucky cat.”

Of course Blackie did not say this out loud, for neither cats, nor dogs, nor other animals, can speak as we do. But they can make noises, such as mewing or barking, and I think that is, for them, talking in their own way, just as much as we talk in ours.

And cats and other animals think, too, I believe. Else how would they know enough to come to the same place many times to be fed, or how would they know how to find their way home when they have gone far off?

Of course cats and dogs often get lost, for they may go so far that they can not find the way back again. So you might say, from that, I suppose, that cats can’t think. But then did you never get lost? Yes, I’m sure you must have, at least once. And you can think, I know, but you could not find your way home alone.

I know cats and dogs think, and that they can talk to one another, too, in their own language. So it isn’t at all strange that Blackie should think about what a good home she had, and how kind the little boy and girl were to her.

“Now, Blackie,” said Mabel one day, as she got ready for school, “be a good cat to-day, and don’t run off.”

“Put the red ribbon with the bell around her neck,” said Arthur as he gathered up his school books. “Then if Blackie goes away we can listen for the bell and find her.”

“Oh, yes! That’s what I’ll do,” said Mabel. “Here, Blackie!” called the little girl, “come and have your ribbon put on.”

There was a pretty red ribbon for Blackie’s neck, and it always looked nice on the cat, because black and red seem to go well together. I think they “match” as the ladies say, though I don’t know much about such things. I know when a team of horses match, and go well together, and when two dogs, or two cats, are well matched, but I am afraid I can’t tell much about ribbons and such things matching.

Anyhow a lady told me black and red matched, or went well together, and I guess she is right. And I know that the red ribbon looked very pretty on Blackie’s neck, for I saw it there myself.

“There!” exclaimed Mabel, as she tied the ribbon into a pretty bow. “Now you won’t get lost, Blackie, and when I come home from school I’ll find you here.”

Blackie lifted one velvety paw, and shook her head. This made the little brass bell tinkle.

“You can hear that a good way off,” said Arthur. “When I come home from school I’m going to try to teach Blackie the trick of standing in the corner.”

“She can do one trick now,” said Mabel. “She can jump through my hands, when I hold them in front of her like a hoop.”

“Can she?” asked Arthur. “Let’s see her do it.”

“Children! Don’t be late for school,” called their mother from the dining room.

“No, we won’t, Mother,” answered Mabel. “I am just going to have Blackie do one trick. Come here, Blackie!”

Blackie always came when the little boy or girl called her, for the black cat knew she would be petted, or given something nice to eat each time. This time Mabel stroked Blackie’s soft fur, and then put the cat down in front of her, behind her arms which she held in a round ring.

“Jump through, Blackie!” called Mabel, and Blackie did.

“See!” said the little girl to her brother. “Didn’t Blackie do that trick nicely?”

“She surely did!” exclaimed Arthur. “And when I come home from school I’ll teach her to stand on her hind legs in a corner.”

“Come now, children, run along!” called the mother, and Arthur and Mabel, having each patted Blackie once more, hurried off to school.

“Well, I think now I will go and take a little sleep,” said Blackie to herself. “Then I will go out and see if I can find another cat to play with until the children come home.”

For Blackie loved to play, and she was sometimes lonesome when the children were not home.

Mabel had made a little cushion for Blackie, and this cushion was kept in one corner of the dining room, where the sun shone a good part of the day. Blackie liked to sleep in the sun.

“Yes, I certainly am a lucky cat,” thought Blackie, “to have such a nice home, and such a good little girl and boy to pet me. I have a nice red ribbon, too, and a bell. Not many cats have things as nice as I.”

Blackie was sure of this, for a number of times she had seen, on the back fence, other cats, whose fur was all scraggly and rough; who looked poor and thin and who seemed scared almost to death. Once Blackie had spoken to one of these cats and the cat had told Blackie how hungry he was.

“Why don’t you go home and eat?” asked Blackie.

“Home? I have no home!” sadly exclaimed the strange cat. “I had one once but the people moved away, leaving me behind, and since then I have eaten as best I can. You are very lucky to have such a nice home. Excuse me, I see a piece of meat!” And with that the strange cat jumped down off the fence and grabbed a bit of meat out of the ash can.

“I’m glad I don’t have to eat that way,” thought Blackie.

As Blackie went to sleep on the soft cushion she thought of the time when she had been a little kitten, and had lived with her mother, and her brothers and sisters, in a barn in the country. For Blackie’s early days were spent on a farm, though she did not now remember very much about that part of it.

Arthur and Mabel’s father and mother had taken the children on a visit to the farm, and it was there the children saw the black cat, which they liked very much. So the farmer gave her to them, and they named her Blackie and brought her home to the city with them.

Since then Blackie had lived in the fine house with her little master and mistress, and, as I say, she had a very easy time of it, never wanting for anything to eat, or for a warm, cozy place to sleep.

For several hours Blackie slept on the cushion, now and then turning around to get more in the sunlight, and when she did this the little brass bell on the red ribbon on her neck would go “tinkle-inkle.”

“Well, I think I’ll take a walk out in the yard, and perhaps I may see another cat to talk to,” said Blackie, as she awakened and stretched first one leg, and then the other, opening her mouth as wide as she could to stretch that too. Blackie was a bit lonesome without the children.

Out in the yard went the black cat. The sun was shining down through the leaves of the grape vine, making dancing shadows on the walk below. Blackie pretended that these shadows were mice, and that she was chasing them. As she was doing this the black cat heard a voice calling to her.

“What are you doing?” the voice asked.

Blackie looked up, and saw another cat looking at her over the back fence. This cat was mixed gray and white in color.

“Oh, I’m just having a little game by myself,” answered Blackie. “I do this to amuse myself when the children are at school, and I am alone. Excuse me, but I think you must be a strange cat around here.”

“I am,” meowed the other. “My folks have just moved in the house next door.”

“I saw loads of furniture going in there yesterday,” said Blackie, “but I did not see you.”

“No, I was shut up in a box,” the new cat said. “They were afraid I would get lost, I guess. They kept me down cellar until a little while ago.”

“Oh, that’s too bad!” exclaimed Blackie. “I guess you are glad to be out again; aren’t you?”

“Indeed I am! But they kept me down cellar so I would not be hurt when the furniture was being set around, I guess.”

“Won’t you come over and have a game of shadow tag?” asked the black cat. “My name is Blackie,” she went on.

“And mine is Speckle,” said the other. “I suppose you are called Blackie because you are so black.”

“Yes,” answered Blackie, “and I think you must be called Speckle because you are speckled gray and white.”

“That’s it,” Speckle answered, as he jumped down off the fence.

Then the two cats had a nice time playing shadow tag under the grape arbor. After a bit, as they lay down to rest on the grass, Speckle asked: “Did you ever run away?”

“Run away!” exclaimed Blackie. “What’s that?”

“Why, don’t you know?” went on Speckle in some surprise. “To run away is to leave your home, and go off to have adventures.”

“What are adventures?” Blackie wanted to know.

“Oh, things that happen to you,” replied Speckle.

“Did you ever run away and have adventures?” Blackie wanted to know.

“Indeed I did,” Speckle said, somewhat proudly. “I have run away more than once, and many things happened to me. It was fun, only I got hungry sometimes.”

“How do you run away?” asked Blackie.

“Why, you just run,” Speckle said. “You walk out of the house, just as if you were going out in the yard to play as we did now, and, when no one is looking, you walk off down the street as far as you like.”

“Oh, I thought you said run!” exclaimed Blackie. “Now you are talking about walking away.”

“It’s all the same thing,” Speckle explained. “You can’t run all the time you are running away; you have to walk part of the time or you would get very tired. You just try it some day.”

“Perhaps I shall,” Blackie said. “I’ll think about it. I have certainly learned something to-day. Arthur spoke about teaching me a new trick when he came home from school, but I have learned something all by myself, and that is how to run away. I believe I’ll try it!”

“Do,” said Speckle. “Let me know when you are going and perhaps I’ll go with you.

Excuse me!” said the mixed-color cat, “but I hear them calling me. I guess my dinner is ready,” and with that the other cat jumped back over the fence.

The Story of Fido 🐕

kjskjskjhs

Fido’s master had to go on a long journey across the country to a certain town, and he was carrying with him a large bag of gold to deposit at the bank there. This bag he carried on his saddle, for he was riding, as in those days there were no trains, and he had to travel as quickly as he could.

Fido scampered cheerfully along at the horse’s heels, and every now and then the man would call out to her, and Fido would wag her tail and bark back an answer.

The sun was hot and the road dusty, and poor Fido’s little legs grew more and more tired. At last they came to a cool, shady wood, and her master stopped, dismounted, and tied his horse to a tree, and took his heavy saddle-bags from the saddle.

He laid them down very carefully, and pointing to them, said to Fido, ‘Watch them.’

Then he drew his cloak about him, lay down with his head on the bags, and soon was fast asleep.

Little Fido curled herself up close to her master’s head, with her nose over one end of the bags, and went to sleep too. But she did not sleep very soundly, for her master had told her to watch, and every few moments she would open her eyes and prick up her ears, in case someone was coming.

Her master was tired and slept soundly and long—much longer than he had intended. At last he was awakened by Fido’s licking his face. The dog saw that the sun was nearly setting, and knew that it was time for her master to go on his journey.

The man patted Fido and then jumped up, much troubled to find he had slept so long. He snatched up his cloak, threw it over his horse, untied the bridle, sprang into the saddle, and calling Fido, started off in great haste. But Fido did not seem ready to follow him. She ran after the horse and bit at his heels, and then ran back into the woods again, all the time barking furiously. This she did several times, but her master had no time to heed her and galloped away, thinking she would follow him.

At last the little dog sat down by the roadside, and looked sadly after her master, until he had turned a bend in the road. When he was no longer in sight she sprang up with a wild bark, and ran after him again. She overtook him just as he had stopped to water his horse at a brook that flowed across the road. She stood beside the brook and barked so savagely that her master rode back and called her to him; but instead of coming she darted off down the road still barking.

Her master did not know what to think, and began to fear that his dog was going mad. Mad dogs are afraid of water, and act in strange ways when they see it. While the man was thinking of this, Fido came running back again, and dashed at him furiously. She leapt at the legs of his horse, and even jumped up and bit the toe of her master’s boot. Then she ran down the road again, barking with all her might.

Her master was now sure that she was mad and he turned to ride away. He rode away quickly. He had not ridden very far when he stopped suddenly. He felt under his coat for his saddle-bags. They were not there!

Could he have dropped them, or had he left them behind in the wood where he had rested? He felt sure they must be in the woods, for he could not remember having picked them up or fastened them to his saddle.

He turned his horse and rode back again as hard as he could.

When he came to the brook he sighed and thought, ‘Fido!’ but though he looked about he could see nothing of her. As he moved past the brook and came closer, he now understood why little Fido had acted so strangely. She knew that her master had left behind his precious bags of gold, and so she had tried to tell him in the only way she could.

At last he reached the wood, and there, lay the bags of gold, and beside them, with her little nose lying over one end of them lay faithful Fido.

The Tale of Two Bad Mice

kjskjskjhs

Once upon a time there was a very beautiful doll’s-house; it was red brick with white windows, and it had real muslin curtains and a front door and a chimney.

It belonged to two Dolls called Lucinda and Jane; at least it belonged to Lucinda, but she never ordered meals.

Jane was the Cook; but she never did any cooking, because the dinner had been bought ready-made, in a box full of shavings.

There were two red lobsters and a ham, a fish, a pudding, and some pears and oranges.

They would not come off the plates, but they were extremely beautiful.

One morning Lucinda and Jane had gone out for a drive in the doll’s perambulator. There was no one in the nursery, and it was very quiet. Presently there was a little scuffling, scratching noise in a corner near the fireplace, where there was a hole under the skirting-board.

Tom Thumb put out his head for a moment, and then popped it in again. Tom Thumb was a mouse.

A minute afterwards, Hunca Munca, his wife, put her head out, too; and when she saw that there was no one in the nursery, she ventured out on the oilcloth under the coal-box.

The doll’s-house stood at the other side of the fire-place. Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went cautiously across the hearthrug. They pushed the front door—it was not fast.

Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca went upstairs and peeped into the dining-room. Then they squeaked with joy!

Such a lovely dinner was laid out upon the table! There were tin spoons, and lead knives and forks, and two dolly-chairs—all SO convenient!

Tom Thumb set to work at once to carve the ham. It was a beautiful shiny yellow, streaked with red.

The knife crumpled up and hurt him; he put his finger in his mouth.

“It is not boiled enough; it is hard. You have a try, Hunca Munca.”

Hunca Munca stood up in her chair, and chopped at the ham with another lead knife.

“It’s as hard as the hams at the cheesemonger’s,” said Hunca Munca.

The ham broke off the plate with a jerk, and rolled under the table.

“Let it alone,” said Tom Thumb; “give me some fish, Hunca Munca!”

Hunca Munca tried every tin spoon in turn; the fish was glued to the dish.

Then Tom Thumb lost his temper. He put the ham in the middle of the floor, and hit it with the tongs and with the shovel—bang, bang, smash, smash!

The ham flew all into pieces, for underneath the shiny paint it was made of nothing but plaster!

Then there was no end to the rage and disappointment of Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca. They broke up the pudding, the lobsters, the pears and the oranges.

As the fish would not come off the plate, they put it into the red-hot crinkly paper fire in the kitchen; but it would not burn either.

Tom Thumb went up the kitchen chimney and looked out at the top— there was no soot.

While Tom Thumb was up the chimney, Hunca Munca had another disappointment. She found some tiny canisters upon the dresser, labelled— Rice—Coffee—Sago—but when she turned them upside down, there was nothing inside except red and blue beads.

Then those mice set to work to do all the mischief they could—especially Tom Thumb! He took Jane’s clothes out of the chest of drawers in her bedroom, and he threw them out of the top floor window.

But Hunca Munca had a frugal mind. After pulling half the feathers out of Lucinda’s bolster, she remembered that she herself was in want of a feather bed.

With Tom Thumbs’s assistance she carried the bolster downstairs, and across the hearth-rug. It was difficult to squeeze the bolster into the mouse- hole; but they managed it somehow.

Then Hunca Munca went back and fetched a chair, a book-case, a bird- cage, and several small odds and ends. The book-case and the bird- cage refused to go into the mousehole.

Hunca Munca left them behind the coal-box, and went to fetch a cradle.

Hunca Munca was just returning with another chair, when suddenly there was a noise of talking outside upon the landing. The mice rushed back to their hole, and the dolls came into the nursery.

What a sight met the eyes of Jane and Lucinda! Lucinda sat upon the upset kitchen stove and stared; and Jane leant against the kitchen dresser and smiled—but neither of them made any remark.

The book-case and the bird-cage were rescued from under the coal- box—but Hunca Munca has got the cradle, and some of Lucinda’s clothes.

She also has some useful pots and pans, and several other things.

The little girl that the doll’s-house belonged to, said,—”I will get a doll dressed like a policeman!”

But the nurse said,—”I will set a mouse-trap!”

So that is the story of the two Bad Mice,—but they were not so very very naughty after all, because Tom Thumb paid for everything he broke.

He found a crooked sixpence under the hearth-rug; and upon Christmas Eve, he and Hunca Munca stuffed it into one of the stockings of Lucinda and Jane.

And very early every morning— before anybody is awake—Hunca Munca comes with her dust-pan and her broom to sweep the Dollies’ house!

The Measuring Worm’s Joke

kjskjskjhs

One day there crawled over the meadow fence a jolly young Measuring Worm. He came from a bush by the roadside, and although he was still a young Worm he had kept his eyes open and had a very good idea how things go in this world. “Now,” thought he, as he rested on the top rail of the fence, “I shall meet some new friends. I do hope they will be82 pleasant. I will look about me and see if anyone is in sight.” So he raised his head high in the air and, sure enough, there were seven Caterpillars of different kinds on a tall clump of weeds near by.

The Measuring Worm hurried over to where they were, and making his best bow said: “I have just come from the roadside and think I shall live in the meadow. May I feed with you?”

The Caterpillars were all glad to have him, and he joined their party. He asked many questions about the meadow, and the people who lived there, and the best place to find food. The Caterpillars said, “Oh, the meadow is a good place, and the people are nice enough, but they are not at all fashionable—not at all.”

“Why,” said the Measuring Worm, “if you have nice people and a pleasant place in which to live, I don’t see what more you need.”

“That is all very well,” said a black and83 yellow Caterpillar, “but what we want is fashionable society. The meadow people always do things in the same way, and one gets so tired of that. Now can you not tell us something different, something that Worms do in the great world from which you come?”

Just at this minute the Measuring Worm had a funny idea, and he wondered if the Caterpillars would be foolish enough to copy him. He thought it would be a good joke if they did, so he said very soberly, “I notice that when you walk you keep your body quite close to the ground. I have seen many Worms do the same thing, and it is all right if they wish to, but none of my family ever do so. Did you notice how I walk?”

“Yes, yes,” cried the Caterpillars, “show us again.”

So the Measuring Worm walked back and forth for them, arching his body as high as he could, and stopping every little84 while to raise his head and look haughtily around.

“What grace!” exclaimed the Caterpillars. “What grace, and what style!” and one black and brown one tried to walk in the same way.

The Measuring Worm wanted to laugh to see how awkward the black and brown Caterpillar was, but he did not even smile, and soon every one of the Caterpillars was trying the same thing, and saying “Look at me. Don’t I do well?” or, “How was that?”

You can just imagine how those seven Caterpillars looked when trying to walk like the Measuring Worm. Every few minutes one of them would tumble over, and they all got warm and tired. At last they thought they had learned it very well, and took a long rest, in which they planned to take a long walk and show the other meadow people the fashion they had received from the outside world.85

“We will walk in a line,” they said, “as far as we can, and let them all see us. Ah, it will be a great day for the meadow when we begin to set the fashions!”

The mischievous young Measuring Worm said not a word, and off they started. The big black and yellow Caterpillar went first, the black and brown one next, and so on down to the smallest one at the end of the line, all arching their bodies as high as they could. All the meadow people stared at them, calling each other to come and look, and whenever the Caterpillars reached a place where there were many watching them, they would all raise their heads and look around exactly as the Measuring Worm had done. When they got back to their clump of bushes, they had the most dreadful backaches, but they said to each other, “Well, we have been fashionable for once.”

And, at the same time, out in the grass, the meadow people were saying,86 “Did you ever see anything so ridiculous in your life?” All of which goes to show how very silly people sometimes are when they think too much of being fashionable.

The Spindle, The Shuttle, And The Needle

kjskjskjhs

Once upon a time there lived a girl who lost her father and mother when she was quite a tiny child. Her godmother lived all alone in a little cottage at the far end of the village, and there she earned her living by spinning, weaving, and sewing. The old woman took the little orphan home with her and brought her up in good, pious, industrious habits.

When the girl was fifteen years old, her godmother fell ill, and, calling the child to her bedside, she said: ‘My dear daughter, I feel that my end is near. I leave you my cottage, which will, at least, shelter you, and also my spindle, my weaver’s shuttle, and my needle, with which to earn your bread.’

Then she laid her hands on the girl’s head, blessed her, and added: ‘Mind and be good, and then all will go well with you.’ With that she closed her eyes for the last time, and when she was carried to her grave the girl walked behind her coffin weeping bitterly, and paid her all the last honours.

After this the girl lived all alone in the little cottage. She worked hard, spinning, weaving, and sewing, and her old godmother’s blessing seemed to prosper all she did. The flax seemed to spread and increase; and when she wove a carpet or a piece of linen, or made a shirt, she was sure to find a customer who paid her well, so that not only did she feel no want herself, but she was able to help those who did.

Now, it happened that about this time the King’s son was making a tour through the entire country to look out for a bride. He could not marry a poor woman, and he did not wish for a rich one.

‘She shall be my wife,’ said he, ‘who is at once the poorest and the richest.’

When he reached the village where the girl lived, he inquired who was the richest and who the poorest woman in it. The richest was named first; the poorest, he was told, was a young girl who lived alone in a little cottage at the far end of the village.

The rich girl sat at her door dressed out in all her best clothes, and when the King’s son came near she got up, went to meet him, and made him a low curtsey. He looked well at her, said nothing, but rode on further.

When he reached the poor girl’s house he did not find her at her door, for she was at work in her room. The Prince reined in his horse, looked in at the window through which the sun was shining brightly, and saw the girl sitting at her wheel busily spinning away.

She looked up, and when she saw the King’s son gazing in at her, she blushed red all over, cast down her eyes and span on. Whether the thread was quite as even as usual I really cannot say, but she went on spinning till the King’s son had ridden off. Then she stepped to the window and opened the lattice, saying, ‘The room is so hot,’ but she looked after him as long as she could see the white plumes in his hat.

Then she sat down to her work once more and span on, and as she did so an old saying which, she had often heard her godmother repeat whilst at work, came into her head, and she began to sing:

‘Spindle, spindle, go and see,
If my love will come to me.’

Lo, and behold! the spindle leapt from her hand and rushed out of the room, and when she had sufficiently recovered from her surprise to look after it she saw it dancing merrily through the fields, dragging a long golden thread after it, and soon it was lost to sight.

The girl, having lost her spindle, took up the shuttle and, seating herself at her loom, began to weave. Meantime the spindle danced on and on, and just as it had come to the end of the golden thread, it reached the King’s son.

‘What do I see?’ he cried; ‘this spindle seems to wish to point out the way to me.’ So he turned his horse’s head and rode back beside the golden thread.

Meantime the girl sat weaving, and sang:

‘Shuttle, weave both web and woof,
Bring my love beneath my roof.’

The shuttle instantly escaped from her hand, and with one bound was out at the door. On the threshold it began weaving the loveliest carpet that was ever seen. Roses and lilies bloomed on both sides, and in the centre a thicket seemed to grow with rabbits and hares running through it, stags and fawns peeping through the branches, whilst on the topmost boughs sat birds of brilliant plumage and so life-like one almost expected to hear them sing. The shuttle flew from side to side and the carpet seemed almost to grow of itself.

As the shuttle had run away the girl sat down to sew. She took her needle and sang:

‘Needle, needle, stitch away,
Make my chamber bright and gay,’

and the needle promptly slipped from her fingers and flew about the room like lightning. You would have thought invisible spirits were at work, for in next to no time the table and benches were covered with green cloth, the chairs with velvet, and elegant silk curtains hung before the windows. The needle had barely put in its last stitch when the girl, glancing at the window, spied the white plumed hat of the King’s son who was being led back by the spindle with the golden thread.

He dismounted and walked over the carpet into the house, and when he entered the room there stood the girl blushing like any rose. ‘You are the poorest and yet the richest,’ said he: ‘come with me, you shall be my bride.’

She said nothing, but she held out her hand. Then he kissed her, and led her out, lifted her on his horse and took her to his royal palace, where the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicings.

The spindle, the shuttle, and the needle were carefully placed in the treasury, and were always held in the very highest honour.

Mr. Nighthawk

kjskjskjhs

Following his cry with one or two quick beats of his wings, Mr. Nighthawk dropped swiftly down among the trees in Farmer Green’s dooryard.

He fell so fast that Kiddie Katydid, watching from his hiding-place in one of the maples, couldn’t help hoping that the sky-coaster would be unable to stop himself in time to escape being dashed upon the ground.

But Mr. Nighthawk was very skillful at that sport. Just at the right moment he turned quickly, while the air rushed through his wing-feathers with a roaring sound. And then he mounted upward again.

Meanwhile Kiddie Katydid kept very still among the leaves, with his wings folded over his back. Only his two long, thread-like feelers would wave backwards and forwards, although he tried to keep them still. He was so nearly the color of the green of the tree-top that he trusted Mr. Nighthawk wouldn’t be able to spy him.

But he was soon disappointed. For Mr. Nighthawk suddenly cried, “Ha!” and landed on a neighboring limb.

“There you are!” he said. “You needn’t think I don’t see you!”

“Why, good evening!” Kiddie Katydid answered, since he was discovered—there was no use denying it. “It’s a great surprise—meeting you so unexpectedly. If you had only sent word that you were coming I’d have made different arrangements.”

“I’ve no doubt you would have!” Mr. Nighthawk sneered. “But I like to take people unawares. . . . I’ve heard about you,” he added. “They say that you’re a great jumper—the spriest jumper in all Pleasant Valley.”

“Well, I can jump fairly well,” Kiddie Katydid admitted. “But I don’t pride myself on my jumping. It’s something that has always run in my family, you know. All of us Katydids can leap quite a distance without any trouble.”

“So I understand!” Mr. Nighthawk replied. “And I’ll tell you some news that ought to please you: I’ve come here to-night for the special purpose of seeing you jump!”

Kiddie Katydid almost jumped out of his skin when he heard what Mr. Nighthawk said. And it wouldn’t have been anything remarkable for him if he had. He had already squirmed out of his skin six times that summer—though not from fear, of course. Casting his skin was almost a habit with Kiddie. All his family were like that.

Though he was not nearly so old as Mr. Nighthawk, Kiddie Katydid had learned a thing or two during his brief lifetime. And though he would have liked very much to jump—and jump out of Mr. Nighthawk’s sight, too—he had no wish to hide himself inside that feathered scoundrel. So he clung all the tighter to his perch and replied that he didn’t believe he cared to do any jumping that night.

Now, Mr. Nighthawk had a certain odd trick of talking through his nose. Whether that was because the late hours he kept, even on dark nights, gave him a cold in his head, nobody seemed to know. Anyhow, he began teasing Kiddie Katydid to jump for him—and he talked through his nose more than ever. Yes! Although Mr. Nighthawk tried his best to speak pleasantly, he only succeeded in making Kiddie Katydid want to laugh at him, for all Kiddie was so uneasy.

“I certainly hope you aren’t going to disappoint me?” Mr. Nighthawk whined, as he looked hungrily at Kiddie Katydid. “Please, please jump for me—just once!” he begged. “Here I’ve come all the way across the meadow on purpose to see what a fine jumper you are! And I shall feel very unhappy if you don’t perform for me.”

But Kiddie Katydid refused to budge.

“I hadn’t intended to do any leaping to-night,” he told Mr. Nighthawk. “And if I jumped for you, it would only upset my plans.”

“I know—I know,” said Mr. Nighthawk, nodding his head. “But I thought that you would just to oblige a friend, wouldn’t object to jumping from this tree into that one.” And he pointed to the nearest maple, the branches of which all but touched the tree-top in which they were sitting. But Kiddie Katydid’s mind was made up.

“No jumping for me to-night!” he piped in a shrill voice.

All this time Mr. Nighthawk was growing hungrier than ever. And one might well wonder why he didn’t make one quick spring at Kiddie Katydid and swallow him up. But that was not Mr. Nighthawk’s way of dining.

“Well,” he said at last, “though you refuse to jump for me, won’t you kindly call some other member of your family and ask him to oblige me?”

“I don’t know where my relations are just now,” replied Kiddie Katydid. “Some of them were here a while ago; but they went away.” And that was quite true! At that “BRAH”—that first warning cry—of Mr. Nighthawk’s, they had all vanished as if by magic, among the leaves.

“What about that Katy you’re always talking about?” Mr. Nighthawk then inquired. “Don’t you suppose you could find her and persuade her to do a little jumping for me—just to show me how it’s done?”

“I’m sorry—” Kiddie said somewhat stiffly, “I’m sorry; but I must absolutely refuse to do such a thing. Now that you’ve mentioned her, I’ll simply saying Katy did. And beyond that I cannot discuss her with you.”

“She did what?” Mr. Nighthawk wanted to know—through his nose.

But Kiddie Katydid declined to answer that question. He merely hugged his wings closer to his green body, and shot a sly glance at Mr. Nighthawk, as if to say, “Ah! That’s for you to find out! But I won’t tell you!”

Mr. Nighthawk looked rather foolish. He had always supposed that any one who spent a good part of every night saying the same thing over and over and over again must be quite dull-witted. But now he began to think that perhaps Kiddie Katydid was brighter than the field people generally believed him to be. And when Kiddie suddenly asked him a question, he was sure of his mistake.

“Did you know,” said Kiddie, “that Solomon Owl usually visits these farm buildings?”

“Why, no! I wasn’t aware of that,” Mr. Nighthawk replied with a quick, nervous look behind him. “What brings him here?”

“Chickens!” Kiddie Katydid explained. “Solomon Owl is very fond of chickens. But they do say that he’s not above eating a nighthawk when he happens to find one.”

Toads and Diamonds 💎

kjskjskjhs

THERE was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The oldest was so much like her in the face and humor that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there was no living with them.

The youngest, who was the very picture of her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was one of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother even doted on her eldest daughter and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngest—she made her eat in the kitchen and work continually.

Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, when she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.

“Oh! with all my heart for sure,” said this pretty little girl; and rinsing immediately the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink easier.

The good woman, having drunk, said to her:
“You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift.” For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. “I will give you a gift,” continued the Fairy, “that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.”
When this pretty girl came home her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain.

“I beg your pardon, mamma,” said the poor girl, “for not making more haste.”
And in speaking these words there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.
“What is it I see there?” said the mother, quite astonished. “I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl’s mouth! How is this happening child?”
This was the first time she had ever called her child.
The poor girl told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.

“In good faith,” cried the mother, “I must send my child thither. Come hither, Fanny; look what comes out of your sister’s mouth when she speaks. Wouldn’t you be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given to you? You have nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, give it to her very politely.”
“It would be a very fine sight indeed,” said this ill-bred daughter, “to see me go draw water.”
“You shall go!” said the mother; “and this minute.”

So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver pitcher in the house.
Now she was no sooner at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her, and asked for a drink. This was, you must know, the very same fairy who appeared to her sister, but now had taken the air and dress of a princess, to see how far this girl’s rudeness would go.
“As I come hither,” said the proud, saucy one, “to serve you with water? I suppose the silver tankard was bought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you really want to.”
“You are not over and above mannerly,” answered the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. “Well, then, since you have so little breeding, and you are so disobliging, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.”

So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out:
“Well, daughter?”
“Well, mother?” answered the saucy daughter, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.
“Oh! mercy,” cried the mother; “what is it I see? Oh! it is that wretch her sister who has occasioned all this; but she shall pay for it”; and immediately she ran to get the daughter. The poor child ran away from her, and went to hide herself in the forest.

The King’s son passed by returning from hunting and met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone and why she was crying.
“Alas! sir, my mother has turned me out of our home.”
The King’s son, who saw five or six pearls and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, told her to tell him how that happened. She told him the whole story; and so the King’s son fell in love with her, and, considering himself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the King his father, and there they married.

As for the sister, she made herself so much hated that even her own mother turned her away; and being so miserable, wandered about a good while without finding anyone to take her in. She went to a corner of the woods, and lived there forever.