The Story Girl, Chapter 1 👧🏻


“I do like a road, because you can be always wondering what is at the end of it.”

The Story Girl said that once upon a time. Felix and I, on the May morning when we left Toronto for Prince Edward Island, had not then heard her say it, and, indeed, were but barely aware of the existence of such a person as the Story Girl. We did not know her at all under that name. We knew only that a cousin, Sara Stanley, whose mother, our Aunt Felicity, was dead, was living down on the Island with Uncle Roger and Aunt Olivia King, on a farm adjoining the old King homestead in Carlisle. We supposed we should get acquainted with her when we reached there, and we had an idea, from Aunt Olivia’s letters to father, that she would be quite a jolly creature. Further than that we did not think about her. We were more interested in Felicity and Cecily and Dan, who lived on the homestead and would therefore be our roofmates for a season.

But the spirit of the Story Girl’s yet unuttered remark was thrilling in our hearts that morning, as the train pulled out of Toronto. We were faring forth on a long road; and, though we had some idea what would be at the end of it, there was enough glamour of the unknown about it to lend a wonderful charm to our speculations concerning it.

We were delighted at the thought of seeing father’s old home, and living among the haunts of his boyhood. He had talked so much to us about it, and described its scenes so often and so minutely, that he had inspired us with some of his own deep-seated affection for it—an affection that had never waned in all his years of exile. We had a vague feeling that we, somehow, belonged there, in that cradle of our family, though we had never seen it. We had always looked forward eagerly to the promised day when father would take us “down home,” to the old house with the spruces behind it and the famous “King orchard” before it—and we might ramble in “Uncle Stephen’s Walk,” drink from the deep well with the Chinese roof over it, stand on “the Pulpit Stone,” and eat apples from our “birthday trees.”

The time had come sooner than we had dared to hope; but father could not take us after all. His firm asked him to go to Rio de Janeiro that spring to take charge of their new branch there. It was too good a chance to lose, for father was a poor man and it meant promotion and increase of salary; but it also meant the temporary breaking up of our home. Our mother had died before either of us was old enough to remember her; father could not take us to Rio de Janeiro. In the end he decided to send us to Uncle Alec and Aunt Janet down on the homestead; and our housekeeper, who belonged to the Island and was now returning to it, took charge of us on the journey. I fear she had an anxious trip of it, poor woman! She was constantly in a quite justifiable terror lest we should be lost or killed; she must have felt great relief when she reached Charlottetown and handed us over to the keeping of Uncle Alec. Indeed, she said as much.

“The fat one isn’t so bad. He isn’t so quick to move and get out of your sight while you’re winking as the thin one. But the only safe way to travel with those young ones would be to have ‘em both tied to you with a short rope—a MIGHTY short rope.”

“The fat one” was Felix, who was very sensitive about his plumpness. He was always taking exercises to make him thin, with the dismal result that he became fatter all the time. He vowed that he didn’t care; but he DID care terribly, and he glowered at Mrs. MacLaren in a most undutiful fashion. He had never liked her since the day she had told him he would soon be as broad as he was long.

For my own part, I was rather sorry to see her going; and she cried over us and wished us well; but we had forgotten all about her by the time we reached the open country, driving along, one on either side of Uncle Alec, whom we loved from the moment we saw him. He was a small man, with thin, delicate features, close-clipped gray beard, and large, tired, blue eyes—father’s eyes over again. We knew that Uncle Alec was fond of children and was heart-glad to welcome “Alan’s boys.” We felt at home with him, and were not afraid to ask him questions on any subject that came uppermost in our minds. We became very good friends with him on that twenty-four mile drive.

Much to our disappointment it was dark when we reached Carlisle—too dark to see anything very distinctly, as we drove up the lane of the old King homestead on the hill. Behind us a young moon was hanging over southwestern meadows of spring-time peace, but all about us were the soft, moist shadows of a May night. We peered eagerly through the gloom.

“There’s the big willow, Bev,” whispered Felix excitedly, as we turned in at the gate.

There it was, in truth—the tree Grandfather King had planted when he returned one evening from ploughing in the brook field and stuck the willow switch he had used all day in the soft soil by the gate.

It had taken root and grown; our father and our uncles and aunts had played in its shadow; and now it was a massive thing, with a huge girth of trunk and great spreading boughs, each of them as large as a tree in itself.

“I’m going to climb it to-morrow,” I said joyfully.

Off to the right was a dim, branching place which we knew was the orchard; and on our left, among sibilant spruces and firs, was the old, whitewashed house—from which presently a light gleamed through an open door, and Aunt Janet, a big, bustling woman, with full-blown peony cheeks, came to welcome us.

Soon after we were at supper in the kitchen, with its low, dark, raftered ceiling from which substantial hams and flitches of bacon were hanging. Everything was just as father had described it. We felt that we had come home, leaving exile behind us.

Felicity, Cecily, and Dan were sitting opposite us, staring at us when they thought we would be too busy eating to see them. We tried to stare at them when THEY were eating; and as a result we were always catching each other at it and feeling cheap and embarrassed.

Dan was the oldest; he was my age—thirteen. He was a lean, freckled fellow with rather long, lank, brown hair and the shapely King nose. We recognized it at once. His mouth was his own, however, for it was like to no mouth on either the King or the Ward side; and nobody would have been anxious to claim it, for it was an undeniably ugly one—long and narrow and twisted. But it could grin in friendly fashion, and both Felix and I felt that we were going to like Dan.

Felicity was twelve. She had been called after Aunt Felicity, who was the twin sister of Uncle Felix. Aunt Felicity and Uncle Felix, as father had often told us, had died on the same day, far apart, and were buried side by side in the old Carlisle graveyard.
We had known from Aunt Olivia’s letters, that Felicity was the beauty of the connection, and we had been curious to see her on that account. She fully justified our expectations. She was plump and dimpled, with big, dark-blue, heavy-lidded eyes, soft, feathery, golden curls, and a pink and white skin—“the King complexion.” The Kings were noted for their noses and complexion. Felicity had also delightful hands and wrists. At every turn of them a dimple showed itself. It was a pleasure to wonder what her elbows must be like.
She was very nicely dressed in a pink print and a frilled muslin apron; and we understood, from something Dan said, that she had “dressed up” in honour of our coming. This made us feel quite important. So far as we knew, no feminine creatures had ever gone to the pains of dressing up on our account before.

Cecily, who was eleven, was pretty also—or would have been had Felicity not been there. Felicity rather took the colour from other girls. Cecily looked pale and thin beside her; but she had dainty little features, smooth brown hair of satin sheen, and mild brown eyes, with just a hint of demureness in them now and again. We remembered that Aunt Olivia had written to father that Cecily was a true Ward—she had no sense of humour. We did not know what this meant, but we thought it was not exactly complimentary.

Still, we were both inclined to think we would like Cecily better than Felicity. To be sure, Felicity was a stunning beauty. But, with the swift and unerring intuition of childhood, which feels in a moment what it sometimes takes maturity much time to perceive, we realized that she was rather too well aware of her good looks. In brief, we saw that Felicity was vain.

“It’s a wonder the Story Girl isn’t over here to see you,” said Uncle Alec. “She’s been quite wild with excitement about your coming.”

“She hasn’t been very well all day,” explained Cecily, “and Aunt Olivia wouldn’t let her come out in the night air. She made her go to bed instead. The Story Girl was awfully disappointed.”

“Who is the Story Girl?” asked Felix.

“Oh, Sara—Sara Stanley. We call her the Story Girl partly because she’s such a hand to tell stories—oh, I can’t begin to describe it—and partly because Sara Ray, who lives at the foot of the hill, often comes up to play with us, and it is awkward to have two girls of the same name in the same crowd. Besides, Sara Stanley doesn’t like her name and she’d rather be called the Story Girl.”

Dan speaking for the first time, rather sheepishly volunteered the information that Peter had also been intending to come over but had to go home to take some flour to his mother instead.

“Peter?” I questioned. I had never heard of any Peter.

“He is your Uncle Roger’s handy boy,” said Uncle Alec. “His name is Peter Craig, and he is a real smart little chap. But he’s got his share of mischief, that same lad.”

“He wants to be Felicity’s beau,” said Dan slyly.

“Don’t talk silly nonsense, Dan,” said Aunt Janet severely.

Felicity tossed her golden head and shot an unsisterly glance at Dan.
“I wouldn’t be very likely to have a hired boy for a beau,” she observed.

We saw that her anger was real, not affected. Evidently Peter was not an admirer of whom Felicity was proud.

We were very hungry boys; and when we had eaten all we could—and oh, what suppers Aunt Janet always spread!—we discovered that we were also very tired—too tired to go out and explore our ancestral domains, as we would have liked to do, despite the dark.

We were quite willing to go to bed; and presently we found ourselves tucked away upstairs in the very room, looking out eastward into the spruce grove, which father had once occupied. Dan shared it with us, sleeping in a bed of his own in the opposite corner. The sheets and pillow-slips were fragrant with lavender, and one of Grandmother King’s noted patchwork quilts was over us. The window was open and we heard the frogs singing down in the swamp of the brook meadow. We had heard frogs sing in Ontario, of course; but certainly Prince Edward Island frogs were more tuneful and mellow. Or was it simply the glamour of old family traditions and tales which was over us, lending its magic to all sights and sounds around us? This was home—father’s home—OUR home! We had never lived long enough in any one house to develop a feeling of affection for it; but here, under the roof-tree built by Great-Grandfather King ninety years ago, that feeling swept into our boyish hearts and souls like a flood of living sweetness and tenderness.

“Just think, those are the very frogs father listened to when he was a little boy,” whispered Felix.

“They can hardly be the SAME frogs,” I objected doubtfully, not feeling very certain about the possible longevity of frogs. “It’s twenty years since father left home.”

“Well, they’re the descendants of the frogs he heard,” said Felix, “and they’re singing in the same swamp. That’s near enough.”

Our door was open and in their room across the narrow hall the girls were preparing for bed, and talking rather more loudly than they might have done had they realized how far their sweet, shrill voices carried.

“What do you think of the boys?” asked Cecily.

“Beverley is handsome, but Felix is too fat,” answered Felicity promptly.

Felix twitched the quilt rather viciously and grunted. But I began to think I would like Felicity. It might not be altogether her fault that she was vain. How could she help it when she looked in the mirror?

“I think they’re both nice and nice looking,” said Cecily.

Dear little soul!

“I wonder what the Story Girl will think of them,” said Felicity, as if, after all, that was the main thing.

Somehow, we, too, felt that it was. We felt that if the Story Girl did not approve of us it made little difference who else did or did not.

“I wonder if the Story Girl is pretty,” said Felix aloud.

“No, she isn’t,” said Dan instantly, from across the room. “But you’ll think she is while she’s talking to you. Everybody does. It’s only when you go away from her that you find out she isn’t a bit pretty after all.”

The girls’ door shut with a bang. Silence fell over the house. We drifted into the land of sleep, wondering if the Story Girl would like us.

Tearful 😭


Once upon a time there was a little girl named Tearful, because she cried so often.

If she could not have her own way, she cried; if she could not have everything for which she wished, she cried.

Her mother told her one day that she would melt away in tears if she cried so often. “You are like the boy who cried for the moon,” she told her, “and if it had been given to him it would not have made him happy, for what possible use could the moon be to any one out of its proper place? And that is the way with you; half the things for which you cry would be of no use to you if you got them.”

Tearful did not listen or take any heed of her mother’s words of wisdom, and kept on crying just the same.

One morning she was crying as she walked along to school, because she wanted to stay at home, when she noticed a frog hopping along beside her.

“Why are you following me?” she asked, looking at him through her tears.

“Because you will soon form a pond around you with your tears,” replied the frog, “and I have always wanted a pond all to myself.”

“I shall not make any pond for you,” said Tearful, “and I do not want you following me, either.”

The frog continued to hop along beside her, and Tearful stopped crying and began to run, but the frog hopped faster, and she could not get away from him, so she began to cry again.

“Go away, you horrid green frog!” she said.

At last she was so tired she sat on a stone by the roadside, crying all the time.

“Now,” replied the frog, “I shall soon have my pond.”

Tearful cried harder than ever, then; she could not see, her tears fell so fast, and by and by she heard a splashing sound. She opened her eyes and saw water all around her.

She was on a small island in the middle of the pond; the frog hopped out of the pond, making a terrible grimace as he sat down beside her.

“I hope you are satisfied,” said Tearful. “You have your pond; why don’t you stay in it?”

“Alas!” replied the frog, “I have wished for something which I cannot use now that I have it. Your tears are salt and my pond which I have all by myself is so salty that I cannot enjoy it. If only your tears had been fresh I should have been a most fortunate fellow.”

“You needn’t stay if you do not like it,” said Tearful, “and you needn’t find fault with my tears, either,” she said, beginning to cry again.

“Stop! stop!” cried the frog, hopping about excitedly; “you will have a flood if you keep on crying.”

Tearful saw the water rising around her, so she stopped a minute. “What shall I do?” she asked. “I cannot swim, and I will die if I have to stay here,” and then she began to cry again.

The frog hopped up and down in front of her, waving his front legs and telling her to hush. “If you would only stop crying,” he said, “I might be able to help you, but I cannot do a thing if you cover me with your salt tears.”

Tearful listened, and promised she would not cry if he would get her away from the island.

“There is only one thing that I know of,” said the frog; “you must smile; that will dry the pond and we can escape.”

“But I do not feel like smiling,” said Tearful, and her eyes filled with tears again.

“Look out!” said the frog; “you will surely be drowned in your own tears if you cry again.”

Tearful began to laugh. “That would be strange, wouldn’t it, to be drowned in my own tears?” she said.

“That is right, keep on smiling,” said the frog; “the pond is smaller already.” And he stood up on his hind legs and began to dance for joy.

Tearful laughed again. “Oh, you are so funny!” she said. “I wish I had your picture. I never saw a frog dance before.”

“You have a board under your arm,” said the frog. “Why don’t you draw a picture of me?” The frog picked up a stick and stuck it in the ground, and then he leaned on it with one arm, or front leg, and, crossing his feet, he stood very still.

Tearful drew him in that position, and then he kicked up his legs as if he were dancing, and she tried to draw him that way, but it was not a very good likeness.

“Do you like that?” she asked the frog when she held the board for him to see. He looked so surprised that Tearful laughed again. “You did not think you were handsome, did you?” she asked.

“I had never thought I looked as bad as those pictures,” replied the frog. “Let me try drawing your picture,” he said.

“Now look pleasant,” he said, as he seated himself in front of Tearful, “and do smile.”

Tearful did as he requested, and in a few minutes he handed her the board. “Where is my nose?” asked Tearful, laughing.

“Oh, I forgot the nose!” said the frog. “But don’t you think your eyes are nice and large, and your mouth, too?”

“They are certainly big in this picture,” said Tearful. “I hope I do not look just like that.”

“I do not think either of us are artists,” replied the frog.

Tearful looked around her. “Why, where is the pond?” she asked. “It is gone.”

“I thought it would dry up if only you would smile,” said the frog; “and I think both of us have learned a lesson. I shall never again wish for a pond of my own. I should be lonely without my companions, and then, it might be salt, just as this one was. And you surely will never cry over little things again, for you see what might happen to you, and then you look so much prettier smiling.”

“Perhaps I do,” said Tearful, “but your pictures of it make me doubt it. However, I feel much happier smiling, and I do not want to be on an island again, even with such a pleasant companion as you were.”

“Look out for the tears, then,” said the frog as he hopped away.

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 6 🐈


Blackie, who had walked from the sitting room, where the old lady had been reading, out toward the hall, heard voices as the front door was opened.

“Come in,” invited Mrs. Thompson.

“I just thought I’d step over to see how you were,” spoke a strange voice.

“That isn’t Arthur or Mabel,” thought Blackie, for she knew the voices of the children.

“I thought perhaps you might be lonesome,” said the visitor.

“Well, I was lonesome,” said Mrs. Thompson, “but, a little while ago I heard something up on the roof. I went up, opened the scuttle and what do you think I found?”

“Not a baby! Don’t tell me it was a baby!” exclaimed the other voice, which was that of a lady.

“No, it wasn’t a baby,” spoke Mrs. Thompson, with a laugh, “so of course I’ll not tell you it was. Come in the sitting room and see.”

“Oh, what a fine big black cat!” cried the other lady, leaning over to pet Blackie. “Where did you get her? Oh, isn’t she a beauty!”

“That’s what I found up on the roof,” explained Mrs. Thompson. “It was the cat I heard walking around, and I brought her down to my house with me.”

“How did she get on the roof?” asked the other lady.

“Why she got out through that vacant house where the family lived that moved away. I don’t know their name, as they did not stay in this block long. But they must have left the cat behind, and she made her way up to the roof.”

“No, I don’t believe those people had a cat,” said the other lady. “So I don’t believe they left this one behind. I would have known if they had a cat, for they lived right across the street from me. The cat must have come from somewhere else.”

“Of course I did,” said Blackie to herself, as she listened to this talk. “I ran away from a good home, but I think I have found one almost as nice, though I shall miss the children. But I don’t know how long I shall stay here. I may run away farther. I wish I could tell these nice ladies some of my adventures. But of course I can’t, for they don’t understand my language very well.”

The two ladies talked more about the black cat, wondering where she had come from, and all that, and, every once in a while one of them would lean over and pet Blackie.

“I wonder if she will let me hold her in my lap?” said the lady who had come to pay an evening visit to Mrs. Thompson. “I hope she will, for I love cats.”

“Try it,” said Mrs. Thompson. “Blackie seems very kind and gentle.”

The other lady picked Blackie up.

“My! How heavy she is!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, she is a big cat,” spoke Mrs. Thompson.

Blackie was very willing to be held in the lady’s lap, for Arthur and Mabel often pet Blackie that way. The lady stroked Blackie’s fur and rubbed her ears, and, as the cat liked that, she purred.

“This is the nice part of my adventures,” thought Blackie to herself. “I guess I rather like running away after all. But perhaps something else will happen in the morning.

“I won’t go back home, at least not for a day or two, and by then I may have many more things to tell Speckle. Maybe he will not think getting locked in a vacant house much of an adventure. I must have more exciting ones than that to tell about.”

The two ladies talked for some time longer, taking turns patting Blackie, until it was time for the lady visitor to go home.

“Good night!” she said to Mrs. Thompson. “I shall come over often to see your new cat. I hope you can keep her, and that no one comes to take her away.”

“So do I, though of course I would give her to whoever owned her. If I had a nice cat I wouldn’t want anyone to keep her from me,” Mrs. Thompson said.

“No, I wouldn’t either. Well, good night. Oh, when do you go to the country?”

“In a few days now, I think.”

“And will you take Blackie with you?”

“I will if no one comes for her before I go.”

Then the two ladies said good night again (ladies always say it three or four times, somehow or other) and then Mrs. Thompson locked the front door.

“It will soon be time to go to bed, Blackie,” said the lady. “I will get out the cushion my white cat used to sleep on, and you can use that.”

Blackie wondered what had become of the white cat who used to live with the kind old lady. Mrs. Thompson brought out the other cat’s cushion. It was nice and soft, and Blackie liked it.

In the morning Blackie, who had slept well, was given a good breakfast of milk and oatmeal. Mrs. Thompson seemed to know just what cats like.

“I wonder if you would run away if I let you out into the yard for a while?” spoke the lady, looking at Blackie. “It is not good for cats, or other animals, to stay in the house all the time, especially in Summer. I think I’ll let you run out in the yard a bit.”

She opened the back door, and Blackie, after sniffing a bit, to make sure there were no dogs about, went out on the back steps. The yard was not as large as the one where Mabel and Arthur lived, nor did it have in it a grape arbor.

“It doesn’t matter,” thought Blackie. “I shall not stay here very long, especially if I go to the country with the lady. I will be glad to be on a farm once more. Wouldn’t it be strange if she took me to the same farm where I used to live? I would like to see my mother, and my brothers and sisters once more. That little Scratcho was a strange cat!” And Blackie thought of one brother who was named Scratcho because he used to scratch his ear in such a funny way.

Blackie sat on the back steps and looked around Mrs. Thompson’s yard. The cat saw no dogs, nor any other cats, and then, thinking there might, perhaps, be cats in the yards on the other side, Blackie went down the steps.

“Now don’t you run away!” called the lady, playfully shaking her finger at Blackie.

“Me-o-w!” said Blackie, which, I suppose, might be her way of saying that she would not run off.

Down the walk she went, and she looked up at the fences on either side.

“I wonder if there are other cats over there?” thought Blackie. “That fence doesn’t look any higher than mine at home. Perhaps I can jump to the top. I’m going to try.”

Blackie gave a little run, and then jumped for the top of the fence. To her delight she found that she could reach the top, where she clung with her sharp claws.

“Now that isn’t so bad!” she told herself. “I am getting to be a better jumper. Running away did that, I think, just as Speckle said it might. I’m glad I left home, though I do miss those children. Never mind, I shall go back to see them some day.”

Perched on top of the fence, Blackie looked down in other yards. She hoped to see another cat with whom she might talk, but none were there. Blackie did see something which she did not like very well, and that was a big dog asleep in front of his kennel.

“Hum!” thought Blackie. “He seems to be a savage looking dog. I hope he doesn’t get after me. It’s lucky he’s chained. He doesn’t look as though he liked cats.”

Just then, from behind her, on the fence at the other side of the yard, Blackie heard a voice saying, in cat language:

“Hello, Blackie, where did you come from, and how did you get here, if I may ask?”

Blackie turned and saw a yellow cat sitting on the other fence.

“How do you do?” asked Blackie politely. “I just happened to come here, but how did you know my name, and what is yours?”

“I guessed your name was Blackie because you are so black,” said the other cat. “My name is Topaz, for I am colored like a yellow topaz stone, you see. I live here. Do you live there?”

“Well, I am staying with Mrs. Thompson for a while,” Blackie answered. “I ran away from my own home. Did you ever run away?”

“Never!” exclaimed Topaz. “I’d never dream of doing such a thing.”

“Did you have any adventures?” asked Blackie.

“No, I never did—”

“Well, that’s because you never ran away,” went on Blackie. “You have to run away to get adventures. I’ve had two or three already, and I’m expecting more. I’ll come over and tell you about them.”

But just then something happened. The big dog in the yard woke up, and seeing Blackie perched on the fence, up he jumped with a growl and a bark, and made a rush for the black cat.

“Oh, my goodness!” cried Blackie, jumping down quickly and fairly scooting into the house. “Oh, if that dog should get me!”

“Don’t be afraid!” called Topaz. “That dog is a bad one, but he is chained.”

Blackie had forgotten about the chain when she leaped off the fence so quickly.

“He might break his chain and then he’d get us,” said the black cat, when she was safely on her own back step once more.

“He could not get over the fence,” Topaz said. “Don’t be afraid. He always barks at me, and tries to get me when I go on his fence.”

“I don’t like that kind of a dog,” said Blackie, who was breathing fast. “I’ll never go on his fence again.”

“Come over and talk to me,” invited Topaz. “There are no dogs here.”

So Blackie went over and had a nice talk with the yellow cat. Blackie told her all about her adventures, and how she got on the roof and was taken in by Mrs. Thompson.

“Yes, she is a good lady, and kind to cats,” said Topaz. “I go over to see her once in a while, and she gives me nice things to eat. She had a white cat once.”

“What happened to her?” asked Blackie.

“Oh, while Mrs. Thompson was out one day a bad boy tied a tin can to the white cat’s tail, and it frightened her so that she ran away, and never came back. We never saw her again.”

“That was too bad,” said Blackie. “It was an unpleasant adventure.”

“It’s best to stay home,” spoke the yellow cat. “No adventures for me!”

“If you don’t have adventures you will never be a good fence-jumper,” Blackie said. “Speckle, the cat who lived next door to me in my other home, told me so.”

“Well, jumping fences isn’t all there is in life,” said Topaz, as she washed her face with her paw.

“Here, Blackie! Blackie!” called Mrs. Thompson, from the back step. “It’s time for your dinner. Come and get it!”

“Excuse me,” said Blackie to the yellow cat. “I have to go now. I’ll see you this afternoon.”

That afternoon, and several other times later, on different days, Blackie and Topaz met on the black fence and talked. Blackie was getting to like it more and more in her new home. But still she was thinking that she did not have enough adventures.

Every once in a while she would get up on the fence to look at the big dog, and whenever he saw her he barked and growled, and tried to break his chain to get loose. But he could not.

One day something new happened to Blackie. Mrs. Thompson had been very busy packing trunks and getting ready to go to the country. And this day she said:

“Come, Blackie. If you are going to travel with me I must put you in a traveling basket, so I can take you on the train.”

She lifted Blackie up in her arms, and the next thing the black cat knew was that she found herself in a basket, with a cover shut tightly over the top.

“Well, this isn’t so very nice,” thought the black cat. “But still if we are going to the country it may be all right. It’s part of the adventure, I suppose.”

Then Blackie felt herself being lifted up and carried along.

“I wonder what is going to happen now?” thought the black cat.

The Magic Swan 🦢


There were once upon a time three brothers. The oldest was called Jacob, the second Frederick, and the youngest Peter. This youngest brother was made fun of by the other two, and they treated him shamefully. If anything went wrong, Peter had to bear the blame and put things right for them, and he had to endure all this ill-treatment because he was weak and delicate and couldn’t defend himself against his stronger brothers. The poor creature had a most trying life of it in every way, and day and night he pondered how he could make it better. One day, when he was in the wood gathering sticks and crying, a little old woman came up to him and asked him what was the matter; and he told her all his troubles.

‘Come, my good youth,’ said the old dame, when he had finished his sad story, ‘isn’t the world wide enough? Why don’t you set out and try your fortune somewhere else?’

Peter took her words to heart, and left his father’s house early one morning to try his fortune in the wide world, as the old woman had advised him. But he felt very sad leaving from the home where he had been born, and where he had at least passed a short but happy childhood, and he sat down on a hill he gazed once more on his home.

Suddenly the little old woman stood before him, and, tapping him on the shoulder, said, ‘So far good, my boy; but what do you mean to do now?’

Peter was at a loss what to answer, for so far he had always thought that fortune would drop into his mouth like a ripe cherry. The old woman, who guessed his thoughts, laughed kindly and said, ‘I’ll tell you what you must do, for I’ve taken a fancy to you, and I’m sure you won’t forget me when you’ve made your fortune.’

Peter promised faithfully he wouldn’t, and the old woman continued:

‘This evening at sunset go to yonder pear-tree which you see growing at the crossroads. Underneath it you will find a man lying asleep, and a beautiful large swan will be fastened to the tree close to him. You must be careful not to waken the man, but you must unfasten the swan and take it away with you. You will find that everyone will fall in love with its beautiful plumage, and you must allow anyone who likes to pull out a feather. But as soon as the swan feels as much as a finger on it, it will scream out, and then you must say, “Swan, hold fast.” Then the hand of the person who has touched the bird will be held as in a vice, and nothing will set it free, unless you touch it with this little stick which I will make you a present of. When you have captured a whole lot of people in this way, lead your train straight on with you; you will come to a big town where a Princess lives who has never been known to laugh. If you can only make her laugh your fortune is made; then I beg you won’t forget your old friend.’

Peter promised again that he wouldn’t, and at sunset he went to the tree the old woman had mentioned. The man lay there fast asleep, and a large beautiful swan was fastened to the tree beside him by a red cord. Peter loosed the bird, and led it away with him without disturbing the bird’s master.

He walked on with the swan for some time, and came at last to a building-yard where some men were busily at work. They were all lost in admiration of the bird’s beautiful plumage, and one forward youth, who was covered with clay from head to foot, called out, ‘Oh, if I’d only one of those feathers I could have how happy I should be!’

‘Pull one out then,’ said Peter kindly, and the youth seized one from the bird’s tail; instantly the swan screamed, and Peter called out, ‘Swan, hold fast,’ and do what he could the poor youth could not get his hand away. The more he howled the more the others laughed, till a girl who had been washing clothes in the neighbouring stream hurried up to see what was the matter. When she saw the poor boy fastened to the swan she felt so sorry for him that she stretched out her hand to free him. The bird screamed.

‘Swan, hold fast,’ called out Peter, and the girl was caught also.

When Peter had gone on for a bit with his captives, they met a chimney sweep, who laughed loudly over the extraordinary troop, and asked the girl what she was doing.

‘Oh, dearest John,’ replied the girl, ‘give me your hand and set me free from this cursed young man.’
‘Most certainly I will, if that’s all you want,’ replied the sweep, and gave the girl his hand. The bird screamed.
‘Swan, hold fast,’ said Peter, and the chimney sweep was added to their number.

They soon came to a village where a fair was being held. A travelling circus was giving a performance, and the clown was just doing his tricks. He opened his eyes wide with amazement when he saw the remarkable trio fastened on to the swan’s tail.

‘Have you gone crazy, Blackie?’ he asked as well as he could for laughing.
‘It’s no laughing matter,’ the chimney sweep replied. ‘This wench has got so tight hold of me that I feel as if I were glued to her. Do set me free, like a good clown, and I’ll do you a good turn some day.’
Without a moment’s hesitation the clown grasped the chimney sweep’s outstretched hand. The bird screamed.
‘Swan, hold fast,’ called out Peter, and the clown became the fourth of the party.

Now in the front row of the spectators sat the respected and popular Mayor of the village, who was much put out by what he considered nothing but a foolish trick. So much annoyed was he that he seized the clown by the hand and tried to tear him away, in order to hand him over to the police.
Then the bird screamed, and Peter called out, ‘Swan, hold fast,’ and the dignified Mayor shared the fate of his predecessors.
Now the Mayor’s wife, a long thin stick of a woman, enraged at the insult done to her husband, seized his free arm and pulled with all her might, with the only result that she too was forced to swell the procession. After this no one else had any wish to join them.
Soon Peter saw the towers of the capital in front of him. Just before entering it, a glittering carriage came out to meet him, in which was seated a young lady as beautiful as the day, but with a very solemn and serious expression. But no sooner had she perceived the motley crowd fastened to the swan’s tail than she burst into a loud fit of laughter, in which she was joined by all her servants and ladies in waiting.

‘The Princess has laughed at last,’ they all cried with joy.
She stepped out of her carriage to look more closely at the wonderful sight, and laughed again over the poor captives. She ordered her carriage to be turned round and drove slowly back into the town, never taking her eyes off Peter and his procession.
When the King heard the news that his daughter had actually laughed, he was more than delighted, and had Peter and his marvellous train brought before him. He laughed himself when he saw them until the tears rolled down his cheeks.

‘My good friend,’ he said to Peter, ‘do you know what I promised the person who succeeded in making the Princess laugh?’
‘No, I don’t,’ said Peter.
‘Then I’ll tell you,’ answered the King; ‘a thousand gold crowns or a piece of land. Which will you choose?’
Peter decided in favour of the land. Then he touched the youth, the girl, the chimney sweep, the clown, the Mayor, and the Mayor’s wife with his little stick, and they were all free again, and they ran home as if a fire were burning behind them; and their flight, as you may imagine, gave rise to renewed laughing.

Then the Princess felt moved to stroke the swan, at the same time admiring its plumage and the bird screamed.
‘Swan, hold fast,’ called out Peter, and so he won the Princess for his bride. But the swan flew up into the air, and vanished over the blue horizon. Peter became a very great man indeed; but he did not forget the little old woman who had been the cause of all his good fortune, and appointed her as head housekeeper to him and his royal bride in their magnificent castle.

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 5 🐈


Blackie was now out of the vacant house, it is true, but, for a time, she did not feel much better off. She was up on a high roof, and as she went to the edge to look down she saw that it was too far for her to jump, even down into a tree.
“As soon as I get through with one adventure I find another,” sadly said Blackie. “I had an empty-house adventure, and now I am having a roof adventure. I wonder how it will end? I must get down some way. I can’t stay up here all night, for it might rain, and I don’t like to get wet.”

Cats do dislike getting wet, you know. They are not like dogs in that way. A dog loves to jump in the water and swim, or at least most dogs do. But you never saw a cat in swimming—at least I never did.

Blackie walked up and down the roof for a while. She could look down to the street from in front, and she saw people walking along, as well as many wagons, automobiles and trolley cars. Blackie gave two or three loud meows, but she soon stopped.
“There is so much noise down there in the street, and I am up here so high, that I don’t believe they can hear me,” thought the black cat. “I may as well keep still.”

Then she went to the other side of the roof, to where she could look down in the backyards of the houses. She saw no one there, in any of them, and after she had meowed several times she also gave that up.

“Oh, dear!” thought Blackie. “I don’t know what I shall do. Suppose it rains during the night? Well, of course I could go down in the empty house again, so I would be dry, anyhow. But I want something to eat. Oh, dear! Running away, even to learn how to jump high fences, is not half as nice as I thought it would be. Speckle did not tell me I would have bad adventures. I thought they would all be nice ones.”

Blackie walked over toward one of the end houses in the row. She was wondering what she would do, when, all at once, another and the same kind of a scuttle cover as the one she had pushed to one side, was opened in the roof in front of her, and up popped the head of a gray-haired lady, who had a kind, pleasant face, and who looked at Blackie through large glasses.

“Why, it’s a cat—I do believe!” exclaimed the lady, whose name, as Blackie learned later, was Mrs. Thompson. “I was wondering what was making that noise, walking around on the roof. I’m glad I came up to see. It’s a cat!”

“Of course I’m a cat,” said Blackie to herself. “I hope I don’t look like a dog.”

Of course Mrs. Thompson did not hear Blackie say this, for the cat only thought it to herself, just as we often think things without speaking them out loud.

“What a fine big black cat!” went on Mrs. Thompson. “Come to me, kitty! How did you get up here?”

“Pur-r-r-r-r!” said Blackie out loud. That, and meowing, was the only way she had of talking to real folks. But to those who understand, cats can say several things in just those two ways. Sometimes you can tell by the way a cat mews, whether it is hungry, or whether it wants to go out doors. And when it cries in another way you know it is in pain. And when it says “pur-r-r-r-r!” like that, sort of softly and slowly, and rubs up against you, why then you know the cat is happy.

Blackie was beginning to feel happy again, for she saw the lady looking out through the hole in the roof, and the black cat thought the lady would take her down and feed her.

“Why, you’re a nice cat,” said the lady, speaking to Blackie in a way the cat liked. “You certainly are a nice kitty. I wonder how you got up on this roof?”

Then, as she rubbed Blackie under the cat’s ears, in a way that Blackie liked, the lady looked along the roofs, and she saw on the roof the cover, or scuttle, which Blackie had pushed to one way to get out.

“Oh, I see! That’s how you got up here, through the hole in the roof,” said the lady. “Well, I must close it, or the rain might come in Mr. Smith’s house. I see how it is. The family there moved out, and you were left behind, Blackie. It’s too bad they forgot you. But never mind, I’ll take care of you.”

Of course Mrs. Thompson was not right in thinking Blackie had been left behind by the family that had moved away. But Mrs. Thompson did not know that Blackie had run away, and had wandered in the vacant house by herself. And Blackie could not tell.
“Now I’ll just close that scuttle over the roof for Mr. Smith,” went on Mrs. Thompson. “He doesn’t know it is open, I dare say. Then, after that, I’ll take you down in my house, Blackie.”

You might wonder how the lady knew Blackie’s name, never having seen her before.

But when a cat is all black, as this one was, it seems natural for every one who meets her for the first time to call her Blackie.
“Just a minute now, Blackie,” said Mrs. Thompson. “Then I’ll give you something to eat. I know you’re hungry.”
Blackie was mewing her hungry cry, and the lady knew enough about cats to know it.

“I’ll give you some nice milk, and a bit of meat in a minute,” the lady went on. “Just wait until I close Mr. Smith’s scuttle.”
She climbed out on the roof to do this, and Blackie rubbed against her skirts and purred. Blackie had found a new friend.
“Go on down my stairs now,” said Mrs. Thompson as she walked back to the hole in her roof, followed by Blackie. “Go on down and then I’ll close my scuttle, and get your supper and my own too.”

Blackie knew enough to run down. She waited at the foot of the stairs while Mrs. Thompson fastened her scuttle with hooks, and then Blackie waited for the lady to go ahead and show the way.

Blackie found herself in a house just like the empty one she had first entered, but someone lived here, for there was furniture in all the rooms, and carpets on the floors. In the other house the floors were of bare boards.

“Come on down to the kitchen,” invited Mrs. Thompson. “I’ll feed you there.”

Blackie understood this talk, and how she did hurry to that kitchen, for she was very hungry! The lady poured out a saucer of nice milk, and you can just imagine how fast Blackie put her red tongue in it to lap it up, for she was thirsty as well as hungry, and milk to a cat is both food and drink.

When the saucer was empty the lady brought Blackie some bits of chicken, leftover from dinner.
“Now then, let me see you eat that,” said Mrs. Thompson. She talked to Blackie almost as if the black cat were a real person and could understand. I know many men and women who do that. I do it myself to my pets. I know they don’t understand all I say, but I like to think that they do.

Mrs. Thompson lived all alone in her house, and when a lady lives alone, and has a cat, a dog, a bird, or a parrot, she gets in the habit of talking to her pets.

“Yes, you are a nice cat,” went on Mrs. Thompson, as she once more stroked Blackie’s smooth fur. “You came from a good home, I can tell that, and why the folks moved away, and left you behind, I can’t see. I’ll keep you for a while, and perhaps they may remember about you and come to get you. If they don’t come I’ll take you to the country with me, for I will soon be going there.”

After her meal Blackie washed herself carefully, as her mother had taught her to do. Then she curled up in a black ball at the feet of the kind lady.

It was now dark, and the lady lit the light.
“I’m glad I didn’t have to stay up on the roof, or in the vacant house all night,” thought Blackie, purring away and beginning to feel a bit sleepy. “My running away is turning out all right after all. I am in a nice house, though I may not stay. I have not run far enough away yet. I must go a bit farther before I go back to Arthur and Mabel.”

The old lady sat reading, now and then speaking to Blackie, who answered with a purr.

“I once had a white cat,” said the lady, “but you are just as nice, though you are black. I shall keep you a long time, I hope.”
Presently the doorbell rang. Up jumped the nice old lady.

“Someone to see me!” she exclaimed. “Perhaps it is someone who has come after Blackie.”

She went to the front door, and Blackie waited.

“I wonder if that can be Arthur or Mabel after me?” thought the black cat.

Buster Bear Goes Fishing 🐻


Buster Bear yawned as he lay on his comfortable bed of leaves and watched the first early morning sunbeams creeping through the Green Forest to chase out the Black Shadows. Once more he yawned, and slowly got to his feet and shook himself. Then he walked over to a big pine tree, stood up on his hind legs, reached as high up on the trunk of the tree as he could, and scratched the bark with his great claws. After that he yawned until it seemed as if his jaws would crack, and then sat down to think what he wanted for breakfast.

While he sat there, trying to make up his mind what would taste best, he was listening to the sounds that told of the waking of all the little people who live in the Green Forest. He heard Sammy Jay way off in the distance screaming, “Thief! Thief!” and grinned. “I wonder,” thought Buster, “if someone has stolen Sammy’s breakfast, or if he has stolen the breakfast of someone else. Probably he is the thief himself.”

He heard Chatterer the Red Squirrel scolding as fast as he could make his tongue go and working himself into a terrible rage. “Must be that Chatterer got out of bed the wrong way this morning,” he thought.

He heard Blacky the Crow cawing at the top of his lungs, and he knew by the sound that Blacky was getting into mischief of some kind. He heard the sweet voices of happy little singers, and they were good to hear. But most of all he listened to a merry, low, silvery laugh that never stopped but went on and on, until he just felt as if he must laugh too. It was the voice of the Laughing Brook. And as Buster listened it suddenly came to him just what he wanted for breakfast.

“I’m going fishing,” said he in his deep grumbly-rumbly voice to no one in particular. “Yes, Sir, I’m going fishing. I want some fat trout for my breakfast.” He shuffled along over to the Laughing Brook, and straight to a little pool of which he knew, and as he drew near he took the greatest care not to make the teeniest, weeniest bit of noise.

Now it just happened that early as he was, someone was before Buster Bear. When he came in sight of the little pool, who should he see but another fisherman there, who had already caught a fine fat trout. Who was it? Why, Little Joe Otter to be sure. He was just climbing up the bank with the fat trout in his mouth. Buster Bear’s own mouth watered as he saw it. Little Joe sat down on the bank and prepared to enjoy his breakfast. He hadn’t seen Buster Bear, and he didn’t know that he or any one else was anywhere near.

Buster Bear tiptoed up very softly until he was right behind Little Joe Otter. “Woof, woof!” said he in his deepest, most grumbly-rumbly voice. “That’s a very fine looking trout. I wouldn’t mind if I had it myself.”

Little Joe Otter gave a frightened squeal and without even turning to see who was speaking dropped his fish and dove headfirst into the Laughing Brook. Buster Bear sprang forward and with one of his big paws caught the fat trout just as it was slipping back into the water.
“Here’s your trout, Mr. Otter,” said he, as Little Joe put his head out of water to see who had frightened him so. “Come and get it.”
But Little Joe wouldn’t. The fact is, he was afraid to. He snarled at Buster Bear and called him a thief and everything else he could think of. Buster didn’t seem to mind. He chuckled as if he thought it all a great joke and repeated his invitation to Little Joe to come and get his fish. But Little Joe just turned his back and went off down the Laughing Brook in a great rage.

“It’s too bad to waste such a fine fish,” said Buster thoughtfully. “I wonder what I’d better do with it.” And while he was wondering, he ate it all up. Then he started down the Laughing Brook to catch some fish for himself.

Presently he came to another little pool. He stole up to it very, very softly, so as not to frighten the fish. Then he sat down close to the edge of it and didn’t move. Buster learned a long time ago that a fisherman must be patient unless, like Little Joe Otter, he is just as much at home in the water as the fish themselves, and can swim fast enough to catch them by chasing them. So Buster didn’t move so much as an eyelash. He was so still that he looked almost like the stump of an old tree. Perhaps that is what the fish thought he was, for pretty soon, two or three swam right in close to where he was sitting.

Now Buster Bear may be big and clumsy looking, but there isn’t anything that can move much quicker than one of those big paws of his when he wants it to. One of them moved now, and quicker than a wink had scooped one of those foolish fish out onto the bank.
Buster’s little eyes twinkled, and he smacked his lips as he moved on to the next little pool, for he knew that it was of no use to stay longer at the first one. The fish were so frightened that they wouldn’t come back for a long, long time.

At the next little pool the same thing happened. By this time Buster Bear was in fine spirits. It was fun to catch the fish, and it was still more fun to eat them. What finer breakfast could anyone have than fresh-caught trout? No wonder he felt good! But it takes more than three trout to fill Buster Bear’s stomach, so he kept on to the next little pool.

But this little pool, instead of being beautiful and clear so that Buster could see right to the bottom of it and tell if there were any fish there, was so muddy that he couldn’t see into it at all. It looked as if someone had just stirred up all the mud at the bottom. “Huh!” said Buster Bear. “It’s of no use to try to fish here. I would just waste my time. I’ll try the next pool.”

So he went on to the next little pool. He found this just as muddy as the other. Then he went on to another, and this was no better. Buster sat down and scratched his head. It was puzzling. Yes, Sir, it was puzzling. He looked this way and he looked that way suspiciously, but there was no one to be seen. Everything was still except for the laughter of the Laughing Brook. Somehow, it seemed to Buster as if the Brook were laughing at him.

“It’s very curious,” muttered Buster, “very curious indeed. It looks as if my fishing is spoiled for to-day. I don’t understand it at all. It’s lucky I caught what I did. It looks as if somebody is trying to—ah ha!” A sudden thought had popped into his head. Then he began to chuckle and finally to laugh. “I do believe that scamp Joe Otter is trying to get even with me for eating that fat trout!”

And then, because Buster Bear always enjoys a good joke even when it is on himself, he laughed until he had to hold his sides, which is a whole lot better than going off in a rage as Little Joe Otter had done. “You’re pretty smart, Mr. Otter! You’re pretty smart, but there are other people who are smart too,” said Buster Bear, and still chuckling, he went off to think up a plan to get the best of Little Joe Otter.

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 4 🐈


Blackie was quite a wise cat in her way. When she had been a little kitten in the country, with her mother, her brothers and her sisters, she had learned many country things, such as all cats must learn. And when she had been brought to the city she learned some city things. So you see she had been educated, you might say, to country life and city life.

“But what am I going to do now I don’t know,” thought Blackie. “Here I am, locked in a house that has no one in it, though maybe if I wait long enough a new family may move in. But if they don’t come very soon I’ll starve, unless I can get out. It’s a good thing it is summer, for I won’t get cold. The weather is nice and warm.”

Blackie walked slowly through the different rooms of the empty house. She thought perhaps she might find a window open, though when she had first looked she saw none.

“But there might be a pantry, or a cupboard, with an open window,” thought the black cat. “I might not have seen it at first.”
So she went carefully all over the first floor. Not a window was open. The man who owned the house had made sure all were closed, for he did not want the rain to come in during a storm. So there was no way Blackie could get out from the first floor.

Of course she might have jumped against a pane of glass and broken it, for she was a heavy cat. But if she did that she might cut herself.
“Well, if I can’t find a window open down here, I may find one open upstairs,” thought Blackie. “I guess it wouldn’t be too far to jump from there. Or I may be able to jump in a tree and if a tree is near enough to an open window, I could jump and climb down.”

Blackie went upstairs and looked for an open window. But alas! there was none. True, the black cat did find a tree growing close to a window, but there was no way of getting out in it.

“Oh, dear!” thought poor Blackie. “I certainly am in a lot of trouble. I should never have gone in this house without knowing more about it. I suppose I should not have run away. But no, I must not say that. I want to become a good fence-jumper, and running away seems to be the only way to do it. I guess I’ll be alright. Someone may come and let me out.”

Blackie was not so frightened as another cat might have been who had not lived in both the country and the city. She knew how to think, and she remembered how she had once been shut in the barn before she was taken away from the farm.

That time Blackie had been locked up a whole day and a night, but finally some one heard her mewing and let her out. And oh! how hungry and thirsty she had been!

“I guess I’ll try crying now,” thought Blackie. “Some one may hear me out in the street.”

Blackie did not mean that she was going to “cry” real tears, but that she was going to meow. Some folks call that crying for a cat.

“Yup, that’s what I’ll do,” said Blackie to herself. “I’ll get up on the window sill, and meow as loudly as I can.”

Up jumped Blackie to the sill of the window and, looking out in the street, she opened her mouth and let out a loud:


“They ought to hear that,” thought the black cat. But no one seemed to hear her. She could see people passing along the street, boys and girls being among them, for school was now out. But though once in a while some one did look at the cat in the window, no one came to let Blackie out.

“Oh, if only Arthur or Mabel would pass along the street on their way home from school, they might let me out,” thought Blackie. “I wonder if this is the street by which they come home?”

This was something Blackie could not tell, smart as she was. She could only hope, and call, which last she did every minute or two.
But everyone on the street seemed to be in a great hurry. Men and women walked quickly past, with only a glance, now and then, at the black cat in the window. Perhaps they did not stop to think it was strange for a cat to be alone in an empty house. Perhaps the people did not even stop to think that the house was empty. And they might have thought that if Blackie got in the house she could also get out.

But she could not, as we know, for every door and window was tightly fastened. And another thing was that only the man who owned the house had a key to it. So if any one did try to let Blackie out how could they do it? Blackie did not know all this though. She just knew that she wanted to be let out, and so she kept on meowing.

“Well, this doesn’t seem to be doing any good,” thought Blackie at last. “I’m only wasting my time crying this way, and making myself tired, too. Oh! how thirsty I am! I’d like even a good drink of water, though of course milk would be much better.
“Still I must not find fault. I ran away on purpose and I must put up with what I meet with. I should have asked Speckle how he found things to eat and drink when he ran away. But I forgot all about that. I wish he had come with me, for he would know what to do now. And I guess he would not have let me come in this house to get locked up.

“Oh, well, it isn’t night yet, and before dark some one may come. The man whom I saw going away may come back. I’ll just wait a bit.”
So Blackie waited and waited, but no one came. It was late afternoon now, and the shadows were getting longer and longer, as the sun went farther and farther down in the west. No more children passed the house, for they were all home from school now, and were playing their games, and having fun.

“I guess Mabel and Arthur are playing, too,” thought Blackie. “I wonder if they miss me?”

The two children did indeed look for the black cat when they came home from school, but not finding her they thought little about it at the time.

“I guess she has gone over to play with the cat next door,” said Arthur.

“I guess so, too,” said his sister. “Come on down the street and we’ll play with the Blake children. Tommie Blake asked me to come over after school.

So Arthur and Mabel ran off to play, not thinking any more about Blackie for a while, though afterwards, when she did not come home, the children did not know what to think, and they looked all over for their pet.

But this story is just about Blackie, and not so much about Arthur and Mabel, though I may mention them once in a while. Now I must tell you what happened to the black cat.

She wandered all over the house once more, now and then jumping up on a window sill that fronted on the street, to give her meowing cry. But if anyone heard her no one tried to get her out of the locked and vacant house.

“I must do something. I really must!” said Blackie to herself at last. “Otherwise I shall have to stay in this house all night with nothing to eat. I’ll go upstairs again and see if there is something to eat up there. The family may have left something when they moved out.”

Upstairs went Blackie once more, and she hurried through the different rooms, for it was getting dark now. Not a thing to eat could poor Blackie find.

At last she came to another flight of stairs that seemed to lead up to the roof.

“Why, that’s strange,” said the black cat. “I did not notice them before. I wonder what they are for? I must go up and find out.”

Blackie walked up these other stairs. They were narrow and quite steep, and when the cat reached the top she could look up and see the sky through a crack. “Ha! This isn’t so bad,” thought Blackie. “Perhaps I can squeeze through that crack and get out. I’ll try.”

Blackie went up to the highest step. Over her head was a square piece of wood that seemed to cover a hole in the roof. The wood was really a cover to what is called a “scuttle,” or hole, in the roof of the house, which roof was flat, and of tin.

When the men built the house, which was in a long row with many others, they left a hole in the roof, with stairs leading to it, so when the roof needed painting, or mending, men could get on it without bringing ladders and putting them against the building on the outside. Then so the rain would not come in through the hole, the men made a cover for it.

This cover could be lifted up, whenever anyone wanted to get out on the roof, and the cover could be fastened down, by hooks inside, when the hole was to be closed.

But now, as it happened, the cover was only partly over the hole, and it was not fastened down. There was a little crack, as when a door is only partly closed, and Blackie put her nose to this crack. She could sniff the fresh air.

“Oh, how good that smells!” she said. “If I could only get out!”

Blackie again put her nose in the crack, and, bracing her legs on the top step, she began to push with her head. Blackie was a strong cat, as I have said, and soon she began to feel the cover slipping and moving to one side.

“Oh, I believe I can push it away from over the hole!” said Blackie. “If I do I can get out! I must push harder!”

Blackie pushed as hard as she could and the scuttle cover moved more. The crack was wider now. Blackie could put out one paw. Soon she had pushed the cover far enough away so she could put out two paws.

“I’ll soon have it all the way off now!” thought the black cat.

She gave one more hard shove and then, to her delight, the cover slid away from the hole. There was room for Blackie to jump out.

She found herself on the flat tin roof of the house. On either side were the tin roofs of other houses in the brick row. It was like one long, big roof.

“Well, I’m out, anyhow!” said Blackie to herself. “That is something. It’s an adventure, a real, true adventure!

I wonder what will happen to me next?”

Blackie, A Lost Cat. Chapter 3 🐈


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 🐇


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


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!”