The Baldwin Lbrary
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THE VAIN KITTEN.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
"BOB, THE CROSSING-SWEEPER," "MARGY AND HER FATHER,"
"LITTLE JACK; OR, MEND YOUR NETS,"
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO.,
BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
I ,EW YORK: SCRIBNER, WELFORD, AND CO.
CAMDEN PRESS LONDON N.W.
MY BIRTH AND PARENTAGE
MY YOUTH AND EDUCATION
OUT INTO THE WORLD
MY YOUTHFUL FOLLIES
I AM TAKEN PRISONER
MY ESCAPE AND RETURN HOME
THE VAIN KITTEN.
MY BIRTH AND PARENTAGE.
W VAS called "Naughty Nix." My
C mother's name was "Trot." From
-- -- what I can remember of her, she
must have been a handsome cat : as white
as snow, slim, and sleek, with fur as fine and
soft as ermine. I never could understand
why ermine should be so much more prized
than white cat's skin; but then, you see, I
Sam a white cat myself, and was always vain
of my appearance. People tell me I am the
image of what my mother was in her prime.
But to begin from the beginning.
Like all other kittens, I came into the
world perfectly blind. Of these first dark
days of my life I have but little to say;
indeed, I have only an indistinct remem-
brance of them. At the best it must have
been stupid work; for I believe I and my
brothers and sisters did nothing but sleep
and squeak, or tumble head over heels all
the day long. No wonder we squeaked, for
we were always pricking ourselves with
something very sharp, which I found out
afterwards was the straw with which our
bed was made. However, this state of
things did not last long; for, after eight or
nine days, my eyes began to open, and I
began to see something of the world in
which I was going to spend my life. The
first thing I caught sight of was my
mother. If I were to live out every one
of the nine lives they tell me cats pos-
sess, I shall never forget her large green
eyes. Such eyes! so bright and glaring,
they made me wink and blink to look at
them, and I was quite glad to shut up my
own eyes as tight as I could. And then
her ears! they were so pink, and thin, and
delicate, you could almost fancy they were
rose-leaves curled round and stuck into her
head. I wondered if I was as beautiful as
my mother-if I had such big eyes and
such pretty ears. (I have said before I was
vain from the first.) My wonders were soon
set at rest, and my vanity a good deal pained
when I caught sight of my brothers and
sisters: of course I know I must be just
like them. They were such ugly, shapeless,
sprawling, inelegant creatures, with small
blear eyes I could not imagine how it was
my mother was so proud of us. However,
there was one great difference between me
and the other kittens. I had a pure spotless
white coat, whilst they were either black or
sandy, or striped black and grey, which I
thought looked very common and dowdy,
and not nearly so genteel as my own lily-
white coat. One of my black sisters had
white paws; she was very proud of them-
at least, if I may judge from the pains she
took to keep them a good colour. She was
always licking them. I laughed at her, but
I little knew then what a constant trouble
my own white coat would be: why, I was
obliged to set to work and clean myself
three or four times every day. One day
when I was grumbling more than usual
over the trouble my white skin gave me,
almost wishing I was black, like my sister,
my mother bade me (quite in a whisper,
because my sister should not hear) never
to wish for a black coat, for she knew it as
a fact, that once upon a time a distant rela-
tion of hers (a black kitten) fell asleep in the
coal-scuttle, and was thrown on the fire for
a knob of coal!
Little can be said of my home, 1:i' it was
merely a small round hamper or basket, just
big enough to hold my mother and ourselves.
Indeed, it was not half large enough, for
we were so crowded we stumbled over each
other every time we moved. I am afraid I
was anything but a good-tempered kitten.
I was so easily put out, and squeaked ter-
ribly whenever my brothers and sisters half-
,smothered me by crawling over me.
Poor dears! I am sure I must have been
horribly cross to them. Indeed, mother often
gave me a sound box on the ear because I
was so unkind to them; but I was a con-
ceited, contrary kitten, and never heeded
her corrections. Ah if I had only known
how soon those poor young things were to
be talen from us for ever, I do hope I
should have been less fretful: regret is too
late now, and they will never know I really
was sorry for my unkindness. We should
not allow ourselves to be fretful and ill-
tempered, and then we should not feel so
unhappy afterwards. Even now it makes my
heart ache to think of those poor kittens. I
never can forget that I once called my tabby
and black sisters vulgar to their very faces !
Well, this sort of life (I mean all being
huddled together in one basket) was very
dull and stupid. Often we were left quite
alone, for mother used to go away every
day, and sometimes for a long time. I used
to grumble a good deal about it, but she
only called me a foolish kitten, and said we
should all be starved if she did not go out
12 NAUGHTY NIX.
mousing,-not that I ever saw her bring
home anything. For days and days it was
the same thing over and over again, and I
began to grow weary of such a quiet life,
and longed for something fresh; it certainly
must have been very dull, for the basket
was so high we could not look out of it.
All we could see was a great beam over our
heads covered with cobwebs: to be sure, we
could watch the spiders swinging up and
down in their webs, but there was not much
amusement in that. The servants, great
monsters as they appeared to me, came to
look at us occasionally, but where was the
fun of that ? Sometimes they clawed hold
of me and took me out of the basket; but
I was so squeezed up in their hands, and
so frightened, I never had presence of mind
to look about and see what was outside,
which provoked me very much when I
found myself at home again. Ah! we
little know when we are well off, and I
longed for some change. I never dreamed
what that change would be, but I longed
for it, and sure enough it came.
14 NAUGHTY NIX.
MY YOUTH AND EDUCATION.
NE day (mother was out) the house-
maid came down into the cellar. She
stood staring at us for some minutes.
Ah!" thought I, "the good time is
coming at last, and I shall see something of
I made up my mind not to be the least bit
frightened if she took me out, but to make
the best use of my eyes, and to see all I
could in a short time. I put myself for-
ward, and jumped on the backs of my
sisters, and tried to attract her attention
by purring and arching my tail and curving
my body. But it was all to no purpose: I
was doomed to be disappointed; for, instead
of taking any notice of me, she thrust me
aside, picked out all the other kittens, tucked
them up in her apron, carried them trium-
phantly off, and left me alone!
I squeaked and squeaked as loud as I
could, but she would not listen, and was
soon out of hearing. I thought her a cruel,
hard-hearted woman then, but I have since
had reason to believe she was a good, kind
creature, and very fond of cats. She used
to walk about with my mother round her
neck like a fur collar. When she was fairly
out of sight, I had nothing to do but to
bury my face in the straw, and cry. Yes,
cry. I cried as if my heart must break.
I believe I should have broken my heart
quite if I had known then what I do now;
for, with all my selfishness and fretfulness,
I loved my poor dear brothers and sisters
very fondly; but, as it was, my tears were
tears of bitter disappointment and jealousy,
for I own I felt terribly jealous at the idea
of their seeing all the wonders of the great
world before I was allowed to do so. It
seemed so unjust: not that I, a young kitten,
knew much about justice, but it did seem
to me unjust, or, at all events, I was dread-
fully jealous, and did not know how I should
feel when they came back and told me of
all the fine sights they had seen.
I half made up my mind to stuff my
paws into my ears, and not to listen to a
LOOSE STRAWS. 17
word they had to say. I cried a long time,
and then fell asleep. Whilst I slept, of
course I forgot my fancied grievances; but
when I awoke, and found myself still alone,
I was not a bit better tempered. I think I
was even more cross, for I was getting very
hungry. I tried hard to get out of the
basket by climbing up the sides, but every
time I made the attempt 1 fell backwards;
my claws were not strong enough to lay
hold of the wickerwork, so I soon got tired
of the adventure, and consoled myself by
playing with the loose straws in the basket,
and in this way I managed to amuse myself
until my mother returned.
She was very much put out when she
Sound so many of her kittens gone! Her
look of despair haunts me still. I thought
at the time she need not be so unhappy,
and make such a fuss about their going out
for a day's pleasure, and I told her so, with
a pert, envious toss of my head, and I am
afraid my purring was more like a sneer
than anything else. Mother most likely
did not observe either the one or the other,
for she did not take any notice of my un-
dutiful behaviour, or reprove me for it.
She only shook her head sadly, and, with a
melancholy mew, said she felt quite sure
they would never come back again. Good
mother as she was, she blamed herself for
leaving us so long. I was naughty enough
to chime in with her about the blame being
hers, and so added mightily to her misery.
ALL GONE! 19
What a nasty-tempered kitten I must have
been! just trying to make the worst of a
bad job. The only excuse I can make for
myself is, that I was very hungry and thirsty,
and that I dare say made me more cross and
irritable than I should otherwise have been.
I remember I was a little bit ashamed of
myself when I heard my poor mother, la-
menting over her lost kittens, say, in a kind
of half-whisper, "Tabby wasn't what you
would call a handsome kitten, but she had a
sweet temper, and so they had all, except-
ing-" I did not quite catch the end of
the sentence, but I am afraid I was the
only one who had a bad temper. It was
quite clear to me that mother thought more
of jood te~nper than good looks, and she
a0 NAUGHTY NIX.
was quite right, for "handsome he that
handsome doth" is as true of kittens as of
anybody else. My mother was perfectly
correct in her fears about my brothers and
sisters: they never came back again That
very evening, when the servants were at
supper (my mother had just gone up to see
if she could pick up a tit-bit or so), she
overheard that horrible housemaid tell the
cook-(oh, dear! I wonder the words did
not choke her as they came out of her
mouth: I wish they had !)-that she had tied
up all the kittens in a cloth, and drowned
them in a pail of water! She added some-
thing to the effect that my white coat had
I am afraid hearing this only made me
A PAIL OF WATER.
vainer, instead of being thankful, as 1
ought to have been. Of course it en-
tirely took away my poor mother's appetite,
and she declared to me that she thought
she must have been choked with some fish-
bones which she happened to be eating at
the time. Her feelings (I cannot exactly
see how) seemed to have interfered with her
power of swallowing. As for myself, it was
a long time before I could bear the sight of
a pail of water: it was an inconvenient dis-
like for a vain kitten to indulge in, because
a pail of nice clean water was as good as a
looking-glass; perhaps this was one reason
why I got over my dislike as soon as I
Vanity, I am told, often makes kittens and
22 NAUGHTY NIX.
other people besides kittens swallow a great
many disagreeable things. Happily, cats
have but short memories, or they would go
mourning all their days, and my mother
and I soon forgot the drowned kittens.
My life now was no longer dull, for my
mother became extremely fond of me, and
could not bear me out of her sight. She
scarcely ever left me alone: what had
happened to the others no doubt made her
feel nervous. She took me with her where-
ever she went. I was not able to get up
and down stairs, so she was obliged to
carry me, which she did by taking me up
with her teeth at the back of my neck. It
was not at all a pleasant sensation, as you
may easily imagine-it was such a strain
RARE FUN! 23
upon my skin; and sometimes too, I came
bump! against the edge of the stairs.
I got a good many bruises in this way;
but I did not care, for anything was better
than spending the day in that dull basket
of ours, and I thought if I cried out or
complained, she might leave me behind. In
this same manner my mother lugged me
out into the garden. That was rare fun !
Everything was a plaything there. Dead
leaves why the wind seemed to blow them
about as if on purpose to please me. How
I scampered after them! up and down, round
and round, until I was giddy. When there
was no wind to scatter the leaves, I ran
, round and round after my own tail, but
that was not half so much fun, because I
24 NAUGHTY NIX.
never could catch that. Some of the leaves
were blown far out of my reach, and others
were blown much faster than even my legs
could carry me. Still, there were such lots
of them, I was never at a loss for one to
play with. Then there were lovely flowers
bending and bowing in the breeze, as I
thought, expressly to amuse me. Mother
laughed at the idea, and so do I now.
Kittens are such silly little things: I do
believe they fancy everything is made for
them to play with.
I am afraid I must have treated some of
the flowers very roughly; for when I tried
to catch them, I used to put out all my
talons, which were as sharp as needles. I
perfectly remember pulling one all to pieces.
A FRISK WITH A BEE. 25
It is not likely I should forget it, for that
same housemaid, when she saw what I had
done, gave me such a thumping and shaking,
I thought she must have knocked the breath
out of my body. Not but what she was quite
right to punish me for being so mischievous.
Then, too, there were lots of insects
buzzing about just over my head. I should
often have enjoyed a game with them, but I
own I was just the least bit afraid of it, for
they could sting and bite. Mother told me
she once indulged in a frisk with a bee, and
got terribly stung in the foot, it swelled to
such a size. She only gave the bee a pat
with her paw, quite in fun, but she supposes
it could not take a joke, and stung her in
return, which was rather too sharp. My
26 NAUGHTY NIX.
mother has punished the whole race by
cutting their acquaintance, and I think she
is quite right: it was too spiteful of the bee.
Occasionally, my mother gave me a lesson
upon catching mice and birds, for she said
I must soon be thinking of getting my own
living, instead of spending whole days play-
ing with dead leaves and running round after
my tail. I did not seem to fancy the taste of
either mice or birds, so I did not give much
heed to her instructions, but usually frisked
off as soon as I could for a fresh game of
play. And so merrily passed away those
young sunny days of my life! Ah those
were happy days; and, like all that is
bright in this world, they came to an end
when I least expected it.
CAUGHT UP. 27
NE bright sunny morning-(I think
I was even more frolicsome and happy
than usual)-I was rushing about first after
one thing and then after another, as wild
and merry as a bird, when that same house-
maid, who carried away my brothers and
sisters, came down into the garden, and
suddenly pouncing upon me-just as my
mother pounces on a bird or a mouse: I
Shave seen her do it a dozen times-caught
me up in her arms, and took me off into
the kitchen My heart beat and bounced
about as if it had bumped itself out of its
28 NAUGHTY NIX.
right place. I do not wonder at it, for I
felt so terribly frightened, I was sure some-
thing dreadful must be going to happen,
and my mother looked as terrified as I was, as
she trotted along by the side of the servant-
who, by-the-bye, called her Poor Trotty,"
which to my mind sounded very suspi-
I don't think my mother once took her
eyes off me-those large light-green eyes:
they seemed to grow twice their usual size;
they always did when she was unhappy
or in any trouble. They did that day when
she came to our basket and found all the
No doubt she feared something of the
sort was going to happen to me then. I
A FRIGHT. 29
am sure I did. I tried hard to spring out
of the woman's arms and make my escape,
but she held me too tight for that. I per-
fectly remember scratching her hand very
badly: I believe frigyt partly made me do
it; but I am afraid my bad temper was
really to blame. All I know is, in return
she gave me a severe box on the ear, which
made me shut up my eyes with the pain.
I thought my ear would tingle for ever-
only I soon forgot it, for, fancy my horror!
when I opened my eyes I saw in front of
me, just under my nose, the very pail-and
full of water, too-in which my poor brother
and sister kittens were drowned!
It was enough to make a kitten ill! I
fully expected that in two minutes I should
be tied up in a cloth like a dumpling, and
drowned. To attract my mother's attention
I mewed as loud as I could, and squeaked
at the top of my voice. I could not have
made more noise if I had been killed; but,
poor dear! what could she do? Nothing-
simply nothing-but mew too. Her eyes
seemed to say: "You have robbed me of
all my kittens excepting this one, and now
you are going to take its life too!" She
looked so sad and so reproachfully at the
maid, it's my firm belief she would not
have been able to have killed me even if
she had intended doing so. My own fur
coat stood upright with fear-every hair of
it, one after the other. I must have looked
like a white hedgehog; only I do not think
VANITY SUFFERS. 31
there are such things as white hedgehogs.
But it turned out, to my great relief, that
after all I was not going-to be drowned, but
I was very silly to imagine they would
drown such a beautiful kitten, for beautiful
I had made up my mind I was. I could
not help catching sight of myself reflected
in the water: it was only quite a peep; but
I could see I was rather sooty and dirty.
I suppose playing about in the garden soiled
my fur, so I felt quite pleased at the thought
of being washed. But vanity always suffers
-and that very washing which I fancied
would make me lovelier than ever was
In the first place I was soaped all over
32 NAUGHTY NIX.
-eyes, nose, and mouth-until I could
neither see, nor smell, nor breathe! If I
tried to open my eyes the soap made them
smart so dreadfully, I was glad enough to
shut them up again as quick as I could,
rhen I was dashed into the pail of water to
rinse off the soap. Flop !-bob !-swash !
splash !-in I went before I had time to
recover my senses: in I went again-flop !
bob !-swash !-splash I What a fright I
must have looked when I came out, wet
and dripping, like a drowned rat! I shivered
all over-more from the shock I suppose,
than from anything else.
Next came the rubbing dry. Up my
back and down my back-this way and
that-the right way and the wrong-the
NOT WOTH A HALFPENNY. 33
housemaid did not care which, but I did
-(cats have an especial aversion to being
rubbed the wrong way). My poor little
pink nose, I thought she must have rubbed
it off! for she wiped my face round and
round just as if she was washing out a tea-
cup. I only wonder I lived through it all!
At last I was said to be dry."
It certainly was a little make up for my
sufferings when I heard myself called a
"pretty little dear." The cook said, for her
part, she would not give a halfpenny for
me if I was not a good mouser; and that
she did not think I should turn out to be
worth my salt!
I put it all down to jealousy on the
,cook's part, for she was as ugly as she well
could be, with hair as bright a red as a
carrot! But you will not care to hear what
she was like. You may be sure I hated her
from that day, and thought very highly of
the housemaid, who had called me pretty.
It is always the case with vain persons;
they do not care a button for any one if
they do not flatter them.
Well, the next thing the housemaid did
was to tic a lovely blue ribbon round my
neck. I was proud: it was as bright-I
do believe brighter than the blue sky itself.
The bow was as big as my face and head put
together, and the ends were twice as long as
my ears. I purred and purred again as pret-
tily as I could, and rubbed myself against
the housemaid's apron out of pure gratitude.
BLUE RIBBONS. 35
To my great disappointment, my mother
did not seem to be the least bit pleased
with my smart ribbon, but looked even
sadder than before; and her eyes-they
were so stary and large, she appeared to me
to be nothing but eyes. No doubt, being
what you might call a sagacious cat, she fore-
saw what was going to befall us; I, being
a vain silly little kitten, saw and thought
of nothing but my gay ribbon collar.
But, there-we must not expect kittens
to have cat's heads on their shoulders. My
clean white coat must have looked beauti-
fully white contrasted with the blue ribbon.
I longed to see myself, but the water in
the pail was soapy, and no longer served as
a mirror. Just for a minute I caught sight
of myself in a bright metal cover on the
Iresser; but somehow or other I looked
so ugly in it, and seemed upside down,
that I did not care to look at myself again.
Indeed, I had not any time to do so, for
the maid whisked me off the table and
rushed away with me in her arms to show
me to her young ladies, who were upstairs
in the drawing-room.
They caressed me and loved me until my
brain was nearly turned. I should have
been just as pleased if they had not squeezed
me quite so much when they took me up;
but, no doubt, it was all meant for love and
affection. You may be quite sure I took
very good care not to scratch their pretty
white hands as I did the housemaid's.
Now I understood, I thought, why I was
washed and dressed; and I congratulated
myself on being such a lucky little kitten;
for I made sure the drawing-room was to
be my new home, and the soft downy sofa-
cushion, on which the ladies had placed
me, my own bed. It did seem very likely,
for the housemaid had gone away and left
me there. Besides, I was quite vain and
conceited enough to think I was worthy of
such a grand drawing-room.
Of course, I could not help hearing all
the praise which was bestowed on my
appearance. I purred my thanks-(I had
no other mode of expressing them)-and
then walked up and down the sofa, arching
my tail and curving my back, in order to
38 NAUGHTY NIX.
show myself off to the very best advantage.
But alas all my hopes were soon crushed,
and I was again doomed to be disappointed.
TORN FROM MY HOME. 39
OUT INTO THE WORLD.
UST as I was beginning to feel at
home and able to enjoy a good game
of play with the tassels on the sofa-cushions,
who should appear again but that same
housemaid, this time dressed in her bonnet
and shawl. I seemed to guess she was com-
ing after me, so I hid myself behind one of
the beautiful cushions, just poking out the
tip of my nose now and then in order that I
might see what was going on. But it was
no use': my hiding-place was soon dis-
covered, and I was caught up and carried
off under the maid's arm, and half smo-
40 NAUGHTY NIX.
there by her nasty dusty worsted shawl.
I thought I must have been stifled at first,
but after a time I got used to breathing
nothing but worsted shawl. I kicked and
struggled, and made myself as disagreeable
as I could by scratching the sleeve of her
dress (I believe it was her Sunday best),
and by moaning, and mewing, and squeak-
ing; but she took no notice of it, so I soon
got tired of making a noise. I was so com-
pletely covered up I could not even see day-
light, so I did not at all know where she
was going to take me. All that I knew
was that we were still moving on, and on,
and on. I longed to see if my mother was
with us, but I could not get a chance. I
pricked up my ears, hoping to catch the
sound of the familiar mew, but I did not
hear one I began to feel I don't exactly
know how. I think it must have been some-
thing the same kind of thing as a child being
home-sick. I felt as if I could yawn every
minute, and exactly as if I had a little round
ball in my throat, and could not swallow it.
After some time the housemaid stopped,
and opened her shawl and stared at me: I
had lain so quietly, I do believe she thought
she had smothered me. I must have looked
very rough and untidy, for she began smooth-
ing my coat and put my fine bow in order.
This gave me the opportunity of breathing
.a little fresh air and looking about me. It
was then for the first time that I discovered
that my mother was not with me, and that
I was not in the dear old garden, or in my
own old home, but in some strange place
which I had never seen before! However,
I had no time for thought or anything else,
for in two minutes more I found myself
inside another drawing-room, and in the
presence of another lady. I could see in
a moment she was not either of those nice
ladies with white hands whom I had just
left. I clung with all my might to the
housemaid's arm. I loved her dearly, if
you remember, from the moment she tied
the blue ribbon round my neck. I had a
sort of dread of being left to the care of
the lady; I confess I did not like her looks.
Kittens are wonderfully quick in discovering
those who are fond of them. There was
A NEW MISTRESS. 43
something in her manner of handling me
which told me as plainly as words could
speak that she was no friend to kittens.
Why, she clutched me up and stared at me
as rudely as if I had been a wild beast in-
stead of a domestic animal. I am glad to
say she did not attempt to kiss me. It
would have been civil to have stroked me
and said, "Poor Pussy," or something of
the sort; instead of which, when she had
satisfied her curiosity, she flung me down
on the floor. Luckily cats have the knack
of always pitching on their legs, so I was
not really hurt, only shaken and offended;
but what annoyed me most was to hear
her mutter something about hating to have
nasty tiresome kittens running over every-
thing. This was not an encouraging intro-
duction to my new home, for my home I
soon found out it was to be.
In a short time the maid went away.
She gave me a kiss before she parted with
me, and hoped I should be happy; and I
was left to amuse myself in the best way I
could. There were plenty of things to
play with-fringe, and tassels, and all kinds
of odds and ends; but I did not feel in
the humour to touch one of them. So I
squeezed myself in under an arm-chair, and
there, unseen by anybody, for it was pitch
dark, I gave full vent to my feelings! I
don't suppose any poor little kitten ever
felt more miserable than I did at that mo-
ment, all alone as I was, taken away from
mother, and left among a set of strangers,
and strangers, too, who I must confess were
not at all to my liking. I mean the first
look of them, for of course I could not tell
what they would prove to be when I knew
more of them. I was so utterly miserable,
I do believe had a pail of water been any-
where handy, I could then and there have
drowned myself. It would not have been
right to have done so, but kittens are not
expected to know much about what is right
and what is wrong. But, as I said before,
cats have happily short memories, so I soon
managed to forget a good deal of my misery,
and, rolling myself up as round as a ball,
fell asleep. I had such pleasant dreams-all
about my dear mother, and the old garden,
46 NAUGHTY NIX.
and the dead leaves, and the flowers, and oh I
such a delicious saucer-full of milk, which
I was just going to taste when I was sud-
denly awakened by a rough hand rudely
clawing hold of me and pulling me out of
my hiding-place. I wonder I had not
scratched her eyes out! I was too sleepy
to catch all she said, but I distinctly heard
that she hoped I did not suppose she was
going to allow a nasty little kitten to live
in the drawing-room! With a good slap
on the face, which she intended to teach
me that I was not to venture there any
more, she hurried me down into the kitchen.
It was quite evident nobody thought
anything of me or my beauty, which, to a
kitten of my turn of mind, was a great
A COMPANION. 47
mortification. I soon found out I was not
the only kitten in the house, for before I
had been many minutes in the kitchen, in
came another kitten, older a good bit than
myself, but as ugly as I was handsome. A
lean, long-backed, lanky-legged creature,
with pale colourless eyes, and such a rusty
scrubby coat, without an atom of shine
upon it. Had I been as great a fright, I
don't know what the consequences would
have been; but then, you see, I was only a
silly kitten, and thought a great deal of
beauty; but I have lived to see my folly !
The kitten walked as demurely as an old
cat, her tail hanging straight down. With
half an eye you could easily see that there
was not a grain of play or spirit in her;
48 NAUGHTY NIX.
and her name-pugh! it was as ugly as
herself-" nmut!" Very appropriate and
descriptive, no doubt; but to be called
" Smut" all the days of my life would have
been unbearable to me. They christened
me "Nix." I did not much like the sound
of it, and made up my mind I would never
answer to it; but I found out that Nix
meant "snow," in allusion, I expect, to my
white coat, so on the whole I felt satisfied.
Of course I made sure that this shabby
shapeless kitten would at once be kicked
out of the kitchen, as unworthy from its
ugliness to remain in it, just as I had been
turned out of the drawing-room; but, fancy
my surprise! instead of this, Betsey, that
same maid who so rudely pulled me out of
my retreat under the arm-chair, positively
took her up in her arms and kissed her and
fondled her, calling her "her pretty pussy
cat! I hated the woman from that time
forward as much as I believe she hated me.
Jealousy made me hate her. Yes, I was
jealous of the love and affection shown to
that poor, ugly, half-starved-looking cat. I
little knew then what a good cat she was.
Well, when Betsey had done caressing
"Smut," she came up to me and offered to
have a game of play with an old wooden reel;
but I refused with a scornful toss of the head,
and jumped upon the window-sill to show my
skill as a fly-catcher, and also to brush off,
with the tip of my tail, an angry tear or so
which would push its way out of my eyes.
50 NAUGHTY NIX.
MY YOUTHFUL FOLLIES.
NOW felt myself fairly plunged into
life. I was but a wee kitten, you
must remember, proud of being my own
mistress, and, as I thought, capable of
taking care of myself. You will judge of
this as you go on.
Smut told me my education had been
shamefully neglected. I thought it an im-
pertinent remark, and I said so; but there
can be no doubt she was quite right (Smut
was a strong-minded kitten, wise beyond
her years); for after the drowning of the
other kittens, my mother spoilt me, letting
me do just as I liked. Poor dear! she
never dreamed I should be taken away
from her so soon, or I dare say she would
have given me good advice, and taught me
how to behave myself. As it was, I was
sent out into the world a wild wilful kitten,
fond of myself and having my own way;
fond of pleasure-fond, indeed, of anything
for a change; but without the slightest
notion of obedience; in fact, perfectly un-
educated. Smut did her best to make me
behave as I ought to, and to train me in
the ways of the family; but I would not
listen to her, and laughed in her face when
she said we were never allowed to play in
the garden or go upstairs in the drawing-
room. To show my contempt for all she
had been saying, I scampered up then and
there as fast as I could. Betsey met me
at the top of the stairs, and sent me back
again faster than I ran up.
I did not tell Smut: I was too proud to
do that; but I do believe Betsey did, for she
loathed me and loved Smut. Betsey and I
were for ever-at war: I, always turning her
things upside down, out of pure mischief
and because I hated her; she, always slap-
ping me because I was not as stupidly quiet
and good as Smut. On the whole, though,
I have not a doubt that Smut, ugly Smut,
was by far the happier kitten of the two.
I was for ever in disgrace. You will
scarcely blame me, perhaps, when you hear
all. You must allow it was very dull for a
IN THE COAL-CELLAR. 53
kitten to be kept indoors all day, and not
only indoors, but in the kitchen and scul-
lery. For hours Smut would sit at the
scullery window as quietly and contentedly
as if she had been one of the saucepans.
Now, I could not do this; it was not in
me. So I used to creep off into the coal-
cellar, and have rare games with the cock-
roaches. There were crowds of them on
the floor. I do not think they were a bit
afraid of me; indeed, I believe they enjoyed
the fun as much as I did, because I never
hurt them if I could help it, although some-
times it was very difficult not to tread upon
them. But my great amusement was to
catch one, then throw it up in the air as high
as I could, then catch it again, and so on;
in fact, to have a game of ball with them.
At other times I played a kind of battledore
and shuttlecock game with them, turning my
paws into battledores and the cockroaches
into shuttlecocks. I really do not think
they objected to the use I made of them.
I never could get Smut to join me in
these coal-hole romps, because, she said, we
had been told not to go there. I did not
care for that. The worst of it was, I used
to come out with my pretty coat as black
as the coals themselves. Betsey or anybody
could easily see where I had been; whereas
Smut, being black by nature, might have
had a good game, and no one would have
known anything about it.
In this manner my days passed away. I
TIME TO SETTLE DOWN. 55
grew weary at last, and longed for change.
I was fond of it; all young things love
change, and old ones too, sometimes. It
was not likely a kitten could play with
cockroaches all its life, and never tire of it.
I told Smut so. She said it was quite time
for me to give up play altogether, and think
seriously of becoming a good useful cat.
By this she meant a good mouser and so
on. I told her she was very welcome to
all the mice, and I would have all the play.
I laughed at the idea of a kitten thinking
seriously of anything. But Smut herself
was what you might call a sedate kitten;
remarkably so, I thought, for her age. She
was not nearly full grown. I confided to
Smut that, come what would, I had made
up my mind the very first opportunity to
have a good frolic in the garden, and I
asked her to join me. Had I asked her to
drown herself, she could not have been
more horrified; but then she was such a
truly good and proper cat. I never could
look upon her in the light of a kitten. You
may be sure I could not persuade her to
come with me. Patient pussy as she was!
she declared she was quite content to look
into the garden through the iron grating
which covered the scullery window. She
begged and entreated me to give up the
plan, for now the flowers were all in full
blossom, it was as much as my life was
worth to be caught all amongst them.
Smut's cautions were all thrown away
upon me. I was such a wayward creature,
I would not listen to one word she had to
say; but go I would, and run all risks. I
never dreamed then what the risks would
be. Smut's countenance fell-I mean she
looked awfully sad-when she heard my
determination, and, as a last hope, began
coaxing and licking me. I was very nearly
giving way. Kindness soon melts a kitten's
heart; harshness only hardens it. I often
longed to tell Betsey that good words turned
me much sooner than cross ones. This is
true of other persons besides kittens.
Smut was getting quite fond of me, and
I had somehow grown quite to like her, in
spite of her ugliness. I began to pity her
when she told me one morning, with a me-
58 NAUGHTY NIX.
lancholy mew just like a deep-drawn sigh,
that she was a sort of an orphan, at least
that she never had any home, and that Betsey
found her one evening at the back door,
half starved, and took her in. So Letsey's
heart was not altogether as hard as nails.
It would have been well for me had I
listened to Smut's sage advice; but I did
That very evening-it was a hot aultry
evening-I stole upstairs as noiselessly as I
could lest I should attract attention, just to
look about and see if the door leading into
the garden were open. It was usually kept
closed for the express purpose of preventing
our going out there, which I thought a very
mean trick; but on this occasion, to my
great joy, I found it wide open No doubt
they calculated on our being asleep in our
baskets-(1 did leave Smut snoring before
the kitchen fire).
Be this as it may, the temptation was too
strong i me to resist. In one minute more
-with a hop, skip, and a jump-I was out
in the garden, in the very heart of a bed of
mignonette The flowers were so sweet
and so bright-it was delicious !
For the first time since I left my old
home I felt happy, and rare fun I had. I
did not remain long amongst the mignonette,
for the bees were all gone to bed, so there
was nothing particularly attractive in it.
But the fuchsias did not I play with
them as I laid on my back, and with both
my paws made their dangling blossoms go
backwards and forwards as fast as that long
thing which hangs down inside a clock!-
the pendulum, I think they call it. I am
afraid I knocked off a good many flowers.
Then I pounced on lots of other things,
making pretence they were mice or birds.
Then I scampered from one end of the
garden to the other-over flower-beds and
flower-pots-never dreaming of all the mis-
chief I was doing! The next thing was to
climb up the rose trees-those, I mean,
which are like large wigs perched on the
top of high sticks; they seemed made on
purpose to teach me to climb-little mimic
trees for wee kittens. When I was at the
very top of one of them, I just glanced
towards the house, and I caught sight of
Smut at her old post in the scullery window.
It might have been fancy, but I thought I
saw her shake her head at me. I did not
wait to look again, but rushed down the
tree for some fresh frisk.
I was scarcely on my legs again when I
heard Betsey's shrill voice calling "Nix!
Nix !" I was a good deal frightened, and
shook all over. I knew very well I had done
wrong. I did not so much care for that,
but I was afraid of Betsey's punishment;
she could give such a terrible box on the
ear. Conscience makes cowards of us all;
and a coward I felt at that moment. I hid
myself under a bushy shrub; the boughs
hung quite down to the ground, so I could
not be seen unless anybody had come close
and lifted up the boughs.
Well, she kept on calling "Nix! Nix!"
but Naughty Nix would not come. After a
time she got tired of calling me, and went
into the house. I don't suppose she cared
whether I was lost or not, for she never
troubled herself to go into the garden to
look for me. As soon as I heard Betsey go
indoors, I ventured out of my hiding-place
and had another good game.
At last I became quite tired of my frolic,
and I thought I would go back to the
house: it was getting dusky, and I wanted
some supper too. I flattered myself I had
managed my frolic very cleverly, and that
no one would know anything about it. I
never once thought of all the flowers I had
broken and trodden down; but I trotted
merrily along the gravel path full of all I
should have to tell Smut.
64 NAUGHTY NIX.
I AM TAKEN PRISONER.
WAS not so lucky as I expected, for
when I reached the back door, I found
it shut! That Betsey had done it; she
delighted in doing spiteful things. She
must have known I was in the garden-
where else could I be? But she would say
she did call me, and I would not answer.
Well, I did not much care for the back
door being shut, for I made sure the scullery
window would be open, and I thought by
making my body as small as I could, I
should be able to squeeze myself between
the iron bars which were in front of it; but
LOCKED OUT. 65
I found, alas! the window closed and the
shutters up !
It was quite clear I was locked out. I
did not much care for it /ten-(I did not
know what was going to happen)-for I
fancied some one would be sure to open the
door again, and I could creep in unobserved.
So I planted myself close to it, waiting for
the chance which never came.
By-and-bye it began to grow dark, and
the shrubs and flowers, which looked so
pretty and gay in broad daylight, seemed
to me to be changed into black ugly-looking
things all staring at me I was getting
frightened now, and wished I had listened
to Smut-although I would not own even
to myself that she was right and I was
wrong. (Wayward, obstinate kittens never
will confess their faults; it is very naughty
of them, but they will not -that is the
worst of being wayward and wilful.)
I sat by the door a very long time-at
least, it appeared so to me-and nobody
ever opened it. Of course a kitten, and one
she hated too, was not worth a second
thought to Betsey. The darker it became
the more I shivered and shook. It was
never quite dark, for after a time it seemed
to be getting light, just as if it was going
to be day again; but it was not really day-
light, but moonlight. How very large the
moon looked as it came sailing up over the
garden wall! Why, it was bigger than
Betsey's head, and rounder, and as bright
THE MOON OVER THE WALL.
as if her head had been made of glass,
and you had stuck a light inside !
It frightened me at first, for I began to
fancy it was Betsey herself; for I could
plainly see a pair of eyes, and a nose and
mouth just like a face. But when I saw it
rise above the wall, and found it had no
arms or legs or anything, I knew it could
not be Betsey, but only a beautiful moon.
Of course if I had been older I should not
have been so silly.
As it grew lighter and lighter, I grew
less of a coward; and, being less tired, I
thought I would run down to the bottom
of -the garden, and peep over the wall, just
to see where the moon came from! What
a foolish creature! as if I could do that!
638 NAUGHTY NIX.
However, I gave a great spring, and jumped
to the top of the wall. It was a good jump
for a kitten. Of course I saw nothing of
the home of the moon; but I saw what
made me forget moon and everything else.
I saw a group of idle boys playing, or at
mischief, I cannot say which. The very
sight of them frightened me (cats have a
horror of boys), and I thought I had best
jump down again; but before I had time
to do so, the little wretches sighted me!
It was all through my pretty white coat; it
shone so brightly in the moonlight. I do
believe I was as easily seen as the moon her-
self. Now, if I had only been ugly black
Smut, no one would have noticed me.
"My eye! exclaimed one of them (you
VANITY FLATTERED. 69
must excuse the boy's vulgar language).
"My eye! what a beauty !"
This remark flattered my vanity, and I
foolishly waited to hear what the others
Here 's a rare un said another.
"Let's have a shy at her," said the third.
Suiting the action to the word, the little
vagabonds actually began pelting me with
stones and broken bits of crockery, or any-
thing they picked up. I was so frightened
that I lost my presence of mind. Instead of
jumping down into our own garden, which
I could easily have done (I should have
been quite safe there), I ran along the top
of the wall as fast as my four legs would
carry me. Where I was going I knew not.
I thought I should have been deafened with
the noise the boys made as they pursued
me, whooping and hallooing at the very top
of their voices. The faster I ran the more
eager were they in the chase.
Nothing is rarer fun for rude boys than
a cat-hunt. It is their delight, horrid crea-
tures! to tease poor dumb animals, especially
cats and donkeys. If I were a donkey I
would kick every boy I could meet with.
They would soon get tired of worrying me
Well, I ran and ran, and they ran after
me. At last I became quite giddy, I sup-
pose from fear, and jumped, or rather fell,
off the wall at the very feet of my pursuers.
All hope of escape was now over, and there
TOO LATE NOW. 71
was a regular scramble for me amongst the
boys. I thought I must have been pulled
in pieces, limb from limb; but I wasn't;
and one boy, more determined and stronger
than the rest, smothered me up under his
jacket, and ran off with me, leaving his
companions to follow if they chose. But
the prize was no longer within their grasp;
so one after the other they dropped off, and
I was left to my fate.
It was too late now; but how I did wish
I had only been a good obedient kitten like
Smut! I do believe I would gladly then
and there have exchanged my pretty white
coat for her ugly, rusty, scrubby thing, if I
could have done so. I think I began to
understand, for the first time, something
about its being far better to be good than
pretty. It took some time, though, to cure
my vanity. I am afraid it's not all gone
now, although I am no longer a young
kitten. Ah as I said before, the very
-white fur coat, of which I was foolishly so
proud, brought lots of trouble upon me.
Those nasty boys would never have chased
me if I had only been some useful dark
colour. But it is no use to blame either
the boys or my coat; it was all my own
fault-I see it now, but I did not then-
for going where I ought not. But you
Awill want to hear what became of me.
We could not have gone any great dis-
tance, for it was not very long before we
came to a standstill. I had not the faintest
idea which way we had gone or where we
were. As I told you, the boy had poked me
headforemost beneath his jacket; it always
seemed to be my fate to be carried about
the world blindfold. I lay very quietly in
his arms, for it would have been waste of
strength trying to scratch through his nasty
rough, ribby clothes, and his skin was so
thick, I don't believe he could feel anything.
I dare say he poked my head out of sight
to smother my cries, for I cried as loud and
piteously as I could, hoping some one would
hear me, and take me home again; but no-
body did. Or he might have been afraid of
my being seen by those to whom I belonged.
We had come, as I said, to a standstill,
and, as I supposed, to the boy's home, for
he had hardly stopped running, when I
heard a harsh, shrill voice exclaim (it was
a good deal sharper even than Betsey's) :
You good-for-nothing young rascal!
what makes you so late this evening ? "
"Late, Granny ? Why, I ain't nearly
as late as when you sends me out for your
porter for supper!" answered my tormentor.
"Hold your tongue, you saucy boy!"
continued the same shrill voice. "And I
should like to know what you've got hidden
under your jacket. You're always deceiv-
ing your poor old Granny, you are, you bad
"Ah, Granny! what do you think I've
got ? If you were to guess for ever so
long-till you was tired out-I don't believe
GRANNY AND TOMMY. 75
you'd guess anything near the truth. Some-
thing to make you a nice warm tippet for
winter! Don't you know? like what the
gentlefolks in carriages wears."
My heart sank within me Every drop
of my blood ran cold in my veins with
fright, for it was quite clear I was to be
skinned! and my skin worn, and worn, too,
by that horrible old Granny with the shrill
voice. I would gladly have turned black
on the spot! I wonder I did not, for I
have heard of persons turning white front
fright. I am sure I was frightened enough
for anything to happen. The thoughts of
a warm tippet seemed to pacify the old
woman ; her voice sounded a little less
harsh afterwards. Then the boy pulled me
out from beneath his jacket, and showed me
to his Granny; and she took me close to a
nasty farthing rushlight to look at me, and
acdire me! The old storyover again, you see.
Oh, dear! how I was mauled about! I
fully expected they would have singed off
my whiskers : I was within a hair's breadth
of the flame once, or at least it appeared to
me to be so.
"Bless me, Tommy! screeched the old
woman, "it's a deal too pretty to be killed
and skinned !"
My spirits rose when I heard this. I
almost liked the Granny for this saying,
and felt half inclined to purr out of gratitude,
but I did not, and I was glad of it after-
wards, for I had not much to be thankful for.
VALUED AT HALF A CROWN.
"You may 'pend upon it," she continued,
" she's a pet of some lady as will be offering
a reward for it if you only waits patiently.
Take my word, Tommy, if you'll only listen
to yer Granny--'tis not often you do-
't will pay best to keep this here kitten for
The idea of a reward being given for me
flattered my pride. I was worth something,
at all events.
"I wouldn't let her go under harf a
crown or so, Granny. Why, only just look
at her she's got a skin like them ermines;
't would fetch a deal."
"Don't teach your Granny, sir. Her
skin wouldn't be no size to speak of, come
to take away head and legs and then
78 NAUGHTY NIX.
there'd be the preparing the skin, and-
The wretches! I didn't hear any more.
I only wonder I did not then and there
drop down dead. Tommy, wicked boy!
never uttered a word about chasing me and
so on, but told his Granny he had picked
me up in the road. It was quite clear I
had fallen into very bad hands. But, of
course, as you will have guessed, I was
neither skinned nor killed; but I was shut up
in a nasty, close, dirty, dark closet, and to be
kept there until a reward was offered for me.
IN THE DARK CLOSET. 79
OTH Tommy and Tommy's grand-
mother knew very well if I was not
shut up I should soon run away, so they
fastened the closet door very securely. Not
one single ray of real daylight could I see
in that horrid place, and but for two large
round holes high up in the door it would
have been pitch dark. A little dusky light
from the kitchen strayed in through those
holes, and made them look like two dull grey
eyes that stared at me all d;:.
At all events, I was glad they were not
80 NAUGHTY NIX.
really eyes-Tommy's grandmother's eyes,
for instance. She had great grey eyes that
looked sharp enough to go through a little
kitten's body. Yes, right through-going
in at one side and coming out at the other
-just as if they were large long darning-
needles Through the chink at the bottom
of the door I used to see Granny darning
Tommy's grey socks with just such needles!
Ah, that chink at the bottom of the door
was the saving of me. It was the only place
where I could breathe a breath of fresh air
-not that the air that came under there
was the least bit what you might call fresh,
still it was fresher than what could be had
inside the cupboard I verily believe I
should have been smothered but for that
PEEPING AND LISTENING.
chink. Nearly all day long I laid myself
down close to the door, with my little pink
nose just peeping out under the friendly
I had another reason, too, for being there.
I could hear what was going on in the
kitchen-hear what Granny and Tommy
said to each other, and hear what they said
about me. I did hear Tommy, one day, tell-
ing his old Granny on no account to let me
run about, for I was so close to my home,
I should be certain to find it out and run
back again, and he should lose his reward.
You may be quite sure I treasured this up
in my heart, hoping, if I had the chance, I
might find my way back even to Smut and
Betsey! I had not quite vanity enough to
believe anybody would give anything for
me. I knew Betsey would rejoice to find
me gone; and I was certain the lady up-
stairs, who handled me as if she had never
seen a kitten before, would not care what
became of me. I dare say I shall be blamed
for listening at the closet door-and they
say listeners never hear any good of them-
selves: this is all very true and very proper
-but I would defy any person not to have
done the same if they had been a kitten
under similar circumstances.
Life in this closet was dull enough. All
the time I was there I never even saw a single
cockroach. It is true I did not search for
them, for had they been there in swarms, as
they were in Betsey's coal-hole, I could not
GRANNY TALKS TO HERSELF
have taken any notice of them, so busy was
I listening at my prison door.
It is not quite the thing, I know, to
praise oneself, but still I must say I was
wonderfully patient, for nearly all day long
Tommy was at school, and, of course, I
could hear nothing, excepting, at least, the
grumbling of old Granny, as she sat by the
fire and talked to herself, because she had
no one else to talk to, and no Tommy to
That poor boy must have led a hard life
of it. From morning until evening that
shrill voice was for ever scolding him. I
suppose he did not belong to anybody
besides old Granny, because I heard her
telling him one day, when she was more
84 NAUGHTY NIX.
snappish and cross than usual, that if he did
not mind what she told him, she would turn
him out of doors, neck and heels, and that
then he would have to look sharp to get any-
thing to eat.
Excepting that they kept me shut up in
a horrid dark hole, I cannot say that either
Tommy or Granny were really unkind to
me. To be sure, Granny had nothing to do
with me. I don't suppose she would have
scrupled to give me a kick had I come in
her way; for, as her long lean bony fingers
looked always ready to box poor Tommy's
ears, so there seemed to me to be something
fidgety and irritable about her feet, as if
they could kick.
Regularly every morning, before he went
BLACK AS A CHIMNEY-SWEEP. 85
to school, Tommy used to come and peep at
me, to see if I were alive, and to push in a
broken pie-dish with some skim milk-such
nasty poor stuff! I thought I must starve.
I did grow so thin that I felt as if I was
made up of legs and tail, and had no body
-at least, one not worth speaking of; and
my beautiful white coat was so dirty, I must
have looked like a chimney-sweep It was
no use trying to clean myself; why, I was
as black as a coal the next moment !
One day, after I had been there some
time-I don't know how long: kittens are
not equal to much reckoning-Iwas listening
as usual at the chink of the door, and I heard
Tommy come home from school. Very soon
he and Granny began talking about me. Of
course I pricked up my ears, and attended
with all my might. I could not catch all
they said, because they were at tea, and
Tommy, like a naughty boy, would talk with
his mouth full; but I heard a good deal.
Tommy was evidently very disappointed
that nobody had offered any reward for me.
Tommy, no doubt, had made up his mind to
buy lots of things with the "harf-crown"
which he expected would be given for me.
I am glad to say I heard nothing more
about turning me into a warm tippet for
Granny. I don't suppose I looked much
like ermine then.
By-and-bye Tommy said to Granny that
he thought they might very soon venture
to let me out, for no doubt I had long ago
forgotten where I came from. I had not,
though; Tommy was mistaken. Cats have
not quite such short memories as all that.
Granny, for once in her life, said Tommy
was right, and that for her part she thought
I should die if I was shut up much longer.
My firm belief is that Granny did not say
so from any love to me, for I felt sure she
grudged me even the skim milk, but be-
cause she hoped in her heart I should run
away; for hadn't she said just before, it
was very unhandy to have her cupboard
locked up all day, and.that I wasn't worth
my skim milk?
Well, I wasn't let out that day or the
day after. Granny was cleaning up a bit,
and all the doors were open; so I had
plenty of time to think over the matter and
form my own plans, and make up my mind
what to do when I did get out. I settled
to appear very quiet and contented, as if I
had no wish to leave them, by not attempt-
ing to go off. I thought I should make
them less careful about shutting the doors
and windows, and give myself a better
chance of escaping.
The next day to the day when Granny
cleaned up, Tommy did not go to school as
usual; he hadn't any shoes, or something
of the kind, and I was to be set at liberty !
My heart jumped-yes, positively jupned
with joy at the thought of liberty! No
one knows how sweet liberty is but those
who have lost it.
My disobedience met, you see, with its
punishment. Punishment is sure to over-
take a fault. If kittens and children would
only keep this in their minds, I don't be-
lieve there would be half so many naughty
children and kittens-not half so much
crying, and screaming, and pouting, and
black looks. Papas and mammas would
not have half so much scolding and flog-
ging, nor the Betseys of the world have half
so much to do in boxing cats' ears and
shutting them up in dark black holes.
90 NAUGHTY NIX.
MY ESCAPE AND RETURN HOME.
ELL, it was not long before Tommy
came and opened the cupboard door.
No doubt Tommy thought I should dart
out at once, but I did not. He called me
" Pussy, Pussy !" but Pussy did not answer.
I was wild with joy at the thought of leaving
that nasty cupboard, but I pretended not
to care a bit about coming out, and I sat
up licking myself, just as if I was quite
happy where I was.
Tommy looked very surprised, and I
think a little disappointed. Presently he
caught hold of me, and in another moment
perched me on the top of the little round
deal table. I was obliged to wink and
blink a good deal at first, for the daylight
seemed so very bright, after being so long
in the dark, I could scarcely see anything.
When Tommy grew tired of staring at me,
he tried to make me play. I did my best
to be frisky and funny, but I was so weak
from only having bad skim milk, and so
stiff from being shut up so long, I could
scarcely move. I tried hard to run round
after my tail, but each time I tried I fell
down flat on my side.
Tommy laughed heartily, but it was no
joke to me, and I was very glad when he
grew tired of playing with me and left me
to lie down quietly in front of the fire. I
UZ NAUGHTY NIX.
never once even looked towards the door.
I was, I fear, very naughty and deceitful,
for as Granny sat by the fire, I purred and
rubbed myself against her feet, as if I loved
her. Once I went so far as to jump upon
her lap, to make her believe I was very fond
of her. You may be quite sure I never ven-
tured to do so the second time, for those
long bony fingers of hers (they looked to
me as long, and thin, and hard as the poker
and tongs) gave me such a terrible slap,
that all the bones in my body seemed to
rattle like sugar-plums in a box !
Well, day after day passed, and as yet
I had seen no chance of escaping.
It was holiday-time, and Tommy did not
go to school, and Granny would sit by the
THE OPEN DOOR.
fire and watch me with those sharp grey
eyes of hers. If she had only fallen asleep,
and left the window open! but she would
not do either the one or the other. At last
the good time came, and I will tell you how
it all fell out.
One day, as usual, Tommy was gone to
school, and Granny was gone upstairs, when
somebody came to the door. Rap! rap!
and then another and another rap! But
Granny never heard it, and so presently
the latch was lifted, and a man poked his
head in, and asked if anything was wanted.
Seeing no one but me there, he did not
come in, but to my great joy he forgot to
shut the door!
I should never have known it, but I
looked round, and, silly kitten as I was I
saw something so bright running half across
the floor, I fancied it must be a little stream
of gold; so I thought I would just go and
peep to see what it was. Of course I found it
was not really gold, but only a golden stream
of sunlight shining through the open door !
I shook all over with joy: I was almost
too happy to move. I felt exactly as if my
legs were tied together. But there was no
time to be lost, so I squeezed myself through
the narrow opening as well as I could, and
as quickly, too, lest Granny should come
downstairs, or Tommy return from school.
I was so horribly afraid Granny would catch
sight of the tip of my tail before I had time
to get it well out of sight; but she did not,
and I found myself safely out in the street;
but when I was there, I had not the least
idea which way to go. However, I ran off
as fast as I could, and turned down into a
large kind of yard, full of empty barrels
and casks; it must have belonged to a
brewer. I did not care about that; I only
thought it looked just the place for me to
hide myself in. I crept under the first
empty barrel I met with, and laid myself
down to rest, and to think what was to be
I don't fancy it was more than five
minutes before I heard the noise of the
boys coming out of school; they seemed
quite close to me. Such whooping and
hallooing! it made me tremble to hear
9G NAUGHTY NIX.
them, for I knew Tommy would be sure to
miss me; indeed, I thought at that very
moment they were hunting me.
The noise happily soon died away, and
all was once more quiet. I flattered myself
I was quite safe, so I poked my head out
just to look about a little. I wished after-
wards I had not; for who should I see,
through a chink in the paling, but Tommy
running round and round Granny's garden,
looking after me!
There wasn't a cabbage, much less a cur-
rant or gooseberry bush, that he did not
look under and into, to see if he could find
me, and then he screamed at the very top
of his voice, Puss Pussy until I nearly
died from fright. I could hear my heart
THE HOLE IN THIE OLD BARREL. 97
beat: it throbbed so very fast. Then I
heard Tommy and Granny using such un-
kind and cross words to each other-Tom-
my blaming Granny; and Granny scolding
Tommy for blaming her. I could have
cried with vexation to think that I had been
so foolish as to run into a place so close to
It was too late now to be sorry: all I
could do was to pop my head back again,
and lie as quiet as a mouse under the old
barrel. I could still see what Tommy was
doing, because there happened to be a little
hole in it. When Tommy could not find
me, he positively climbed up the palings,
and looked over into the very yard where I
was hidden. I thought it was all over with