THE STORY OF A PERSIAN CAT.
THE STORY OF
T. NELSON AND SONS
I.odon, Edinburgh, and Nnu York
THE STORY OF
A PERSIAN CAT
Author of Little Radiance," The Youngest Princess,"
T. NELSON AND SONS
London, Edinburgh, and New York
I. A FAIR EXCHANGE, .... .... .... 9
II. FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY, .... .... 17
III. THE THANK-OFFERING, .... .... 27
IV. FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN, .... .... 36
V. FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD, .... .... 45
VI. "THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER, AND FROM
BETTER, BEST" .... .... .... 53
THE STORY OF
A PERSIAN CAT.
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
IT was a funny-shaped little bundle,
tied up in a red silk handkerchief,
and the owner deposited it very carefully
in a corner of the railway carriage seat at
Maurice and Kathie instantly began to
wonder, what was in it-not that they
were inquisitive children; but when one
has been shut up in a train for five hours,
every fresh passenger that enters, and all
his or her belongings, become objects of
'keen interest. Besides, there was some-,,
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
thing about this bundle which seemed
different from ordinary bundles, and the
person who brought it in with her-a
middle-aged lady-seemed to regard it
with quite affectionate eyes.
It might have contained apples, of
course, or nuts, or buns; but such things
don't squirm about. And-pop !-while
Maurice and Kathie were staring, the
mystery was solved, for out at one of the
openings of the handkerchief there sud-
denly peeped the end of a kitten's tail!
And the end of that tail was the be-
ginning of my story.
The lady took the bundle on her lap,
and out at another opening instantly
popped a kitten's head. Such a pretty
head! Tabby in colour, and chubby and
round, with a dear, little pink nose and
big, innocent, blue eyes; while the hand-
some ruffle of long fur in which it was set
proclaimed the pussy-baby to be no ordi-
nary cat, but an aristocratic Persian.
Maurice and Kathie exchanged a beam-
ing smile. Then they looked up at their
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
mother, and gathered her smile into their
own, then back at the kitten with an
added tenderness; so that when they met
the lady's glance, she thought they were
two of the sweetest-looking children she
had seen in her life.
So she smiled back at them.
Kitty isn't used to travelling," she
said. "It has come a long' way to-day."
Isn't it a dear ? said Kathie. Isn't
it funny ?"
As fast as the lady pushed pussy back
into the handkerchief at one point it
peeped out at another, its pink nose, or
fluffy tail, or tiny white paw being always
visible. How the children laughed !
I ought to have had a basket for it,"
said the lady. "But I brought it away
in rather a hurry, and they could not find
one.-Now be quiet, pussy, and be good.
We're nearly home now, and then you
shall have some nice milk."
Mi-e-ew !" squeaked the kitten, as if
- Oh, do you think it is thirsty ?" cried
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
Kathie. "Fancy it saying 'mew' when
you said milk'! The pretty dear! I do
believe it knows."
There is a little milk left in our bottle,
isn't there, mother ?" asked Maurice.
"Here is some milk certainly," replied
their mother; "but we haven't a saucer."
I've got a scallop-shell in my bag !"
exclaimed Maurice. "When the train
stops again that will do fine."
It seemed a long time before the next
halting-place was arrived at, and mean-
while .Kathie was wetting her fingers at
the mouth of the milk-bottle, and holding
them for the kitten to lick.
I suppose your children do not happen
to want a kitten ? observed the pussy's
owner, addressing Mrs. Sterling.
"Yes, we do-we do!" Maurice and
Kathie exclaimed in a breath, answering
for themselves. 0 mother, we do want
a kitty! "
Do you mean that you are seeking a
home for this little creature ?" asked Mrs.
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
I should be very glad to give it away
to people who would be kind," replied, the
lady. I do not really require the cat
"0 mother, do let us have it! Do-
do!" begged the children. "You know
we would be kind. And such a little
beauty too-a real Persian "
But how should we carry it home ?"
asked Mrs. Sterling.
"I've nothing but ferns in my little
basket," said Kathie, seeing that their
wish was all but granted. "We could
carry them somehow else, and put pussy
in that. Or perhaps," she added, smiling
shyly up at their new acquaintance-
" perhaps you'd like the ferns ? They're
nice little ones-hart's-tongue, and pe n-
ferns, 'nd one real lady-fern. Do .jou
like ferns ?"
"I love them; but I should not like to
.take away yours," answered the lady.
"Oh, but do,, please!" urged Kathie.
"I should be so pleased if you would."
So it came about that before the great
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
London terminus was reached, what Mau-
rice termed "a good swop" had been
effected: The fern roots were tied up in
the red silk handkerchief, and a wriggling
ball of fur was safely caged in Iathie's
basket, with many fond assurances, as,
"We shall soon be home now, ducky
dear! Don't cry!"
They decided to call the kitten "Muffle."
That was Kathie's suggestion, because,
she said, its tail was just like one of the
ends of grandma's squirrel boa.
"That's a regular girl's reason!" laughed
Maurice, with the superiority of his sex
and additional two years of age. Better
call it 'Boarie,' I should think."
Muffle proved to be an affectionate
little creature, and just as cunning and
playful as she was pretty. The children
were very proud when a friend of their
mother's said she knew some one who had
given ten shillings at a bazaar for a kitten
that was no handsomer. You must take
care of it," she added,-"for it is quite
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
Maurice and Kathie declared that
Muffle was the "darlingest" kitten ever
seen, and that they wouldn't part with
her "for worlds."
But before Muffie had lived with them'
a month, something happened-something
they can never forget-which made them,
at least as far as the latter resolution was
concerned, actually change their minds.
They were riding with their father in a
tram-car one day, along a busy thorough-
fare, on their way to a large clothing-store,
to buy Maurice a new overcoat.
As they passed a hospital, some one
signalled to the driver to stop, and with
some difficulty an anxious-looking woman
got in, carrying in her arms a boy, whose
worn face and intelligent dark eyes sug-
gested that he was at least ten years old,
though he was no bigger than Kathie.
The car was already quite full, but the
conductor had no doubt concluded that
some one would make room for the poor
woman and her pitiful burden. And he
was right, for the "some one" was Maurice
A FAIR EXCHANGE.
Sterling, who at once jumped up, saying
pleasantly, "Take my seat, please."
The woman did so with a grateful look,
and as she settled herself and her charge,
the children saw that the boy's legs were
perfectly helpless and limp, and almost
as thin as sticks. He was paralyzed.
Meanwhile a strange commotion had
arisen at the end of the car next the
entrance, and was spreading. Passengers
were springing to their feet and staring
down the road behind the vehicle with
their eyes dilated with horror. One or
two jumped out in panic.
"What is it? What's the matter?"
asked people at the inner end, for those
standing up entirely blocked out their
view of what was happening.
The next moment there was a thun-
dering rattle, a fearful crash against the
hind part of the tram-car, and with a
splintering of wood-work and a smashing
of glass, the vehicle was almost 'thrown
over on' its side by the shock.
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
THE next thing that Kathie knew was
that some one was dragging her out of
the general confusion. The next minute
she was in the conductor's- arms, who
quickly handed her over to her father.
O father, what has happened ?" she
sobbed, clinging to him. "Are we safe
now? Where's Maurice ?"
"Here I am!" answered the boy,
springing towards them. He was very
pale, and his hands were bleeding; but
he declared he was "all right-only
scratched a little with the broken glass."
"Then we three are uninjured," said
Mr. Sterling. Thank God for that! I
fear some of our companions are a good
deal hurt. Take Kathie home, Maurice
dear, or take her out of this crowd and
wait for me. I think I may be of some
use to the others."
18 FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
Maurice would much rather have lin-
gered in the midst of the scene of action,
exciting though painful as was the sight
of the rescue of unfortunate passengers
and the efforts to right the car. But as he
hesitated, his father gave him some pence.
Go over to White the confectioner's
shop," he said. It is just across the road,
and Mrs. White knows us. Get some hot
milk for yourself and Kathie, and ask
Mrs. White to be kind enough to bind
up your hand."
"What happened, Maurice, really "
asked Kathie, as, clinging closely to her
brother, she let him make a way through
the mass of curious bystanders that had
collected round the spot.
"A heavy two-horse van bolted-that
is, the horses did-and ran into us. I
didn't see myself, but that's what I heard
"Are many of the people hurt ?"
"I shouldn't wonder. I fell on top of
a gentleman, and that saved me; but he
said he believed his wrist was broken."
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY. 1
Maurice, I wonder what became
of that cripple boy!" exclaimed Kathie.
"I do hope he isn't hurt, poor dear !"
The horses shied at a steam-roller in
George Street," said a man whom they
were just then passing; "and the driver
had had a drop too much, and was not
up to his work."
"A 'bus might have got out of the
way," said another, "but the car couldn't;
and the van, swerving across the road,
caught it in the rear. There'll be damages
for some of 'em to pay."
"It's a good thing the hospital is so
close," said Maurice. "Look! they're
taking a lady in now."
They had by this time reached the
confectioner's shop, and kind Mrs. White
wanted them to go into her parlour; but
they preferred to stay where they could
see the steps of the hospital opposite, and
catch glimpses of what was going on at
the scene of the disaster. She gave
them some nice hot milk with ginger
and sugar in it-" to warm their poor
20 FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
little insides after their fright," she said-
and tied up Maurice's cut fingers with
linen rag as carefully as his own mother
would have done.
While this was going on they saw
several of their fellow-passengers enter
the friendly doors of the hospital-all
except one able to walk. Among these
Maurice recognized the mother of the
"But where can the poor boy be?"
said Kathie anxiously. 0 Maurice,
suppose they haven't got him out yet!
I'm afraid he'll be dead."
"Do you mean Davie Dent ?" asked
We don't know his name," said Kathie.
"But his mother had to carry him, and
they got in just here. He didn't seem
able to use his legs."
Ah, yes, that's Davie. I know him
and his mother well," said Mrs. White.
"She brings him to the hospital every
Tuesday, and always calls here for a yes-
terday's bun before she takes him in."
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
"And can't he walk at all ?"
"He has never been able since he was
two years old. His mother is a widow, a
superior sort of woman, but very poor. I
hope, please God," added Mrs. White,
with tears in her kind eyes, "that she is
not badly injured, for poor little Davie has
nobody but her in the world."
At that moment Maurice exclaimed,
"Here's father !" and Mr. Sterling entered
the shop, with, to the children's surprise
and relief, the very subject of their con-
versation nestling in his arms.
"I'm going to carry him home," he
explained. "It is only as far as Brick-
wall Street; and his mother has gone
over the way to have her shoulder seen
to-she is afraid it is out of joint."
Davie gave Maurice a beautiful smile
as he recognized him as the boy who had
made room in the car for his mother, and
more hot milk was asked for.
Maurice and Kathie wanted to go with
their father when he set out for Brickwall
Street, but he said it would be better for
22 FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
them to return to their home, which was
not more than a mile away.
So the brother and sister went back
alone, and told all the exciting story to
their mother; and she gave them "coffee
for tea"-a great treat-to refresh them,
and opened a pot of her choice apple-jelly,
because Kathie was too much upset to
want anything to eat, and said over and
over again how thankful they must be
that they were not hurt.
When Mr. Sterling came back he
brought additional news. He had re-
mained with Davie Dent until his mother
came back from the hospital; her dis-
located shoulder had been set, but it was
likely to be some time before she would
be able to follow her occupation-that of
first-class ironing-because, unfortunately,
it was her right side that was hurt.
'a We must go and see her, poor thing,
and see after them a little," said Mrs.
Sterling. "It isn't much we can do;
but I'm sure we can manage a trifle of
help, if only out of gratitude to God that
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
we have been preserved from pain and
Kathie remembered this when she saw
her mother take the old red-velvet rose
out of her last winter's bonnet, and after
carefully trimming up the frayed edges,
put it in her left-off summer one, to make
a change for autumn, for she knew that
she had meant to have a brand new
bonnet that very week.
"Morrie," she said, as they played at
cat's-cradle in the fire-light next evening,
" don't you think it would be nice if we-
just you and I, I mean-could give some-
thing to thank God for not letting any of
us be hurt yesterday ?"
"We do give to the missionary-box,"
said Maurice, "and the Homes. I don't
know what more we could give."
Something special, I mean, and extra."
A thank-offering like ?" said Maurice.
"-But we're both saving up as hard as
ever we can for father's birthday," objected
, 24 FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
"So we are. I forgot that," said
Kathie. "But perhaps there might be
some other way. Hark! there's mother.
Now we shall hear all about Davie."
And the little girl ran to meet her.
But Mrs. Sterling had not much more
to tell the children than they had pre-
viously learned from Mrs. White. The
Dents were quite alone in the world, and
very poor; but how poor no one would
have guessed from the appearance of their
neat little home.
"Davie seems to be a dear boy, and
devoted to his mother," she said. "But
his case is not a very hopeful one, I fear.
If anybody could do anything for him, I
believe it would be Dr. Stiltz, whose
treatment cured young Barton. But he
is, of course, quite out of the question."
"If you were only rich, mother, eh ?"
said Maurice suggestively.
"Ah, 'if.' Well, if we can't do what
we would, we must do what we can,"
replied Mrs. Sterling. "I have promised
that as to-morrow is half-holiday, you two
FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY. 25
children shall go and keep Davie company
while Mrs. Dent goes to the hospital
again about her shoulder. I knew you
would like to."
Oh yes !" cried Kathie. "And then
we can take him something perhaps."
When the brother and sister set out
the following afternoon on their errand of
kindness, Kathie carried a posy of golden-
brown chrysanthemums, cut from her own
pet plant, and Maurice a favourite book
of adventure, which had been his latest
Davie's home was the ground-floor
room of a shabby house in a street that
swarmed with children; boys, girls, and
babies were running in and out of nearly
all the' open front doors, and playing on
the doorsteps, and climbing the broken
railings. They stared hard at Maurice
and Kathie, seeing at a glance that they
were not of themselves, and some of
the ruder ones "made faces" at them.
"Give us a flower !" shouted one boy,
planting himself in front of the little girl.
26 FRIENDS, AND AN ENEMY.
Oh, I really can't," she replied.
Thank you, miss; I thought you
would." And making a snatch at her
beautiful chrysanthemums, the impudent
boy bore them away triumphantly to the
other side of the road, where he waved
them above his head, grinning and danc-
ing, and singing a song about the bo-kay
what a young lady give me."
Maurice, of course, dashed after him,
though Kathie vainly tried to hold him
back. It would have been better, perhaps,
to have borne the loss; but what boy
could calmly bear to see his sister insulted
and robbed ? After a struggle and a few
energetic cuffs about the miscreant's ears,
in the administration of which Maurice
was encouraged by many a Go it !" and
"Walk it into him!" from the crowd of
children that instantly collected round,
proving the general unpopularity of the
young thief, the unlucky flowers, or what
remained of them, were rescued and carried
back to Kathie, who, pale and trembling,
stood awaiting the issue of the conflict.
The vanquished one slunk in sullen
rage round the nearest corner, but not
till he had assured Maurice with a vin-
dictive look that threatened far more
than his words that he "owed him one,"
and should not forget.
MIaurice carelessly said, "All right,"
but he little thought under what cir-
cumstances he should see that coarse, ill-
favoured countenance again.
" THAT was Sam Bangs, I shouldn't won-
der," said Davie, when they told him. "He
lives next door, on the second floor. He's
horrid. All the little children round here
are afraid of him. But I'm glad you
licked him; he's an awful coward."
"What a noisy place for you to be
in," said Kathie, thinking how different
Davie's gentle face and thoughtful, dark
eyes were from the faces they had seen
out in the street.
S"Oh, I .don't mind it," answered the
cripple. "It's quiet enough when they
are all at school."
"Then it's rather dull, I suppose?"
It isn't very lively when mother's out
all day," Davie admitted. "But I didn't
seem to notice it so much when Napoleon
"Who ?." asked Maurice, staring.
"Napoleon, my cat," answered Davie,
with a rather sad little laugh. "We
called him Napoleon Bonaparte because
when he came to us, poor chap, he was
a stray, half starved, and all bony part."
"Where is he now, then ?"
"He met with an accident-got run
over by a bicycle-and had to be killed.
And I do miss him something awful."
"I'm so fond of- cats," said Kathie
sympathetically. "What was yours like ?"
'" He was a beauty-a silver-grey tabby
and a half Persian. Such a tail he had-
like a squirrel almost. Ah, I shall never
have such a beauty again."
Perhaps you wouldn't care for
another ?" said Kathie,. and though her
heart beat fast as she waited for his
answer, she could not have told whether
she most hoped he would say "yes" or
"Oh, yes I should!" answered Davie,
"specially if it was anything like dear old
Nap. I don't know that I should care
for a black or a spotted one."
Kathie looked all round the shabby
little room. Spotlessly neat and clean as
everything was, it looked dreadfully dull
and bare-no tempting rows of books, as
there were in her own home, no plants or
flowers, no piano or violin, no chess-table
in the corner. As her eyes came back
from their tour of investigation, they met
her brother's, and a wordless question
flashed between them.
The chrysanthemums were placed in
water in an empty jam pot, and the chil-
dren left Davie with the book of travels
cuddled up affectionately in his arm, and
a face quite rosy with pleasure at the
promise of seeing them soon again.
For some distance the sister and brother
walked hand in hand and without speak-
ing. Then Kathie said,-
"I know what you were thinking of
when Davie talked about his pussy."
"Well, it did seem sort of funny,"
Maurice confessed, "specially after what
you said last night about a thank-offering,
and its being a Persian too. Poor chap,
he doesn't have a very festive time of it
most days, I reckon."
"I knew you thought just the same as
I did, Morrie," said Kathie, squeezing her
brother's hand, and giving a little skip of
satisfaction. "We've got such a lot of
things, haven't we ? And Davie has got
nothing, hardly, and can't even go out
except on those dreadful crutches. We
must ask mother, of course; but I'm sure
she won't mind."
Mrs. Sterling did not "mind," but she
was surprised when her boy and girl asked
her if they might give away their beloved
Muffle to Davie Dent; she was also a good
deal touched, for she knew how much true
gratitude and sympathy must be in their
young hearts to cause them to wish to
make such a sacrifice.
It was not by any means because
Kathie had changed her mind that two or
three warm splashes fell on Muffie's soft
fur as she coaxed the kitten into the hay-
lined basket in which its short journey to
Brickwall Street was to be taken.
But I know Davie will be kind to you,
you little pet," she said, "or we would
never let you go. And we'll come and
see you sometimes, dear-very often, per-
haps-so you won't forget us. And Morrie
and I are going to pay for your meat and
milk every week, just the same as if you
lived with us-at least, while Mrs. Dent
is out of work. I'm sure Davie will love
you ever so much and make you happy."
Then with lingering "good-byes" and
many kisses on the silky top of Muffle's
head (which the kitten returned-" just as
if it understood," Kathie said-in little
tender dabs of its damp little nose all over
her chin), the lid was at length fastened
down. But it was lifted up again at the
last moment, that an empty cotton-reel
might be slipped in, "in case Muffie felt
lonesome going along, and wanted some,
thing to play with."
Kathie was disappointed that her mother
would not let her accompany Maurice to
Brickwall Street when he took the kitten;
but after their previous experience she
thought it not right for her little girl to
venture into such a rough neighbourhood
without a grown-up'protector.
She anxiously watched for Maurice's
return, and when he came back his face
was still radiant with the reflected joy of
Davie's delight in his present.
I just wish you could have seen him,"
he said. "Why, he was so pleased, and
surprised, and so grateful to us, that he
very nearly cried. He said Muffie was
almost exactly like his Nap, only so much
handsomer-just as if Nap had come back
a lot improved by being away. And
Muffle took to him like anything; you
never would have believed it. She took
to him from the first, just as she did to us;
but of course he was very gentle and nice
to her. He's really an awfully nice sort
of boy. She lay on his breast, and put
her paws up under his chin, and purred
like anything. He was delighted."
"I'm so glad we thought of it," cried
Kathie, dancing, while her eyes, all their
tears dry now, sparkled like stars. And
you didn't meet that horrid boy ?"
"No, I didn't see anything of him,"
Maurice replied; "but I shouldn't have
cared if I had. I'm not afraid of him."
And the boy spoke truly; he had plenty
of courage, as was by-and-by to be proved.
But he might, at least, have felt a trifle
uneasy had he known that he had been
narrowly watched, both going in and com-
ing out of the Dents' house, by the cunning
eye of Master Bangs; moreover, that' his
visit, the object of which was speedily
ascertained, formed the subject of an ear-
nest discussion -between that youth and
his particular chum in a dark doorway
after he-Maurice-was safely in bed and
asleep that night.
"I can grab her easy enough," quoth
the chum, who was a resident in the same
house as the Dents; "and that shop at
the corner opposite the 'Lion' is about
the best. The ole woman there won't
ask no questions; and she's so blind she'd
never know you again if so be it was to
be asked after."
"It's a fine cat," said Sammy. "I
ketched a sight of it through the winder.
It's a real Pershun cat-not like that
mangy thing he used to have, what 'ad
got all his years tore with fighting It's
worth five bob to buy, and I dessay the
ole woman 'ud give two or p'r'ap4 three for
it. I'd let it go for one, that I would," he
added, "if only to be quits with my fine
young gentleman as brought it here."
"Well, you promise you'll go halves,
fair and square, if I* nab the cat, don't
you ? said his friend. And on the bargain
being confirmed with the necessary em-
phasis, he concluded, "Very well, then;
look out for me at dinner-time to-morrow."
It was several days before the Sterlings
saw anything of the Dents again; and
then Kathie went with her mother, full
of the hope of seeing her dear Muffle once
Mrs. Dent was at home, and seemed
very pleased to receive the visitors; but
as soon as they entered they felt that
the room was strangely clouded.
Kathie's eager question, "How is
Muffle ? soon brought a confession of the
cause of their trouble. The cat was lost.
It had disappeared about noon on the
very next day after Maurice had taken it
there, and had not been seen since.
"And the worst of it is," said poor
Davie, fairly breaking down, I'm 'most
certain that bully of a boy Bangs has
somehow made away with it, and done it
to spite Master Maurice for licking him
the other day. The boy upstairs owns he
went and told him who gave it to me;
36 FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
and somebody-I'm sure it's him, for
it's just like his ways-comes and mews
just outside this window every night. I
thought it was Muffie the first night, and
mother got up to see, and then we heard
him run away."
I'm as sorry for missie as ever I can
be," said Mrs. Dent, seeing Kathie's
mouth quiver as she silently tried to keep
back her tears, "for I know what store
she set by the pretty creature."
It was such a dear !" sobbed Kathie.
"And to think of that dreadful boy!
How I wish Maurice had let him alone!
He said he'd remember it, 0 poor, poor,
sweet little Muffie !"
FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
KATHIE cried herself to sleep that night,
and Maurice-well, the things he vowed
in the heat of his indignation he would
FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN. 37
like to do to Sammy Bangs, I had perhaps
better not set down here. It certainly did
seem hard, after parting with their pet to
make Davie happy, that the only result
should be to cause both him and them-
selves a great deal of sorrow. And the
uncertainty as to Muffie's fate was the
saddest part of it.
Kathie whispered their trouble in her
prayers every day, for she knew that
nothing is too small for God to help.
It was about four days after the dis-
appearance of Muffie that Maurice was
playing with some companions in the
park, when their attention was attracted
by seeing a number of children running
towards the lake where the ducks were
kept. So they ran too.
When they came nearer the spot they
saw that a boy had climbed into one of
the overhanging trees, and was creeping
along a branch that stretched a good way
over the water, apparently with the hope
of being able to reach a ball that was
floating just underneath.
38 FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
A very queer feeling ran through
Maurice as he recognized in the venture-
some youth who was the centre of ob-
servation none other than Sammy Bangs.
Something inside him-I'm sure it was
not himself, or, at least, not his best self-
said, Wouldn't it serve him right if-"
And at that very instant snap went the
bough, and Sam Bangs was plunged head
first into the lake. Maurice felt just as
if he had done it.
The boy disappeared under the water,
which at that part was quite deep enough
to drown him. Then he came up again,
clutching wildly at the detached branch,
which, however, was not big enough to
keep him afloat. Then he went down
again, and most of the children stood
staring in helpless, fascinated silence.
But a few ran away, they hardly knew
whither, shouting "Help help !"
Maurice could swim well-his father
had taught him; and while strangely-
mingled thoughts of God, and the Bible,
and his mother, and of Him who died for
FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
His worst enemies flashed all at once
through his mind, he flung off his jacket
and clambered over the iron railing that
protected the lake. The next minute he
was dragging Sam through the water to
the nearest bank, and by the time assist-
ance arrived, both were standing safe but
dripping on dry ground.
He did not wait for thanks-he did not
even know whether or not Sam recognized
him-but hurried away home, as he knew
his mother would wish, to get off his wet
"It was nothing much to do after all,"
he said, as he sat toasting his already
glowing feet by the fire and sipping the
hot beef-tea which his mother had made
him, "because I knew I could swim.
You can't fairly call it brave, for there was
nothing to be afraid of. But just for the
fraction of a minute I did almost feel as
if I'd rather leave him there to flounder
out the best way he could."
"But you conquered, dearie," said his
mother, dropping a kiss on the top of his
40 FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
curly head, "and that is what makes
mother's heart glad."
Later in the, day a certain musty little
shop opposite the Lion was the scene
of a strange argument. It was a shop
where birds and animals of various kinds
were kept in cages for sale. Inside were
canaries, linnets, and redpoles, tame rats,
and white mice; on the pavement outside
stood hutches filled with rabbits, guinea-
pigs, and pigeons. In one box, with a
wire front, was curled up a very pretty,
fluffy, tabby kitten, and chalked on the
side of the box were the words: Pure
Persian cat for sale. Only 5s."
The argument was between the near-
sighted old lady who kept the shop and a
shock-headed boy of anything but pre-
"You give me two bob for it, didn't
you? he was demanding.
"Yes; I know I did. What of
Well, if you'll let me have it back I'll
clear that lot off in three weeks, and a
FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN. 41
tanner extra inter the bargain. I kin earn
pence when I likes."
"A likely tale indeed 1" said the woman
incredulously. If I was fool enough to
let you take the cat away, it's a lot I
should see of you, or your 'tanners' either,
Then Sammy, after the manner of boys
of his sort, whose word cannot be be-
lieved, declared with an oath that he
really would pay up as he said, if only
Mrs. Cummins would let him have back
"the Pershun cat."
"It were stole, there!" he confessed,
as she still remained obdurate. That's
why I wants it. An' the chap I got it of-
leastways the chap it belonged to by rights
-has done me a rare good turn, and-"
There, shut up, ond be off with you !"
cried Mrs. Cummins. "You swore when
you brought the cat here as you'd come
by it honest, and I believe you now about
as much as I did then. The cat's mine,
bought and paid for, and you're not goin'
to have it agin, to go and sell to some-
42 FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
body else-not if you went down on your
bended knees. Now be off, I tell you, or
I'll send for a bobby-that I will-and give
you in charge."
However, poor untutored Sam's remorse
and his unavailing desire to make up for
the wrong he had done Maurice gradually
made him desperate.
One foggy November afternoon, just as
dusk was closing in, and before the gas
in the streets and shops was well lighted,
Maurice was going home to tea from a
special class that he attended once a week,
when he stopped to look at some rabbits
that were exposed for sale outside a
stuffy-looking little corner shop.
As he stood there, hidden by the
piled-up hutches, he saw a boy about
his own size slip stealthily inside the
shop, which was full of cages of all kinds
and very dark.
A minute or two later he darted out
again, carrying in his arms a struggling
bundle of grey fur-a little Persian
FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN. 43
The outside gas-burners at the next
shop flared up brilliantly at the same
moment, and instantly Maurice recognized
Sam Bangs and Muffle.
Before he had time to speak to him,
the kitten made a wild spring for liberty,
and escaped. Both boys instantly gave
chase; but Maurice, understanding animals
better than Sam, went to work in a more
judicious way, and soon had the happiness
of clasping his own dear little Muffie safe
and sound in his arms.
He expected next to have to dispute
possession of the animal with Sam, but
that youth had suddenly disappeared.
Too exultant with delight to consider
at present the how and why of Muffie's
residence in that little shop, Maurice was
setting off homewards at once with his
restored pet purring on his breast, when a
policeman approached him from behind
with business-like strides, and laid a heavy
hand upon the boy's shoulder.
"Whose cat is that?" demanded the
44 FOUND, AND LOST AGAIN.
Mine !" was Maurice's instant reply,
as he faced the man in amazement.
"I shall have to trouble you to prove
that before I let you go," answered the
policeman; and Maurice saw to his
horror that he was fast becoming the
centre of a staring crowd of men, women,
It is mine !" he repeated. "We lost
it-at least, a boy we gave it to lost it;
and-and I'm sure it's the same."
An old woman, bare-headed and very
much excited, was pushing her way
through the crowd.
"I saw him-I saw him slip into the
shop, and open the cage, and take it out!"
she cried. "I ain't so blind but I did see
that. I was just behind the parlour-door,
but I couldn't get out fast enough to
ketch the young scamp."
It was that other boy-it wasn't me!"
protested Maurice. "I saw him 'do it
too; he's run away."
You'll have to come along with me all
the same," said the constable, who had
FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
never loosened his grip on our hero's
Protests, tears, entreaties were all in
vain. Maurice Sterling was marched off
in custody towards the nearest police-
station, surrounded and followed by an
ever-increasing concourse of interested
spectators. To crown his misery, Muffle,
scared by the crowd and the noise, sud-
denly leaped from his embrace, scaled the
nearest wall, jumped down on the other
side, and was once more lost.
FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
THE next five minutes was the most
dreadful of all Maurice's twelve years
of life. What a sudden and complete
revulsion from the joy which had so
closely preceded it! He could hardly
realize that it was actually himself who
was .being thus ignominiously hustled
46 FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
along. Was he only dreaming that this
dreadful thing had occurred ?
But no! it was all too horribly, solidly
real-the streets and shops he knew so
well, the dank fog, and the staring, inqui-
sitive faces around him. With the irre-
pressible tears running silently down his
cheeks, the poor boy's heart rose in pite-
ous entreaty to the One who, he knew,
could help him-the One who knew he
had done nothing to merit the shameful
position he was in.
But see! the crowd parts, and a boy
pushes eagerly through to the policeman's
side. It is Sammy Bangs, all the best in
his nature brought to the surface by the
sight of his hero suffering for his fault.
"Please, sir," he breathlessly gasped,
"it wasn't him; it was me. I stole the
cat. I've got to go to prison 'stid of him."
What do you mean ?" demanded the
"I stole the cat!" repeated Sammy.
"It, was his first, an' he give it to an-
other chap, an' another chap nabbed it
FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
'way from him, an' I sold it to the ole
woman, an' we went halves, an'-"
"You'd better come with me to the
police-station, both of you, and explain
there," said the constable, who could make
neither head nor tail of this rigmarole,
but suspected that the new-comer was far
more likely to be the true culprit than the
respectable-looking lad he had first appre-
At the police-station the several state-
ments of the four persons most concerned
were patiently listened to by the inspector,
Sammy frankly confessing all his guilt in
the matter, and telling how "the young
gentleman" (whose name he did not
know) had jumped into the lake to save
his life; while Maurice, though keeping
strictly to the truth, endeavoured to say
as little as he possibly could to make
things bad for Sammy.
The police inspector, as it happened,
knew Mr. Sterling very well, which fact
went in favour of Maurice; and Mrs.
Cummins, fearing reprimand, or worse,
48 FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
for not making stricter inquiries before
she bought the cat, and hoping that if
she effectively represented her case to
Mr. Sterling, he might be induced to
make some reparation to her for her loss,
withdrew the charge. So the group thus
strangely brought together separated on
more or less amicable terms, Maurice
shaking hands heartily with Sam Bangs,
while the latter promised to do his very
utmost to find and restore the lost cat.
The children were not long in com-
municating to Davie the happy intelligence
that Muffle was at least not dead; and
together they scoured the neighbourhood
in which the cat had escaped, with an
house-to-house inquiry as to whether the
inhabitants could give them any informa-
tion concerning their missing pet.
The gentle knock at the door, followed
by the modest and apologetic "Please, do
you happen to have seen a tabby Persian
kitten about ?" generally met with a sym-
pathetic answer, even though, as was nearly
always the case, it was in the negative.
FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
One or two persons, however, fancied
they had noticed the animal described.
Once it was in somebody's front garden,
another time it had been observed on the
roof of an outhouse, and yet again, to the
children's great distress, a cat bearing
apparently a strong resemblance to Muffie
had been seen taking refuge in a tree by
the churchyard gate from the persecutions
of a group of unfeeling boys.
Failing to obtain any news that was of
any practical use to them, Mr. Sterling
suggested that bills should be printed
offering a reward of five shillings for the
recovery of the cat. This, he thought,
would be pretty sure to result in the
return of Muffie, if the animal were still
anywhere in the neighbourhood. "The
chance of earning five shillings will stir
up the observation and intelligence of
every boy and girl in the place," he
It stirred up something, certainly, as
the knocks at the Sterlings' front door
during the day or two succeeding the ex-
50 FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD. .
hibition of the bills abundantly proved;
but it is doubtful whether the qualities of
either observation or intelligence were
thereby conspicuously displayed. Indeed,
it would even seem that the prospect of
the reward had so dazzled the eyes of
some ,of the youngsters who read about it
as to prevent them from distinguishing a
Persian pussy from :a tailless Manx cat,
or a kitteh from an elderly Tom with the
marks upon him of many a midnight fray.
Members of the feline race of all sorts
and sizes were brought hourly for the
inspection of the advertiser.
"Large cats, small cats, lean cats, brawny cats,
Brown cats, black cats, grey cats, tawny cats,
Grave old mousers, gay young friskers,
Pussies all, with tails and whiskers."
But among all these numerous applicants
no Muffle, nor any cat resembling her,
"I wonder, now," said Mr. Blaney,
the stationer, as he picked out for Maurice
one of his finest mapping pens, whether
Miss Woolman can have got hold of it."
FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
"Who is Miss Woolman?" asked the boy.
"Have you never heard of her ? I'm
surprised at that," said Mr. Blaney. "She
lives at the house that stands by itself with
the trees all round it in Church Grove."
"I know the house,"'exclaimed Maurice.
"It's rather a queer, dull, shabby, unin-
habited, peculiar-looking place, isn't it?"
"That's the one. And Miss Woolman
is rather peculiar, too, if mone of your
other adjectives will fit her," said the
stationer. She is said to be very well
off, and not quite right in her mind, you
know but whether that's true or not, I
can't say. However, it is a fact that she
keeps an uncommon lot of cats-picks up
all the strays she can find, you kno ; and
sometimes, perhaps, gets hold by mistake
of some that are not astray. It seems
as if she can't get enough to satisfy her.
Then she never lets them go out of doors,
if she can help it; so there's not much
chance of their finding their way home
again. There," concluded Mr. Blaney,
"that's about as fine -and flexible a nib
52 FIVE SHILLINGS REWARD.
as you'd find in a hundred; it's just
"Thank you very much," said Maurice.
"And you think this Miss Woolman may
be taking care of our Muffle ? "
Well, there wouldn't be any harm in
your just calling to inquire, would there ?"
"No, indeed. I'll go this very day;
and thank you for telling me."
Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Sterling could
possibly spare time from their other duties
to accompany the children to Church
Grove that afternoon; but as the next day
would be Sunday, and the suspense of
uncertainty hard to bear, the brother and
sister received permission to go if they
liked by themselves.
So in the afternoon they set out to-
gether, conscious that a certain flavour of
adventure surrounded this errand from
which all previous visits of inquiry had
Kathie held Maurice's hand very tightly
as they entered the heavy, rusty, iron
gate to Elm Lodge, as the house that
"THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER." 53
stood by itself was called. Viewed from
within the shade of those tall, now gaunt
and leafless trees, it looked even more
gloomy and uninviting than from without.
The stone steps were grey and green with
long neglect, and the dim, narrow windows
had apparently not been cleaned for years.
Three times Maurice knocked at the
door without receiving any reply; but a
chorus of mews in various tones from
inside sounded reassuring. They had
evidently come to. the" right house, and
Miss Woolman's interesting family were
apparently under the impression that
their purveyor of meat had arrived.
THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
AND FROM BETTER, BEST."
AT last the door was opened a few inches
by an elderly person of the charwoman
type, who was extremely deaf.
54 THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
Maurice's inquiry, Is Miss Woolman
at. home ?" had to be repeated several
times before it elicited the reply, "Yes,
she is. What do you want ?"
We want to' see. her, please. "
What do you want to see her about? "
demanded the woman. She don't give
to no school treats. She's got enough
to do with her money without that."
"We are not begging for anything,"
answered Maurice, colouring. "We want
to ask her about a cat."
"Oh, a cat!" The servant's face softened,
and she opened the door a trifle wider.
Then after a few moments' hesitation
she said, I'll ask if she'll see you." And
pushing back several inquisitive pussy-
faces that were peering out, she shut the
door again, and left the children to wait
upon the step.
It was not long, however, before she
returned. They might walk in, she said.
Maurice and Kathie were thereupon
conducted into what, in any other house,
would have been the drawing-room, but
AND FROM BETTER, BEST."
its furnishing and occupants were the
strangest they had ever seen.
There were arm-chairs all round the
apartment, filled with downy looking
cushions covered with satin or silk, and
curled up in almost every one of them
was a sleepy cat. By the side of each
chair or underneath it was a pretty, fancy
china saucer, containing refreshment for
the feline pet. On a thick sheepskin rug
in front of a magnificent fire sprawled
three or four more fat and lazy creatures;
while several flannel-lined baskets in the
cosiest corners of the room contained
pussy-mothers purring blissfully among
their broods of little ones.
The children could not help being both
amused and pleased by this curious cat
show. But Maurice said, "I don't see
what they want with such lovely cushions.
I should just like one or two of them for
poor old Davie when his back aches."
At that moment the door opened, and
a lady, not much better attired than the
servant, entered the room. Her rusty,
56 "THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
black gown was in need of mending in
several places; she wore no neat, white
collar or frill round her neck; and her
grey hair appeared, as Maurice rather
irreverently told his mother afterwards,
"as if she usually brushed it with the
carpet-broom." Nevertheless, there was
something not at all unpleasant in the
expression of her bright, dark eyes and
brown face, and her greeting of "Well,
now, what do you want of me ?" though
abrupt, was not unkind.
Once more Maurice uttered his oft-
repeated inquiry as to whether she had
seen anything of a Persian tabby kitten.
"Have you lost one?" sharply de-
manded Miss Woolman.
"Yes. It ran away in Market Road,"
answered the boy; "and as that is near
here, and we heard that you are kind to
cats, we thought perhaps you had found it
astray, and were taking care of it."
"And this cat you speak of is yours ?
What is your name?" was the lady's
AND FROM BETTER, BEST."
"My name is Maurice Sterling. And
-well, Muffle isn't exactly ours now,
though she was until the other day," ex-
plained our hero. "She really belongs
to Davie Dent. We gave her to him;
Davie who ? interrupted Miss Wool-
"Davie Dent, who lives in Brickwall
Street. But he*s a cripple-paralyzed-
so he can't look about after it himself;
so we are trying to find it for him."
Is his mother living?"
"Oh yes !" replied Maurice, wonder
ing what that could have to do with the
ownership of Muffle. "But she has to
go out to work; or she would, if she had
not hurt her arm. She can't go round
after the cat."
Goes out to work, does she?" repeated
Miss Woolman. Are they poor, then?"
Oh yes, very," Maurice told her,
while Kathie edged closer to him and
took hold of his hand. These irrelevant
questions would indeed suggest that Miss
58 "THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
Woolman was "not quite right in her
mind." "Please, ma'am," added the boy
after a pause, in which Miss Woolman was
staring silently into the fire, do you: think
you have seen our Muffie anywhere?"
"Eh ? What? Muffle ? Ah, the cat
you are talking about !" said this singular
lady, waking up as if from a dream. "I
have had a little Persian cat here for two
or three days. I don't 'know if it is the
one you are looking for. I'll find it, and
,you shall see."
She left the room again, and Kathie
whispered, "I shall be glad to get away
from here; shan't you, Morrie ? She's
very peculiar, isn't she ? "
"I don't know.. I rather like her,"
answered the boy. "And I don't believe
she's any more out of her mind than you
or I. I'll tell you what, though, Kathie.
I've a notion-"
Once again, however, were Maurice's
remarks cut short by the entrance of Miss
Woolman, and this time Muffle was in
AND FROM BETTER, BEST." 59
kathie sprang forward with a cry of
"It is-it is our own dear kitty!"
she exclaimed. O Muffie, you darling,
come to me "
The immediate hoisting of Muffie's flag
of rejoicing-her beautiful ostrich-feather-
like tail-and the evident pleasure with
which she purred round the children's feet
were incontestable evidence that they
were indeed old friends. Miss Woolman
did not attempt to dispute their right to
the cat; but she did, much to their dis-
appointment, object to letting them take
her away with them then and there.
"How are you going to carry her?" she
said. "You'll go and lose her again. You
ought to have brought a basket with you."
"So we ought," said Kathie. "How
stupid of us not to think But we would
hold her very tight--indeed we would.
We would be sure not to let her get
"We're so anxious, you see, for Davie
to have her again," said Maurice. "He
60 "THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
has been so unhappy ever since she was
Leave Davie Dent's address with me,"
said Miss Woolman. "I will send out
to buy a fish-basket, and I'll promise you
Davie shall have his cat-well, before he
goes to bed to-night. I will take her to
And, unwilling as the children were to
depart without the cat, they were obliged
to give way to Miss Woolman's wish.
Their feet were winged with gladness
as they ran along to Brickwall Street,
and their radiant faces told Davie their
happy news before they could find breath
to speak. Mrs. Dent was there, and
fully entered into the children's joy.
"And Miss Woolman is going to
bring Muffle herself to-night, Davie, be-
fore you go to bed," they said. "She
Miss Woolman !" exclaimed 'Mrs.
Dent. "Surely that's your- What
sort of a person is she?" Davie's mother
AND FROM BETTER, BEST." 61
The children, between them, described
her as well as they could.
"It must be-it is the same !" cried
Mrs. Dent.-" Davie dear, Miss Wool-
man is your godmother! I wonder if
she recognized our name ?"
I'm sure she did," said Maurice.
"I thought so at the time. When she
heard it she seemed quite strange."
"My godmother !" Davie was repeat-
ing. I didn't know I had one."
When you were a baby, Davie," said
his mother, "although I had you chris-
tened (I was not a converted woman),
I did not realize the solemnity of the rite.
I chose Miss Woolman to be your god-
mother, not because she was a Christian
woman, who would endeavour to fulfil the
duties of her position, but simply because
she was well off. I have never talked to
you about her, because soon after your
dear father died she much wanted me to
marry a cousin of hers; and because I
would not, she, quite regardless of her
relationship to you, threw us over in
62 "THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER,
dudgeon. I have never seen or heard of
her since. And to think she should be
coming to see us to-night!"
Maurice and his sister returned home
in such a state of ,excitement that they
could neither eat nor sleep. Muffie was
found, but that was the least wonderful
part of the story they had to relate.
They had found :a *godmother-Kathie,
notwithstanding certain notable points of
incongruity, would insist .on calling her
a fairy godmother-for poor Davie Dent.
Davie and his mother were hencefor-
ward to be relieved from all care, and to
have every comfort and luxury that money
could buy-including, -of course, treatment
for Davie by the celebrated Dr. Stiltz.
Miss Woolman was to give up her ex-
travagant number of cats,:and lavish the
whole love of her heart upon her godson.
Davie and his mother were to remove
from Brickwall Street to Elm Lodge,
which was to be completely transformed
by their presence and on their behalf;
and Muffie, dear little Muffie, was to be
AND FROM BETTER, BEST."
the household pet, honoured and beloved
as the indirect benefactor of them all.
Thus the children built castles and
dreamed dreams on that happy, never-
to-be-forgotten night. And, unlike most
of such airy visions, these for the greater
part -actually came true.
Miss Woolman did open her eyes to
the fact that human beings are a good
deal better as objects of tenderness than
the best of cats. She took Davie and his
mother in their sadness and poverty into
her heart and home*; and after a while
their quiet, Christian lives awoke within
her a sense of still higher but long ignored
duties and responsibilities.
Through his godmother's generosity
Davie's disease received the best treat-
ment from the most skilled physicians;
and though he never quite recovered the
use of his limbs, his condition became
very much improved.
And who do you think is his faithful
attendant, companion, valet, and friend ?
None other than Sammy Bangs! His
64 THROUGH GOOD COMES BETTER."
connection with the Sterlings proved a
turning-point in his life. H'e began,
at Maurice's invitation, to attend the
Sunday-school class of which our hero's
father was the teacher; and there his one
conspicuous virtue, that of gratitude, was
developed in'all its beauty by the wonder-
ful gospel story. He grieved genuinely
over his past sins, and proved his repent-
ance, as in the case of the cat, by deeds
rather than words. His devotion to
Davie knows no bounds, and it seems as
though he can never do enough to atone
for the hours of unhappiness he caused
him years ago.