Citation
Peter, a cat o' one tail

Material Information

Title:
Peter, a cat o' one tail his life and adventures
Creator:
Morley, Charles Robert, 1853-1916
Wain, Louis, 1860-1939 ( Illustrator )
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Knickerbocker Press
Th. Dupuy & Fils ( Printer of plates )
Leighton Bros ( Printer of plates )
Cosack & Co ( Printer of plates )
Gast Art Press ( Printer of plates )
Knapp Co. Lith ( Printer of plates )
Place of Publication:
New York ;
London
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Knickerbocker Press
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
1891
Language:
English
Physical Description:
v, 110 p., [9] leaves of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Cats -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Pets -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Human-animal relationships -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Pets -- Death -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Animal welfare -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Poverty -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Parent and child -- Juvenile fiction ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1892
Genre:
novel ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York
England -- London
France -- Paris
United States -- New York -- Buffalo
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )

Notes

General Note:
Illustrations printed in colors by Th. Dupuy & Son, Paris & London; Leighton Bros.; Cosack & Co., Buffalo, N.Y.; Gast Art Press, N.Y.; Knapp Co. Lith., N.Y.
Statement of Responsibility:
illustrated by Louis Wain (Peter's proprietor) ; written by Charles Morley (a pal of Peter's).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026641823 ( ALEPH )
ALG4528 ( NOTIS )
03269245 ( OCLC )

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Full Text




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BOOKS BY CHARLES MORLEY.

Peter, a Cat o’ One Tail; his Life and Adven-
tures. Illustrated and told by Lours WaIn (Peter’s
Proprietor). Written by CHARLES Mortny (A Pal of
Peter’s). Quarto, vellum, full illustrated . . 75 cents

Teufel, the Terrier; or, The Life and Adventures
of an Artist’s Dog. Told and Illustrated by J.
YATES CARRINGTON, and written by CHARLES MORLEY
(a Friend of Teufel’s). Quarto, vellum, fully illus-
trated 5 : : a i 7 - 75 cents



CA8SELL, PETTER, GALPIN & CO, LONDON TH. DUPUY & BON, PARIS & LONDON

CAUGHT

AFTER THE PICTURE BY MRS C. AMYOT, EXHIBITED IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY 1881

BY PERMI68ION OF JOSEPH MELLOR, ESQ.





Flee
A CAT O’ ONE TAIL

HIS LIFE AND ADVENTURES

ILLUSTRATED BY
LOUIS WAIN

(PETER’S PROPRIETOR)

WRITTEN BY
CHARLES MORLEY

(A PAL OF PETER’S) —!



G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

NEW YORK LONDON
27 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET 24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND

‘The Anicherbocker Press”
1892, :



Coryricut, 1891
BY
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

Electrotyped, Printed, and Bound by
The Knickerbocker Press, Tew Work
G. P. Putnam’s Sons



CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I,
* : PAGE
Introduces the reader to the night of the great storm, and to the family circle.
Peter is born. His grandfather, Lear, and his mother, Cordelia. The
coffin in the fire, and the fidelity of Ann, who turned executioner : : I

CHAPTER II.

The household settles down into its usual routine. The kittens open their eyes.
I choose the chubby one. How the crowing of the cock affected the
christening. We call him Peter as a warning to fibbers 4 : : sees)

CHAPTER III.

Peter's young days. A word about his father and mother. Peter’s home amongst
the curios ; the black hole behind the skeleton’s foot, Peter's first mouse.
The linnet and the canary, Peter cries for the moon . : : : 0

s. CHAPTER IV.

Peter is instructed in deportment, and learns to read, to talk, and to say his
prayers. He shows a commendable thirst for knowledge, and really becomes
a most accomplished member of society. A word on mewing, or cats’
language. : ‘4 : 5 : . : : : 5 : aeeRl3

CHAPTER V.

London being very hot Peter and I leave for the country. Peter enjoys the
' change, and revels in country sights and sounds; he goes out fishing with
Jack. We proceed to the seaside, but Peter shows no liking for the ocean . 19

CHAPTER VI.

Concerns the queer old lady in the poke bonnet and her nine cats. Poison !
Was it revenge? Peter goes astray and I advertise for him. Many cats call,
but none are chosen. Atlast! ; * a : j : eee aad

iii



iv CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VII.
PAGE
Peter in lodgings. Mrs. Nagsby and the euphonium. Sarah’s base accusations
against Peter. King Arthur the greyhound, and his adventure with Mrs.
Nagsby’s lady on Peter steals Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth, and the conse-
quences = ; : : : : ; : : : ; E32

CHAPTER VIII.

Life in Excelsior Mansions. The old graveyard and Peter's favorite tombstone.
Concerning Deadman’s Passage. ‘The verger’s story of the man who came to
a violent end because he would have a fine coffin. Peter is lost. The flash
of light on the window-blind : i 2 : : : ; . . 40

CHAPTER IX.

I dream horrible dreams, and make inquiries respecting Peter. A friendly pot-
man puts me on the scent, and takes me to see a famous Professor who works
a cat-and-dog show : 5 ; ; : 5 ‘4 : : : » 49

CHAPTER X.

Night in Smith’s Row. Introduces the human fly and the lion-maned lady, who
perform some staggering feats. The Professor owns that he has just bought
an educated cat, and invites me to call and see him : A : ; eas.

CHAPTER XI.

I call upon the Professor and once more encounter the human fly and the lion-
maned lady. The Professor and the mermaid. The performing cats and the
flashes of fire. The midnight vision explained in a very simple way. I stop
and dine with the Professor . sl : : ¢ i ‘ f , se Ge

CHAPTER XII.

An interlude which deals with a bull-dog with glass eyes and cruel teeth. The
dog’s remarkable history and his lamentable end . 3 : : : . 63

CHAPTER XIII.

I go with the Professor on a Sunday excursion to the East End. The bird market.
Mr. Chaffinch, the dog- and bird-fancier. I am introduced to the purveyor.
of cats’ meat to the Royal Family, who is inclined to be haughty ; and also
make the acquaintance of Miss Tew and the white mice 6 ; : . 69

CHAPTER XIV.

The purveyor of cats’ meat to the Royal Family. How he ‘‘loored” Peter away
from the bosom of his family. Mr. Chaffinch on coincidences, followed by
Mr. Chaffinch’s story of the parrot which appealed to the Archbishop, and was
the means of restoring a missing husband to his wife and family .. D e078





RS SOE REET ESET ON eT ES



CONTENTS. v
CHAPTER XV.
PAGE

Showing how Peter paid his addresses to Miss Badroulbadour, a certain Persian
cat. The course of true love runs as usual. A scratch in time saves nine.
Pleasures of the country. Peter and the bees 84

CHAPTER XVI.

London after a visit to the country. Peter is glad to get back to town, but turns
up his nose at the Cockney sun. Reflections on London roofs. Peter goes
to his club, and the chapter necessarily closes go

CHAPTER XVII.

A few words on gratitude. Peter always a grateful animal. Shows also how he —

objected to kittens ; 94
CHAPTER XVIII.

Peter goes to a hotel, and pays his ten shillings a day. He flirts with the chamber-
maids, and makes journeys in the elevator. The alarm of fire. Peter in
disgrace, and Peter’s liver 97

CHAPTER XIX.

Peter, indulging too freely in the pleasures of the table, is taken to see the doctor.
The strange crowd at the doctor’s door. The poor little girl, and the cat
that lived upon mice . IOI

CHAPTER XxX.

Peter in his old age. The frivolous Polly Winkles. The circle in the sitting-

room. Peter says his prayers and goestobed 0 : - 106





RPEDER: A CAI © ONE PAIL.

CHAPTER I.

Introduces the reader to the night of the great storm, and to the family circle.
Peter is born. His grandfather, Lear, and his mother, Cordelia. The coffin in
the fire, and the fidelity of Ann, who turned executioner.

ETER, the admirable cat whose brief history
I am about to relate, appeared in the world
on a terrible winter’s night. A fierce snow-
storm was raging, the sleet was driving at
a terrific rate through the air, and the
streets were banked up with snow-drifts.
All traffic had been stopped, the roar of
London was hushed, and every one who
had the merest pretence of a fireside sought
it on this memorable occasion. Even the

shivering outcasts disappeared from the streets, and hid

themselves in the holes which they called homes, knowing
that Charity, when it was most needed, had gone to bed.

It was a wild night in the city, a wild night in the country,

a wild night at sea, and certainly a most unpropitious

night for the birth of a cat, an animal which is always

associated with home and hearth. The fact remains that

Peter was born on the night of one of the most terrible

storms on record.

Within was a picture of comfort, our pleasure in which
was greatly enhanced by the howling of the storm without.

I





2 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

The thick curtains were drawn across the window, the
lamps were lighted, and a bright fire burnt clearly over a
clean-swept hearth. A fitful illumination was cast on the
pictures, and a pleasant glow lightened up the old oak
cabinet, in which were stored some bits of china, a Japan-
ese idol, a few fierce-looking knives richly chased, an ivory
elephant yellow with age, and the model of the ship, sail-
ing on an ocean of canvas waves, in which my poor father,
whose bones are now coral in the Pacific, made his first
voyage. Our chairs were drawn up to the fire, the tea-
things were on the table, and my mother was just about
to try the strength of the brew, when
Ann Tibbits, our faithful and well-tried
maid-of-all-work, bounced into the room,
without knocking at the door. Her cap
was all awry, her hair was dishevelled,
and she gasped for breath as she ad-
dressed herself to my mother thus, in
spasms :.

‘Please —ma’am—the cat ’s—kit-
tened—in—your—bonnet !”

Such a breach of discipline had never
been known before in our prim house-
hold, where there was a place for every-
thing, and everything had a place.

My mother pushed her spectacles on
to her forehead, and, looking severely at Ann, said :
“ Which one, Ann? My summer bonnet, or—my winter
bonnet ?”

“The one with the fur lining, ma’am.”

“And a most comfortable bonnet to kitten in, I’m
sure!” replied my mother sarcastically, as much as to say
that she wished all cats had such a choice under the
circumstances. ‘Another cat would have chosen the one
with the lace and the violets, out of sheer perverseness.











PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIZ. 3

But there—I uew I could depend on a cat which had
been trained in my house.”

My mother poured out a cup of tea, betraying no
agitation as she dropped two lumps of sugar into the cup
——her customary allowance—and helped herself to cream.
In a minute or two, however, she took up her knitting,
and I noticed that two stitches in succession were dropped,
a sure sign that she was perturbed in spirit. Suddenly
my mother turned her eyes to the fire, and exclaimed :
“Why, my dears, there’s a coffin, as sure as I am a sinful
woman. A death in the family /” and she sighed sadly,
and again took up her knitting.

“Ah! Tobe sure! I had forgotten. Of course it
is Cordelia.” And a smile took the place of the frown
which had gathered on my mother’s wrinkled forehead.
I should have mentioned that our cat was called Cordelia
because she was the daughter of Lear, who had received
that name in consequence of a peculiar expression, akin to

that of laughing, which sometimes stole over his face. I>

am unable to confirm this report, as Lear departed this
life long ago, and is at this moment: buried beneath his
favorite apple tree at the end of the garden. So far as I
remember him, he had but one ear, he had lost one of his
eyes in battle, and the latter portion of his tail had been
cut off in some youthful escapade. He died a violent
death, being vanquished after a terrible battle by a rival
Tom, called the Templar, from his Nightly adventures.

“Why, of course it is Cordelia,” exclaimed my mother,
referring to the appearance of the coffin in the fire.
“ Flow many, Ann?” she continued, addressing our faith-
ful servant, who still remained standing at the table
awaiting her orders.

“Seven, ma’am.”

“Seven /” criedmy mother. “Seven—it’s outrageous.
Why, my bonnet would n’t hold ’em !”



4 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

“Three in the bonnet, ma’am, and two in your new
m—u-f-f |”

“My new muff!” cried my mother. “I knew you
were keeping something back.” And the stitches dropped
fast and furious. ‘ That’s only fve, Ann,” she continued,
looking up from her work. ‘Where are the other two ?
I insist upon knowing.”

“In the Alaska tail boa, ma’am,” responded Ann,
timidly.

Slowly my mother’s wrath evaporated, and her features
settled down to their ordinary aspect of composure.

“Well,” she said, “it might have been worse. She
might have kittened in my silk dress. But there—it is
evident that something must be done. I’m a kind
woman, I hope, but I’m not going to be responsible for
seven young and tender kittens. Ann Tibbits, England
expects every woman to do her duty !”

“ All?” asked Ann.

“ Four,” replied my mother.

“ Now ?” asked Ann.

“The sooner the better,” said my mother.

At this moment a sudden blast shook every window in
the house, which seemed to be in momentary danger of a
total collapse.

“Not fit to turn a dog out,” murmured my mother.
“Not fit to turn a dog out. Ugh! how cold it is, and
here am I condemning to death four poor little kittens on
a night like this—to snatch them away from their warm
mother, my muff, and Alaska tail, and dip them in a bucket
of ice-cold water. And yet they must go; but, Ann, I ’ve
an idea—warm the water. They shall leave the world
comfortably. They ’Il never know it.”

Thus, alas! do most of us shut our eyes to the trage-

dies of life. It is more comfortable.
* * # % Fe * * * #



PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 5

The faithful, unemotional Ann carried out her instruc-
tions, and thus was the strange appearance of the coffin
which my mother saw in the fire explained. Peter was
one of the three kittens which were born in my mother’s
fur-lined bonnet, and the white marks on his body always
remind me of the terrible snow-storm in the midst of
which he sounded his first mew.









CHAPTER II.

The household settles down into its usual routine. The kittens open their eyes. I
choose the chubby one. How the crowing of the cock affected the christening.
We call him Peter as a warning to fibbers.

You will kindly imagine that several weeks have
elapsed since the night of the great storm. The liberty
which our cat Cordelia had taken with my
mother’s finery was forgotten, and the house-
hold had settled down into its usual humdrum
routine. ‘Tibbits had made the new arrivals
a bed in the little box-room, and the doctor
declared that Mrs. Cordelia was doing as well
as could be expected. Every morning we had a the
usual question: ‘“ How is Cordelia?” ‘Quite well,
thank you.” “And the kittens?” ‘Also quite well.”
In due course Ann brought the welcome news that the
three kittens had opened their eyes, and the kid glove was
at once detached from the knocker of the front door. It
was on the morning after they had
obtained their blessed sight that I
was invited by Tibbits to go down-



stairs and take my
choice. I went down,

but I could see nothing of the kittens ; there was only Cor-
6





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 7

delia, with tail twisting, eyes aflame, and whiskers bristling,
wheeling round and round a number of straw cases in
which champagne had once been packed. Lo! one of the
cases began to walk like the woods of Birnam. The
movement caught Cordelia’s eye, and she knocked it over
with her paw. A fluffy, chubby kitten, consisting of a
black body with a patch of white on it, was revealed. The
little one so captivated my fancy that I put him in my
pocket, and without more ado took him up-stairs, and
publicly announced my determination to claim him as my
property.

‘“What shall we name it?” asked my mother.

“Fiz,” said one, alluding to the empty champagne cases,
—a suggestion which was at once overruled, as we were
a temperate family and little given to sparkling liquids.
“Pop” was also voted against, not only as being vulgar,
but as going to the other extreme, and leading people to
suppose that we were extensively addicted to ginger-beer.

“I think, my dears, as Peter was born ona——” My
mother’s speech was interrupted by an exultant “ Cock—a—
doodle—do.”

“That horried fowl again!” exclaimed my mother.

The cock in question was the property of a neighbor,
and was a most annoying bird. Even my kitten was dis-
turbed by the defiant note. ‘“ M-e-w ?” said he, in ameek
interrogative, as much as to say, “What zs that dreadful
noise ?”

“ Cock—a—doodle—do,” cried the bird again. “Mew,”
replied the kitten, this time with a note of anger in his
voice. ‘ CocK—A—DOODLE,” screamed the bird, evidently
in a violent temper. “Mew,” said the kitten again,
in a tone of remonstrance. The remaining syllable of his
war-cry and the kitten’s reply were cut short by my
mother, who put her fingers to her ears, and said:

‘‘And the cock crowed thrice. My dears, I have it!”



8 PETER; A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

«What, mother ?”

“We ll call him PETER.”

“Peter Gray ?”

“Peter Simple ?” cried the family.

s etciatie Greatn

“No,” replied my mother, with a humorous twinkle,
“Peter the Apostle,” pointing to the Family Bible, which
was always kept on a little occasional table in a corner of

the sitting-room. ‘And let Peter be a living warning
against fibbing, my dears, whether on a small scale or a
large one.”

A bowl of water was then placed on the table, and,
having sprinkled a shower upon his devoted back, I, as
his proprietor, looking at him closely, cried:

“ Arise, Peter; obey thy master.”

In the middle of my exhortations, however, Cordelia
jumped on the table, took little Peter by the scruff of his
neck, and carried him back to the nursery.





CHAPTER IIL.

Peter's young days. A word about his father and mother. Peter's home amongst the
curios; the black hole behind the skeleton’s foot. Peter's first mouse. The
linnet and the canary. Peter cries for the moon.

Tue day came when I put Peter into the pocket of my
overcoat, and took him away to his new home. I had the
greatest confidence in him, being
a firm believer in the doctrine of
heredity. His father I never
knew, but his grandfather, as I
have said, bore a great reputa-~
tion for courage, as was indi-
cated on his tombstone, the
inscription on which ran as fol-
lows :

2



Here lies Lear. Aged about 8 years. A
Tom Cat killed in single combat with Tom
the Templar whilst defending his hearth
and home. England expects every
cat to do his duty.

His mother Cordelia was of
an affectionate nature, caring
little for the chase, indifferent
to birds (except sparrows), tem-
perate in the matter of fish,
timid of dogs, a kind mother,
and had never been known to
scratch a child. I believed then
that there was every possibility of Peter's inheriting the

9





10 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

admirable qualities of his relatives. The world into which
he was introduced contained a large assortment of curios
which I had bought in many a salesroom, such as bits of old
oak, bits of armor, bits of china, bits of tapestry, and innu-
merable odds and ends which had taken my fancy. Picture,
then, Peter drinking his milk from a Crown Derby dish
which I had placed in a corner between the toes of a gentle-
man skeleton whom Time had stained a tobacco brown.
‘The Crown Derby dish and the skeleton were, like the rest
of my furniture, “bargains.” At this period of his life Peter
resembled a series of irregular circles, such as a geometri-
cian might have made in an absent moment: two round
eyes, one round head, and one round body. I regarded him
much as a young mother would her first
baby, for he was my first pet. I watched
him lest he should get into danger; I
conversed with him in a strange jargon,
which I called cats’ language; I played
with him constantly, and introduced him to a black hole
behind the skeleton’s left heel, which was supposed to be
the home of mice. He kept a close watch on the black
hole, and one day, which
is never to be forgotten,
he caught his first
mouse. It was a very
little one, but it clung
to Peter’s nose and
made it bleed. Regard-
less of the pain, Peter
marched up to me, tail
in air, and laid the half-
dead mouse at my feet,
with a look in his eyes which said plainly enough, “ Shades
of Cesar! I claim a Triumph, Master.”
He returned to the black hole again, and mewed







PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. II

piteously for more. Peter was very green, as you will
understand, but he soon discovered that mewing kept
the mice away, and having taken the lesson to heart,
preserved silence for the future. The mouse-hunts occu-
pied but a small portion of Peter’s time. He was full of
queer pranks, which youth and
high spirits suggested to him. He
took a delight in tumbling down
the stairs; he hid himself in the
mouth of a lion whose head was
one of my chief treasures; he
tilted against a dragon candlestick
like a young St. George ; he burnt ©
his budding whiskers in an attempt to discover the source
of the flame in the wick of the candle. He became, too,
a great connoisseur of vases, orna-
ments, and pictures, sitting before
them and examining them for an
hour at atime. He was also very
much given to voyages of discovery,
dark continents having a peculiar
fascination for him. Even the lion’s
mouth had no terror for him. I
once produced him from the in-
terior of a brand-new top hat like a
conjurer an omelette. Again, we
were very much surprised at break-
fast one morning to see Peter walk
out of a rabbit-pie in which he had
secreted himself. I used to let my
canary fly about the room, and
Peter chased him. The canary flew
to an old helmet on a shelf, and thus baffled Peter. The
canary seemed to know this, for when Peter was in the
room he always flew to the helmet and sang in peace. If









12 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

he perched elsewhere there was a chase, but the helmet
was a sanctuary. The linnet’s cage I placed on the win-
dow-sill in sunny weather, and Peter took great interest in
him. He could not see the musician, but he heard the
music, and tried every means he knew to discover its
source. At last he peeped through
a little hole at the back of the
cage, and when he saw the bird he
was quite satisfied, and made no
attempt to disturb it.

In the matter of eating and drink-
ing Peter was inclined to vegeta-
rianism, being fond of beet-root and
cabbage, but he soon took to carnal
habits, always liking his food to be
divided into three portions, consisting of greens, potatoes,
and meat. In addition to such food as we gave him he
by no means despised any delicacies he could discover on
his own account. For instance, he cleaned out a pot of
glycerine. Having tilted the lid up, he pulled out the
pins from a pin-cushion, but was saved in time; he was
curious about a powder-box, and came mewing down-
stairs a Peter in white; he did not despise the birds
out of a hat; he lost his temper when he saw his rival in
the looking-glass, and was beside himself with
rage when the glass swung round and he saw
only a plain board. His most curious ex-
perience was his first glimpse of the moon,
which he saw from our bit of back garden. ‘
He was rooted to the ground with wonder
at the amazing sight, and we called him in $
vain. The only reply was a melancholy, love-
stricken mew which went to my heart.












RIVALS IN MISCHIEI.





CHAPTER IV.

Peter is instructed in deportment, and learns to read, to talk, and to say his prayers.
He shows a commendable thirst for knowledge, and really becomes a most
accomplished member of society. A word on mewing, or cats’ language.

So Peter rejoiced in the days of his youth, and there
was no end to his frolics. But do not think for a moment
that his education was es a Se
neglected, especially ;
in the invaluable mat-
ters of manners and
deportment, both of
which are so essential
to advancement in life.
How many men have
gone to the dogs by
the neglect of those
all-important qualifi-
cations which highly
civilized societies de-
mand! How many
cats, too, have gone to the dogs, owing to the infringe-
ment of the unwritten code which governs well-regulated
cat-life! 1 took every care then that Peter was well
instructed in the whole art of etiquette, which is deemed
more important than the deepest learning by so many
great people. I taught him to sit at table; to enter a
room with grace, and to leave it with dignity. Indeed, I
spared no trouble, and Peter became as rigorous as a
Chesterfield in the proper observance of all such matters.

13





14 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

I can give you no better example of Peter’s extensive
knowledge of what was right and wrong in the ceremonial
side of life than by telling you that when he felt an irre-
pressible sneeze forming he trotted out of the room and
sneezed outside. A D’Orsay seized by sternutatory
spasms could have done no more.
When Peter played, too, he played
gently, and did not disturb his elders
by obtrusive attentions. He never ¢
required to be told twice to do a thing.
Once was enough for Peter. Then
again in the matter of breakages he was
as virtuous a kitten as ever lived. |
had thirty precious blue china vases on
my sideboard, and through this fragile maze Peter always
wound in and out without moving a vase. His virtues in
this respect were well known to my servants, -who never
accused Peter of breaking the milk-jug, or the cups and
saucers, | can assure you.
They knew that he was
incapable of such acts of
iconoclasm. Don’t, pray, run
away with the impression that
Peter was a prig or a paragon.
Like the best of human
beings, he had his faults, but
upon these it would be im-
pertinent to touch more than
lightly, though some biogra-
phers take a different view of
memoir-writing. Peter is still
alive, verbum sap.

Peter was partial to Fridays,
not for devotional reasons, but because Fridays were
devoted to cleaning up. If you have ever watched a char-









PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 15

woman washing the kitchen floor, you will have noticed
that she completes one patch before she proceeds with the
next, as if she took pride in each patch, regarding it as a
picture, and representing the highest example of charring.
It was Peter’s delight to sit and watch this domestic opera-
tion; and no sooner was the charwoman’s back turned
towards a fresh portion of her territory than Peter ran all
over the freshly washed patch and impressed it with the
seal of his paws, just as an explorer would indicate a great
annexation by a series of flags. That was a mere frolic.
It was about this time that I discovered Peter’s power as
a performing cat. I tied a hare’s foot to a piece of string
and dangled it before Peter’s eyes. I hid the hare’s foot
in strange places. |
flung it down-stairs.
I threw it up-stairs.
The hare’s foot never
failed to attract him.
We used to roll on
the floor together;
we played hide-and-
seek together. I
noticed that he had a habit of lying on his back with his

tail out, his head back, and his paws crossed. By degrees |
I taught him to assume this attitude at the word of com-

mand, so that when I said, “ Die, Peter!” Peter turned

on his back and became rigid until he received permission

to live again.

I also taught him to talk in mews at the word of com-
mand. I hear some genial critic exclaim that this is mere
Munchausenese. I decline to argue with any critic that
ever lived, and repeat, fearlessly, and in measured terms,
that Peter talked to me. Of course he would not drop
into conversation with the first person who bade him
‘“‘good-morning.” It is true that no philological treatise





16 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

contains a line on mewing, or cat-language, but I assert
again that Peter and I held many conversations together
by means of the “ mew,” used with a score of inflections,
often delicately shaded, each of which conveyed its mean-
ing tome. This is no place for an essay on cat-language ;
but for the benefit of future inquirers I may roughly note
down a few of the inflections which I have noted down
from time to time during my proprietorship of Peter.
The mew mercurial he used when in a cheerful mood; the



mew melancholy after a scolding ; the mew musical was
generally nocturnal ; the mew mellow mostly post-prandial,
and was coupled with purring; the mew minatory was
combined with the mews majestic and malignant, and was
used generally in mousing ; the mew melodious was often
heard in conjunction with music; the mew magnetic had
a peculiar ring, and was associated with flirtations ; the
mew maniacal was a sign of jealousy ; the mew magisterial
I noticed in Peter’s latter days when he controlled a



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 17

family of cats and dogs by the mere sound of his voice.
This is by no means an exhaustive vocabulary, but it will
serve to explain my discovery. I need not add that Peter’s
tail was as expressive as an orator’s arm; but the tail
branch of cat-language I must leave for the present.



Peter took to reading, too, quite easily, and sat up
with a pence-nez on his nose and a paper between his paws.
It was, as you may well imagine, a red-letter day with me
when Peter said his prayers for the first time ; and I was
better pleased when he put his little paws up and lifted
his eyes up to the ceiling than with any other of his
accomplishments, though they were more appreciated by



18 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

unthinking friends. It was all very well to place a mouse
at my feet and thus play to the gallery, but I felt that
Peter’s thirst for applause might be his ruin. If you
honor me by reading to the end of this biography, you
will find that Peter's prayers restored him to his loving
friends in a curious way. I mention this fact; though the
moral is too obvious to escape even the reader who hops
over the pages of a book like a flea over the human

corpus.





























My PRETTY LITTLE Pets.





CEA RAE Reeve

London being very hot Peter and I leave for the country. Peter enjoys the change,
and revels in country sights and sounds ; he goes out fishing with Jack. We pro-
ceed to the seaside, but Peter shows no liking for the ocean.

Wuewn the summer came, and the London pavements
began to quake with heat, I determined to fly to the
country. As delights
are doubled when
shared with those we
care for, I determined
to take Peter with me,
so I packed him up in
a specially construct-
ed travelling saloon
of his own, to wit, a
flannel-lined — basket
containing all the
necessary comforts for
the journey, such as
air-holes and feeding-bottles, and off we
started in the highest of spirits. Peter
found a new world opened to him,
which contrasted pleasantly with the
sooty gardens and sootier roofs of the

Z metropolis. We were both Cockneys,

\ SOAR but the scent-laden air, the stretching

landscape, the bosky groves, the old

garden, the umbrageous lanes, and the thousand and one

beauties of the country, fascinated us both. We were the
19










20 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

guests of a burly farmer, who lived in a queer old house,
half timber and half brick, with low-ceilinged rooms, the
whole well seasoned by age. The general living-room
was the capacious kitchen, which looked mighty pictu-
resque. Oak panels ran half-way up to the ceiling; the
pots and pans were ranged neatly in an open cupboard,
pleasantly suggestive of good fare and plenty of it. There
were flowers in red pots in the windows, and my bedroom
was a picture of coolness
and cleanliness.

Amid these pleasant
surroundings Peter soon
made himself very happy,
and became a great friend
‘of a cat called Jack, who
took him under his charge
and showed him the ways
of the country. Jack was
a favorite on the farm.
He was certainly given
to roving, and did not
always “come home to tea,” as Mr. Toole used to say.
As a mouser he had few equals in the countryside, and
one evening when we were telling stories by the fireside
the farmer told me that Jack had des-
patched no less than four hundred mice
from one hay-rick.

‘“Munchausen!” I mu ttered; “ Mun-
chausen !””

‘“No’edoan’t munch’em. He doan’t
use his teeth. No mouser do,” exclaim-
ed the farmer, and I subsided. Jack
was a poacher amongst his other accomplishments, and
had been brought up by a wicked old black cat, in whose







PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 21

company he developed strong predatory tendencies. At
an early age he began his researches into the anatomy
of the cockroach and the blue-bottle; at the same time,
however, he developed a wonderful respect for the wasp.
Jack was also a disciple of Isaak Walton. He would
crouch on a mossy knoll by the edge
of the river, and sometimes was suc-
cessful in capturing a small trout. The
farmer was himself a great fisherman.
Jack was a study while the preparations
were in progress, and, all intent, would aw
follow close at his master’s heels. He
would crouch among the rushes whilst
the tackle was being adjusted, and anxiously scan the water
asthe fly drifted along the surface. He tooka keen delight
in the sport, and when a fish was negotiating the bait he
always purred loudly in anticipation of the feast in prospect.
The trout landed and the line re-cast, he would seize his
prey, and with stealthy gait slink off with his prize, leaving
the old farmer to discover his loss when he might. To-
gether Jack and Peter roamed
over the meadow lands, tramp-
ling under foot the kingscap
and sorrel, now shaking down
the white and yellow butter-
flies, now levying blackmail
on the hedgerow blossoms,
from the sweet honeysuckle
amid the hawthorn boughs
to the tiny stitchwort peeping
through the brambly bottoms.
The poultry-run, too, was
an object of great interest to Jack and Peter, and the
cock of the walk only escaped with a damaged comb.







22 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Together they fought the rats, and together they would
lie in wait for the thrush and the blackbird,—I am happy
to sayin vain. The farmer told me that in his youth
Jack once took up his resi-
dence in the hollow of an old
oak, where he lived on the
furred and feathered game.
At last he. returned home.
For hours he wandered about
the precincts of his old home,
fearful of discovery, now
crouching amongst the flower-
beds, and now flying in terror
at the sound of the hall clock,
At last he ventured into the
kitchen, entering by the
window and creeping to
the kitchen hearth, where he dozed off to the music
of the cricket, to be welcomed like another Prodigal
Son.

Alas! these delights were cut short, for Peter and I
were soon compelled to pack up our traps and proceed to
the seaside for professional purposes. Peter was not fond
of the sea. When I took him out yachting he was com-
pelled to call for the steward; and
one day when exploring the rocks
at low water, gazing with rapture |
at his own charming face as it
was reflected in the glassy sur-
face of a deep pool, an inquiring
young lobster nipped his tail,
and the shore rang with piteous
calls for help. Peter, although a Briton, has never
cared for the sea since then, and so deeply was the







PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 23

disaster impressed upon him that I have known him
reject a choice bit of meat which happened to have a
few grains of salt on it. It wafted him back to the ocean,
the lobster, and the steward. What powers of imagina-
tion were Peter’s !





CHAPTER VI.

Concerns the queer old lady in the poke bonnet and her nine cats. Poison! Was it
revenge? Peter goes astray and I advertise for him. Many cats call, but none
are chosen. At last !

As these memoirs cover a period of seven or eight
years, and as space is limited, my readers will kindly con-
sent to take a seat on the convenient
carpet of the magician, and be wafted
gently to the next station on the road
without further question. This is a
pleasant byway in suburban London,
greatly frequented by organ-grinders,
travelling bears, German bands, and
peripatetic white mice. This road is
always associated in my mind with the
mysterious disappearance of Peter.
We had often laughed at the odd old
lady who lived two doors higher up, for the anxiety which -
she displayed when any of her pets were missing. It was
our turn now.

This same old lady was very fond of her cats, and had
nine of them at the time I am writing of. Every morning
when the weather was warm, she and her cats would come
out and unconsciously form a succession of tableaux for
our amusement. A rug was spread out under the pear-
tree in the middle of the tiny lawn, a great basket-chair
was placed in the middle of this rug, and, these prepara-
tions having been made, the old lady, who was very stout,
and always wore a monster poke bonnet and a shapeless

24





PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 25

black silk dress, came out, followed by her nine cats, and
took possession of the basket-chair. A little maid then
appeared with a tray, on which were nine little blue china
saucers and a jug of milk. The nine little saucers were
ranged in a semicircle, and filled with milk, whereupon the
old lady cried out, ‘‘ Who says breakfast, dearies ? Who
says breakfast—breakfast ?” This invitation was imme-
diately responded to by the nine cats. When they had
done the old lady cried, ‘‘Who says washee, dearies ?



Washee, washee, washee?” Whereupon the nine cats
sat on their haunches and proceeded to make their
toilettes. The requirements of cleanliness having been
satisfied, and the nine basins having been taken away by
the little maid, the old lady shouted out, ‘“‘ Who says play,
dearies? Playee, playee, playee ?” holding out her arms,
and calling out, “ Dido Dums, Dido Dums, come here,
deary,” when a fine Persian cat jumped on to her right
shoulder. ‘‘ Now Diddles Doddles, Diddles Doddles,”
and another Persian cat jumped on to her left shoulder.



26 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TATL.

“Tootsy Wootsy,” she called once more, and a black cat
scrambled up to the crown of the poke bonnet. And one
by one they were summoned by some endearing diminutive,
until the nine cats had taken possession of every possible
coign of vantage which was offered by the old lady’s capa-
cious person. There they sat, waving their tails to and
fro, evidently very pleased by their mistress’ little atten-
tions. Mrs. Mee was not very popular in the neighbor-
hood, except with the milkman and the butcher. The
cats’-meat-man indeed, who supplied various families in our
road, positively hated her—so I gathered from our servant,
—and had been heard to say sotto voce in unguarded
moments, “Ha! ha! I 'll be revenged.” It was not un-
natural, as the cats were fed on mutton cutlets and fresh
milk, and cats’ meat was at a discount. About three weeks
before Peter disappeared, Mrs. Mee, in the short space of
three or four days, had lost no less than five cats by a
violent death, and five little graves had been dug, marked
by five little tombstones, and the five dead cats had been
laid in their last resting-places by the hands of the old
lady herself. A funeral is not generally amusing, but I
could not restrain a smile when I saw my eccentric old
neighbor follow the remains of her dead pets, which were
reverently carried on the tea-tray by the little serving-
maid, the old lady herself leading the way, ringing a
muffled peal with the dinner-bell, the remaining cats
bringing up the rear, pondering over the fate of their
dead comrades.

It happened that three of these unfortunate victims had
been found on my doorstep in mortal throes, and on the
first occasion I was absolutely horrified by the appearance
of a little boy at my door one evening, who without any
preface or ceremony cried out: “ Please shall I take ’im to
the chemist’s and finish im orf.” ‘Good gracious, boy !
Finish who off?” “Why, the cat, sir. Can’t you see her



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 27

a-writhin’ ?—o0o crikey!” I shut my eyes and gave the boy
sixpence for a dose of prussic acid, and bade him run as
hard as he could. There was quite an epidemic amongst
the cats at this time, and whether they were found in my
front garden or some one’s else, the boys insisted upon
coming to inform me of the discovery, and never failed to
add, “Please, sir, shall I take ’im to the chemist’s and
finish ‘im orf?” My donation of sixpence for prussic acid
had leaked out amongst the boys of the neighborhood,
and I began to tremble at the very sound of the bell.
One boy in particular I feel sure will come to a bad end.
Twice he had called at unearthly hours with dying cats in
his arms; twice had I given him sixpences to take them
to the chemist’s and “finish ’em orf.” He came a third
time, and losing all patience with the tormentor, I bade
him depart under pain of calling the police. “Keep yer
‘air on, guv’nor,” he replied. “ Keep yer’air on. | thought
yer ad a’art You ain’t a’art, or you wouldn't see a poor
creature a-sufferin’ like this, and all for want of a drop o’
pison. Well, see ’ere, guv’nor, shall I cut ’2s froat, or
‘ang ’tm?” J gave the little wretch his sixpence, but you
may feel sure I felt very angry with the old lady, who
blamed me for the destruction of her pets, adducing the
fact that they were found dying on my doorsteps as proof
conclusive. One morning I received an anonymous post-
card. Although it bore the Charing Cross post-mark I
felt sure it came from the old lady. It read as follows:

‘ The Asstrian came down like a wolf on the fold.”

_ This was the last straw, for I felt that as regards the
old lady’s cats I had behaved in a sympathetic and neigh-
borly spirit. I remember this post-card because the
same afternoon that it came Peter disappeared, and I
began to fear that he had yielded to the temptation of a
poisoned trotter which had been found in my garden



28 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

stripped of its flesh, This vulgar dish was a delicacy
which Peter had never been able to resist, though why he
should have preferred it to the choice foods that were
daily piled upon his plate I cannot for the life of me say.
Cats are not unlike men. Was it not the Marquis of
Steyne who sometimes preferred turnips and boiled mutton
to the finest dish in the world? We searched the neigh-
borhood in vain, and at last I determined to advertise.
Accordingly I addressed an advertisement to my favorite
paper, the Pall Mall Gazette, requesting them to give it a
prominent place in the Agony Column. I received a polite
letter by return of post, saying that that paper did not
possess such a dreadful column as I had indicated. The
paper would, however, have much pleasure in inserting as
_ many agonies as I chose to pay for, and it soon appeared
in all the glory of Brevier, so called, I suppose, because
you get so little for your money. It ran as follows:

“(ome BACK, PETER. Lost, stolen, strayed, or poisoned, a white and

black cat called Peter, who left his friends at on Monday after-
noon last. Round his neck he wore a blue ribbon, with the word PETER
embroidered upon it in red silk. Before retiring to rest he always says his
prayers. Dead or alive, a reward of Two Pounds is offered to any one who
will restore him to his mourning friends.”



re:

I little knew what I was bring-
ing on my devoted head. I had
been troubled enough before
with dying cats, but now they
wereallalive. Cats were brought
to me in baskets, in boxes, in
arms; Manx cats and cats whose
tails were missing for other than
hereditary reasons; lame cats,
blind cats, cats with one eye, and
cats who squinted. Never be-
fore had I seen such an extraordinary collection. My
whole time was now taken up in interviewing callers





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 29

with cats. If the boys were bad before, they were a
thousand times worse now. Here is one example out
of ascore. He was a boy known as Pop, who carried the
laundry baskets.

“Ave yer found yer cat yet ?”

“ No, we have n't.”

“Did yer say it was a yaller ’un ?”

‘“No, I did n’t.”

“What did I say, Hop ?” continued Pop, triumphantly
turning to a one-legged friend who swept a crossing
close by.

“Yer said, Pop, as it was a tortus,” murmured the
bashful Hop, who had sheltered himself behind Pop.

[ee tOntis that (srit; A tortus;ana blopsand va4,
found it, sir. We ’ve got it here.”

‘You ’re wrong. My cat ’s zo¢ a tortoise,” I replied.

“Bless you, we know that, guv’nor. Just as if we
did n’t know Peter! Ah! Peter was a cat as wants a lot
of replacin’, Peter does. But me and Hop’s got a tortus
as is a wunner, guv’nor. A heap better nor Peter. Poor
old Peter! he’s dead and gone. Be sure of that. This
‘ere ’s a reg’lar bad road. A prize-winner, war n’t ’e,
Hoppy?” They held up the prize-winner, who was of a
tortoise, and was mangy.

“Look here, my boys, you can take her away, Now,
be off. Quick march.”

“Yer don’t want it, guv’nor? Jest think agin. Why,
‘ow will you get along without a cat? The mice is ’orri-
ble in this ’ere road. Come, guv’nor, I ’Il tell you what
Ill do. You shall ’ave a bargain,” said Pop. ‘ Goin’ at
two bob. What? Not two bob? One and a tanner.
No? Sayabob? Atanner? Then blow me if I won't
make yer a present of it, if you ’re hard up.”

I insisted that the tortoise prize-winner should be
taken away, and the next day I stopped the advertisement



30 _ PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

and resigned myself to despair. A week after Peter had
disappeared I heard the voice of my friend Pop at the
door. ‘I say, mister, I’ve some noose. Come along o’
me. I think I’vefound’im. Real. A blue ribbin round

‘is neck and says ‘is prayers. Put
on yer at and foller, foller, foller
me.” Mr. Pop led the way along
the road, and turned off to the
right, and we walked up another
road until we reached a large house
which had been unoccupied for
many months, The drains were up,
and two or three workmen were
busy. Pop at once introduced me as “the gent as was
lookin’ for his cat.” “ Have you seen a cat witha blue
ribbon round his neck?” I asked them, very dubious as
to the honesty of Pop’s intention. ‘Well, sich a cat ’as
bin ’ere for some days,” replied the workman to whom I
had spoken. ‘He used to come when we were gettin’
our bit of dinner. But we never know’d but wot it come
from next door. You go up-stairs to the first-floor front,
and you ’ll see a sight. It was young Washus there as
made the discovery.” Young
‘‘Washus,” so called from the
“nature of his daily avocations,
led the way ; I followed, and on
the top of the stairs was Peter,
who knew me at once, and began
to purr and rub himself against
my legs in a most affectionate
manner, as if to appease any out-
burst of wrath on my part. I felt
too pleased to be angry, and followed Peter into the empty
room, which was littered with paper and rubbish, and the







PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 31

remains of forty or fifty mice lay strewn about the floor.
Peter looked up to me as if to say: ‘“ Not a bad bag—eh,
master?” In the corner of the room was .)

a bit of sacking which Peter had used as }
a bed. Pop explained to me that he had
heard the men talking about the funny
cat that came and dined with them every
day. This conversation induced him to
search the house, with the happy result
that Peter was restored to the bosom of
his sorrowing family, and Pop gave up the laundry bas-
ket, and invested the reward in a small private business of
his own.

t

x







CHAPTERS Vids

Peter in lodgings. Mrs. Nagsby and the euphonium. Sarah’s base accusations against
Peter. King Arthur the greyhound, and his adventure with Mrs. Nagsby’s lady
lodger. Peter steals Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth, and the consequences.

PETER and I have had many homes in London and in
the country. Together we have lived in flats, in hotels,
in farm-houses, and i in lodgings for single gentlemen. In
lodgings for single gentlemen
we had many strange experi-
ences which would occupy too
much time to relate, and I will
therefore touch but lightly
upon this period of Peter’s
career. Peter, being a gentle-
manly cat, never quarrelled
with ladies, however hard they
might be to please, and let
them gird at him as they
would. How often have I,
when Mrs. Nagsby was com-
plaining to me in no measured terms of the wickedness of
Peter, compared that long-suffering cat to poor Colonel
Newcome, when that gallant gentleman was at the mercy
of Mrs. Mackenzie. For did not that gracious animal,
when Mrs. Nagsby was accusing him of stealing fowls,
say—did he not arch his bonny back and purr against
Mrs. Nagsby’s ankles and endeavor to appease her? In
her softer moods she did sometimes relax, and even
allowed Peter to sit by her side as she read the paper.



32



PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 33

Peter was held responsible for every article that was lost
in Mrs. Nagsby’s apartments, and the amount of money |
paid to that good lady for breakages in the course of six
months would have furnished a small villa. There were
few mornings when Mrs. Nagsby did not knock at my
door with some tale of woe. The
only really serious charge she
made against my poor cat I will
leave till the last, as it was the
cause of our departure, and also
because it will give me what the
dramatists call a good curtain—
that is, | shall finish the chapter
with an effective situation. Mrs.
Nagsby was a widow, and the late
lamented Nagsby had supported
her by his performances on the
euphonium. This instrument was
kept in a case in Mrs. Nagsby’s
little room, which was on the
ground-floor back, and looked on
to aseries of dingy walls. Mrs. Nagsby used to polish up
the euphonium every Saturday morning with a regularity
which nothing prevented. Did it not speak volumes for
her affection of the late lamented? On one of these
Saturdays it happened that a German band stopped at
the front door. Mrs, Nagsby could never resist the
seductive power of brass music. She rushed up-stairs
to the first-floor front to listen to the performance. Fate
ordained it that Mrs. Nagsby should leave the precious
euphonium on the floor in her haste to hear the band.
Fate ordained it also that Peter should come down stairs
at this particular moment and wend his way into Mrs.
Nagsby’s parlor. Fate also had ordained it that a
mouse which lived in a hole behind Mrs. Nagsby’s easy-
3





34 PETER; A CAT O ONE TAIL.

chair should issue at that this particular moment for
a little bread-crumb expedition. Mrs. Nagsby was a
careful housekeeper, and, finding no crumbs about, the
mouse, whose motto was “ Touzours L’audace,” roamed
into the silent highway presented by the orifice of the
euphonium. It was natural enough
that Peter should follow the mouse.
Unfortunately, Peter's progress
was stopped, the girth of his body
being too great to admit him; and
my door being open, I at once
rushed to the rescue, and found Peter with his head in the
depths of the euphonium, and making fierce struggles to
vacate the position. Mrs. Nagsby came down stairs and
entered her parlor just as I succeeded in extracting
Peter from the musical instrument. Fiercely was I re-
proached for Peter’s escapade, and humbly did I make
his apologies, little knowing the secret of the plight from
which I had rescued him. Having soothed my landlady,
she at length took up the euphonium and proceeded to
apply her eye to the main orifice to see if Peter had
damaged it, handling the euphonium in the manner of a
telescope. I was thinking of the reproaches in prospect,
when I was startled by a loud shriek, to which the eupho-
nium imparted a metallic vibration, and Mrs. Nagsby
dropped the instrument on to the floor, the good lady her-
self following it with a thud. A wee mouse scuttled across
her face, disappeared behind the easy-chair, and doubtless
rejoined his anxious family. Mrs. Nagsby recovered after
her maid-of-all-work and I had burnt a few sheets of brown
paper under her nostrils; but I had great difficulty in
making the peace. In vain I pointed out that the respon-
sibility did not remain with me, or even with Peter. We
agreed after some debate that it was the German band,
which was never afterwards patronized by Mrs. Nagsby.





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TA/L. 35

Later on I happened to relate this episode to a friend
in the presence of my landlady, when he capped the story
with one of his own, by way of sympathizing with Mrs.
Nagsby in particular and with ladies in general who had
a mortal horror of mice. He knew (he said) a young
married couple whose life’s happiness had been almost
wrecked by a mouse. Their home contained a certain
number of mice, like most houses. The lady had a horror
of them. The gentleman had a horror of disposing of
them when they were caught. One night the wife in-
formed her husband that there were two mice in the trap,
and bade him go and drownthem. The humane husband
got up from his chair, and going into the kitchen where
the mice were, stealthily held the lever up and allowed
the two little creatures, which were panting with fear, to
escape. When he had done the fell deed he looked
round, and to his dismay he saw his wife behind him, and
to his horror the mice made for his wife’s petticoats, in
the intricacies of which they disappeared. The scene
which followed beggared description (so the story went).
The lady went into hysterics, the servants were roused,
perfect Niagaras of sal-volatile were laid on, the doctor
was sent for, the lady took to her bed for a week, and
when she got up she asked for a judicial separation, de-
clining to live with a man who treated his wife worse than
a brute. The matter was settled amicably at last, after a
hundred pounds had been spent in deeds and lawyers,
upon the husband undertaking never to release a mouse
again, and upon the lady, on her part, undertaking never
to request him to drown mice, but to make it part of the
cook’s work.

If Mrs. Nagsby took a mean advantage of Peter’s
presence to lay upon his sleek shoulders the blame for
breakages and thefts, you may be sure that her maid-
servant, one Sarah, was not slow to follow her example.



36 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Sarah and I used to differ constantly concerning the
proper performance of certain household duties which lay
in Sarah’s path and affected my comfort. As Sarah stut-
tered, and I like rapidity, I used to scribble my complaints
on scraps of paper which I affixed to the particular object
in question. For instance, Sarah seldom cleaned my
water-bottle, and I would write down, “ Kindly clean out
this bottle,” and tie it to the bottle in question. Sarah
would in her turn write the answer on the blank side of
the paper, thus:

“Sir: The bottel ’as bin clean out. I does it reglar. It is as
clean as it will come. Don’t let your cat lick it.”

Again :

“Please make my bed properly. I don’t believe it has been
shaken up for months, and the sheet has been rolled up at the foot
of the bed for a month. I caught a flea this morning.”

Answer:

“Sir : Your bed is shook up reglar. The sheet is rolled up
becos its not long enough. The fleas belongs to Peter. Signed :
Sarah.”

I got into further
trouble with Mrs. Nags-
by owing to a grey-
hound which I had
bought at a sale. I
had no character with
him, for he had no
character. If Mrs.
Nagsby had killed him
with the meat hatchet
I would have held my
peace, for never a day
passed but King Arthur took his name invain. The first





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 37

night I brought him home Mrs. Nagsby gave me permission
as a great favor to chain him to the kitchen table. In the
morning two of the table legs had been mangled, and that
is one reason why I called him King Arthur, of the Round
Table. The next night King Arthur was taken up-stairs
and attached to the leg of my wash-stand. I was awakened
out of my beauty sleep by a horrible clamor which caused
me to think that the house had fallen in. I presently
realized that King Arthur had mistaken the water-jug
for a dragon. In any case it was smashed to bits, and
the noise brought Mrs. Nagsby to my door in anger.
I should be sorry to say what King Arthur cost me in
hard cash for breakages and legs of mutton. Poor Peter!
thou wast a saint when compared with that fiend on four
legs.

The dénouement came at last, and it arose from King -
Arthur’s fondness for the ladies. There was nothing
remarkable in the appearance of the old lady who was
Mrs. Nagsby’s favorite lodger, who had held the rooms
above mine for three years. But the lady had a most
beautiful sealskin jacket, trimmed with tails of sable.
King Arthur had unluckily a feminine affection for furs,
and I never dared to take him into any of the fashionable
thoroughfares, as he had a way of following the ladies,
not for their own dear sakes, but for the fur which they
might happen to be wearing. Whether they were only
tippets or dyed rabbit-skins, it did not matter to King
Arthur.

Well, one unfortunate afternoon, I was leading my
greyhound home. A few yards in front of us was Mrs.
Nagsby’s first-floor lady, taking the sun in all the glories
of her sealskin jacket and sable tails. To my horror I
dropped the chain in taking a match-box out of my pocket,
and before I could take any steps to prevent him—Aznug |
Arthur was coursing Mrs. Nagsby’s first-floor lodger at



38 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

his highest rate of speed/// King Arthur held on his
course and literally took the old lady aback, and began to
tear those choice sable tippets asunder. Nor was the base
creature content to rest at the sable tippets. Before I
reached his victim his mouth was full of sealskin. Let
me pass on, merely say-
ing that King Arthur
/ was shot that night in
the mews at the back
of Mrs. Nagsby’s, a
* victim to his own indis-
cretions.

And now I come to the fatal catastrophe which finally
drove me and Peter from the shelter of Mrs. Nagsby’s roof.
That lady, owing to certain dental bereavements, sup-
plied the gaps made by years by aset of false teeth which
she was in the habit of depositing on her dressing-table
when she went to bed. I had learned this from Sarah
when that damsel was in a confidential mood, and she gave
me to understand that ‘“ Missus Nagsby never gave ’er
tongue a rest till she put er teeth to bed.” Peter, I think
I have told you, slept in my room. One very warm night
Mrs. Nagsby left her door open, and her night light was
burning as usual. I also slept with my door open, and
Peter, being hot like the rest of us, left the room for a
stroll, and visited Mrs. Nagsby’s chaste apartment. Pres-
ently he came back with Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth between his
own—at least I suppose so, for I found them on the
hearth-rug when I awoke. I was greatly amused, though
a little puzzled to know how I could replace them. After
some reflection I went down to breakfast, placed the
trophy in a saucer and showed it to Sarah, who screamed
and traitorously ran up and informed her mistress. Mrs.
Nagsby came down rampant, but of course speechless. I








PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 39

was thankful for this; but the violent woman, after sput-
tering spasmodically, caught sight of the missing article
in the saucer, and, lost to all sense of shame, replaced it
in position and poured forth a torrent of the most violent
abuse.

Peter and I left.





CHAPTER VIII.

Life in Excelsior Mansions. The old graveyard and Peter's favorite tombstone. Con-
cerning Deadman’s Passage. The verger’s story of the man who came to a violent
end because he would have a fine coffin. Peter is lost. The flash of light on the
window-blind.

THESE veracious memoirs are necessarily discursive
and fragmentary. The straightest railway that ever engi-
neer constructed has its curves and sidings. So when I
drop you down in the country at the end of one chapter
and pick you up a hundred miles in another direction at
the beginning of the next you must not be surprised. Be
kind enough, then, to imagine yourself in some rooms
which commanded a fine view of a disused graveyard. It
was one of those queer oases which you
come across in all parts of London.
Here the old meets the new, and you
find a substantial block of new buildings
sandwiched in between tottering old
houses which must soon fall a prey to
the wrecker’s pick. To many, an old
graveyard would have offered but a de-
pressing prospect. To me, I confess, it
was a source of constant interest. Nay
I even regarded the crumbling old tombstones with a sub-
dued pleasure, as presenting a sermon on the affairs of
life, which was none the less eloquent for being unspoken.
One is conscious of so many flaws in the human preacher,
that his exhortations have often but a momentary effect.
Regarded from a practical point of view, the graveyard
also offered a convenient playground for Peter, who loved

40





PETER: A CAT O ONE TAI/L. 41

to doze away his days in the company of the dead, revel-
ling, no doubt, in the life which was coursing through his
veins. Then again, by the aid of a pair of opera-glasses,
it was quite possible to spend many pleasant hours in
watching the doings of the queer people who had pitched
their tents in the surrounding houses.

If Excelsior House (that was the admirable name by
which my block was known in the Post-Office Directory)
had ever caught fire, it would have gone hard with me,
for | was five floors up, but the airiness of my eyrie was
sufficient compensation for any fears on the score of fire.



The houses which bounded the graveyard ran even higher,
and extended into garrets, and gruesome enough, and
gloomy enough, and even criminal, some of those windows
looked. Some of them certainly belonged to bird-fanciers,
to judge by the number of cages which were hung out on
sunny days. One roof was devoted to fowls, and one ten-
ant even went so far as to keep a donkey, but that was on
the lower floor. Through my glass I saw rooms with low
ceilings blackened with smoke and the fumes from much
preparation of fried food; rooms which accommodated
large families, whose furniture consisted chiefly of a family
bed ; rooms in which flowers were wired and laid in baskets



42 PETER: A CAT O ONE TA/L.

for the street-corners ; rooms in which various ill-rewarded
industries were plied. You had only to pay your money
and take your choice.

A narrow passage ran along one side of the grave-
yard (which, by the way, was facetiously called the
“bone-orchard”), and this was the favorite rendezvous of
the workers from the adjacent premises of a jobbing
printer. Thither they came to smoke their after-dinner
pipes, and drink their beer, which was brought to them
from the bar of the ‘“ Anchorage,” the favorite public-
house of the neighborhood, which was connected with the
main street beyond by Deadman’s Passage, a dark and
villainous alley, through which passed street musicians
and street merchants of every sort and condition. Down
Deadman’s Passage came, too, sandwichmen, who dropped
their boards and produced mysterious parcels of old news-
papers. These always seemed to contain other parcels of
old newspapers, which ultimately proved to contain a very
crusty crust, and a very little chunk of very yellow cheese.
Now and then even a Punch and Judy show found its way
through Deadman’s Passage and gave the inhabitants a
performance.

As for the graveyard itself, it presented every possible
assortment of tombs. There were high tombs and low
tombs ; tombs plain and tombs chased and chiselled by a
race of artificers long since dead and gone. There were
slabs straight, slabs crooked, slabs flat, and slabs broken
and doubled up in the middle as if by some convulsion of
nature. It was always said that these were the results of
premature burials. Then there were the tombs of old
inhabitants who had been placed there a hundred years
ago, as was shown by the remains of illegible letters. Nor
did I ever see a finer assortment of angels than was gath-
ered together in my graveyard ; some of them, alas! with
broken noses, and others with half a wing gone. Sooty



PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 43

and grimy was the grass that grew in patches; sooty and
grimy the few flowers which. grew up here and there,
planted by none knew who, in defiance of all the laws of
botany. Dissipated and bedraggled were the scraggy
shrubs which had also found a passage upwards, and bore
a scanty crop of leaves in the summer. Grim and desolate
in winter, in summer the old churchyard with its patches
of green and its melancholy shrubs served as a pleasant
playground for the children who lived in the neighbor-
hood, and afforded a delightful retreat for
the poorer residents, who smoked their
evening pipes by the rusty rails, and gossiped
in the cool of the evening. As for the dogs
and the cats, 1 cannot think what they would
have done without it. They slept in perfect
amity amongst the tombstones. When night
came the dogs retired to their own particular
domestic hearths, and the cats—the cats by
scores emerged from every quarter, and scampered over
those gray stones which looked so ghostlike on the
moonlight nights.

The church itself was like the rest of the neighbor-
hood, crumbling, and almost forgotten. The verger, or
‘whatever he called himself, lived on coffins which he
manufactured in an adjacent street, and he looked as thin
and cadaverous and as jerry-built as one of his own shells.
On one occasion a customer had remonstrated with him—
on behalf of a friend of course—on the inferiority of the
article which he had supplied for a certain melancholy

s
B
A
&
§&



occasion. ‘‘ The nearer the earth the sooner it ’s over.
It’s a real kindness to make ’em thin, | tell you,” replied
the verger. ‘I knew a man what was hanged through a

‘ankerin’ after too good a coffin. He had poisoned his
own brother, and out of kindness, I suppose, being his
brother, he came to me and ordered a particular thick



44 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

one. ‘None of your mere veneer for me,’ says he. ‘He
was my brother, and he shall have the best I can afford.’
In a year’s time comes
an exhumation order
from the Home Office ;
-and they found the
poison in the body, and
the brother confessed.
After the sentence a
scrap of paper was put
into my hands, which |
have framed in my shop
now. ‘Stick to thin
ones ; it was all owing
to my false pride. I
should have had veneer,
and not a sign would
have been left. I ’m sorry I can’t give you my
job. That belongs to Gov’nment.’” This interesting
episode of his professional experiences Mr. Snewin im-
parted to me as we smoked a
pipe together on my _ favorite
grave.

I have described my old grave-
yard and its surroundings with
some care, because Peter and [|
sometimes took our walks there-
in, Peter indulged in none of
the vulgar pranks which the low-
bred cats of the neighborhood
were wont to play, but in his
sedate way he followed me up and
down the walks, and over the old tombstones, and smelt
the wallflowers, and ate a blade or two of grass, and occa-
sionally chased a sparrow, and more than once when he







PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 45

found the doors open strayed into the church, in search
of a church mouse, I suppose. I put no restraint on his
liberty, and he often found his way down the backstairs
and sunned himself on one of the tombstones for hours
together. One night I was working late against time ;
the usual procession of musicians had come down Dead-
man’s Passage ; the red-nosed flautist who had descended |
to the penny-whistle had played, “Come into the Garden,
Maud,” and ‘“‘ The Last Rose of Summer,” for the benefit
of this favored neighborhood ; the broken-down concert-
singer had made her last effort to reach her top notes,
and, having failed, dropped in to mellow them with stout,
which is well known to be a favorite medicine with the
profession ; a professor on the concertina had executed
the “Carnival of Venice” in his most exquisite manner ;
and the musical spirits in the back parlor of the “ Anchor-
age” had just been reminded that ‘‘ Time was up !”—in
short, the neighborhood was just going to bed, and there
were four quiet hours before it would wake up again.

Horror !

I missED PETER. I was terrified.
I hunted high, I hunted low, I cried
‘Peter,’ I whispered ‘ Puss,” I
scanned the moonlit tombstones
with my glass, I scanned the adjacent
roofs, I looked everywhere, and no
Peter was to be found. I knocked
at the back-door of the “An-
chorage,” and having been rebuffed
with a ‘“ You've had enough. Can’t
serve any more,” I was told that
Peter had not been seen. Heavy of
heart, 1 mounted up to my eyrie
again, lighted a cigarette, and sat at the open window
wondering where Peter had gone. With a start which I]





46 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

cannot express I remembered a popular fried-fish shop
in the main street ; with a thrill of fear I recalled the
eel-pie shop which competed with the fried-fish. It was
a queer neighborhood. Heavens! Was it possible
that Peter could have been destined for such an igno- —
minious end as eel-pie? My heart beat at an alarming
rate, and my ears, sharpened with anxiety, caught the
dull monotonous thuds of certain machinery which I
knew to portend sausages. * * * The clock in the
church chimed the four quarters and struck one; all was
silent, even the thudding of the machinery had ceased,
and except the sound of a drunken brawler in the distance,
and the rattle of a belated hansom, silence reigned. I
paced up and down my room, and once more went to the
window, when, to my astonishment, I saw a bright flash in
a window opposite. This was followed by another, and yet
another, until I was nearly sent out of my senses by these
extraordinary phenomena. Suddenly a lamp was lighted
in the room, and the white blind was drawn down. 1
waited nervously for a moment, when I saw what appeared
to be a rigid hoop projected against the window, and the
body of a dog, wonderfully distorted against the calico
blind, leap through the hoop, which was now turned at
right angles to my window. Another respite, and the
hoop disappeared, some confused figures appeared at the
window against the blind, the light went out, and lo! an-
other flash of light, into which the dog bounded, appa-
rently all aflame. Then all was dark again. Another
respite gave‘me time to wonder what these extraordinary
phenomena portended, when suddenly the lamp was
lighted, and upon the blind was reflected the figure of
a cat, indubitably a cat, and, will you believe me? zw the
act of saying his prayers. In the hundredth part of a
second it flashed across me that no other cat but Peter
prayed in that holy and sincere manner. There against



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 47

the calico blind was my dear cat, with his paws clasped
together and his head up as if invoking my help. It was
too much. Hatless and breathless I darted down stairs,
crossed the graveyard, regardless of consequences, and



threw a small chunk of a tombstone up at the window.
It failed to hit the mark, but evoked the violent wrath
of a sleepy costermonger, who hurled a cabbage at my
defenceless head, and brought his window down with



48 PETER: A CAT O ONE. TAIL.

a slam. Fearful of arousing the neighborhood, I re-
turned to my room, and once more looked through my
glass to see if Peter was still praying. All was dark, so
I went to bed feeling sad and doubtful as to the fate of
Peter.





INDE TE(OROE TUNE SAY Sy ION RUME





CHAPTER IX.

I dream horrible dreams, and make inquiries respecting Peter. A friendly potman
puts me on the scent, and takes me to see a famous Professor who works a cat-
and-dog show.

I DREAMT a strange dream that Friday night ; uncanny
flashes of flame and distorted cats haunted my pillow. I
awoke late, and did not begin to make
my promised investigations until mid-
day. I thought it would be no easy :
task that I had before me, for the
denizens of the human forest where I
expected Peter to be were a suspicious
race. Every. stranger was suspected of
being a policeman in disguise, who wanted something or
somebody. However, through the friendly agency of a
potman, I was fortunate enough to hear something to my
advantage, He was the potman at the “ Anchorage,” with
whom I had oddly enough ingratiated myself a week be-
fore by subscribing to a small testimonial to his wife on the
occasion of her presenting him with twins, their arrival being
celebrated by a curious and sociable ceremony known asa
“Friendly Lead,” which came off in the first-floor parlor,
a galaxy of talent honoring the potman by their presence.
The fact that I had dropped a whole shilling into the tin
plate which was presided over by the potman’s wife, hold-
ing a twin in each arm, raised me to a very high position
in the eyes of the potman and his wife, and perhaps the
twins, though they could not, of course, express their
thanks so heartily. When Joe saw me drop in the shilling

49





50 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

he looked at me, and then at Mrs. Joe, and whispered to
me: “The Victoria Cross next time.” I smiled, but
failed to see the point of the remark, though it called forth
some rude laughter from that portion of the company who

were near enough to hear it. It struck me afterwards ~

that Joe associated the Victoria Cross with the Queen’s
Bounty, but I may be wrong. This little passage ex-
plained the readiness of Joe to answer my questions
respecting Peter. Had he seen any-
thing of Peter? No,he hadn't. Nor
heard anything of him? No, Had
Mrs. Joe? No. Mrs. Joe was too
busy with the twins. Did he know
who lived in that room across the
“orchard”? Yes, he did. It was a
gentleman known as the Professor,
who had just arrived in town from cir-
cuit. He was a Professor. A what?
In the public business, had a caravan and worked dogs
and cats. ‘‘Cats!” cried I, “why, that explains it all.
Take me to him, Joe.” Presently Joe, having obtained the
permission of his master, took me through Deadman’s
Passage into the main street. Then we dodged down
another passage, and turned once or twice to the right
and left, when I found myself before a low door from
which most of the paint had curled off, and the rest was
crackling like a piece of roast sucking-pig. A brass door-
plate, very dirty, bore the name of “Sir Bartholomew
Knox, Bart., M.D.,” which I pointed out to my faithful
guide, and said that we really could n't be right. ‘Ah!
you're not fly, sir. That ’s the Professor’s name, ‘Knox !’”
“But he’s not a Baronet and M.D.—come now?” Joe
then informed me that “Mr. Knox, otherwise known as
the Professor, had picked up the door-plate cheap, for the
Professor always says you can gammon the British public





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 51

into believing anything, if it’s only in print, so he ’s always
called Professor Bart in these parts, and this is his town
house.”

There was no need to ring, for the front door was
partly open. We walked into a narrow passage, which
smelt very much like a menagerie, when we stopped for a
moment, interrupted by the sound of a piping voice
apparently engaged in addressing an audience:

“? Bre yer ’ave a box in a theaytre ; and there yer ’ave
a lady’s fan; and’ere yer ’ave a lamp-shade ; and now yer
‘ave a bunch o’ roses, all a-blowin’ and a-growin’ ; and ’ere
yer ’ave Buffalo Bill’s ‘at ; and there yer ave the Doochess of
Devonsheer.

And who the doose be you? What is- up, chied the
boy as he caught sight of us. “ We’re after that cat as
says his prayers—last seen on your premises.” ‘We 've
no cat as misbehaves hisself, Joseph, in this ‘ere crib.
Anyways I knows nothink. You must ask the Professor.”
“Where is the Professor, you young cough-drop ? s
“ Don’t call me names, or I Il make you swaller one. * * *
Now then, ladies and gents, ’ere yer ’ave a box in a the-
aytre; and there yer ave a lady’s fan; andere yer ’ave a
lamp-shade ; and now yer ‘ave a bunch o’ roses, all a-
blowin’ and a-growin’,” and the young gentleman, who was
scantily glad in a pair of trousers, with the braces hanging
loose, and a dirty flannel shirt, again transferred his
attentions to the piece of tissue paper in his hands, which
he transformed with amazing dexterity into the different
shapes indicated in his address. “ What is he?” I asked,
quite failing to understand his mysterious address. “He's
one of the Professor's pupils. He ’s a-rehearsing and
eddicating hisself for the cough-drop business, and a
powerful good business too, but it needs a lot of learning.
He’s one of the Professor's most promisink young uns.”



52 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL,

All that we could extract from young ‘“‘cough-drop ” was
a promise to impart to the Professor that I had lost my
cat, and that I thought he might have age so famous a

connoisseur a call,











CHAPTER X.

Night in Smith’s Row. Introduces the human fly and the lion-maned lady, who per-
form some staggering feats. The Professor owns that he has just bought an
educated cat, and invites me to call and see him.

In spite of the assurances of my acquaintance of the
“Anchorage” I began to fear that Peter had gone for-
ever, and when I returned to my rooms and contemplated
the tortuous windings of the labyrinth
around me my spirits sank below zero.
Fatalist as Iam, I murmured “‘ Kismet,”
and prepared for the best or the worst
as it might be, determined, however, to
leave no winding unexplored to discover
my lost friend. The chase proved suc-
cessful, and was the means of intro-
ducing me to some of those byways of
our civilization which always had a
fascination for me. If you prefer the
highways kindly skip the next two or three chapters.

As evening drew in I sallied forth once more and
knocked at the Professor’s door. The door was locked,
and I was informed by a small boy in the court that Bart
had gone to his show in Smith’s Row.

It was Saturday night, and Smith’s Row, which was
close by, was aflame with the light from a thousand
naphtha lamps; and the cries of the contending com-
petitors for your custom were deafening. It was not an
easy matter to force one’s way through the surging crowd,
which moved slowly. Housewives with baskets on arm

53





54 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

lingered longingly before the array of juicy meat and the
strings of rabbits ; husbands chinked their wages in their
pockets, and debated whether they should invest in fish,
flesh, or game. There were a thousand attractions to
conjure the coin out of their thinly lined pockets. The
grocers in particular offered extraordinary inducements ;
such as Japanese cabinets, footstools, crockery, china orna-
ments, and even “hand-painted” oil pictures, to purchasers
of a half-pound of tea. In Smith’s Row you could buy two
umbrellas for a shilling; a pair of boots for sixpence ; a
pair of trousers for as much again; and a whole library
fora penny. In the distance I could hear young “ cough-
drop” bidding the British public buy his never-failing
specific for consumption, colds, sore heads, sore throats,
sore fingers, or any other ailments. As I pushed my way
through the crowd I found that the young man’s business
was being apparently prejudiced by the proprietor of an
elaborate establishment, in which was to be seen the
“human fly,” a famous female who walked on the ceiling,
her deeds of daring being pictorially represented on the
canvas. Being unable to reach the dispenser of drops,
I passed through the canvas door, thinking that the volu-
ble showman might be the Professor. I passed in and
found the “human fly” sitting by a coke fire roasting
chestnuts, and chatting affably with a matronly female

clad in gay attire, rather the worse for wear. The canvas
door of the show was hooked up, so as to allow the crowd
in the street to obtain a glimpse of the wonders within,
represented by the two ladies roasting, chestnuts, and the
proprietor pointed with a long wand, first to the awe-in-
spiring picture on his canvas, and then to the homely and
comfortable couple feasting on chestnuts—as he remarked,
just like two of the most ordinary every-day females. At
last the door was closed, the master announced that the per-
formance was about to begin, and the human fly, who was a



“PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 55

pretty little brunette of sixteen or seventeen, dressed in a
pair of shrunken red cotton tights and a black velvet bodice
laden with tarnished spangles,
lifted herself on to the trapeze
which hung from the ceiling.
After turning a sommersault
or two she placed her feet in
the master’s hands, and he
proceeded to adjust a pair
of articles which looked like
a cross between goloshes,
rinking skates, and pattens.
With great caution she turned
round, and hanging head-down,
hoisted herself up until the
fairy slippers were flat on a broadish beam which was
part of the roof. She then let go, and with great caution
walked for a couple of yards along the beam, turned round
and walked back amidst general applause from the enthu-
siastic audience. “If you think the young lady is worthy
of a copper, I raise no objections,” said the showman ;
‘“‘or if you like to buy any of her portraits, or a little book
of her life, why, you will have the opportunity. Music,
Johnny,” to a little boy in charge of an organ. The human
fly then descended from her dizzy pedestal, took off her
goloshes, and made a collection in one of her slippers.

I had hoped to question the showman as to his iden-
tity, but his time was precious, and he had already given
his hand to the other lady, who was also attired in red
tights, velvet, and spangles, whom he introduced as the
lion-maned lady, proceeding to relate her history, which
was indeed a remarkable one. Her father, according to
the Professor, had been a captain in India. He was or-
dered to visit a distant station, and took his young and
beautiful “missus” with him. Here I continue the rela-







56 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

tion of the horrible tragedy that was told us as nearly in
the showman’s own language as I can remember: “ Ha!
me, a pretty Bank ’Oliday was that! Well, the capting
and his missus travelled and travelled until they come to
a thick forest, which was full of lions and tigers—as thick
-as fleas in a blanket. Well, to make a long story short,
the lions attacked the capting, who says to his missus :
‘Get behind me,’ and outs with his sword, and outs with
his gun, and outs with his baginet. The gun missed fire,
the baginet bent, and the sword broke, and the lion
knocked the capting down and clored him up until he
hung in strips like cats’ meat on a skewer. The lady
climbed up a tree and fainted at the ’orrible spectickle,
whence she was rescued by a tribe of friendly Indians and
took ’ome to her ma. On her arrival she gave buth to
a female hinfant, which was born with a mane owin’ to
the fite. This lady—let down your black ’air, my dear—
is that female hinfant. Well, if you reads your Bible and
goes to church, you know well enough that out of evil
good may come. This lady now makes a ’onest livin’
out of her ’air. The press of the world has spoken in the
highest terms of her ’air, and not a week passes but what
some new ’air lotion offers her cash down just to say that
her ’air is the result of their lotion. She’s a ’onest woman
and spurns away the serpints. They ’ve grown better
since old mother Eve. The lion-aired lady is also a
hairynaut. I suppose you ’ve all heard o’ the strong-
jawed woman, and how she comes down with a balloon
a-'angin’ on by her teeth. Well, she ain’t in it with my
lion-aired lady. Last year, you may believe me or not—
(it was at a Primrose féte),—she descended a mile a-ang-
in’ on by the ’air of ’er’ed, curled up at the end with a’ook,
and fixed to the car of the hairynaut.” Having worked
the impressionable audience up into a state of feverish
excitement, the lion-maned one tied her hair into a knot,



PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 57

and, as the Professor said, ‘‘’ung by it to the trapeze.”
It was something of an anti-climax, to be sure, but it gave
me an excuse for introducing myself to the showman by
asking him how long the lady’s hair was, asking him at
the same time if he knew the Professor known as Bart.
“What do you want with him?” asked the showman,
“for I love him like a father.” <‘ Well, there ’s nothing
like coming to the point. I have lost a pet cat, and have
an idea that he has strayed to the Professor's; in fact, I
am credibly informed that he has done so.” ‘ Describe
the animal.” ‘“ Black and white.” ‘“ Was he a eddicated
cat?” “He was well brought up.” ‘Was he given to
roamin’?” ‘ Sometimes.” ‘Had he a pertickler weak-
ness—in the way of victuals, for instance?” “He was
fond of cats’ meat.” ‘“ Well,” went on the Professor,
“my name zs Bart, and I’ve got a black and white cat
which zs highly eddicated. And how do you think I got
‘im? Prigged ’im, I suppose? Well, I did n't. I got
‘im from Katzmit, a neighbor o’ mine. He knows J ’m
always in the market where eddicated cats is in question.
Katzmit said he followed him when he went out with his
barrer. Would I give five bob for him? Would I try
him? Yes. I would try him, and there he is up in my
garret at this momink. If he knows you when he sees
you, he’s yours again. If he don’t, he’s mine. Will
you shake hands on it?” Professor Bart asked me to call
the next day, when he would be disengaged, being the
Sabbath, and, thanking him, I departed, feeling very

much relieved.





CHAPTER XI.

I call upon the Professor and once more encounter the human fly and the lion-maned
lady. The Professor and the mermaid. The performing cats and the flashes of fire.
The midnight vision explained in a very simple way. I stop and dine with the
Professor.

Tse next day I had no difficulty in obtaining access to
the Professor's domestic hearth, which was just being swept
and garnished by a young lady whom I recognized as the
human fly, a fact which astonished me not a little. I was
even more surprised to find the lion-maned
lady seated in an easy-chair, sunning her-
self by the open window, which looked
over the graveyard. I should have felt the
presence of these distinguished ladies a
little confusing if the Professor had not
stepped into the parlor in his shirt-sleeves,
smoking a short clay pipe, and introduced
me to the ladies, who proved to be none other than his
wife and daughter. “Then the stories you told last night,
Professor?” “Exactly, sir. You’ve hit it. Work of im-
agination.”” Here the Professor tapped his forehead. “It's
no use, sir, They alldoit. The public expect it. In our
business you must have the remarkable. There is money
in a dog with three legs. A dog that has four is no good.
Do you see that mermaid under that glass case? Bring it,
Lizzie dear.” The human fly brought the glass case and
placed it on the table, and I saw a hideous monstrosity
with the head of an ape, covered with hair, with open
eyes, projecting teeth, and the body of a fish, the whole
reposing on an admirable imitation of rock, surrounded

58





PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 59

by asea of glass. “ Now, sir, I’m a-letting you into our
secrets. You can’t gammon the press—oh no! I ’ve
made a lot o’ money in my small way out of the old gal.
She ’s played out now, and is on the shelf, as you see.
The head ’s of plaster-of-Paris, and the tail is a stuffed
codfish with the head cut off. Do you think the tail of
the codfish was a marketable objeck beyond sixpence
even when she was fresh? No. Well, I applies my
knowledge of the market and supplies a mermaid which
the public paid to see. They paid for my knowledge.
That ’s how I see it. But you ’re worriting about your
cat, or my cat,” said the Professor, dropping his right eye.
This was the cue for the lion-maned lady, who disap-
peared for a minute and returned with PETER—yes,
PETER, in her arms. The moment he saw me he leapt.
on to my shoulder, and rubbed his face against my cheek,
and purred, and made so many demonstrations of affec-
tion that the lady and Professor ex-
claimed with one breath: “There ’s no
doubt about it, sir. He’s yours. I’m
sorry, for he would have made himself
/a name in our business. But what
; made you think we had him? I then
- described the vision at the window in
the dead of night, and asked with
curiosity for an explanation of the
flashes of light. The lady winked at
her husband, the husband winked at his wife, and both
laughed heartily, and then the Professor informed me
that his wife rana show of her own in the summer, a cat
show, which she took round the country ina caravan. Upon
my expressing a hope that it was not owing to matrimonial
differences they both laughed, and explained that two
shows turned in more than one, and they looked forward
to the time when they could run a united establishment.







60 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“ You would like to see my cats,” asked the Professor’s
lady. ‘You would. Then follow me. Bart, go and get
the properties ready, while I show the gentleman where
the cats live when they ’re at home.”’ Carrying Peter with
me we mounted up four flights of steps until we came to
a garret in which a dozen cats of all nations were repos-
ing comfortably in beds of straw, with two great bowls of
' milk at their disposal. A wire netting protected the open
window, up to which the cats could climb when they felt
disposed. Bart now called us down-stairs, the cats follow-
ing their mistress without a murmur. We descended to
the second floor, where I found that all the preparations
for a rehearsal had been made by Bart. Two doors of
two rooms were thrown open, and between them ran a
row of half-a-dozen chairs gaudily painted, and joined
together by two thin strips of timber in order to keep them
firm, and along these was ranged a row of wooden bottles
painted to resemble Bass’s beer. These were taken away,
and were replaced by a tight-rope, at each end of which
was a veritable castle with a tower. The Union Jack
floated bravely in the breeze on each castle, and I was
watching for the next move, when suddenly one of the
windows of the castle opened, bars and all, and out



marched a fine Persian cat, with a bell jangling from a
light blue ribbon. Boldly he stepped out on to the rope,
walking with wonderful precision on his giddy way.
Scarcely had he started than through the castle window



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 61

emerged Shah, Oliver Cromwell, Bluebottle, Randolph
Churchill, the Grand Old Man, Hop Bitters, Four Half,
Bitter Beer, and the Bogie Man, some other cats of the
troupe, yellow, gray, black, white, and mottled, gayly
attired in silks and satins, with ribbons at their necks,
who followed the footsteps of the general to the other
castle, all, that is, with the exception of Four Half, a
melancholy tabby, who tripped half-way across and fixed
her claws into Oliver Cromwell, -who scratched Four
Half’s nose, compelling her to release her hold and send-
ing her down into the castle moat below. This little
catastrophe did not damp the spirits of Mr. Bart, who
urged the cats on by a word of praise or reproof as was
necessary. Some purred, some jibbed, some spat dur-
ing their progress from one castle to another, but they
all seemed to enjoy the excitement. As fast as they
crossed the bridge each cat bolted through the castle
window, until every one had disappeared. ‘You don’t
mind mice, do you?” asked Mrs. Bart, who, upon my
replying that I rather liked them than otherwise, pro-
duced a score or so from a cage, and placed them on a
thicker rope which was now stretched from the flag-staff
of one castle to the flag-staff of the other. The mice sat
quite contentedly on the rope. Mr. Bart gave the word,
the window of the castle opened, and out marched the
cats again on their return journey, which was now made
across the rope, over the mice, and over again, and when
the journey was completed without a hitch, not a mouse
was touched, not a mouse had even been in danger. ‘That
always brings the house down,” exclaimed Mrs. Bart, with
- pride; “and now for the fire hoops, and there we ’ll stop,
as it’s Sunday. Down with the blinds, Bart; bring me
the matches,” and in a moment the two hoops which Mrs.
Bart held in her hand were a blaze of light, and Whiskey,
a lithe Tom with a magnificent pair of whiskers and a



62 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

decided grin on his face, jumped through the fiery circles
without a symptom of alarm. This performance ac-
counted in a simple way for the phenomena which I had
thought so strange, and Mrs. Bart subsequently explained
why she had chosen the silent hour of the night for a
rehearsal, by remarking that she did n’t want any more of
them blessed fire-engines a-comin’ an’ sousin’ her out of
hearth and home, which they had done on a former occa-
sion, a too inquisitive neighbor having called them out,
and “then had the cheek to ask me for five shillings, the
impudent busybodies.” ‘And you were seeing what my
cat could do, Mrs. Bart?” ‘Yes, sir. I had him on the
table there, and he put’his paws together, raised his eyes,
and prayed as natural asa parson. I felt rayther scared
when I saw him, I can tell you.” We then returned to
the parlor, and Bart asked me, in order to clear myself of
all suspicion that he was a cat thief, if I would like to see
his friend Katzmit, who could further explain. Here was
a possible opportunity of being initiated into the miys-
teries of one of the most mysterious callings, the cats’-
meat-man’s, the secrets of which had always puzzled me,
so.l said that I should like nothing better, and it was
resolved that I should accompany the Professor on the
next Sunday. “But don’t go yet. Stop and have a bit
of dinner now you are here,” said this hospitable showman.
So Peter and I stopped and dined with the philosophical
Professor and his interesting family.







LES CHATS SONT CHARMANTS ANTMAU



CHAPTER XII.

An interlude which deals with a bull-dog with glass eyes and cruel teeth. The dog’s
remarkable history and his lamentable end.

AFTER dinner we sat and smoked, and the Professor
told me some of his adventures. “ You see that trophy
there,” said my host. “It’s got a history.” The trophy
was a bull-dog with savage features, glaring ‘
glass eyes, and cropped ears. His mouth was
open, and disclosed a.battery of the whitest
and cruellest teeth I had ever seen. The
dog’s head was resting on his fore-paws, and
projected out of a kennel, and stuffed though
he was, I could not refrain from starting,
though I readily understood that the trophy
was a monument to some homely virtues
which were not indicated by any letters of
brass or sculptor’s allegory. ‘An old friend?”
‘said I. There was a spasmodic movement in the Profes-
sors ample bosom which betokened a sigh. “That
dog ’s got a history. His name was Death. There was
a time when no cheen that ever was forged would hold
him. And look at the poor feller now, a-lyin’ there as
helpless as a new-born babby, and his grinders as fine
a set as I ever see’d out of a tooth-puller’s show-case.
Ah me! Strong men, and strong dogs, they all go
down. What a moral, guv’nor, what a moral ! Many
a golden sovering I ’ve made out of good old Death
there.” “Why, you ’re a regular Midas, Professor. Dead

63

>





64 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAI/L.

or alive, you turn them into gold.” “Ay, sir. There ’s
them as says a live dog is better nor a dead lion. Rub-
bidge, says I. A man, a showman that is, as can’t turn a
penny out of a dead lion don’t know his business. Well,
you want to hear about Death. Here goes. Old woman,
where ’s my lectur?” After fumbling about in a chest of
drawers for a few minutes the Professor’s wife produced a
handful of faded bills, in which were proclaimed the mon-
ster attractions offered by the impresario at various periods
of his career. At last she produced a dirty copy-book,
stained with beer and coffee, dog-eared and greasy with
much handling, which Mr. Bart seized upon. ‘ This is it,
sir. This is the lectur. Well, sir, I used to do a turn



tw.
with old Death there mostly in the country districts where
they ’re not spoiled by Lunnun. Things has changed
since them days. Now everybody ’s a schollard.”
“Well, now—you ’ll excuse me if I stand up,” inter-
rupted the Professor, adjusting his collar and clearing his
throat. ‘Ladies and gents, I’m a-goin’ to tell you the
history of this ere dog. (1 had the glass case on a table
afore’em.) It is a true story (it zs a true story) I’m goin’
to tell you, and a story with a lot of morals (stage dzrec-
tion: this can be left out accordin’ to discretion and audi-
ence). You see him now laid low; his teeth would n't
’urt a fly now, poor feller ; his tail ain’t no wag in it ; the
savage in his eye is only make-believe, a bit of glass ; his
bellows won’t work ; in short, as fine a bull-terrier as ever



PETER; A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 65

walked on three legs and a half—I wish to be truthful,
ladies and gents: he lost half a leg in a trap, for he was a
poacher—is now stiff and stark. And why is he stiff and
stark? Because he did his dooty as well as ever Lord
Nelson we hear so much on did. I might have said Lord
Wellinton, but I says Lord Nelson, because he was half a
limb short too, like my bull-terrier. Dogs or men, if you
do your dooty in this little spear you must be prepared for
such little misfortunes. We now come to Act 1.

“It was a bitter winter’s night. I had just come home
and was having a little supper when a sharp knock at the
‘door gave us a startler. I went to see who it was, not
feeling very pleased at being disturbed at such an hour.
‘ Bart, let me in, for God’s sake,’ said the stranger, ‘I *m
wanted.’ ‘You ’re not wanted here, Mr. Apple Blossom,’
says I—for I reco’nized one of the sharpest sharps that
ever went on a race-course,—feeling very wild. It was a
name, Apple Blossom, was n’t it? And such a broken-
down blossom, a blossom with a cough which shook him
like a earthquake, in a shabby old overcoat full of holes, a
blossom wringing wet, as if the fire brigade had mistaken
him for a big blaze, and had tried to put him out. He
shivered and shook with the cold, and I was just going to
give him a shilling and send him away when the missus
recognized him and begged me to let him come in.
‘Don’t be’ard a night like this. Nota night like this.
Hear his cough,’ says the missus. I did n’t like ite, al
did n’t like Apple Blossom, and I did n’t like the brute of
a dog which stood at his heels; but I gave way to the
missus. What did I say, missus?” “You said I was
all ’art, and let him in!” «“* And is the dog to have lod-
ging too ?’ said I, sarcastic. ‘Don’t separate us,’ said
Apple Blossom. ‘Don’t separate us. He ’s the only
friend I ’ve got left, and the worst on us likes to cling to
something.’ In five minutes Apple Blossom and his dog

i



66 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAI/L.

were sitting before a roaring fire and partaking of our
meal. We never asked him what he was wanted for, poor
chap, for we could see plain enough he would soon be
took by him as won’t take no fora answer. Well, to cut
a long story short, we put Mr. Apple Blossom and his dog
up aloft in a little room we had empty, and made them as
comfortable as we could. They didn’t ruin us, for in a
week Apple Blossom was stiff and stark as that ’ere bull-
terrier, which you will know now was once Apple
Blossom’s. The night he died he called me to him, and
said—it was n’t more than a whisper: ‘ Bart, I’m goin’
this time, and I’m glad on it. Bart, they allus said you
was agood’un. They spoke the truth. Bart, I ain’t got
one coin to rub against another. I can’t leave you my
portmanty, for I ain’t got one. I can’t leave you my
wardrobe. But—Bart—I ’ll leave you—my—dog,’ point-
ing to the poor brute, who was sitting sullenly on the bed,
and howlin’ most melancholy, as if he understood what his
master was saying. ‘Oh! cheer up, Apple Blossom,
never say die,’ I said, trying to make the best of it. And
then he dozed off again. About an hour later I went up-
stairs again and found him stroking the dog, which was
licking his face. The moment he heard my footsteps
the brute growled fiercely, and for the life of me I dare n't
go near the dying man’s bed. ‘Bart,’ he whispers, ‘ Bart.
Here! I want to say something. Quick, quick.’ I bent my
ear to his mouth. ‘Give him gin when he’s obstropolous,
Bart. Give him gin, and he'll stick to you!’ and his head
sank back and Apple Blossom was dead.

“Vou may not have noticed it, ladies and gents, but
this world’s made up of pulling your handkerchiefs out of
your pockets and puttin’ of em back again. The cryin’
follows so quick on the laughin’, and azce versa. We ’ve
scarce had time to dry our eyes with one sort of tears
when another sort comes wellin’ up. I never could make



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 67

out whether the dead man was jokin’ with his dyin’ breath
when he said as Death would stick to me, meaning teeth,
and not ’art. If he did he was mistook, for Death and I
were pals for a long time. But we had a rare job in
gettin’ the body away, as I shall never forget. Death lay
there on the bed, and if any of us went near he opened
his mouth and growled like a cage full of lions. I had
bought a shell cheap—a misfit, by the way—and when the
man came with it Death went on so that he dropped it
and flew down-stairs, and nothin’
would induce him to come back
again. It was gettin’ serious,
when I met a friend who was a
bit of a surgeon, and he says,
‘Pison him.’ ‘No,’ says the
missus, ‘drug him.’ ‘ No,’ says
I, remembering Apple Blossom’s
dying words, ‘fetch sixpennort
of Old Tom,’ which they did, and
poured it into a basin. We left
the room for a few minutes, and when we came back the
dog was nearly as dead asleep as his master. And that
was how we were able to carry away all that was left of
Apple Blossom.

“And the bull-terrier became quite a character, for
every one got to hear of the Old Tom.

‘It was weeks before the dog forgot his master, but the
missus got round him with her wheedlin’ ways and her tit-
bits. He travelled with us for more than three years, and
a more faithful beast never was. Stick tous! I should
think he did, and in the nicest, kindest way, in spite of
that ugly set of teeth of his. Well, one day we were at
our little crib in town, and I had thirty pounds in notes in
my pocket. I had won the Derby sweep, which was drawn
at the Blue Dog in our neighborhood, where, by the way,





68 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

there ’s more money than you ’d expect. I did the perlite
and went home, always knowin’ where to stop, as my wife
says ; it ’s not drinkin’ she objects to, it ’s the art of stop-
pin’ as is so hard to learn. Well, I goes home, locks up,
and goes to bed. About three a.m. I was woke up from
my beauty sleep by my wife there. ‘There ’s somebody
in the house.” ‘Gammon,’ says I. ‘No gammon,’ says
she. Then I heard loud cries and shrieks, and sounds of
glass breaking, and the dog hollering out at the top of his
voice. Before I got down stairs the police were in the
house. The burglars had bolted. ‘That dog ought to be
in the force,’ said the bobby, quite serious. ‘That dog
would rise in the force. That dog would be all stripes.
ffe’s arter’em.’ Another loud shriek. ‘He’s got em!’
Then through the open door Death bolted back again with
a piece of trouser in his mouth, and his jaws was dripping.
‘That dog should be in the force. Good-night,’ repeated
the officer, as he put the bit of cloth in his pocket and
went away, adding: ‘ You need fear nothin’. That dog ’s
a ’ero.’ 2

“ But the burglars did come again, and what was much
worse I went down one morning and found Death dead on
the door-mat. A half-eaten piece of beef-steak, smelling
strongly of gin, was by his side. It was gin again, and
there was a cruel wound on his head which had killed him.
Round his neck was a scrap of paper on which was
scrawled: ‘The biter bit this time.’ Death had yielded
to the gin, and they had murdered him when he was in
liquor. They knew his little failin’.”

‘‘A true story, Professor ?”

“A true story.”

“ And the moral ?”

‘Too much Old Tom ain’t good for man nor beast.”





A PROMISING PUPIL.



CHAPTER XIII.

I go with the Professor on a Sunday excursion to the East End. The bird market,
Mr, Chaffinch, the dog- and bird-fancier. I am introduced to the purveyor of
cats’ meat to the Royal Family, who is inclined to be haughty ; and also make the
the acquaintance of Miss Tew and the white mice.

“Prriaps you ’d like to see the gen’lman wot brought
your cat to me, would you?” asked the Professor.
“J ll introduce you, if you like. He’s the sort o’ chap
you ’d like to know. In the bird line,
and animals.” I accepted the Profess-
or’s kind proposal, and we met at a
certain city pump on Sunday morning,
that being the orily day when the “old _
original Chaffinch” was likely to be .
found at home. - “ Don’t it strike you, --
guv’nor, how precious like a overgrown ~*~
graveyard this ’ere metropolus is of a
Sunday,” were the first words of the Professor as I greeted
him. “Jest look at them banks; now ain’t they like family
vaults ? As old Moore says: ‘Not a sound you hear, not
a furious note.’” It was quite true indeed. It was im-
possible to divest myself of the idea as we walked through
the deserted streets. A melancholy hawker was trudging
wearily to the west; a few gaudy Jewesses, resplendent in
velvet and jewels, were pacing along, intent on some dis-
tant rendezvous ; an empty omnibus was rolling along the
asphalt, the clatter of the horses’ hoofs making a thou-
sand echoes in the old city. The daily Babel is hushed ;
the din of a million wheels is heard no more; the mysteri-

69





yo PETER: A CAT O ONE TALL.

ous indescribable uproar composed of a thousand sounds
has stopped. The life which was beating so fiercely
through its veins a few hours ago is still, and it is as if
one of those wicked enchantresses we read of in the
Arabian Nights had cast a spell over the great city
which sleeps so soundly this cold gray morning. The
striving armies have retreated; the doors of the great
banks are double-bolted ; the warehouses are fortresses ;
the sombre courts and alleys which seethe with human life
six days out of the seven are weird
and still. Only a ring of bells reminds
us that the city still breathes. It is
Sunday, and the city is in the hands
of the clergy and the charwoman.

“Jt beats conjuring, don’t it?”
said the Professor, interrupting my
reflections, and unconsciously echoing
the thoughts that were passing through
my own mind. So &truck was I with
the solitude, never having been led to
make Sunday expeditions into the city before, that I be-
gan to think my guide was distorting the actual truth
when he promised to show me a sight which—I quote
his own words— If it were a Rummun there would bea
Cook’s excursion to see it. Ha! me. Most of us either
don’t see what ’s under our very noses, or don’t think it’s
worth lookin’ at.” After walking for a quarter of an hour
we turned smartly up a narrow street of an unwholesome
character, and in a minute reached a railway arch, beneath
which a young man with a clarionet under his arm was
holding forth to a small congregation of two ladies, a har-
monium, and three little boys. A minute more and we
were in the thick of a moving mass of humanity of the
most varied description. There must have been thou-
sands of people in that narrow thoroughfare. The sides





PERERA CATO) ONE LAME nt

of the streets were occupied by shops where birds, dogs,
‘cats, pigeons, fowls, guinea-pigs, mice, rats, goats, rabbits,
and fish, were on sale at the lowest market rates. If the
quantity and quality of the live stock
was remarkable, the number of articles
which was necessary for the comfort of >
their daily life was nothing short of
staggering, especially in the bird line.
Cages for birds, fountains for birds,
nests for birds, seeds for birds, baths for birds, musical in-
struments for birds, paste for birds, nets for birds, traps for
birds—the catalogue is endless. Never before had I real-
ized what an interest could be taken in birds until I made
one of this seething congregation, each and all being bent
on birds. Nearly every one was carrying a bird. The
bird was more often than not in a cage ; sometimes it was
in the hand. Generally the bird was a linnet, and gener-
ally the linnet was hidden from view by a handkerchief of
blue, with white bird’s-eyes sprinkled over it. Noone was
in the least bit shy. If you had a bird, it was
understood as a matter of course that you were
willing to dispose of it. If you had no bird, it
.. was taken for granted that you required one.
\ In order to allow me to see how business was
transacted, the Professor said to a Jew boy
_ who was as ragged as Belisarius down to his
ij boots, which were of patent-leather, and shone
Nh; with a magnificent polish :

; “How much for the bird a

“Two bob, guv’nor.”

“ Two bob/ Go’long.”

“ Well, how much?”

“ How much do you want ?”

“What ‘Il you give ?”

“ What ’Il you take ?,”



Sy






42 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“Well, see here. I want to buy anew suit. I’Il take
one and a tanner.”

““ Give you one.”

“Why, he cost me more than that for grub alone.”

The Professor made a sign of moving on, when the
boy, following, said mysteriously :

“Come round the corner. I’Il’ang it up, and you can
hear ’im sing.” i

““T don’t care whether he sings or not. I wants it to
sell again,” replied the Professor. And the boy went off
in a tumultuous passion.

We went along with the crowd, declining many delica-
cies which were offered to us. Amongst them were ice-
creams, Italian pastry, hot coffee, Irish stew, and a
succulent-looking yellow jelly, in which were imbedded
sections of eels. The Professor, doing the honors, re-
marked that it would be possible for a naked, starving man
to enter the crowd at one end and come out at the other
with a new suit of clothes, a bird’s-eye handkerchief, a pair
of patent-leather boots, a hat, a gold watch and chain, and
a ring on every finger. In the same journey the starving
man might consume a good meal, quench his thirst, con-
sult the doctor about his corns or his cough, furnish an
aviary, an aquarium, and a kennel, and drive out at the
other end in a carriage drawn by a pair of goats, and be
in time to attend the prayer-meeting under the railway
bridge.

Presently we found ourselves in a narrow by-way com-
posed of dirty houses which had seen much better days.
“ There ’s Chaffinch’s,” said the Professor, pointing to a
sign which was swinging to and fro in the wind. As we
got a little nearer I saw that on the board were painted a
number of dogs of various breeds, apparently discussing
some very important question of state. ‘And there ’s
Chaffinch !”” exclaimed the Professor, quickening his step.



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 73

All that I could see was a thick cloud of smoke, and it was
only when we reached our destination that I was able to
distinguish the homely features of the bird- and dog-
fancier, who had enveloped himself in a cloud
of smoke which would have done credit to a
hundred-ton gun. Mr. Chaffinch wore a fur '
cap, a pair of trousers, a flannel shirt, and
disdained neckcloths, braces, and coat. This
being Sunday, he explained, he took a rest, and when he
took a rest he liked to feel loose, which the Professor and I
agreed was a most admirable con-
dition to find one’s self in. After
some friendly greetings had passed
between the Professor and Chaf-
finch, we passed, not without dif-
; ficulty, through an archway of
bird-cages, into the shop, which .
could not be seen for more bird- “
cages. There was a row of chairs,
but each chair was occupied by
a dog, and as each dog seemed
to be of a ferocious character, I
declined to accept Mr. Chaffinch’s
kind invitation to take ‘a cheer.”
We could scarcely hear ourselves
speak, so great was the noise.
The birds were singing, and
fluttering their wings; the par-
rots on the counter were chat-
tering ; the dogs were barking ;
and three or four cats were
mewing. The atmosphere was
dreadful, but to the Chaffinch
family it seemed to be as fresh as the balmiest breeze
that sweeps the Mediterranean,









74 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Dog- and bird-fanciers are a suspicious race—a taciturn
and morose race—whose favorite language seems to be
winks and nods, but Chaffinch was in a most genial mood.
He gave me to understand that it was only on Sundays
that he was really himself, and only because it was his
inviolable rule to let himself go on the Sabbath, not being
braced up, and feeling loose, and consequently Chaffinch
was seen at his best. He then showed us the cage in
which Peter had been a prisoner, and consented, as a great
favor, to take me to his parlor. We mounted a break-
neck set of stairs, which twisted and turned until they
led you into a low little’room, in which a great fire was
blazing, and the heat of which reminded one of the trop-
ics, except for the strong odor of fried onions, which is
not usually associated with tropical latitudes. Mr. Chaf-
finch’s parlor resembled a miniature menagerie more
than anything I can think of. Four monkeys were sit-
ting on the hearth wrapped up in some portions of a
lady’s clothing—I should say petticoats—and shivering
even with such protection; a fine Persian cat was fast
asleep on Chaffinch’s rocking-chair, which he called his
reserved seat ; three parrots were exercising their lungs
and their limbs in their cages ; a row of canaries in cages
occupied the window-sill, and on a chest of drawers in the
corner were some white rats and a few goldfishes swim-
ming in a pickle-bottle. In the centre of the room was a
square table without a cover, over which an old man of
sixty was standing. He was slicing up a huge dark-
looking piece of meat, and wielded a sharp blade with
wonderful dexterity, dividing the slices with amazing
equality, putting down the knife every minute, and slip-
ping the slices on to a wooden skewer. ‘That ’s ‘im:
Mr. Katzmit, pussy BUTCHER to the Rile Family and aris-
tocracy,” whispered Mr. Chaffinch, pointing respectfully
to the old man, ‘Yes, him as found your cat. A won-



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 75

derful old feller. Don’t mind if he don’t notice you.
He’s a bit proud since he became a Rile tradesman and
mixed with the nobility. Ha! he
knows a lot about cats, he does.
And that ’s Miss Tew. How are
you this mornin’? and how’s the
little uns?—a bit queer here,”
whispered Mr. Chaffinch, touching
his forehead. The subject of these
salutations was a weazen-faced little
creature, who looked fifty, but
might have been thirty, or might
have been sixty, with a melancholy
visage. ‘“ Much as usual, Chaffinch, thank you. As well as
usual, but they do tickle, oh ! they do tickle. How would
you like to go through the world always being tickled and
never laughing, never laughing?” exclaimed Miss Tew,
addressing herself to me. I felt sorry enough for poor
Miss Tew, as one does for any member of the human
race who is mentally afflicted. Miss Tew must have read
my thoughts, for she said at once: “Ah! you think I’m
queer, don’t you?) They all think so. But they ’re all
wrong. You ’d feel queer if you had to turn to white
mice for a living, when they tickle so!”

Turning over this stiff problem in my mind, and still
uncertain of my ground, and being unwilling to hurt poor
Miss Tew’s feelings, I ventured to ask her if she would
allow ime to see her white mice. ‘“ With pleasure, sir. My
terms—a halfpenny a peep, and a penny a show. For
private performances given to families in their own homes
I generally get sixpence.” <‘‘ Allow me to consider this as
a private show, Miss Tew,” said I, folding sixpence in a
bit of paper and putting it down gently before her, like
one does a doctor’s fee. She put the sixpence in her
pocket, and produced from the corner a box painted like





46 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

one of the toy theatres one sees in the Lowther Arcade.
She put the box on the table, and drawing up a green
baize cloth which hid the front, disclosed to my view a
model of a red brick house with a front garden and hand-
some door, fitted with a brass knocker and a door-plate.
There was a drawing-room on the left of the front door,
and I took the three upper win-
dows of this two-storied dwelling
to be bedrooms. What puzzled
me, however, was a. set of steps
which led up to the windows of
the second floor, communicating
with each other by a veranda.
The whole of this curious house
was closed in with glass. Miss
Tew went to the back door, and in a second or two
half-a-dozen white mice scampered out of the front door ;
one appeared at the dining-room window, and another
was running about the drawing-room. The other six,
disregarding all ceremony, and not even looking at
the ears of corn which were scattered about the front
garden, tripped up the steps, raced across the veranda,
and disappeared into the bedrooms. Two I never saw
again; two came down stairs and emerged from the front
door, going out of the garden gate, and apparently went
out for a walk; whilst two others, to my astonishment,
were peeping out of the chimneys up aloft. I was greatly
amused by the antics of the little mice, and thought my
sixpence had been well spent. ‘No, sir; there’s more to
come yet,” said Miss Tew, emerging from the back regions,
and looking more melancholy than ever. ‘“ You must have
your sixpenny worth. What do you say to a little game
of hide-and-seek ?” Nothing that Miss Tew could say or
do would astonish me, so I bowed and kept my eye upon
her. ‘Oh! how they do tickle,” she exclaimed, shivering





PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 77

and shaking in spite of the heat. “Oh! how they do—
they ’re hidden now,” and this extraordinary woman
showed me a white mouse with a blue ribbon round his
neck. “This is Stanley, sir, he’s goin’ to find Emin and
five others. Ugh—tickling again!” Miss Tew then put
little Stanley in the palm of her hand, and the tiny ex-
plorer disappeared up her sleeve, and all was still. Miss
Tew’s face was convulsed with spasms for the space of
three minutes, the space of time she gave Stanley to find
Emin and his five companions. ‘ How they do tickle,
tickle, tickle! Come, Emin; now, Stanley,” she kept
crying, and ten seconds short of the three minutes allotted
for the search, Stanley, Emin, and five little explorers
emerged from the other sleeve of Miss Tew’s other arm,
and the performance was over.





CHAPTER XIV.

The purveyor of cats’ meat to the Royal Family.’ How he ‘‘loored” Peter away
from the bosom of his family. Mr. Chaffinch on coincidences, followed by
Mr. Chaffinch’s story of the parrot which appealed to the Archbishop, and was the
means of restoring a missing husband to his wife and family.

I now turned to Mr. Katzmit, for such, oddly enough,
was the name of the Pussy Butcher to the Royal Family,
and asked him to tell me how he found Peter. ‘The
smell of the meat loored him, sir. They
can’t struggle agen it. It’s Azle me-it,
guvnor. Cats is not the only uns it
loors. Not the only uns.” A sort of
g grim smile played about his rugged
t features, as he looked at Mr. Chaffinch
in a curious way, which I interpreted as
meaning that Mr. Katzmit was not
above “looring ’em” on for his own
ends. However, Peter was at home
again, and I pressed him no further, being sufficiently
rewarded for my anxiety by the
glimpses of queer life which my
search had afforded me. “ Mr.
Katzmit, will you tell me how |
you got your position as purveyor Fa
to the Court?” ‘“Ihadabrother, ‘{
sir, as was a Rile sweep, and 2"
swep the Rile chimbleys, and a
sister as was a Rile landry, and ung up the Rile linin,
and a cousin as cleaned the Rile winders—the fam'ly

78







PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 19

‘as been connected with Rilty as long as I can remem- —
ber.” Whether Mr. Katzmit was speaking the truth or
not I cannot say. He may be claiming honors that
belong to others. I can say, however, that his cart
bears the Royal Arms. The subject was then changed
by Mr. Chaffinch, and drifted into a discussion on the
bird and dog business. ‘“ Dog-dealers and bird-dealers,”
said the old man, “has the reputation of bein’ a ’ard-
‘arted, close-fisted lot. They ‘re as they ’re made, I
says, and I 've roominated on this ’ere point every
Sunday mornin’ as long as I can remember. If a dog-
dealer or a bird-dealer tries to be on the square he
don’t look his part. There ’s somethink in his eye that
is n’t in other folks’ eyes, and the public don’t expect him
to be on the square. And however square you may be,
~ you gets no credit for it. You might as well be round,
and round is just what a good many of us is, though
there is exceptions.” I was glad to notice a blush man-
tling over Mr. Chaffinch’s features. “ We can’t go straight
to the pint in sellin’ of a dog, or buyin’ of a dog. You go
backin’ here, and sidin’ there, and in and out just where
you sees a openin’. But you ’re mistaken, sir, if you
think we ain’t got our feelinx like other folks, the very
worst on us. Do you b'lieve in them things they call ’em
in the paper, kindsences—things with long arms, like rail-
way signals they must be—as is allus poppin’ down in
front of us, the very things we least expected, and yet
looked for.” “It was a kincidens this guv’nor a-seein’ ’is
precious cat prayin’ at our winder?” remarked the Pro-
fessor. ‘“Exackly,” said Mr. Chaffinch, approvingly.
“You ’ve just hit it. One of those things if you read in
a book they'd say it was med up. Well now, I ’ll jest tell
you another kincidens which happened in my old shop in
the West India Dock Road. Shall 1?” We all said
“Yes,” and Mr. Chaffinch proceeded as follows:



80 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“One Monday I received a letter on paper with a black
stripe round it as thick as my finger. The writer asked
me to call at No. , in a quiet street in the N. W. dis-
trict. The writer said that she had a parrot that talked,
for sale. She had heard of my name as being a fair
dealer, and would be glad to sell it to me. When I
reached the house I saw at once that the furniture was
going to be sold as well as the parrot. The walls was
covered with bills, the front door was open, and the auc-
tioneer’s men a-goin’ in and out, smokin’ their pipes quite
free and easy. I pushed my way through the crowd, and
was looking round, when a little servant-gal comes up
to me with one of my cards in her hands, and asked if I
was Mr. Chaffinch— The old original,’ she added, doubt-
fully, reading from my business. card. ‘The old original
I am,’ I replies. ‘You looks it,’ says she. ‘Foller me,
please. Half-way down the stairs she stopped me.
‘What are yer goin’ to give for that parrot? Oh! it’s a
won’erful talker. Talk better than me, and I ’ve passed
the Sixth Standard, I have.’ ‘Well, I must see it first,
you know, Missy,’ says I. We reached the bottom of the
steps and the door of the front kitchen, when the little
girl said: ‘Be careful, Mr. Chaffinch, what you say.
They ‘re in an orful way. Sold up for rent. Master 's
dead, drownded, and no friends. You ’ll do the best you
can, won’t you, Mr. Chaffinch?’ ‘Yes, little Missy,’
says I. AQ little lady with her veil down, and two young
ladies, darters, were in the front kitchen, and looked hard
at meas I camein. ‘Are you Mr. Chaffinch?’ ‘I am,
ladies.’ ‘Mr. Chaffinch,’ said the mother, looking me full
in the face, ‘we want to know if you ’ll buy that parrot.——
Polly,’ speaking to the bird, ‘Hurrah for the Queen !’
‘And the Royal Family, Polly?’ ‘Three cheers for the
Prince of Wales.’ ‘What did the judge say?’ ‘Five
shillings and costs,’ replied the parrot. And then she





PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 81

broke down. ‘There—take him away, dears, take him
away, and the lady sank down on the kitchen-chair in a
dead faint. Her girls were crying, poor things, for the
parrot was all they had except a portmanty a-piece. I
made them an offer, which they took. It was more than
the bird was worth, though I made a handsome profit out
of it afterwards, as you will hear. I was glad to get away,
for I never felt more like crying myself when I saw the
two darters say good-bye to the bird, as they covered it
up. The bird was as hard as flint, and did n’t mind a bit.
The little servant came upstairs with me, and when we
got to the top she said, ‘Mr. Chaffinch, they didn’t tell
you all.” ‘Lor! what do you mean, Missy? It ain’t a
sellisaity | 9) A sell? Notva bit of it!) mdionantly,
‘Take the cover off, and I Il Oe
show yer,’ replied Missy, ‘ Polly,
Polly. Swear, Polly.’ I tell you
it quite staggered me to hear
that innocent-looking little girl
go on like that. ‘For shame;
for shame,’ says the bird, which
took my breath for a moment.
‘I Il tell Canterbury. Ha, ha,
ha!’ ‘A good bird that, Missy,’
I said to the little servant.
‘ Ain’t that worth another sover-
eign, Mr. Chaffinch ?’ she asks,
looking up at me so knowing,
‘ Now that you, it, Missy, I
believe it is,’ says I, and I did
give her another. ‘Mr. Chaffinch, you ’re a angel,’ says
she. ‘You'll have a pair of wings when you die. You’re
a real angel.’ ‘Thank you, Missy. Wings zs in my way,
but ’ «You may give me a kiss, Mr. Chaffinch,’ and
I did, and went away, feelin’ desperate sorry for the poor

Ss







82 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

things. I took the bird off saying ‘I ’Il tell the parson.
Kiss Polly. Ha, ha, ha!’

“ Them as gets a livin’ by dogs and birds ’ain’t time for
sentiment, and I soon forgot all about ’em. The parrot |
hung in the sun outside the shop, and he enj’yed his life,
carrying on awful sometimes. He was a wonderful talker.
He used to sleep in my room; and when we went to bed,
he would say, ‘Put the light out. I taught him other
scraps, and, getting rather to admire his abilities, refused
several offers. One day Poll was sunning himself out-
side the shop when I saw a sunburnt, seafaring man
looking hard at Polly. After waiting for a minute as
if he was thinking hard, he came into my shop and said to
me—I was mendin’ a dog-collar—‘I say, my man, where
did you get that parrot from?’ ‘Fair words and good
money,’ says I, thinking it was his roundabout way of
hinting that I had stole it. ‘He’s very like—very like;
let me look at the bird, will you?’ I saw no reason for
refusing him, got the bird down, and put it on the
counter. ‘Swear, Polly,’ said he, quite serious, and when
I heard him say those very words I knew something was
up, and I listened to what the bird would do. ‘For
shame. Ill tell Canterbury.’ ‘Why, that’s our parrot!’
shouted he, and then he came all over flushed. [|
thought he was going to be bad, but-he was only a little
excited. At last he said he’d give me a f’p’un’ note if I’d
tell him how the bird came into my possession. I told
him I must know why he wished for this information.
‘Quite right, my man; quite right. I bought that bird
for my wife and daughters three years ago on the West
Coast of Africa, and taught it to talk. I taught it those
words by which I knew it was my old bird. Have
you read this in the papers?’ and he took out of his
pocket-book a newspaper slip which described the suffer-
ings of the crew of a ship that went down with all hands



PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 83

—from Newcastle to Valparaiso. ‘I was the skipper of
that ship,’ said the sunburnt man. ‘I was picked up by a
vessel bound south, and after twelve months have just
landed. Now, will you tell me when you got the bird? I’ve
hunted for my wife and daughters high and low. London
has swallowed them up,’ he said, shaking all over like jelly.
‘What ’ll you give me if I tell you?’ says I. The captain
hesitated. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘Ill do it for nothink, and
doin’ things for nothink is not business, you know.
Come along with me.’ And in half an hour the captain
was restored to his widow, what was n’t a widow arter all,
and seemed gladder to see him than ever my old woman
was when | came back arter a journey.”

“ But how did you know, Mr. Chaffinch, where the
widow had gone to ?” ;

“ How did I know? Why, that little brick of a servant-
girl used to come of a Sunday to inquire after Poll. When
she grows up I’m blowed if little Missy sha’n’t be Mrs.
Chaffinch No. 2.” _





CHAPTER XV.

Showing how Peter paid his addresses to Miss Badroulbadour, a certain Persian cat.
The course of true love runs as usual. Avscratch in time saves nine. Pleasures of
the country. Peter and the bees.

Peter, although he was much attached to town, did
not despise an occasional visit to a country house in the
heat of summer. He certainly
took his town airs with him,
but after he had shaken him-
self down he dropped as easily
into rustic ways as Mr. Silas
Wegg dropped into poetry.
Having seen much of the
world, this supple animal had
learnt to accommodate him-
self to the humors of any society, and never failed to
make himself agreeable to
any circle in which he hap-
pened to find himself. The
sociable side of Peter’s
character came out strongly
when he met any lady cats
on these little excursions
into the country. In this
very house in which you
will kindly imagine that we
are now living, Peter was
on most affectionate terms
with a lovely young Persian
cat called Bad, which is short for Badroulbadour (Mrs.

84



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The Baldwin Library





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Le
BOOKS BY CHARLES MORLEY.

Peter, a Cat o’ One Tail; his Life and Adven-
tures. Illustrated and told by Lours WaIn (Peter’s
Proprietor). Written by CHARLES Mortny (A Pal of
Peter’s). Quarto, vellum, full illustrated . . 75 cents

Teufel, the Terrier; or, The Life and Adventures
of an Artist’s Dog. Told and Illustrated by J.
YATES CARRINGTON, and written by CHARLES MORLEY
(a Friend of Teufel’s). Quarto, vellum, fully illus-
trated 5 : : a i 7 - 75 cents
CA8SELL, PETTER, GALPIN & CO, LONDON TH. DUPUY & BON, PARIS & LONDON

CAUGHT

AFTER THE PICTURE BY MRS C. AMYOT, EXHIBITED IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY 1881

BY PERMI68ION OF JOSEPH MELLOR, ESQ.


Flee
A CAT O’ ONE TAIL

HIS LIFE AND ADVENTURES

ILLUSTRATED BY
LOUIS WAIN

(PETER’S PROPRIETOR)

WRITTEN BY
CHARLES MORLEY

(A PAL OF PETER’S) —!



G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

NEW YORK LONDON
27 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET 24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND

‘The Anicherbocker Press”
1892, :
Coryricut, 1891
BY
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

Electrotyped, Printed, and Bound by
The Knickerbocker Press, Tew Work
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I,
* : PAGE
Introduces the reader to the night of the great storm, and to the family circle.
Peter is born. His grandfather, Lear, and his mother, Cordelia. The
coffin in the fire, and the fidelity of Ann, who turned executioner : : I

CHAPTER II.

The household settles down into its usual routine. The kittens open their eyes.
I choose the chubby one. How the crowing of the cock affected the
christening. We call him Peter as a warning to fibbers 4 : : sees)

CHAPTER III.

Peter's young days. A word about his father and mother. Peter’s home amongst
the curios ; the black hole behind the skeleton’s foot, Peter's first mouse.
The linnet and the canary, Peter cries for the moon . : : : 0

s. CHAPTER IV.

Peter is instructed in deportment, and learns to read, to talk, and to say his
prayers. He shows a commendable thirst for knowledge, and really becomes
a most accomplished member of society. A word on mewing, or cats’
language. : ‘4 : 5 : . : : : 5 : aeeRl3

CHAPTER V.

London being very hot Peter and I leave for the country. Peter enjoys the
' change, and revels in country sights and sounds; he goes out fishing with
Jack. We proceed to the seaside, but Peter shows no liking for the ocean . 19

CHAPTER VI.

Concerns the queer old lady in the poke bonnet and her nine cats. Poison !
Was it revenge? Peter goes astray and I advertise for him. Many cats call,
but none are chosen. Atlast! ; * a : j : eee aad

iii
iv CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VII.
PAGE
Peter in lodgings. Mrs. Nagsby and the euphonium. Sarah’s base accusations
against Peter. King Arthur the greyhound, and his adventure with Mrs.
Nagsby’s lady on Peter steals Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth, and the conse-
quences = ; : : : : ; : : : ; E32

CHAPTER VIII.

Life in Excelsior Mansions. The old graveyard and Peter's favorite tombstone.
Concerning Deadman’s Passage. ‘The verger’s story of the man who came to
a violent end because he would have a fine coffin. Peter is lost. The flash
of light on the window-blind : i 2 : : : ; . . 40

CHAPTER IX.

I dream horrible dreams, and make inquiries respecting Peter. A friendly pot-
man puts me on the scent, and takes me to see a famous Professor who works
a cat-and-dog show : 5 ; ; : 5 ‘4 : : : » 49

CHAPTER X.

Night in Smith’s Row. Introduces the human fly and the lion-maned lady, who
perform some staggering feats. The Professor owns that he has just bought
an educated cat, and invites me to call and see him : A : ; eas.

CHAPTER XI.

I call upon the Professor and once more encounter the human fly and the lion-
maned lady. The Professor and the mermaid. The performing cats and the
flashes of fire. The midnight vision explained in a very simple way. I stop
and dine with the Professor . sl : : ¢ i ‘ f , se Ge

CHAPTER XII.

An interlude which deals with a bull-dog with glass eyes and cruel teeth. The
dog’s remarkable history and his lamentable end . 3 : : : . 63

CHAPTER XIII.

I go with the Professor on a Sunday excursion to the East End. The bird market.
Mr. Chaffinch, the dog- and bird-fancier. I am introduced to the purveyor.
of cats’ meat to the Royal Family, who is inclined to be haughty ; and also
make the acquaintance of Miss Tew and the white mice 6 ; : . 69

CHAPTER XIV.

The purveyor of cats’ meat to the Royal Family. How he ‘‘loored” Peter away
from the bosom of his family. Mr. Chaffinch on coincidences, followed by
Mr. Chaffinch’s story of the parrot which appealed to the Archbishop, and was
the means of restoring a missing husband to his wife and family .. D e078


RS SOE REET ESET ON eT ES



CONTENTS. v
CHAPTER XV.
PAGE

Showing how Peter paid his addresses to Miss Badroulbadour, a certain Persian
cat. The course of true love runs as usual. A scratch in time saves nine.
Pleasures of the country. Peter and the bees 84

CHAPTER XVI.

London after a visit to the country. Peter is glad to get back to town, but turns
up his nose at the Cockney sun. Reflections on London roofs. Peter goes
to his club, and the chapter necessarily closes go

CHAPTER XVII.

A few words on gratitude. Peter always a grateful animal. Shows also how he —

objected to kittens ; 94
CHAPTER XVIII.

Peter goes to a hotel, and pays his ten shillings a day. He flirts with the chamber-
maids, and makes journeys in the elevator. The alarm of fire. Peter in
disgrace, and Peter’s liver 97

CHAPTER XIX.

Peter, indulging too freely in the pleasures of the table, is taken to see the doctor.
The strange crowd at the doctor’s door. The poor little girl, and the cat
that lived upon mice . IOI

CHAPTER XxX.

Peter in his old age. The frivolous Polly Winkles. The circle in the sitting-

room. Peter says his prayers and goestobed 0 : - 106


RPEDER: A CAI © ONE PAIL.

CHAPTER I.

Introduces the reader to the night of the great storm, and to the family circle.
Peter is born. His grandfather, Lear, and his mother, Cordelia. The coffin in
the fire, and the fidelity of Ann, who turned executioner.

ETER, the admirable cat whose brief history
I am about to relate, appeared in the world
on a terrible winter’s night. A fierce snow-
storm was raging, the sleet was driving at
a terrific rate through the air, and the
streets were banked up with snow-drifts.
All traffic had been stopped, the roar of
London was hushed, and every one who
had the merest pretence of a fireside sought
it on this memorable occasion. Even the

shivering outcasts disappeared from the streets, and hid

themselves in the holes which they called homes, knowing
that Charity, when it was most needed, had gone to bed.

It was a wild night in the city, a wild night in the country,

a wild night at sea, and certainly a most unpropitious

night for the birth of a cat, an animal which is always

associated with home and hearth. The fact remains that

Peter was born on the night of one of the most terrible

storms on record.

Within was a picture of comfort, our pleasure in which
was greatly enhanced by the howling of the storm without.

I


2 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

The thick curtains were drawn across the window, the
lamps were lighted, and a bright fire burnt clearly over a
clean-swept hearth. A fitful illumination was cast on the
pictures, and a pleasant glow lightened up the old oak
cabinet, in which were stored some bits of china, a Japan-
ese idol, a few fierce-looking knives richly chased, an ivory
elephant yellow with age, and the model of the ship, sail-
ing on an ocean of canvas waves, in which my poor father,
whose bones are now coral in the Pacific, made his first
voyage. Our chairs were drawn up to the fire, the tea-
things were on the table, and my mother was just about
to try the strength of the brew, when
Ann Tibbits, our faithful and well-tried
maid-of-all-work, bounced into the room,
without knocking at the door. Her cap
was all awry, her hair was dishevelled,
and she gasped for breath as she ad-
dressed herself to my mother thus, in
spasms :.

‘Please —ma’am—the cat ’s—kit-
tened—in—your—bonnet !”

Such a breach of discipline had never
been known before in our prim house-
hold, where there was a place for every-
thing, and everything had a place.

My mother pushed her spectacles on
to her forehead, and, looking severely at Ann, said :
“ Which one, Ann? My summer bonnet, or—my winter
bonnet ?”

“The one with the fur lining, ma’am.”

“And a most comfortable bonnet to kitten in, I’m
sure!” replied my mother sarcastically, as much as to say
that she wished all cats had such a choice under the
circumstances. ‘Another cat would have chosen the one
with the lace and the violets, out of sheer perverseness.








PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIZ. 3

But there—I uew I could depend on a cat which had
been trained in my house.”

My mother poured out a cup of tea, betraying no
agitation as she dropped two lumps of sugar into the cup
——her customary allowance—and helped herself to cream.
In a minute or two, however, she took up her knitting,
and I noticed that two stitches in succession were dropped,
a sure sign that she was perturbed in spirit. Suddenly
my mother turned her eyes to the fire, and exclaimed :
“Why, my dears, there’s a coffin, as sure as I am a sinful
woman. A death in the family /” and she sighed sadly,
and again took up her knitting.

“Ah! Tobe sure! I had forgotten. Of course it
is Cordelia.” And a smile took the place of the frown
which had gathered on my mother’s wrinkled forehead.
I should have mentioned that our cat was called Cordelia
because she was the daughter of Lear, who had received
that name in consequence of a peculiar expression, akin to

that of laughing, which sometimes stole over his face. I>

am unable to confirm this report, as Lear departed this
life long ago, and is at this moment: buried beneath his
favorite apple tree at the end of the garden. So far as I
remember him, he had but one ear, he had lost one of his
eyes in battle, and the latter portion of his tail had been
cut off in some youthful escapade. He died a violent
death, being vanquished after a terrible battle by a rival
Tom, called the Templar, from his Nightly adventures.

“Why, of course it is Cordelia,” exclaimed my mother,
referring to the appearance of the coffin in the fire.
“ Flow many, Ann?” she continued, addressing our faith-
ful servant, who still remained standing at the table
awaiting her orders.

“Seven, ma’am.”

“Seven /” criedmy mother. “Seven—it’s outrageous.
Why, my bonnet would n’t hold ’em !”
4 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

“Three in the bonnet, ma’am, and two in your new
m—u-f-f |”

“My new muff!” cried my mother. “I knew you
were keeping something back.” And the stitches dropped
fast and furious. ‘ That’s only fve, Ann,” she continued,
looking up from her work. ‘Where are the other two ?
I insist upon knowing.”

“In the Alaska tail boa, ma’am,” responded Ann,
timidly.

Slowly my mother’s wrath evaporated, and her features
settled down to their ordinary aspect of composure.

“Well,” she said, “it might have been worse. She
might have kittened in my silk dress. But there—it is
evident that something must be done. I’m a kind
woman, I hope, but I’m not going to be responsible for
seven young and tender kittens. Ann Tibbits, England
expects every woman to do her duty !”

“ All?” asked Ann.

“ Four,” replied my mother.

“ Now ?” asked Ann.

“The sooner the better,” said my mother.

At this moment a sudden blast shook every window in
the house, which seemed to be in momentary danger of a
total collapse.

“Not fit to turn a dog out,” murmured my mother.
“Not fit to turn a dog out. Ugh! how cold it is, and
here am I condemning to death four poor little kittens on
a night like this—to snatch them away from their warm
mother, my muff, and Alaska tail, and dip them in a bucket
of ice-cold water. And yet they must go; but, Ann, I ’ve
an idea—warm the water. They shall leave the world
comfortably. They ’Il never know it.”

Thus, alas! do most of us shut our eyes to the trage-

dies of life. It is more comfortable.
* * # % Fe * * * #
PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 5

The faithful, unemotional Ann carried out her instruc-
tions, and thus was the strange appearance of the coffin
which my mother saw in the fire explained. Peter was
one of the three kittens which were born in my mother’s
fur-lined bonnet, and the white marks on his body always
remind me of the terrible snow-storm in the midst of
which he sounded his first mew.






CHAPTER II.

The household settles down into its usual routine. The kittens open their eyes. I
choose the chubby one. How the crowing of the cock affected the christening.
We call him Peter as a warning to fibbers.

You will kindly imagine that several weeks have
elapsed since the night of the great storm. The liberty
which our cat Cordelia had taken with my
mother’s finery was forgotten, and the house-
hold had settled down into its usual humdrum
routine. ‘Tibbits had made the new arrivals
a bed in the little box-room, and the doctor
declared that Mrs. Cordelia was doing as well
as could be expected. Every morning we had a the
usual question: ‘“ How is Cordelia?” ‘Quite well,
thank you.” “And the kittens?” ‘Also quite well.”
In due course Ann brought the welcome news that the
three kittens had opened their eyes, and the kid glove was
at once detached from the knocker of the front door. It
was on the morning after they had
obtained their blessed sight that I
was invited by Tibbits to go down-



stairs and take my
choice. I went down,

but I could see nothing of the kittens ; there was only Cor-
6


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 7

delia, with tail twisting, eyes aflame, and whiskers bristling,
wheeling round and round a number of straw cases in
which champagne had once been packed. Lo! one of the
cases began to walk like the woods of Birnam. The
movement caught Cordelia’s eye, and she knocked it over
with her paw. A fluffy, chubby kitten, consisting of a
black body with a patch of white on it, was revealed. The
little one so captivated my fancy that I put him in my
pocket, and without more ado took him up-stairs, and
publicly announced my determination to claim him as my
property.

‘“What shall we name it?” asked my mother.

“Fiz,” said one, alluding to the empty champagne cases,
—a suggestion which was at once overruled, as we were
a temperate family and little given to sparkling liquids.
“Pop” was also voted against, not only as being vulgar,
but as going to the other extreme, and leading people to
suppose that we were extensively addicted to ginger-beer.

“I think, my dears, as Peter was born ona——” My
mother’s speech was interrupted by an exultant “ Cock—a—
doodle—do.”

“That horried fowl again!” exclaimed my mother.

The cock in question was the property of a neighbor,
and was a most annoying bird. Even my kitten was dis-
turbed by the defiant note. ‘“ M-e-w ?” said he, in ameek
interrogative, as much as to say, “What zs that dreadful
noise ?”

“ Cock—a—doodle—do,” cried the bird again. “Mew,”
replied the kitten, this time with a note of anger in his
voice. ‘ CocK—A—DOODLE,” screamed the bird, evidently
in a violent temper. “Mew,” said the kitten again,
in a tone of remonstrance. The remaining syllable of his
war-cry and the kitten’s reply were cut short by my
mother, who put her fingers to her ears, and said:

‘‘And the cock crowed thrice. My dears, I have it!”
8 PETER; A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

«What, mother ?”

“We ll call him PETER.”

“Peter Gray ?”

“Peter Simple ?” cried the family.

s etciatie Greatn

“No,” replied my mother, with a humorous twinkle,
“Peter the Apostle,” pointing to the Family Bible, which
was always kept on a little occasional table in a corner of

the sitting-room. ‘And let Peter be a living warning
against fibbing, my dears, whether on a small scale or a
large one.”

A bowl of water was then placed on the table, and,
having sprinkled a shower upon his devoted back, I, as
his proprietor, looking at him closely, cried:

“ Arise, Peter; obey thy master.”

In the middle of my exhortations, however, Cordelia
jumped on the table, took little Peter by the scruff of his
neck, and carried him back to the nursery.


CHAPTER IIL.

Peter's young days. A word about his father and mother. Peter's home amongst the
curios; the black hole behind the skeleton’s foot. Peter's first mouse. The
linnet and the canary. Peter cries for the moon.

Tue day came when I put Peter into the pocket of my
overcoat, and took him away to his new home. I had the
greatest confidence in him, being
a firm believer in the doctrine of
heredity. His father I never
knew, but his grandfather, as I
have said, bore a great reputa-~
tion for courage, as was indi-
cated on his tombstone, the
inscription on which ran as fol-
lows :

2



Here lies Lear. Aged about 8 years. A
Tom Cat killed in single combat with Tom
the Templar whilst defending his hearth
and home. England expects every
cat to do his duty.

His mother Cordelia was of
an affectionate nature, caring
little for the chase, indifferent
to birds (except sparrows), tem-
perate in the matter of fish,
timid of dogs, a kind mother,
and had never been known to
scratch a child. I believed then
that there was every possibility of Peter's inheriting the

9


10 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

admirable qualities of his relatives. The world into which
he was introduced contained a large assortment of curios
which I had bought in many a salesroom, such as bits of old
oak, bits of armor, bits of china, bits of tapestry, and innu-
merable odds and ends which had taken my fancy. Picture,
then, Peter drinking his milk from a Crown Derby dish
which I had placed in a corner between the toes of a gentle-
man skeleton whom Time had stained a tobacco brown.
‘The Crown Derby dish and the skeleton were, like the rest
of my furniture, “bargains.” At this period of his life Peter
resembled a series of irregular circles, such as a geometri-
cian might have made in an absent moment: two round
eyes, one round head, and one round body. I regarded him
much as a young mother would her first
baby, for he was my first pet. I watched
him lest he should get into danger; I
conversed with him in a strange jargon,
which I called cats’ language; I played
with him constantly, and introduced him to a black hole
behind the skeleton’s left heel, which was supposed to be
the home of mice. He kept a close watch on the black
hole, and one day, which
is never to be forgotten,
he caught his first
mouse. It was a very
little one, but it clung
to Peter’s nose and
made it bleed. Regard-
less of the pain, Peter
marched up to me, tail
in air, and laid the half-
dead mouse at my feet,
with a look in his eyes which said plainly enough, “ Shades
of Cesar! I claim a Triumph, Master.”
He returned to the black hole again, and mewed




PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. II

piteously for more. Peter was very green, as you will
understand, but he soon discovered that mewing kept
the mice away, and having taken the lesson to heart,
preserved silence for the future. The mouse-hunts occu-
pied but a small portion of Peter’s time. He was full of
queer pranks, which youth and
high spirits suggested to him. He
took a delight in tumbling down
the stairs; he hid himself in the
mouth of a lion whose head was
one of my chief treasures; he
tilted against a dragon candlestick
like a young St. George ; he burnt ©
his budding whiskers in an attempt to discover the source
of the flame in the wick of the candle. He became, too,
a great connoisseur of vases, orna-
ments, and pictures, sitting before
them and examining them for an
hour at atime. He was also very
much given to voyages of discovery,
dark continents having a peculiar
fascination for him. Even the lion’s
mouth had no terror for him. I
once produced him from the in-
terior of a brand-new top hat like a
conjurer an omelette. Again, we
were very much surprised at break-
fast one morning to see Peter walk
out of a rabbit-pie in which he had
secreted himself. I used to let my
canary fly about the room, and
Peter chased him. The canary flew
to an old helmet on a shelf, and thus baffled Peter. The
canary seemed to know this, for when Peter was in the
room he always flew to the helmet and sang in peace. If






12 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

he perched elsewhere there was a chase, but the helmet
was a sanctuary. The linnet’s cage I placed on the win-
dow-sill in sunny weather, and Peter took great interest in
him. He could not see the musician, but he heard the
music, and tried every means he knew to discover its
source. At last he peeped through
a little hole at the back of the
cage, and when he saw the bird he
was quite satisfied, and made no
attempt to disturb it.

In the matter of eating and drink-
ing Peter was inclined to vegeta-
rianism, being fond of beet-root and
cabbage, but he soon took to carnal
habits, always liking his food to be
divided into three portions, consisting of greens, potatoes,
and meat. In addition to such food as we gave him he
by no means despised any delicacies he could discover on
his own account. For instance, he cleaned out a pot of
glycerine. Having tilted the lid up, he pulled out the
pins from a pin-cushion, but was saved in time; he was
curious about a powder-box, and came mewing down-
stairs a Peter in white; he did not despise the birds
out of a hat; he lost his temper when he saw his rival in
the looking-glass, and was beside himself with
rage when the glass swung round and he saw
only a plain board. His most curious ex-
perience was his first glimpse of the moon,
which he saw from our bit of back garden. ‘
He was rooted to the ground with wonder
at the amazing sight, and we called him in $
vain. The only reply was a melancholy, love-
stricken mew which went to my heart.









RIVALS IN MISCHIEI.


CHAPTER IV.

Peter is instructed in deportment, and learns to read, to talk, and to say his prayers.
He shows a commendable thirst for knowledge, and really becomes a most
accomplished member of society. A word on mewing, or cats’ language.

So Peter rejoiced in the days of his youth, and there
was no end to his frolics. But do not think for a moment
that his education was es a Se
neglected, especially ;
in the invaluable mat-
ters of manners and
deportment, both of
which are so essential
to advancement in life.
How many men have
gone to the dogs by
the neglect of those
all-important qualifi-
cations which highly
civilized societies de-
mand! How many
cats, too, have gone to the dogs, owing to the infringe-
ment of the unwritten code which governs well-regulated
cat-life! 1 took every care then that Peter was well
instructed in the whole art of etiquette, which is deemed
more important than the deepest learning by so many
great people. I taught him to sit at table; to enter a
room with grace, and to leave it with dignity. Indeed, I
spared no trouble, and Peter became as rigorous as a
Chesterfield in the proper observance of all such matters.

13


14 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

I can give you no better example of Peter’s extensive
knowledge of what was right and wrong in the ceremonial
side of life than by telling you that when he felt an irre-
pressible sneeze forming he trotted out of the room and
sneezed outside. A D’Orsay seized by sternutatory
spasms could have done no more.
When Peter played, too, he played
gently, and did not disturb his elders
by obtrusive attentions. He never ¢
required to be told twice to do a thing.
Once was enough for Peter. Then
again in the matter of breakages he was
as virtuous a kitten as ever lived. |
had thirty precious blue china vases on
my sideboard, and through this fragile maze Peter always
wound in and out without moving a vase. His virtues in
this respect were well known to my servants, -who never
accused Peter of breaking the milk-jug, or the cups and
saucers, | can assure you.
They knew that he was
incapable of such acts of
iconoclasm. Don’t, pray, run
away with the impression that
Peter was a prig or a paragon.
Like the best of human
beings, he had his faults, but
upon these it would be im-
pertinent to touch more than
lightly, though some biogra-
phers take a different view of
memoir-writing. Peter is still
alive, verbum sap.

Peter was partial to Fridays,
not for devotional reasons, but because Fridays were
devoted to cleaning up. If you have ever watched a char-






PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 15

woman washing the kitchen floor, you will have noticed
that she completes one patch before she proceeds with the
next, as if she took pride in each patch, regarding it as a
picture, and representing the highest example of charring.
It was Peter’s delight to sit and watch this domestic opera-
tion; and no sooner was the charwoman’s back turned
towards a fresh portion of her territory than Peter ran all
over the freshly washed patch and impressed it with the
seal of his paws, just as an explorer would indicate a great
annexation by a series of flags. That was a mere frolic.
It was about this time that I discovered Peter’s power as
a performing cat. I tied a hare’s foot to a piece of string
and dangled it before Peter’s eyes. I hid the hare’s foot
in strange places. |
flung it down-stairs.
I threw it up-stairs.
The hare’s foot never
failed to attract him.
We used to roll on
the floor together;
we played hide-and-
seek together. I
noticed that he had a habit of lying on his back with his

tail out, his head back, and his paws crossed. By degrees |
I taught him to assume this attitude at the word of com-

mand, so that when I said, “ Die, Peter!” Peter turned

on his back and became rigid until he received permission

to live again.

I also taught him to talk in mews at the word of com-
mand. I hear some genial critic exclaim that this is mere
Munchausenese. I decline to argue with any critic that
ever lived, and repeat, fearlessly, and in measured terms,
that Peter talked to me. Of course he would not drop
into conversation with the first person who bade him
‘“‘good-morning.” It is true that no philological treatise


16 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

contains a line on mewing, or cat-language, but I assert
again that Peter and I held many conversations together
by means of the “ mew,” used with a score of inflections,
often delicately shaded, each of which conveyed its mean-
ing tome. This is no place for an essay on cat-language ;
but for the benefit of future inquirers I may roughly note
down a few of the inflections which I have noted down
from time to time during my proprietorship of Peter.
The mew mercurial he used when in a cheerful mood; the



mew melancholy after a scolding ; the mew musical was
generally nocturnal ; the mew mellow mostly post-prandial,
and was coupled with purring; the mew minatory was
combined with the mews majestic and malignant, and was
used generally in mousing ; the mew melodious was often
heard in conjunction with music; the mew magnetic had
a peculiar ring, and was associated with flirtations ; the
mew maniacal was a sign of jealousy ; the mew magisterial
I noticed in Peter’s latter days when he controlled a
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 17

family of cats and dogs by the mere sound of his voice.
This is by no means an exhaustive vocabulary, but it will
serve to explain my discovery. I need not add that Peter’s
tail was as expressive as an orator’s arm; but the tail
branch of cat-language I must leave for the present.



Peter took to reading, too, quite easily, and sat up
with a pence-nez on his nose and a paper between his paws.
It was, as you may well imagine, a red-letter day with me
when Peter said his prayers for the first time ; and I was
better pleased when he put his little paws up and lifted
his eyes up to the ceiling than with any other of his
accomplishments, though they were more appreciated by
18 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

unthinking friends. It was all very well to place a mouse
at my feet and thus play to the gallery, but I felt that
Peter’s thirst for applause might be his ruin. If you
honor me by reading to the end of this biography, you
will find that Peter's prayers restored him to his loving
friends in a curious way. I mention this fact; though the
moral is too obvious to escape even the reader who hops
over the pages of a book like a flea over the human

corpus.


























My PRETTY LITTLE Pets.


CEA RAE Reeve

London being very hot Peter and I leave for the country. Peter enjoys the change,
and revels in country sights and sounds ; he goes out fishing with Jack. We pro-
ceed to the seaside, but Peter shows no liking for the ocean.

Wuewn the summer came, and the London pavements
began to quake with heat, I determined to fly to the
country. As delights
are doubled when
shared with those we
care for, I determined
to take Peter with me,
so I packed him up in
a specially construct-
ed travelling saloon
of his own, to wit, a
flannel-lined — basket
containing all the
necessary comforts for
the journey, such as
air-holes and feeding-bottles, and off we
started in the highest of spirits. Peter
found a new world opened to him,
which contrasted pleasantly with the
sooty gardens and sootier roofs of the

Z metropolis. We were both Cockneys,

\ SOAR but the scent-laden air, the stretching

landscape, the bosky groves, the old

garden, the umbrageous lanes, and the thousand and one

beauties of the country, fascinated us both. We were the
19







20 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

guests of a burly farmer, who lived in a queer old house,
half timber and half brick, with low-ceilinged rooms, the
whole well seasoned by age. The general living-room
was the capacious kitchen, which looked mighty pictu-
resque. Oak panels ran half-way up to the ceiling; the
pots and pans were ranged neatly in an open cupboard,
pleasantly suggestive of good fare and plenty of it. There
were flowers in red pots in the windows, and my bedroom
was a picture of coolness
and cleanliness.

Amid these pleasant
surroundings Peter soon
made himself very happy,
and became a great friend
‘of a cat called Jack, who
took him under his charge
and showed him the ways
of the country. Jack was
a favorite on the farm.
He was certainly given
to roving, and did not
always “come home to tea,” as Mr. Toole used to say.
As a mouser he had few equals in the countryside, and
one evening when we were telling stories by the fireside
the farmer told me that Jack had des-
patched no less than four hundred mice
from one hay-rick.

‘“Munchausen!” I mu ttered; “ Mun-
chausen !””

‘“No’edoan’t munch’em. He doan’t
use his teeth. No mouser do,” exclaim-
ed the farmer, and I subsided. Jack
was a poacher amongst his other accomplishments, and
had been brought up by a wicked old black cat, in whose




PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 21

company he developed strong predatory tendencies. At
an early age he began his researches into the anatomy
of the cockroach and the blue-bottle; at the same time,
however, he developed a wonderful respect for the wasp.
Jack was also a disciple of Isaak Walton. He would
crouch on a mossy knoll by the edge
of the river, and sometimes was suc-
cessful in capturing a small trout. The
farmer was himself a great fisherman.
Jack was a study while the preparations
were in progress, and, all intent, would aw
follow close at his master’s heels. He
would crouch among the rushes whilst
the tackle was being adjusted, and anxiously scan the water
asthe fly drifted along the surface. He tooka keen delight
in the sport, and when a fish was negotiating the bait he
always purred loudly in anticipation of the feast in prospect.
The trout landed and the line re-cast, he would seize his
prey, and with stealthy gait slink off with his prize, leaving
the old farmer to discover his loss when he might. To-
gether Jack and Peter roamed
over the meadow lands, tramp-
ling under foot the kingscap
and sorrel, now shaking down
the white and yellow butter-
flies, now levying blackmail
on the hedgerow blossoms,
from the sweet honeysuckle
amid the hawthorn boughs
to the tiny stitchwort peeping
through the brambly bottoms.
The poultry-run, too, was
an object of great interest to Jack and Peter, and the
cock of the walk only escaped with a damaged comb.




22 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Together they fought the rats, and together they would
lie in wait for the thrush and the blackbird,—I am happy
to sayin vain. The farmer told me that in his youth
Jack once took up his resi-
dence in the hollow of an old
oak, where he lived on the
furred and feathered game.
At last he. returned home.
For hours he wandered about
the precincts of his old home,
fearful of discovery, now
crouching amongst the flower-
beds, and now flying in terror
at the sound of the hall clock,
At last he ventured into the
kitchen, entering by the
window and creeping to
the kitchen hearth, where he dozed off to the music
of the cricket, to be welcomed like another Prodigal
Son.

Alas! these delights were cut short, for Peter and I
were soon compelled to pack up our traps and proceed to
the seaside for professional purposes. Peter was not fond
of the sea. When I took him out yachting he was com-
pelled to call for the steward; and
one day when exploring the rocks
at low water, gazing with rapture |
at his own charming face as it
was reflected in the glassy sur-
face of a deep pool, an inquiring
young lobster nipped his tail,
and the shore rang with piteous
calls for help. Peter, although a Briton, has never
cared for the sea since then, and so deeply was the




PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 23

disaster impressed upon him that I have known him
reject a choice bit of meat which happened to have a
few grains of salt on it. It wafted him back to the ocean,
the lobster, and the steward. What powers of imagina-
tion were Peter’s !


CHAPTER VI.

Concerns the queer old lady in the poke bonnet and her nine cats. Poison! Was it
revenge? Peter goes astray and I advertise for him. Many cats call, but none
are chosen. At last !

As these memoirs cover a period of seven or eight
years, and as space is limited, my readers will kindly con-
sent to take a seat on the convenient
carpet of the magician, and be wafted
gently to the next station on the road
without further question. This is a
pleasant byway in suburban London,
greatly frequented by organ-grinders,
travelling bears, German bands, and
peripatetic white mice. This road is
always associated in my mind with the
mysterious disappearance of Peter.
We had often laughed at the odd old
lady who lived two doors higher up, for the anxiety which -
she displayed when any of her pets were missing. It was
our turn now.

This same old lady was very fond of her cats, and had
nine of them at the time I am writing of. Every morning
when the weather was warm, she and her cats would come
out and unconsciously form a succession of tableaux for
our amusement. A rug was spread out under the pear-
tree in the middle of the tiny lawn, a great basket-chair
was placed in the middle of this rug, and, these prepara-
tions having been made, the old lady, who was very stout,
and always wore a monster poke bonnet and a shapeless

24


PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 25

black silk dress, came out, followed by her nine cats, and
took possession of the basket-chair. A little maid then
appeared with a tray, on which were nine little blue china
saucers and a jug of milk. The nine little saucers were
ranged in a semicircle, and filled with milk, whereupon the
old lady cried out, ‘‘ Who says breakfast, dearies ? Who
says breakfast—breakfast ?” This invitation was imme-
diately responded to by the nine cats. When they had
done the old lady cried, ‘‘Who says washee, dearies ?



Washee, washee, washee?” Whereupon the nine cats
sat on their haunches and proceeded to make their
toilettes. The requirements of cleanliness having been
satisfied, and the nine basins having been taken away by
the little maid, the old lady shouted out, ‘“‘ Who says play,
dearies? Playee, playee, playee ?” holding out her arms,
and calling out, “ Dido Dums, Dido Dums, come here,
deary,” when a fine Persian cat jumped on to her right
shoulder. ‘‘ Now Diddles Doddles, Diddles Doddles,”
and another Persian cat jumped on to her left shoulder.
26 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TATL.

“Tootsy Wootsy,” she called once more, and a black cat
scrambled up to the crown of the poke bonnet. And one
by one they were summoned by some endearing diminutive,
until the nine cats had taken possession of every possible
coign of vantage which was offered by the old lady’s capa-
cious person. There they sat, waving their tails to and
fro, evidently very pleased by their mistress’ little atten-
tions. Mrs. Mee was not very popular in the neighbor-
hood, except with the milkman and the butcher. The
cats’-meat-man indeed, who supplied various families in our
road, positively hated her—so I gathered from our servant,
—and had been heard to say sotto voce in unguarded
moments, “Ha! ha! I 'll be revenged.” It was not un-
natural, as the cats were fed on mutton cutlets and fresh
milk, and cats’ meat was at a discount. About three weeks
before Peter disappeared, Mrs. Mee, in the short space of
three or four days, had lost no less than five cats by a
violent death, and five little graves had been dug, marked
by five little tombstones, and the five dead cats had been
laid in their last resting-places by the hands of the old
lady herself. A funeral is not generally amusing, but I
could not restrain a smile when I saw my eccentric old
neighbor follow the remains of her dead pets, which were
reverently carried on the tea-tray by the little serving-
maid, the old lady herself leading the way, ringing a
muffled peal with the dinner-bell, the remaining cats
bringing up the rear, pondering over the fate of their
dead comrades.

It happened that three of these unfortunate victims had
been found on my doorstep in mortal throes, and on the
first occasion I was absolutely horrified by the appearance
of a little boy at my door one evening, who without any
preface or ceremony cried out: “ Please shall I take ’im to
the chemist’s and finish im orf.” ‘Good gracious, boy !
Finish who off?” “Why, the cat, sir. Can’t you see her
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 27

a-writhin’ ?—o0o crikey!” I shut my eyes and gave the boy
sixpence for a dose of prussic acid, and bade him run as
hard as he could. There was quite an epidemic amongst
the cats at this time, and whether they were found in my
front garden or some one’s else, the boys insisted upon
coming to inform me of the discovery, and never failed to
add, “Please, sir, shall I take ’im to the chemist’s and
finish ‘im orf?” My donation of sixpence for prussic acid
had leaked out amongst the boys of the neighborhood,
and I began to tremble at the very sound of the bell.
One boy in particular I feel sure will come to a bad end.
Twice he had called at unearthly hours with dying cats in
his arms; twice had I given him sixpences to take them
to the chemist’s and “finish ’em orf.” He came a third
time, and losing all patience with the tormentor, I bade
him depart under pain of calling the police. “Keep yer
‘air on, guv’nor,” he replied. “ Keep yer’air on. | thought
yer ad a’art You ain’t a’art, or you wouldn't see a poor
creature a-sufferin’ like this, and all for want of a drop o’
pison. Well, see ’ere, guv’nor, shall I cut ’2s froat, or
‘ang ’tm?” J gave the little wretch his sixpence, but you
may feel sure I felt very angry with the old lady, who
blamed me for the destruction of her pets, adducing the
fact that they were found dying on my doorsteps as proof
conclusive. One morning I received an anonymous post-
card. Although it bore the Charing Cross post-mark I
felt sure it came from the old lady. It read as follows:

‘ The Asstrian came down like a wolf on the fold.”

_ This was the last straw, for I felt that as regards the
old lady’s cats I had behaved in a sympathetic and neigh-
borly spirit. I remember this post-card because the
same afternoon that it came Peter disappeared, and I
began to fear that he had yielded to the temptation of a
poisoned trotter which had been found in my garden
28 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

stripped of its flesh, This vulgar dish was a delicacy
which Peter had never been able to resist, though why he
should have preferred it to the choice foods that were
daily piled upon his plate I cannot for the life of me say.
Cats are not unlike men. Was it not the Marquis of
Steyne who sometimes preferred turnips and boiled mutton
to the finest dish in the world? We searched the neigh-
borhood in vain, and at last I determined to advertise.
Accordingly I addressed an advertisement to my favorite
paper, the Pall Mall Gazette, requesting them to give it a
prominent place in the Agony Column. I received a polite
letter by return of post, saying that that paper did not
possess such a dreadful column as I had indicated. The
paper would, however, have much pleasure in inserting as
_ many agonies as I chose to pay for, and it soon appeared
in all the glory of Brevier, so called, I suppose, because
you get so little for your money. It ran as follows:

“(ome BACK, PETER. Lost, stolen, strayed, or poisoned, a white and

black cat called Peter, who left his friends at on Monday after-
noon last. Round his neck he wore a blue ribbon, with the word PETER
embroidered upon it in red silk. Before retiring to rest he always says his
prayers. Dead or alive, a reward of Two Pounds is offered to any one who
will restore him to his mourning friends.”



re:

I little knew what I was bring-
ing on my devoted head. I had
been troubled enough before
with dying cats, but now they
wereallalive. Cats were brought
to me in baskets, in boxes, in
arms; Manx cats and cats whose
tails were missing for other than
hereditary reasons; lame cats,
blind cats, cats with one eye, and
cats who squinted. Never be-
fore had I seen such an extraordinary collection. My
whole time was now taken up in interviewing callers


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 29

with cats. If the boys were bad before, they were a
thousand times worse now. Here is one example out
of ascore. He was a boy known as Pop, who carried the
laundry baskets.

“Ave yer found yer cat yet ?”

“ No, we have n't.”

“Did yer say it was a yaller ’un ?”

‘“No, I did n’t.”

“What did I say, Hop ?” continued Pop, triumphantly
turning to a one-legged friend who swept a crossing
close by.

“Yer said, Pop, as it was a tortus,” murmured the
bashful Hop, who had sheltered himself behind Pop.

[ee tOntis that (srit; A tortus;ana blopsand va4,
found it, sir. We ’ve got it here.”

‘You ’re wrong. My cat ’s zo¢ a tortoise,” I replied.

“Bless you, we know that, guv’nor. Just as if we
did n’t know Peter! Ah! Peter was a cat as wants a lot
of replacin’, Peter does. But me and Hop’s got a tortus
as is a wunner, guv’nor. A heap better nor Peter. Poor
old Peter! he’s dead and gone. Be sure of that. This
‘ere ’s a reg’lar bad road. A prize-winner, war n’t ’e,
Hoppy?” They held up the prize-winner, who was of a
tortoise, and was mangy.

“Look here, my boys, you can take her away, Now,
be off. Quick march.”

“Yer don’t want it, guv’nor? Jest think agin. Why,
‘ow will you get along without a cat? The mice is ’orri-
ble in this ’ere road. Come, guv’nor, I ’Il tell you what
Ill do. You shall ’ave a bargain,” said Pop. ‘ Goin’ at
two bob. What? Not two bob? One and a tanner.
No? Sayabob? Atanner? Then blow me if I won't
make yer a present of it, if you ’re hard up.”

I insisted that the tortoise prize-winner should be
taken away, and the next day I stopped the advertisement
30 _ PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

and resigned myself to despair. A week after Peter had
disappeared I heard the voice of my friend Pop at the
door. ‘I say, mister, I’ve some noose. Come along o’
me. I think I’vefound’im. Real. A blue ribbin round

‘is neck and says ‘is prayers. Put
on yer at and foller, foller, foller
me.” Mr. Pop led the way along
the road, and turned off to the
right, and we walked up another
road until we reached a large house
which had been unoccupied for
many months, The drains were up,
and two or three workmen were
busy. Pop at once introduced me as “the gent as was
lookin’ for his cat.” “ Have you seen a cat witha blue
ribbon round his neck?” I asked them, very dubious as
to the honesty of Pop’s intention. ‘Well, sich a cat ’as
bin ’ere for some days,” replied the workman to whom I
had spoken. ‘He used to come when we were gettin’
our bit of dinner. But we never know’d but wot it come
from next door. You go up-stairs to the first-floor front,
and you ’ll see a sight. It was young Washus there as
made the discovery.” Young
‘‘Washus,” so called from the
“nature of his daily avocations,
led the way ; I followed, and on
the top of the stairs was Peter,
who knew me at once, and began
to purr and rub himself against
my legs in a most affectionate
manner, as if to appease any out-
burst of wrath on my part. I felt
too pleased to be angry, and followed Peter into the empty
room, which was littered with paper and rubbish, and the




PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 31

remains of forty or fifty mice lay strewn about the floor.
Peter looked up to me as if to say: ‘“ Not a bad bag—eh,
master?” In the corner of the room was .)

a bit of sacking which Peter had used as }
a bed. Pop explained to me that he had
heard the men talking about the funny
cat that came and dined with them every
day. This conversation induced him to
search the house, with the happy result
that Peter was restored to the bosom of
his sorrowing family, and Pop gave up the laundry bas-
ket, and invested the reward in a small private business of
his own.

t

x




CHAPTERS Vids

Peter in lodgings. Mrs. Nagsby and the euphonium. Sarah’s base accusations against
Peter. King Arthur the greyhound, and his adventure with Mrs. Nagsby’s lady
lodger. Peter steals Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth, and the consequences.

PETER and I have had many homes in London and in
the country. Together we have lived in flats, in hotels,
in farm-houses, and i in lodgings for single gentlemen. In
lodgings for single gentlemen
we had many strange experi-
ences which would occupy too
much time to relate, and I will
therefore touch but lightly
upon this period of Peter’s
career. Peter, being a gentle-
manly cat, never quarrelled
with ladies, however hard they
might be to please, and let
them gird at him as they
would. How often have I,
when Mrs. Nagsby was com-
plaining to me in no measured terms of the wickedness of
Peter, compared that long-suffering cat to poor Colonel
Newcome, when that gallant gentleman was at the mercy
of Mrs. Mackenzie. For did not that gracious animal,
when Mrs. Nagsby was accusing him of stealing fowls,
say—did he not arch his bonny back and purr against
Mrs. Nagsby’s ankles and endeavor to appease her? In
her softer moods she did sometimes relax, and even
allowed Peter to sit by her side as she read the paper.



32
PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 33

Peter was held responsible for every article that was lost
in Mrs. Nagsby’s apartments, and the amount of money |
paid to that good lady for breakages in the course of six
months would have furnished a small villa. There were
few mornings when Mrs. Nagsby did not knock at my
door with some tale of woe. The
only really serious charge she
made against my poor cat I will
leave till the last, as it was the
cause of our departure, and also
because it will give me what the
dramatists call a good curtain—
that is, | shall finish the chapter
with an effective situation. Mrs.
Nagsby was a widow, and the late
lamented Nagsby had supported
her by his performances on the
euphonium. This instrument was
kept in a case in Mrs. Nagsby’s
little room, which was on the
ground-floor back, and looked on
to aseries of dingy walls. Mrs. Nagsby used to polish up
the euphonium every Saturday morning with a regularity
which nothing prevented. Did it not speak volumes for
her affection of the late lamented? On one of these
Saturdays it happened that a German band stopped at
the front door. Mrs, Nagsby could never resist the
seductive power of brass music. She rushed up-stairs
to the first-floor front to listen to the performance. Fate
ordained it that Mrs. Nagsby should leave the precious
euphonium on the floor in her haste to hear the band.
Fate ordained it also that Peter should come down stairs
at this particular moment and wend his way into Mrs.
Nagsby’s parlor. Fate also had ordained it that a
mouse which lived in a hole behind Mrs. Nagsby’s easy-
3


34 PETER; A CAT O ONE TAIL.

chair should issue at that this particular moment for
a little bread-crumb expedition. Mrs. Nagsby was a
careful housekeeper, and, finding no crumbs about, the
mouse, whose motto was “ Touzours L’audace,” roamed
into the silent highway presented by the orifice of the
euphonium. It was natural enough
that Peter should follow the mouse.
Unfortunately, Peter's progress
was stopped, the girth of his body
being too great to admit him; and
my door being open, I at once
rushed to the rescue, and found Peter with his head in the
depths of the euphonium, and making fierce struggles to
vacate the position. Mrs. Nagsby came down stairs and
entered her parlor just as I succeeded in extracting
Peter from the musical instrument. Fiercely was I re-
proached for Peter’s escapade, and humbly did I make
his apologies, little knowing the secret of the plight from
which I had rescued him. Having soothed my landlady,
she at length took up the euphonium and proceeded to
apply her eye to the main orifice to see if Peter had
damaged it, handling the euphonium in the manner of a
telescope. I was thinking of the reproaches in prospect,
when I was startled by a loud shriek, to which the eupho-
nium imparted a metallic vibration, and Mrs. Nagsby
dropped the instrument on to the floor, the good lady her-
self following it with a thud. A wee mouse scuttled across
her face, disappeared behind the easy-chair, and doubtless
rejoined his anxious family. Mrs. Nagsby recovered after
her maid-of-all-work and I had burnt a few sheets of brown
paper under her nostrils; but I had great difficulty in
making the peace. In vain I pointed out that the respon-
sibility did not remain with me, or even with Peter. We
agreed after some debate that it was the German band,
which was never afterwards patronized by Mrs. Nagsby.


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TA/L. 35

Later on I happened to relate this episode to a friend
in the presence of my landlady, when he capped the story
with one of his own, by way of sympathizing with Mrs.
Nagsby in particular and with ladies in general who had
a mortal horror of mice. He knew (he said) a young
married couple whose life’s happiness had been almost
wrecked by a mouse. Their home contained a certain
number of mice, like most houses. The lady had a horror
of them. The gentleman had a horror of disposing of
them when they were caught. One night the wife in-
formed her husband that there were two mice in the trap,
and bade him go and drownthem. The humane husband
got up from his chair, and going into the kitchen where
the mice were, stealthily held the lever up and allowed
the two little creatures, which were panting with fear, to
escape. When he had done the fell deed he looked
round, and to his dismay he saw his wife behind him, and
to his horror the mice made for his wife’s petticoats, in
the intricacies of which they disappeared. The scene
which followed beggared description (so the story went).
The lady went into hysterics, the servants were roused,
perfect Niagaras of sal-volatile were laid on, the doctor
was sent for, the lady took to her bed for a week, and
when she got up she asked for a judicial separation, de-
clining to live with a man who treated his wife worse than
a brute. The matter was settled amicably at last, after a
hundred pounds had been spent in deeds and lawyers,
upon the husband undertaking never to release a mouse
again, and upon the lady, on her part, undertaking never
to request him to drown mice, but to make it part of the
cook’s work.

If Mrs. Nagsby took a mean advantage of Peter’s
presence to lay upon his sleek shoulders the blame for
breakages and thefts, you may be sure that her maid-
servant, one Sarah, was not slow to follow her example.
36 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Sarah and I used to differ constantly concerning the
proper performance of certain household duties which lay
in Sarah’s path and affected my comfort. As Sarah stut-
tered, and I like rapidity, I used to scribble my complaints
on scraps of paper which I affixed to the particular object
in question. For instance, Sarah seldom cleaned my
water-bottle, and I would write down, “ Kindly clean out
this bottle,” and tie it to the bottle in question. Sarah
would in her turn write the answer on the blank side of
the paper, thus:

“Sir: The bottel ’as bin clean out. I does it reglar. It is as
clean as it will come. Don’t let your cat lick it.”

Again :

“Please make my bed properly. I don’t believe it has been
shaken up for months, and the sheet has been rolled up at the foot
of the bed for a month. I caught a flea this morning.”

Answer:

“Sir : Your bed is shook up reglar. The sheet is rolled up
becos its not long enough. The fleas belongs to Peter. Signed :
Sarah.”

I got into further
trouble with Mrs. Nags-
by owing to a grey-
hound which I had
bought at a sale. I
had no character with
him, for he had no
character. If Mrs.
Nagsby had killed him
with the meat hatchet
I would have held my
peace, for never a day
passed but King Arthur took his name invain. The first


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 37

night I brought him home Mrs. Nagsby gave me permission
as a great favor to chain him to the kitchen table. In the
morning two of the table legs had been mangled, and that
is one reason why I called him King Arthur, of the Round
Table. The next night King Arthur was taken up-stairs
and attached to the leg of my wash-stand. I was awakened
out of my beauty sleep by a horrible clamor which caused
me to think that the house had fallen in. I presently
realized that King Arthur had mistaken the water-jug
for a dragon. In any case it was smashed to bits, and
the noise brought Mrs. Nagsby to my door in anger.
I should be sorry to say what King Arthur cost me in
hard cash for breakages and legs of mutton. Poor Peter!
thou wast a saint when compared with that fiend on four
legs.

The dénouement came at last, and it arose from King -
Arthur’s fondness for the ladies. There was nothing
remarkable in the appearance of the old lady who was
Mrs. Nagsby’s favorite lodger, who had held the rooms
above mine for three years. But the lady had a most
beautiful sealskin jacket, trimmed with tails of sable.
King Arthur had unluckily a feminine affection for furs,
and I never dared to take him into any of the fashionable
thoroughfares, as he had a way of following the ladies,
not for their own dear sakes, but for the fur which they
might happen to be wearing. Whether they were only
tippets or dyed rabbit-skins, it did not matter to King
Arthur.

Well, one unfortunate afternoon, I was leading my
greyhound home. A few yards in front of us was Mrs.
Nagsby’s first-floor lady, taking the sun in all the glories
of her sealskin jacket and sable tails. To my horror I
dropped the chain in taking a match-box out of my pocket,
and before I could take any steps to prevent him—Aznug |
Arthur was coursing Mrs. Nagsby’s first-floor lodger at
38 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

his highest rate of speed/// King Arthur held on his
course and literally took the old lady aback, and began to
tear those choice sable tippets asunder. Nor was the base
creature content to rest at the sable tippets. Before I
reached his victim his mouth was full of sealskin. Let
me pass on, merely say-
ing that King Arthur
/ was shot that night in
the mews at the back
of Mrs. Nagsby’s, a
* victim to his own indis-
cretions.

And now I come to the fatal catastrophe which finally
drove me and Peter from the shelter of Mrs. Nagsby’s roof.
That lady, owing to certain dental bereavements, sup-
plied the gaps made by years by aset of false teeth which
she was in the habit of depositing on her dressing-table
when she went to bed. I had learned this from Sarah
when that damsel was in a confidential mood, and she gave
me to understand that ‘“ Missus Nagsby never gave ’er
tongue a rest till she put er teeth to bed.” Peter, I think
I have told you, slept in my room. One very warm night
Mrs. Nagsby left her door open, and her night light was
burning as usual. I also slept with my door open, and
Peter, being hot like the rest of us, left the room for a
stroll, and visited Mrs. Nagsby’s chaste apartment. Pres-
ently he came back with Mrs. Nagsby’s teeth between his
own—at least I suppose so, for I found them on the
hearth-rug when I awoke. I was greatly amused, though
a little puzzled to know how I could replace them. After
some reflection I went down to breakfast, placed the
trophy in a saucer and showed it to Sarah, who screamed
and traitorously ran up and informed her mistress. Mrs.
Nagsby came down rampant, but of course speechless. I





PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 39

was thankful for this; but the violent woman, after sput-
tering spasmodically, caught sight of the missing article
in the saucer, and, lost to all sense of shame, replaced it
in position and poured forth a torrent of the most violent
abuse.

Peter and I left.


CHAPTER VIII.

Life in Excelsior Mansions. The old graveyard and Peter's favorite tombstone. Con-
cerning Deadman’s Passage. The verger’s story of the man who came to a violent
end because he would have a fine coffin. Peter is lost. The flash of light on the
window-blind.

THESE veracious memoirs are necessarily discursive
and fragmentary. The straightest railway that ever engi-
neer constructed has its curves and sidings. So when I
drop you down in the country at the end of one chapter
and pick you up a hundred miles in another direction at
the beginning of the next you must not be surprised. Be
kind enough, then, to imagine yourself in some rooms
which commanded a fine view of a disused graveyard. It
was one of those queer oases which you
come across in all parts of London.
Here the old meets the new, and you
find a substantial block of new buildings
sandwiched in between tottering old
houses which must soon fall a prey to
the wrecker’s pick. To many, an old
graveyard would have offered but a de-
pressing prospect. To me, I confess, it
was a source of constant interest. Nay
I even regarded the crumbling old tombstones with a sub-
dued pleasure, as presenting a sermon on the affairs of
life, which was none the less eloquent for being unspoken.
One is conscious of so many flaws in the human preacher,
that his exhortations have often but a momentary effect.
Regarded from a practical point of view, the graveyard
also offered a convenient playground for Peter, who loved

40


PETER: A CAT O ONE TAI/L. 41

to doze away his days in the company of the dead, revel-
ling, no doubt, in the life which was coursing through his
veins. Then again, by the aid of a pair of opera-glasses,
it was quite possible to spend many pleasant hours in
watching the doings of the queer people who had pitched
their tents in the surrounding houses.

If Excelsior House (that was the admirable name by
which my block was known in the Post-Office Directory)
had ever caught fire, it would have gone hard with me,
for | was five floors up, but the airiness of my eyrie was
sufficient compensation for any fears on the score of fire.



The houses which bounded the graveyard ran even higher,
and extended into garrets, and gruesome enough, and
gloomy enough, and even criminal, some of those windows
looked. Some of them certainly belonged to bird-fanciers,
to judge by the number of cages which were hung out on
sunny days. One roof was devoted to fowls, and one ten-
ant even went so far as to keep a donkey, but that was on
the lower floor. Through my glass I saw rooms with low
ceilings blackened with smoke and the fumes from much
preparation of fried food; rooms which accommodated
large families, whose furniture consisted chiefly of a family
bed ; rooms in which flowers were wired and laid in baskets
42 PETER: A CAT O ONE TA/L.

for the street-corners ; rooms in which various ill-rewarded
industries were plied. You had only to pay your money
and take your choice.

A narrow passage ran along one side of the grave-
yard (which, by the way, was facetiously called the
“bone-orchard”), and this was the favorite rendezvous of
the workers from the adjacent premises of a jobbing
printer. Thither they came to smoke their after-dinner
pipes, and drink their beer, which was brought to them
from the bar of the ‘“ Anchorage,” the favorite public-
house of the neighborhood, which was connected with the
main street beyond by Deadman’s Passage, a dark and
villainous alley, through which passed street musicians
and street merchants of every sort and condition. Down
Deadman’s Passage came, too, sandwichmen, who dropped
their boards and produced mysterious parcels of old news-
papers. These always seemed to contain other parcels of
old newspapers, which ultimately proved to contain a very
crusty crust, and a very little chunk of very yellow cheese.
Now and then even a Punch and Judy show found its way
through Deadman’s Passage and gave the inhabitants a
performance.

As for the graveyard itself, it presented every possible
assortment of tombs. There were high tombs and low
tombs ; tombs plain and tombs chased and chiselled by a
race of artificers long since dead and gone. There were
slabs straight, slabs crooked, slabs flat, and slabs broken
and doubled up in the middle as if by some convulsion of
nature. It was always said that these were the results of
premature burials. Then there were the tombs of old
inhabitants who had been placed there a hundred years
ago, as was shown by the remains of illegible letters. Nor
did I ever see a finer assortment of angels than was gath-
ered together in my graveyard ; some of them, alas! with
broken noses, and others with half a wing gone. Sooty
PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 43

and grimy was the grass that grew in patches; sooty and
grimy the few flowers which. grew up here and there,
planted by none knew who, in defiance of all the laws of
botany. Dissipated and bedraggled were the scraggy
shrubs which had also found a passage upwards, and bore
a scanty crop of leaves in the summer. Grim and desolate
in winter, in summer the old churchyard with its patches
of green and its melancholy shrubs served as a pleasant
playground for the children who lived in the neighbor-
hood, and afforded a delightful retreat for
the poorer residents, who smoked their
evening pipes by the rusty rails, and gossiped
in the cool of the evening. As for the dogs
and the cats, 1 cannot think what they would
have done without it. They slept in perfect
amity amongst the tombstones. When night
came the dogs retired to their own particular
domestic hearths, and the cats—the cats by
scores emerged from every quarter, and scampered over
those gray stones which looked so ghostlike on the
moonlight nights.

The church itself was like the rest of the neighbor-
hood, crumbling, and almost forgotten. The verger, or
‘whatever he called himself, lived on coffins which he
manufactured in an adjacent street, and he looked as thin
and cadaverous and as jerry-built as one of his own shells.
On one occasion a customer had remonstrated with him—
on behalf of a friend of course—on the inferiority of the
article which he had supplied for a certain melancholy

s
B
A
&
§&



occasion. ‘‘ The nearer the earth the sooner it ’s over.
It’s a real kindness to make ’em thin, | tell you,” replied
the verger. ‘I knew a man what was hanged through a

‘ankerin’ after too good a coffin. He had poisoned his
own brother, and out of kindness, I suppose, being his
brother, he came to me and ordered a particular thick
44 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

one. ‘None of your mere veneer for me,’ says he. ‘He
was my brother, and he shall have the best I can afford.’
In a year’s time comes
an exhumation order
from the Home Office ;
-and they found the
poison in the body, and
the brother confessed.
After the sentence a
scrap of paper was put
into my hands, which |
have framed in my shop
now. ‘Stick to thin
ones ; it was all owing
to my false pride. I
should have had veneer,
and not a sign would
have been left. I ’m sorry I can’t give you my
job. That belongs to Gov’nment.’” This interesting
episode of his professional experiences Mr. Snewin im-
parted to me as we smoked a
pipe together on my _ favorite
grave.

I have described my old grave-
yard and its surroundings with
some care, because Peter and [|
sometimes took our walks there-
in, Peter indulged in none of
the vulgar pranks which the low-
bred cats of the neighborhood
were wont to play, but in his
sedate way he followed me up and
down the walks, and over the old tombstones, and smelt
the wallflowers, and ate a blade or two of grass, and occa-
sionally chased a sparrow, and more than once when he




PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 45

found the doors open strayed into the church, in search
of a church mouse, I suppose. I put no restraint on his
liberty, and he often found his way down the backstairs
and sunned himself on one of the tombstones for hours
together. One night I was working late against time ;
the usual procession of musicians had come down Dead-
man’s Passage ; the red-nosed flautist who had descended |
to the penny-whistle had played, “Come into the Garden,
Maud,” and ‘“‘ The Last Rose of Summer,” for the benefit
of this favored neighborhood ; the broken-down concert-
singer had made her last effort to reach her top notes,
and, having failed, dropped in to mellow them with stout,
which is well known to be a favorite medicine with the
profession ; a professor on the concertina had executed
the “Carnival of Venice” in his most exquisite manner ;
and the musical spirits in the back parlor of the “ Anchor-
age” had just been reminded that ‘‘ Time was up !”—in
short, the neighborhood was just going to bed, and there
were four quiet hours before it would wake up again.

Horror !

I missED PETER. I was terrified.
I hunted high, I hunted low, I cried
‘Peter,’ I whispered ‘ Puss,” I
scanned the moonlit tombstones
with my glass, I scanned the adjacent
roofs, I looked everywhere, and no
Peter was to be found. I knocked
at the back-door of the “An-
chorage,” and having been rebuffed
with a ‘“ You've had enough. Can’t
serve any more,” I was told that
Peter had not been seen. Heavy of
heart, 1 mounted up to my eyrie
again, lighted a cigarette, and sat at the open window
wondering where Peter had gone. With a start which I]


46 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

cannot express I remembered a popular fried-fish shop
in the main street ; with a thrill of fear I recalled the
eel-pie shop which competed with the fried-fish. It was
a queer neighborhood. Heavens! Was it possible
that Peter could have been destined for such an igno- —
minious end as eel-pie? My heart beat at an alarming
rate, and my ears, sharpened with anxiety, caught the
dull monotonous thuds of certain machinery which I
knew to portend sausages. * * * The clock in the
church chimed the four quarters and struck one; all was
silent, even the thudding of the machinery had ceased,
and except the sound of a drunken brawler in the distance,
and the rattle of a belated hansom, silence reigned. I
paced up and down my room, and once more went to the
window, when, to my astonishment, I saw a bright flash in
a window opposite. This was followed by another, and yet
another, until I was nearly sent out of my senses by these
extraordinary phenomena. Suddenly a lamp was lighted
in the room, and the white blind was drawn down. 1
waited nervously for a moment, when I saw what appeared
to be a rigid hoop projected against the window, and the
body of a dog, wonderfully distorted against the calico
blind, leap through the hoop, which was now turned at
right angles to my window. Another respite, and the
hoop disappeared, some confused figures appeared at the
window against the blind, the light went out, and lo! an-
other flash of light, into which the dog bounded, appa-
rently all aflame. Then all was dark again. Another
respite gave‘me time to wonder what these extraordinary
phenomena portended, when suddenly the lamp was
lighted, and upon the blind was reflected the figure of
a cat, indubitably a cat, and, will you believe me? zw the
act of saying his prayers. In the hundredth part of a
second it flashed across me that no other cat but Peter
prayed in that holy and sincere manner. There against
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 47

the calico blind was my dear cat, with his paws clasped
together and his head up as if invoking my help. It was
too much. Hatless and breathless I darted down stairs,
crossed the graveyard, regardless of consequences, and



threw a small chunk of a tombstone up at the window.
It failed to hit the mark, but evoked the violent wrath
of a sleepy costermonger, who hurled a cabbage at my
defenceless head, and brought his window down with
48 PETER: A CAT O ONE. TAIL.

a slam. Fearful of arousing the neighborhood, I re-
turned to my room, and once more looked through my
glass to see if Peter was still praying. All was dark, so
I went to bed feeling sad and doubtful as to the fate of
Peter.


INDE TE(OROE TUNE SAY Sy ION RUME


CHAPTER IX.

I dream horrible dreams, and make inquiries respecting Peter. A friendly potman
puts me on the scent, and takes me to see a famous Professor who works a cat-
and-dog show.

I DREAMT a strange dream that Friday night ; uncanny
flashes of flame and distorted cats haunted my pillow. I
awoke late, and did not begin to make
my promised investigations until mid-
day. I thought it would be no easy :
task that I had before me, for the
denizens of the human forest where I
expected Peter to be were a suspicious
race. Every. stranger was suspected of
being a policeman in disguise, who wanted something or
somebody. However, through the friendly agency of a
potman, I was fortunate enough to hear something to my
advantage, He was the potman at the “ Anchorage,” with
whom I had oddly enough ingratiated myself a week be-
fore by subscribing to a small testimonial to his wife on the
occasion of her presenting him with twins, their arrival being
celebrated by a curious and sociable ceremony known asa
“Friendly Lead,” which came off in the first-floor parlor,
a galaxy of talent honoring the potman by their presence.
The fact that I had dropped a whole shilling into the tin
plate which was presided over by the potman’s wife, hold-
ing a twin in each arm, raised me to a very high position
in the eyes of the potman and his wife, and perhaps the
twins, though they could not, of course, express their
thanks so heartily. When Joe saw me drop in the shilling

49


50 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

he looked at me, and then at Mrs. Joe, and whispered to
me: “The Victoria Cross next time.” I smiled, but
failed to see the point of the remark, though it called forth
some rude laughter from that portion of the company who

were near enough to hear it. It struck me afterwards ~

that Joe associated the Victoria Cross with the Queen’s
Bounty, but I may be wrong. This little passage ex-
plained the readiness of Joe to answer my questions
respecting Peter. Had he seen any-
thing of Peter? No,he hadn't. Nor
heard anything of him? No, Had
Mrs. Joe? No. Mrs. Joe was too
busy with the twins. Did he know
who lived in that room across the
“orchard”? Yes, he did. It was a
gentleman known as the Professor,
who had just arrived in town from cir-
cuit. He was a Professor. A what?
In the public business, had a caravan and worked dogs
and cats. ‘‘Cats!” cried I, “why, that explains it all.
Take me to him, Joe.” Presently Joe, having obtained the
permission of his master, took me through Deadman’s
Passage into the main street. Then we dodged down
another passage, and turned once or twice to the right
and left, when I found myself before a low door from
which most of the paint had curled off, and the rest was
crackling like a piece of roast sucking-pig. A brass door-
plate, very dirty, bore the name of “Sir Bartholomew
Knox, Bart., M.D.,” which I pointed out to my faithful
guide, and said that we really could n't be right. ‘Ah!
you're not fly, sir. That ’s the Professor’s name, ‘Knox !’”
“But he’s not a Baronet and M.D.—come now?” Joe
then informed me that “Mr. Knox, otherwise known as
the Professor, had picked up the door-plate cheap, for the
Professor always says you can gammon the British public


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 51

into believing anything, if it’s only in print, so he ’s always
called Professor Bart in these parts, and this is his town
house.”

There was no need to ring, for the front door was
partly open. We walked into a narrow passage, which
smelt very much like a menagerie, when we stopped for a
moment, interrupted by the sound of a piping voice
apparently engaged in addressing an audience:

“? Bre yer ’ave a box in a theaytre ; and there yer ’ave
a lady’s fan; and’ere yer ’ave a lamp-shade ; and now yer
‘ave a bunch o’ roses, all a-blowin’ and a-growin’ ; and ’ere
yer ’ave Buffalo Bill’s ‘at ; and there yer ave the Doochess of
Devonsheer.

And who the doose be you? What is- up, chied the
boy as he caught sight of us. “ We’re after that cat as
says his prayers—last seen on your premises.” ‘We 've
no cat as misbehaves hisself, Joseph, in this ‘ere crib.
Anyways I knows nothink. You must ask the Professor.”
“Where is the Professor, you young cough-drop ? s
“ Don’t call me names, or I Il make you swaller one. * * *
Now then, ladies and gents, ’ere yer ’ave a box in a the-
aytre; and there yer ave a lady’s fan; andere yer ’ave a
lamp-shade ; and now yer ‘ave a bunch o’ roses, all a-
blowin’ and a-growin’,” and the young gentleman, who was
scantily glad in a pair of trousers, with the braces hanging
loose, and a dirty flannel shirt, again transferred his
attentions to the piece of tissue paper in his hands, which
he transformed with amazing dexterity into the different
shapes indicated in his address. “ What is he?” I asked,
quite failing to understand his mysterious address. “He's
one of the Professor's pupils. He ’s a-rehearsing and
eddicating hisself for the cough-drop business, and a
powerful good business too, but it needs a lot of learning.
He’s one of the Professor's most promisink young uns.”
52 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL,

All that we could extract from young ‘“‘cough-drop ” was
a promise to impart to the Professor that I had lost my
cat, and that I thought he might have age so famous a

connoisseur a call,





CHAPTER X.

Night in Smith’s Row. Introduces the human fly and the lion-maned lady, who per-
form some staggering feats. The Professor owns that he has just bought an
educated cat, and invites me to call and see him.

In spite of the assurances of my acquaintance of the
“Anchorage” I began to fear that Peter had gone for-
ever, and when I returned to my rooms and contemplated
the tortuous windings of the labyrinth
around me my spirits sank below zero.
Fatalist as Iam, I murmured “‘ Kismet,”
and prepared for the best or the worst
as it might be, determined, however, to
leave no winding unexplored to discover
my lost friend. The chase proved suc-
cessful, and was the means of intro-
ducing me to some of those byways of
our civilization which always had a
fascination for me. If you prefer the
highways kindly skip the next two or three chapters.

As evening drew in I sallied forth once more and
knocked at the Professor’s door. The door was locked,
and I was informed by a small boy in the court that Bart
had gone to his show in Smith’s Row.

It was Saturday night, and Smith’s Row, which was
close by, was aflame with the light from a thousand
naphtha lamps; and the cries of the contending com-
petitors for your custom were deafening. It was not an
easy matter to force one’s way through the surging crowd,
which moved slowly. Housewives with baskets on arm

53


54 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

lingered longingly before the array of juicy meat and the
strings of rabbits ; husbands chinked their wages in their
pockets, and debated whether they should invest in fish,
flesh, or game. There were a thousand attractions to
conjure the coin out of their thinly lined pockets. The
grocers in particular offered extraordinary inducements ;
such as Japanese cabinets, footstools, crockery, china orna-
ments, and even “hand-painted” oil pictures, to purchasers
of a half-pound of tea. In Smith’s Row you could buy two
umbrellas for a shilling; a pair of boots for sixpence ; a
pair of trousers for as much again; and a whole library
fora penny. In the distance I could hear young “ cough-
drop” bidding the British public buy his never-failing
specific for consumption, colds, sore heads, sore throats,
sore fingers, or any other ailments. As I pushed my way
through the crowd I found that the young man’s business
was being apparently prejudiced by the proprietor of an
elaborate establishment, in which was to be seen the
“human fly,” a famous female who walked on the ceiling,
her deeds of daring being pictorially represented on the
canvas. Being unable to reach the dispenser of drops,
I passed through the canvas door, thinking that the volu-
ble showman might be the Professor. I passed in and
found the “human fly” sitting by a coke fire roasting
chestnuts, and chatting affably with a matronly female

clad in gay attire, rather the worse for wear. The canvas
door of the show was hooked up, so as to allow the crowd
in the street to obtain a glimpse of the wonders within,
represented by the two ladies roasting, chestnuts, and the
proprietor pointed with a long wand, first to the awe-in-
spiring picture on his canvas, and then to the homely and
comfortable couple feasting on chestnuts—as he remarked,
just like two of the most ordinary every-day females. At
last the door was closed, the master announced that the per-
formance was about to begin, and the human fly, who was a
“PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 55

pretty little brunette of sixteen or seventeen, dressed in a
pair of shrunken red cotton tights and a black velvet bodice
laden with tarnished spangles,
lifted herself on to the trapeze
which hung from the ceiling.
After turning a sommersault
or two she placed her feet in
the master’s hands, and he
proceeded to adjust a pair
of articles which looked like
a cross between goloshes,
rinking skates, and pattens.
With great caution she turned
round, and hanging head-down,
hoisted herself up until the
fairy slippers were flat on a broadish beam which was
part of the roof. She then let go, and with great caution
walked for a couple of yards along the beam, turned round
and walked back amidst general applause from the enthu-
siastic audience. “If you think the young lady is worthy
of a copper, I raise no objections,” said the showman ;
‘“‘or if you like to buy any of her portraits, or a little book
of her life, why, you will have the opportunity. Music,
Johnny,” to a little boy in charge of an organ. The human
fly then descended from her dizzy pedestal, took off her
goloshes, and made a collection in one of her slippers.

I had hoped to question the showman as to his iden-
tity, but his time was precious, and he had already given
his hand to the other lady, who was also attired in red
tights, velvet, and spangles, whom he introduced as the
lion-maned lady, proceeding to relate her history, which
was indeed a remarkable one. Her father, according to
the Professor, had been a captain in India. He was or-
dered to visit a distant station, and took his young and
beautiful “missus” with him. Here I continue the rela-




56 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

tion of the horrible tragedy that was told us as nearly in
the showman’s own language as I can remember: “ Ha!
me, a pretty Bank ’Oliday was that! Well, the capting
and his missus travelled and travelled until they come to
a thick forest, which was full of lions and tigers—as thick
-as fleas in a blanket. Well, to make a long story short,
the lions attacked the capting, who says to his missus :
‘Get behind me,’ and outs with his sword, and outs with
his gun, and outs with his baginet. The gun missed fire,
the baginet bent, and the sword broke, and the lion
knocked the capting down and clored him up until he
hung in strips like cats’ meat on a skewer. The lady
climbed up a tree and fainted at the ’orrible spectickle,
whence she was rescued by a tribe of friendly Indians and
took ’ome to her ma. On her arrival she gave buth to
a female hinfant, which was born with a mane owin’ to
the fite. This lady—let down your black ’air, my dear—
is that female hinfant. Well, if you reads your Bible and
goes to church, you know well enough that out of evil
good may come. This lady now makes a ’onest livin’
out of her ’air. The press of the world has spoken in the
highest terms of her ’air, and not a week passes but what
some new ’air lotion offers her cash down just to say that
her ’air is the result of their lotion. She’s a ’onest woman
and spurns away the serpints. They ’ve grown better
since old mother Eve. The lion-aired lady is also a
hairynaut. I suppose you ’ve all heard o’ the strong-
jawed woman, and how she comes down with a balloon
a-'angin’ on by her teeth. Well, she ain’t in it with my
lion-aired lady. Last year, you may believe me or not—
(it was at a Primrose féte),—she descended a mile a-ang-
in’ on by the ’air of ’er’ed, curled up at the end with a’ook,
and fixed to the car of the hairynaut.” Having worked
the impressionable audience up into a state of feverish
excitement, the lion-maned one tied her hair into a knot,
PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 57

and, as the Professor said, ‘‘’ung by it to the trapeze.”
It was something of an anti-climax, to be sure, but it gave
me an excuse for introducing myself to the showman by
asking him how long the lady’s hair was, asking him at
the same time if he knew the Professor known as Bart.
“What do you want with him?” asked the showman,
“for I love him like a father.” <‘ Well, there ’s nothing
like coming to the point. I have lost a pet cat, and have
an idea that he has strayed to the Professor's; in fact, I
am credibly informed that he has done so.” ‘ Describe
the animal.” ‘“ Black and white.” ‘“ Was he a eddicated
cat?” “He was well brought up.” ‘Was he given to
roamin’?” ‘ Sometimes.” ‘Had he a pertickler weak-
ness—in the way of victuals, for instance?” “He was
fond of cats’ meat.” ‘“ Well,” went on the Professor,
“my name zs Bart, and I’ve got a black and white cat
which zs highly eddicated. And how do you think I got
‘im? Prigged ’im, I suppose? Well, I did n't. I got
‘im from Katzmit, a neighbor o’ mine. He knows J ’m
always in the market where eddicated cats is in question.
Katzmit said he followed him when he went out with his
barrer. Would I give five bob for him? Would I try
him? Yes. I would try him, and there he is up in my
garret at this momink. If he knows you when he sees
you, he’s yours again. If he don’t, he’s mine. Will
you shake hands on it?” Professor Bart asked me to call
the next day, when he would be disengaged, being the
Sabbath, and, thanking him, I departed, feeling very

much relieved.


CHAPTER XI.

I call upon the Professor and once more encounter the human fly and the lion-maned
lady. The Professor and the mermaid. The performing cats and the flashes of fire.
The midnight vision explained in a very simple way. I stop and dine with the
Professor.

Tse next day I had no difficulty in obtaining access to
the Professor's domestic hearth, which was just being swept
and garnished by a young lady whom I recognized as the
human fly, a fact which astonished me not a little. I was
even more surprised to find the lion-maned
lady seated in an easy-chair, sunning her-
self by the open window, which looked
over the graveyard. I should have felt the
presence of these distinguished ladies a
little confusing if the Professor had not
stepped into the parlor in his shirt-sleeves,
smoking a short clay pipe, and introduced
me to the ladies, who proved to be none other than his
wife and daughter. “Then the stories you told last night,
Professor?” “Exactly, sir. You’ve hit it. Work of im-
agination.”” Here the Professor tapped his forehead. “It's
no use, sir, They alldoit. The public expect it. In our
business you must have the remarkable. There is money
in a dog with three legs. A dog that has four is no good.
Do you see that mermaid under that glass case? Bring it,
Lizzie dear.” The human fly brought the glass case and
placed it on the table, and I saw a hideous monstrosity
with the head of an ape, covered with hair, with open
eyes, projecting teeth, and the body of a fish, the whole
reposing on an admirable imitation of rock, surrounded

58


PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 59

by asea of glass. “ Now, sir, I’m a-letting you into our
secrets. You can’t gammon the press—oh no! I ’ve
made a lot o’ money in my small way out of the old gal.
She ’s played out now, and is on the shelf, as you see.
The head ’s of plaster-of-Paris, and the tail is a stuffed
codfish with the head cut off. Do you think the tail of
the codfish was a marketable objeck beyond sixpence
even when she was fresh? No. Well, I applies my
knowledge of the market and supplies a mermaid which
the public paid to see. They paid for my knowledge.
That ’s how I see it. But you ’re worriting about your
cat, or my cat,” said the Professor, dropping his right eye.
This was the cue for the lion-maned lady, who disap-
peared for a minute and returned with PETER—yes,
PETER, in her arms. The moment he saw me he leapt.
on to my shoulder, and rubbed his face against my cheek,
and purred, and made so many demonstrations of affec-
tion that the lady and Professor ex-
claimed with one breath: “There ’s no
doubt about it, sir. He’s yours. I’m
sorry, for he would have made himself
/a name in our business. But what
; made you think we had him? I then
- described the vision at the window in
the dead of night, and asked with
curiosity for an explanation of the
flashes of light. The lady winked at
her husband, the husband winked at his wife, and both
laughed heartily, and then the Professor informed me
that his wife rana show of her own in the summer, a cat
show, which she took round the country ina caravan. Upon
my expressing a hope that it was not owing to matrimonial
differences they both laughed, and explained that two
shows turned in more than one, and they looked forward
to the time when they could run a united establishment.




60 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“ You would like to see my cats,” asked the Professor’s
lady. ‘You would. Then follow me. Bart, go and get
the properties ready, while I show the gentleman where
the cats live when they ’re at home.”’ Carrying Peter with
me we mounted up four flights of steps until we came to
a garret in which a dozen cats of all nations were repos-
ing comfortably in beds of straw, with two great bowls of
' milk at their disposal. A wire netting protected the open
window, up to which the cats could climb when they felt
disposed. Bart now called us down-stairs, the cats follow-
ing their mistress without a murmur. We descended to
the second floor, where I found that all the preparations
for a rehearsal had been made by Bart. Two doors of
two rooms were thrown open, and between them ran a
row of half-a-dozen chairs gaudily painted, and joined
together by two thin strips of timber in order to keep them
firm, and along these was ranged a row of wooden bottles
painted to resemble Bass’s beer. These were taken away,
and were replaced by a tight-rope, at each end of which
was a veritable castle with a tower. The Union Jack
floated bravely in the breeze on each castle, and I was
watching for the next move, when suddenly one of the
windows of the castle opened, bars and all, and out



marched a fine Persian cat, with a bell jangling from a
light blue ribbon. Boldly he stepped out on to the rope,
walking with wonderful precision on his giddy way.
Scarcely had he started than through the castle window
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 61

emerged Shah, Oliver Cromwell, Bluebottle, Randolph
Churchill, the Grand Old Man, Hop Bitters, Four Half,
Bitter Beer, and the Bogie Man, some other cats of the
troupe, yellow, gray, black, white, and mottled, gayly
attired in silks and satins, with ribbons at their necks,
who followed the footsteps of the general to the other
castle, all, that is, with the exception of Four Half, a
melancholy tabby, who tripped half-way across and fixed
her claws into Oliver Cromwell, -who scratched Four
Half’s nose, compelling her to release her hold and send-
ing her down into the castle moat below. This little
catastrophe did not damp the spirits of Mr. Bart, who
urged the cats on by a word of praise or reproof as was
necessary. Some purred, some jibbed, some spat dur-
ing their progress from one castle to another, but they
all seemed to enjoy the excitement. As fast as they
crossed the bridge each cat bolted through the castle
window, until every one had disappeared. ‘You don’t
mind mice, do you?” asked Mrs. Bart, who, upon my
replying that I rather liked them than otherwise, pro-
duced a score or so from a cage, and placed them on a
thicker rope which was now stretched from the flag-staff
of one castle to the flag-staff of the other. The mice sat
quite contentedly on the rope. Mr. Bart gave the word,
the window of the castle opened, and out marched the
cats again on their return journey, which was now made
across the rope, over the mice, and over again, and when
the journey was completed without a hitch, not a mouse
was touched, not a mouse had even been in danger. ‘That
always brings the house down,” exclaimed Mrs. Bart, with
- pride; “and now for the fire hoops, and there we ’ll stop,
as it’s Sunday. Down with the blinds, Bart; bring me
the matches,” and in a moment the two hoops which Mrs.
Bart held in her hand were a blaze of light, and Whiskey,
a lithe Tom with a magnificent pair of whiskers and a
62 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

decided grin on his face, jumped through the fiery circles
without a symptom of alarm. This performance ac-
counted in a simple way for the phenomena which I had
thought so strange, and Mrs. Bart subsequently explained
why she had chosen the silent hour of the night for a
rehearsal, by remarking that she did n’t want any more of
them blessed fire-engines a-comin’ an’ sousin’ her out of
hearth and home, which they had done on a former occa-
sion, a too inquisitive neighbor having called them out,
and “then had the cheek to ask me for five shillings, the
impudent busybodies.” ‘And you were seeing what my
cat could do, Mrs. Bart?” ‘Yes, sir. I had him on the
table there, and he put’his paws together, raised his eyes,
and prayed as natural asa parson. I felt rayther scared
when I saw him, I can tell you.” We then returned to
the parlor, and Bart asked me, in order to clear myself of
all suspicion that he was a cat thief, if I would like to see
his friend Katzmit, who could further explain. Here was
a possible opportunity of being initiated into the miys-
teries of one of the most mysterious callings, the cats’-
meat-man’s, the secrets of which had always puzzled me,
so.l said that I should like nothing better, and it was
resolved that I should accompany the Professor on the
next Sunday. “But don’t go yet. Stop and have a bit
of dinner now you are here,” said this hospitable showman.
So Peter and I stopped and dined with the philosophical
Professor and his interesting family.




LES CHATS SONT CHARMANTS ANTMAU
CHAPTER XII.

An interlude which deals with a bull-dog with glass eyes and cruel teeth. The dog’s
remarkable history and his lamentable end.

AFTER dinner we sat and smoked, and the Professor
told me some of his adventures. “ You see that trophy
there,” said my host. “It’s got a history.” The trophy
was a bull-dog with savage features, glaring ‘
glass eyes, and cropped ears. His mouth was
open, and disclosed a.battery of the whitest
and cruellest teeth I had ever seen. The
dog’s head was resting on his fore-paws, and
projected out of a kennel, and stuffed though
he was, I could not refrain from starting,
though I readily understood that the trophy
was a monument to some homely virtues
which were not indicated by any letters of
brass or sculptor’s allegory. ‘An old friend?”
‘said I. There was a spasmodic movement in the Profes-
sors ample bosom which betokened a sigh. “That
dog ’s got a history. His name was Death. There was
a time when no cheen that ever was forged would hold
him. And look at the poor feller now, a-lyin’ there as
helpless as a new-born babby, and his grinders as fine
a set as I ever see’d out of a tooth-puller’s show-case.
Ah me! Strong men, and strong dogs, they all go
down. What a moral, guv’nor, what a moral ! Many
a golden sovering I ’ve made out of good old Death
there.” “Why, you ’re a regular Midas, Professor. Dead

63

>


64 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAI/L.

or alive, you turn them into gold.” “Ay, sir. There ’s
them as says a live dog is better nor a dead lion. Rub-
bidge, says I. A man, a showman that is, as can’t turn a
penny out of a dead lion don’t know his business. Well,
you want to hear about Death. Here goes. Old woman,
where ’s my lectur?” After fumbling about in a chest of
drawers for a few minutes the Professor’s wife produced a
handful of faded bills, in which were proclaimed the mon-
ster attractions offered by the impresario at various periods
of his career. At last she produced a dirty copy-book,
stained with beer and coffee, dog-eared and greasy with
much handling, which Mr. Bart seized upon. ‘ This is it,
sir. This is the lectur. Well, sir, I used to do a turn



tw.
with old Death there mostly in the country districts where
they ’re not spoiled by Lunnun. Things has changed
since them days. Now everybody ’s a schollard.”
“Well, now—you ’ll excuse me if I stand up,” inter-
rupted the Professor, adjusting his collar and clearing his
throat. ‘Ladies and gents, I’m a-goin’ to tell you the
history of this ere dog. (1 had the glass case on a table
afore’em.) It is a true story (it zs a true story) I’m goin’
to tell you, and a story with a lot of morals (stage dzrec-
tion: this can be left out accordin’ to discretion and audi-
ence). You see him now laid low; his teeth would n't
’urt a fly now, poor feller ; his tail ain’t no wag in it ; the
savage in his eye is only make-believe, a bit of glass ; his
bellows won’t work ; in short, as fine a bull-terrier as ever
PETER; A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 65

walked on three legs and a half—I wish to be truthful,
ladies and gents: he lost half a leg in a trap, for he was a
poacher—is now stiff and stark. And why is he stiff and
stark? Because he did his dooty as well as ever Lord
Nelson we hear so much on did. I might have said Lord
Wellinton, but I says Lord Nelson, because he was half a
limb short too, like my bull-terrier. Dogs or men, if you
do your dooty in this little spear you must be prepared for
such little misfortunes. We now come to Act 1.

“It was a bitter winter’s night. I had just come home
and was having a little supper when a sharp knock at the
‘door gave us a startler. I went to see who it was, not
feeling very pleased at being disturbed at such an hour.
‘ Bart, let me in, for God’s sake,’ said the stranger, ‘I *m
wanted.’ ‘You ’re not wanted here, Mr. Apple Blossom,’
says I—for I reco’nized one of the sharpest sharps that
ever went on a race-course,—feeling very wild. It was a
name, Apple Blossom, was n’t it? And such a broken-
down blossom, a blossom with a cough which shook him
like a earthquake, in a shabby old overcoat full of holes, a
blossom wringing wet, as if the fire brigade had mistaken
him for a big blaze, and had tried to put him out. He
shivered and shook with the cold, and I was just going to
give him a shilling and send him away when the missus
recognized him and begged me to let him come in.
‘Don’t be’ard a night like this. Nota night like this.
Hear his cough,’ says the missus. I did n’t like ite, al
did n’t like Apple Blossom, and I did n’t like the brute of
a dog which stood at his heels; but I gave way to the
missus. What did I say, missus?” “You said I was
all ’art, and let him in!” «“* And is the dog to have lod-
ging too ?’ said I, sarcastic. ‘Don’t separate us,’ said
Apple Blossom. ‘Don’t separate us. He ’s the only
friend I ’ve got left, and the worst on us likes to cling to
something.’ In five minutes Apple Blossom and his dog

i
66 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAI/L.

were sitting before a roaring fire and partaking of our
meal. We never asked him what he was wanted for, poor
chap, for we could see plain enough he would soon be
took by him as won’t take no fora answer. Well, to cut
a long story short, we put Mr. Apple Blossom and his dog
up aloft in a little room we had empty, and made them as
comfortable as we could. They didn’t ruin us, for in a
week Apple Blossom was stiff and stark as that ’ere bull-
terrier, which you will know now was once Apple
Blossom’s. The night he died he called me to him, and
said—it was n’t more than a whisper: ‘ Bart, I’m goin’
this time, and I’m glad on it. Bart, they allus said you
was agood’un. They spoke the truth. Bart, I ain’t got
one coin to rub against another. I can’t leave you my
portmanty, for I ain’t got one. I can’t leave you my
wardrobe. But—Bart—I ’ll leave you—my—dog,’ point-
ing to the poor brute, who was sitting sullenly on the bed,
and howlin’ most melancholy, as if he understood what his
master was saying. ‘Oh! cheer up, Apple Blossom,
never say die,’ I said, trying to make the best of it. And
then he dozed off again. About an hour later I went up-
stairs again and found him stroking the dog, which was
licking his face. The moment he heard my footsteps
the brute growled fiercely, and for the life of me I dare n't
go near the dying man’s bed. ‘Bart,’ he whispers, ‘ Bart.
Here! I want to say something. Quick, quick.’ I bent my
ear to his mouth. ‘Give him gin when he’s obstropolous,
Bart. Give him gin, and he'll stick to you!’ and his head
sank back and Apple Blossom was dead.

“Vou may not have noticed it, ladies and gents, but
this world’s made up of pulling your handkerchiefs out of
your pockets and puttin’ of em back again. The cryin’
follows so quick on the laughin’, and azce versa. We ’ve
scarce had time to dry our eyes with one sort of tears
when another sort comes wellin’ up. I never could make
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 67

out whether the dead man was jokin’ with his dyin’ breath
when he said as Death would stick to me, meaning teeth,
and not ’art. If he did he was mistook, for Death and I
were pals for a long time. But we had a rare job in
gettin’ the body away, as I shall never forget. Death lay
there on the bed, and if any of us went near he opened
his mouth and growled like a cage full of lions. I had
bought a shell cheap—a misfit, by the way—and when the
man came with it Death went on so that he dropped it
and flew down-stairs, and nothin’
would induce him to come back
again. It was gettin’ serious,
when I met a friend who was a
bit of a surgeon, and he says,
‘Pison him.’ ‘No,’ says the
missus, ‘drug him.’ ‘ No,’ says
I, remembering Apple Blossom’s
dying words, ‘fetch sixpennort
of Old Tom,’ which they did, and
poured it into a basin. We left
the room for a few minutes, and when we came back the
dog was nearly as dead asleep as his master. And that
was how we were able to carry away all that was left of
Apple Blossom.

“And the bull-terrier became quite a character, for
every one got to hear of the Old Tom.

‘It was weeks before the dog forgot his master, but the
missus got round him with her wheedlin’ ways and her tit-
bits. He travelled with us for more than three years, and
a more faithful beast never was. Stick tous! I should
think he did, and in the nicest, kindest way, in spite of
that ugly set of teeth of his. Well, one day we were at
our little crib in town, and I had thirty pounds in notes in
my pocket. I had won the Derby sweep, which was drawn
at the Blue Dog in our neighborhood, where, by the way,


68 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

there ’s more money than you ’d expect. I did the perlite
and went home, always knowin’ where to stop, as my wife
says ; it ’s not drinkin’ she objects to, it ’s the art of stop-
pin’ as is so hard to learn. Well, I goes home, locks up,
and goes to bed. About three a.m. I was woke up from
my beauty sleep by my wife there. ‘There ’s somebody
in the house.” ‘Gammon,’ says I. ‘No gammon,’ says
she. Then I heard loud cries and shrieks, and sounds of
glass breaking, and the dog hollering out at the top of his
voice. Before I got down stairs the police were in the
house. The burglars had bolted. ‘That dog ought to be
in the force,’ said the bobby, quite serious. ‘That dog
would rise in the force. That dog would be all stripes.
ffe’s arter’em.’ Another loud shriek. ‘He’s got em!’
Then through the open door Death bolted back again with
a piece of trouser in his mouth, and his jaws was dripping.
‘That dog should be in the force. Good-night,’ repeated
the officer, as he put the bit of cloth in his pocket and
went away, adding: ‘ You need fear nothin’. That dog ’s
a ’ero.’ 2

“ But the burglars did come again, and what was much
worse I went down one morning and found Death dead on
the door-mat. A half-eaten piece of beef-steak, smelling
strongly of gin, was by his side. It was gin again, and
there was a cruel wound on his head which had killed him.
Round his neck was a scrap of paper on which was
scrawled: ‘The biter bit this time.’ Death had yielded
to the gin, and they had murdered him when he was in
liquor. They knew his little failin’.”

‘‘A true story, Professor ?”

“A true story.”

“ And the moral ?”

‘Too much Old Tom ain’t good for man nor beast.”


A PROMISING PUPIL.
CHAPTER XIII.

I go with the Professor on a Sunday excursion to the East End. The bird market,
Mr, Chaffinch, the dog- and bird-fancier. I am introduced to the purveyor of
cats’ meat to the Royal Family, who is inclined to be haughty ; and also make the
the acquaintance of Miss Tew and the white mice.

“Prriaps you ’d like to see the gen’lman wot brought
your cat to me, would you?” asked the Professor.
“J ll introduce you, if you like. He’s the sort o’ chap
you ’d like to know. In the bird line,
and animals.” I accepted the Profess-
or’s kind proposal, and we met at a
certain city pump on Sunday morning,
that being the orily day when the “old _
original Chaffinch” was likely to be .
found at home. - “ Don’t it strike you, --
guv’nor, how precious like a overgrown ~*~
graveyard this ’ere metropolus is of a
Sunday,” were the first words of the Professor as I greeted
him. “Jest look at them banks; now ain’t they like family
vaults ? As old Moore says: ‘Not a sound you hear, not
a furious note.’” It was quite true indeed. It was im-
possible to divest myself of the idea as we walked through
the deserted streets. A melancholy hawker was trudging
wearily to the west; a few gaudy Jewesses, resplendent in
velvet and jewels, were pacing along, intent on some dis-
tant rendezvous ; an empty omnibus was rolling along the
asphalt, the clatter of the horses’ hoofs making a thou-
sand echoes in the old city. The daily Babel is hushed ;
the din of a million wheels is heard no more; the mysteri-

69


yo PETER: A CAT O ONE TALL.

ous indescribable uproar composed of a thousand sounds
has stopped. The life which was beating so fiercely
through its veins a few hours ago is still, and it is as if
one of those wicked enchantresses we read of in the
Arabian Nights had cast a spell over the great city
which sleeps so soundly this cold gray morning. The
striving armies have retreated; the doors of the great
banks are double-bolted ; the warehouses are fortresses ;
the sombre courts and alleys which seethe with human life
six days out of the seven are weird
and still. Only a ring of bells reminds
us that the city still breathes. It is
Sunday, and the city is in the hands
of the clergy and the charwoman.

“Jt beats conjuring, don’t it?”
said the Professor, interrupting my
reflections, and unconsciously echoing
the thoughts that were passing through
my own mind. So &truck was I with
the solitude, never having been led to
make Sunday expeditions into the city before, that I be-
gan to think my guide was distorting the actual truth
when he promised to show me a sight which—I quote
his own words— If it were a Rummun there would bea
Cook’s excursion to see it. Ha! me. Most of us either
don’t see what ’s under our very noses, or don’t think it’s
worth lookin’ at.” After walking for a quarter of an hour
we turned smartly up a narrow street of an unwholesome
character, and in a minute reached a railway arch, beneath
which a young man with a clarionet under his arm was
holding forth to a small congregation of two ladies, a har-
monium, and three little boys. A minute more and we
were in the thick of a moving mass of humanity of the
most varied description. There must have been thou-
sands of people in that narrow thoroughfare. The sides


PERERA CATO) ONE LAME nt

of the streets were occupied by shops where birds, dogs,
‘cats, pigeons, fowls, guinea-pigs, mice, rats, goats, rabbits,
and fish, were on sale at the lowest market rates. If the
quantity and quality of the live stock
was remarkable, the number of articles
which was necessary for the comfort of >
their daily life was nothing short of
staggering, especially in the bird line.
Cages for birds, fountains for birds,
nests for birds, seeds for birds, baths for birds, musical in-
struments for birds, paste for birds, nets for birds, traps for
birds—the catalogue is endless. Never before had I real-
ized what an interest could be taken in birds until I made
one of this seething congregation, each and all being bent
on birds. Nearly every one was carrying a bird. The
bird was more often than not in a cage ; sometimes it was
in the hand. Generally the bird was a linnet, and gener-
ally the linnet was hidden from view by a handkerchief of
blue, with white bird’s-eyes sprinkled over it. Noone was
in the least bit shy. If you had a bird, it was
understood as a matter of course that you were
willing to dispose of it. If you had no bird, it
.. was taken for granted that you required one.
\ In order to allow me to see how business was
transacted, the Professor said to a Jew boy
_ who was as ragged as Belisarius down to his
ij boots, which were of patent-leather, and shone
Nh; with a magnificent polish :

; “How much for the bird a

“Two bob, guv’nor.”

“ Two bob/ Go’long.”

“ Well, how much?”

“ How much do you want ?”

“What ‘Il you give ?”

“ What ’Il you take ?,”



Sy



42 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“Well, see here. I want to buy anew suit. I’Il take
one and a tanner.”

““ Give you one.”

“Why, he cost me more than that for grub alone.”

The Professor made a sign of moving on, when the
boy, following, said mysteriously :

“Come round the corner. I’Il’ang it up, and you can
hear ’im sing.” i

““T don’t care whether he sings or not. I wants it to
sell again,” replied the Professor. And the boy went off
in a tumultuous passion.

We went along with the crowd, declining many delica-
cies which were offered to us. Amongst them were ice-
creams, Italian pastry, hot coffee, Irish stew, and a
succulent-looking yellow jelly, in which were imbedded
sections of eels. The Professor, doing the honors, re-
marked that it would be possible for a naked, starving man
to enter the crowd at one end and come out at the other
with a new suit of clothes, a bird’s-eye handkerchief, a pair
of patent-leather boots, a hat, a gold watch and chain, and
a ring on every finger. In the same journey the starving
man might consume a good meal, quench his thirst, con-
sult the doctor about his corns or his cough, furnish an
aviary, an aquarium, and a kennel, and drive out at the
other end in a carriage drawn by a pair of goats, and be
in time to attend the prayer-meeting under the railway
bridge.

Presently we found ourselves in a narrow by-way com-
posed of dirty houses which had seen much better days.
“ There ’s Chaffinch’s,” said the Professor, pointing to a
sign which was swinging to and fro in the wind. As we
got a little nearer I saw that on the board were painted a
number of dogs of various breeds, apparently discussing
some very important question of state. ‘And there ’s
Chaffinch !”” exclaimed the Professor, quickening his step.
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 73

All that I could see was a thick cloud of smoke, and it was
only when we reached our destination that I was able to
distinguish the homely features of the bird- and dog-
fancier, who had enveloped himself in a cloud
of smoke which would have done credit to a
hundred-ton gun. Mr. Chaffinch wore a fur '
cap, a pair of trousers, a flannel shirt, and
disdained neckcloths, braces, and coat. This
being Sunday, he explained, he took a rest, and when he
took a rest he liked to feel loose, which the Professor and I
agreed was a most admirable con-
dition to find one’s self in. After
some friendly greetings had passed
between the Professor and Chaf-
finch, we passed, not without dif-
; ficulty, through an archway of
bird-cages, into the shop, which .
could not be seen for more bird- “
cages. There was a row of chairs,
but each chair was occupied by
a dog, and as each dog seemed
to be of a ferocious character, I
declined to accept Mr. Chaffinch’s
kind invitation to take ‘a cheer.”
We could scarcely hear ourselves
speak, so great was the noise.
The birds were singing, and
fluttering their wings; the par-
rots on the counter were chat-
tering ; the dogs were barking ;
and three or four cats were
mewing. The atmosphere was
dreadful, but to the Chaffinch
family it seemed to be as fresh as the balmiest breeze
that sweeps the Mediterranean,






74 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

Dog- and bird-fanciers are a suspicious race—a taciturn
and morose race—whose favorite language seems to be
winks and nods, but Chaffinch was in a most genial mood.
He gave me to understand that it was only on Sundays
that he was really himself, and only because it was his
inviolable rule to let himself go on the Sabbath, not being
braced up, and feeling loose, and consequently Chaffinch
was seen at his best. He then showed us the cage in
which Peter had been a prisoner, and consented, as a great
favor, to take me to his parlor. We mounted a break-
neck set of stairs, which twisted and turned until they
led you into a low little’room, in which a great fire was
blazing, and the heat of which reminded one of the trop-
ics, except for the strong odor of fried onions, which is
not usually associated with tropical latitudes. Mr. Chaf-
finch’s parlor resembled a miniature menagerie more
than anything I can think of. Four monkeys were sit-
ting on the hearth wrapped up in some portions of a
lady’s clothing—I should say petticoats—and shivering
even with such protection; a fine Persian cat was fast
asleep on Chaffinch’s rocking-chair, which he called his
reserved seat ; three parrots were exercising their lungs
and their limbs in their cages ; a row of canaries in cages
occupied the window-sill, and on a chest of drawers in the
corner were some white rats and a few goldfishes swim-
ming in a pickle-bottle. In the centre of the room was a
square table without a cover, over which an old man of
sixty was standing. He was slicing up a huge dark-
looking piece of meat, and wielded a sharp blade with
wonderful dexterity, dividing the slices with amazing
equality, putting down the knife every minute, and slip-
ping the slices on to a wooden skewer. ‘That ’s ‘im:
Mr. Katzmit, pussy BUTCHER to the Rile Family and aris-
tocracy,” whispered Mr. Chaffinch, pointing respectfully
to the old man, ‘Yes, him as found your cat. A won-
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 75

derful old feller. Don’t mind if he don’t notice you.
He’s a bit proud since he became a Rile tradesman and
mixed with the nobility. Ha! he
knows a lot about cats, he does.
And that ’s Miss Tew. How are
you this mornin’? and how’s the
little uns?—a bit queer here,”
whispered Mr. Chaffinch, touching
his forehead. The subject of these
salutations was a weazen-faced little
creature, who looked fifty, but
might have been thirty, or might
have been sixty, with a melancholy
visage. ‘“ Much as usual, Chaffinch, thank you. As well as
usual, but they do tickle, oh ! they do tickle. How would
you like to go through the world always being tickled and
never laughing, never laughing?” exclaimed Miss Tew,
addressing herself to me. I felt sorry enough for poor
Miss Tew, as one does for any member of the human
race who is mentally afflicted. Miss Tew must have read
my thoughts, for she said at once: “Ah! you think I’m
queer, don’t you?) They all think so. But they ’re all
wrong. You ’d feel queer if you had to turn to white
mice for a living, when they tickle so!”

Turning over this stiff problem in my mind, and still
uncertain of my ground, and being unwilling to hurt poor
Miss Tew’s feelings, I ventured to ask her if she would
allow ime to see her white mice. ‘“ With pleasure, sir. My
terms—a halfpenny a peep, and a penny a show. For
private performances given to families in their own homes
I generally get sixpence.” <‘‘ Allow me to consider this as
a private show, Miss Tew,” said I, folding sixpence in a
bit of paper and putting it down gently before her, like
one does a doctor’s fee. She put the sixpence in her
pocket, and produced from the corner a box painted like


46 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

one of the toy theatres one sees in the Lowther Arcade.
She put the box on the table, and drawing up a green
baize cloth which hid the front, disclosed to my view a
model of a red brick house with a front garden and hand-
some door, fitted with a brass knocker and a door-plate.
There was a drawing-room on the left of the front door,
and I took the three upper win-
dows of this two-storied dwelling
to be bedrooms. What puzzled
me, however, was a. set of steps
which led up to the windows of
the second floor, communicating
with each other by a veranda.
The whole of this curious house
was closed in with glass. Miss
Tew went to the back door, and in a second or two
half-a-dozen white mice scampered out of the front door ;
one appeared at the dining-room window, and another
was running about the drawing-room. The other six,
disregarding all ceremony, and not even looking at
the ears of corn which were scattered about the front
garden, tripped up the steps, raced across the veranda,
and disappeared into the bedrooms. Two I never saw
again; two came down stairs and emerged from the front
door, going out of the garden gate, and apparently went
out for a walk; whilst two others, to my astonishment,
were peeping out of the chimneys up aloft. I was greatly
amused by the antics of the little mice, and thought my
sixpence had been well spent. ‘No, sir; there’s more to
come yet,” said Miss Tew, emerging from the back regions,
and looking more melancholy than ever. ‘“ You must have
your sixpenny worth. What do you say to a little game
of hide-and-seek ?” Nothing that Miss Tew could say or
do would astonish me, so I bowed and kept my eye upon
her. ‘Oh! how they do tickle,” she exclaimed, shivering


PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 77

and shaking in spite of the heat. “Oh! how they do—
they ’re hidden now,” and this extraordinary woman
showed me a white mouse with a blue ribbon round his
neck. “This is Stanley, sir, he’s goin’ to find Emin and
five others. Ugh—tickling again!” Miss Tew then put
little Stanley in the palm of her hand, and the tiny ex-
plorer disappeared up her sleeve, and all was still. Miss
Tew’s face was convulsed with spasms for the space of
three minutes, the space of time she gave Stanley to find
Emin and his five companions. ‘ How they do tickle,
tickle, tickle! Come, Emin; now, Stanley,” she kept
crying, and ten seconds short of the three minutes allotted
for the search, Stanley, Emin, and five little explorers
emerged from the other sleeve of Miss Tew’s other arm,
and the performance was over.


CHAPTER XIV.

The purveyor of cats’ meat to the Royal Family.’ How he ‘‘loored” Peter away
from the bosom of his family. Mr. Chaffinch on coincidences, followed by
Mr. Chaffinch’s story of the parrot which appealed to the Archbishop, and was the
means of restoring a missing husband to his wife and family.

I now turned to Mr. Katzmit, for such, oddly enough,
was the name of the Pussy Butcher to the Royal Family,
and asked him to tell me how he found Peter. ‘The
smell of the meat loored him, sir. They
can’t struggle agen it. It’s Azle me-it,
guvnor. Cats is not the only uns it
loors. Not the only uns.” A sort of
g grim smile played about his rugged
t features, as he looked at Mr. Chaffinch
in a curious way, which I interpreted as
meaning that Mr. Katzmit was not
above “looring ’em” on for his own
ends. However, Peter was at home
again, and I pressed him no further, being sufficiently
rewarded for my anxiety by the
glimpses of queer life which my
search had afforded me. “ Mr.
Katzmit, will you tell me how |
you got your position as purveyor Fa
to the Court?” ‘“Ihadabrother, ‘{
sir, as was a Rile sweep, and 2"
swep the Rile chimbleys, and a
sister as was a Rile landry, and ung up the Rile linin,
and a cousin as cleaned the Rile winders—the fam'ly

78




PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 19

‘as been connected with Rilty as long as I can remem- —
ber.” Whether Mr. Katzmit was speaking the truth or
not I cannot say. He may be claiming honors that
belong to others. I can say, however, that his cart
bears the Royal Arms. The subject was then changed
by Mr. Chaffinch, and drifted into a discussion on the
bird and dog business. ‘“ Dog-dealers and bird-dealers,”
said the old man, “has the reputation of bein’ a ’ard-
‘arted, close-fisted lot. They ‘re as they ’re made, I
says, and I 've roominated on this ’ere point every
Sunday mornin’ as long as I can remember. If a dog-
dealer or a bird-dealer tries to be on the square he
don’t look his part. There ’s somethink in his eye that
is n’t in other folks’ eyes, and the public don’t expect him
to be on the square. And however square you may be,
~ you gets no credit for it. You might as well be round,
and round is just what a good many of us is, though
there is exceptions.” I was glad to notice a blush man-
tling over Mr. Chaffinch’s features. “ We can’t go straight
to the pint in sellin’ of a dog, or buyin’ of a dog. You go
backin’ here, and sidin’ there, and in and out just where
you sees a openin’. But you ’re mistaken, sir, if you
think we ain’t got our feelinx like other folks, the very
worst on us. Do you b'lieve in them things they call ’em
in the paper, kindsences—things with long arms, like rail-
way signals they must be—as is allus poppin’ down in
front of us, the very things we least expected, and yet
looked for.” “It was a kincidens this guv’nor a-seein’ ’is
precious cat prayin’ at our winder?” remarked the Pro-
fessor. ‘“Exackly,” said Mr. Chaffinch, approvingly.
“You ’ve just hit it. One of those things if you read in
a book they'd say it was med up. Well now, I ’ll jest tell
you another kincidens which happened in my old shop in
the West India Dock Road. Shall 1?” We all said
“Yes,” and Mr. Chaffinch proceeded as follows:
80 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“One Monday I received a letter on paper with a black
stripe round it as thick as my finger. The writer asked
me to call at No. , in a quiet street in the N. W. dis-
trict. The writer said that she had a parrot that talked,
for sale. She had heard of my name as being a fair
dealer, and would be glad to sell it to me. When I
reached the house I saw at once that the furniture was
going to be sold as well as the parrot. The walls was
covered with bills, the front door was open, and the auc-
tioneer’s men a-goin’ in and out, smokin’ their pipes quite
free and easy. I pushed my way through the crowd, and
was looking round, when a little servant-gal comes up
to me with one of my cards in her hands, and asked if I
was Mr. Chaffinch— The old original,’ she added, doubt-
fully, reading from my business. card. ‘The old original
I am,’ I replies. ‘You looks it,’ says she. ‘Foller me,
please. Half-way down the stairs she stopped me.
‘What are yer goin’ to give for that parrot? Oh! it’s a
won’erful talker. Talk better than me, and I ’ve passed
the Sixth Standard, I have.’ ‘Well, I must see it first,
you know, Missy,’ says I. We reached the bottom of the
steps and the door of the front kitchen, when the little
girl said: ‘Be careful, Mr. Chaffinch, what you say.
They ‘re in an orful way. Sold up for rent. Master 's
dead, drownded, and no friends. You ’ll do the best you
can, won’t you, Mr. Chaffinch?’ ‘Yes, little Missy,’
says I. AQ little lady with her veil down, and two young
ladies, darters, were in the front kitchen, and looked hard
at meas I camein. ‘Are you Mr. Chaffinch?’ ‘I am,
ladies.’ ‘Mr. Chaffinch,’ said the mother, looking me full
in the face, ‘we want to know if you ’ll buy that parrot.——
Polly,’ speaking to the bird, ‘Hurrah for the Queen !’
‘And the Royal Family, Polly?’ ‘Three cheers for the
Prince of Wales.’ ‘What did the judge say?’ ‘Five
shillings and costs,’ replied the parrot. And then she


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 81

broke down. ‘There—take him away, dears, take him
away, and the lady sank down on the kitchen-chair in a
dead faint. Her girls were crying, poor things, for the
parrot was all they had except a portmanty a-piece. I
made them an offer, which they took. It was more than
the bird was worth, though I made a handsome profit out
of it afterwards, as you will hear. I was glad to get away,
for I never felt more like crying myself when I saw the
two darters say good-bye to the bird, as they covered it
up. The bird was as hard as flint, and did n’t mind a bit.
The little servant came upstairs with me, and when we
got to the top she said, ‘Mr. Chaffinch, they didn’t tell
you all.” ‘Lor! what do you mean, Missy? It ain’t a
sellisaity | 9) A sell? Notva bit of it!) mdionantly,
‘Take the cover off, and I Il Oe
show yer,’ replied Missy, ‘ Polly,
Polly. Swear, Polly.’ I tell you
it quite staggered me to hear
that innocent-looking little girl
go on like that. ‘For shame;
for shame,’ says the bird, which
took my breath for a moment.
‘I Il tell Canterbury. Ha, ha,
ha!’ ‘A good bird that, Missy,’
I said to the little servant.
‘ Ain’t that worth another sover-
eign, Mr. Chaffinch ?’ she asks,
looking up at me so knowing,
‘ Now that you, it, Missy, I
believe it is,’ says I, and I did
give her another. ‘Mr. Chaffinch, you ’re a angel,’ says
she. ‘You'll have a pair of wings when you die. You’re
a real angel.’ ‘Thank you, Missy. Wings zs in my way,
but ’ «You may give me a kiss, Mr. Chaffinch,’ and
I did, and went away, feelin’ desperate sorry for the poor

Ss




82 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

things. I took the bird off saying ‘I ’Il tell the parson.
Kiss Polly. Ha, ha, ha!’

“ Them as gets a livin’ by dogs and birds ’ain’t time for
sentiment, and I soon forgot all about ’em. The parrot |
hung in the sun outside the shop, and he enj’yed his life,
carrying on awful sometimes. He was a wonderful talker.
He used to sleep in my room; and when we went to bed,
he would say, ‘Put the light out. I taught him other
scraps, and, getting rather to admire his abilities, refused
several offers. One day Poll was sunning himself out-
side the shop when I saw a sunburnt, seafaring man
looking hard at Polly. After waiting for a minute as
if he was thinking hard, he came into my shop and said to
me—I was mendin’ a dog-collar—‘I say, my man, where
did you get that parrot from?’ ‘Fair words and good
money,’ says I, thinking it was his roundabout way of
hinting that I had stole it. ‘He’s very like—very like;
let me look at the bird, will you?’ I saw no reason for
refusing him, got the bird down, and put it on the
counter. ‘Swear, Polly,’ said he, quite serious, and when
I heard him say those very words I knew something was
up, and I listened to what the bird would do. ‘For
shame. Ill tell Canterbury.’ ‘Why, that’s our parrot!’
shouted he, and then he came all over flushed. [|
thought he was going to be bad, but-he was only a little
excited. At last he said he’d give me a f’p’un’ note if I’d
tell him how the bird came into my possession. I told
him I must know why he wished for this information.
‘Quite right, my man; quite right. I bought that bird
for my wife and daughters three years ago on the West
Coast of Africa, and taught it to talk. I taught it those
words by which I knew it was my old bird. Have
you read this in the papers?’ and he took out of his
pocket-book a newspaper slip which described the suffer-
ings of the crew of a ship that went down with all hands
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 83

—from Newcastle to Valparaiso. ‘I was the skipper of
that ship,’ said the sunburnt man. ‘I was picked up by a
vessel bound south, and after twelve months have just
landed. Now, will you tell me when you got the bird? I’ve
hunted for my wife and daughters high and low. London
has swallowed them up,’ he said, shaking all over like jelly.
‘What ’ll you give me if I tell you?’ says I. The captain
hesitated. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘Ill do it for nothink, and
doin’ things for nothink is not business, you know.
Come along with me.’ And in half an hour the captain
was restored to his widow, what was n’t a widow arter all,
and seemed gladder to see him than ever my old woman
was when | came back arter a journey.”

“ But how did you know, Mr. Chaffinch, where the
widow had gone to ?” ;

“ How did I know? Why, that little brick of a servant-
girl used to come of a Sunday to inquire after Poll. When
she grows up I’m blowed if little Missy sha’n’t be Mrs.
Chaffinch No. 2.” _


CHAPTER XV.

Showing how Peter paid his addresses to Miss Badroulbadour, a certain Persian cat.
The course of true love runs as usual. Avscratch in time saves nine. Pleasures of
the country. Peter and the bees.

Peter, although he was much attached to town, did
not despise an occasional visit to a country house in the
heat of summer. He certainly
took his town airs with him,
but after he had shaken him-
self down he dropped as easily
into rustic ways as Mr. Silas
Wegg dropped into poetry.
Having seen much of the
world, this supple animal had
learnt to accommodate him-
self to the humors of any society, and never failed to
make himself agreeable to
any circle in which he hap-
pened to find himself. The
sociable side of Peter’s
character came out strongly
when he met any lady cats
on these little excursions
into the country. In this
very house in which you
will kindly imagine that we
are now living, Peter was
on most affectionate terms
with a lovely young Persian
cat called Bad, which is short for Badroulbadour (Mrs.

84



cee


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 85

Aladdin, you may remember). Badroulbadour, although
born and bred in the country, had all the female arts at
her command. She had but to whisk her tail to attract
a score of lovers, and her eyes were capable of expressing
a thousand passions. She was beautiful, and as is the
way of beauties, she was, alas! capricious.
Peter was a new arrival; his travelling-
basket was luxurious; his collar was made
by the most fashionable man in town;
Peter brought the latest tittle-tattle from
the metropolis ; Peter was d/asé,; Peter—to
sum up his accomplishments—was /in-de-
seécle, It was enough; Badroulbadour set
her cap at him, and, I blush to say it, Peter,
veteran though he was in affairs of the heart, fell a victim
to the wiles of this too fascinating Persian puss. Vanztas
vanitatum/ He made the usual mistake if I read his
thoughts aright. ‘Baddy has fallen in love with me.
Poor Baddy. A dear little puss. So gentle; so modest;
so shy. Ah! Peter, these country cats for my money.
As for those town beauties—
pooh, pooh! too knowing, too
cynical—Pooh! emancipated, I
say: pooH! At last I have
found a heart that beats in re-
sponse to my poor battered organ. ,
I might do worse. She might }
do worse. A Persian too. Well- '
bred. And if she dies before me
—well, really one does n’t like
thinking of these things—her
skin would fetch something hand-
some, I dare say. Shades of
Cleopatra, Patroness of Cats. Ill propose.” So I inter-
preted Peter's thoughts at this crisis. I am sorry to say




86 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

that Peter was badly used by Miss Badroulbadour. One
afternoon she was sleeping in his basket, and he tried
to evict her. In the little difference of opinion that en-
sued Badroulbadour not only showed her claws but used
them, and poor Peter’s right eye was sadly wounded, and
his nose bled profusely. This ended all further relations
between them. ‘ What could J do?” mewed Peter after-
wards. “Whitechapel in Arcadia, no—you can’t scratch
alady. Usurp her prerogative! Never. No. A scratch
in time saves nine.” I have related this little episode in
order to show that Peter was a cat who was able to recon-
cile himself to the inevitable.

It was most amusing to see how politely and with what
savoir fatre he met the advances of the other cats in the
house; and to note how readily he interested himself in
their small world: in such matters, for instance, as the
number of mice there was likely to be in the hay-rick ; or
the quality of the milk which was supplied from the dairy ;
or the amount of the dainties that fell from the table; or
the prospective visits of the
butcher to the piggery or
the fowl-house. Gradually, the
quiet mode of living, the se-
rene atmosphere of the house, ©
the sunny garden, the flower-
| scented air, the country sounds,
“ the freedom from distracting
influences, and the early hours,
began to exercise their influ-
ence upon Peter, and his enjoy-
ment of country life was
unaffected. He had ample
time for reflection as he lay in
his favorite nook by the venerable sun-dial which occupied
the centre of a lawn as yet undesecrated by lawn-tennis.


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 87

The small excitements of our daily life became pleasures
to which he looked forward with increasing zest. Peter
roamed amongst the flowers, and he loved to watch the
swans as they sailed down the little river which ran past



the end of the garden. He watched the pigeons; he gazed
with envy at the cattle as they stood knee-deep in the
water or took a siesta in the hot noontide; and he carried
his enthusiasm for the country so far that he became a
vegetarian
and consumed
vast quantities
of beet root,
potatoes, and
carrots. After
the sun had
set, and the
silence was
only broken by the night-cries of the
birds flying home to roost, or the
cawing of the rooks as they said their
evening prayers, he walked out and watched the hares


88 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL

come racing down the lane. And sometimes when the
moon was up he listened to the owl preaching wisdom
from his tower. Such were his simple pleasures.

If Peter met with a mishap now and then it was only
to be expected. What can the wisest
cat know of
bees? One re
day Peter,
ever thirsting |
for knowl;
edge, upset a
light hive and |
was stung. He
bore the pain
with scarce a
wince, and walked away with Spartan fortitude, merely re-
marking in a mew or two—“’T is ever the first step that
costs. Without an occasional sting where would be the
zest of living?” Peter the Philosopher! It was in the
same philosophical
spirit, too, that he
met the advances of
an angry duck which
bit his tail.

The only enemies
Peter had was a pack
of fox-hounds of whom he was in some terror. One day
Peter was lost. We searched in a hundred likely places,
but he could not be found. At last we came to the terrible
conclusion that he had been devoured by the dogs. I
visited the kennels, but failed to see any undue protuber-
ance in the animals which would lead me to suppose
that Peter had shared the fate of Jonah, and I went
to bed with a sorrowful heart. I had just blown my
candle out when a loud knock summoned me to the door,










PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. 89

and I was informed that Peter had been discovered
coiled up at. the bottom of my host’s bed, where
he had slept away the
day in peace whilst his
master had been dis-
traught. After rack-
ing my brains to find
a reason for Peter’s
vagary I came to the
conclusion that he had
hidden himself in a
fit of jealousy. He
had seen me petting
Badroulbadour after
breakfast, and had re-
venged the affront by
giving me a day’s anxi-
ety. Or was it merely
the influence of Mor-
pheus and a feather-
bed?


CHAPTER XVI.

London after a visit to the country. Peter is glad to get back to town, but turns up
his nose at the Cockney sun. Reflections on London roofs, Peter goes to his
club, and the chapter necessarily closes.

At the first sign of winter Peter and I packed up our
traps and left the country with many a sigh. Peter was
stowed away in his basket, from which | Se
released him after the train had steamed +
out of the station. He nestled up beside '
me in the corner of our compartment, oc-
casionally looking out of the window,
until he was startled back to his seclusion
by a regiment of monsters racing along, | uf
as it seemed to Peter, at the rate of fifty miles an hour.
The giants were trees, but his lively young imagination
endued them with life, and they seemed to peer in at him
through the window, with threatening glances, and arms
open as if to catch him in their embrace. When we
reached home, which looked uncomfortable enough after
our long absence, Peter seemed
a little depressed by the dust
and untidiness of our rooms,
but he recovered his spirits
when he heard the cheerful
cry of “ Mee-it” in the street,
and the sound of the melo-
dious muffin-bell. After din-
ner he showed his satisfaction
by rubbing against me many times, and purring gently,





go



PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL. gt

as much as to say: “Ah! my dear master. There ’s
- no place like London after all. What do you think?”

“Well, Peter,” I replied, “I think absence makes the

heart grow fonder. Our banishment has whetted our

appetites for the delights of the metropolis.

In fact, the change has done us good.”

But several days elapsed before Peter re-

covered his town legs. It may have been

affectation. Peter, have I not said, was

almost human, and I thought I noticed a cer-

tain rusticity about his ways, a sort of con-

tempt for town milk, a sardonic grin as he

; smelt the humble little plants

in the flower-boxes, and a

turning up of his little nose at
the Cockney sun.

Those who have not
thought about such matters
will naturally wonder what the
pleasures of a town cat may be.
Well, a Cockney cat has his
pleasures, just as a Cockney
man has. I use the word Cock-
ney in its best sense, implying
areal Londoner. A roof is to
a cat as a club is to a man.
At least my observations have
honestly led me to that con-
clusion. Both offer an agree-
able rendezvous when a little
society is needed. A finer
view of roofs than is com-
manded by one of my win-
dows I defy you to find if
you gare all London over. Imagine a thick forest




92 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAI/L.

of chimneys, with an impenetrable undergrowth of
tangled water pipes, gas pipes, telephone wires, and
telegraph wires, twining and twisting round every object
they touch, like the parasites of a real tropical forest.
To me this vista possessed all the fascinations of the
picturesque. It amused me, too, to play the part of
Asmodeus, and I conjured up feasts out of the smoke
which curled from the hundred and one chimneys; and
drew many fanciful pictures of the fireside from which
each wreath of smoke proceeded. This, then, was Peter’s
club, which was also frequented by some very aristocratic
members of catdom, for my modest apartments overlooked
the tops of a very aristocratic quarter of the town, and
when I saw the cats stalking a sparrow, or engaged in an
argument, or taking the sun, I knew they were owned
by Duchesses and Peeresses, or the ladies of Baronets at
the very least. I am only human, so you may be sure that
I was too pleased to allow Peter to meet such polite
company.

I have compared roofland to a tropical forest, but |
should ask you to imagine a forest clothing a number of
broken slopes, such a higgledy-piggledy collection of roofs
was it. This roofland also offered to the cats a series
of narrow ridges and dizzy precipices, which also made it
a veritable Alpine hunting-ground. I venture to think
that such a combination of attractions is to be found in
no other capital. J have perforce contemplated the view
in many a long vigil from sundown to sunrise. I have
heard enthusiasts rave about the glories of sunrise when
seen from some lofty peak, or expatiate upon the gaudy
glories of a tropical sunset. I can see effects as admirable
without moving from my window. Give me then a Cock-
ney sunrise and a Cockney sunset as the supreme effects
of Nature.
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 93

I was jotting down these reflections when Peter jumped
clean out of my arms, and soon disappeared round the
base of a neighboring chimney. I, too, put my hat on,
dropped my latch-key in my pocket, and sauntered down
to my club to hear the news of the town.


CHAPTER XVII.

A few words on gratitude. Peter always a grateful animal. Shows also how he
objected to kittens.

Some people say that cats are selfish creatures, which
are incapable of affection ; wretches who accept benefits



one day and forget them the next; ingrates whose love
of self is their only passion. One day it happened that I
was having a discussion with a bonesetter respecting
gratitude. He had a black eye, and I asked him whence
itcame. Hetold me. A prize-fighter came to him one
day, blubbering like a child, and begged him to put his
thumb into position again. The prize-fighter had pushed
the thumb out against some portion of the Brixton Bully
Boy’s frame; the Bully Boy had beaten him ; he had been
in his bed for three weeks, and not a friend came near
him. ‘Boo, boo, boo!” would the bonesetter restore
his thumb to its proper position, and thus place him on a
war footing? The bonesetter placed the pugilist on a
chair, and began to ply histhumb. Overcome with rage

94
PETER; A CAT O ONE TAIL. 95

at the pain the good-natured bonesetter was inflicting
upon him, the pugilist felled him to the ground with his
other fist in a moment of inconsiderate emotion. Tableau!
“You may argue till you are black in the face, but most
people have no more gratitude in their composition than
your cat there,” said the bonesetter, pointing to poor
Peter. I admitted the individual ingratitude, but I denied
the sweeping generalization, especially the comparison,
and took up the cudgels on behalf of maligned Peter,
who was thus having his nose put out of joint by one
whose business was putting joints in. On the contrary,
I have always found Peter most grateful for any little
kindnesses. Nor did he ever forget me, even if I left
him for half a year. He never failed to greet me on
my return home, and if I did not notice him, he would
jump on my shoulder and try in every possible manner
to attract my attention. This was a touching trait in his
character.

As he grew older, he became more staid and digni-
fied ; familiarities were disagreeable to him, and practical
jokes he abhorred as much as Dr. Johnson disliked a pun.
I was able to read Peter's face easily ; it was expressive as
an actor’s. One day we put down beside him, whilst he
was lying as usual on the hearth-rug, four fluffy white
kittens, They were only ten days old, and nearly blind.
One of them climbed over him, then another, until the
four had settled quietly for.a square meal. For a few
moments Peter was in doubt, and then suddenly seemed
to be aware of their intentions. Suddenly he raised him-
self, giving each kitten a small pat with his paw, and,
looking ever so disgusted and contemptuous, though very
dignified, he walked away. Peter is still as curious as a
woman. He never leaves a parcel until it is undone, and
he also finds out all the new things that come into the
96 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

house. I have known him make the most extraordinary
struggles to inspect anew vase. For days he would worry
himself and all of us until he was allowedeto smell
it. Then he was content, and never noticed the vase
again,





CHAPTER XVIII.

Peter goes to a hotel, and pays his ten shillings a day. He flirts with the chamber-
maids, and makes journeys in the elevator. The alarm of fire. Peter in dis-
grace, and Peter’s liver.

To a person of a domestic turn of mind I suppose a
hotel is as uncomfortable a residence as it is possible to
find. The gilt and the glass which are scattered about
in such profusion possibly appeal to those who are satis-
fied with gay exteriors, and are wise enough to seek no
farther; the hurrying guests afford a pleasant excitement
by stimulating curiosity ; the sumptuous settees and the
gaudy decorations pass for luxury; the marble columns
are certainly palatial. Palatial, too, is the politeness,
though it is discounted by the hungry eyes which follow
you so closely that it is impossible to forget that it is an
additional item in the little bill which
comes to you as certainly as the grave. Se






aA

Holding these opinions, I was sorry CUE
enough when it became necessary for ZS
Peter and myself to take up our quar .*
ters at one of these palaces. A cat
must have a home and a fireside, and
in no place is a cat so much out of place as in a hotel.
When I spoke to the manager respecting Peter, he said
with a polite smirk that Peter was welcome, but he would
be charged at the rate of ten shillings a day. I smirked
in my turn, and accepted the terms. I became No. 111,
and Peter was sent into the kitchen. He who would
meet with adventures must be adventurous. Peter was

7 97
98 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL.

adventurous. He came to see me every day, and rode up
in the elevator, enjoying his journeys immensely. In the
mornings he would flirt with the chambermaids (in a
decorous manner), and those high-spirited young women
tossed him in the sheets, smothered him in the pillow-
cases, and played many tricks with the responsive Peter.
One day they forgot him, and he was lost in the wilder-
ness of bedchambers. We searched everywhere, but in
vain. In the middle of the night our floor was alarmed
by a loud ringing of bells and a succession of shrieks. I
opened my door with the rest, thinking the place was on



fire. The passage was a long vista of night-dresses and
candles, which presented a very ghostly sight. When a
gigantic fireman appeared, with a water-bucket, the
ghostly forms all disappeared in an excess of modesty,
appearing again after the fireman had reached the room
from which the screams were still issuing. ‘‘What’s the
matter ?” bawled the guardian of the night. ‘‘ Booooooo.”
‘‘Open the door, please.” ‘You can’t come in. I’m—
booo Bang, bang, bang! against the door.
‘Boooooo.” ‘What zs the matter?” “A burglar in my
FOOm se Where? | = Under the, bed. lhe door


PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 99

opened, the fireman entered, and emerged in a minute,
holding poor Peter by the scruff of his neck. I snatched
him from the rude embrace of the fireman, and, offering
a general apology to the scowling guests, who beat a
retreat, Peter and I went to bed. The next day we
received warning from the authorities, but I pleaded that
it was a first offence, and we were allowed to remain. A
day or two afterwards Peter was lost again, but luckily I
found him without a general alarm. He was snugly
coiled up in the bed of 112. A third time he disappeared,
and gave me an exciting chase. You have probably never
been in the left-property room of a large hotel. It con-
tains a more miscellaneous collection of objects than any
auction-room in London: sticks, umbrellas, trunks as big —
as a house, and tiny trunks, portmanteaus in every condi-
‘tion, most of which, to judge from the labels, which hide
every inch of the original leather, have sailed over every
sea on the face of the globe, and visited every hotel on
dry land. Boxes are piled up to the ceiling; there are
sea-chests bearing names on their sides which suggest
tropical shores, burning sands, and snake-haunted forests.
There are boxes in which you might have packed a body
comfortably with room to spare; bandboxes, bonnet-
boxes, dress-boxes, every sort of box that ever was con-
structed by carpenter. And—yes—there is actually a
coffin propped up in a remote corner, and almost hidden
behind a heap of packing-cases. Picture, too, clothing
enough to fit out a small army, if the army did not stand
on ceremony, and was content with odd stockings, odd
shoes, odd waistcoats, odd coats, odd hats, and odd
gloves. In this chamber of the forgotten and forsaken
we discovered my missing puss, coiled up in a lidless
trunk, with a child’s frock for a bed.

It is natural enough that there should be a great deal
of over-eating and over-drinking ina hotel. Visitors who
roo PETER; A CAT O ONE TAIL.

are there for pleasure defy the demon dyspepsia, and
make a point of taking everything, with a determination
to have the fullest value for their money. If there is
pampering up-stairs, there is pampering down-stairs, and
I soon discovered that Peter, too, must be eating quite
ten shillings’ worth of food in the day. I first noticed it
when Peter declined to kill a mouse which paid me
nocturnal visits. Gluttony is one of the deadliest of sins,
and I was sorrowful, indeed, to notice that Peter's cheeks
were blown, and his back refused to curve at its proper
angle. There was a jaundiced color in his eyes, and Peter
had developed a liver! This was the final straw. I paid
the bill and departed.


LOVELAS ET MINOUCHE.




ae ee eae

CHAPTER XIX.

Peter, indulging too freely in the pleasures of the table, is taken to see the doctor.
The strange crowd at the doctor's door. The poor little girl, and the cat that

lived upon mice.

Peter, as I hope I have indicated in the course of
these memoirs, was in many little ways little less than

human ; and in saying this I intend
a compliment to catdom. It fol-
lows naturally that Peter sometimes
ate more than was good for him,
as was mentioned in the preceding
chapter. But does it not go with-

out saying? Peter was fin-de- i

szécle, and lived in an age of luxury

and dinners at—well—say five .

guineas a head. Sir Wilfrid Law-
son and his friends (it sounds im-
pertinent to call them ardent

spirits) will be pleased to hear.

that Peter preferred pure water to
the finest wine, and there is little
doubt that this habitual temper-




Bs

ance has enabled him to reach his present advanced age.
Some people—there is no lack of scoffers—may say that
this is little to his credit, and argue that when there is no
temptation there is no virtue. This argument does not
hold good in the case of Peter, for I have known him
decline sips of brandy when a stimulant would have been
most beneficial. It is, moreover, a mistake to think that

IOI °
Loz PETER: A CAT O ONE TALL,

cats are teetotalers by disposition. It is merely a matter
of environment. Peter undoubtedly yielded himself up
to the pleasures of the table at more than one period of
his life. Only a year or two ago (long after our visit to
the hotel) he was the guest of a rich gentleman named
Dives, whose dinners were famous, and whose chef
received the salary of an under-secretary of state. I beg
leave to say (en parenthese) that he earned it as honestly
as any of those gentlemen. It is not good for a cat who
has been brought up in a plain family to live in the halls
of such men as Dives. And why not? The answer is
simple. Not only are the actual leavings richer, but the
cockroaches grow fatter, the mice become more
tender, and the very flies, which have access to
a long succession of the richest dishes, become.
at once apoplectic and appetizing. Your cat,
/ then, not only eats the most savory leavings,
\ but actually devours the very flies, mice, and
cockroaches, which are themselves suffering
from all the woes of over-indulgence. You
will easily guess, then, that Peter soon began
to suffer a very martyrdom from indigestion.
Melancholia, ill-temper, and all the imps which
follow in the train of the demon dyspepsia seemed
to have taken possession of him. His nerves were
shattered ; he started at the mere mention of mouse; ‘the
flutter of a sparrow’s wings sent a tremor through his
frame; the very sight of a roof presented to his morbid
imagination a vision of himself in a thousand fragments.
I scarcely dared to leave him alone, for I was terrified
lest he should put an end to his existence. To make
matters worse, he took cold, his ears ached, and Peter
Felix became Peter Dolorosus.

At last I summoned up courage and took him to see
the doctor. A strange sight met my eyes when we


PETER: A CAT O’ ONE TAIL. 103

arrived at his house. The surgery door was besieged by
a crowd of horses, dogs, and cats. They were all suffer-
ing from some ailment or another, and all were fighting
for the next turn. There are few more pathetic sights in
this great city, full as it is of tear-compelling spectacles,
than the gates of a great hospital where human suffering
is alleviated without a fee. There disease fights with
disease, and the battle for a little succor is still to the
strongest. The woman with a year’s life still in her veins
pushes aside the woman who has but a month to live
without a pang of remorse. It will be her own turn soon
to go to the wall. So it was with the little crowd of
animals which blocked up the approaches to the door of
the doctor, who treated the animals of the poor free of
charge. When I saw the too patient sufferings of the
animals around us, I felt almost ashamed to look at my
pampered Peter, whose pains were but the revolt of an
overloaded stomach. The horses and the donkeys were
bread-winners. When the bread-winner is in danger, a
tragedy may be in the making. In the crush I happened
to jostle against a tiny Monad of the streets, whose
matted hair hung over her shoulders, whose features were
careworn and seared with trouble. She carried in her
arms, with a tenderness which surprised me, a cat whose
bones almost projected through its skin; the fur had
been burnt off in a dozen places; the eyes were bleared
with suffering ; and the stump, which was all that was left
of the tail, told of a hundred nameless cruelties. This
miserable couple presented a sight so deplorable that 1
ventured to speak to the little child.

‘Father kicked it,” she said, in reply to my question.

“Why?” I asked.

“Tt stole father’s Sunday dinner,” replied she, tear-
fully and fearfully, as if the theft was a terrible offence
against society.
104 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

“The whole of it,” I continued ironically, touching
the cat’s side, which was a fence of bones.



“?’T wern’t so much to talk of. Two pennorth of meat
scraps.”

“And your dinner ?”

“Oh! we don’t get no dinner. That is only bread
and tea.”

‘How many are there of you?”

“Six, sir. In one room.”

«And the cat’s seven. Not much for the cat?”

“Father said we could eat it.” And the child stroked
PETER: A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 105

the cat, and showed a strong inclination to cry. The
tear was, however, at once called to order.

“Then what does the cat live on?” I continued,
puzzled to think why the poor should add to their cares,

“ Mice, sir.”

‘‘ And what do the mice live on ?”

“We never knows, sir. Shoes, I think,” looking down
at her own, a ragged pair, indeed, which cried ‘“ clickety
clack,” and ‘‘slippety slop,” at every movement.

‘And father said if we did n’t get a cat we should n’t
have even a bit of leather left.”

I felt very bitter against Peter at this moment, and
left him in charge of the doctor, with instructions to dose
him with the nastiest compounds to be found in the
pharmacopeeia. In going out I met my little friend
sobbing bitterly.

‘“What is the matter ?” I asked her gently.

“ He can’t do nothink with her, sir, and said she were
to be put out of her misery. I—can’t—a-bear—to—do
—it,” gasped the child.

I lifted the fragment of a shawl, and saw that the cat .
was already almost at its last breath. ‘ Let me take her
from you,” I said.

“Will you put her out of her misery, sir?” she asked
me, without looking up. ‘ And she won't feel it?”

“No. I'll promise you.” And the child dropped the

cat into my arms, and ran off fiercely as if for her life.


CHAPTER XxX.

Peter in his old age. The frivolous Polly Winkles. The circle in the sitting-room.
Peter says his prayers and goes to bed.

AND now it only remains for me to draw you a picture

of Peter in his old age.

Years have rolled by, and Peter

has grown older with the rest of us. There

are many gray hairs in his coat now ; his step
is less agile than it was ; he is heavy for mouse-
hunting now; he sleeps longer, and he is
more critical in the quality of his dinner than .
in days gone by. He is well aware that his
adventures are over. No more does he move



from house to house; no more does he make



expeditions to the country-
side. He has done his work,
and has now withdrawn from
worldly turmoil, conscious of -
a useful past; prepared to
spend a happy old age, and
to live out with cheerfulness
the few years that may re-
main to him. ‘“ Carpe diem,”
says he, softly. ‘ Carpe
diem,’ for to-morrow—who
knows that there is a_ to-
morrow for old Peter? ‘For
you, Polly,” addressing the

lively Miss Winkles, “there is of course an endless vista
of to-morrows if you are dissatisfied with to-day.” “ Ha,

_ 106
PETER; A CAT O ONE TAIL. 107

ha!” laughs Miss Winkles, arching her back coyly, accept-
ing the remark as a tribute to her youth and powers of
attraction. ‘Ha, ha! Ha, ha! Ha, ha!” And Miss
Winkles sets off in a dizzy and admiring pursuit of her
beautiful tail. ‘Optimistic puss. Ravished by thine own
charms!” continues Peter, with a sardonic inflection in
his voice which says quite clearly: ‘““And who knows,
lovely Miss Winkles, that there is a to-morrow even for
EMeere

Peter is indeed the head of a very happy and united
family, who defer to him in all things; who soothe him
when he is irritable ; who give him the tit-bits ; who flatter
-him, and coax him, and wheedle this most susceptible of
cats. He does not disturb their equanimity with his philo-
sophical reflections ; the fruit of long cogitation and much
buffeting with the world, he wisely presents them in the
form of soliloquies, which themselves help to feed the
harmless fancy he cherishes, that he is himself the epit-
ome of wisdom.

Once more imagine us sitting round the fire as on that
wild night when Peter was ushered into the world. The
day’s work is done; the fire blazes brightly on the clean-
swept hearth, throwing shafts of light upon the old oak
cabinet and the blue china. A fitful glow falls on my
father’s ship, which still sails the ocean of canvas and
ground glass ; and even the idols from the far Pacific lose
their uncanniness in the firelight, and look less inscruta-
ble. The faithful Ann has cleared away the tea-things,
and the hearth is swept clean. The dull roar of London,
which penetrates: through the thick red curtains into this
quiet little by-way, reminds us in an agreeable way of the
fierce struggles of the highways without. It is pleasant
to listen to this restless, nameless sound, and to contrast
the contention which it suggests with our peaceful circle.
Peter occupies the middle of the hearth-rug, and stretches
108 PETER: A CAT O' ONE TALL.

himself after along nap; the Persian cat Mahomet sits
at Peter’s right hand peering into the fire; the tabby,
pretty Polly Winkles, to whom
I alluded a few minutes ago,
is performing her toilette in
a leisurely way; Moussa, an
obese pug, sits contentedly on
the top of a tiny barrel just
by my mother’s easy-chair.
The grandfather's clock in the
corner chimes the four quar-
ters and the cuckoo flies out
of his nest and cries seven
times. ‘Is the circle inclined
to be sportive?” asks my mother, looking round. The
circle says “Yes,” the violin is tuned, and some one
sings :



“ Hi! diddle, diddle,
The cat in the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such sport
And the thief ran away with the spoon.”

‘‘ Moussa, dear. Moussa, Moussa—come and be dressed,”
says the stage manager.

Moussa waddles to the wardrobe, and is quickly attired
in a gay raiment consisting of a green silk jacket trimmed
with a red border, and a hood of green.

Moussa is led forth to the hearth-rug.

Peter, Polly Winkles, and Mahomet make way, lashing
their tails, and smiling.

“Roll over, Moussa,” goes forth the word of command,
and Moussa falls down on his side and rolls over.

“ Twice.”

A second time Moussa rolls.

“ Thrice.”
PETER; A CAT O' ONE TAIL. 109

A third time, and obedience is rewarded by a lump of
sugar; the sound of quarrying fills the room, and the
circle applauds. The barrel is then placed before Moussa,
who places his fore-paws upon it and rolls it across the
arena, represented by the hearth-rug. Reverse, cross to
partners, represented by Peter, Polly Winkles, and Ma-
homet, and bow to circle. Hoop-la! More sugar. More
quarrying. More applause.

A hoop with tissue paper stretched across it is then
produced. One of the circle holds the hoop; another of
the circle stands behind the hoop, and displays to Moussa’s
protruding eyes more sugar.

Remonstrance from Moussa :

“Bow, ow, ow, Bow.”

He looks at the sugar longingly.

You could as easily mop the sea up as stay Moussa’s
love of sugar.

Moussa is urged onwards.

C-R-R-A-S-H.

Moussa is through, and the prize is won.

A stranger who happens to be present in the circle
this evening offers more sugar to Moussa. Moussa looks
at it longingly, and then looks at the circle, which plainly
disapproves. Moussa walks away and begins to cry.
The stranger is touched by the note of pathos and drops
the sugar, which falls exactly under Moussa’s nose. Still
this virtuous dog resists the temptation, and looks up at
the stranger reproachfully, as if to say: ‘Tempter,
avaunt. The narrow path is Moussa’s.” Virtue is again
rewarded, and Moussa is compared to the Roman sentry
who declined to leave his post at Pompeii.

“Why, the dog almost speaks!” remarks the stranger,
intending a compliment to the animal world. “Sir. If
dogs and cats spoke,” replied the centre of the circle
110 PETER: A CAT O ONE TAIL.

sententiously, ‘‘they would cease to be such pleasant
companions.”

With such simple sports as these we whiled away a
pleasant hour, and secured a great deal of happiness at
the insignificant cost of a few lumps of sugar, thus show-
ing, as my mother always pointed
out to us, that pleasure is not a
question of pounds.

Cuck-ooo

Cuck-o00

Cuck-o0o

Cuck-ooo z

Cuck-ooo | said the little bird

Cuck-oo0o0 in the clock.

Cuck-ooo

Cuck-oo0

Cuck-ooo

Cuck-oo0o

‘Time is on the wing,” said
my: mother, closing her work-
basket, and putting up _ her
needles.

“Peter, my dear, it is bedtime.”

And Peter walks sedately up to my mother’s chair,
puts up his paws, and says his prayers.





THE END.
“2A, 1504

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