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Title: The Adventures of a Cat - And a Fine Cat too!
Author: Elwes, Alfred, 1819?-1888
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF A LADY.]



  With Eight Illustrations by Harrison Weir.





In selecting the biography of another animal from the Archives of
Caneville, for the entertainment of a very different race, I thought I
could not do better than fix upon "The Cat;" and as the celebrated Miss
Minette Gattina, the historian of poor Job, had bequeathed some of her
own memoirs to her native City, furnished, too, with an Introduction by
herself, I at once seized upon the materials thus afforded me, and
converted them into their present form. I know not whether they will
enjoy the same favour which the Public has deigned to accord to the
veracious story of "A Bear," or the simple "Adventures of a Dog." Time
will show whether these true memoirs will be as attractive to youthful
readers as the other tales of the feline race, from time immemorial such
standard favourites; whether they will have even a chance of success,
after the story of that strong-minded Puss, who trod down the ignorant,
and made her own and master's fortune in a pair of top-boots; or that
other famous tabby,[1] so intimately associated with City annals and the
name of Whittington, whose powers of leading her proprietor to wealth
were no less remarkable.

I count as but of little moment the story of the "White Cat;" for though
it often charmed me in my days of romance, when the world seemed all
bright and beautiful, and the Golden Age appeared no marvel, I have been
since angry with myself at my admiration, as though charmed under false
pretences, seeing that the said "White Cat" was no Puss after all, but a
very free and easy young lady in disguise.

My Caneville Pussy is at least a true one. From the respect in which she
appears to have been held in her place of birth, and from the attention
which seems to have been bestowed upon her by most of the great animals
of Caneville, there is every reason to believe that the scenes she
describes were real; for it was a weakness of the Dons in that famous
City only to grant favour where it was merited, and never to associate
with those whose moral character was not above suspicion.

With these preliminary remarks, I leave Miss Minette to tell her own
story. That no one was more capable of doing so may be judged from the
fact that it was a customary thing with her to relate it to a crowd of
admiring listeners, whom the fame of her beauty, adventures, and with
attracted to her dwelling; and though the comments which were made and
the questions asked by one or other of the auditory, made the narration
on such occasions a rather lengthy one, the written memoirs, from which
this tale has been translated, may be considered the pith, the marrow,
as it were, of her "household narrative."

A. E.

  _King's Arms Yard_,
    _Moorgate Street, London._

[Footnote 1: Some of the learned F.A.S.'s of the present day insist that
this celebrated animal was _tortoise-shell_, and others aver, with equal
energy, that it was _white_. Who shall decide?]



  INTRODUCTION                          9
  KITTENHOOD                           13
  DANGERS                              20
  A NEW LEAF                           30
  LOVE AND WAR                         37
  LIFE ABROAD                          51
  THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE                 58



  PORTRAIT OF A LADY        _Frontispiece._
  A JUVENILE PARTY                     13
  AN UNWELCOME VISITOR                 27
  A SELECT CLASS                       35
  ONE TOO MANY                         42
  BON VOYAGE!                          46
  WANDERING MINSTRELS                  56
  A VERY FINE CAT                      63


I was about to address my readers with the usual phrase, that "at the
request of friends" I had collected the scattered memorials of the chief
events of my life, and now presented them to the reading world, in the
hope that some lesson might be learnt from them, which could be useful
to the inexperienced when similarly situated. But I will be more candid,
and say rather, that "to please myself" I have put into a complete form
the recollections in question; not however without the wish that they
may prove of service to Cat, ay, and to Dog, and other kind. There never
was a life spent in this world but that its history could teach a
lesson; for, though every life has peculiarities of its own, and may be
varied in a thousand ways, the wishes, the resolutions of most of us do
not take a wide range, nor does it require a very extensive circle to
limit them all.

I would not however have my readers imagine that vanity alone has
induced me to record my experiences. No; I have had another, and
I think a higher motive. I wished to convey to the intelligence of all
animals capable of understanding the language of Caneville, some portions
of the history of a _real_ Cat; and, by so doing, try to remove from the
minds of many the opinion that she is a creature _ignorant of the finer
feelings, oblivious of gratitude_, incapable of strong attachments,
and so uncertain in her temper as to scratch and bite even, one minute,
the paw she has been licking and fondling the moment before. I wished to
prove that the same natural disposition holds good with our race as with
every other; that some of us are, from our birth, kind, rough, loveable,
cruel, tender-hearted, and ferocious, just as other beasts that wear a
tail or come into the world without one; and that this temperament may
be modified, and even changed, by education and treatment, precisely as
the dispositions of other animals.

It is a cruel wrong done to our race to exclaim, as many do, that "Cats
have no attachments, no tenderness; that there is always a lurking
fierceness in their hearts, which makes them forget, with the first mark
of roughness or ill treatment, a thousand benefits which they may have
formerly received." I deny it wholly. I, a Cat, affirm that, with few
exceptions, there are no animals more loving or more tender. Look at
the care which a respectable married Puss bestows upon her numerous
offspring! Can any mamma more carefully wash or tend her darlings? Will
any show greater willingness to forego her own occupations, in order to
fondle and descend to be the playmate of her little ones? Does any
display a firmer courage to defend them? And if she should give way to
a little expression of feeling when her tail is trodden upon or pulled,
or be betrayed into an angry growl when her territory is invaded, what
then? You would not have her show so little spirit as to receive every
insult unnoticed, or return a quiet "thank you" for the pain, physical
or moral, which has been inflicted on her. How would _you_, dear reader,
act if _your_ tail were wantonly pulled, or if _your_ house were to be
entered by an ugly stranger without invitation?

We most of us laugh at our good friends the Sheep, and indulge in many
a sly joke at their stupidity. "What can be more absurd," we say,
"than that habit of theirs of constantly playing at 'follow my leader,'
and putting themselves into all sorts of disagreeable situations in
consequence?" But are we any better ourselves? Are not _we_ always
following some leader?--always imitating somebody, and running in crowds
hither and thither because so-and-so are running there too? And thus
it is that _opinions_, once uttered by some great animal in authority,
are taken up and repeated by his imitators, and are looked on as the
very essence of wisdom, while they are often, in fact, no other, when
examined, than untrue or mischievously unjust. Such are the pet
sentences I have alluded to, wherein Cats are described: a whole race is
sometimes condemned because a few members of it have proved unworthy;
and a tribe gets a bad name because some animal of influence, a Jackass
perhaps, brays out that "they are _all_ worthless."

It has been often observed, and I therefore do not profess to utter
an original idea by remarking it again, that when our prejudices are
enlisted in favour of or against any object, every circumstance is
turned to its advantage or the reverse. If we have done an animal a
kindness, we are ready to do him another; if we have inflicted on him
any injury, we are not at all indisposed to add a fresh one to it. And
so it has happened that our numerous family, having been by many ill
treated, are constantly exposed to kicks and insult from those same
parties, for no other reason than that they have kicked and insulted
us before. The meekness of our disposition has been distorted into
hypocrisy; our quiet has been called "meditative treachery;" and our
natural and innocent instincts have been styled "the proofs of a
sanguinary temperament." Our every look has been perverted by our
enemies into a moral squint; and our simplest caress and naturally
fondling way have been set down as the strongest marks of a Jesuitical
heart. In fact, in the eyes of many, nothing we can do, no step we can
take, but is considered evidence of our wicked disposition; and we are
not unfrequently loaded with abuse for the very things for which beasts
that have a better name get love and commendation.

How happy it would make me if I thought the perusal of these few pages
would induce any one to pause and reflect before condemning any one
animal! And here I do not refer to my own race alone, but to the world
of beasts at large; whether the Lion, creating a sensation in the class
to which he belongs, or the Ass, laughed at for his stupidity in the
circle to which his position in life assigns him. The same animal would
often be judged differently if differently situated: were the Lion and
the Ass, by some freak of nature, to change places, the stupidity of the
latter would be set down as wit, and his every saying would be
applauded; whilst the Lion, instead of being looked on as the perfection
of nobleness and beauty, would be styled a surly brute, and considered
at the best no better than a bore.

I think I hear some of my readers exclaim, "Who is this old Cat,
forsooth, that she should thus presume to teach us lessons? The 'itch
for scratching' must be very strong upon her that she should insist on
swelling her tale in so outrageous a manner!" I own my fault, and will
bring my musings to a stop.

My wish was to meet my readers with a friendly rub; my desire was to
part from them with a gentle warning. Above all, my wish was to have
them think of me kindly; for, though a Cat, and no longer young,--though
no more possessed of those graces which once distinguished me, when the
eye, as I have been told, felt pleasure in gazing on my form,--my heart
still beats warmly, tenderly, and without envy, and would feel no common
joy if it thought it had not dwelt in this earthly abode in vain.

[Illustration: A JUVENILE PARTY.]


There is nothing like beginning at the very commencement of a story, if
we wish it to be thoroughly understood; at least, _I_ think so; and, as
I wish _my_ story to be clear and intelligible, in order that it may
furnish a hint or a warning to others, I shall at least act up to my
opinion, and begin at the beginning,--I may say, at the very tip of my

Being now a Cat of some years' standing (I do not much like remembering
how many), I was of course a Kitten on making my entry into life,--my
first appearance being in company with a brother and three sisters.

We were all declared to be "the prettiest little darlings that ever
were seen;" but as the old Puss who made the remark had said precisely
the same thing at sight of every fresh Kitten she beheld, and she was
accustomed to see ten or twelve new ones every week, the observation is
no proof of our being very charming or very beautiful.

I cannot remember what passed during the first few days of my existence,
for my eyes were close-shut till the ninth morning. I have an indistinct
recollection however of overhearing a few words which passed between my
mother and a friend of the family who had dropped in for a little chat,
on the evening of the eighth day.

The latter had been remarking on my efforts to unclose my lids, to
obtain a little peep at what was going on, when my good parent

"Ah! yes, she tries hard enough to stare at life now, because she knows
nothing of it; but when she is as old as you or I, neighbour, she will
wish more than once that she had always kept her eyes closed, or she
is no true Cat."

I could not of course, at the time, have any notion what my mother
meant, but I think, indeed I am _sure_, that I have discovered her
meaning long ago; and all those who have lived to have sorrow,--and
who has not?--will understand it too.

I had found my tongue and my legs, and so had my brother and sisters,
before we got the use of our eyes. With the first we kept up a perfect
concert of sounds; the legs we employed in dragging our bodies about our
capacious cradle, crawling over each other, and getting in everybody's
way, for we somehow managed, in the dark as we were, to climb to the
edge of our bed and roll quickly over it, much to our astonishment and
the amusement or annoyance of the family, just as they happened to be
in the humour.

Our sight was at last granted us. On that eventful morning our mother
stepped gently into our bed, which she had left an hour before; and,
taking us one by one in her maternal embrace, she held us down with her
legs and paws, and licked us with more affection and assiduity than she
had ever bestowed on our toilet before. Her tongue, which she rendered
as soft for the occasion as a Cat's tongue can be made, I felt pass and
repass over my eyes until the lids burst asunder, and I could _see_!

And what a confusion of objects I first beheld! It seemed as if
everything above was about to fall upon my head and crush me, and that
everything around was like a wall to prevent my moving; and when, after
a day or two, I began to understand better the distance that these
objects were from me, I fell into the opposite error, and hurt my nose
not a little through running it against a chair, which I fancied to
be very much further off. These difficulties however soon wore away.
Experience, bought at the price of some hard knocks, taught me better;
and, a month after my first peep at the world, it seemed almost
impossible I could ever have been so ignorant.

No doubt my brother and sisters procured their knowledge in a similar
way: it is certain that it cost them something. One incident, which
happened to my brother, I particularly remember; and it will serve to
prove that he did not get _his_ experience for nothing.

We were all playing about the room by ourselves, our mother being out
visiting or marketing, I do not know which, and the nurse, who was
charged to take care of us, preferring to chat to the handsome footman
in the tortoise-shell coat over the way, to looking after us Kittens.

A large pan full of something sticky, but I do not remember what, was in
a corner; and as the edge of it was very broad, we climbed on to it and
peeped in.

Our brother, who was very venturesome, said he could jump over it to the
opposite brim. We said it was not possible, for the pan was broad and
rather slippery; and what a thing it would be if he fell into it! But
the more we exclaimed about its difficulty, the more resolved he was to

Getting his legs together, he gave a spring; but, slipping just as he
got to the other side, his claws could not catch hold of anything to
support himself, and he went splash backwards into the sticky mess.
His screams, and indeed ours, ought to have been enough to call nurse
to our assistance; but she was making such a noise herself with the
tortoise-shell footman, that my brother might have been drowned or
suffocated before _she_ would have come to his assistance. As it was, he
managed to drag himself to the edge without any help at all; and as we
feared that all of us would get punished if the adventure were known, my
sisters and myself set to work and licked him all over; and then getting
into bed, we cuddled up together to make him dry, and were soon fast

Although the accident was not known at the time, we all suffered for it;
for my brother caught a dreadful cold, and myself and sisters were ill
for several days, through the quantity of the stuff we had licked off my
brother's coat, and one of us nearly died through it.

As we grew stronger and older, we were permitted, under the care of our
nurse, to go into the country for a few hours to play. It may be perhaps
thought, from what I have said, that nurse's care was not worth much,
and that we might just as well have looked after ourselves, as the
poorer Kittens of our city were accustomed to do. But this was not
precisely the case; for when nurse had nobody to chat with she was very
strict with us, I assure you, and on such occasions made up for her
inattention at other times. That unlucky fondness of hers however for
gossiping, was the cause of a great deal of mischief; and about this
time it partly occasioned a sad misfortune in our family. I said
_partly_, because the accident was also due to an act of disobedience;
and as the adventure may serve as a double warning, I will briefly
relate it.

It was a lovely morning in early summer; the sun shone gaily upon the
city, looked at his brilliant face in the river, danced about among the
leaves of the trees, and polished the coats of every Cat and Dog which
came out to enjoy the beautiful day he was making.

To our great delight we were allowed to take a long walk in the country.
Two of our cousins, and a young Pussy who was visiting at our house,
were to accompany us; and nurse had strict charge to prevent our getting
into mischief. Before we started our mother called us and said, that,
although she had desired nurse to look after us, and take care that no
harm should happen while we were out, she desired also that we should
take care of _ourselves_, and behave like Kittens of station and
good-breeding, not like the young Cats about the streets, poor things!
who had no home except the first hole they could creep into, no food but
what they could pick up or steal, and no father or mother that they knew
of to teach them what was good. Such creatures were to be pitied and
relieved, but not imitated; and she hoped we would, by our behaviour,
show that we bore her advice in mind. "Above all," she added, "do not
let me hear of your climbing and racing about in a rude and extravagant
way, for a great deal of mischief is often done by such rough modes of

We hastily promised all and everything. If we had kept our words, we
should have been perfect angels of Cats, for we declared in a chorus
that we would do only what was good, and would carefully avoid
everything that was evil; and with these fine promises in our mouths,
we started off in pairs under the guidance of nurse.

We soon came to the wood, situated at some distance from the city; and,
walking into it, shortly arrived at an open space, where some large
trees stood round and threw broad patches of shade over the grass.

We at once commenced our gambols. We rolled over one another, we sprang
over each other's backs, and hid behind the great beech trunks for the
pleasure of springing out upon our companions when they stealthily came
to look for us.

In the midst of our fun we observed that nurse had gone. We had been
so busied with our own diversions that not one of us had observed her
departure; but now that we found it out, we set off to discover where
she had strolled to. We observed her, after a few minutes, cosily seated
on a bank of violets, near the very same tortoise-shell footman, who
lived opposite our house, although how _he_ came there we could not
imagine. Nor indeed did we much trouble ourselves to guess. Seeing she
was so engaged we returned at once to our sport, and played none the
less heartily because nurse was not there to curb us.

I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the scene which followed.
I was amusing myself with one of my pretty cousins, who was dressed in
white, and was about my own age. I had thrown her down on the grass, and
was patting her with my paws, when I heard a scream; I turned quickly
round, just in time to see one of my sisters falling from a tall tree,
to which she had climbed with our young visitor, when, all of us running
up, we discovered that, on reaching the ground, she had struck her head
against a sharp stone, and was now bleeding and without motion.

Our cries brought nurse to the spot, who, as soon as she discovered all
the mischief that had been done, without saying a word started off with
all swiftness, with her tail in the air. We thought she had gone to
fetch assistance or to inform our mother of what had occurred; but as
she did not come back, and evening was fast setting in, we thought it
best to proceed towards home, although we did not much like meeting our
parents after what had happened.

There was no help for it however; so, giving a last frightened look at
our poor little sister, who was now quite dead and cold, we walked sadly
homewards, and reached the house just as night was falling.

I pass over what ensued,--my mother's grief, and her anger against
nurse, who, by the bye, never came back to express her sorrow; I pass
over also my mother's remarks upon the occasion; but I may observe,
that they, added to the sad accident itself, made so deep an impression
upon me, that whenever I felt inclined to disobey my good mother's
admonitions, the image of my dead sister would rise up before me, and,
although it did not, alas! _always_ prevent my being wicked, it often
did so, and on every occasion made me feel repentance for my error.


My Father was what is called a sporting character. The quantity of rats
he caught, and of birds he ensnared, was almost incredible; and the fame
of his exploits spread throughout the neighbourhood.

A taste of so decided a kind, and a dexterity so remarkable, not
unnaturally extended to his offspring; and before we had attained our
full growth, we had all killed our rats and caught our birds.

To indulge this passion my father had two little huts, which he called
hunting-boxes, both conveniently situated for his favourite pursuits.
One was on the bank of the river, near some old timber, a famous haunt
of the rats, who had a colony close by; and the other was in a wooded
spot, overhung with trees, among which the birds loved to linger,
although many of their number waited there to their destruction.

My mother, who had been very delicately brought up, and who had very
strict notions concerning propriety in female Cats, was very anxious to
keep myself and sisters away from either of these places, although she
had, of course, no objection that our brother should visit them; but,
as we had been all educated together, we Pussies thought it rather hard
that Tommy should go whilst we were forced to stop at home; and, as our
father was very indulgent, we often managed to slip off unawares and
join him and our brother, trusting to his kindness to save us from our
mother's displeasure.

I happened to learn one day that several sporting Cats had been invited
to a great hunt, the place of meeting being my father's box beside the
river. I felt the greatest desire to be present at one of these affairs,
as Tommy's account of them had made my very mouth water. I knew it would
be vain to ask my mother's consent, as she would not only refuse it,
but would take measures to prevent my getting out if I felt inclined
to disobey. I therefore kept very quiet about the matter, but resolved
within myself to indulge my inclination, and get a peep at what was
going on.

"It will be easy," I thought, "to do so without any one being the wiser;
and even if I should be found out when I am there, I am sure father will
not be angry."

With this reflection, on the appointed morning I slipped off
unperceived, and, arriving at the hut a good hour before the time fixed,
I climbed up to the top by the help of a tree which grew near; and
stretching myself on the roof, with my eyes peering over the edge, just
where a branch of the elm I had got up by afforded me a shade, I waited
for the company.

They were not long in coming. My father and brother arrived first, and
a servant with some provisions; they were soon followed by an immense
White Cat with one eye (but what a fierce one it was!) and a handsome
Tabby, his son. Next came a Cat they called Mr. Dick, who wore a shabby
grey coat, rather torn and patchy, and whose tail was ragged and dirty,
yet to whom everybody showed a great deal of attention, because, as
I afterwards learnt, he was very rich and ill-tempered. There were two
or three others that I don't well remember, but which made the number

As soon as they were all assembled, they sat down to breakfast; and
I could see them through a chink in the roof as they demolished their
meal. I had taken the precaution to bring something to eat too, and
I now devoured it with much appetite; for the fresh morning air and my
elevated position had made me hungry. As I munched my food, I could hear
the conversation below, and was much edified by the terrible stories
which some of them told about the fights they had had with rats as big
as themselves, and the fierce battles they had won. I could not help
observing that although Mr. Dick's adventures were much less wonderful
than those of any other Cat present, they were heard with a great deal
more interest, and were applauded as infinitely more remarkable.

Word was now given to prepare for the coming hunt, and every Cat rose
from table, and came out among the timber. Hiding themselves behind
various logs, my father stood up and uttered a loud cry, which I
afterwards learnt was a signal for a quantity of ferrets, trained for
that purpose, to rush into the rats' holes to drive them out. As the
rats have the greatest horror of these creatures, they sprang from their
hiding-places in the wildest confusion, and were at once pounced upon by
the hidden Cats.

What a scene of confusion followed! The rats, who were scampering along,
over and under the logs to escape from the hated ferrets, were suddenly
aware of the presence of more detested and more formidable enemies, as,
one by one, the sporting Cats jumped up, and made a dash at their
bewildered prey.

My excitement at this spectacle was almost more than I could bear.
As the growls of my friends and kindred, joined to the screams of the
flying rats, became audible, and I could see the lashing of tails and
the fierce glances of bright eyes, accompanied every now and then by a
chase where some rat, which had been hiding beneath a log, suddenly
leaped across the open ground, I sprang to my feet, I ran hither and
thither, with my tail swollen to twice its natural size, from my
eagerness to participate in the so-called _sport_ of my relations.

I was not however destined to remain without my share of it, although
I did not stir from the spot where I had been concealed. I said that a
tree grew close to the hunting-box, on the roof of which I was placed,
and that it was by its help that I had climbed to my present elevation.
A large rat, with a body not very much smaller than my own, which had
managed to escape from the fight where so many of his friends and
relations had fallen, sought about for a place of refuge. Espying the
tree, and seeing that all his enemies were at that moment too much
engaged to attend to him, he sprang up the trunk and came rapidly
towards me, little expecting to find another of his foes so far away
from her companions. I watched him come, and resolved in my own mind
that he should not escape, although my heart beat a good deal at the
idea of the encounter.

The rat sprang on to the roof, and was going to scamper over it, when
his fierce little eyes,--and quick nose too, no doubt, for it moved
incessantly,--spied me out, crouching at a short distance and ready to
spring. He stopped an instant, as if considering what it were best to
do, then, thinking perhaps that if he attempted to run I should be at
once upon his back, and, I suppose, observing from my look that I was
only a Kitten after all, he came boldly towards me, and, just as I was
about to pounce upon him, he sprang, like a flash of lightning, at my
face, and made his sharp teeth meet in the most tender part of my nose.
In vain I shrieked and beat the terrible creature with all my strength
upon the roof; it was to no purpose that I fixed my sharp claws into
his sides, and tried to tear him from his hold; he would not let go, and
the pain was at last so great, that, squeezing him in my paws, I rolled
over and over in my agony. The roof was sloping, and slippery besides
with dew, so that, blinded with terror and not knowing what I did,
I gradually got near the edge, and at last tumbled over on to the party
below. I should probably have been much hurt by the fall, as I was not
yet clever enough to tumble on my feet, but that I came down plump upon
the back of a very stout Cat, who was standing a little aside quite
tired out with his exertions. Him I knocked completely over, sending him
flying, to his astonishment, a dozen paces off; the rat, detached from
my nose by the shock, was at once strangled by my brother; and the rest
of the party, running up to me, whom they thought dead, were not a
little surprised to find the daughter of their friend. My father himself
took the matter very quietly; I heard him exclaim, "I say, Tommy, how
came your sister here? There will be a fine noise at home when your
mother hears of this;" but I heard no more; I had fainted from loss of
blood, and I did not recover my senses till I found myself in my own
bed, with my mother's mild eyes, full of sorrow, looking down upon me.

Notwithstanding the great cause she had to feel anger at my conduct,
which was in direct opposition to her wishes and even to her commands,
so frequently expressed, I had little cause to fear a scolding while
I was still confined to the house and suffering pain. And even when
I recovered, her remarks upon the folly of my behaviour were made
with such tenderness that, while I could not help admitting their
truth, I felt that I loved my mother the better for her correction.
I promised,--oh! how warmly I promised her, while the smart was still
within my wound, and my face was yet swollen and inflamed, that I would
never more be guilty of an act of disobedience; that I would, from that
time, do only what I was sure must cause her pleasure, and that I would
strive in all things to acquire a good name for gentleness and other
female virtues.

Alas! a Kitten's resolutions, made in the midst of pain and sorrow
caused through not attending to the advice of elders, are too apt to
be forgotten, when the aches are gone and the grief has worn away;
at least, to my shame be it spoken, it was so in my case, for when
I recovered I was more than once guilty of acts of mischief, which,
by good luck only, happened to be less serious in their results than
the event of the rat-hunt.

A circumstance which helped to make me thus doubly naughty and
disobedient, was the falling among bad companions. I had, at that time,
the dangerous fault of easily making acquaintance, no matter whether the
animals were such as I should or should not associate with. Not content
also with simply speaking and being civil to them, I became at once
extremely intimate, and therefore very naturally often found myself in
places and among dangers which I had no right to enter into or incur.

There came into the town, from a distant and wild part of the country,
a family of Cats, consisting of a father and nine daughters. They were
strange, shabby, half-savage looking creatures, and, having lost their
mother at an early age, had unhappily possessed no one who could
restrain or teach them better, so had grown up more like Toms than quiet
female Pussies. I was too young to know this at the time, and no warning
voice had been raised against them; for, fearing I should be denied the
pleasure of going out with my new acquaintance if I confessed to my
mother that I knew them, I never said a word concerning them, but ran
out to meet them on the sly. The elder Cats of the family rather
frightened me, they were so terribly wild; but the three youngest, who
were about my own age, I very much admired. They seemed so good-natured,
so bold, and were so free in their manners, that we became, in a few days,
the firmest friends; and although I was a little shocked at first at the
naughty words they used,--the biggest, I am grieved to say, sometimes
really swore,--yet I even got accustomed to that, and thought, silly
Kitten that I was, that it sounded grand and spirited.

Many and many a time, when my good mother thought that I was visiting
a relation or one of her own steady friends, was I scampering over the
country with these dangerous playmates, until, had I not possessed
so kind yet strict a guide at home, I should have become as bold and
shameless as they. Fortunately for me, I discovered their real character
before they had succeeded in ruining mine; and as the circumstance
caused a final break between us, I will relate it just as it fell out.

At the distance of an easy walk from the city of Caneville was the
residence of a very wealthy bloodhound, who was as proud of his noble
descent as he was of his riches and influence. The grounds attached
to his splendid mansion were very extensive and beautiful, and one
portion, which contained some tall trees and low bushes, was called
the "preserve," because birds of all kinds had their nests among the
branches. In order to guard this property from thieves and intruders,
several fierce dogs paraded about the grounds, and, as they had orders
to kill all animals that were discovered lurking there, you may believe
the place was tolerably quiet. All these particulars I only learned
afterwards, when I had nearly fallen a victim to my folly; but I knew
perfectly well that this ground was private property, and that I had
no business whatsoever to go into it.

My three friends and myself, being out one day upon an excursion, such
as I have described, I, having slipped away from home, as usual, on the
sly, with only a little pinafore for clothing, came upon these beautiful
grounds, and having crossed a park, where we rolled upon the green turf
undisturbed, we at last stood in the "preserve."


Here we were at once attracted by the quantities of birds which flew
from branch to branch above our heads, and twittered gaily in the
fancied security of their leafy homes. We looked, and sniffed, and
watched them as they flew, until our mouths watered at the sight. Having
eaten nothing since morning, our appetites were very keen, and the
thought of a little poultry was not by any means a disagreeable one. But
how was it to be procured? My friends, bold as they seemed, had a great
objection to climb one of the trees to hunt for it; and I, although
sufficiently strong and active to mount to the very highest in the
course of a few seconds, had just sufficient sense of propriety left to
feel that it would be wrong. What, however, will not the persuasions of
the wicked sometimes do? Although I knew perfectly well that it was a
great sin, that the birds were not mine, and that I had not only no
right to them, but no right either to be within those grounds, I was, in
a moment of weakness, prevailed on to climb a lofty oak, and seize upon
the contents of a nest we could discover among the branches.

Quick as thought, I sprang upon the gnarled trunk, and mounted to the
upper boughs; in a few seconds, I stood high up in the air, with one
foot resting on a convenient ledge, my fore-paws outstretched upon a
nest, wherein three half-fledged birds were chirping, one of which had
opened its beak at my approach, as though I were its mother, whom it
asked for food.

At another time I should have been touched at the spectacle of these
little helpless creatures, and could have found it in my heart to
place something in their yellow mouths; but now giving heed only to my
voracious appetite and the cries of my friends, who kept calling out to
me to pitch them down, I seized them cruelly by their necks, and cast
them, one by one, below, desiring my companions, as I did so, not to
divide them till I had descended to have my share.

Imagine, however, my astonishment, my anger, at their ingratitude, when,
instead of waiting my coming, each seized a bird as it fell, and began
devouring it with all speed, paying no more attention to my claims or
words than if I had been a stranger, instead of their _friend_ and the
provider of the feast.

Enraged at their baseness, I had commenced my descent, to punish their
perfidy, when the terrible sound of a dog's voice broke upon my ear.
From my leafy hiding-place I peeped, in trembling, below, and saw two
enormous brutes rush from a neighbouring bush, and, with a tremendous
growl, fall upon my ungrateful companions. In an instant one was seized
by the back of the neck, and dragged off, I knew not where; the other
two fled, with shrieks of fear, pursued by the remaining dog, which,
I suppose, had been attracted to the spot, with his companion, by the
cries of the Cats, when telling me to throw them down the birds.

Oh! how my heart beat as I witnessed the scene I have just described,
and thought that I too might have been one of the victims! Even now I
might be unable to escape, but lose my life in attempting to get away.
How bitterly I reproached myself for having been weak enough to choose
such creatures for associates! What advantage had they ever procured me?
Had I learnt from them one single thing of good? I grieved to think, not
one. But what evil had their acquaintance not brought me? I had been not
only guilty of disobedience to my mother,--that tender mother!--but I
had trespassed upon the property of others: I had taken that to which I
had no possible right; I had caused the death of three little creatures;
and I had not even had the consolation of putting the smallest bit of
one of the innocents into my own mouth. All these reflections passed
through my Cat's brain, as I sat shivering on my elevated perch; and
I resolved, as I had so often resolved before, that if I got safely
out of this danger, nothing should induce me to commit such sins, or
trust to such worthless _friends_ again.

Whether my repentance had anything to do with my escaping from my
difficulties with a whole skin, I cannot say; but it is certain that
when, after darkness had settled on the earth and all around was silent,
I ventured to descend from my hiding-place, I succeeded in making my way
out of the "preserve," and park beyond, in safety, when I took to my
heels with all speed; nor did I stop till I had reached my own quiet
home, which I stealthily entered through an open window.


A great change was made in my manner of life very soon after this last
adventure, which may be looked upon as the closing scene of my wild and
thoughtless Kittenhood. I was now entering upon a new course of
existence, where far different pursuits had to engage my attention.

A distant relation of my mother's, who had never been married (a very
singular circumstance in our city), and who lived in a house with only
two servants to keep her company, invited me to spend some time with
her, and, as she was very clever and accomplished, my mother was most
pleased to let me go, as she considered that I might obtain great
advantages from her society and conversation.

The sort of life I had been leading made my first days spent at Hum
Villa very dull and tedious, for my cousin, although most gentle and
kind, was precise to an extraordinary degree, and could not bear the
least disorder either in her house, her person, or the manners or
appearance of those about her. Truly both she and her servants were
orderly enough; for they were washing at least ten times a day, and
never sat down to a meal or got up from it without licking themselves
all over for a good half hour.

By degrees however what seemed to me irksome and fussy wore
imperceptibly away, and I was not long in discovering that cleanliness
of body has a good deal to do with promoting purity of mind. I am
certain it was so with myself; for as I got into habits of preciseness,
and put my tongue to the use for which nature in part designed it,
namely the washing and cleansing my person, my thoughts took a very
different turn, and, after a few months, I should have avoided with
horror many of those companions with whom I had been formerly so
friendly, if they had, by any chance, been thrown in my way.

But this was only one of the changes which my residence with my cousin
wrought in me. I had never before met with a Cat who had seen so much or
who had read so many books as she. Her memory too was so good that she
could relate all she had seen and much that she had read, and, as she
had gone on _thinking_, as well as seeing and reading, her conversation,
when I came to know her well, was delightful.

She had been into other countries; she had seen places inhabited by
animals different to those which lived in Caneville; she had even
learned to understand and speak their language. She told me she had
read that there were cities filled with creatures called _men_, who
considered themselves superior to all other beasts, which they used as
slaves and killed for food. When I asked her, if there were any Cats
living among these creatures--these men? she replied, there were a great
many; but that they were looked upon as poor, miserable things, were
often badly treated, and, at the best, were rather tolerated than liked,
and never enjoyed the full confidence of their harsh masters.

In such discourse we spent a great deal of time: little by little my
views became enlarged, and as she spoke to me of the noble nature of
some of the animals she had met with upon her travels, the acts of
kindness she had received from them, and the deeds by which many of
them had rendered themselves famous, I began to appreciate more justly
the position which we Cats occupied in the scale of creation. Not that
I was desirous of changing my lot for that of any other beast; but
I learned to look with more humility upon myself and my tribe, and
understood that many things were better managed in other countries,
and by other animals, than _we_ managed them in Caneville.

But none of my good cousin's accomplishments pleased me so much as her
perfect knowledge of music. She played several instruments in a charming
and graceful manner, and her voice was so sweet that when she sang, and
accompanied herself on the piano, it was most delightful to hear her.

She soon perceived my fondness for the science, and promised, if I were
attentive and would follow her instructions, to teach me both to play
and sing. No proposal could have been more pleasing to me. I thanked her
a hundred times, and resolved to use my best efforts to do credit to my
preceptress's instructions, and make myself mistress of so charming an

I now began to study in good earnest. Under the guidance of my real
friend I made great progress: I soon learned both to read and write;
acquired a slight knowledge of other tongues, and made such proficiency
in music as, in the opinion of my cousin, to perform many pieces with as
much grace and dexterity as herself. I could sing, too, pretty well; but
my voice was still weak and tremulous, and wanted the full tone and
power of her own.

How happily the days now passed! How thankful did I feel to my cousin,
to my good mother, to my fortunate lot, which thus gave me the means
of acquiring an education that placed me so far above most of my

These thoughts however awakened such pride in my bosom, that I began to
look upon Pussies who had not been blessed with the same advantages as
myself, as beings so inferior that I would scarce deign to look on them.
One or two Tommies, who ventured to cast tender looks upon me as I
passed through the streets or peeped out of the window, I treated with
scorn; and when _one_, dressed in glossy black, ventured one day to
speak to me as I was returning from my mother's house, I was even so
rude as not only to set up my back at him, but actually spit in his

Conduct of this kind is certain to meet with punishment; and my
mentioning the circumstance now is a proof that I have no wish to spare
myself, and that I heartily regret having ever been guilty of such

My pride was destined to meet with a severe fall, and sorrow was about
to take the place of happiness.

I had been about a year residing with my cousin, when our city was
visited with a terrible malady, which destroyed many of the inhabitants.
It commenced in the low and dirty parts of the town, where the poor curs
and mongrels lived, in those miserable huts unfit for any dog, but which
poverty obliged many of them to dwell in. It soon extended to the Cats'
quarter, and some of the best families were swept off by the infection.

Death was particularly busy in my own family: my father fell first, then
two of my sisters, and, at last, my mother! Her loss was heaviest of
all; and I had scarce recovered from the shock when my kind friend, my
good cousin, also caught the disease, and quickly passed away.

One would have thought that these various calamities, coming so quickly
upon each other, would have destroyed me at once, or would have so far
affected me as to kill me by degrees. The very greatest of them however
seemed to produce a contrary effect, and I, who would sometimes mourn
for days over a trifling misfortune, found myself sad indeed, but calm
under these heavy losses.

The disease passed away; and when I was sufficiently recovered to
examine my position, I saw myself mistress of a fine house, left me by
my poor cousin, with all her books, papers, musical instruments, and
other things, too numerous to mention.

It was on looking over the store of articles which I became thus
unexpectedly possessed of, that I discovered a bundle of letters,
written in a bold, Cat-like style. Although the ink had become pale with
time, and many parts were torn into holes, I yet managed to make out
their contents, and learn that they had been written to my cousin in her
youth by some Cat of noble birth, who had wished to marry her, but whose
attentions she had for some reason refused. Perhaps she had regretted it
afterwards, and for that reason had always lived alone; perhaps he had
died, or left the city, or----a number of ideas came into my mind about
him, and I even tried to imagine what he was like, and whether he at all
resembled the Tom in black I had been so rude to some time before.

[Illustration: A SELECT CLASS.]

I then began to consider what I should do with the packet. When I
reflected that my cousin had never mentioned the subject, or even the
name of her correspondent, I thought the only plan was to be equally
silent, and, in order to avoid the remarks of others, put the letters in
the fire; for, although I had read them myself, I felt quite persuaded
she had no wish that they should be generally known. My resolution was
soon taken; and casting the papers one by one into the flames, I watched
them slowly burn until there was a little black heap of ashes on the
hearth. The last letter was in my paw; I tore it in halves, and threw
the first sheet on to the pile; the second was just going the same
way, when my eye caught sight of two verses of a song, which I had not
observed till then. I stopped and read them through: they were stanzas
I had sometimes heard my cousin sing; and although I do not think so much
of them now as I did at the time, I preserved them from the flames, and
now insert them here in memory of so kind and gentle a Cat:--

  With others I may frisk and play,
    With others I may talk and sing,
  With others pass the live-long day,
    And find, time flies with rapid wing:
  A friend (I seek not to deceive)
    I may, perchance, to others be;
  But, ah! my darling Puss! believe,
    I purr, I only purr for thee!

  Thy form is stamp'd upon that heart,
    Which, true to thee, will beat till death;
  Thy praises, dear one that thou art,
    Will mingle with my latest breath.
  Deign, then, to smile upon my suit,
    Nor heedlessly my vows refuse;
  But trust the honour of the brute
    Who seeks to win thee with his muse!

The education I had received, and the advantages I possessed in the
way of books, joined to my present loneliness, induced me to carry out
an idea that had more than once entered my head, and which my kind
relation, when alive, had strongly encouraged. This was to get together
the Kittens of some of my friends who were anxious to obtain knowledge,
and impart to them some portion of that I had myself acquired,--in
brief, to keep a school.

I never ceased to remember the words of my poor cousin when speaking on
this subject. "My dear," she had often said, "it is the duty of every
Cat in this world to make herself useful; she is sent here for that
purpose, depend upon it; and although all Cats cannot be useful in the
same way or to the same extent, some being placed in very different
circumstances to others, _every_ Cat, rich or poor, _may_ do a certain
amount of useful work, which if she neglects, she is wicked. No
employment is so honourable as that of teaching to others the learning
we have ourselves attained; for learning destroys prejudice, makes us
better as well as wiser, and helps us to bear with greater fortitude
the calamities of life. As you have yourself acquired learning, you may
therefore show your usefulness by imparting it to others; and depend
upon it, no consolation will be greater to you in hours of misfortune,
and even on your bed of death, than the thought that you have not spent
your life in vain!"

It was with such sanction that I entered on my new career. Each day
might I have been seen, perched upon a high-backed chair, with book
in hand, examining my class as it stood up before me; a rod within my
reach to frighten evil-doers, the inattentive, and the careless; and
sometimes, with a dunce of a Kitten before me standing upon a form, with
an ugly cap upon her head, on account of some terrible breach of good
manners, or an extra amount of stupidity in conning her tasks.


Hum Villa, the house which had been left me by my deceased cousin, stood
a little back from the main street, and although surrounded with smaller
dwellings, was yet quiet and retired.

This was owing to its garden, and to several fine trees which shaded it;
one of them particularly, an ancient oak, that stood by the right-hand
corner of the grounds, cast its broad and knotted arms over a rustic
bench, and made a delightful retreat from the warmth of the summer sun.

It had been the favourite spot of my departed relation: here she would
come, in the long afternoons, and, reclining on the chair, with a book
in her hand, read a page or two, then stop to listen to the birds which
twittered in the topmost branches of the tree, or watch the busy insects
at her feet, as they ran about intent upon their pursuits of business or

There could not have been a stronger proof of the goodness of her
disposition, than to note the friendship which existed between her and
the timid birds that frequented the garden. Perhaps it was the love of
music in both that created a kind of sympathy between them, for I have
often hidden myself within a short distance of her seat, in order to
watch the proceedings of herself and feathered friends.

When they observed her alone, they would hop down from branch to branch,
until they were almost within her reach, when, after hesitating a few
moments to see that no other Puss was near, they would leap down upon
her seat, upon the ground, upon her very shoulder, and begin their
songs. Then followed such a twittering and chattering, while their wings
trembled with excitement, until, at some noise perhaps which I myself
had made, they would start from their places, and in an instant fly up,
up, until they had put the whole height of the tree between them and the
supposed danger. Often had I wished to obtain from them a similar
confidence; often by various inducements of food and voice endeavoured
to lure them down. My persuasions were all useless: they would put their
little heads on one side, and talk a little among themselves, apparently
debating whether it would be advisable to accept my invitation; but some
old and cautious birds, I suppose, advised them to refuse my advances,
for they never dared to partake of the meal I had spread for them until
I had myself taken my departure.

Once only, after my cousin's death, when I was seated in the place, and
in the attitude she herself was accustomed to assume, did a venturesome
little creature undertake to pay me a closer visit. But I was not
flattered by the attention, for it evidently mistook me for her who was
no more; as, scarcely had it perched upon the arm of the bench, at the
opposite end to where I was sitting, and glanced at my face, than it
flew off in the greatest alarm to communicate its terrors to its

Although I thus failed to secure the confidence and friendship of my
cousin's allies, there were other sources of amusement which this quiet
nook afforded me. Unseen myself, I had a view of at least a dozen
dwellings, and of the antics played by their inhabitants. It is
astonishing to a Cat of perfect good-breeding to observe the propensity
of the uneducated classes to climbing and creeping about in the most
elevated and dangerous positions. Within a few doors of my own house
resided an old Tom, whose business I never could guess, but who was at
home all day sleeping or smoking, and went out to his occupation at
nightfall. Instead however of taking his rest within-doors, as one would
have thought it most comfortable to do, he always had his doze in the
open air, and no place would suit him but the very edge of the roof of
his house, with his legs and tail generally swinging in the air. It was
a wonder to me that he did not either fall or get pitched off; for his
sons and daughters, an immense tribe of unruly Cats of all ages, were
constantly on the roof too, chasing each other about, rolling over one
another's backs, and often hissing and spitting at each other in a most
shocking and boisterous way. Their poor mother had lost all control over
them, and after trying, as I had often seen her, to get them into more
orderly habits, she was forced to give up the struggle and allow them to
take their own course.

These rude creatures had taken a particular dislike to me: first,
because I had reproved the young Pussies for their behaviour, as being
very unbecoming their age and sex; and secondly, on account of my having
forbidden them entering my grounds to chase the poor birds who lodged in
the trees.

As to the latter particular, they at first set my wishes at defiance,
paid no attention to my remonstrances, and actually one day came over
the palings into my garden and carried off a poor little bird which
had fallen from its nest. I was then obliged to have recourse to other
measures. I hired an old Tom to scare them away, which he did so
effectually that they never ventured to come within his reach. But their
hatred to me became all the greater; and as from their lofty position on
the housetop they could see right into my garden, whenever I ventured to
walk there, they saluted me with all sorts of names, called me a "Prude,"
the "Schoolmistress," and anything else which they thought would annoy
me, so that I was pleased to have the shelter of my arbour, where I
could be out of sight and yet enjoy the fresh air.

It is always unpleasant to be at variance with one's neighbours, and
no doubt animals ought to make many sacrifices to prevent it, and live
in harmony together; but it would have been weakness to give up the
happiness and even the lives of my favourite birds--the favourites too
of my poor dead Cousin--in order to please the unruly offspring of my
singular neighbour. A state of war might therefore be said to exist
between us, and I was not long in feeling the effect of the malice I had
unwillingly provoked.

And here I must speak of an adventure which, although quite innocent in
itself, caused me a great deal of pain, and forced me to become, for a
long time, a wanderer from my native city.

One evening, when seated in my arbour, after my pupils were dismissed,
a servant came to inform me that a strange Tom was in the parlour,
who desired to speak to me. I at once went in, and observed a tall,
foreign-looking figure, who introduced himself as Senhor Dickie. He
explained that he was an artist; had met my cousin in his own country;
had been invited by her to pay her a visit at her house in Caneville,
if ever he should come that way; that he had arrived that morning, and
learnt to his surprise that she was no more; that he had nevertheless
taken the liberty to come to the house, in order to see the surviving
relative of one for whom he entertained a warm friendship, and express
his sorrow for her death.

He said all this in so Cat-like a tone, and his beautiful green eyes had
so tender an expression when he spoke of my poor cousin and looked at
me, that I quite felt for him, and we had a long chat together about the
goodness of her who was no more. We had talked ourselves into so good
an understanding, that, when he went away, I asked him, as a matter of
course, to come and see me again; nor could I indeed avoid inviting him
to that house to which, had my cousin been alive, he would have been,
no doubt, very welcome.

Senhor Dickie came often to see me, and every time he came the better
did we become acquainted. We chatted together about all sorts of things;
we sang duets together (he had a fine bass voice); and at last he
requested permission to take my portrait, which he did, as represented
in the Frontispiece to this Autobiography.

It was on occasion of one of these visits that, on a hot summer's
afternoon, we sat in the arbour together. I do not know how it was we
had walked out there, whether at his wish or at my invitation, but there
we sat, and I remember thinking--for I said nothing--that nature had
never appeared more beautiful. The flowers seemed to be tinged with more
lovely colours; the green of the trees wore a richer and deeper hue;
the butterflies looked as if they had put on their most dazzling suits
in celebration of some holiday; and the birds appeared to be holding
high festival beneath the glowing heavens, and fluttered and twittered
and sang with greater glee than they had ever seemed to do before. My
companion's voice, low and deep at all times, was surely softer on that
evening than I had ever known it; and his eyes wore a look of tenderness
which made me cast mine to the ground, for fear he should discover the
same expression in my own.

He had just placed his paw on mine, and opened his mouth with the
intention of making a speech, which I am sure would have been a sweet
one, when I saw his face change, his back set up, his tail swell out and
move angrily to and fro, while his ears fell back, and an angry hiss
whistled fiercely from his close-set teeth, as he looked towards the
palings. I turned quickly round in the direction of his eyes, and, to my
horror, saw one of the malicious creatures of the house close by, who
was watching us with intense satisfaction through a break in the fence,
and grinning at the tender scene which I have been attempting to

When she saw she was discovered, she started off towards her own house,
uttering, as she went, a hoarse Mul-rou-u-u! but before she had got
halfway there, my companion had leapt over the fence and pounced upon
her, to punish her for her indiscreet curiosity and impertinence.
The screams of the young Puss, and the loud and angry tones of Senhor
Dickie (for I grieve to say he swore dreadfully), brought all her family
out-of-doors, who, seeing the chastisement, and without inquiring
whether it was deserved, fell upon poor Senhor Dickie in a body, and so
ill-treated him, tearing his very coat off his back, that he was forced
to run limping away, nor did he ever again venture to make his
appearance in the neighbourhood.

[Illustration: ONE TOO MANY.]

When my poor companion had thus been forced to take to flight, all the
anger of the enraged creatures fell on me. As I made my way into the
house, hisses, screams, the most horrible sounds the Cat tribe are
capable of uttering, broke from the numerous family; and, what was
worse, the uproar having brought all my neighbours out-of-doors, the
greatest falsehoods were told them about the origin of the dispute, and
I had not strength to raise my voice in order to explain the truth.
Finding there was no chance of obtaining justice, or even a hearing,
from my prejudiced judges, I walked slowly into the house, apparently
indifferent to what they were saying about my slyness and my cruelty;
but as soon as I got in-doors all my calmness vanished. Sorrow,
confusion, anger, so warred together in my bosom, that my Cat's frame
could bear it no longer. I fell to the ground in a fainting fit, and
was conveyed to bed by my servants, where I remained several days, a
prey to as much unpleasant feeling as if I were really the cruel Puss my
neighbours accused me of being, and as if it were really true that I had
persuaded poor Senhor Dickie to fall upon the little spy out of spite
towards her family.


There is no place so conducive to reflection as the quiet of one's
bedchamber, when confined to it by sickness. It is true, when the
illness is violent, pain for the time excludes every thought beyond that
of the actual suffering,--for pain makes us all very, very selfish; but
when the bodily suffering is over, and our meditations come back into
their usual channel; when we are in a state of convalescence, and are
about shortly to resume our intercourse with the world, a crowd of
thoughts comes trooping from our brains, and we live over again much of
our former lives, and imagine beforehand scenes of our life to come.

At least it was so with me. When I had recovered from the fever into
which the disagreeable events related in the last Chapter had thrown me,
I ran over in my recollection everything that had occurred to me up to
the present time. I was again a thoughtless Kitten, gamboling on the
green, playing with my own tail, or resisting with all my might the
efforts of my poor mother to lick me clean! Again I wandered in the
fields with my young companions, clambered trees for birds, or hid
myself away in solitary places for stray rats! I once more hearkened to
my dead cousin's voice, as she warbled one of her pretty songs; and as
I still went on reflecting, I was again sitting in the arbour, listening
to the deep tones of Senhor Dickie, until the malicious face of my
neighbour's daughter, peering at us from the broken paling, broke in
upon my thoughts, and I heard the vile malicious screams and hisses of
the ill-bred Cats which had caused his abrupt departure and my present
confinement. It was a bitter recollection; and, as I recalled the scene,
I hid my face in my paws and mewed aloud.

As I got calmer I meditated upon what was best to be done. I would have
despised the reports of cruelty which I was sure were spread abroad
against me, and have continued my school, if my scholars had felt
inclined to resume their lessons; but as they had not come back after
the first day, that resource was denied me. Without some occupation, I
felt certain I could not bear the being at war with my neighbours; for
although I had done nothing unkind, they evidently believed I had; and
as there was no opportunity of convincing them of the truth, I suffered
just as much as if I had been guilty.

One road was yet open to me; and as I thought of it my eyes brightened
up, and a low purr of satisfaction unconsciously broke from my bosom--I
could travel! This idea had no sooner entered my head than it took
entire possession of me, and drove everything else out of my thoughts.
I wished to be at once well and strong, in order to carry out my
new-formed resolution. The prospect of a speedy change, and the thought
of seeing new countries and other animals, produced at once a favourable
effect, and not many days elapsed before I was able to sit up and resume
some of my usual habits.

I did not venture into the garden, for fear of again exciting the
remarks of my rude neighbours; but I sat by the door, and looked out
upon the green trees, and the blue sky, and the lively birds, with a
delight I cannot describe.

How beautiful does all nature seem after we have been deprived for some
time, by illness, of the pleasure of looking upon it! How delicious is
the air! how sweet the perfume of the flowers! and how agreeable to the
sense the hum of each fly as it basks in the sunshine, cleaning its
glittering wings, or darts in and out and round and round in chase of
some companion! It is worth being ill, to enjoy such pure happiness, and
to feel the gratitude which gushes up from our hearts at being permitted
to see again the loveliness of creation.

It has been said by more than one animal, that Cats are such selfish
creatures that they are envious of the enjoyments of others, and can
feel no pleasure beyond their own particular gratifications. I deny that
this is the truth. I, a Cat, boldly affirm, in defence of my tribe, that
they are capable of as strong and unselfish affections as those of any
other beasts; and although, as my cousin told me, when in the service of
man they display a different character, such character must not be
considered as their true one, but rather forced upon them by their state
of servitude and the want of confidence reposed in them. Even under such
disadvantageous circumstances, I have heard that they often discover
traits of kindness and fidelity, and receive many slights and insults
with a patience which would do honour to their masters themselves.

As I had no one to consult about my departure, or the day I should set
forth, I was not interrupted in my preparations, for I was too anxious
myself to obtain a change of scene, to have any delay when I once began
my arrangements.

My house was put in order; my box was packed; my servants received their
instructions, and were put on board-wages till my return. I promised
to write to them when an opportunity offered, to inform them of my
adventures, and let them know my opinions concerning the manners of
foreign countries.

[Illustration: BON VOYAGE!]

The morning at length arrived when I was to take my departure. Dressed
in my second-best clothes, with a parasol in one paw,--for the sun was
hot,--and with my travelling-bag, containing a few necessaries, in the
other, I ventured into the streets for the first time since that
memorable evening. A stout cur, whom I had hired as a valet to accompany
and protect me, walked behind me with my trunk upon his head; and as I
turned from the door I perceived my servants, and some other Cats whom I
had at times assisted, watching me as I went, and bidding me a mournful
adieu. I was affected by their gestures, and should have been more so,
but that I was still in sight of my neighbours' dwellings, and was
apprehensive of some disagreeable remarks. Fortunately none of them were
visible. I passed their houses; I got out of the very street, but not
till I had stopped at the corner and given a quiet mew to the villa
where I had spent so many pleasant days, and which I was now leaving
perhaps for ever. We moved on through the Cats' quarter, across one or
two streets inhabited by the Dogs, and out into the open country. We
soon left behind us the few straggling houses which were at the entrance
of the town, and, mounting a hill, paused when we had gained the summit,
partly to give a last look at the city, but more to rest my companion,
who declared that his legs would never get straight again from the heavy
burden which had bent them down, and that the rope with which the box
was tied was positively cutting his head in two.

I reclined upon a grassy bank, and nibbled a few blades while deep in
thought; but my valet, "Snub," made a more substantial use of his time;
for, squatting himself down on his own hat, with his legs under him, to
my horror he pulled out a half-devoured bone, which he began to gnaw
with much appetite. I did not think this very becoming conduct in the
valet of a genteel Pussy; but as it was not the time to find fault,
I allowed him to pick his bone, and gazed long and tenderly upon that
city where I had been born and brought up, and which I was now leaving
for strange climes, and for the society of animals of whose very
language I was perhaps ignorant.

We now descended the hill, Snub carrying the box with a little more
comfort to himself, having placed his hat between the sharp cord and
his own broad, flat head; and on reaching the bottom we found that an
extensive wood lay before us, without any trace which seemed to show
there was a high-road through it. While stopping to consult what was the
best course to take, an animal came from behind a large tree, and with
many bows advanced towards us. His appearance startled me not a little,
for I could not at first make out who or what he was. I at length
discovered that he was a Fox, a tribe distantly related to the Dogs, but
so little liked by them that very few ever came into Caneville, and
those who did so, clipped their ears and trimmed their tails so as to
alter their look as much as possible to the animals among whom they
presented themselves. This Fox, on the contrary, wore all his native
luxuriance of fur, and, by the way he carried his great brush of a tail,
seemed not a little proud of it.

When he got within a few steps of us, he addressed me in broken
Caneville dialect, and offered his services to show me the way through
the wood. "It was a short cut," he said, "and would save me a good deal
of ground, which I should be obliged to go over if I went round the

Without paying attention to the nods or winks of Snub, which were
however so violent as almost to upset his load, I accepted his polite
offer with thanks, and bidding my valet, who walked very glumpily
behind, to keep close by, I followed my polite guide, who at once
entered a little path through two tall trees.

The shade grew thicker as we advanced, and I observed that the path
got not only narrower, but was in some places almost invisible. It was
evidently very little used, and unaccustomed as I had been of late to
the country, I did not feel quite comfortable in thus penetrating deeper
and deeper into the solitude; still I did not like to show any fear,
more particularly as I was rather annoyed at the conduct of Snub, who,
close behind me with the box upon his head, kept grumbling at its weight
one minute, and actually growling in an under-tone at our guide the

The conduct of that guide did not exactly please me; for in his evident
wish to prevent my being alarmed, he kept chatter, chatter, chatter,
with all his might, and still went on, his sharp eyes here, there, and
everywhere at once, in a most disagreeable manner.

We at last reached an open space, covered over with grass, and here and
there strewn with immense masses of rock. The overhanging branches of
the trees were, however, so closely intertwined, that no ray of sun, and
very little light, could penetrate into it. Here I stopped short and
declared I would go no further; an exclamation which seemed to arouse
Mr. Fox's anger, for he came towards me with a threatening look that
alarmed me not a little. I stepped back to avoid him, when Snub--as if
by accident, although I felt sure the good dog knew perfectly well what
he was about--by a dexterous stumble pitched the box off his head right
against the Fox. It was only by the greatest agility that he avoided the
heavy weight falling on and crushing him; as it was, he could not get
his long tail out of the way in time, for the box came plump down upon
it and nailed him to the ground in the most effectual manner. In vain he
screamed and pulled; the weight was heavier than he could get rid of;
and the more he pulled and screamed, the greater was Snub's delight, who
capered round him, wagging his own tail with wonderful swiftness in the
intensity of his satisfaction.

After having kept him a prisoner for a good hour, and forced him to
confess that he had led us into the wood with the intention of robbing
us, and even worse, Snub cut a piece of cord from off the box and tying
it round Mr. Fox's neck, and then fast to the trunk again, lifted the
latter on to his head, and ordered the treacherous guide, under penalty
of instant death, to lead us back at once to the place we had started
from. The wounded beast was forced to obey; so taking his mutilated tail
in his paw, with a thousand apologies,--to which Snub made no other
reply than to bid him to "look sharp" (a very unnecessary piece of
advice, as his face could scarce have been sharper than it was), and to
which I made no answer at all,--he walked on in front of us, keeping at
as great a distance from his tormentor as the length of the cord would
allow him.

We reached, after some time, the place where we had entered the wood,
when Snub, advising our polite conductor to be more honest for the
future, undid the knot which bound him to the trunk and set him again
at liberty. The Fox no sooner found himself free, than, with a cry of
satisfaction, anger, and defeated wickedness, he darted back among the
trees, and was instantly out of sight.


The first adventure that one meets with on entering the world is certain
to make a deeper impression on the memory than any of those which may
succeed it. Thus it was that I have a distinct recollection of our
meeting with Mr. Fox, described in the last Chapter, and all the minute
circumstances that attended the discovery of his treachery and his
punishment by Snub. But from that time, a confusion of objects and
events rushes into my brain when I attempt to think over the particulars
of my journey.

The beautiful pictures of Nature, which almost every turn on the road
presented to me, are however indelibly fixed in my memory, and I shall
never forget the loveliness of the sun rising from behind the grey
hills, and enriching the sober colours of the landscape with a tinge
of gold; or the splendid spectacle displayed from the summit of one of
those same hills at noonday, with a very world of beauties at my feet,
laid out in trees, and stream, and field, with a light breeze driving
the patches of cloud over the face of the hot sun, and shifting at every
moment the light and shade beneath; or, lovelier still, the calm repose
of evening, when that same sun had run his course and was sinking to his
rest amid the harmonious sounds of Nature, and surrounded by the glories
of piles and piles of golden and crimson clouds, which, as he sank lower
and lower down, gradually lost their splendour and faded almost
imperceptibly in colour, until all was grey, and the night-wind swept
over the landscape as if mourning at the day's departure! These things
cannot be forgotten while our memory exists at all, and the joy they
awoke in my breast at seeing them, was like that which I had felt when
my dead cousin used to sing some of her delightful songs,--it was all
music to me.

But the first sight of the sea was what filled me with wonder, delight,
and fear! The immense breadth of water,--at one time so calm as though
it were asleep; at another, moaning as if it grieved for the many brave
and good hearts it had engulfed; and on other occasions, fretting
against the rocks, or, when moved by some strong impulse, working itself
white with fury, and carrying all before it in its impetuous course. All
these various moods were matter to me of astonishment and awe, which no
familiarity could ever diminish; and I watched the waves roll in, and
throw shells or corks or pieces of smooth wood to my very feet, with the
same surprise after weeks of acquaintance, as I had done on the first
day of my beholding the ocean.

Our road had led through districts but little frequented by other
animals, and, with the exception of a stray fox or hare, we met scarcely
a single creature. We carefully avoided all intercourse with the former,
and the latter as carefully kept away from communication with ourselves;
for the sight of us appeared so to alarm the poor beasts, that they
would not even answer our questions, whether we were proceeding towards
the habitations of more civilized animals.

To tell the truth, I so thoroughly enjoyed this part of my journey, that
I felt little inclination to change it for the confinement and stiffness
of city life; and as I had no difficulty in procuring food or
lodging,--for mice and wild birds abounded, and any old tree gave me
shelter,--I could have been content to spend some months in this errant
mode of existence, and meditate in the half-solitude on the vanities of
animal life. But I reproved myself for my selfishness when I looked at
Snub. He, poor fellow, who had not been blessed with the same advantages
of education as myself, had little inclination to continue a course
which presented much to be endured and little to be enjoyed. The bold
bending of a bough of a tree, which I found so admirable, he considered
very inferior to the joint of some savoury bone; the wide expanse of
the waters was to him less charming than the confined limits of some
dish containing one of our favourite Caneville compounds. Nor could
it be expected that he should feel much enthusiasm at sight of a fine
prospect, when his head was aching with the weight of my luggage, and
his feet were sore with the burden they had had so long to support
over flinty, uneven ground. I confessed to myself the justice of this
reflection, and became at last as anxious as he for our arrival at some

A few days after, various things convinced us that we were not far
removed from one. Heaps of rubbish lay strewn confusedly here and there,
which were uncomfortable to look at, and much more uncomfortable to
smell! The road was broader and harder, as if beaten down by many
feet. By-and-by a house or two appeared,--then two together,--then
three,--until at last we saw a whole street, with quantities of little
objects running in and out them. I would willingly have examined what
the animals were who occupied these dwellings, which were indeed
miserable enough. I learnt afterwards that they were inhabited by pigs;
and their huts, that were never too clean or neat, were called in the
language of the country _styes_, but so unpleasant an odour came from
them that I could not be prevailed on to go very near. The town itself
now came in sight, and, as I had never seen any other than Caneville,
my curiosity was aroused as I drew closer to make acquaintance with the
inhabitants, and see if they were at all like either of the tribes of
beasts between which my native place was divided. Snub was no less
delighted at the prospect of getting rid of his load and refreshing his
body upon some more savoury food than he had lately indulged in.

It was not at that time that I knew all the particulars which I
afterwards obtained concerning this foreign city; but I may as well
relate here all that I subsequently gleaned.

The place was called Norsarque, and was inhabited by animals of every
sort and size, who lived in houses large, small, middling, high, low,
miserable, and beautiful, just as their means or taste allowed them.
They were not, I found, the richest beasts who occupied the most costly
dwellings; on the contrary, I often discovered some very poor animals
who made a most splendid figure; for, curiously enough, although the
Norsarquians had a very great notion of their own wisdom, they often
believed the greatest nonsense which any creature chose to tell them,
provided the speaker wore a fine coat, and seemed to think a good deal
of himself.

I could write a history of the many funny and contradictory things
I met with in Norsarque; but perhaps nobody would read it if I did, so
I will go on with my own adventures, and only speak of such matters as
particularly concerned myself. I must however mention, as a circumstance
that had afterwards a great deal to do with causing my departure from
the town, that the place was governed by some superior, or thought to be
superior, animal, chosen from among the principal beasts; but that the
inhabitants generally were so discontented and fond of quarrelling,
that they had scarcely elected him King, than they began to find fault
with him and with everything he did, and were not satisfied until they
killed him or drove him away, and set up another in his place. Sometimes
this royal beast was a Pig; sometimes a Lion; once he was a Fox, and,
although very much hated by all his subjects, he managed to make them
quarrel among themselves, and so employ their time as to have no leisure
left to think of him, until one unlucky day, when, having nothing else
to do, they rose up against him and drove him out, and put some other
animal in his place. When I arrived at Norsarque, a Bear was on the
throne; so the Bears were in high favour, and several fresh ones had
lately come to the city to seek their fortunes,--and very rough-looking
beings they were too!

With the aid of Snub, I managed to procure some handsome apartments in
a genteel quarter; and, as I intended to make a long stay in the place,
I procured everything which could make them comfortable.

When once established, I directed some attention to my humble companion.
As I was convinced of his fidelity and his attachment to myself, I
resolved to keep him for my own private servant, and I therefore hired
others to do the necessary work of the house. But as Snub could not
attend me in my walks in the costume he wore when he left his native
place, I procured a complete livery-suit, in the fashion at Norsarque;
and Snub soon looked splendid in a dress of bottle-green, with white
buttons springing out all over his body, just like daisies on a lawn,
and, I assure you, with his hat surrounded with a broad gold band, and
his hair powdered, he looked a very different figure. Having thus cared
for his outer dog, I did what I could to improve his name; and scorning
to remember that he ever bore such a vulgar one as _Snub_, I made him
_Snubbini_ forthwith, and took care always to pronounce every letter
of the word. It was astonishing to observe the effect which these little
matters produced on my neighbours. They took me for a grand Cat at once;
and I overheard a Pussy, who was talking to another on the roof of the
house situated on the opposite side of the street where I lived, that
I was a foreign Princess in disguise, and was rich enough to buy half
Norsarque, if I felt inclined! But how they had learnt _that_ piece of
news, I could not imagine.

I had been residing some months among the restless inhabitants of
Norsarque, when an incident took place, which, although I thought but
little of it at the time, turned out of great importance to me.

I happened to be walking in one of the principal Squares, or _Places_
as they were called, when my ear was attracted by the sound of music.

Although the performers were not of the best, and their time was about
as good as their tune,--that is to say, both indifferent enough,--I
could not help stopping as I went by to see the show.

There were three mongrels, rather fantastically dressed, blowing all the
breath they could spare into two flageolets and a flute, but as one or
the other was forced to stop every now and then to recover his wind, and
always managed to do so in the most pathetic part, the effect was more
curious than agreeable. Several animals were standing round, and a
little wee Pup went about among them collecting, with a hat big enough
to hold a great deal more than was ever put into it. But the creature
who most attracted my attention was a huge lump of a Bear, with so ugly
a face that it made me quite shudder to look at him, who seemed the
master of the band, and held a tray up to the various windows where any
heads had been put out to listen to the music. He was in the act of
doing so, when I came up, to the window of a large house, where a fat,
white Puss, evidently the servant of some rich family, was nursing a
darling little Kitten that was mewing with delight at the scene below.


The servant had thrown down a few coppers in reply to the Bear's demand
for money, when the ill-tempered brute, not satisfied with the donation,
swore in so terrible a way, that the frightened nurse let go her hold of
the Kitten, which fell direct from her paws.

I rushed forward to save it, upsetting as I went the unfortunate little
Pup, who was at that moment presenting the hat for my contribution, and
was just in time to seize it by the tail before it reached the pavement.
At the same instant the door burst open, a troop of servants rushed out,
headed by a Cat, superbly dressed. The band of musicians disappeared,
as if by magic, the great Bear being the first to take to flight; the
new-comers surrounded me, and I had the satisfaction of putting the
Kitten, unharmed, into its mother's paws. A tender scene then ensued;
and as ingratitude was not among this Lady Puss's failings, I was begged
to enter, nay, was almost carried into the house, to receive the
repeated thanks of the noble family.


Señor Don Tomás Ricárdo, the husband of the Lady Puss whose Kitten
I had been the means of saving, was one of the richest, and perhaps
the noblest, Cats of all our tribe, residing in Norsarque.

He was very indignant when he heard from his Lady how nearly the darling
of his family had been killed through the rudeness of a Bear, and he
curled his whiskers and waved his tail in the excess of his anger.
He did more than this; he went out among his friends, and, calling
together a meeting of Cats, who were very numerous in the city, he made,
as I heard, a speech which produced an immense effect upon them.

He commenced by saying that the Cat tribe was known (among themselves)
to be the most ancient, the most noble, the most virtuous, the most
courageous, and the most clever of all the animals who lived upon the
face of the earth. (This was received with loud mews of satisfaction;
and one enthusiastic Tom called out, "Cats for ever!") He then began to
compare our race with other beasts generally, and, saying a good deal in
favour of the Dogs, for a reason which will presently appear, yet still
placing Cats in the first rank of created things, he went on to speak of
Bears. Encouraged by the groans, which the mention of such disagreeable
beasts occasioned, he boldly inveighed against the conduct of _the_ Bear,
then upon the throne; spoke of his favouritism in encouraging into the
city so many of his tribe, and asked the meeting, in an injured tone,
how they would feel when an entire army of these monstrous animals
should march in and live upon the best of the land, while they, the
Cats, would starve for want of the necessaries of life. (Of course
the audience declared they should not like it at all, and uttered the
most discordant cries to prove their assertion, amid which the same
enthusiastic Tom exclaimed, "Down with the Bears!") His hearers being
thus prepared to receive the most favourable accounts of the doings of
Cats, and the most atrocious histories of the actions of Bears, Señor
Don Tomás Ricárdo proceeded at once to the adventure of the morning,
in which his Kitten had nearly been brought to an untimely end, and,
although the mishap was quite as much due to the carelessness of the
nurse as to the rudeness of the master of the band, he worked up such a
wonderful picture, that the audience, thrilled with horror, soon after
separated, with a determination to bear the tyranny of the Ursine
Dynasty no longer.

I cannot tell what machinery was put in operation to produce the effects
which shortly after ensued; but I suppose, in a place where beasts are
fond of change and have very little to do, it is not difficult to get
them to do mischief. It is certain that an alliance was formed between
the Cats and Dogs of the city, who outnumbered together the rest of the
inhabitants, and one fine day, about a week after the meeting just
described, there was a revolution in Norsarque; the Bears who could not
escape were torn to pieces by the enraged rebels, and after some hours'
fighting, peace was restored, and Señor Don Tomás Ricárdo was elected
King! Cats were appointed with Dogs to fill different offices of State,
and all animals of these races were, as it is easy to imagine, in very
high favour.

The change was a very important one to me. I had been on most friendly
terms with Señora Dona Ricárdo ever since my saving her Kitten; and when
her husband was appointed to his elevated dignity, and she herself
became Queen, Her Majesty did not forget her former companions, but
offered me the post of Puss of Honour!

Behold me now, from the wild little creature, robbing birds' nests and
hunting rats, raised to the high dignity of attendant on a Queen! It is
true, I was rather mortified to think that my elevation was due more
to a mere combination of circumstances than to any merit of my own; but
I consoled myself with the reflection that mine was not a solitary
example, and that if we animals refused to enjoy the goods of fortune
when they were thrown in our way, because we did not happen exactly to
deserve them, there would be very few beasts who could enjoy anything
at all.

His Majesty Don Tomás was ambitious of renown; and no sooner found
himself upon the throne, than he proceeded to make a great many changes
and reforms, which, though certainly very necessary, were far from
pleasing to his subjects.

Her Majesty Dona Tomás was ambitious, too, but _her_ reforms produced a
very contrary effect; for as they referred to the dress of the female
sex, which she laboured to make as showy and attractive as possible,
every alteration was received with enthusiasm, and the more frequent
the changes, the greater they were liked. She spent whole days in
considering the propriety of long and short waists; she had many
sleepless nights in thinking over some new fashion for a cloak; and the
quantity of bonnets she spoiled before she got one to her mind, would
have covered the heads of half the female inhabitants of Norsarque. The
one she selected at last, curiously enough, did not cover the head at
all, but sticking up in a very pretty way at the back of the neck,
allowed the whole head to be visible. It was natural enough that the
young Pussies, who had pretty faces and glossy hair, should think a
fashion--which permitted them to show both to the admiring gaze of
passers-by--a most delightful one; but it seemed strange to me at first
that the old and ugly Cats should adopt it so eagerly. On thinking a
second time, however, my surprise vanished; for, in the first place,
you never could convince a Cat that she was _not_ pretty or graceful or
attractive in some way; and secondly, no female Cat ever seemed to know
when she was old.

These were some of the brilliant days of my existence; but, alas! the
most brilliant are always those which fade away the quickest. I said
that the reforms of His Majesty were not received with the same pleasure
as those carried out by the Queen. He had the good sense to observe that
they were not liked; but was too proud to withdraw them when he had once
declared that they should be carried through. Discontent increased
daily,--a feeling said to be fomented by the Dogs, who were more
dissatisfied than the rest, because, I suppose, they had received
more;--murmurs were soon heard throughout the city; and another fine
day, with the same rapidity which had marked the fall of the Bears and
the elevation of the Cats, saw the Cats overthrown in their turn, and
the Dogs,--those ungrateful Dogs!--raised in their place.

The same confusion occurred on this occasion as happened previously. His
Majesty Don Tomás Ricárdo was strangled by a Cur, as he was escaping
from the Palace; Her Majesty fled no one knew whither. The household ran
off in every direction, and I took to flight with the rest. Fortunately
_Snubbini_--who was a great favourite with everybody and had some
friends among the dominant party--saved me from either violence or
insult, and I was able to remain shut up in my own apartment until
things were once more settled, and calm was restored.

When that event did occur, I resolved in my own mind to depart from
Norsarque, and take my way back to the city of my birth, which I now
felt a strong inclination to see again. The proposal seemed no less
delightful to my faithful valet than it was agreeable to myself; but how
far the thought of the effect which our fine clothes and foreign habits
was to produce upon the good beasts of Caneville mixed itself up with
our wish to return to our native country, I leave to the charitable to

It was with a very different train that I took my departure from
Norsarque to that with which I had entered it. Then _Snub_, with a
single box upon his head, was my solitary attendant and my only luggage;
now _Snub_, converted into _Snubbini_, my servant, multiplied by four,
and my trunk by five, made no despicable figure. We carried with us all
the necessaries for lodging at night and for refreshment during the day;
and passing on by easy journeys, we arrived, in about three weeks, at

How delightful did each well-known spot appear to me as I drew near and
recognized its familiar feature! how fondly did I gaze upon each hill,
each tree, which I had visited and loved in earlier days! with what a
mixed feeling of gratitude, of pain, and pleasure, did I recline upon
the soft grass, and, gazing on the city, pass in review the scenes and
events which had occurred there, and in which I had been an actress!
I have known many pleasures in the course of my life, but I count the
return to one's country, after a long absence, as one of the purest
and most satisfactory. I am not aware if the having left it with the
shame of crime could destroy this delight; but I, who left mine with
the feeling of disappointment and vexation, felt that _it_, at least,
had no power to make my pleasure less; for the first few days of my
return--during which I visited every old haunt, and every spot to which
was attached a recollection--were perfectly happy.

[Illustration: A VERY FINE CAT.]

Age creeps upon us all imperceptibly, and we are long before we can
bring ourselves to _confess_ that we are growing old: even when we _say_
so, we flatter ourselves that we are yet strong and hearty, and have
many years in store to live before we reach our resting-place. We may
however generally discover we are no longer young by comparing the
different effects produced on us by the same events at various periods
of our existence; and if we find that we cease to attribute to them the
same consequence with which we once invested them, we shall not be far
wrong in looking upon our change of opinion as one of the proofs of
our first youth being over. As I write these Memoirs, I cannot forbear
smiling at many things to which, at the time they were acting, I
attached a vast deal of importance. I remember, as if it were only
yesterday, my first entrance into the streets of Caneville after my long
absence abroad. I recollect, with wonderful accuracy, my having selected
my most showy dress, my most fashionable mantle, my most delightful
bonnet, with which to astonish the weak minds of the inhabitants of my
native city. I remember glancing round with pride at Snubbini, who had
put on his richest suit of livery, and who was strutting along with
his gold-headed staff under his arm, and his nose straight before him.
I remember, too, the satisfaction I experienced when, on drawing near
my house, one of my former neighbours, who was reputed the richest and
proudest Cat of the quarter, drew aside to let me pass, and made me
a profound bow as I swept by!

I think I have learnt to be wiser since that time, and to appreciate
things as they _are_, not by what they _seem_. It is long before vanity
can be eradicated from the heart; but I do believe I managed to root out
some of mine before my pretensions to youth and beauty were entirely
departed. Solitary thought and study, stolen from the gaieties of the
world, have taught me great truths; they have proved to me the more
vividly the goodness of my deceased cousin, and the wisdom of her
counsels. I have again aimed at being _useful_ to my fellow-creatures;
and although I have often failed, I have sometimes succeeded, and one
success, in such a pursuit, outweighs a thousand failures. If I can only
impress this truth upon _one_ out of, I hope, my many readers, there may
be some good even in a Cat's Tale.



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