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The Selfish Pussy Post by :easygoing Category :Short Stories Author :Edith Nesbit Date :August 2011 Read :1954

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The Selfish Pussy

"YES," said the tortoiseshell cat to the grey one, as she thoughtfully washed her left ear, "I have lived in a great many families. You see, it's not every trade that deserves to have a cat about the place. My first master was a shoemaker, and I lived with him happily enough, until one morning in winter, when I found the wicked man sewing strips of--let me whisper--_cat's fur_ on a pair of lady's slippers!

"I mewed as I saw it, and he, thinking I wanted milk, put down his work to get me some, for he was fond enough of me. I drank the milk, and then I ran away. I could not live with such a man.

"My next home was in a garret, with a half-starved musician who made violins. A violin is a musical instrument that miauls when you touch it just as we cats do, and it was amusing to live with a man who could make things with voices like my own. He was very poor, and often had not enough to eat, but he always got me my cat's-meat; and when there was no fire on, he nursed me to keep me warm. But one day I learned, from the talk of one of his friends (a man as lean as himself) who came to see him, that the strings of the violins were taken from the bodies of dead cats. No wonder the voices were like my brothers' voices, since they were stolen from my brothers' bodies. He might take my own voice some day.

"So next day, after the cat's-meat man had called, I walked quietly out, and never saw that bad violin-maker again.

"I was picked up in the street by a child, who took me home to her mother's house. They were rich folk; they had curtains, and cushions, and couches, and they did very little but nurse me, or sometimes, not wishing to hurt his feelings, the Italian greyhound. But they liked _me_ best, of course. They were a noble family; and I should have been living with them still, but one year, when they went to the seaside, they forgot to provide for my board and lodging, and I had to go into trade again.

"'Milk ahoy! milk ahoy!' I heard that well-known music as I sat lonely on the doorstep of the deserted mansion in the Square. The milkman looked lonely too; so I thought it would be only kind to go home with him. I did. He was a very well-meaning man, but his tastes were low. He took skim milk in his tea, and gave me the same. Of course, after that, I could not stay another hour under his roof.

"I tried two or three other houses, and I could have been happy with a very nice butcher who kept a corner shop, but he kept a dog also, a dog that no cat in her senses would live in the same street with; so I came away--rather hurriedly, I remember--and the dog saw me off. Now I live with a worker in silver, and I have cream every day; and when he makes a cream-jug, and I remember what will be put in it some day, I lick my lips, and think what a happy cat I am to live with such a good man. Where do you live?"

"With a poor widow, in an attic. I never have enough to eat." And, indeed, the grey cat was thin.

"Why do you stay with her?"

"Because I love her," said the grey cat.

"Love!" replied the tortoiseshell cat.

"Nonsense! I never heard of such a thing."

"Poor puss!" said the parrot in the window. The grey cat thought it was speaking to the tortoiseshell, and the tortoiseshell was certain it meant the grey. Which do _you_ think it meant?


(The end)
Edith Nesbit's short story: Selfish Pussy

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