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The Kitchen Cat, and other Tales   By: (1848-1899)

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The Kitchen Cat, and other stories, by Amy Walton.

There are three short stories in this little book, of which the first is by far the longest. Ruth is a poor little rich girl. Her mother had died some time before, and she lives with her father, a lawyer, and an incredibly stupid, though outwardly competent, Nurse. One day she discovers that there is a thin, unfed cat also living in the house. She befriends it, despite Nurse. She becomes very ill for a week or so. Her father discovers her love for the cat, and it is elevated to being the House Cat.

In the second story, a "toy" dog is missing. When the dog, Sarah, is found, she tells her young mistress of her adventures.

In the third and last story, two young girls are seeing what they can find near a pond. A toad is discovered, and he explains to them that he lives in a hole, which is well covered up, so that he cannot see out. He says that some toads' holes are uncomfortable while some are nice and snug. The girls' attendant, Miss Grey, points out the moral, that we all live in holes of our own making, some of which are comfortable, and some not, but out of which we cannot easily see how other people are living.




The whole house in London was dull and gloomy, its lofty rooms and staircases were filled with a sort of misty twilight all day, and the sun very seldom looked in at its windows. Ruth Lorimer thought, however, that the very dullest room of all was the nursery, in which she had to pass so much of her time. It was so high up that the people and carts and horses in the street below looked like toys. She could not even see these properly, because there were iron bars to prevent her from stretching her head out too far, so that all she could do was to look straight across to the row of tall houses opposite, or up at the sky between the chimney pots. How she longed for something different to look at!

The houses always looked the same, and though the sky changed sometimes, it was often of a dirty grey colour, and then Ruth gave a little sigh and looked back from the window seat where she was kneeling, into the nursery, for something to amuse her. It was full of all sorts of toys dolls, and dolls' houses elegantly furnished, pictures and books and many pretty things; but in spite of all these she often found nothing to please her, for what she wanted more than anything else was a companion of her own age, and she had no brothers or sisters.

The dolls, however much she pretended, were never glad, or sorry, or happy, or miserable they could not answer her when she talked to them, and their beautiful bright eyes had a hard unfeeling look which became very tiring, for it never changed.

There was certainly Nurse Smith. She was alive and real enough; there was no necessity to "pretend" anything about her. She was always there, sitting upright and flat backed beside her work basket, frowning a little, not because she was cross, but because she was rather near sighted. She had come when Ruth was quite a baby, after Mrs Lorimer's death, and Aunt Clarkson often spoke of her as "a treasure." However that might be, she was not an amusing companion; though she did her best to answer all Ruth's questions, and was always careful of her comfort, and particular about her being neatly dressed.

Perhaps it was not her fault that she did not understand games, and was quite unable to act the part of any other character than her own. If she did make the attempt, she failed so miserably that Ruth had to tell her what to say, which made it so flat and uninteresting that she found it better to play alone. But she often became weary of this; and there were times when she was tired of her toys, and tired of Nurse Smith, and did not know what in the world to do with herself... Continue reading book >>

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