| Dooryard Stories|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Around the dooryard nest all sorts of birds, including flickers, robins, sparrows, wrens, swifts, and blackbirds. These stories convey some of the drama that arises in the garden as birds go about the business of building nests and raising young. The author's cat Silvertip figures in a number of the narratives as do a number of other mammals and insects. Invites children to 'see how many tiny neighbors you have around you, and how much you can learn about them.' Ages 5-7 |
SILVERTIP STOPS A QUARREL
HIS is the Story of something which did not really
happen in the door-yard of the big house, yet it has
seemed best to put it in with these tales because it
could all be seen from that yard, and because Silvertip
had a part in it.
He was sitting quietly upon the broad top-rail of the
fence one afternoon, whishing that the sun would shine
again. It had rained most of the time for three days,
and he did not like wet weather. He thought it was
going to clear off, for the clouds had not sent any
drops down since non. The grass and walks were still
damp, so he sat on the fence-rail. He had stayed in
the house so long that he was tired of it, and he was
watch-  ing a pair of Robins who had built a
nest on one of the upstairs window-ledges. They had
put it right on top of a last year's Robins' nest, and
that was on one of the year before. You can see that
it was well worth looking at.
Silvertip had been here only a short time, when he saw
Mr. White Cat, from another house, walking over to the
one across the street. Miss Tabby Cat lived there, and
he knew that Mr. Tiger Cat was around somewhere. Mr.
White Cat looked very cross. He was one of those
people who are good-natured only when the sun is
shining and they have everything they want, and this,
you know, is not the best sort of a person.
"Um-hum!" said Silvertip to himself. "I think there
will be a fight before long. I will watch." He stood
up and stretched himself carefully and sat down the
other way, so as to see all that happened. Silvertip
himself never fought. He spent a
 great deal of
time in making believe fight, and usually entertained
his Cat callers by glaring, spitting, or even growling
at them, but he never really clawed and scratched and
bit. He did not care to have sore places all over him,
and he did not wish to get his ears chewed off.
"I can get what I want without fighting for it, so why
should I fight?" said he. He was a very good sort of
Cat, and had never been really cross about anything
except when the Little Boy came to live in the big
house. Then he had been sulky for weeks, and would not
stay in the room with the Little Boy at all. He
thought that if he made enough fuss about it, the
Gentleman and the Lady would not let the Little Boy
live there. When he found the Little Boy would stay
anyway, he stopped being cross. After a while he loved
No, Silvertip would not fight. But he very much liked
to watch other Cats fight.
 Now he saw Miss Tabby
sit quietly by the house across the street and right in
front of a hole under the porch. She had her legs
tucked beneath her, and her tail neatly folded around
them. She looked as though she had found a small spot
which was dry, and wanted to get all of herself on
Just inside the open doorway of the barn, there sat Mr.
Tiger Cat. He also had his legs tucked in and his tail
folded around him. Mr. White Cat walked straight up to
him and stood stiff-legged. Mr. Tiger Cat, who had
just eaten a hearty meal and wanted an after-dinner
nap, half opened his eyes and looked at him. Then he
closed them again.
This made Mr. White Cat more ill-natured still. He did
not like to have people look at him and then shut their
eyes. He began to switch his tail and stand his hair
on end. He decided to make the other Cat fight anyway.
 cared all the more about it because Miss Tabb
was watching him. He had not noticed Silvertip.
"Er-oo!" said he, drawing back his head and lowering
his tail stiffly. "Did you say it was going to rain,
or did you say it was not?"
"I hardly think it will," answered Mr. Tiger Cat
"You don't think it will, hey?" asked Mr. White Cat.
"Well, I say it will pour."
Mr. Tiger Cat slid his thin eyelids over his eyes.
"Did you hear me?" asked Mr. White Cat, still standing
in the same way.
"Well, what do you say to that?" asked Mr. White Cat,
and now he began to stand straighter and hold his tail
"I am willing it should pour," said Mr. Tiger Cat,
beginning to uncover his eyes slowly.
 "Oo-oo! You are?" growled Mr. White Cat. "You
are, are you? Well, I am not!"
There was no answer. You see Mr. Tiger Cat did not
want to fight. He did not need to just then, and he
never fought for the fun of it when his stomach was so
full. He supposed he would have to in the end, for he
knew when a fellow has really made up his mind to it,
and is picking a quarrel, it has to end in that way.
At least, it has to end in that way when one is a Cat.
If one is bigger and better, there are other ways of
Mr. Tiger Cat knew all this, and yet he waited. "The
longer I wait," he thought, "the more I shall feel like
it. My stomach will not be so full and I can fight
better. He need n't think he can come around and pick
a quarrel and chew my ears when Miss Tabby is looking
on. No indeed."
 You see Mr. Tiger Cat was also fond of Miss Tabby.
"Er-roo!" said Mr. White Cat, straightening his legs
until he stood very tall indeed. "Er-roo!"
He had made himself so angry now that he could not talk
in words at all. Mr. Tiger Cat sat still.
"Er-row!" said Mr. White Cat, speaking way down his
throat. "Er-row!" Mr. Tiger Cat sat still.
Silvertip became so excited that he could not stay
longer on the fence. He dearly loved to see a good
fight, you know, so he jumped quietly down without
looking away from the barn door, and began walking
softly toward it. He knew that when a Cat got to
saying "Er-row!" down in his throat, something was
going to happen very soon. Silvertip did not know,
however, exactly what it would be because he did not
see a couple of big Dogs trotting down the street
 He crept nearer and nearer to the barn, hardly
looking where he stepped for fear of missing some of
the fun. His pretty white paws got wet and dirty, but
that did not matter now. Paws could be licked clean at
any time. Fights must be watched while they may be
"Ra-ow!" said Mr. White Cat, giving a forward jump.
"Pht!" answered Mr. Tiger Cat, standing stiffly on his
hind feet and letting his front ones hang straight
down. He was wide awake now, and ready to teach Mr.
White Cat a lesson in politeness.
"Bow-wow!" said the Dogs just behind Silvertip. He
might have run up a tree near by, but he had a bright
"I 'll do it," he exclaimed. "The Little Boy says it
is wicked to fight, anyway." Then he ran straight in
through that open door and jumped to a high shelf in
the barn. He saw Miss Tabby
 turn a summersault
backward and crawl under the porch.
Mr. Tiger Cat took a long jump to the sill of a high
window. Mr. White Cat did not seem to care at all
whether it was going to pour or not. He sprang to the
top round of a ladder. The Dogs frisked below, wagging
their tails and talking to each other about the Cats.
Mr. Tiger Cat, who was very will-bred and could always
think of something polite to say, remarked to
Silvertip: "Your call was quite an unexpected
pleasure!" He had a smiling look around the mouth as
"Yes," answered Silvertip, who liked a joke as well as
anybody, unless it were a joke on himself alone. "Yes,
I found myself coming this way, and just ran in."
Then they both settled down comfortably where they
were, tucking their feet under them and wrapping their
tails around. Nobody said anything to Mr.
Cat, who had no chance to sit down, and, indeed, could
hardly keep from falling off the ladder.
The Dogs frisked and tumbled in the barn for a while
and hung around the foot of the ladder. They knew they
could not get either of the others, but they had a
happy hope that Mr. White Cat might fall.
When at last the Dogs had gone, and Mr. White Cat had
also sneaked away, Mr. Tiger Cat said: "Fighting is
"Yes," replied Silvertip, "very wrong indeed. But,"
he added, "I'll make believe fight anybody." So he
jumped stiffly down and Mr. Tiger Cat jumped stiffly
down, and they glared and growled at each other all the
afternoon and never bit or even unsheathed a claw.
They had a most delightful time, and Miss Tabby came
out from under the porch and smiled on them both. She
loved Cats who acted bravely.
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