| 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 |
VERY small, wet, and hungry Kitten pattered up and
down a board walk one cold and rainy night. His fur
was so soaked that it dripped water when he moved, and
his poor little pink-cushioned paws splashed more water
up from the puddly boards every time he stepped. His
tail looked like a wet wisp of fur, and his little
round face was very sad. "Meouw!" said he. "Meouw!
He heard somebody coming up the street. "I will follow
that Gentleman," he thought, "and I will cry so that he
will be sorry for me and give me a home."
When this person came nearer he saw that it was not a
Gentleman at all, but
 a Lady who could hardly keep
from being blown away. He could not have seen her
except that Cat's eyes can see in the dark. "Meouw!"
said the Kitten. "Meouw! Meouw!"
"Poor little Pussy!" said a voice above him. "Poor
little Pussy! But you must not come with me."
"Meouw!" answered he, and trotted right along after
her. He was a Kitten who was not easily discouraged.
He rubbed up against her foot and made her stop for
fear of stepping on him. Then he felt himself gently
lifted up and put aside. He scrambled back and rubbed
against her other foot. And so it was for more than
two blocks. The Lady, as he always called her
afterward, kept pushing him gently to one side and he
kept scrambling back. Sometimes she even had to stand
quite still for fear of stepping on him.
"Meouw!" said the Kitten, and he
 made up his mind
that anybody who spoke so kindly to strange Kittens
would be a good mistress. "I will stick to her," he
said to himself. "I don't care how many times she
pushes me away, I will scramble back."
When they turned in at the gate he saw a big house
ahead of him with many windows brightly lighted and
another light on the porch. "I like that home," he
said to himself. "I will slip through the door when
she opens it."
But after she had turned the key in the door she pushed
him back and closed the screen between them. Then he
heard her say: "Poor little Pussy! I want to take you
in, but we have agreed not to adopt another Cat." Then
she closed the door.
He wanted to explain that he was not really a Cat, only
a little Kitten, but he had no chance to say anything,
so he waited outside and thought and cried.
 He did
not know that the Lady and her husband feared that Cats
would eat the many birds who nested in the trees on the
lawn. He thought it very hard luck for a tiny Kitten
to be left out in the cold rain while the Lady was
reading by a blazing grate fire. He did not know that
as she sat by the fire she thought about him instead of
her book, for she loved little Kittens, and found it
hard to leave any out in the street alone.
While he was thinking and crying, a tall Gentleman with
a black beard and twinkling brown eyes came striding up
to the brightly lighted porch. "Well, Pussy-cat!" said
the Gentleman, and took a bunch of shining, jingling
things out of his pocket and stuck one of them into a
little hole in the door and turned it. Then the door
swung open, and the Gentleman, who was trying to close
his umbrella and shake off the rain, called first o the
Lady and then to the kitten. "O
 Clara!" he cried.
"Come to see this poor little Kitten. Here Kitty,
Kitty, Kitty! I know you want to see him. Here Kitty,
The Lady came running out and was laughing. "Yes,
John," she said, "I have had the pleasure of meeting
him before. He was under my feet most of the way home
from church to-night, and I could hardly bear to leave
him outside. But you know what we promised each other,
that we would not adopt another Cat, on account of the
The Gentleman sat down upon the stairs and wiped the
Kitten off with his handkerchief. "Y-yes, I know," he
said weakly, "but Clara, look at this poor little
fellow. He couldn't catch a Chipping Sparrow."
"Not now," answered the Lady, "yet he will grow, if he
is like most Kittens, and
 you know what we said.
If we don't stick to it we will soon have as many Cats
as we did a few years ago."
The Kitten saw that if he wanted to stay in this home
he must insist upon it and be very firm indeed with
these people. So he kept on crying and stuck his sharp
claws into the Gentleman's sleeve. The Gentleman said
"Ouch!" and lifted him to his coat lapel. There he
clung and shook and cried.
"Well, I suppose we mus n't keep him then," said he;
"but we will give him a warm supper anyway." So they
got some milk and heated it, and set it in a shallow
dish before the grate. How that Kitten did eat! The
Lady sat on the floor beside him, and the Gentleman
drew his chair up close, and they said that it seemed
hard to turn him out, but that they would have to do it
because they had promised each other.
The Kitten lapped up his milk with a
click-clicking of his little pink tongue, and then
turned his head this way and that until he had licked
all the corners clean. He was so full of warm milk
that his sides bulged out, and his fur had begun to dry
and stuck up in pointed wisps all over him. He
pretended to lap milk long after it was gone. This was
partly to show them how well he could wash dishes, and
partly to put off the time when he should be thrust out
THE KITTEN LAPPED UP HIS MILK.
When he really could not make believe any longer, his
tongue being so tired, he began to cry and rub against
these tow people. The Gentleman was the first to
speak. "I cannot stand this," he said. "If he has to
go, I want to get if over." He picked up the Kitten
and took him to the door. As fast as he loosened one
of the Kitten's claws from his coat he stuck another
one in, and at last the Lady had to help get him free.
"He is a
 regular Rough Rider," said the Gentleman.
"There is no shaking him off."
The Kitten did n't understand what a Rough Rider was,
but it did not sound like finding a home, so he cried
some more. Then the door was shut behind him and he
was alone in the porch. "Well," he said, "I like that
house and those people, even if they did put me out. I
think I will make them adopt me." So he cuddled down
in a sheltered, dry corner, put his four feet all close
together, and curled his tail, as far as it would go,
around them. And there he stayed all night.
In the morning, when the rain had stopped and the sun
was shining brightly, he trotted around the house and
cried. He went up on to another porch, rubbed against
the door and cried. The Maid opened the door and put
out some milk for him. He could see into the warm
kitchen and smell the breakfast cooking on the range.
When she came out to
 get the empty dish, he slipped
in through the open door. She said "Whish!" and
"Seat!" and "Shoo!" and tried to drive him out, but he
pretended not to understand and cuddled quietly down in
a corner where she could not easily reach him. Just
then some food began to burn on the range and the Maid
let him alone. The Kitten did not cry now. He had
other work to do, and began licking himself all over
and scratching his ears with his hind feet.
When he heard the Gentleman and the Lady talking in the
dining-room, he watched his chance and slipped in. He
decided to pay the most attention to the Gentleman, for
he had been the first to take him up. They were
laughing and talking and saying how glad they were that
the rain had stopped falling. "I believe, John," the
Lady said, "that if it had not been for me, you would
really have kept that Kitten last night."
 "Oh, no," answered the Gentleman, "We ought not
to keep Cats. I think that if it had not been
for me you would have kept him."
Just at that minute the Kitten began climbing up his
trousers leg and crying. "Poor little Pussy," said the
Gentleman. "Clara, can't we spare some of this cream?"
He reached for the pitcher. The Kitten began to feel
more sure of a home.
"O John, not here?" began the Lady, and the Maid came
in to explain how it all happened. The Kitten stuck
his claws into the Gentleman's coat and would not let
go. Then he cried some more and waved his tail. He
had a very beautiful tail, marked just like that of a
Raccoon, and he turned hit toward the Lady. He had
heard somewhere about putting the best foot forward,
and thought that a tail might do just as well. While
he was waving his tail at the Lady he rubbed
head against the Gentleman' black beard.
"If we should keep him, John," said the Lady,
"we ought to call him Silvertip, because he has such a
pretty white tip to his tail." The Kitten waved it
again and began to purr.
"If you knew what a strong and fearless fellow hi is,
you would call him Teddy," answered the Gentleman,
turning over a paper which said in big black letters,
"Our Teddy Wins."
"Call him Teddy Silvertip then," said the Lady, as she
reached for the bell. When the Maid came in answer to
her ring, she said, "Belle, please take our Kitten into
the kitchen and feed him." Then the Kitten let go and
was carried away happy, for he had found a home. He
had also learned how to manage the Lady and the
Gentleman, and he was always very firm with them
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