| Among the Farmyard People|
|by Clara Dillingham Pierson|
|Introduces young children to the animals of the farmyard through a series of engaging stories about the sheep, chickens, cows, and horses that live there. With new animals arriving regularly, we make the acquaintance also of a pig and a peacock, as well as some ducks and guinea fowls. Each story closes with a gentle moral, inspiring children to right behavior. Ages 5-7 |
THE KITTEN WHO LOST HERSELF
THINK," said the Blind Horse, "that
something is the matter with my ears." He
the Dappled Gray had been doing field-work
all the morning, and were now eating a
hearty dinner in their stalls. They were the
only people on the first floor of the
barn. Even the stray Doves who had wandered
in the open door were out in the
sunshine once more. Once in a while the whirr
of wings told that some Swallow darted
through the window into the loft above and
flew to her nest under the roof. There
was a deep and restful quiet in the
sun-warmed air, and yet the Blind Horse had
seemed to be listening to something which the
other did not hear.
 The Dappled Gray stopped eating at
once. "Your ears?" said he. "What is
wrong with them? I thought your hearing was
"It always has been," was the answer, "and
finer than ever since I lost my sight.
You know it is always so with us blind
people. We learn to hear better than we
could before losing our sight. But ever
since we came in from the field I have had
a queer sound in my ears, and I think there
is something the matter with them."
The Dappled Gray stopped eating and stood
perfectly still to listen. He did not
even switch his tail, although at that minute
there were three Flies on his left
side and one on his neck. He was trying as
hard as he could to hear the queer sound
also, for if he did, it would prove that the
noise was real and that the Blind
Horse's hearing was all right.
He could not hear a thing. "What is it
like?" he asked.
 "Like the loud purring of a Cat," was
the answer, "but everybody knows that
the Cat is not purring anywhere around here."
"She might be," said the Dappled Gray.
"Where does the sound seem to be?"
"Above my head," said the Blind Horse; "and
she certainly would not be purring up
there at this time. She would either be
sound asleep, or off hunting, or else out
in the sunshine, where she loves to sit."
The Dappled Gray felt that this was so, and
he could not say a word. He was very
sorry for his friend. He thought how
dreadful it would seem to be both blind and
deaf, and he choked on the oats he was
"Now don't worry," said the Blind Horse; "if
I should be deaf, I could still feel
the soft touch of the breeze on my skin, and
could taste my good food, and rub noses
with my friends. I
spoken of it, only I hoped that you could
hear the noise also, and then I would know
that it was real." That was just like
him. He was always patient and
sweet-tempered. In all the years he had been
he had never once complained of it, and many
times when the other Horses were about
to say or do some ill-natured thing, they
thought of him and stopped. They were
ashamed to be impatient when they were so
much better off than he.
The Horses kept on eating their oats and
resting from their hard work. In the
hay-loft above their heads, the Cat lay and
purred and purred and purred, never
dreaming that her doing so made trouble for
her friends downstairs.
She had been hunting all the night before,
creeping softly through the barn and
hiding behind bags and boxes to watch for
careless Mice and young Rats. They were
night-runners as well as she, and
things happened in the barn and
farmyard while the larger four-legged people
were sound asleep and the fowls were
dreaming with their heads tucked under their
wings. Sometimes there were not so
many Mice in the morning as there had been
the evening before, and when this was so,
the Cat would walk slowly through the barn
and look for a comfortable resting-place.
When she found it, she would turn around
three times, as her
used to do to trample a bed in the
jungle, and then lie down for a long nap.
She said she always slept better when her
stomach was full, and that was the habit of
Sometimes she hunted in the fields, and many a
morning at sunrise the Cows had seen
her walking toward the barn on the top of the
fences. She did not like to wet her
feet on the dewy grass when it could be
helped; so, as soon as she was
hunting, she jumped on to the nearest fence
and went home in that way.
Yes, last night she had been hunting, yet she
was not thinking of it now. Neither
was she asleep. A Rat gnawed at the boards
near her, and she hardly turned her
head. A Mouse ran across the floor in plain
sight, and she watched him without
moving. What did she care about them now?
Her first Kittens lay on the hay beside
her, and she would not leave them on this
first day of their lives unless she really
Of course she had seen little Kittens
before—Kittens that belonged to other
she was certain that none of them had looked
at all like her three charming babies.
She could not decide which one of them was
the most beautiful. She was a
Tortoise-shell Cat herself, and her fur was
spotted with white, black, and yellow.
The babies had the same colors
 on their
soft coats, but not in just the same
way as hers.
At first she thought her largest daughter was
the beauty of the family; she was such
a clear yellow, with not a hair of any other
color on her. "I always did like
yellow Cats," said the young mother, "and
they are said to be very strong."
Then she looked at her smaller daughter, who
was white with tiny yellow and black
spots on neck and head. "Such a
clean-looking baby," she exclaimed, "and I am
that when her eyes are open I shall find them
blue like my own."
Just at this moment, the warm, dark little
bunch of fur between her forepaws moved,
and she looked lovingly down upon him, her
only son. "He is certainly a very
remarkable one," she said. "I never before
saw such a fine mixture of yellow and
black, first a hair of one and then a hair of
the other, so that, unless one is very
close to him it looks like a rich
 brown. And then his feet!" She gave him a
loving little poke with one forefoot and
turned him onto his back. This made him
wave his tiny paws in the air. The thick
cushions of skin on each were as black as
black could be, and that is very uncommon.
They are usually pink, like those of his
The little fellow lay there, wriggling very
feebly, until his mother gave him
another poke that turned him over. Then he
stretched and crawled toward her,
reaching his head first one way and then
another. He was so weak that he could not
raise his body from the hay, but dragged it
along by taking short and uncertain
steps with his four shaking legs. It was
only a short time since he found that he
had legs, and he hadn't any idea how to use
them. He just moved whichever one
seemed most in his way.
He didn't know where he was going, or what
he was going for, but his little
 stomach was empty and he was cold.
Something, he didn't know what, made him
himself toward the big, warm creature near
by. When his black nose touched the fur
of her body, he stopped pushing ahead and
began to feel from side to side. He did
not know now for what he was feeling, yet
when he found something his tiny mouth
closed around it and a stream of sweet warm
milk began to flow down his throat and
into his empty stomach. He did not know that
it was milk. He did not know anything
except that it was good, and then he fell
asleep. His sisters did in the same way,
and soon the happy mother could look down and
see her three babies in a row beside
her, all sound asleep. Their pointed little
tails lay straight out behind them, and
their soft ears were bent forward close to
"I wonder," said she, "if I was ever as small
as they are, and if my mother loved me
as I love them." She stretched out
of her forepaws and looked at it. It
was so much larger, so very much larger, than
the paws of the Kittens. Such a
dainty paw as it was, and so perfectly clean.
She stretched it even more, and saw
five long, curved, sharp claws slide out of
their sheaths or cases. She quickly
slid them back into their sheaths, for fear
that in some way they might happen to
touch and hurt her babies.
A Swallow flew down from his nest and passed
over her head, then out of the open
window. "Kittens!" said he. "Kittens!" He
flew over the fields and saw two Horses
standing by the fence while the farmer was
oiling his machine. "We have new
neighbors in the barn," said he, "and the Cat
is purring louder than ever."
"Who are the neighbors?" asked the Dappled
"Kittens!" sang the Swallow. "Oh,
 The Blind Horse drew a long breath.
"Then I did hear her purr," said he; "I
am so glad." He never made a fuss about his
troubles, for he was brave and
unselfish, yet the Dappled Gray knew without
being told how much lighter his heart
was since he heard that the Cat had really
been purring above his head.
The days passed by, and the Kittens grew
finely. They got their eyes open, first in
narrow cracks, and then wider and wider,
until they were round and staring. The
White Kitten had blue ones, the others brown.
In the daytime, they had long, narrow
black spots in the middle of their eyes, and
as the bright light faded, these black
spots spread out sideways until they were
quite round. When it was very dark, these
spots glowed like great Fireflies in the
night. Then the Mice, who often scampered
through the loft when the Cat was away, would
see three pairs of eyes glowing in the
hay, and they
 would squeak to each
other: "See! The Kittens are watching
And the Kittens, who were not yet old enough
to go hunting, and who were afraid of
everything that stirred, would crowd up
against each other, arch their little backs,
raise their pointed tails, stand their fur on
end, and say, "Pst! Ha-a-ah!"
Sometimes they did this when there was not a
person in sight and what frightened
them was nothing but a wisp of hay, blown
down by the wind. Afterward, when
anything moved, they sprang at it, held it
down with their sharp little claws, and
chewed on it with their pointed white teeth.
When they were tired of this game,
they played hide-and-seek, and when they were
tired of that they chased their tails.
It was so nice always to have playthings
with them. Sometimes, too, they chased
each other's tails, and caught them and bit
them hard, until the Kitten who owned
 the tail cried, "Mieow!" and tumbled
the biter over.
They were allowed to play all through the
loft except over the mangers. Their
mother was afraid that if they went there
they would fall through the holes which
had been left in the floor. During the
winter, the farmer used to throw hay down
through these to the hungry Horses. When the
Cat saw her children going toward
these places, she called them back and
scolded them. Sometimes she struck them
lightly on the ears with her forepaw. "I
don't like to," said she, "but they must
learn to keep away. It is not safe for them
to go there."
One morning when she was away, they were
playing hide-and-seek, and the White Kitten
was hunting for a good hiding-place.
near one of these holes," she said,
"and they won't dare come there to look.
Then, after they have hunted a long, long
time, I'll get
 another place and let
them find me." She did hide there, and
after a long, long time, when her brother and
sister were in the farther end of the
loft, she tried to run over to another dark
corner. Instead of that, the hay began
to slip and slide under her and she went
down, down, down, through a long dark box,
and hit with a hard thud at the bottom.
She was so scared that she couldn't have
told how many toes she had on her
forefeet. Of course, she had five on each,
like all Kittens, and four on each
hindfoot, but if anybody had asked her then,
she would have been quite likely to
She was sore, too, and when she felt a warm
breath on her and opened her eyes, she
saw that some great creature had thrust his
nose through a hole in the side of the
dark box. "It must be a Horse," she thought,
"and my mother says that they are kind
to Cats. I think I'd better
 tell him
who I am. I don't want him to take me
for a Pig, because he may not like Pigs."
You see, she forgot that Horses had been
living in the great world and could tell to
what family a person belonged the very
first time they saw him. The only people she
had ever seen were Swallows and Mice.
"If—if you please, sir," she said, "I am the
White Kitten, and I just tumbled down
from the hay-loft, but I didn't mean to."
I AM THE WHITE KITTEN.
"I am the Blind Horse," answered a strong and
gentle voice outside, "and I hope you
are not hurt."
"Not very much," answered the Kitten. "I
just feel ache-y in my back and scared all
"Come out into the manger, White Kitten,"
said the Blind Horse, "and perhaps you
won't be so scared. I won't touch you,
although I should like to. You know I am
blind, and so, unless I
 can touch
people I don't know how they look."
The White Kitten crawled out and saw him, and
then she wasn't afraid at all. She
was so sorry for him that she couldn't be
afraid. She remembered the time before
her eyes opened when she had to feel for
everything she wanted. It was not so hard
then, because she did not know anything
different, but now she could not bear to
think of not being able to see all that was
around her. "If you will put your nose
down in the other end of the manger," she
said, "I will rub up against it, and you
will know more how I look."
The Blind Horse did this, and who can tell
how happy it made him when her warm and
furry back rubbed up against his nose?
"Thank you," he whinnied; "you are very
"Would you know I was a Kitten if I hadn't told
you?" she said.
"Indeed I would," he answered.
 "And you wouldn't have thought me a
Pig?" she asked.
"Never!" said he; "I wouldn't even have
believed you if you had told me that you
The Blind Horse and the White Kitten became
firm friends, and when she tried to wash
off the dirt that got into her fur she sat in
the very middle of the manger and told
him all about it.
"My mother always has washed me," she said,
"but my tongue is getting big enough to
wash with now. It is getting rougher, too,
and that is a good thing. My mother
says that the reason why all the prickles on
Cats' tongues point backward is because
then we can lick all the meat off from bones
with them. I'm 'most old enough to eat
meat now. I can't wash the top of my head
though. You have to wet your paw and
scrub it with that. Can you wash the top of
 Then the Blind Horse told her how the
men kept him clean; and while he was
telling this the Cat came into his stall,
crying and looking for her child.
"Oh, mother," cried the White Kitten, "I
tumbled down, but I didn't mean to, and
I'm sorry I didn't mind you, and the Blind
Horse can't wash the top of his head,
and he knew that I wasn't a Pig."
The Cat was so glad to find the White Kitten
that she didn't scold at all, but
jumped into the manger and washed her clean,
and then caught the loose skin of the
Kitten's neck between her teeth and carried
her through the stalls, across the
barn-floor, and up the stairs to their home.
That made the Kitten much ashamed, for
she thought that she was old enough to go
For two whole days after this the White
Kitten was so lame from her fall that she
could only lie still on the hay, and she
could see that her mother did not treat
 her as before. "I won't ever go near
those places again," she said. "I never
"You promised me before that you would stay
away," said her mother, "and you broke
your promise." She did not punish the White
Kitten, but she felt very sad and she
could not help showing it. There was a
dreadful ache in her child's little
Kitten-heart that was a great deal worse than
the lameness in her back or in her
neck or in her legs.
At last there came a day when the whole
family walked down-stairs, and the Cat
showed her three children to the farmyard
people and spoke a few words about each.
"The yellow Kitten, my big daughter," she
said, "promises to be the best hunter: she
is a wonderful jumper, and her claws are
already nearly as long as mine. My son,
the brown one, has a remarkable voice. And
this White Kitten, my little daughter,
is the most obedient
 of all. She has
never disobeyed me since the day she
fell into the manger, and I can trust her
Then the White Kitten knew that she was quite
forgiven, and she was the happiest
person on the farm.
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