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Age of Bronze

Tiger Tales
Pussy-cat Mew
By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Secret of the Lost Fortune, The Visitors from Oz, etc.

Originally published in Mother Goose in Prose, 1897, revised for L. Frank Baum's Juvenile Speaker, 1910.

"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where do you go?"
"To London, to visit the palace, you know."
"Pussy-cat Mew, will you come back again?"
"Oh, yes! I'll scamper with might and with main!"

Pussy-cat Mew now set off on her way,
Stepping quite softly and feeling right gay.
Smooth was the road, so she travelled at ease,
Warmed by the sunshine and fanned by the breeze.

Over the hills to the valleys below,
Through the deep woods where soft mosses grow,
Skirting the fields, with buttercups dotted,
Swiftly our venturesome Pussy-cat trotted.

Sharp watch she kept when a village she neared,
For mischievous boys our Pussy-cat feared.
Often she crept through the meadows so deep
To pass a fierce dog that was lying asleep.

Once, as she walked through a sweet-clover field,
Something beside her affrightedly squealed,
And swift from her path there darted away
A tiny field-mouse, with fur of soft gray.

"Here," thought our Puss, "is chance for a dinner;
If I outrun him, I'll be the winner!"
Quickly she started the mouse to give chase--
Over the clover they ran a great race.

Just as it seemed that our Pussy would win
The mouse spied a hole and quickly popped in;
Thus he escaped, for the hole was so small
Pussy-cat couldn't squeeze in it at all.

Softly she crouched, and with eyes big and round
Steadily watched that small hole in the ground.
"Mousie may think he's escaped me," she said,
"I'll get him sure if he sticks out his head!"

While she was watching the poor mouse's plight
The growl of a dog our Puss did affright;
She gave a great cry, then started to run
Swift as a bullet that's shot from a gun.

"Meow! Oh, meow!" our poor Puss did say;
"Woof!" barked the dog, who was not far away.
O'er fields and ditches they scampered apace,
O'er fence and hedge-row they kept up the race.

Then Pussy saw just before her a tree;
Safety she knew in its branches there'd be;
So up the tree with a bound did she go,
Leaving the big dog to growl down below.

Now, by good fortune, a man came that way,
Calling the dog, who was forced to obey;
But Puss stayed aloft until she well knew
Both dog and man had passed far out of view.

Pursuing her way, at nightfall she came
To London, a town you know well by name,
And wandering 'round in byway and street
A strange Pussy-cat she happened to meet.

"Good evening," said Pussy-cat Mew. "Pray tell
Where the good Queen and her family dwell.
Being a stranger I'm anxious to see
How a Queen looks and how fair she may be."

"Oh," said the other, "you really must know
Strangers are never permitted to go
Inside the palace, unless invited;
We're of a race persistently slighted!

"Still, I've discovered an excellent way
To enter the palace all times of day
In spite of the guards, so just come with me
If you're ambitious our good Queen to see."

Puss thanked her friend, and together they stole
Back of the palace and crept through a hole
Leading by devious ways to a stair
Which they ascended with praiseworthy care.

"Here I must leave you," the strange Pussy said.
"Don't be a 'fraid-cat, but go straight ahead.
Don't be alarmed if by chance you are seen;
People will think you belong to the Queen."

Pussy-cat Mew did as she had been told,
Crept through the palace so cautious and bold
Soon she arrived where the Queen sat in state,
Mid lords and ladies and counsellors great.

There in a corner our Pussy sat down,
Gazed at the sceptre and blinked at the crown,
Eyed the Queen's dress, all of purple and gold--
Surely a beautiful sight to behold!

But, of a sudden, she started, for there
Sat a gray mouse, crouched just under the chair
Where her Majesty sat, and Pussy well knew
'Twould frighten the Queen if it came into view.

So toward the chair our Pussy-cat stole--
Now the mouse saw her and ran for its hole
Pussy dashed after, and during the race
A terrible panic of fear took place!

Ladies all sprang on their chairs in alarm,
Lords drew their swords to protect them from harm;
The Queen gave a scream and fainted away--
An act quite undignified, I must say.

Some one yelled "Burglars!" and some cried "Treason!"
Some one howled "Murder!" none knew the reason;
Some one shrieked "Fire! they are burning the house!"
Some one said "Silence! it's only a mouse!"

Pussy-cat Mew was so awfully scared
By shouting and screams, she no longer dared
Remain in the room, so without delay
She rushed from the place and scampered away.

With fur bristling out and heart beating fast
Down the straight road that led homeward she passed.
"What business," she thought, "has a poor country cat
To visit a city of madmen like that?"

"Straight home will I go, where I am well fed,
Where mistress is kind, and soft is my bed;
Let other cats travel, if they would fain roam,
But as for myself, I'll now stay at home!"

So over the valleys and green hills she ran,
Jouneying fast as a Pussy-cat can,
Till, just as the dawn of day did begin,
She reached her old home and softly stole in.

There was the fire, with the pot boiling on it;
There was the maid, in her blue checkered bonnet;
There was the corner where Pussy oft basked;
There was the mistress, who eagerly asked:

"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you been?"
"Ive been to London, to visit the Queen."
"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, what did you there?"
"Frightened a little mouse under the chair!"

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October, 27 1918.

Some Nuts for the Puzzle Guessers to Crack

Puzzles are like nuts--easy to get at when you know how. Let's see if you do. (These sound rather like the Forgetful Poet, although no name was sent in with them.)

? ? ? ?

What has a jacket, yet no vest;
What has no family yet a crest?

Why do mines resemble peaches,
And battlefields resemble beaches?

Why is the Kaiser like a prune;
Why is a Scotchman like a dune?

Last week's answers were: A penny is like a book because it is read; a garden is like a cook because it is flowery (floury); a table like a tree because it has leaves and a mining camp like the sea because it has breakers; pins are rich because they have pin money; trains are like athletes because they run on tracks, and guns like pains because pains often shoot.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2008 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

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