(A tale of a reluctant show cat.

Hampshire Telegraph, 30th November 1889

My yarn is about a cat. Her name was Tabby, and a fine great cat she was, with beautiful sleek fur as soft as velvet pile. Tabby thought a lot of herself, I can tell you. She lived at a farm, where everyone else had plenty of work to do, but bless you! she never thought of doing any work herself. There were plenty of rats and mice to be caught in the barn and the granary, where they did such mischief, but Tabby never went there after them; she let Tom do that. Oh! I haven’t told you about Tom. He was another cat they kept at the farm, and was quite different to Tabby. He always liked to be doing something useful, and so be spent most of his time hunting the rats and mice, because he knew that was what the farmer kept him for. Some hard fights he had with the rats, too, for very often an old one would turn round upon him, and wound him pretty severely before he could kill it. Because of these fights, Tom was not a very handsome cat to look at, as he had pieces of fur torn off here and there, and nasty scars about his face. Then he was not a fat cat by any means; he was much too active for that.

Tabby would say to him sometimes, in her lazy way, 'Why don't you take life easier, Tom?’

But Tom would always reply, cheerfully, ‘Life's easy enough for me, as long as I can do something for my keep. I don't believe in being lazy, and you would be all the better if you took more exercise, and caught a 1nnate or two now and then.'

But Tabby didn't believe him; her mistress was fond enough of her, she said, to see that she had plenty to eat and drink without troubling about, and she wasn't going out in the barn to spoil her beautiful fur and perhaps be badly hurt in hunting for rats, or mice either.

But there came a time when Tabby wished she had not been so lazy. One day a visitor called on her mistress, and saw the cat stretched full length before the fire, enjoying the warmth in her own selfish way. ‘What a, fine cat,' said the visitor, a gentleman, who lived in a large neighbouring town; 'why don't you put her in the cat show?'

Now Tabby's mistress vas very fond of her pet, and thought how nice it would be to send her to the show and perhaps get a prize; so it was decided that Tabby should go. The next morning, the farmer had his market-cart brought out for a drive into the town. Tabby, who never worried herself about what was going on, was lying half-asleep before the fire.

'Come along, puss,' said the farmer, and much to her surprise he lifted her up, put her into a box with some straw in it, and shut the lid partly down, so that she could not get out.

‘Good-bye, Tabby,' said her mistress; and the box was lifted into the trap, and Tabby was driven off, wondering whatever could have happened.

It was a good drive to the town, and Tabby was shaken up a bit and much frightened, especially as she did not know what was to come next. At last the cart stopped in front of a great building, into which the farmer carried the box. Then it was opened, and Tabby saw all round her a wonderful variety of cats, of all sizes, breeds, and colours, Each cat had a cage to itself, except where two or three kittens might here and there be placed with their mother; and the cages were arranged in rows on long tables. It was the cat show; and Tabby was placed in one of the cages after which the farmer left her. There she was, poor creature, imprisoned in a strange place, with no one she knew near her, not even a cat or a kiitten. There was a tin of milk in the cage, but it did not taste like the warm rich milk she had been used to at home. Tabby was miserable, and she began to mew piteously.

Presently she heard a scratching sound on one side of her cage, and saw a cat's paw put through a little hole in the wall of her prison. She bent her head, and tried to see the cat that the paw belonged to, and then heard the question ‘What are you mewing for?’ It was the cat in the next cage speaking to her, and Tabby replied 'Oh, I don't know anyone here, and I'm so miserable.'

Said the other cat, 'This is your first show, then?’

Tabby replied 'I have never been to a place like this before, and if this is a show, it is my first.'

Then her new friend explained that he had been to ever so many shows, and as he always took a prize he expected to be sent to a good many more yet. He told Tabby what an uncomfortable life it was to be always travelling about in a box from one place to another, and then to be shut up in a cage, like a bird, for people to stale at.

'The judges are just coming round,' he said at last, 'and you will be lucky if you don't get a prize, for then your mistress will not send you to any more shows.’

Tabby was delighted to find when the judges had finished their work that she was not one of those who had won a prize. It was a very lonely and unhappy three days that she spent in the show, although she had her friend next door to talk to now and then. Glad enough she was to see the farmer again when the show was over, gladder still to see the farm-house once more. There was her fond mistress, and there was dear old Tom, and there were all the other friends she was used to. How she hoped she would never be sent to one of those horrid shows again. Perhaps if she made herself useful they would not send her. So after that Tom had a companion whenever he went hunting the rats and mice, and Tabby was not nearly so proud or lazy as she used to be. Whatever the reason might have been, she was never sent to a cat show again, and although she had not won a prize her mistress seemed to be fonder of her than ever.



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