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A silly question.
From Pussy and Doggy Tales by Edith Nesbit.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
"HOW do you come to be white, when all your brothers are tabby, my
dear?" Dolly asked her kitten. As she spoke, she took it away from the
ball it was playing with, and held it up and looked in its face as Alice
did with the Red Queen.
"I'll tell you, if you'll keep it a secret, and not hold me so tight,"
the kitten answered.
Dolly was not surprised to hear the kitten speak, for she had read her
fairy books, as all good children should, and she knew that all
creatures answer if one only speaks to them properly. So she held the
kitten more comfortably and the tale began.
"You must know, my dear Dolly," the kitten began--and Dolly thought it
dreadfully familiar--"you must know that when we were very small we all
set out to seek our fortunes."
"Why," interrupted Dolly, "you were all born and brought up in our barn!
I used to see you every day."
"Quite so," said the kitten; "we sought our fortune every night, and it
turned out to be mice, mostly. Well, one night I was seeking mine, when
I came to a hole in the door that I had never noticed before. I crept
through it, and found myself in a beautiful large room. It smelt
delicious. There was cheese there, and fish, and cream, and mice, and
milk. It was the most lovely room you can think of."
"There's no such room----" began Dolly.
"Did I say there was?" asked the kitten. "I only said I found myself
there. Well, I stayed there some time. It was the happiest hour of my
life. But, as I was washing my face after one of the most delicious
herring's heads you ever tasted, I noticed that on nails all round the
room were hung skins--and they were cat skins," it added slowly. "Well
may you tremble!"
Dolly hadn't trembled. She had only shaken the kitten to make it speak
"Well, I stood there rooted to the ground with horror; and then came a
sort of horrible scramble-rush, and a barking and squeaking, and a
terrible monster stood before me. It was something like a dog and
something like a broom, something like being thrown out of the larder by
cook--I can't describe it. It caught me up, and in less than a moment
it had hung my tabby skin on a nail behind the door.
"I crept out of that lovely fairyland a cat without a skin. And that's
how I came to be white."
"I don't quite see----" began Dolly.
"No? Why, what would your mother do if some one took off your dress, and
hung it on a nail where she could not get it?"
"Buy me another, I suppose."
"Exactly. But when my mother took me to the cat-skin shop, they were,
unfortunately, quite out of tabby dresses in my size, so I had to have a
"I don't believe a word of it," said Dolly.
"No? Well, I'm sure it's as good a story as you could expect in answer
to such a silly question."
"But you were always----"
"Oh, well!" said the kitten, showing its claws, "if you know more about
it than I do, of course there's no more to be said. Perhaps you could
tell me why your hair is brown?"
"I was born so, I believe," said Dolly gently.
The kitten put its nose in the air.
"You've got no imagination," it said.
"But, Kitty, really and truly, without pretending, you _were_ born
white, you know."
"If you know all about it, why did you ask me? At any rate, you can't
expect me to remember whether I was born white or not. I was too young
to notice such things."
"Now you are in fun," said poor Dolly, bewildered.
The kitten bristled with indignation.
"What! you really don't believe me? I'll never speak to you again," it
said. And it never has.