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From Pussy and Doggy Tales by Edith Nesbit.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
SHE was beautiful, with a strange unearthly beauty. She had a little
black nose. Her eyes were small, but bright and full of charm. Her ears
were long and soft, and her tail curled like one of the ostrich plumes
in the window of the dyer with whom she lived.
I have met many little dogs with noses as charming, and eyes as bright,
and tails as curly; but never one who, like my Bessie, was a rich, deep
pink all over.
I lived with a baker then. I was sitting on his doorstep when she first
delighted my eyes. I ran across the road to give her good morning. She
seemed pleased to see me. We had a little chat about the weather and the
other dogs in the street, and about buns, and rats, and the vices of the
Her manners and her conversation were as bright and charming as her
eyes. Before we parted, we had made an appointment for the next
afternoon, and as I said good-bye, I ventured to ask--
"How is it, lady, that you are of such a surpassingly beautiful colour?"
"It is natural to our family," she said, tossing her pretty ears. "My
mother was the Royal Crimson Dog at the Court of the King of India."
I bowed with deep respect and withdrew, for I heard them calling me at
The next day I looked for my beautiful pink-coloured lady, but I looked
in vain. Instead, a dog of a bright sky-blue, with a yellow ribbon round
its neck, sat in the sun on the dyer's doorstep. Yet, could I be
mistaken? That nose, those ears, that feathery tail, those bright and
I went across. She received me with some embarrassment, which
disappeared as I talked gaily of milk and guinea pigs, and the habits of
the cats'-meat man. Before we parted I said--
"You have changed your dress."
"Yes," she said, "it's so common and vulgar to wear always one colour."
"But I thought"--I hesitated--"that your mother was the Royal Crimson
Dog at the Court of----"
"So she was," replied the lady promptly, "but my father was the
well-known sky-blue terrier at the Crystal Palace Dog Show. I resemble
both my parents."
I retired, fascinated by her high breeding and graceful explanations.
Through my dreams that night wandered a long procession of blue and
The next day, when I hurried to keep the appointment she had been good
enough to make with me, I found her a deep purple. Again I concealed my
surprise, while we talked of subjects of common interest, of dog-collars
and chains and kennels, of biscuits, bones, and the outrage of the
muzzling order; and at last I said--
"You have changed your dress again. Your mother was the Royal----"
"Oh, don't," she said, "it's so tiresome to keep repeating things. My
father was red and my mother was blue, and I myself, as you see, am
purple. Don't you know that crimson and blue make purple? Any child with
a shilling box of paints could have told you that."
I thanked her, and came away. Purple seemed to me the most beautiful
colour in the world.
But the next day she was green--as green as grass. After the customary
exchange of civilities, I remarked firmly--
"Blue and crimson may make purple, but----"
"But green is my favourite colour," she said briskly. "I suppose a dog
is not to be bound down by the prejudices of its parents?"
I went away very sadly, and, as I went, I noticed that there were some
curtains in the dyer's window of exactly the same tint as my friend's
dress. The next day she was gone.
I sought her in vain. The day after, a French poodle appeared on the
dyer's doorstep, dressed in stripes of orange and scarlet. I went boldly
across to him.
"Good morning, old man; how do you come to be that colour?" I said.
"They dye me so," he answered gloomily. "It's a dreadful lot for a dog
that respects himself."
I never saw Bessie but once again. She seemed then to be living with a
tinsmith, and her colour was a gingery white.
I hope I am too much of a gentleman to taunt any lady in misfortune, but
I couldn't help saying--
"Why don't you wear any of your beautiful coloured dresses now?"
She answered me curtly, for she saw that she had ceased to charm.
"I gave up wearing my pretty dresses," she said, "because silly people
asked me so many questions about them."
As usual, I accepted her explanations in silence; but, when I see the
poodle opposite, in his varying glories of blue, and green, and orange,
and purple, I can't help thinking that perhaps my fair Bessie did not
always speak the truth.