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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Great Panjandrum.

By Mabel Humphrey.

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The cats had just been punished for trying to catch the canary and were cross because of it. On their way downstairs Topsy, without meaning to, brushed against Pan--properly named Great Panjandrum because of his superior manner--who promptly spat at her. As a return compliment, Topsy boxed his ears, then scuttled off to the living-room. Pan stalked into the library and choosing, cat-like, the one spot he should have kept away from, curled up on a handsome book that was lying open on the table and forgot his troubles in sleep. For some time Topsy wandered aimlessly from room to room; then preferring Pan's society to no society at all--she did not feel kindly towards human beings since her late whipping--she leaped lightly on to the table and curled up near him. For fully half an hour she sat idly with half-closed eyes, while Pan slept on, a perfect picture of innocent slumber. Then his paws began to jerk excitedly; his mouth twitched, and the tip of his tail waved like a pennant in a stiff breeze. Topsy eyed him coldly.

"M'yow! m'yow-yow!" he gasped; his paws slipped from the book to the table; and he awoke with a start. "Pretty faces you've been making!" snapped Topsy. "And such talk--" Pan seemed surprised; then he remembered that Topsy had had the worst of the punishment and suddenly felt very forbearing. (He'd had a delightful "cat-nap," and we all know how refreshing those are!) "I dreamed--" he began; then paused impassively for questions. "Guess you did," sniffed Topsy. "You acted like it!" Pan looked grieved but remembered--it was _such_ a good nap he had!--that when cats have trouble they are apt to be "catty." "Dreamed"--he went on calmly--"that I had that yellow squalling thing on the floor, and I was just going to put my paw on its soft feathers when I awoke." He licked his chops dreamily at the thought. "My!" sympathized Topsy, at last interested. "Come to think of it, Tops, I'm hungry! And er-er--well, you know Mistress doesn't always feed us heartily after--um--well--_after_, you know."

Topsy bobbed the end of her tail understandingly, and Pan grew confidential. "I know where's a dish of cream! It's down--" The rest of the sentence was whispered so low that I really couldn't tell you what it was; but Topsy understood, and the two hurried away as noiselessly and gracefully,--yes, and as dignifiedly as only cats can hurry. The desired cream they found on a high shelf in the shed. They were supposed never to enter this place, so Cook had thought it a safe spot in which to set the cream. A strong jump was needed to reach the shelf; but after several attempts they managed it and lapped, lapped, lapped to their full content. As they sat blissfully purring after this unusual treat they heard a plaintive "Mew" from the ground close by, and peering down saw a strange cat that had evidently entered through the open window, as they had done. He looked hungry and wistful, while they had just had a delicious meal and were correspondingly pleasant. "Mrr-ow! Come on up; it's good!" called Pan.

Possibly hunger made the leap easier for this new-comer than for the well-fed cats; possibly he was more agile than they, for with one spring he landed by the saucer and dipping his head eagerly lapped long and fast before he once raised his eyes. When he finished the pink tongue was run out over his lips and whiskers, so that no delicious drop should escape, and he heaved a satisfied sigh. "Do you--ah--always have such dinners as this?" asked he. Pan turned his head away and pretended to be interested in a black ant that was crawling rapidly up the wall below him; he was a truthful pussy and preferred to change the subject. The stranger was comfortable and sat lazily waiting for the answer. At that moment Cook went for the cream and seeing the cats started angrily forward, shoo-ing and scat-ing with great vigour. When after a wild exit the cats at last seated themselves up on a high fence they paused a moment to get their breath again. Then the stranger smiled--he actually _grinned_! "I should judge you _don't_ always have such a dinner as that!" He spoke pleasantly, but Pan looked sheepish. "By Whiskers!" he muttered, his mind's eye still seeing Cook's vulgar, flapping apron strings; "I should think not!" "Thanks, just the same--_more_," said the visitor jumping down. "Don't mention it," politely answered the host and hostess. "Come again!"


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