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From Pussy and Doggy Tales by Edith Nesbit.
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Age Rating 4 to 6.
MY name is Stumps, and my mistress is rather a nice little girl; but she
has her faults, like most people. I myself, as it happens, am
wonderfully free from faults. Among my mistress's faults is what I may
call a lack of dignity, joined to a desire to make other people
You will hardly believe that, before I had belonged to her a month, she
had made me learn to dance and to jump. I am a very respectable
dachshund, of cobby build, and jumping is the very last exercise I
should have taken to of my own accord. But when Miss Daisy said, "Now
jump, Stumps; there's a darling!" and held out her little arms, I could
not well refuse. For, after all, the child is my mistress.
I never could understand why the cat was not taught to dance. It seemed
to me very hard that, when I was having those long, miserable lessons,
the cat should be allowed to sit down doing nothing but smile at my
misfortunes. Trap always said we ought to feel honoured by being taught,
and the reason why Pussy wasn't asked to learn was because she was so
dreadfully stupid, and had no brains for anything but the pleasures of
the chase and the cares of a family; but I didn't think that could be
the reason, because the doll was _taught_ to dance, though she never
_learned_, and I am sure _she_ was stupid enough.
Another thing which Miss Daisy taught me to do was to beg; and the
action fills me with shame and pain every time I perform it, and as the
years go on I hate it more and more.
For a stout, middle-aged dog, the action is absurd and degrading. Yet,
such is the force of habit, that I go through the performance now quite
naturally whenever I want anything. Trap does it too, and says what does
it matter? but then he has no judgment, and, besides, he's thin.
But one of the most thoughtless things my little mistress ever did was
one day last summer when she was out without me. I chose to stay at home
because it was very hot, and I knew that the roads would be dusty; and
she was only going down to the village shop, where no one ever thinks
of offering a dog anything to drink. If she had been going to the farm,
I should have gone with her, because the lady there shows proper
attention to visitors, and always sets down a nice dish of milk for us
dogs. Besides, I was a little unwell just then; the family had had duck
for dinner, and I always feel a little faint after duck. All our family
do. So I stayed at home. Well, Miss Daisy had gone out with only Trap
and her hoop. I wish I had been there, for Trap is far too easy-going,
and a hoop never gives any advice worth listening to. Trap told me all
about it as well as he could. Trap can't tell a story very well, poor
It seems that, as Miss Daisy went across the village green, she saw a
crowd of children running after a dog with--I hardly like to mention
such a thing--a tin saucepan tied to his tail! The dog bolted into the
empty dog-kennel by the blacksmith's shop, and stayed there, growling.
"Go away, bad children," said Miss Daisy; "how dare you treat a poor
dear doggie so?"
The children wouldn't go away at first. "Very well," said Miss Daisy; "I
shall tell Trap what I think of you all."
Then she whispered to Trap, and he began to growl so fiercely that the
children dared not come nearer. Any one can growl. Presently the
children got tired of listening to him, and went away. Then Miss Daisy
coaxed the unpleasant, tin-tailed creature out of the kennel, and untied
the string, and took off the pan. Then, if you'll believe a dog of my
character (and of course you must), she carried that low dog home in her
arms, and washed him, and set him down to eat out of the same plate as
Trap and myself! Trap was friends with him directly--some people have
no spirit--but I hope I know my duty to myself too well for that.
I snarled at the base intruder till he was quite ashamed of himself. I
knew from the first that he'd be taught jumping and begging, and things
like that. I hate those things myself, but that's no reason why every
low dog should be taught them. Miss Daisy called him Tinker, because he
once carried a tin pan about with him, and she tried very hard to make
me friendly to him; but I can choose my own friends, I hope.
Every one made a great fuss about one thing he did, but actually it was
nothing but biting; and if biting isn't natural to a dog, I should like
to know what is; and why people should be praised and petted, and have
new collars, and everybody else's share of the bones, only for doing
what is quite natural to them, I have never been able to comprehend.
Besides, barking is as good as biting, any day, and I'm sure I barked
enough, though it wasn't my business.