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From Pussy and Doggy Tales by Edith Nesbit.
Age Rating 4 to 6.

Start of Story

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 undignified too. 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 fellow!

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.


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