Miss Pussycat’s Tea Party
Miss TABITHA PUSSYCAT was a quiet, sleek, old creature, and was so prim, that her friends called her an old maid; and some of them even said that she was an old cat, but they were the people who were not asked to her nice tea parties. When she gave a tea party, she sent her page Jacko to invite her friends. Jacko was a clever monkey, who had come from his last place at the Zoological Gardens, where he had been used to see a great deal of company.
One day Miss Tabitha made up her mind to have a larger party than usual, so she sent out for a dish of pink shrimps, a bag of muffins, a tea-cake, a new French loaf, and a pound of fresh butter. Then she sent Jacko out in his new coat to invite her friends.
First, there was Mr. Velvet Purr, a quiet old bachelor, who sat nearly all day in the sun on a garden seat watching the birds, but who was much too well fed to catch mice. Miss Velveteen Purr, his sister, went with him, she was a very pretty singer, wore a fur tippet, and drank a good deal of milk to soften her voice.
Sir Claude Scratch was a very different person. He was proud of his high family, for his father was second cousin to Dick Whittington’s Cat, and had seen a great deal of the world. Sir Claude was very proud of his whiskers, and before he went to the tea party, he called on Frizzle Frog, the barber, to be shaved. While he sat there, with the towel under his chin, who should look in, but his friend Captain Black, a very fierce looking fellow, who had killed hundreds of rats, and was always ready to fight. He was a great favourite of the ladies, and said he would go to tea though he had not been invited.
The four Misses White were already on their way to Miss Pussycat’s house in their clean stockings, and the nice silky dresses that their mother had given them. Old Mrs. White lived at the baker’s round the corner, and her daughters’ names were Fluffy, Tibby, Titty, and Tip; all of them famous for their beautiful skins and their bright eyes. You may be sure that the four Masters Tortoise Shell were waiting for them, for they had been ready all the afternoon, with their tail-coats on, for the purpose of walking with these charming young ladies. They were very young gentlemen, so that they were quite proud at being asked.
It was a very grand tea table, and when all the party sat down it was more than Jacko could do to wait upon them, but the gentlemen handed the tea to the ladies, and picked out the largest shrimps for the Misses White, and nearly emptied the cream jug for Miss Velvet Purr, and helped themselves to muffins, and were very merry indeed.
Captain Black was so attentive that he would hand round the bread and butter. He took the plate from under the very nose of Sir Claude Scratch, which made that person so angry, that nothing but a smile from Miss Tabitha would please him.
After tea Miss Purr was asked to sing, and when she had taken another sip of milk she said she would give them an old song with variations. It was called Moll Rowdy, and the accompaniment was by Spitz, and everybody said that there never was anything more striking. Then Miss Tabitha, who had a very fine ear, gave them a little French song which had a chorus of Tant Mieux, and they all joined in, Captain Black and Mr. Velvet Purr singing the bass. Then the Captain told a story of his travels to the Isle of Dogs, and Sir Claude related an adventure at St. Kitts, which set them all laughing.
But the great fun of the evening was when the four Masters Tortoise Shell, whose names were Bobstay, Rattle, Clipper, and Dick, came into the room with great white collars and black faces, and began to sing like the Ethiopian Serenaders. Bobstay played the Fiddle, Rattle the Bones, Clipper the Banjo, and Dick the Tambourine, when they sang “Old Dan Tucker,” and “Kafoozlum.” The four Misses White almost fell off their seats with laughing, and Sir Claude was seen to put the tail of his coat into his mouth; Captain Black didn’t like it much, for he had a dark complexion and thought they were laughing at him.
At last it was time for them to be going, and Mr. Velvet Purr who was very careful not to be out too late, brushed his coat in the hall, and said good night. Captain Black smoothed his fur jacket; Sir Claude Scratch stroked his whiskers, and the ladies began to arrange their dress for walking. Then there was such a fuss as they all said “Good-bye,” that some of the neighbours looked out of window to see what was the matter; especially as Captain Black and Sir Claude quarrelled and fought in the street. At last, however, all the party got safely home.
From A apple pie and other nursery tales (London; New York: George Routledge and Sons)