The Tale of Tom Kitten
 

Once upon a time there were three
little kittens, and their names were
Mittens, Tom Kitten, and Moppet.

They had dear little fur coats of
their own; and they tumbled about
the doorstep and played in the dust.

But one day their mother--Mrs.
Tabitha Twitchit--expected friends to
tea; so she fetched the kittens indoors,
to wash and dress them, before the
fine company arrived.

First she scrubbed their faces (this
one is Moppet).

Then she brushed their fur (this
one is Mittens).

Then she combed their tails and
whiskers (this is Tom Kitten).

Tom was very naughty, and he
scratched.

Mrs. Tabitha dressed Moppet and
Mittens in clean pinafores and
tuckers; and then she took all sorts of
elegant uncomfortable clothes out of
a chest of drawers, in order to dress
up her son Thomas.

Tom Kitten was very fat, and he
had grown; several buttons burst off.
His mother sewed them on again.

When the three kittens were ready,
Mrs. Tabitha unwisely turned them
out into the garden, to be out of the
way while she made hot buttered
toast.

"Now keep your frocks clean,
children! You must walk on your hind
legs. Keep away from the dirty ash-
pit, and from Sally Henny Penny, and
from the pigsty and the Puddle-
ducks."

Moppet and Mittens walked down
the garden path unsteadily. Presently
they trod upon their pinafores and fell
on their noses.

When they stood up there were
several green smears!

"Let us climb up the rockery and sit
on the garden wall," said Moppet.

They turned their pinafores back to
front and went up with a skip and a
jump; Moppet's white tucker fell
down into the road.

Tom Kitten was quite unable to
jump when walking upon his hind
legs in trousers. He came up the
rockery by degrees, breaking the ferns
and shedding buttons right and left.

He was all in pieces when he
reached the top of the wall.

Moppet and Mittens tried to pull
him together; his hat fell off, and the
rest of his buttons burst.

While they were in difficulties, there
was a pit pat, paddle pat! and the
three Puddle-ducks came along the
hard high road, marching one behind
the other and doing the goose step--
pit pat, paddle pat! pit pat, waddle
pat!

They stopped and stood in a row
and stared up at the kittens. They had
very small eyes and looked surprised.
Then the two duck-birds, Rebeccah
and Jemima Puddle-duck, picked up
the hat and tucker and put them on.

Mittens laughed so that she fell off
the wall. Moppet and Tom descended
after her; the pinafores and all the
rest of Tom's clothes came off on the
way down.

"Come! Mr. Drake Puddle-duck,"
said Moppet. "Come and help us to
dress him! Come and button up
Tom!"

Mr. Drake Puddle-duck advanced
in a slow sideways manner and
picked up the various articles.

But he put them on himself! They
fitted him even worse than Tom Kitten.

"It's a very fine morning!" said Mr.
Drake Puddle-duck.

And he and Jemima and Rebeccah
Puddle-duck set off up the road,
keeping step--pit pat, paddle pat! pit
pat, waddle pat!

Then Tabitha Twitchit came down
the garden and found her kittens on
the wall with no clothes on.

She pulled them off the wall,
smacked them, and took them back
to the house.

"My friends will arrive in a minute,
and you are not fit to be seen; I am
affronted," said Mrs. Tabitha
Twitchit.

She sent them upstairs; and I am
sorry to say she told her friends that
they were in bed with the measles--
which was not true.

Quite the contrary; they were not in bed:
not in the least.

Somehow there were very extra--
ordinary noises overhead, which
disturbed the dignity and repose of
the tea party.

And I think that some day I shall
have to make another, larger book, to
tell you more about Tom Kitten!

As for the Puddle-ducks--they
went into a pond.

The clothes all came off directly,
because there were no buttons.

And Mr. Drake Puddle-duck, and
Jemima and Rebeccah, have been
looking for them ever since.