Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Volume 5/Chapter 12
LITTLE Kitty was an orphan, and she lived in the poor-house, where she ran errands, tended babies, and was everybody's servant. A droll, happy-hearted child, who did her best to be good, and was never tired of hoping that something pleasant would happen.
She had often heard of Cattle Shows, but had never been to one, though she lived in a town where there was one every year.
As October came, and people began to get ready for the show, Kitty was seized with a strong desire to go, and asked endless questions about it of old Sam, who lived in the house.
"Did you say anybody could go in for nothing if they took something to show?" she asked.
"Yes; and them that has the best fruit, or cows, or butter, or whatever it is, they gets a premium," said Sam, chopping away.
"What's a primmynum?" asked Kitty, forgetting to pick up chips, in her interest.
"It's money; some gets a lot, and some only a dollar, or so."
"I wish I had something nice to show, but I don't own anything but puss," and the little girl stroked the plump, white kitten that was frisking all over her.
"Better send her; she's pretty enough to fetch a prize anywheres," said Sam, who was fond of both Kittys.
"Do they have cats there?" asked the child, soberly.
"Ought to, if they don't, for, if cats aint cattle, I don't see what they be," and old Sam laughed, as if he had made a joke.
"I mean to take her and see the show, any way, for that will be splendid, even if she don't get any money! O, puss, will you go, and behave well, and get a primmynum for me, so I can buy a book of stories?" cried Kitty, upsetting her basket in her sudden skip at the fine plan.
Puss turned a somersault, raced after a chicken, and then rushed up her mistress' back, and, perching demurely on her shoulder, peeped into her face, as if asking if pranks like these wouldn't win a prize anywhere.
"You are going to take Mr. Green's hens for him; can't I go with you? I won't be any trouble, and I do so want to see the fun," added Kitty, after thinking over her plan a few minutes.
Now, Sam meant to take her, but had not told her so yet, and now, being a waggish old fellow, he thought he would let her take her cat, for the joke of it, so he said soberly,—
"Yes, I'll tuck you in somewheres, and you'd better put puss into the blackbird's old cage, else she will get scared, and run away. You stand it among the chicken-coops, and folks will admire her, I aint a doubt."
Innocent little Kitty was in raptures at the prospect, though the people in the house laughed at her. But she firmly believed it was all right, and made her preparations with solemn care.
The old cage was scrubbed till the wires shone, then she trimmed it up with evergreen, and put a bed of scarlet leaves for snowy puss to lie on. Puss was washed, and combed, and decked with a blue bow on the grand day, and, when she had been persuaded to enter her pretty prison, the effect was charming.
A happier little lass was seldom seen than Kitty when, dressed in her clean, blue check frock, and the old hat, with a faded ribbon, she rode away with Sam; and behind, among the hen-coops, was Miss Puss, much excited by the clucking and fluttering of her fellow-travellers.
When the show grounds were reached, Kitty thought the bustle and the noise quite as interesting as the cattle; and when, after putting his poultry in its place, Sam led her up into the great hall where the fruit and flowers were, she began to imagine that the fairy tales were coming true.
While she stood staring at some very astonishing worsted-work pictures, a lady, who was arranging fruit near by, upset a basket of fine peaches, and they rolled away under tables and chairs.
"I'll pick 'em up, ma'am," cried Kitty, who loved to be useful; and down she went on her hands and knees, and carefully picked up every runaway.
"What is your name, my obliging little girl?" asked the lady, as she brushed up the last yellow peach.
"Kitty; and I live at the poor-house; and I never saw a Cattle Show before, cause I didn't have any thing to bring," said the child, feeling as important with her cat as a whole agricultural society.
"What did you bring,—patchwork?"
"O, no, ma'am, a lovely cat, and she is downstairs with the hens,—all white, with blue eyes and a blue bow," cried Kitty.
"I want to see her," said a little girl, popping her head up from behind the table, where she had bashfully hidden from the stranger.
The lady consented, and the children went away together.
While they were gone, Sam came to find his little friend, and the kind lady, amused at the cat story, asked about the child.
"She aint no friends but me and the kitten, so I thought I'd give the poor little soul a bit of pleasure. The quarter I'll get for fetching Green's hens will get Kitty some dinner, and a book maybe, or something to remember Cattle Show by. Shouldn't wonder if I earned a trifle more doing chores round to-day; if so, I shall give it to her for a premium, cause I fetched the cat for fun, and wouldn't like to disappoint the child."
As Sam laughed, and rubbed his rough hands over the joke of surprising Kitty, the lady looked at his kind old face, and resolved to give him a pleasure, too, and of the sort he liked.
She was rich and generous, and, when her little girl came back, begging her to buy the lovely kitten, she said she would, and put five dollars into Sam's hands, telling him that was Kitty's premium, to be used in buying clothes and comforts for the motherless child.
Kitty was quite willing to sell puss, for five dollars seemed a splendid fortune to her. Such a happy day as that was, for she saw everything, had a good dinner, bought "Babes in the Wood" of a peddler, and, best of all, made friends.
Miss Puss was brought up by her new mistress, and put on a table among the flowers, where the pretty cage and the plump, tricksy kitten attracted much attention, for the story was told, and the little girl's droll contribution much laughed over.
But the poor-house people didn't laugh, for they were so surprised and delighted at this unexpected success that they were never tired of talking about Kitty's Cattle Show.