Tales of Old Lusitania/The Story of a Cat's Tail

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Once, in the old days of romance, a fine handsome cat went to a barber's shop to have his whiskers trimmed. The barber noticed that puss had a long tail, so he said to him: "If you were to have your tail cut and made shorter, you would look far more beautiful than you do now."

"Very well, you may cut a piece off," replied the cat.

The barber did so, and pussy departed well pleased at having been beautified at the expense of losing part of his tail; but half way on his journey home he stopped short, and said to himself: "Why should the barber keep my tail? I will go back at once and ask him for it."

The cat returned to the shop and said to the barber: "Give me back my tail or I'll take one of your razors."

But the barber refused to return him the tail, and so the cat stole one of the razors, as he had said he would, and left the shop.

Pussy, bent on a ramble, walked on until he met a fishwife, and perceiving that she had no knife to cut the fish with, said to her: "Here, my good woman, take this razor, and use it to cut your fish."

He then continued his walk, but he had not gone far when he repented giving the razor to the woman, so he retraced his steps until he met her, and, going up to her, he said: "Return me my razor, or I'll take one of your herrings."

The woman, however, refusing to restore the razor, pussy stole a herring, and went his way.

The cat now saw a poor miller, who was eating dry bread for his dinner, and feeling compassion for the man, he said to him: "My good man, take this fish and have it with your bread."

The miller very gratefully took the herring and ate it with his bread. After a while the cat was sorry to have parted with the herring, which would have made a pleasant meal for himself; so he went back to the miller and said: "Give me back my fish, or I'll take a sack of your flour."

The miller had already eaten up the fish, and could not restore it had he wished to do so; therefore the cat took a sack of flour and went off with it.

Pussy next paid a visit to a village school, and finding that the mistress was very poor, and had nothing to give her pupils for supper, he gave her the sack of flour to make some porridge with for herself and children. But pussy soon repented of his generosity, and after a while returned to the mistress, saying: "Give me my sack of flour, or I'll run away with one of your girls."

The mistress could not possibly return what she and the girls had already eaten up; and therefore the cat, as he could not get back his sack of flour, carried off one of the girls.

He took the little maiden to a laundress, and said: "As you are working all alone, take this girl as a helper, and you will get your linen done all the sooner."

Our inconsistent pussy very soon regretted what he had done, and going back to the laundress, said: "I am sorry now that I allowed you to have the girl; let me have her again."

The laundress very indignantly refused to give up the girl, so pussy stole one of the shirts out of the tub.

He went further on his rambles, and met a shirtless musician, whom he addressed thus: "My good but unfortunate friend, I see you are rather short of clothes, so pray accept this shirt, and go at once and put it on."

But whilst the man went aside to dress himself, the cat stole his violin, and, running up a tree, sat down on one of its branches, and began to play a tune and sing a song, with the following words:—

Out of my tail I made a razor;
With the razor I made a fish;
Out of the herring I made some flour;
With the flour I formed a girl;
Of the girl I cut out a shirt;
With the shirt I made a violin.
Now I shall go back to school.


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