But now, by good fortune, a man came that way, And called to the dog, who was forced to obey; But Puss did not come down the tree till she knew That the man and the dog were far out of view.

Pursuing her way, at nightfall she came To London, a town you know well by name; And wandering 'round in byway and street, A strange Pussy-cat she happened to meet.

"Good evening," said Pussy-cat Mew. "Can you tell In which of these houses the Queen may now dwell? I 'm a stranger in town, and I 'm anxious to see What sort of a person a real Queen may be."

"My friend," said the other, "you really must know It is n't permitted that strangers should go Inside of the palace, unless they 're invited, And stray Pussy-cats are apt to be slighted.

"By good luck, however, I 'm quite well aware Of a way to the palace by means of a stair That never is guarded; so just come with me, And a glimpse of the Queen you shall certainly see."

Puss thanked her new friend, and together they stole To the back of the palace, and crept through a hole In the fence, and quietly came to the stair Which the stranger Pussy-cat promised was there.

"Now here I must leave you," the strange Pussy said, "So do n't be 'fraid-cat, but go straight ahead, And do n't be alarmed if by chance you are seen, For people will think you belong to the Queen."

So Pussy-cat Mew did as she had been told, And walked through the palace with manner so bold She soon reached the room where the Queen sat in state, Surrounded by lords and by ladies so great.

And there in the corner our Pussy sat down, And gazed at the scepter and blinked at the crown, And eyed the Queen's dress, all purple and gold; Which was surely a beautiful sight to behold.

But all of a sudden she started, for there Was a little gray mouse, right under the chair Where her Majesty sat, and Pussy well knew She 'd scream with alarm if the mouse met her view.

So up toward the chair our Pussy-cat stole, But the mouse saw her coming and ran for its hole; But Pussy ran after, and during the race A wonderful, terrible panic took place!

The ladies all jumped on their chairs in alarm, The lords drew their swords to protect them from harm, And the Queen gave a scream and fainted away-- A very undignified act, I must say.

And some one cried "Burglars!" and some one cried "Treason!" And some one cried "Murder!" but none knew the reason; And some one cried "Fire! they are burning the house!" And some one cried "Silence! it 's only a mouse!"

But Pussy-cat Mew was so awfully scared By the shouting and screaming, no longer she dared To stay in the room; so without more delay She rushed from the palace and scampered away!

So bristling her fur, and with heart beating fast, She came to the road leading homeward at last. "What business," she thought, "has a poor country cat To visit a city of madmen like that?

"Straight homeward I 'll go, where I am well fed, Where mistress is kind, and soft is my bed; Let other cats travel, if they wish to roam, But as for myself, I shall now stay at home."

And now over hills and valleys she ran, And journeyed as fast as a Pussy-cat can; Till just as the dawn of the day did begin She, safely at home, stole quietly in.

And there was the fire, with the pot boiling on it, And there was the maid, in the blue checkered bonnet And there was the corner where Pussy oft basked, And there was the mistress, who eagerly asked:

"Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, where have you been?" "I 've been to London, to visit the Queen." "Pussy-cat, Pussy-cat, what did you there?" "I frightened a little mouse under her chair!"

How the Beggars Came to Town

How the Beggars Came to Town

Hark, hark, the dogs do bark, The beggars are coming to town: Some in rags, and some in tags, And some in velvet gown.

Mother Goose in Prose Page 40

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