By Clara Doty Bates.
One sunny day, in the early spring,
Before a bluebird dared to sing,
Cloaked and furred as in winter weather,--
Seal-brown hat and cardinal feather,--
Forth with a piping song,
Went Gold-Locks "after flowers."
"Tired of waiting so long,"
Said this little girl of ours.
She searched the bare brown meadow over,
And found not even a leaf of clover;
Nor where the sod was chill and wet
Could she spy one tint of violet;
But where the brooklet ran
A noisy swollen billow,
She picked in her little hand
A branch of pussie-willow.
She shouted out, in a happy way,
At the catkins' fur, so soft and gray;
She smoothed them down with loving pats,
And called them her little pussie-cats.
She played at scratch and bite;
She played at feeding cream;
And when she went to bed that night,
Gold-Locks dreamed a dream.
Curled in a little cosy heap,
Under the bed-clothes, fast asleep,
She heard, although she scarce knew how,
A score of voices "M-e-o-w! m-e-o-w!"
And right before her bed,
Upon a branching tree,
Were kittens, and kittens, and kittens,
As thick as they could be.
Maltese, yellow, and black as ink;
White, with both ears lined with pink;
Striped, like a royal tiger's skin;
Yet all were hollow-eyed, and thin;
And each one wailed aloud,
Once, and twice, and thrice:
"We are the willow-pussies;
O, where are the willow-mice!"
Meanwhile, outside, through branch and bough,
The March wind wailed, "M-e-o-w! m-e-o-w!"
'Twas dark, and yet Gold-Locks awoke,
And softly to her mother spoke:
"If they were fed, mamma,
It would be very nice;
But I hope the willow-pussies
Won't find the willow-mice!"
Where have you been?
Gathering roses to give to the queen.