The Three Little Kittens.

A poem by Clara Doty Bates

Knit, knit, knit, knit!
See old white-capped Pussy sit,
Fairly gray with worry and care,
In her little straight-backed rocking-chair?
Knit, knit, knit,
Till she is tired of it!

Why does she work so? Look and see,
There in the corner, children three!
Plump and furry and full of fun,
(A good-for-nothing is every one.)
And all those kittens
Must have mittens!

Weather is cold; and snow and sleet
Make it bad for their little feet;
And they dare not peep outside, because
Jack Frost stands ready to pinch their paws--
That's why she sits,
And knits, and knits.

If by any chance she drops her ball,
And if one of them chases it at all,
She peeps out over her glasses' rim
With a savage, dreadful scowl at him,
And cries out, "Scat,
You saucy cat!"

Or, if her long tail gets uncurled
And sways but the least bit in the world,
And one of them makes a roguish nip
At it, or plays at mouse with the tip,
Somebody hears,
A loud boxed ears!

With them 'tis hurry-scurry and play,
Or sleep in a round coil half the day;
While, creakety-creak, the rockers go,
And the mittens grow, and grow, and grow,
So shapely and fast--
They are done at last!

She summons the kittens; each one stands
While the mittens are tried on his clumsy hands;
Then her glasses drop to the end of her nose,
And her wits go wandering off in a doze,
And as never before,
Does old Puss snore!

She is off to that dream-land paradise
Of cats, where cupboards are full of mice;
Where white and sweet and big as the sea
Are the saucers of warm new milk--ah me,
There is no cream
Like that in a dream!

There the ways of things are very absurd;
For a bobolink, or a yellow bird,
Comes of its own accord, and sits
On every knitting-needle that knits,
And pipes and sings,
As the rocker swings.

Suddenly there is a noise of feet--
Rattle and clatter and patter and beat!
Old Puss makes a flying leap from her chair,
With a half-awake and startled stare,
Striving to see
What it may be.

Helter-skelter the kittens appear;
"Oh mother dear, we very much fear
That we have lost our mittens!" they cry.
"You have? Then you shall have no pie!
Lost your mittens?
You naughty kittens!"

Old mother Puss is dreadfully cross,
At the spoiled dream first, then at the loss;
And with floods of tears down either cheek
Each frightened kitten tries to speak:
"Miew, miew, miew!
Miew, miew, miew!"

A smart cuff over their little brains
Is the only answer the mother deigns
"Not another word from one of you!"
It means, so without more ado,
Ashamed and slow
Away they go.

Again she settles herself and sleeps;
This time she dreams that she crouches and creeps,
A great gray tiger along the grass,
While herds of soft-eyed antelopes pass,
When--patter, patter!
"Now what's the matter?"

Again, with a scramble, the three appear;
"Oh mammy dear, see here, see here,
We have found our mittens--see!" they cry.
"You have? Then you shall have some pie!
Found your mittens?
You nice, nice kittens!"

She goes to the oven; there is a pie;
She sets it out on the floor close by;
'Tis smoking hot, and covered with juice;
And she says to them, "Eat as much as you choose."
So up to the chin,
They all dip in.

Dame Puss goes out to wash her paws,
And to comb her whiskers with her claws,
When again the troublesome three appear;
"Oh mother dear, see here--see here!"
Distressed and shy
They begin to cry.

No wonder they cry; they did not wait
For a spoon, or knife, or fork, or plate,
But ate with their fingers! ah, how soiled!
Dame Puss declares the mittens are spoiled!
"Miew, miew, miew,
Miew, miew, miew!"

Then all run out to the rain-water tub,
Dip in their mittens, and rub, and rub;
Their little knuckles are fairly bare,
And wet, as if drowned, is every hair--
Still, over the tub,
They rub, rub, rub!

Once more they haste to their mother dear;
"Oh mammy dear, see here, see here,
We've washed our mittens clean!" they cry.
"You darling kittens,
To wash your mittens,"
She says, and fondles them till they're dry--
Purr, purr, purr,
Purr--pu-r-r--p-u-r-r!

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