Hear and attend and listen, O Best Beloved, and I shall tell you a story about another Cat, only this one was not so wild and wily as the first, but in spite of that he made a great deal more trouble for his People. He was a shadowy stripey little cat with a round little belly that he was quite proud of, and little grey pit-pat paws with claws in them ever so sharp, and a wild and waving tail which appeared to be quite all that was left of his ancestor from the wild woods. We shall call the man who fed him Man, and we shall call the woman who petted him Woman, and do not believe that they did not have names, Best Beloved, but it is only that the Cat, who was not so wild and wily but awfully stripey and shadowy and round about his furry little tummy, did not particularly care what their names were, so long as he was fed and petted. And they all lived together in a small 'partment, which was rather like a house only colder and more cramped.
The Cat, for he was a true cat, took it upon himself to make Trouble occasionally, to remind Man and Woman that he was still a Cat That Walked By Himself, and 'specially that all places were alike to him, including the table and the countertops and the birdcage and the desks and that warm spot on top of the kitchen cabinets, and as I am sure you can guess, O Best Beloved, that vexed the Woman and the Man terribly. For he was also a Cat of 'satiable curiosity (rather like the Elephant's Child) and he asked ever so many questions, one of which was: "Can I go there?", which he asked with his little pit-pat paws and a trilling meow like a little babbling brook and to which the answer was usually "No", and another which was "Will you feed me now?", which he said in his loudest and most protesting meow. Man and Woman did not speak Cat, of course, for this was no longer the time when animals and people all speak alike and when everyone could understand each other. But they knew what he meant, all the same, and he knew that they knew, and if they did not get up and feed him when he asked, he would get out his 'satiable curiosity and go wandering and waving his wild tail in the 'partment till he found a suitable place to make Trouble by getting into Things (which means, Best Beloved, that he would poke his little pit-pat paws where they weren't supposed to be, and make messes, and ask ever so many questions), and there he would go - up on the table or the desks or the bed where Man and Woman slept and snorted and snored and he would ready his little grey pit-pat paws. He left his claws retracted, Best Beloved, because he knew better than to claw up the furniture or the People. THAT would have gotten him put out on his wild waving tail, and no more food! And when he had ready his little grey paws and had sat on Man's chest and had purred in Woman's ear, for those were ways he had of getting them out of bed, then he would tap-tap-tap just so with one paw on Woman's face, and meow in his loud and protesting meow: "Will you feed me now?". And Man would roll over and Woman would pull the covers over her ears and they would both go back to sleep, and the Cat would go to find another place to make Trouble, waving his wild tail and complaining about his empty dish.
Then he would get up - on the desk or the dresser or the counter, where there were many nice Things that the Man and Woman had gotten, and he would plan and plot and ready his little pit-pat paws. And when they were ready he would tap-tap-tap just so on the boxes or candles or papers and they would fall to the floor just so: THUD! CRASH! And Man would wave a newspaper at him, and Woman would snap her fingers and say "DOWN" in her most you're-in-trouble voice that she saved all tucked in her throat for really serious occasions. And when the Cat had listened (for if he did not listen he would be out on his wild waving tail, and no more food!) the Woman would clean up the mess and go back to her work and the Man would go back to his reading because the Cat had only just been fed and they didn't see why he should be hungry, but the Cat would find another place to make Trouble all the same. It mattered less to him when he had been fed, only his bowl was empty, that was the main thing. So you see, Best Beloved, why Man and Woman would be vexed, at all the Trouble the Cat made for wanting food. But that is what Cats do, and they do it well.
Often when the Cat made Trouble Man would say to Woman, "Did you feed him today?", and Woman would say to Man "How many times has he eaten?", and the Cat would say "It doesn't matter, my bowl is empty. How am I to stay shadowy and stripey and ever so round about the tummy if there isn't any food?" And they would sigh and shake their heads at him and say "It would do you good to lose some weight anyway!" but they didn't really mean it, because they liked his little round tummy. So the Man and the Woman made a deal with the Cat, which was this: He would have to be good and be quiet and leave them to sleep when they liked, else they would be awfully cranky and yell more than usual at the Cat, and throw things as First Man threatened to do. And they, seeing that he was good and quiet and had left them to sleep, would feed him and pet him when he wanted. So the Cat would be quiet for a while, but when he had had enough of being quiet and good, and it was nearly time for Woman to wake up, and his bowl was not yet filled, he would go and threaten to make Trouble again and wake her up anyway, and vex her terribly and she would be cranky. And someone would feed him eventually, for that is what People who care about their Cats do, when the bowl is empty and it's been hours since lunchtime, but the Cat still made Trouble, for that is what Cats do to remind us they are Cats That Walk By Themselves, and that all places are alike to them - 'specially the ones we don't like them being in.
*Can you tell what I've been reading lately?
Author's Note: Yes, the Cat did wake me up in the middle of a nap by getting into Things (by which I mean knocking them all onto the floor) on my desk again.